Folding, spindeling, and mutilating lauguage for fun since Aug, 2004
Monday, June 29, 2009

From Chapter one of Origin of the Species :

When a race of plants is once pretty well established, the seed-raisers do not pick out the best plants, but merely go over their seed-beds, and pull up the 'rogues,' as they call the plants that deviate from the proper standard. With animals this kind of selection is, in fact, also followed; for hardly any one is so careless as to allow his worst animals to breed.

Naturally, creationists merely quote the last sentence and claim that with this sentence, Darwin was advocating human eugenics.  In fact, Darwin spends the first chapter discussing the demonstrable effect of artificial selection over time in the creation of new breeds to lay the foundation for how changes over time could accumulate into new species, and discussing the difficulties that the previous explanations have in providing a mechanism that can accommodate all observations…on the way to eventually showing how his theory DOES accommodate these observations.

To mistake this sentence in context for anything other than part of a description of how artificial selection is implemented in domestic animal husbandry would require either extreme stupidity or extreme dishonesty.  In creationist apologists, it is difficult to tell the difference. 

Incidentally, the pre-Darwin explanations are the ones currently offered by creationists, with the terminology changed, but with no new information nor alternative mechanisms proposed.  Current evolutionary theory has offered predictions borne out by new discoveries, and has suggested areas for further study that have spawned whole new and fruitful discoveries that have enriched our lives in ways too numerous to list.  The theories that Darwin's replaced withered and died because they could not produce new knowledge.  Creationists who want to resurrect those old ideas have failed to demonstrate any ability of these ideas to provide any advancement of knowledge or understanding.

In the absence of such an ability to produce new information, it is ridiculous for creationists to claim that it is bias and prejudice that keeps their ideas from being accepted in academia. 

Monday, June 29, 2009 6:43:37 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [3] | #
Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ben (formerly of Eclectics Anonymous), who I would really like to see get back to blogging again…sent me a couple of books (thanks, Ben) that I have now read, and am prepared to recommend.

 

The first is Trick or Treatment, by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst.  I really liked this book.  They did a great job of communicating the history of the current controversies involving conventional and alternative medicines.

 

They also did a thorough run-down of the state of research regarding the more common areas of alternative medicine.

 

The only problem I had with it is that they often made statements to the effect that it is not important to understand the underlying mechanism of a treatment before legitimizing it as medicine.  As long as the treatment can be shown to work in studies, in other words, it can be applied as a treatment.  I understand that, I used to think that as well, but the more I think and read about it, the more I support science-based medicine, as opposed to what they describe as “evidence-based medicine”.

 

Basically, if we don’t understand the mechanism for how a treatment works, it would be very difficult to say with any certainty that it will work under varying conditions.  For instance, if raw Ginger root were found to reduce inflammation, how would we know (not understanding the mechanism by which it does so), if we could get the same results from dried and powdered ginger root, or ginger root extract, or whatever?

 

Would we have to independently test each of these options with numerous high-quality trials?   It doesn’t make a lot of sense, given the limited resources available for such research, why would we not focus that research on medicines and treatments that the current scientific models suggest will work?

 

You might ask, at this point, how I can say that, since I have used chiropractors and also take a number of supplements that could be considered “alternative” medicine.

 

Well, frankly, I use chiropractors when I have something out of joint in my neck, back, hip, or shoulder and it is causing me pain…which is what chiropractors have been proven to have success in treating.  Now, most back problems like that will fix themselves if you just relax and pop some pain killers and rest for 4-8 weeks.  I don’t have that kind of patience.  *shrug* so there you go.  I don’t think it’s going to cure my thyroid condition, or my asthma.

 

I take fish oil on the direction of my doctor in order to raise my level of “good” cholesterol, and I take Glucosamine and Chondroitin for my knees because, I’ve got a perfect horror of the idea of arthritis in my knees, which I was told to expect at a very young age after my knees were run over by a hay wagon when I was in grade school (don’t ask).

 

Glucosamine is known to be effective for osteoarthritis, and due to the trauma to my knees, as well as a family history of OA, I don’t feel it is that weird for me to take it now that I am 41 and showing mild signs of arthritis in my knees.

 

I also take a number of vitamin/mineral supplements which are recommended by my doctor because I am in a population that tends to be deficient in those vitamins and minerals…but I don’t take crazy “Dr.” Weil mega-doses…just the AMA recommended amount.

 

Finally, as I had two mid-wife great-grandmothers, I was raised with a number of folk remedies that I resort to habitually.  You know, chicken soup, cranberry juice, salt water gargle for sore throat, Soda water for acid stomach, ginger root for nausea…

 

Hey, I’m not saying we shouldn’t let people be irrational, I’m just saying that medicine should be medicine, and food should be food.  In other words, if I want to take chicken soup for a cold, I should buy it in the soup isle at regular soup prices, and people should not be trying to sell me a chicken soup pill in the pharmacy, and claiming it is medicine.

 

This book does a good job of separating out those issues, and addressing them coherently.  It was a good book.

 

Tomorrow:  Longitude

P.S. go to Eclectics Anonymous, and urge Ben to start blogging again.  Do it for me, PLEEEEEESE!

Saturday, June 27, 2009 9:43:45 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [1] | #
Friday, June 12, 2009

A while back, there was a bit of a "kefuffle" on You Tube when an Evolutionist named Thunderfoot did a 30-part series aimed at explaining, scientifically, the errors in common creationist claims.

One of the creationists that he chose was a young guy named VenomFangX, a very popular Christian apologist and fan of the Discovery Institute.

In these videos, Thunderfoot used clips of VenomFangX's work, for the purposes of commentary and criticism. VenomFangX filed a false DMCA claim against Thunderfoot, and the videos were removed by YouTube. Basically, it looked a lot like VenomFangX couldn't argue Thunderfoots points, so he decided to have Thunderfoot silenced instead.

Thunderfoot lawyered up, and when he found out he had a case, he went to VenomFangX and explained that filing a false DMCA claim against someone was serious business and would likely run into a lot of money and trouble for VenomFangX. Who, it turns out, is a young kid who probably doesn't need to spend the rest of his life burdoned from mistakes he made while romping around on the internet.

VenomFangX made an abject apology, and withdrew the claims, and Thunderfoot let him off the hook. It was all very civilized and admirable. I expect that VenomFangX will profit from the experience.

Now, I guess the Discovery Institute filed a DMCA claim against a guy named DonExodus2 for commenting on one of Casy Luskin's interviews. Fox interviewed Luskin, and in true fashion of most of the modern news media, they just invited the creationist on unchalleneged by any opposing side, and just let him talk and talk without having to deal with a single critical comment. Even when they have someone on to represent evolution, it is rarely an evolutionary biologist. It is usually somone who is friendly to evolution, but not knowledgeable, so they give away a lot of points that would have been taken by a scientist.

 So anyway, this guy decided that he would provide the critical commentary for the interview, and post it on YouTube. This is a common thing on You Tube, all sorts of people provide critical commentary on video content of others. 

DonExodus2 now reports that Discovery Institute has filed a DMCA claim against the video, and that his YouTube account was in danger of being closed. His position is that FOX News owns the rights to the material, not the Discovery Institute, so the claim is fraudulant. Also, that his commentary is protected under several exception clauses in the DMCA including being commetary, criticism, educational, and non-profit.

I think he made a couple of mistakes.

1) He made it clear that any damages he seeks are purely for revenge against the DI for filing the claim, not for damages caused by them making a false claim against him.

2) He publicly calls their actions criminal even though he is not a lawyer, and the case has not yet been brought or decided.

3) He announced his intentions before he even retained council. The Discovery Institute has historically gotten a large slice of its funding from Howard Ahmanson, who is kind of the "sugar daddy" of the religious right (if your church was ever taken over by fundies, and you were kicked out, you can probably thank Howard Ahmanson; he has funded several organizations to do stuff like that). Anyway, deep pockets. Very deep pockets. They are probably already pre-lawyered, and prepared to obstruct this case until DonExodus2 runs out of money. The case will likely never make it to a decision, because even pro-bono lawyers have their limits.

4) He made his best argument before even bringing the case. So now, all the Discovery Institute has to do is to convince FOX News to file the DMCA claim instead. Anyone wanna take bets that they can convince FOX News to do that? Suddenly, he has to make a case against TWO adversaries with deeper pockets than him.

I don't know, maybe DonExodus2 is one of those novel fools willing to wreck his whole life for a hobby YouTube Channel. Personally, I think Thunderfoot's approach was classier, and I think it more thoroughly showed the weak and pathetic nature of the act of defending your position by trying to silence the opposition.

I have to laugh a little as Premise Media sucessfully defended their pro-Intelligent Design movie "Expelled" by arguing that the clip of John Lennon's "Imagine" that they used without permission was used for "criticism"...even though it was merely part of the sound track, and never mentioned, discussed, or critiqued. It was clearly just part of the sound-track.

Naturally, they viewed this as a false claim made merely to censor the film. At least Yoko Ono actually owned the rights to the thing she was filing the claim about. Premise Media won it's claim. Basically, playing the song against footage of Stalin amounts to "criticism" and exempts their use under DMCA exceptions. That's a pretty low bar. You can "critique" a song you don't like by playing it while showing a picture of someone you don't like.

How come everyone isn't a music critic? We could empty the welfare rolls. There is obviously a low bar for defense when it comes to DMCA exceptions, at least when it is creationists vs. the widows of pop icons from the '60's. We'll see about when it comes to evolutionists vs. creationist moneybags.

(Hat Tip: Pharyngula)

Friday, June 12, 2009 7:09:26 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [3] | #
Monday, June 08, 2009

Poor sad Ollie! He just gets thrown a bone at the end of the article. How sad! After taking the fall for the "guns for drugs" thing, he barely gets honorable mention for appearing in a carnival of the crazy. Newt never took a political bullet for a Republican president ever....and Huckabee, all he did was stop being fat. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/06/newt-gingrich-americans-a_n_212235.html

Monday, June 08, 2009 12:14:30 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Monday, June 01, 2009

You gotta go over to 4simpsons real quick and scan down the front page looking for Neil's "multiverse" post, or google it if it has already rolled off.  I don't want to trigger his paranoia with too many links but this is amazing!

Neil actually thinks that the multi-verse theories were proposed to counter Intelligent Design Theory.

Um.  The Multiverse Theory pre-dates the Intelligent Design political movement.

The Multiverse theory is described by mathematics.  The Intelligent Design political movement cannot be described according to any coherent organizational model.

But theoretical Physicists are just scrambling to scratch up something to answer Intelligent Design with.

Uh huh.  Whatever helps you sleep at night, Neil baby.

But I'd like to point out that the only way that the Multi-verse theories could have been created to respond to Intelligent Design is if the scientists developed them after 1992 (When ID was created) and then went back in time a significant amount, and then introduced a progressive series of theoretical models beginning with when the term was coined in the late 1800.

Of course, the only way that time travel would be even remotely possible is if one of the multiple universe theories were true... (since going back in time and changing events would create another alternate universe, and an alternate time-line).

And furthermore, why are we to believe that scientists are desperately flailing around to discount the arguments of ID proponents when ID proponents seem to have to be always making statements like this?:

 

[Update]  about not provoking his paranoia:  Too late. Neil is already Jonseing on how persecuted he is that people disagree with him and find his lunacy entertaining.  He only listed three people this time.  Usually he goes on much longer about how important an Godly he must be because people disagree with him.

Monday, June 01, 2009 6:53:06 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [19] |  |  |  |  |  |  | #

Do you guys remember my posts about Mullet Pig from last year's Susan G. Komen 3-day walk?

Well, his wife is walking again this year, and she needs donations!

Here's the URL for her personal site.

http://www.new.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=118056168624&h=EvXLi&u=xVmnj&ref=mf

I'll get some links to my mentions of Mullet Pig after I get the kids off to school.

Monday, June 01, 2009 5:25:57 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [1] |  | #
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