Dark Buzz

Natura non facit saltus
Debunking the Paradigm Shifters


Dark Buzz
RSS feed
Singular Values

About these blogs

Schlafly net

Powered by RogBlog


Wednesday, Apr 30, 2008
Ex-priest gets evolution religion
Cornelia Dean writes in the NY Times:
Dr. Ayala said he remained surprised at how many Americans believe the theory of evolution is contrary to belief in God, or that the theory is erroneous or even fraudulent. (In fact, there is no credible scientific challenge to it as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth.)
I pointed out before that Ms. Dean likes to put that last silly sentence in all her evolution articles.

The point of the story of the story is that Ms. Dean found an ex-priest evolutionist and creationism basher named Francisco J. Ayala who refuses to bash religion. Not until the end of the article does she reveal that this ex-priest refuses to say whether he is a religious believer.

How is this news? Ayala is obviously an atheist. When an ex-priest still believes in God, he is never embarrassed to admit it. Evolutionism is his new religion.

Evolutionists are lying again
The Bad Astronomer brags about an NCSE fundraising video in which Eugenie Scott supposedly proves that Ben Stein is a liar in the movie Expelled.

This video is just the sort of narrow-minded evolutionist propaganda that Stein's movie ridicules. He could have put it in his movie.

The video's main pitch is that the evil forces of religion, possibly disguised as Intelligent Design (ID), have erupted in several places around the country, and Scott closes by saying that, "NCSE is going to be there until the last fire is out".

This is similar to what Scott and her allies say in Expelled. The evolutionists want to expel any academic discussion of ID.

The main piece of evidence in Scott's video was a draft of a pro-ID book that made some editorial changes in order to comply with a US Supreme Court decision. It is a stupid point. There is nothing wrong with trying to comply with a court decision.

The NCSE video also says:

The Dover Penn was trying to push an Intelligent Design textbook into the science classrooms. ...

In Kansas, the school board voted to delete evolution from the curriculum.

No, these statements are not true. No ID book was put into the classrooms. The school merely put a few copies in the school library, and had an administrator read a statement to some ninth-graders that included:
Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what intelligent design actually involves.
ID was not taught beyond this. No teacher taught it. No student was required to read anything about ID, and no student was examined on it.

Kansas never voted to delete evolution. Even the leftist-evolutionist NY Times, which as extremely critical of Kansas, said that the most significant shift was an obscure philosophical detail in the definition of Science. Evolution remained in the Kansas curriculum at all times.

It is really striking how much energy the evolutionists devote to declaring the anti-evolutionists as liars, and trying to expel them from schools. But the evolutionists cannot even tell the truth in their attacks. I am not saying that ID is right or that Evolution is wrong. I just think that scientists should be more accurate and broad-minded. They should not be afraid of ID or Christian religion.

Who is the real BHO?
Todd Zywicki writes:
Obama seems like an extremely decent guy.
Not to me. He appears to have a very long history of anti-American views and associates. Some of the criticisms of Obama seem unfair in isolation, but Obama's defense is alarmingly weak. Who is the real Obama? Is he a kook like Wright who has cleaned up his language in order to play the role of a mainstream politician, as Wright suggested? The voters need to know.

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2008
Reviewing a movie without seeing it
John Derbyshire writes:
So what’s going on here with this stupid Expelled movie? No, I haven’t seen the dang thing. I’ve been reading about it ..., and I can’t believe it would yield up many surprises on an actual viewing. It’s pretty plain that the thing is creationist porn, propaganda for ignorance and obscurantism.
These sorts of reviews pretty much prove the point of the movie. The evolutionists have a hatred and a hostility towards any critics that is irrational. Derbyshire's description of the movie is grossly inaccurate, but he doesn't case. He attacks it as a medieval monk might attack blasphemy. He should have watched the movie before making a fool out of himself.

Monday, Apr 28, 2008
Funny election comment
Here is a Dane's view of our presidential election.

I am getting a little tired of all the Obama supporters who argued that criticism of Rev. Wright is racist. It is Rev. Wright who is racist, but that is not even the worst thing about him. He is anti-American.

Saturday, Apr 26, 2008
Genetic Discrimination law is not so great

PBS TV reports
Senate Votes to Prevent Genetic Discrimination in the Workplace

As research of preventative genetic testing increases, many fear the impact this information can have on employment and health-insurance practices -- leading the Senate to vote Thursday to ban genetic-based discrimination. An expert on genetics examines the issue. ...

FRANCIS COLLINS, National Human Genome Research Institute: Well, you could say this is the bill for people with DNA, and that would be all of us, because that's our instruction book. It's also the bill for people with DNA that has glitches in it, and that would also be all of us.

We all have little places in our instruction book, places at risk for something, some of them fairly dramatic, some of them less so.

The idea that that information, which none of us get to choose, which you simply inherit from your parents, might be used to deny you coverage, in terms of health care, or to be used in a way that would deny you access to a job or a promotion is really not a comfortable situation for people to contemplate. And that's been pretty clear now for more than a decade.

And so the real solution here really required this kind of legislation that would say, "That information just ought to be off the table when those decisions are being made."

I believe that this is profoundly mistaken. He acts like genetic discrimination is all harmful, but it would help as many people as it would hurt.

If people were really concerned about the potential discrimination that might result from medical tests, then they would also be reluctant to get other diagnostic tests, such cholesterol and blood pressure measurements, colonoscopy, etc. Maybe some are, and pay for these things out-of-pocket so that the results are not reported, I don't know. Those same people could pay for the genetic tests out-of-pocket if they wanted to. No, I think that the public reluctance to get genetic tests is more because of a privacy issue than a discrimination issue.

The real effect of this law is to allow the govt to compile vast privacy-invading DNA databases. There will be propaganda that they are for your own good, but they will surely be used in the future for criminal profiling and for medical benefits rationing.

A truly consumer-oriented law would give citizens privacy rights over their genetic info. Then we could decide for ourselves how the info is to be used.  

Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008
Obsolete Trademarks
Here is a list of terms that are commonly used by millions of people in a generic way. Each of these was used by a manufacturer to describe its products, but it was not able to convince everyone to restrict usage to the manner defined by the company. I use them in a generic sense.
  • band-aid
  • elevator
  • escalator
  • xerox
  • nylon
  • kleenex
  • velcro
  • coke
  • playboy, playmate
  • windows
  • wired
  • Q-tip
  • monopoly
  • coke, cola
  • yo-yo
  • thermos
  • cellophane
  • aspirin
  • baby oil
  • hoagie
  • trampoline
  • linoleum
  • levi's
  • formica
  • walkman
  • tupperware
  • rollerblade
  • post-it
  • styrofoam
  • unix
  • google
For example, if I say to google something, I just mean to look it up on your favorite web search engine.

Tuesday, Apr 22, 2008
Quote mining Darwin
One of the main complaints against the Expelled movie is that it misquotes Darwin just as William Jennings Bryan did in the 1925 Scopes Trial!

The quote talks about "degeneration" of the human race, and says, "hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed."

In Darwin's Descent of Man, he has a discussion of what he thinks about breeding humans for the better. After the supposedly out-of-context quote, Darwin compares intentionally neglecting the weak and helpless to a surgeon cutting out a tumor, and says that such a present evil should only be done for "contingent benefit". While he does not advocate genocide or anything like that, he does support policies that discourage the "weak in body or mind" from marriage and reproduction.

I don't think the movie misquoted Darwin. It did not argue that Darwin personally advocated anything like the Nazi Holocaust. The movie does suggest that Darwinism leads to eugenics and a devaluation of human life. For that, the quote seems fair to me.

Monday, Apr 21, 2008
31 shootings in gun-free city
Chicago Illinois news:
In an especially violent weekend, no less than 31 people have been shot in Chicago -- six fatally -- and two people have been stabbed since noon Friday. The shooting victims range in age from 12 to 65.

On Friday, 15 people were shot -- four fatally -- between noon Friday and midnight Saturday, police said. ...

The violence continued Saturday, as 13 more people were shot -- two fatally. ...

On Sunday, police have reported three shootings -- none of which were fatal -- and a stabbing that critically injured two people.

They now say there were 36 shootings, and 9 dead. Law abiding Chicagoans are forbidden to have handguns to defend themselves.

Update: John Lott has some dataa on gun-free zones being unsafe.

Sunday, Apr 20, 2008
New anti-evolutionism movie
I just watched the new movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. It was much better than I expected. It was odd to see an obscure documentary in a mainstream movie theater along with mass-market movies.

The movie was not objective. It was over-the-top propaganda in places. At least that was done in an amusing way, like a Michael Moore movie. Here is the movie web site, Wikipedia page, the Conservapedia page.

The movie succeeds in explaining how many prominent evolutionists regard Evolutionism, Science, and Atheism as all one big noble cause, and how they have utter comtempt for anyone who attends church, believes in God, or mentions Intelligent Design in a positive way. Evolutionists will adamantly assert that God had absolutely nothing to do with the origin of life on Earth, but when pressed, they have to admit that there is no scientific theory for the origin of life.

The movie has received extremely negative reviews. Here is a typical negative review:

Look, I don't know what people don't understand about Evolution. And apparently the makers of this film don't' understand what they are debating. Evolution is one of the most elegant and beautiful theories ever conceived in science. And before you tell me its just a theory, Gravity is just a "theory" too. The truth is, there is NO debate ABSOLUTELY NONE in the scientific community about the origin of life. Get it straight, do you own research before you try to disprove gravity. There is a good reason why idiots who try to question Darwinism gets silenced, its like questioning if gravity exists. Maybe if the proponents of intelligent design came up with some credible proof and observations, they would be accepted.

This film is a propaganda film to support the views of the ill informed masses. Remember, science is to find out the truth, regardless of the repercussions of such knowledge. And if you don't believe in the highly logical process of science and you believe the quest for truth should be adulterated, this is the movie for you.

Evolution is a fine theory, but it really says nothing about the origin of life. This guy wants to silence critics in the name of Science, but he is not defending science at all. He is defending notions about the origin of life that have no scientific basis. Real scientists would have no need to silence critics anyway.

The movie also does a very good job of explaining why many people do not like the theory of evolution. They do not object to the hard science, but they do not like the way evolutionism leads to eugenics, atheism, and various other philosophies such as life having no purpose and humans having no free will. Most of all, the movie ridicules the way evolutionists are so extremely intolerant of any criticism that they think might have a religious motivation. Eg, Richard Dawkins says that Intelligent Design might be okay if the designer is a extraterrestial being who evolved on another planet, but not if the designer is God. The God of the Bible is evil, he explains.

The movie does not promote Intelligent Design as being valid or correct, but merely argues that scientists should treat it just like any other theory, and not try to get scientists fired for merely mentioning the phrase. (I am not promoting Intelligent Design. But I do think that scientists should let Intelligent Design stand on its own merits, and not try to censor it.)

The NY Times also gave the movie a scathing review:

One of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” is a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry. ...

Prominent evolutionary biologists, like the author and Oxford professor Richard Dawkins — accurately identified on screen as an “atheist” — are provided solely to construct, in cleverly edited slices, an inevitable connection between Darwinism and godlessness.

Yes it is cleverly edited, and I can see why Dawkins hates the movie, but Dawkins says the same stuff that he says in his books and lectures. It seemed fair to me.

The NY Times also attacked the movie in last September and in March.

If you saw the movie and you still don't believe that evolutionists have a passionate hatred for anyone who deviates from the party line, just look at all these viscious reviews, or at Eugenie Scott's site. They cannot find anything that is actually wrong with the movie, but it sure struck a nerve, and they are angry about it.

The other new movie I've seen recently was 21. It claimed to be based on a true story, but it was grotesquely distorted and turned into an awful movie. I had high hopes for it early on as it tried to portray MIT, and it even tried to explain a little probability lesson. But then it was all fiction, and not even very entertaining fiction. The true story of the MIT blackjack card counting team would have been a much better movie.

Saturday, Apr 19, 2008
The NY Times writes:
Imagine for a moment the Supreme Court had gone the other way in Bush v. Gore in 2000. We would now be in year eight of the Gore-Lieberman administration. Well, maybe not the Lieberman part.
Maybe not the Gore part either. Any other ruling from the Supreme Court in 2000 would have resulted in a Florida recount, and under most of the scenarios identified by the independent reporters, Bush would have won that recount. Even if Gore had won the recount, it probably would not have been in time to stop a Bush slate of electors being sent to Washington, so a narrowly divided Congress would have had to resolve the conflict. Bush might still have won.

The article also assumes that a Pres. Gore would not have invaded Iraq. But that is not known. As explained here, Gore position on the Iraq War in 2002 was actually very similar to what Bush actually did.

I just learned that the one of the iceberg scenes in An Inconvenient Truth was lifted from a science fiction movie. It was computer generated.

The Lawyers' Party
A reader sends this essay by Bruce Walker:
The Democratic Party has become the Lawyers' Party. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are lawyers. Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama are lawyers. John Edwards, the other former Democrat candidate for president, is a lawyer and so is his wife Elizabeth. Every Democrat nominee since 1984 went to law school (although Gore did not graduate.) Every Democrat vice presidential nominee since 1976, except for Lloyd Benson, went to law school. Look at the Democrat Party in Congress: the Majority Leader in each house is a lawyer.

The Republican Party is different. President Bush and Vice President Cheney were not lawyers, but businessmen. The leaders of the Republican Revolution were not lawyers. Newt Gingrich was a history professor; Tom Delay was an exterminator; and Dick Armey was an economist. House Minority Leader Boehner was a plastic manufacturer, not a lawyer. The former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is a heart surgeon.

Yes. It is funny how little the Lawyer's Party has to say about the law. I don't hear Obama or Clinton telling us what kind of judges they will appoint, or what is wrong with the decisions from the Republican-appointed judges.

Friday, Apr 18, 2008
Platypus-ian personality
Hans Reiser's defense lawyer gave this speech in court:
Hans’ conduct can be interpreted as being guilty. It can also be interpreted as innocence, and a product of his own platypus-ian personality, as we will see. He is odd in every way. Odd in the way he carries himself. Odd in the way he acts. Odd in the way he speaks. Why did he act the way he acts? He does not understand social cues. He shows almost no emotion is because he has no emotion. He is the duck-billed platypus of criminal defendants, the duck-billed platypus amongst some of his peers, the duck-billed platypus amongst normal people. Yet he must get the same consideration under the law. … My client is an ugly and unlovable platypus who did not kill his wife.
He needs a better lawyer.

Thursday, Apr 17, 2008
Blocked again
A Wikipedia editor under the name of FeloniousMonk has blocked me again. He has a personal grudge against me. He did not even say whether there was anything wrong with my edits, except that he personally does not like me making them.

Update: Now the guys who were attacking me have admitted that my edits were correct, and have put them back in. But I am still blocked.

Update: I am blocked again, this time for 72 hours.

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2008
Physics is more scientific than medicine
GNXP cites a study showing that a lot of people think that medicine is more scientific than physics. Only the more educated people realize that physics is more scientific. Physicists gain new knowledge by doing scientific experiments. Some medical researchers do this also, but the vast majority of physicians do not. They are more like engineers in that they apply knowledge that was learned by others.

I wonder how people could think that medicine is more scientific. Perhaps it is because there are often news stories about how some medical study has shown that some belief is wrong or that some drug is harmful. It is a sign of scientific thinking that medicos are willing to revise their opinions based on empirical evidence.

On the other hand, physicists who promote their subject to the general public are usually talking about string theory or alternate universes or extraterrestial life or something else that is completely disconnected from reality.

Monday, Apr 14, 2008
Magazine trashes movie
SciAm magazine
You wouldn't expect Scientific American to take a particularly positive view of a movie that espouses intelligent design over evolutionary biology. Then again, you wouldn’t expect the producers of said film—in this case, Ben Stein’s Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed—to offer the editors of said magazine a private screening.
So it has several bad reviews of the movie.

This reminds me of when the magazine had several reviews trashing an evironmentalist book by Bjorn Lomborg. It would not be worth multiple bad reviews if it were just bad or wrong. It has to contain some dangerous truths to get this sort of treatment.

I haven't seen the movie, and I expect it to be a one-sided polemic. But it is a little strange for a science magazine to complain that the movie did not mention the Wedge document. That document was an obscure essay that leftist-atheist-evolutionists always cite because they argue that it proves that any resistance to evolutionism is grounded in some sort of evil religious beliefs. It is funny to hear a science magazine recite such a goofy conspiracy theory.

Sunday, Apr 13, 2008
Not like the Americans that I know
Sen. Hillary Clinton said, referring to Sen. Barack Obama's stupid comment about bitter Penn. citizens clinging to guns and religion:
Senator Obama's remarks are elitist and are out of touch. They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans. Certainly not the Americans that I know.
I think that the key to beating Obama will be to portray him as unamerican. He was born in Hawaii. His father was a Kenyan and a commie. His mother was also an extreme leftist. He grew up in Indonesia. He has a Mohammedan name, and 10% of the population thinks that he is a moslem. He sought out and joined an ant-American church. There are widely-circulated pictures of him disrespecting the American flag. He brags about opposing the American decision to fight the Iraq War. His wife made $300k per year and still was not proud to be an American. He distances himself from typical white people.

Some of these criticisms are unfair, but they add up to an image that will make Obama unelectable. Obama needs to convince the public that he is a patriotic American, but he is failing miserably.

Saturday, Apr 12, 2008
The Day the Earth Stood Still
This year brings a big-budget Hollywood remake of the 1951 movie The Day the Earth Stood Still. The original movie was about an invading space alien who commanded us to destroy our weapons. The alien race themselves had been enslaved by robots that they had built, and humans were to be also enslaved. This was portrayed as a good thing, because the alien was a Christ-like figure who taught peace. The movie was immensely popular among the sort of people who thought that the United Nations should take over nuclear stockpiles.

Now we learn that the remake is going to be based on the hazards of global warming. Why would robots from outer space care if Earth's temperature goes up a couple of degrees? Will they really try to portray robot enslavement as a good thing? I have a feeling that this movie will be a disaster. It will be ill-conceived from the start, like the remakes of King Kong and War of the Worlds.

Friday, Apr 11, 2008
Evolution not used in medicine
Mike the mad biologist writes:
I've recently written a couple of posts about how evolution is used in medicine. ... For instance, certain cases of HIV could be traced back to a specific Florida dentist ... Researchers in every area of medicine use phylogenetic methods to analyze genetic data.
What he is trying to say is that ever time some scientist makes some deduction about some organism using DNA sequences, then he is using evolutionary biology techniques.

But Darwin knew nothing about DNA and no Darwinian principle is being applied here. Whether or not humans are descended from apes, or natural selection causes new species to arise, or any of that has no relation to any of the research mentioned. I guess these articles are posted to try to get people to believe in evolution, but they do not do that at all.

Tuesday, Apr 08, 2008
Flaws in cognitive dissonance theory
NY Times John Tierney has another column. He quotes M. Keith Chen:
I go through this in detail in my working paper on cognitive dissonance, but the basic intuition behind how these studies ignore what people’s choices teach is pretty easy to see. All of the studies I talk about take as their basic model a famous and incredibly influential experiment by Jack Brehm in 1956; the first study, in fact, which psychologists took to demonstrate cognitive dissonance. In Brehm’s study and its modern variants, subjects are first asked to rate or rank a bunch of goods based on how much they like them. Then, subjects are offered a choice between two of the goods they just rated, and are told they can take the good they choose home with them as payment for the study. They are then asked to re-rate all of the original goods; cognitive dissonance theory suggests that people would have a better opinion of the good they choose after choosing it than before. ...

What we’ve found so far, is that the problem is real; you can show that these studies, as they have been run, will measure lot of “cognitive dissonance” when there is none.

I commented before that I think that the problem with the psychological theory cognitive dissonance is faulty mind-reading. Psychologists brag that the theory is their best theory of the last century, but I don't think that their experiments prove much.

Monday, Apr 07, 2008
Professor calls for tax on 'poison' butter
A New Zealand paper reports:
A top public health expert is calling for a health tax on butter, saying it's "pure, natural poison" and as bad as cigarettes.

New Zealanders eat more butter per head than any other nationality and Auckland University epidemiologist Professor Rod Jackson says that's why our cholesterol levels are also among the world's highest.

"We have a health tax on alcohol and cigarettes and there should be a health tax on butter. It's the most poisonous commonly consumed food in New Zealand. It's about the purest form of saturated fat you can eat and it has no protein and no calcium. Butter has had all the good things taken out and just left the poison."

Poison? Butter is one of the healthiest foods you can eat.

Wednesday, Apr 02, 2008
Anonymous Google searches
Ever want to do a Google search without using your Google cookie? You could delete your cookie or use a meta-search engine. Another alternative is to use a domain that just happens to be parked at Google's IP address. Here are a few. There are many others. As a side benefit, you don't get any Google ads.

Tuesday, Apr 01, 2008
Professing evolution
Which Presidential candidate said this?
I believe in evolution.
Those exact same words came from McCain, Clinton, and Obama. I guess they all agree!

More likely, it has just become another meaningless aphorism, like believing in climate change. Some science activists here this stuff, and go away happy.