peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
I don't feel like thinking too hard today, so instead I'll make and defend a simple observation: Today's conservative politicians rely overly-much on visceral topics instead of intellectual arguments in order to attract the undying support of those who hold those emotional trip wires tautly. In other words, modern conservative activists and many of the elected representatives that respond to them have developed a vocabulary of dog-whistle scare tactics to simultaneously frighten their base and thus shore up support by promising to, if elected, curb the scary and icky.

Ooga booga! Scary ahead! )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
It's generally bad. For example, take this painting, one shared by The Archdruid Himself:

Jesus, I want more!

That's Jesus presenting the Constitution to the American people, with various, more recognized Founders backing him. The lack of historicity this dreck presents is palpable. Quotes JMG:

I hope I don’t need to point out to any of my readers that the US constitution, that cautious tissue of half-resolved disputes and last-minute compromises, was not handed down by Jesus to the founding fathers, and that it’s even a bit insulting to suggest that a document needing so much revision and amendment down through the years could have come from an omniscient source. I also hope I don’t need to point out that most of the founding fathers shown clustered around Jesus in the painting were Deists who were deeply suspicious of organized religion—and of course then there’s Ben Franklin, skeptic, libertine, lapsed Quaker, and sometime member of the Hell-Fire Club, standing there with a beatific smile on his face, one hand over his heart, and the other doubtless hiding crossed fingers behind his back.

Still, it presents a starting point for parody. . . . )
peristaltor: (Default)
Relating to my previous post, from Radio Free Taikonaut comes a panel from the comic The Invisibles, Vol. 1, #8, April 1995.

McKenna. For someone few have heard of, he was pretty influential.
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I almost forgot to wish everyone well! Not for holidays or any other such rot, but for the end of our history as we know it! The Eschaton (pronounced EH-ska-ton) arrives tomorrow. Finally! Terrence McKenna's coined the term to refer to a theory of his called the Novelty Theory. The Eschaton is the completion of the universe being pulled from the future to a point where complexity becomes infinite, a kind of spiritual Singularity. From his book:

What is happening to our world is ingression of novelty toward what Whitehead called "concrescence", a tightening gyre. Everything is flowing together. The "autopoietic lapis", the alchemical stone at the end of time, coalesces when everything flows together. When the laws of physics are obviated, the universe disappears, and what is left is the tightly bound plenum, the monad, able to express itself for itself, rather than only able to cast a shadow into physis as its reflection. I come very close here to classical millenarian and apocalyptic thought in my view of the rate at which change is accelerating. From the way the gyre is tightening, I predict that the concrescence will occur soon—around 2012 AD. It will be the entry of our species into hyperspace, but it will appear to be the end of physical laws accompanied by the release of the mind into the imagination.

(McKenna, Terence New Maps of Hyperspace 1989.)

McKenna leaped upon the December 21, 2112 date after reading about a Mayan researcher noting that the 13th Baktun was coming to an end then, and revised the second and later editions of his 1973 book, Invisible Landscape. But nevermind the trippy hippy McKenna and his 'shroom-powered fever dream of a coming transformation. What do the Maya have to say about the end of this Baktun?

There is precisely one Mayan inscription, among all of the thousands that survive, which even mentions the date. This is on Stela 6 a Tortugero, a minor Mayan ruin in the Mexican state of Tabasco, and it runs as follows:

The thirteenth baktun will be finished
Four Ahau, three Kankin
[illegible] will occur
[it will be] the descent of Bolon Yok'te Ku to [illegible].

That's all. Bolon Yok'te Ku is a Mayan god; his name means "Nine Foot Tree" and it's been suggested that he has some relationship to the world tree, an important symbol in traditional Mayan spirituality, but nobody knows for sure.

(John Michael Greer, Apocalypse Not: Everything You Know About 2012, Nostradamus and the Rapture is Wrong, Viva Editions, 2011, p. 155.)

Nine Foot Tree day! Where [something] will happen!
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Waaay back in 2008, I came up with a theory of conservatism I called the Deist Miasma, an attempt to understand for myself why the religious in general and conservatives in particular have such violent reactions against theories that challenge traditional interpretations of reality (specifically in that post, Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection vs. Creation). In Part II, I further delved into the why of the conservative reaction by tying their rejection to the more emotional parts of the brain that irrationally reject concepts that create a sense of disgust. I got that concept from Steven Johnson's The Ghost Map, a fascinating book that chronicled the 1848-49 cholera outbreak and how a new germ theory of disease challenged the prevailing miasma theory.

Never heard of the miasma theory? I'm not surprised. Here are the essentials: "There were practically as many theories about cholera as there were cases of the disease. But in 1848, the dispute was largely divided between two camps: the contagionists and the miasmists. Either cholera was some kind of agent that passed from person to person, like the flu, or it somehow lingered in the 'miasma' of unsanitary spaces." (Johnson, The Ghost Map, Riverhead, 2007, pp. 68.) "Miasmas" are detected by the nose; if it smells bad, it likely causes disease.

Miasma theory has been largely discredited since the perfection of ever more powerful microscopes and research into the efficacy of hand washing, especially when done by doctors before surgery and assisting births. Essentially, the theory lived long after the evidence mounted against it simply because of the disgust bad smells can raise in the brains of the smeller. This disgust overwhelms the smeller's desire to examine a problem intellectually and rationally. This strong disgust emotion trumps and overrides the rational brain, short-circuiting our ability to problem solve.

I hadn't considered it before, but econ blogger Asymptosis has: isn't neo-classical economics itself a form of the same flawed, disgust-based thinking that kept the miasma theory alive? He makes excellent points, points that follow almost to the letter my association between the creationist camp and the progress supporting natural selection. I would add that disgust against Marxist economics might have been the founding event for the neo-classical thinkers, and that all their complex theorizing stems not from the desire to craft rigorous and disciplined empirical modeling of reality, but to reject the fairly sound observations Marx made in Das Kapital. After all, creation "science" wasn't around before Darwin; there was no need, since the creation "science" was science.

Ah, but some of Asymptosis' conclusions resonated with some recent reading. James Howard Kunstler closes his most recent book with this observation about Barack Obama's first term:

He came along at a very difficult time in our national history. The economy is wobbling again for reasons this president has never adequately articulated (and which are the subject of this book), despite his renown for eloquence. And despite his genial disposition and adult demeanor he can be faulted for failing on many issues, including botched health care reform, a dumb energy policy, keeping two of the longest wars in our history going, and not reestablishing the rule of law in banking in the face of arrant misconduct.

(James Howard Kunstler, Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2011, p. 240, I emboldened.)

In our President's defense, he studied law, not economics. For his economic expertise, he hired the brains behind Pres. Clinton's cabinet. Sadly, Larry Summers and Robert Rubin shared the same neo-classical tradition in their assumptions about our economic functioning, enough to pressure Mr. Clinton into signing the official repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, a repeal that got us into this mess. Back to Asymptosis:

[There] are many valid and semi-valid ideas, theories, and constructs floating around in the world of textbook economics. But they are so intertwined with, caught up in the miasma . . . theories that today constitute mainstream economics . . . that it’s hard for even the clearest-eyed economist — much less the everyday person or Washington staffer, legislator, or policy wonk — to tell the shit from the shinola.

(I again emboldened.)

The result? Yes, we can judge the President for his actions; but we should also realize that no one person has a sufficient grasp of the arcane minutia to not have advisers, and that given sufficient acceptance, even bad theories can prove widespread enough to taint said advisers. Translation: yes, Jim Kunstler may have a better understanding of our economy to avoid, as Asymptosis put it, "emptying the cesspools into the water supply" just like the Londoners in the grip of the miasma theory of disease; that doesn't mean a clear-eyed appraisal of our economy is wide-spread enough to reach the halls of power.

And judging by our current economic situation, I'd say it well and truly isn't.

Addendum: The Next Day: This TED video gives a good introduction into how disgust warps our opinions.

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
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Just a bit ago, [ profile] badlydrawnjeff brought up priming, the concept that preparing people can affect perceptions, especially of ambiguous or even non-sense material. Fair enough, that.

I think we should, however, pursue this concept just a bit farther. Consider the following graphic:

Just about everyone who took intro courses in psychology knows this is the chief image used in the famous Asch conformity experiments. In a nutshell, if you want a significant number of people to say that the line in the left-most box is the same length as lines A or B in the right-most box, all you have to do is have four people agree that this is the case. It doesn't matter that C is clearly of equal length; a significant amount of social persuasion will make a significant number of people conform.

The Asch study simply had a single study participant in a study group of 5 to 7 other people, all confederates in on the study, confederates told to give either right or wrong answers. When the single non-confederate was asked to answer which line was the same after the confederates all agreed on the wrong answer, 41% of them would agree with the wrong answer.

41% would say something just about everyone could see wasn't true.

With a little help from our friend technology, the Asch results become clearer, but a tad scarier. )

X-posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
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[ profile] bill_sheehan got his godless preach on the other day and dropped knowledge about The Ten Commandments. It turns out there aren't ten, but about 24 listed do's and don'ts mentioned in Exodus, the book describing Moses and his solo ascent of the mount. It turns out that each Abrahamic religion picks from that legal menagerie those commandments they like best. Heck, not even the papists and those that later followed Martin Luther in protest can agree on which should be included in the Letterman-esque format.

I've known about this smattering of shattered tablet droppings for some time now, this inconsistency that brings a giggle when people thunder about keeping the ten of their Christian faith sacred. ("Why bother?" I think, "Moses himself smashed those. Why shouldn't we?") I've also known that many of the kosher acts that sets practicing Jews apart from others can be found in the ten not only adopted by their religious tradition, but also kept intact by Moses and later stored in the Ark of the Covenant. Monotheism itself is Number One (and Two, in case you goldsmiths with idol thoughts weren't listening); official feasting and use of only unleavened bread therein gets mention in Three, Six and Eight; and finally, the root of Jewish and Halal dietary laws governing the separation of milk and meat finds its origin in the final:

X. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.

I haven't given much thought recently to any of the commandments. Let's remember, I'm not religiously inclined. A commenter on [ profile] bill_sheehan's post, though, gave some background on the Tenth that put the prohibition in a completely new perspective, making me realize once again that the observant may have completely missed the point of the commandment. What if the Tenth has to do not with the stuff of Holsteins but with stuff like Palestine? )
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. . . but not to your own facts.

After a year of use, red light cameras have failed to deliver the promised safety benefits in Baytown, Texas. The Houston suburb activated the majority of its cameras on July 13, 2008. Since then, the number of accidents at eight camera locations has increased 40 percent, contrary to predictions from city officials. The increase in accidents has not been in minor "fender benders," as is frequently claimed by photo ticketing advocates. Rather, the number of collisions resulting in an injury jumped 75 percent. Rear end collisions increased 39 percent. Results from comprehensive, independent studies elsewhere in the country have yielded similar results.

(I had to emphasize.)

I've got other examples of where the facts don't conform to the popular opinions, but this one jumped out at me. Maybe putting in 13 hours a day at work this week got me thinking a lot about traffic patterns.
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Ever wonder what would happen if the biblical Jesus was the Jesus of the Tea Partiers? Wallow in his red-lettered insight.

What's better, those quotes in JC's mouth come not from the artistic blasphemer behind the site, but from "actual" Christians. Just click on the image at the site to go directly to the judgmental ignoramous voice behind Christ's words!
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Of the books I've read lately, Clay Shirkey's Here Comes Everybody had some interesting notes on how the internet and easy connectivity has changed how society reacts to, well, everything.

He notes that the Catholic Church has had priest abuse scandals in the past, but this is the first time in history the church has been unable to squelch them. Why? Internet, of course. If you have a cause, you can mobilize people for your cause with the greatest of ease, circumventing the usual channels that were previously if not necessary for organization then certainly helpful.

So [ profile] interactiveleaf posts recently about a pickup truck with more than the usual ornamentation.

I forward this to a non-LJ friend. Days later, we were discussing the picture. He suggests the license plate is probably racist (in that it contains racist code numbers, not because of the "CV", which probably stands for Confederate Veterans). So, on a wild try, I Google the license number.

Whether he was right or wrong, holy crap. Thanks to that photo, that number has gone viral, and this viral activity has bitten the truck owner right on his ass:

Douglas Story, a Chantilly dump truck driver for the Virginia Department of Transportation, says he wanted to grab people's attention when he paid $224.90 to have a mural of the burning World Trade Center detailed onto the tailgate of his Ford F-150 along with a sticker that reads: "Everything I ever needed to know about Islam I learned on 9/11."

But he got more than he bargained for when a photo of his pickup went viral on the Web last week. Motorists and Muslim groups complained that his Virginia vanity license plate -- 14CV88 -- was really code for neo-Nazi, white supremacist sentiments. The state Department of Motor Vehicles voted last week to recall Story's plates and force him to buy new ones. . . .

And his boss told him that he could no longer park on VDOT property with the anti-Islam mural. So Story spent an afternoon getting new randomized plates and peeling the mural off by hand.

"I feel naked," he said.

Don't feel too badly, Mr. Story. In one respect, the internet has failed, for you can apparently keep your fucking racist Confederate Battle Flag in your back window. Consider it your fig leaf of racist dignity.
peristaltor: (Default)
I hereby announce that Mr. Deity is one of the funniest web shows currently gracing our bandwidth, and that all and sundry should immediately partake thereof.

Start with Episode 1, of course. Enjoy.
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New Scientist posts this snippet:

"Intuiting God's beliefs on important issues may not produce an independent guide, but may instead serve as an echo chamber to validate and justify one's own beliefs," writes a team led by Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

To many, this seems a quite evident and non-controversial comment. After all, what are the chances that someone with, say, a hatred of any given act be drawn to any religion that fails to condemn or even embraces the act? Ah, but the article gets more interesting when we discover why the researchers were led to this conclusion:

The researchers started by asking volunteers who said they believe in God to give their own views on controversial topics, such as abortion and the death penalty. They also asked what the volunteers thought were the views of God, average Americans and public figures such as Bill Gates. Volunteers' own beliefs corresponded most strongly with those they attributed to God.

Next, the team asked another group of volunteers to undertake tasks designed to soften their existing views, such as preparing speeches on the death penalty in which they had to take the opposite view to their own. They found that this led to shifts in the beliefs attributed to God, but not in those attributed to other people. . . .

"The experiments in which we manipulate people's own beliefs are the most compelling evidence we have to show that people's own beliefs influence what they think God believes more substantially than it influences what they think other people believe," says Epley. (Emphasis mine.)

This smacks of perhaps something related to the Overton Window. By simply being exposed to opinions that vary from their own, this second group shifted not just their own opinion, but the opinion God is likely to take. Perhaps this is a variant on the old canard "Vox Deus, vox populi," or "The voice of the people is the voice of God." I say variant simply because the second group didn't sway from what they felt other people would say on the issue, a point illustrated by further brain scans:

Finally, the team used fMRI to scan the brains of volunteers while they contemplated the beliefs of themselves, God or "average Americans". In all the experiments the volunteers professed beliefs in an Abrahamic God. The majority were Christian.

In the first two cases, similar parts of the brain were active. When asked to contemplate other Americans' beliefs, however, an area of the brain used for inferring other people's mental states was active. This implies that people map God's beliefs onto their own.

So, we store and consider the opinion of others in different place in the brain than the place used to mull our and God's existences. Interesting.

Oh, and before you smug left-leaning folks out there take this as ammo for future dealings with the Faux News crowd, other researchers have been doing great work showing how one's political persuasion influences how credibly one accepts or rejects unsubstantiated claims. Here's one such graph. There are more. Each shows that all of us are susceptible to misinformation, to accepting the unproven. What bad knowledge that happens to be simply depends on the mis-info spreader tying the particular lie to the proper spin, one that resonates well with other preconceptions.

I realize that politics and religion are to many minds separate issues, but I feel both topics have share a "grounding" in the brain, are held by the adherents of those beliefs because they resonate well with preconceptions held by the adherents. Both political and religious beliefs are, after all, the mental models we humans use to frame the world around us. (For a really powerful if somewhat hackneyed take on this, has anyone read Philip K. Dick's The Eye In the Sky?) The old saying "Never discuss politics or religion" in polite company recognizes that both topics prove for most people difficult to discuss dispassionately since the topics carry deeply-held and therefore non-negotiable elements.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to see this research mentioned in New Scientist replicated in a political context with similar results.
peristaltor: (Default)
To the rabid optimists: Put down the pom-poms. Step away from the pink megaphone. You aren't helping.

Please read this. Without knowing it, without being able to articulated it as well, this has been my philosophy for decades.
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I'll first make an up-front declaration of bias: I hate the anti-vaccination crowd.

For those of you unfamiliar with actress, comedianne and centerfold model Jenny McCarthy's hobbies, she has been probably the most visible and outspoken celebrity to endorse the vile lies that childhood vaccines, especially those containing mercury-based preservatives like Thimerisol, cause autism.

I call her positions on vaccine "vile lies" for good reason: At least four peer-reviewed studies have failed to show a connection. That doesn't stop folks -- including celebs like McCarthy and her boyfriend Jim Carrey, Robert Kennedy, Jr., Bill Mahr and a raft of others -- from flogging the Thimerisol horse corpse.

Ms. McCarthy, of course, has reason to be angry at autism; her son suffers from the condition. In this case, though, she has gone completely off the deep end attacking vaccines, even going so far as to suggest that the inevitable preventable deaths that follow people refusing to immunize their own children are a price worth paying to avoid an autism connection that (once again) has been debunked.

Let's really add to evidence of her dissonance. Though she has on more than one occasion likened vaccines to "poison," take a gander at what she had to say about one of the most deadly poisons known to man:

“I love Botox, I absolutely love it. I get it minimally so I can still move my face. But I really do think it’s a savior.”

Anyhoo, I'm not posting this just to rant. I was responding to [ profile] alobar the other day. I think the Hygienic Hypothesis might be a more likely culprit, and said so. He asked a good question: Why now? Why are we facing an explosion of autism? )

Edit: Link and floppy verbiage corrected October 8, 2009.
peristaltor: (Default)
Decades ago I dated a chess player, a very good chess player, one who trained with chess masters and knew first hand many of the names in competition at that time. One day in the smokey basement pub where chess players meet to play, she came back from a game downright pissed off.

She had lost. Now, she was very good, but people win and lose all the time. I asked her why she was so upset. Her explanation stumped me: "He played like a fish," she said.


I had her describe what it meant to play "like a fish." She explained that fish make wild, unpredictable moves, that their play doesn't fit any recognizable pattern.

"But he won," I said. I suppose comments like this are one of the big reasons we haven't seen each other in almost 20 years; but I was honestly then trying to understand the difference between a truly great player who wins and a "fish" who wins. To me, they both win, so what's the difference? After all, if a master sat me down and schooled me in the ways of the board, I wouldn't know if I was undone by a lost Fibunacci Bishop or a Pawn's Gambit or the Flirty Queen. I would only know that I lost. Checkmate.

Out on a walk last night, I finally reasoned why the term "fish" might be used. Hook a fish and drag it out of the water, and it flops about madly on the deck or the dock without getting anywhere. A chess "fish," therefore, might be someone whose play seems erratic and pointless. They don't seem to be getting anywhere, or going anywhere. Ah, but the schooled opponent of the fish is judging the fish's moves on a learned pattern, the movement of one who walks on dry land.

Let's take this fish analogy a bit further and suppose that the fish player is actually playing by rules applicable in the water. Those spastic arches and flops across the board make no sense to us dry-landers; but put us in the drink and we shall see the fish's twitches move it across great distances with an admirable economy of effort. We walkers, on the other hand, slap and kick and flap about and barely get anywhere in the water. (I have a video of myself scuba diving in Hawaii, if anyone needs images of an amateur diver for comic relief.)

All this led me to reconsider a word upon which I've been stumbling quite a bit lately: Heuristics. )
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A book I loved, Annie's Box by Randall Keynes, has been made into a movie, Creation. It tells Charles Darwin's story through his and his families personal writings, giving deep insight into what happened in a life that lead to probably the most influential scientific theory of all time.

I will not, though, be seeing it in the theater as I had hoped, at least not in the United States:

US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution.

The distributors have pussied out. Who cares what other people believe? Let those that want to see the movie see the fucking movie. Nope.

The end of the Telegraph article says it all:

Early reviews have raved about the film. The Hollywood Reporter said: "It would be a great shame if those with religious convictions spurned the film out of hand as they will find it even-handed and wise."

Well, we wouldn't want that, now, would we?
peristaltor: (Default)
Over at [ profile] antitheism, this little story has folks rightfully enraged. It concerns a tee shirt the high school marching band had made for itself:

Cute, eh? As much as I dismay at the strictly hierarchical ascent model, the March of Man has become an icon and thus becomes ripe for humor. This shirt works.

Not, though, according to the local wing nuts:

Assistant band director Brian Kloppenburg said the shirts were designed by him, band director Jordan Summers and Main Street Logo. Kloppenburg said the shirts were intended to portray how brass instruments have evolved in music from the 1960s to modern day. Summers said they chose the evolution of man because it was “recognizable.”

The band debuted the T-shirts when it marched in the Missouri State Fair parade. Summers said he was surprised when he received a direct complaint after the parade.

Although the shirts don’t directly violate the district’s dress code, Assistant Superintendent Brad Pollitt said complaints by parents made him take action.

“I made the decision to have the band members turn the shirts in after several concerned parents brought the shirts to my attention,” Pollitt said.

Pollitt said the district was required by law to remain neutral on religion. . . . (Emphasis mine.)

Wait, huh? How is using a well-known scientific icon taking a position on a religious issue in any way whatsoever? Keep reading.

High School junior Adam Tilley said he understood why the shirts were repossessed.

“I can see where the parents are coming from,” he said. “Evolution has always been controversial.”

Yes, Adam, evolution (in your lifetime) has "always" been controversial. Too true, that. It has also been controversial since it was proposed way back in 1859. But it hasn't been this controversial, Adam, in many, many years. Why? Because, I believe, many people have fallen down on the job quite literally, something Mr. Pollit can demonstrate. For further illustration, let's hear from one of your band mates:

“It’s not like we are saying God is bad,” sophomore band member Denyel Luke said. "We aren’t promoting evolution.”

And within this simple statement, we find the problem.

As long as these children have been alive, they have suffered under an imaginary, oppressive belief that Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection somehow challenges any religious tenet. This belief enshrines the concept of a false duality, a logical fallacy that maintains if position A is right, then position/opinion B is wrong.

Note what I did right there. A is a position, while B is a position/opinion. Why did I do that? Because Darwin's theory is based upon and supported by observation and the scientific method, while the religious tenets of the faithful -- in this case, supposedly Christianity -- are based on centuries of tradition and texts dating back millenia . . . not on observable phenomena parsed into fact.

And here's where the reporter sharing that story through the The Sedalia Democrat fails: He or she failed to note that the comments made by Pollit and Denyel are factually inaccurate. Promoting evolution is not "saying God is bad."

I mean, jumping Jesus on a pogo stick, people, how hard is it to call a local university and get a correcting quote from a professor conversant in Darwin's theory? How hard is it to pull something simple from Stephen Jay Gould's writings? By not correcting that student's statement, the reporter lets the statement stand in the public record unchallenged by fact.

And that unchallenged statement will stand in the eyeballs of every reader as a subtle cue -- "evolution challenges religion," it will whisper. Sometime later, perhaps in a bar, perhaps at a family gathering, someone who read that and many, many other stories like it will pipe up in the discussion, perhaps to mutter, "Yeah, evolution is fine for you to believe; but I believe in God, and evolution challenges that."

Yes, that person will be wrong, wrong, wrong, for more reasons than I can cram into a simple LJ entry like this one. Yes, that person has every right to be wrong, that I acknowledge; but wouldn't it be better if he or she was at least presented the factually accurate position by people paid to present factually accurate positions?!?

Christ on a rubber crutch, I am sick of these battles. They are so very, very avoidable. All we need to do in the public sphere is specify that "facts" are those nagging statements that can be supported time and time again by directed, objective observation. It's that simple.

And, I know, it's also too much to ask.


Addendum, The Next Day: Via Pharyngula comes a new report on how well each state teaches evolution in its schools. Missouri's C grade might explain both the mistaken parental outrage at the shirt attacking any religion, and the fact that those complainers failed to realize how outdated the Progress of Man image really is to the science of evolution today.


How does your state rate?


Jul. 5th, 2009 09:48 pm
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Skeptic magazine editor Michael Shermer (The guy from the Baloney Detection Kit video) lays down the skeptical, scientific approach in this Scientific American article:

The principle of positive evidence applies to all claims. Skeptics are from Missouri, the Show-Me state. Show me a Sasquatch body. Show me the archaeological artifacts from Atlantis. Show me a Ouija board that spells words with securely blindfolded participants. Show me a Nostradamus quatrain that predicted World War II or 9/11 before (not after) the fact (postdictions don’t count in science). Show me the evidence that alternative medicines work better than placebos. Show me an ET or take me to the Mothership. Show me the Intelligent Designer. Show me God. Show me, and I’ll believe.
peristaltor: (Default)

Michael Shermer gives the 12-point rundown on questions everyone should be asking all the time. BTW, his books Why People Believe Weird Things and Why Darwin Matters should be required high school reading.


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