Evolution and Bill Nye 1 – Creationism and Ken Ham 0 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — Bill Nye, the Science Guy, debated Ken Ham, the Bible Guy, Tuesday, as I am sure you’ve heard. Nye defended the theory of evolution; Ham, the Young Earth Creationist (YEC) perspective. I haven’t watched the whole thing, and I haven’t found a transcript of their remarks yet, but it seems Nye had the edge, as he should, since evolution is real and the 6-day Creation wasn’t. Whether the debate made any fence-sitters change their minds remains to be seen. Ken Ham is a leading champion of a literal interpretation of the Biblical account of Genesis. Ham insists the Earth is no more than 6,000 years old, and that God created the animals and plants in their present forms we see today. As for the dinosaurs, they perished when God sent the Flood. His Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., attempts to debunk more than 200 years of solid scientific evidence that demonstrates the Earth is more like 4.6 billion years old, that present-day plants and animals are the results of billions of years of evolution, and that the dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago, long before any human-like animal walked the Earth. Among the world’s scientists — ...

Paleo-hokum 3

“There’s a sucker born every minute.” — David Hannum, P.T. Barnum’s competitor at hoodwinking the public (1860) JISHOU, HUNAN — Eat like a caveman! Lose weight! Be healthy! Science proves it! The paleo-diet is the latest in a series of diet fads that seem to crop every decade or so. (Anyone remember the Atkins diet, the grapefruit diet, the protein diet, the low-carb diet?) A few of my relatives and friends are trying the paleo-diet out. Since this amazing new diet plan has not yet made headlines in China, I had to go look it up. My bullshit meter hit level 9. While the actual dietary recommendations of the paleo-diet are not so bad, the so-called “scientific basis” for the paleo-diet is mostly a crock of mastodon droppings. (See photo at right) It’s a gimmick. It’s one of those ideas that at first glance seems almost plausible, but on deeper inspection is just hucksterism dressed up in a white labcoat. So, I’m going to put on my science teacher hat and analyze the paleo-diet. I’m not saying you need to give it up, but you should at least understand a lot of it is hokum. The basis of the paleo-diet ...

Bitcoiners’ dubious sense of economic history 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — Banks are all evil, right? Especially the Federal Reserve Bank, which if you believe Sen. Ron Paul (R-TX), is unconstitutional and shouldn’t even exist. And governments shouldn’t control currency, because … free markets! That’s pretty much the reasoning behind bitcoin and its various clones. Although I have playing with bitcoin and other crypto-currencies for the last month, I don’t totally buy into the philosophy behind their creation. For one thing, bitcoin fans don’t know their economic and political history too well. Here’s a tip, guys. It’s important to get your history straight before you introduce a whole new currency to replace something that’s been used for centuries. Maybe I’ve put the cart before the horse, but only now have I had the time to review the rationale for introducing bitcoin and its offshoots. Quite simply, I am not impressed. The wiki for Devcoin, an offshoot of bitcoin, links to this so-called “History of Money,” which contains this reference to Colonial Scrip (paper money) and Parliament’s regulation of it. In Response the world’s most powerful independent bank [The Bank of England] used its influence on the British parliament to press for the passing of the Currency Act of ...

Well, still here

JISHOU, HUNAN — In case you were worried, the end of the world has not come as some predicted. It’s midway through Dec. 21 here in China, and everything is copacetic. You do know that all that hoo-roar about the Mayan calendar was a lot of hogwash, don’t you? Good. Have a great weekend! Woo-hoo!

World’s dumbest suggestion, I mean, really dumb

JISHOU, HUNAN — Others have commented on this boneheaded idea of Megan McArdle, but I have to add my two cents. The. Dumbest. Suggestion. In. The. World. Near the end of a long screed about how gun control laws would ultimately be futile, she opines: My guess is that we’re going to get a law anyway, and my hope is that it will consist of small measures that might have some tiny actual effect, like restrictions on magazine capacity. I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once. Would it work? Would people do it? I have no idea; all I can say is that both these things would be more effective than banning rifles with pistol grips. [Bolding is mine.] What a wonderful idea! Forget gun controls. If we all make a habit of ...

10th Circuit slaps Oklahoma anti-Sharia law down like bug on a wall

JISHOU, HUNAN — Oklahoma’s anti-Sharia law violates the US Constitution, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. The ruling states that the law — which amended the state constitution — violated the Establishment clause of the First Amendment by singling out one religion, Islam. In addition, the court noted that the proponents of the law, which passed November 2010 in a state referendum, could not identify one occasion in which Sharia was used in Oklahoma. Too bad courts can’t comment on the stupidity of laws, too. Oklahoma’s Islamophobic factions took the lead nationally in pressing for such a law, creating a nontroversy about “creeping Sharia” and Muslim infiltration of the USA. After the Sooner State’s successful ballot initiative, other states jumped on the bandwagon, fabricating Muslim threats from whole cloth. The 10th Circuit got to the heart of the matter in its ruling: “Sharia? What Sharia?” Appellants do not identify any actual problem the challenged amendment seeks to solve. Indeed, they admitted at the preliminary injunction hearing that they did not know of even a single instance where an Oklahoma court had applied Sharia law or used the legal precepts of other nations or cultures, let alone that such ...

Beware of demons? Beware of David Barton

JISHOU, HUNAN — David Barton is a loon, a dangerous loon. I’ve blogged before about David Barton’s peculiar version of American history. He teaches that the USA was deliberately conceived as a Christian nation, despite considerable evidence to the contrary. Barton misquotes the Founding Fathers, twists and quotemines historical documents, and when all else fails outright lies about history to support his cockeyed ideas. The Religious Right adores him. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who is vainly trying to be the presidential nominee of her party, invited Barton to teach the Constitution to newly minted Representatives. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who at one point was considering a presidential run, famously said: `“I almost wish that there would be, like, a simultaneous telecast, and all Americans would be forced–forced at gunpoint no less–to listen to every David Barton message, and I think our country would be better for it. I wish it’d happen.” The Atlantic Monthly had a lengthy analysis of Barton’s appeal and his peculiar methods of historical research. There is no doubt that Barton’s religious belief drives his interpretation of history, but what kind of beliefs does he have? Here’s a clue. Right Wing Watch posted this excerpt of ...

Nothing to see here. No Rapture here. Now move along. 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — Six pm came and went, and nothing unusual happened, despite Harold Camping’s prophecy of the Rapture today. It is raining, but cats and dogs, not fire and brimstone. No one rose up into Heaven, either. Draw your own conclusions. And enjoy your weekend — maybe it will be rapturous in an entirely different way.

Canary in the cage 14

JISHOU, HUNAN — I hear tell that the Rapture will happen this Saturday. I’m not clear if the prophet, Harold Camping, has worked out the exact time of the event, but since China is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Time, I’ll give you a heads up.

Stopping creeping sharia law in the Cowboy State 1

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY — There are perhaps 300 Muslims who live in Wyoming, where the livestock outnumber the people in general. Yet, a state representative there (he’s a Republican, in case you couldn’t guess) has proposed a ballot measure to forbid state judges from using Islamic law (sharia) or “international law” in deciding cases. He calls it a “pre-emptive strike.” Just in case those 300 Muslims rise up and try to impose religious law on Wyoming’s people … and livestock. Voters in another hotbed of Islam, Oklahoma, approved a similar measure last year. It was later struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge. Despite the futility of trying to have a similar referendum in Wyoming, Rep. Gerald Gay wants to waste everyone’s time anyway. I can’t decide if these guys are insane, or are playing to the crazies to garner votes. Maybe both.

Arsenic-based lifeform? Maybe, maybe not. 5

JISHOU, HUNAN — Just a few days ago, the Internet was in a hub-bub about the discovery of a strain of bacteria that thrives in an arsenic-laced environment. Several biologists, however, are not so convinced, and have pointed out weaknesses in the scientific paper announcing the discovery. Carl Zimmer at Discover magazine just published a summary of some of these objections. The late astronomer and author Carl Sagan once wrote that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” In other words, if you claim you saw a UFO zipping across the sky from your backyard, your photographic “proof” had better not look like blurry shot of a modified dinner plate. Briefly, that’s what critics of the arsenic-loving bacteria paper are saying. They believe the authors’ methodology and analysis is flawed, so they want further evidence that these bacteria have really incorporated arsenic into their DNA, for example. This is how science works. Even Newton and Einstein, whose theories of gravity and relativity are now considered foundations of modern physics, had their critics when they were first published. Science is all about testing and verification of hypotheses. Peer-reviewed journals, like Science, run submissions past a panel of editors, who judge in part whether ...

Best answer for your alternative science/medicine believing friends

xkcd nails the argument against alt-med and alt-science nonsense. If it all really worked, somebody would be using it for practical purposes. Click on the image to see the original, so you can read the mouse-over comment there.

Our weather forecast is from Wordpress Weather