Tag Archives: Ufology

Young Australians Revolt Against Gullibility

Young Australian Skeptics

When I was 7 years-old my favorite subjects of conversation were Bigfoot and UFO’s. I eagerly believed in both of these questionable phenomena based solely on “the evidence” provided by cheesy TV shows. Boy, was I a major drongo (Australian slang for a stupid person). Well, I would have been if was an Australian. I’m not. I’m an American, so technically I was a dumbass. But America and Australia share a common problem. Both countries are plagued with creationism and other pseudo-scientific, and anti-intellectual movements, COUGH religion COUGH. Rev. Ken Ham is an export of Australia, I’m sorry to say.

So, it’s only natural that an organization of young Australians would spring up to encourage others to be more discerning and skeptical. It’s called Young Australian Skeptics: A Sanctuary for Young Free Thinkers. Check it out, or you’ll go to hell. What, you doubt me? Do you want to take that chance? But what if you’re wrong?

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The Universe, Religion, and Radio Signals

If you haven’t heard Paul Harvey or Paul Harvey Jr. on the radio, then I envy you your ignorant bliss, for they both sound like a drunken Jimmy Stewart from the movie Harvey. The father and son “newsmen” do a short, cornball show covering the gamut, from world politics to folksy stories of small town America. The Harvey’s “reporting” style is reminiscent of old-time radio; imagine a man wearing a fedora, with one hand clasped over an ear, speaking into a enormous, chrome plated microphone. During their syndicated broadcast they shift seamlessly from important news stories to sales pitches for delicious buttery spreads to tales of conservative family values. I think Dude Lebowski might say the Harvey’s are out of their element, by about five decades.

Well, Thursday morning I woke up to Paul Harvey Jr. talking complete gobbledygook about the latest astrophysics and why it reestablishes the earth as unique in the universe. Have a listen, at least to the first 3 minutes.

Science texts for four centuries have insisted that the earth is nothing special in the universe“. No. Copernicus’ heliocentric model was just a technical detail about earth’s position in the solar system. It didn’t say anything about its status or importance in the universe. Although, based on a lack of distinguishing features, it’s not unreasonable to conclude that our solar system isn’t particularly special. After all, there are billions of galaxies each with billions of stars, as Carl Sagan might point out. But that’s not going to stop a theist from grasping at straws.

Inexplicable phenomenon“, “Dark energy“, “Dark matter“, “Dark flow“, and “Confounded. Leave it to a gullible fool like Harvey Jr. to invoke the god-of-the- gaps argument; if scientists don’t understand something then it must be supernatural. i.e. I don’t know how David Copperfield did an illusion, therefore it’s must be real magic.

Those dark forces… the infinitely vast reality that exists beyond it [the universe]“. Harvey Jr. thinks dark energy and dark matter exist beyond the universe. I didn’t know science could see that far.

Accepted without question“. Scientists interrogate each other into submission because science is a method of investigation, which cannot be done without asking questions. Religious faith is loyalty to an idea regardless of the evidence. Don’t theists typically balk at Q&A sessions?

The earth alone exists in a cosmic bubble“. Give a layman a little physics and he’ll twist and turn it into an Easter pretzel. It’s Harvey Jr. who exists in a intellectual bubble.

My advice is not to get your science news from giant invisible white rabbits named Harvey or credulous radio personalities.

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Top 15 Visitor Complaints Received By The Kentucky Creation Museum

Creation Museum

Creation Museum

15. Intelligent Design video game didn’t count toward college credit as promised

14. Line for Richard Dawkins piñata too long

13. Kirk Cameron wouldn’t stop hugging me, even after my wife complained

12. Social-Darwinism lecture hit too close to home

11. Animatronic Einstein sounded identical to animatronic Fred Flintstone. Or was it the other way round?

10. Snack bar ran out of the Ken Ham & Cheese Sub. Had to order the Duane Gish Knish. It was stale.

9. Ray Comfort’s banana demonstration was inappropriate for children

8. Gift shop charged extra for framing creation science degree. Signed, Chuck Norris, PhD.

7. Price of admission didn’t include ride on “Skippy: The Friendly Dinosaur”

6. Sciency DNA exhibit made my brain hurt

5. Sciency Noah’s Ark exhibit made my brain hurt

4. Kent Hovind was seen standing between Adam & Eve statues

3. My child didn’t receive free “God Hates Evilutionists” t-shirt

2. Charles Darwin look-alike complained when I hit him

1. Jesus-shaped bathroom soap gave me a Jesus-shaped rash





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The Montauk Monster Eats Human Brains For Lunch

It looks like the mystery of the Montauk Monster is solved. It’s a decomposing raccoon with missing teeth and missing fur. But what’s fascinating about the story of the monster is that it inspired such imaginative stories and outrageous speculation.

What is it in our human minds that makes us choose the unknown over the known. Why do some of us reject reasonable explanations for fantastical ones? For example, the media and the public automatically assumed the creature washed up on the beach, that it had an aquatic origin, not a terrestrial one. Which one is more reasonable? It’s clearly a mammal. And raccoons do love the seashore and seafood.

And minds leaped to the conclusion that the Montauk Monster was a creature completely unknown to science. Why didn’t the same minds consider the possibility that the “creature” was just unknown to them, and not to science. Not all of us are experts on anatomy and the decay of animal remains. Why can’t we just admit ignorance, instead of grasping at straws?

When a reasonable explanation isn’t immediately available our minds seem to reach for the stars.

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When Creationist T-Shirts Go Bad

Searching the web for creationism is sometimes like sifting through trash and finding the occasional humorous but, completely worthless, object. You feel darn conflicted. You’re dirty from the trash but the “prize” makes the whole ordeal somehow worthwhile. Behold, the rotten fruit of my labors.

Irony

Irony

It actually says “Science From Dumbies”. This ironic work of art is from a website called Evolving Minds, but they’re selling them on eBay, too. Their “mission” statement is:
We are a new ministry dedicated to the fight against the theory of Evolution. We think it is important to defend ourselves against the falsehood of Evolution and the lies that are associated with it… Our mission is to reach out to the lost, mainly those who believe in Evolution. We hope to change their thinking and challenge their faith in the theory of Evolution. Our goal is to fully equip anyone who has the drive to debate this topic. We are in this fight together and want to offer our resources to help destroy the work of the devil.
The back of this devil fighting t-shirt has a popular misquote from Charles Darwin’s Origin Of Species. It’s on the origin of the eye, and Talk Origins explains the details of their mistake. Also, the EvolvingMind’s links page contains both Kent Hovind (DrDino) and Ben Stein (Expelled: The Movie). I guess the Young Earth Creationists operating this ministry didn’t read the memo about Intelligent Design ostensibly being a secular theory, or see the news about Kent Hovind’s imprisonment on tax fraud. Wait… I’m still laughing hard at the shirt.

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The Discovery Institute’s Hoopla Machine

Casey Luskin insists the Discovery Institute is a secular think tank. And he says it with a straight face.

What is it about the spreading of pseudo-science that makes reasonable people cringe and gag? One characteristic is surely the introduction of religious / political thinking into discussions of fact. The natural world simply is. If it upsets our human sensibilities, too freaking bad for us. When a bull shark bites a potential food item (a human leg, perhaps), it is being neither good nor evil; it’s simply hungry and inquisitive. It’s nothing personal. Thus, describing the natural world is best accomplished through observations of what is, not through contemplation of how things should be. Blaming Darwinism for the Holocaust, communism, capitalism, rock ‘n roll music, abortion, racism, moral relativism, and the general decay of Western society is irrelevant to the scientific question of whether or not evolution by natural selection is a valid explanation for observed evolutionary change on planet Earth. What is and what ought to be are two distinct questions.

But throw a rock at the Discovery Institute and you’re more likely to hit a lobbyist or a lawyer than an actual scientist. For example, Casey Luskin, an attorney with the DI, blogs to his fellow intelligent designers about the “it’s just a theory” argument.

Darwinists love to bash Darwin-skeptics who call evolution “just a theory, not a fact.” The truth is that I rarely, if ever, hear people who are closely involved with the ID movement using this line to oppose evolution. The “evolution is just a theory, not a fact” phrase tends to come from the vox populi—intelligent people who studied this issue in their biology class or perhaps have read books like Darwin’s Black Box, Icons of Evolution, or Darwin on Trial, but otherwise don’t follow the issue very closely.

But most creationists do use the argument, endlessly. They also use the “intelligent designer” and “irreducible complexity” arguments. The fact is that intelligent design creationists are a small minority. Polls indicate that most American creationists are of the Old Earth variety. And I think the Discovery Institute knows this full well. Isn’t it really all about talking points, ones the DI can easily disseminate, and ones the general public can easily digest and regurgitate, regardless of the scientific facts?

Casey Luskins also lists his scientific qualifications:

Having taken over a dozen courses covering evolutionary biology at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, I’m a scientific skeptic of neo-Darwinism.

Fine, be a skeptic, Luskin. But are you as skeptical about intelligent design? Have you taken a dozen courses covering intelligent design at the undergraduate and graduate level? No, because intelligent design isn’t a science, and it can be pretty well summed up in a single 15 minute lecture. ID is a vague conclusion, not an explanation. The only thing propping it up is a propaganda machine. And all the whining in the world about “morals”, “culture”, and “academic freedom” isn’t going to polish the ID turd. The Discovery Institute calls itself the “Center for Science and Culture”. But it really should choose one or the other, “science” or “culture”, not both. Let “ought” and “is” be distinct; life works so much better when our desires don’t cloud our judgment of reality.

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Defeating Darwinism In 4 Easy Steps… Not

I enjoy reading PZ Myers’ blog Pharyngula, because he digs up the worst right-wing religious nutbars. And I get to comment on them, too. He found Bryan Fischer, a truly deluded fool. And hungry for more creationist foolery, I sifted through Fischer’s garbage – I mean archive – and went straight for his article on Deafeating Darwinism in 4 Easy Steps. Prepare to gag on the smell:

What follows is a straightforward, 4-step refutation of the theory of evolution. They’re easy to remember, and make a nice little cadence when spoken with a little rhythm: First Law, Second Law, Fossils and Genes. Armed with this truth, go forth and conquer.

Not even an encouragement to read a book or two? Just memorize these 4 things and regurgatate them at anyone who accepts evolution? Sadly, there’s more:

[E]volution teaches that everything that exists is the product of the random collision of atoms, this logically includes the thoughts I am thinking about evolution.

Ah. The ubiquitous “evolution is random argument”, reduced now to the atomic level. Does Fischer even know the difference between biology and physics? Now Fischer’s 4 steps in brief:

First Law of Thermodynamics.This law (note: not a theory but a scientific law) teaches us that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed…. What this means, then, is that science simply has no explanation for the most basic question that could possibly be asked: why is there something rather than nothing? Intelligent Design advocates have an answer to this question; evolutionists do not.

Second Law of Thermodynamics. This law (note: not a theory but a law) teaches us that in every chemical or heat reaction, there is a loss of energy that never again is available for another heat reaction… This law teaches us, then, that the universe is headed toward increasing randomness and decay… But what does the theory of evolution teach us? The exact opposite, that the universe is headed toward increasing complexity and order. You put up a theory against my law, I’m going to settle for the law, thank you very much.

Fossils. What the fossil record teaches us, in contrast to the theory of evolution, is that increasingly complex life forms appear fully formed in the fossil record, just as if they were put there by a Creator…. Evolutionists are at a total loss to explain the Pre-Cambrian Explosion… Thus the fossil record is a powerful argument for the existence of an Intelligent Designer while at the same time being fatal for the theory of evolution…. Intelligent Design theory has an explanation for the fossil record; evolution does not.

Genes. The only mechanism — don’t miss this — the only mechanism evolutionists have to explain the development of increasingly complex life forms is genetic mutation… The problem: naturally occurring genetic mutations are invariably harmful if not fatal to the organism.

Bryan Fischer repeatedly makes a distinction between a “law” and a “theory”, as he sees it. He thinks a law is somehow superior. He then contradicts himself by proclaiming the power of “Intelligent Design theory”. ID isn’t even worthy of the title of theory. If it is, then every marijuana induced epiphany is a law.

The 1st law of thermodynamics seems to contradict a creator. If matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, then how did a creator create them? How does ID answer this question? Magic? Anyway, it has nothing at all to do with Darwinian Evolution. But in Fischer’s mind there seems to be a connection.

The 2nd law of thermodynamics is an old creationist argument, easily disposed of. Basically, the earth is not a closed system. It receives energy from the sun. And no biologist ever said that the universe is becoming more complex. Fischer is just pulling arguments out of his ass, or someone else’s ass.

What Fischer doesn’t know about the fossil record wouldn’t fit in the Grand Canyon. Creationists never actually discuss the fossil record, they only discuss what they think the fossil record is. The two are light-years apart. Their fossil record is a caricature. Enough said.

Finally, most mutations are completely neutral, not harmful. Except for the ones Fischer’s mother accumulated prior to his birth.

I really do believe that creationist nutbars like Bryan Fischer are deeply afraid of science. It’s the only explanation for their complete ignorance. They stay so far away from it that not even a kernel of truth rubs off on them.

www.TheDarwinReport.com

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