Embrace the journey …

When I started this blog in 2010, I was riding a hell-bent train to discuss a certain level of self awareness that I was emboldened by — and insecure with — the label “atheist.” What ensued was a few years of what I felt was addressing a high level of antagonism against the church and my early education and my disappointment toward it for not being capable of an honest discussion of questions I asked of it.

We’ll call that time the anger years. Like attracted like, and this blog was a café for a lot of vocal non-theists, which also attracted some theists attempting to proselytize the so-called lost. Continue reading “Embrace the journey …”

Getting Skeptical About Woo Juice Part 1:For The Credulous Asshole Troll- Neil C. Reinhardt (via Misplaced Grace)

A couple of you might be interested in the troll who is plaguing regular-reader George’s blog lately.

Except for me, we atheists don’t always resort to the profane. But George reached the end of his rope.

I want you to check out a few of the responses from Neil C. Reinhardt. He emailed me personally pleading for my help in convincing George that Noni Juice cured cancer.

George is doing a great job staving off this guy. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Last week I wrote a eulogy to one of my personal heroes who died of cancer.  Regardless of the political views of my readers and Canadians in general, most people are happy to agree that Jack Layton was a very special human being- someone worthy of a fond farewell. I would like to point out that I have more than a few readers who hold political views in diametric opposition to Jack's vision- and each and every one of those people had the courtesy … Read More

via Misplaced Grace

Asteroid Discovery From 1980 – 2010

View of the solar system showing the locations of all the asteroids starting in 1980, as asteroids are discovered they are added to the map and highlighted white so you can pick out the new ones.
The final colour of an asteroids indicates how closely it comes to the inner solar system.
Earth Crossers are Red
Earth Approachers (Perihelion less than 1.3AU) are Yellow
All Others are Green

Notice now the pattern of discovery follows the Earth around its orbit, most discoveries are made in the region directly opposite the Sun. You’ll also notice some clusters of discoveries on the line between Earth and Jupiter, these are the result of surveys looking for Jovian moons. Similar clusters of discoveries can be tied to the other outer planets, but those are not visible in this video.

As the video moves into the mid 1990’s we see much higher discovery rates as automated sky scanning systems come online. Most of the surveys are imaging the sky directly opposite the sun and you’ll see a region of high discovery rates aligned in this manner.

At the beginning of 2010 a new discovery pattern becomes evident, with discovery zones in a line perpendicular to the Sun-Earth vector. These new observations are the result of the WISE (Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer) which is a space mission that’s tasked with imaging the entire sky in infrared wavelengths.

Currently we have observed over half a million minor planets, and the discovery rates snow no sign that we’re running out of undiscovered objects.

Orbital elements were taken from the ‘astorb.dat’ data created by Ted Bowell and associates athttp://www.naic.edu/~nolan/astorb.html

PZ Myers reflects on last night’s event and More Shots from Morality to Change the World Panel

PZ Myers reflected on the experience here. He talks about how there may have been disagreement between the panel, but it was nothing like what you’d find at say … FOX news.

There’s certainly something welcoming and intelligently exhilarating when listening to a discussion like that one as opposed to mindless hackneyed bullshit on network news.

Here are some more shots I took last night.

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Christian biology teacher emphasizes evolution in classroom, taunts his creationist students

Regular reader and blogger Biodork just shared a story over at her blog that made me smile. It’s a simple story (link). She works at a bookstore and, well, let me let her tell you. It’s titled, “I love my customers”:

I just met a gentleman who wanted to sign up for the bookstore’s educator discount. While he was filling out the registration form, I asked what subject he taught, and he told me he taught high school biology, with an emphases on ecology and evolution – Yeah! We traded favorite authors and podcasts (also, dude had to be in his 60s, so he’s hip, he’s with it), and he shared his guilty secret: He loves to antagonize his evangelical fundamentalist young earth creationist students (even though he’s a Christian) Hehehe…mean ol’ guy!

It’s okay to be a Christian and accept science. The evidence is overwhelming.

Just sayin’.

Be sure to check out her blog!

Thanks, Biodork!

“Evolution, the Grand Experiment” Chapter Three: Darwin’s False Mechanism for Evolution: Acquired Characteristics; Antiquity–1889 A.D.

Introduction
Chapter 1 Review
Chapter 2 Review

Chapter three’s first header says, “Darwin Never Succeeded in Understanding Inheritance of Traits During his Lifetime.”

No disagreement here.

This is the first time Werner goes into some detail about Darwin’s theory. He gives this an entire page full of text. Only two small pictures on this page. One is the painting of young Darwin and the other is a small one illustrating spermatozoa.

Werner explains that Darwin published his book in 1859 and he says the following description:

Darwin proposed that all forms of life evolved from a primordial prototype. The modern theory of evolution suggest that over the course of millions and millions of years, this primordial single-cell organism evolved into a multicellular  invertebrate, which evolved into a vertebrate fish, which evolved into a semi-aquatic amphibian, which evolved into a land-based reptile. Then one type of land-based reptile changed into a bird, while another type of land-based reptile changed into a mammal. The mammal then slowly evolved into humans.

Werner explains that this chapter will show how Darwin’s idea of acquired characteristics was eventually proven wrong. Immediately following this statement, Werner explains that “acquired characteristics” is an idea that was commonly connected to “Lamarck”. A full name is not given here nor in the footnotes. Of course he’s referring to Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de la Marck.

The chapter connects Darwin via a quote to LaMarck, and then we read on to discover how Darwin’s (not LaMarck’s acquired characteristics have been disproven).

Example #1: (on this page is a photo of a man lifting weights and two photos of a baby and a child, ostensibly the man lifting weight’s children. The text reads, “even though this man lifts weights every day and develops large muscles, his baby will not be born with large muscles. Darwin did not understand this.”

Also written on this page: “Darwin incorrectly thought that enlarged muscles from exercise would be passed on to the next generation.” There is no direct footnote citing these claims.

Example #2: “Neck stretching. Scientists incorrectly thought that a horse could eventually become a long-necked animal by stretching its neck to eat food.”

There are photos of a horse grazing and a giraffe.

Then there’s some more text: “Stretching neck muscles has no effect on the DNA in the reproductive cells of the horse. A longer neck cannot be passed on to the next generation.”

No citation is given.

Example #3 and #4 given without citation is that suntanning will not cause your children to be “darker” and disuse and shedding of body parts. It says that an animal will not lose its back legs if it starts to be a swimmer (we know where this is going … whales). There’s also a picture of a person with her arm in a sling. Ostensibly, if this woman reproduced, her baby would be born without a limb or a broken arm.

The chapter ends saying that acquired characteristics was laid to rest by August Weisman’s tail cutting experiment. Basically Weisman cut off the tails of mice, and when they reproduced, their babies’ tales were always in tact. Finally, the laws of “use and disuse disproved”.

I’m not going to critique this chapter in much detail. We have only heard about controversies for evolution. Werner associates Darwin with LaMarck. Yes, Werner included a quote that uses the word “disuse”, but there’s no real connection to Darwin supporting the idea. Werner is lumping Darwin into these ideas of acquired characteristics, but without reference. I need substance! This is why I called Mark Tetzlaff out after I read his FIRST review for having an “insubstantial” critique of Dawkins. Perhaps this is what all creationists do? They make claims without sources and hope their readers are dumb enough to take them for their word.

We have not yet read of any controversies regarding creationism, despite the fact that it’s a much older “theory.” In a book that is supposedly fair and honest, where is the honest fairness?

“Evolution, the Grand Experiment” Chapter 2, Evolution’s False Start: Spontaneous Generation 322 B.C.-1859 A.D.

Introduction
Chapter 1 Review

Dr. Carl Werner opens chapter two of “Evolution, The Grand Experiment” with the words, “Even Scientists Can Be Wrong!”

In sum, the chapter discusses and old disproven theory called: “Spontaneous Generation (SG).” SG was a theory life came from non-life or non-parentage. For instance, that maggots come from rotten meat idea. Werner also hopes to show how science and scientists aren’t always accurate and are often wrong, and it takes a brave scientist to point this out.

For the record, scientists like atheists PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins admit often that science is and can be proven wrong. That’s what makes it science. An idea is generated, it is tested, and if it is tested wrong, it gets thrown out.

I also want to remind my readers that this book was chosen by creationist Mark Tetzlaff for the following rationale:

“I believe that Dr. Werner is a honest researcher. He examines the evidence in great detail and contrasts how evolutionists and creationists interpret the evidence. In his book, he never states his opinion or interpretation of the evidence, but simply explains the evidence, how others have interpreted it and leaves it to the reader to make their own choice. This book does not provide answers to our origin or development, but it does provide a tremendous amount of information that teaches us a great deal about the world in which we live.”

Let’s explore Dr. Werner’s honest research … Continue reading ““Evolution, the Grand Experiment” Chapter 2, Evolution’s False Start: Spontaneous Generation 322 B.C.-1859 A.D.”