I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Darwinist incivility

Don McLeroy's failed nomination for chairmanship of the Texas state board of education resulted in some of the most uncivil comments I have ever personally witnessed on the Internet.

In response to a video of Don McLeroy, a commenter on Sleazy PZ Myers' Pharyngula blog said (comment #65),

. . . .maybe most of us atheists are calm rational people, but there is a line you cross, and deserve a violent response. The only thing keeping us going apeshit and smashing your skull through is recognizing the evolutionary changes that have allowed us to rationalize our thoughts, reason through violent urges, and actually empathize with even the most disgusting examples of human waste.

I tolerate more incivility than most bloggers do, but I would not tolerate a comment like that on this blog. However, on Sleazy PZ's blog, such comments are par for the course -- he has made such comments himself.

"Chuck Darwin" left the following comment in response to an Austin-American Statesman news article:
I love it when the whining fundies so easily slip on their victim caps. McLeroy wasn’t slurred because of his religion. He was REJECTED because of dysfunctional leadership and bullying that crossed way beyond the pale. The State Board of Education did serious damage both to its own reputation and to public education in Texas under this small man’s small-minded chairmanship. He deserves a much more severe *****-slapping than this, and I hope to see it delivered the next time this rockhead is up for election. I can not imagine being a patient of an idiot like McLeroy who believes in and propounds a creationist fantasy of biology over a scientific one. I wish him much ill and much harm.

Your comment contains "bullying that crossed way beyond the pale," bozo.

The Texas senate Democrats who voted nearly unanimously (11 votes with one abstention) against McLeroy ought to see the kind of bigots that they are pandering to.



Friday, May 29, 2009

Evil Genie gets more awards

Eugenie "Evil Genie" Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, has been selected to receive two more awards:

She will be the first recipient of the Stephen Jay Gould Prize, which will be awarded at the Evolution 2009 conference to be held at the University of Idaho. [link]

She has been selected as one of the Scientific American 10 for 2009, described by the magazine in its June 2009 issue as "researchers, politicians, business executives and philanthropists who have recently demonstrated outstanding commitment to assuring that the benefits of new technologies and knowledge will accrue to humanity." [link]

I previously reported other awards that Evil Genie has received. [link] [link]

What has Evil Genie done to deserve these highly distinguished awards? Has she made any great contributions to technology? No. She just heads an organization that (1) promotes censorship of scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms of evolution in the public schools and (2) misuses religion to promote evolution. These awards she has received reflect the pro-Darwinist bigotry of the organizations that granted them.



Thursday, May 28, 2009

McLeroy rejected by Texas Senate

The Texas state Senate voted 19-11 to deny confirmation of Don McLeroy as chairman of the Texas state board of education. The vote fell two votes short of the two-thirds majority -- or 21 votes -- needed for confirmation. One of the senators -- who was present -- did not vote (there is a total of 31 senators). The voting was strictly along party lines -- all the votes for confirmation came from Republicans and all against came from Democrats. At least the Darwinists can't call McLeroy's rejection "bipartisan." Details -- including a description of the debate -- are on the Texas Freedom Network blog. link

McLeroy did a number of bad or questionable things as chairman of the Texas SBOE, but I think that the main public perception will be that he was rejected because he dared to question evolution theory. I think that his rejection will backfire on the Darwinists because it will make him into a martyr. His rejection will be seen as another example of the persecution of evolution critics that is shown in Ben Stein's movie "Expelled."



Monday, May 25, 2009

Ida fossil affair shows folly of "peer review" fetish

A lot of Darwinists won't even consider a scientific idea unless it has been published in a "peer reviewed" journal. Of course, this is just a cop-out that the Darwinists use to dodge inconvenient questions.

And the Ida fossil affair shows that the pre-publication "peer review" standard of quality isn't all that it is cracked up to be. A TimesOnline article says,

Now that the scientific details of Darwinius masillae are available for scrutiny by those who weren't given privileged advance access, some doubts are emerging. Not about the significance of the fossil per se -- it is a magnificent specimen and important -- but about the interpretation placed on it by the analysis team, and the hype that has surrounded the announcement.

. . . a popular book, a documentary, a website and an exhibition have been launched on the back of this find, before it has received full scientific scrutiny.

. . . You have to wonder, as did Karen James in a comment on my post yesterday, whether this research was deliberately rushed, and submitted to a journal (PLoS ONE) with a less rigorous pre-publication review system than Nature or Science, to fit with the media schedule.

It is probable that the pre-publication reviewers of the Ida fossil article were not even specialists in primates or primate evolution.

Even Sleazy PZ Myers and Fatheaded Ed Brayton have complained about the ID fossil hype. [link] [link] So is pre-publication peer review any guarantee of quality? Definitely no.

Also, the whole idea of the pre-publication peer-review standard is pointless, because many publications receive a lot of peer review after publication. It is ridiculous, for example, to say that Michael Behe's publications have not been peer-reviewed just because the peer review was post-publication rather than pre-publication. Behe's ideas have actually received far more "peer review" than most ideas in science.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

NCSE still lying about Texas's influence on textbooks!

In an article in Seed(y) magazine, Josh Rosenau, a staff member of the National Center for Science Education, wrote,

. . because of the state’s enormous purchasing power for textbooks, Texas’s standards will ultimately affect textbooks nationwide. The board spent more than $200 million on K-12 textbooks last year—buying more high school science books than any other state. “Publishers typically write their textbooks to Texas standards and then sell those books to smaller states,” explains Kathy Miller of the civil liberties watchdog Texas Freedom Network. If the board rejects a textbook, it can destroy a publisher.

As I said before, school systems in other states are not required -- and are not even under any particular pressure -- to adopt Texas-approved textbooks. And even local school districts in Texas can use state-unapproved textbooks if the districts are willing to pay the full costs, which isn't much for individual textbooks. A popular biology textbook, "Biology" by Ken Miller and Joe Levine, comes in regular, Texas, California, Florida, and North Carolina editions.

But all is not lost. Professors in Texas and elsewhere are privately planning to boycott college textbooks from any publishers who let the board taint high school textbooks.

I doubt that it is possible to organize such a boycott that would be effective, and such a boycott would unfairly target textbook publishers that are heavily involved in both the high school and college markets. The Darwinists are really desperate to consider such a move.



How non-scientists can be published in "peer-reviewed" scientific journals

Unfortunately, Darwinists have made a big fetish out of "peer review," and many of them won't even consider -- or sometimes won't even post -- my ideas about coevolution because those ideas have not appeared in a "peer reviewed" publication (my ideas about coevolution are banned on the Florida Citizens for Science blog and were probably a factor in my banning from some other Darwinist websites). This has been a real dilemma for me, because I have no credentials in biology (I am a mechanical engineer) and therefore my chances of having my ideas about coevolution published in a regular peer-reviewed scientific journal are virtually nil. However, I have discovered some journals about philosophy in biology which accept articles from non-biologists, so I have a chance of having my ideas about coevolution published in one of those journals. The trolls are now going to start scoffing at those ideas as stupid, but so far no one has been able to refute them and so "peer reviewers" probably would not do a better job of refuting them than anyone else has done. My thoughts about coevolution are summarized here.

Philosophy & Theory in Biology

This journal is described as follows: [link]
Philosophy & Theory in Biology (P&TB) is a peer-reviewed open-access online journal that aims to bring together philosophers of science and theoretically inclined biologists in order to interact across disciplinary boundaries.

While theoretical biology is often understood to be primarily mathematical in nature, biology is an inherently historical science with a long tradition of conceptual theorizing, from Charles Darwin to the architects of the Modern Synthesis, and continuing through to today. Biological disciplines ranging from evolutionary biology to ecology, from cell to developmental biology, and from morphology to paleobiology are characterized by a lively interplay among empirical data, mathematical treatments, and conceptual discussions.

IMO saying that theoretical biology is primarily mathematical in nature is an exaggeration and overgeneralization. The fact that biological phenomena often cannot be defined rigorously in mathematical terms was a factor in Lord Rutherford's statement, "All science is either physics or stamp-collecting."

Intelligent design has often been condemned for its lack of experimentation and field studies, but a lot of biological studies consist of "conceptual discussions." My studies of coevolution, for example, consist entirely of "conceptual discussions" -- I have done no experimentation or field studies.

Like theoretical biology, philosophy of biology is characterized by its attention to conceptual issues. Indeed, over the past several decades, it has evolved to include an increasing number of philosophers with a solid background in science, and whose conceptual interests are often intertwined with those of biologists. Yet, the philosopher brings a distinctive approach and background to the examination of problems in biology; in philosophy, the focus tends to be on the logical structure of theoretical constructs, the uses and interpretation of evidence, the ways in which concepts are employed by scientists, and the relationships between empirical and theoretical elements of research programs.

One of the editors, Massimo Pigliucci (State University of New York at Stony Brook), organized the meeting of the group that has become known as the Altenberg 16 [link] [link]. Several other members of the Altenberg 16 are in the lists of editors and editorial board members. Pigliucci was also one of the initiators of the Darwin Day events and became vice-president of the Darwin Day organization. Unfortunately, it is doubtful that these groups of editors and editorial board members would be receptive to anything that is critical of evolution theory.

The "Instructions for Authors" says,

Manuscripts can be submitted in the following word processing formats: rtf, Pages, doc. Please do not send pdf files, because they cannot be edited. Figures, when necessary, can be embedded in the manuscript or submitted separately as jpeg or tiff files.

More details are given in the instructions.

Here are descriptions of rtf files, doc files, and pages files. The "doc" suffix is used for Microsoft Word files and WordPad files. WordPad is bundled with Microsoft Windows but Microsoft Word must be installed or activated as a separate program (Word often comes pre-installed as part of Microsoft Office but must be activated). Notepad -- which has no formatting -- should not be confused with WordPad. I am surprised that they say that the pdf files cannot be edited -- they should be able to edit pdf files if they have the right software. Also, I am wondering why html is not listed as an acceptable format. Html format has html tags, including embedded URL links. Html files are especially well-suited for online use and many existing online files are already in this format (this blog is in html format) and changing to another format may require a lot of editing. The website says that this is an online journal but they might want the capability of printing the articles and maybe that is why they don't list html as an acceptable format.

This journal's editors may be contacted at --


Biology & Philosophy

This journal, which is available online, is described as follows: [link]

Recent decades have witnessed fascinating and controversial advances in the biological sciences. This journal answers the need for meta-theoretical analysis, both about the very nature of biology, as well as about its social implications.

Biology and Philosophy is aimed at a broad readership, drawn from both the sciences and the humanities. The journal subscribes to no specific school of biology, nor of philosophy, and publishes work from authors of all persuasions and all disciplines.

An advantage is that this journal is indexed in a large number of scholarly databases, e.g. --

Abstracted/Indexed in:
Academic Search Complete, Academic Search Premier, Arts & Humanities Citation Index, BIOSIS Previews, Current Abstracts, Current Contents/Arts and Humanities, Dietrich's Index Philosophicus, EMBiology, General Science Index, . . .etc.

The section on "text formatting" says that manuscripts should be submitted in Word -- however, I presume that WordPad doc files are compatible with Word. Again, I would prefer it if they accepted html files, but as I said before, maybe the capability of printing the articles is desired and that is why html files are not listed as acceptable.



Wednesday, May 20, 2009

McLeroy nomination goes to full Senate!

Background info is here and here. The Nominations Committee has voted 4-2 to approve Don McLeroy's nomination and the nomination now goes to the full state Senate for a final confirmation vote. Details are in this video. The Nominations Committee has apparently been relying on straw polls of the senators and IMO that is a very bad idea because some senators might have been trying to discourage a full Senate vote by making false threats to vote against McLeroy.



The hoked-up Ida fossil

Ida, discovered in the Messel pit in Germany, is one of the most complete primate fossils ever found. Key features of her skeleton suggest she is not an ancient lemur. She has no 'grooming claw' on her second toe, a feature that all lemurs share. She also does not have a set of fused teeth in the middle of her bottom jaw called a 'tooth comb'. Finally, the tarsus bone in her ankle is shaped like our ancestors. So it is likely that she is a very early haplorhine primate.


Darwinists are so desperate to "prove" evolution once and for all that they engage in grasping at straws and wishful thinking. A good example of this is the overhype about a primate fossil named "Ida." A news article ballyhooed,
Scientists have unveiled a 47-million-year-old fossilised skeleton of a monkey hailed as the missing link in human evolution.

The search for a direct connection between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom has taken 200 years - but it was presented to the world today at a special news conference in New York.

The discovery of the 95%-complete 'lemur monkey' - dubbed Ida - is described by experts as the "eighth wonder of the world".

They say its impact on the world of palaeontology will be "somewhat like an asteroid falling down to Earth".

Researchers say proof of this transitional species finally confirms Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, and the then radical, outlandish ideas he came up with during his time aboard the Beagle.

Sir David Attenborough said Darwin "would have been thrilled" to have seen the fossil - and says it tells us who we are and where we came from.

"This little creature is going to show us our connection with the rest of the mammals," he said.

Scientists say Ida - squashed to the thickness of a beer mat by the immense passage of time - is the most complete primate fossil ever found.

With her human-like nails instead of claws, and opposable big toes, she is placed at the very root of human evolution when early primates first developed features that would eventually develop into our own.

Another important discovery is the shape of the talus bone in her foot, which humans still have in their feet millions of lifetimes later.

Opposable thumbs are not unique to primates -- Wikipedia lists several non-primates that have opposable thumbs.

The Darwinists cherry-pick features that link us to Ida while ignoring features that separate us from Ida, like Ida's long tail. And maybe the similar features show convergent evolution rather than ancestry.

The absence of a bacculum (penis bone) confirmed she was female, and her milk teeth put her age at about nine-months-old - in maturity, equivalent to a six-year-old human child.

Humans don't have a bacculum either, so how did we lose it?

When Darwin published his On the Origin of Species in 1859, he said a lot about transitional species," said Prof Hurum

"...and he said that will never be found, a transitional species, and his whole theory will be wrong, so he would be really happy to live today when we publish Ida. . . . .

. . . ."It's part of our evolution that's been hidden so far, it's been hidden because all the other specimens are so incomplete.

"They are so broken there's almost nothing to study and now this wonderful fossil appears and it makes the story so much easier to tell, so it's really a dream come true."

What? I thought that evolution has already been proven. Now this professor is saying that it hasn't been?

Ida was discovered 25 years ago but only recently was its value recognized. It has been studied for the last two years. The incredible price of $1 million was paid for it. One wonders why its value was not recognized sooner if it is so special.

Even Darwinist NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg couldn't resist the opportunity to take an implicit swipe at the fundies [link] --

The bit that grated was the desperate, unseemly scramble to grab some of the action. In a display that was utterly primatal, figures as varied as the mayor of New York and the higher education minister of Norway made sure they were front and centre stage.

The most sublime image was of Michael Bloomberg standing beside Ida's glass box, his arm around the shoulders of a school girl who was wearing a T-shirt with the TV tie-in logo: "The Link. This changes everything". The main thing Bloomberg was presumably hoping this would change was his prospects of winning an unprecedented third term as New York mayor in upcoming elections.

Ida provides no evidence that evolution was driven solely by natural genetic variation and natural selection.

Remember the famous transitional fossils archaeopteryx, Tiktaalik, and Lucy? We don't hear very much about them anymore. Maybe Ida is also a passing fad.

Well, Judge "Jackass" Jones and other Darwinists will now have something else to beat the fundies over the head with.



Monday, May 18, 2009

They still remember me at Panda's Thumb

I just found this comment on the Panda's Thumb blog --

Wait a minute – first Troy insists he doesn’t agree with Harun Yahya; then he posts a comment in which he explicitly DOES agree with him? This stupid troll is either a pathological liar, or just too ignorant to understand when he’s contradicted himself. Either way, he’s not worth one-tenth the attention he’s got here on PT. Even Larry Fafarman was more coherent than this.


Wikipedia-bashing articles

An article in The Guardian likens Wikipedia to a "sweatshop":

Wikipedia is frequently touted as a marvel of collaboration, a model of peer production. But it may be more instructive as a laboratory of pathologies of social interaction.

. . . . .The combination of feuds and relentless focus on negatives associated with Wikipedia creates an obsession by some devoted Wikipedians about the evils visited upon them.

. . . . This toxic mix of paranoia, fear of infiltrators and a social system where status can be acquired by fighting off threats (real or imagined) exploded recently into a governance scandal familiar to any observer of bureaucratic politics. A prominent Wikipedia administrator unilaterally revoked the account of a highly regarded contributor. When questioned, the response claimed the evidence was too sensitive to be released to the public, but had been vetted at the highest levels. Shortly after, the administrator reversed the action, apologising and citing new information.

. . . . For all Jimmy Wales's self-promotion regarding his supposed ability to build good communities, it's apparent his skill is instead in knowing how to sell a dysfunctional community effectively. One subtext of the Wikipedia hype is that businesses can harvest an eager pool of free labour, disposable volunteers who will donate effort for the sheer joy of it. The fantasy is somewhat akin to Santa's workshop, where little elves work happily away for wages of a glass of milk and a cookie. Whereas the reality is closer to an exploitative cult running on sweatshop labour.

Seth Finkelstein, the author of the above article, has a blog with a lot of anti-Wikipedia articles. One article says,

It's hard to convey to the acolytes within the cult of Wikipedia how petty and in fact, downright creepy, it can appear to outsiders. At this point more sane Wikipedia administrators will pop up and say it's just a few bad apples, the other admins will keep them in check. And my reply there is that still reveals a pretty disturbing sociological aspect of Wikipedia. Especially one that might give pause to the impulse to proclaim lots of experts should work for free to increase its power and respectability (and notably also increasing the capability of small cliques of Wikipedia admins to engage in political vendettas).

"More sane" is relative -- no sane person would work for Wikipedia.

A 5-17-07 article in The Guardian says,
Search at Google.com on evolution or Iraq or Aids or Gordon Brown, and the same site will appear at the top of the list of results: Wikipedia. Alter your search into one for John Keats or Muhammad Ali or Christianity or platypus or loneliness, and the same thing will happen. Pacific Ocean? Wikipedia. Catherine de Medici? Wikipedia. Human brain? Wikipedia.

. . . more and more of our time online is being spent at an ever-smaller number of megasites. The wilds of the internet are being carved up among a handful of vast information plantations.

. . . .Web statistics tell the tale. The blogger Richard MacManus recently examined trends in online traffic over the past five years. He found that between the end of 2001 and the end of last year, the number of Internet domains expanded by more than 75%, from 2.9m to 5.1m. At the same time, however, the dominance of the most popular domains grew substantially. At the end of 2001, the top 10 websites accounted for 31% of all the pages viewed on the net. By the end of last year, the top 10 accounted for fully 40% of page views. There are more destinations online, but we seem to be visiting fewer of them.

. . . On the internet, the big get bigger. It wasn't supposed to be like that. When the web arrived in the early 1990s, it was heralded as a liberating force that would free us from the confines of gated communities like AOL and Compuserve. The internet was supposed to be an open, democratic medium, an information bazaar putting individuals on the same footing as big companies.

Lawrence Solomon, a journalist I quoted previously, wrote in the National Review,

Ever wonder how Al Gore, the United Nations, and company continue to get away with their claim of a “scientific consensus” confirming their doomsday view of global warming? Look no farther than Wikipedia for a stunning example of how the global-warming propaganda machine works.

As you (or your kids) probably know, Wikipedia is now the most widely used and influential reference source on the Internet and therefore in the world, with more than 50 million unique visitors a month.

In theory Wikipedia is a “people’s encyclopedia” written and edited by the people who read it — anyone with an Internet connection. So on controversial topics, one might expect to see a broad range of opinion.

Not on global warming. On global warming we get consensus, Gore-style: a consensus forged by censorship, intimidation, and deceit.

. . . . Turns out that on Wikipedia some folks are more equal than others. Kim Dabelstein Petersen is a Wikipedia “editor” who seems to devote a large part of his life to editing reams and reams of Wikipedia pages to pump the assertions of global-warming alarmists and deprecate or make disappear the arguments of skeptics.

. . . . .Now Petersen is merely a Wikipedia “editor.” Holding the far more prestigious and powerful position of “administrator” is William Connolley.

. . . . . by virtue of his power at Wikipedia, Connolley, a ruthless enforcer of the doomsday consensus, may be the world’s most influential person in the global warming debate after Al Gore.

. . . . . Wikipedia is full of rules that editors are supposed to follow, and it has a code of civility. Those rules and codes don’t apply to Connolley, or to those he favors.

. . . ..Nor are Wikipedia’s ideological biases limited to global warming. As an environmentalist I find myself with allies and adversaries on both sides of the aisle, Left and Right. But there is no doubt where Wikipedia stands: firmly on the Left. Try out Wikipedia’s entries on say, Roe v. Wade or Intelligent Design, and you will see that Wikipedia is the people’s encyclopedia only if those people are not conservatives.

Here is a list of websites that are critical of Wikipedia. Here is a long webpage condemning Wikipedia.



Friday, May 15, 2009

Islamic creationist condemns Intelligent Design

That stupid ignoramus Judge "Jackass" Jones said in Kitzmiller v. Dover, "ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents." Darwinists use the oxymoronic term "intelligent design creationism." Darwinists, who cherry-pick their evidence instead of looking at all the evidence, harp on the typo "cdesignproponentists" -- an error in substituting the term "design proponent" for "creationist" in the book "Of Pandas and People." Ironically, many religious creationists reject intelligent design. One of the reasons why they reject ID is that they feel that god's word does not need scientific evidence to support it. Some creationists feel that it is blasphemous to even imply or suggest that god's word needs scientific evidence to support it. One of the main reasons why Darwinists insist that ID is creationism is to have a basis for using the establishment clause to attack ID.

Adrian Oktar, who writes under the pen name Harun Yahya, is a very prominent Turkish creationist.[1] [2] [3] [4] He wrote,


In order to alienate people from true religions, Masons have devised many false religions of complex description assembling them all under the heading New Age.

Their purpose in this is to inculcate in that large segment of people who are abandoning materialist ideas, a new way of living and thinking. They want to establish a new system ornamented with metaphysical language and totally divergent from the true religion and faith in Allah (God) as revealed in the Qur’an. It is an irresponsible system with nothing to offer.

. . . . .In order to alienate people in Islamic countries from true religion, Masons are intent on offering the idea of intelligent design as the most appropriate alternative in these countries.

Of course, they do not pretend that what they are doing is against Islam; on the contrary, they claim that their activities are innocent and even serve to strengthen the foundations of faith in Allah.

However, Western supporters of this movement confess that this is a non-religious system of thought. For example, the American biologist, Michael Behe, one of the noted theoreticians of intelligent design, explains that intelligent design is not an idea based in religion but religious people can make good use of it in their arguments.

Those who accept the theory of intelligent design insist that religion and science should be separate and that science should not support creation and revealed religions.

Yahya (Adrian Oktar) contradicts himself here -- first he said that ID guru Michael Behe holds that "religious people can make good use of [ID] in their arguments," and then says, "those who accept ID insist that religion and science should be separate and that science should not support creation and revealed religions."

Yahya/Oktar then attacks the Discovery Institute:
They see themselves as outside revealed religions; they think that religion is a matter of faith and outside the parameters of science. Their view is that it would be wrong for science to rely on religion.

The official internet site of the Discovery Institute that represents this movement asks the question. ‘Is the theory of intelligent design the same as the theory of creation?’ The answer:

Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of design and has no commitment to defending Genesis, the Bible or any other sacred text. (http://www.discovery.org/csc/topQuestions.php#questionsAboutIntelligentDesign)

However, in a post last year, the very popular blog "Little Green Footballs" accused the Discovery Institute of being in league with Turkish creationists, including Yahya/Oktar! [link] LOL

Yahya writes,

The Theory of Intelligent Design: Another Kind of Deism.

The theory of intelligent design accepts neither revealed religions nor the existence of Allah. It has an abstract and abstruse concept of a designer.

It is misleading to say that ID accepts neither revealed religions nor the existence of Allah -- or some other god(s) or goddess(es). It is more correct to say that ID does not reject revealed religions or the existence of Allah. There is a big difference.

It is interesting that Masons use the same logic in their writings when they say that the universe is like the intelligent designer -- total conscious energy. They say this energy is conscious and that it is the Great Architect of the Universe.

But Masons insist that that this conscious energy is not Allah. (Surely Allah is beyond that)

We can see that advocates of intelligent design share the same logic as Masons when it comes to explaining their position. Their ideas are very much in tune with Deism which accepts the existence of a Creator while rejecting the validity of revealed religions.

ID may be "in tune" with Deism, but that doesn't mean that ID is the same as Deism or is a kind of Deism. ID is a "big tent" with room for those who believe in Deism, young-earth creationism, old-earth creationism, common descent, front-loaded (pre-programmed) evolution, theism, agnosticism, atheism (yes), etc..

In contrast to Yahya/Oktar, the young-earth creationist organization Answers-in-Genesis appears to support ID -- the AiG website praises Ben Stein's pro-ID movie "Expelled -- No Intelligence Allowed" and sells a DVD of the movie. [link].

More discussion is on Panda's Thumb and Uncommon Descent.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

"The E Word": a play

Steven Schafersman describes a play, "The E Word", that is now showing in Austin, TX:

A diplomacy effort in the struggle between science and religion over evolution.

This promises to be Austin’s premiere Darwinmania event — and national figures are paying attention!

Don't miss The E Word: A Playground Adaptation. A tender comedy with songs! Join a class of insatiably curious kindergarteners as they try to answer the big questions about science and religion. There’s make-believe mayhem as they become finches, tortoises, barnacles, beetles, Eve and Newton!

. . . . Take a reverent and irreverent look at our struggles with evolution.

It is no internal struggle for me, because I don't need to reconcile evolution and religion so far as my own beliefs are concerned.

Friday, May 15, is Texas Citizens for Science night. I will be there to lead the after-show discussion.

I wish I could be there to embarrass Stupid Steven with my questions about coevolution.
There's science!
There's singing!
There's praying!
There's puppets!

What do they sing -- those Darwinian parodies of Christmas carols?

Tickets: $15-25 Sliding Scale
Group Discounts available for 8 or more
Wednesdays are Pay What You Wish

Wednesday is the day for me.

Ticket information is here.

May 8-23, 2009
8 p.m. Friday May 8, Opening Night with Reception
8 p.m. May 9, 10 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 20, 21, 22, 23
The Off Center, 2211-A Hidalgo Street, Austin TX 78702

The E Word blog with photos is here. See photos of all your favorite people: Eugenie Scott, Steven Schafersman, Chris Comer, and Josh Rosenau.

Info Phone: 512-507-8535

Not appropriate for children under 12.



Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Evolution Store


Penis bones -- from The Evolution Store gift shop. With the exception of man, most primates, rodents, and several other animal groups, have a penis bone, called a baculum. Located within the erectile tissue, this bone provides rigidity to aid in copulation. Genuine. Individual bones displayed above are $6 apiece. All four in a display case -- $29. Who needs Viagra? Who needs penis pumps and strap-on dildos? Well, now we know where the expression "flip the bone" came from.


There is a store called "The Evolution Store" in New York City. I checked their merchandise and it has little or nothing to do with evolution. There are some fossils and fossil parts for sale but these things are only indirectly related to evolution. Maybe it was named "The Evolution Store" because of the false notion that evolution is the foundation of biology.


Wikipedia's bad reputation

A comment thread on a Volokh Conspiracy article about Wikipedia is loaded with negative opinions about Wikipedia. Here is the first comment that I added to the thread:

Dangermouse said,
Don't use Wikipedia at all, ever, to research politics, social topics, environmental issues, religion, culture and some history. Politically incorrect information is often purged from those articles, at the behest of the no-life lefty zombies that run the site.

I wholeheartedly agree. Wikipedia is OK on non-controversial topics but really sucks royally on controversial topics. On controversial topics, Wickedpedia is not even a good source of references because politically incorrect references are routinely purged.

I made a suggestion for handling controversial entries: When an item is disputed, simply enter a brief description of the item, a statement that the item is disputed, and links to external websites or separate Wikipedia discussion pages where the disputed item is discussed or debated. There would be no Wikipedia endorsement of the disputed item and Wikipedia article pages would not be cluttered up with long discussions of controversial items. THIS SIMPLE, SENSIBLE SUGGESTION WAS IGNORED. Wickedpedia's preferred methods for handling disputes are censorship and endless edit wars. Wickedpedia also has a crazy set of rules that the control-freak Wickedpedia administrators exploit to "lawyer you to death" if you try to make a politically incorrect entry. One of Wickedpedia's problems is that it tries to look like a printed encyclopedia and fails to take advantage of the Internet's capability of instantly linking to external sources where disputed items can be discussed and debated.

Wickedpedia has reached the point of no return -- all the decent people have left the organization in disgust and all that is left is a bunch of crazies.

I am glad to see that there are so many other commenters here who share my negative opinion of Wikipedia.

My blog has three post-label groups of articles that attack Wikipedia [1] [2] [3]



Monday, May 11, 2009

Facebook completely disables holocaust-denial sites

In my last post, I said, "A Facebook spokesman said that Facebook is not planning to remove the holocaust-denial sites -- at least not yet [link]." I spoke too soon. A new article says,

Facebook has confirmed my earlier suspicion that it has disabled two of the five Holocaust denial groups whose presence has caused much controversy over the past week, following attorney Brian Cuban's consistent pressure for the groups' removal.

Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said in an e-mail to Technically Incorrect: "Two of the groups have been disabled, but the other three remain."

He continued: "We are monitoring these groups and if the discussion among members degrades to the point of promoting hate or violence, despite whatever disclaimer the group description provides, we will take them down. This has happened in the past, especially when controversial groups are publicized."

This is the beginning of the end for Facebook. Facebook executives are fascist sleazebags who should be put on trial for high treason for siding with the enemies of the US Constitution.
Lots of controversial subjects provide opportunities for hate speech -- why single out holocaust denial? Controlling all the hate speech on Facebook sites would be an impossible task. And all this talk about hate speech on holocaust-denial sites is just guilt-by-association.

My own view is that a "systematic" Jewish holocaust was impossible because the Nazis had no objective and reliable ways of identifying Jews and non-Jews. What is hateful about that statement?

The censorship of the holocaust-denial sites has been improperly compared to Facebook's censorship of breastfeeding sites that contain pictures of breastfeeding women. The censorship standard for the breastfeeding sites -- the "redeeming social value" standard for pornography -- is different. Anyway, anything goes in pornography on the Internet, except kiddie porn using live kids as subjects -- for example, one of my favorite websites has dozens of pictures of girls using strap-on dildos to sodomize guys. So there is no point in trying to restrict pornography on the Internet, either.

I wonder -- how many people are going to spend the time to set up and contribute to a Facebook site on a controversial subject if there is a real risk that Facebook will arbitrarily delete the site in the future? What is to prevent an opponent of holocaust-denial sites from planting real hate-speech on them (e.g., "kill all the Jews") for the purpose of provoking Facebook to get rid of them? Also, the standard for judging the gravity of an incitement to violence should depend on the situation -- there is one helluva difference between (1) posting an Internet statement that incites to violence and (2) inciting a mob to violence. And the sole purpose for charging that all holocaust denial is anti-Semitic is to try to shut down debate.

Here are some legal issues --

The federal statute 47 USC §230, "Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material," is here. 47 USC §230 (c)(1) protects Facebook from liability for anything posted in Facebook sites by outside parties --

(c) Protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material
(1) Treatment of publisher or speaker
No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

Facebook is here the "provider . . .of an interactive computer service," and an owner and the contributors of a Facebook site constitute "another information content provider."

A Facebook competitor could attract business away from Facebook by making a credible promise of "NO CENSORSHIP."

Unfortunately, the following provision, 47 USC §230 (c) (2)(A), appears to give Facebook's act of censorship some protection --

(2) Civil liability
No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—
(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected;

A lot depends on how the term "good faith" is interpreted.

Also, 47 USC §230 (c)(2)(B) provides,

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—
(A) - - - - -
(B) any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (1)

Using IP addresses as the "technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (1)" -- which Facebook is doing here [link] -- is illegal or frowned upon in Europe and California. [link] [link]

Wikipedia, the big online user-edited encyclopedia, has also been practicing arbitrary censorship, and this censorship has fueled attempts to create or promote alternatives to Wikipedia [link]. However, though Wickedpedia's reputation has been greatly damaged by charges of censorship and students are often prohibited from citing Wikipedia as a reference, these alternative encyclopedias have not been very successful in unseating Wickedpedia, largely because Wickedpedia's great size -- with millions of articles and many contributors -- has given it a big advantage because it is an encyclopedia. However, great size is no big advantage for Facebook -- much smaller competitors can offer everything that Facebook offers plus a no-censorship pledge (except for kiddie porn using live young kids as subjects) that is given extra credibility by 47 USC §230 (c)(1), which says, "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

I wonder if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- the holocaust-denying Iranian president -- has a holocaust-denial Facebook site. LOL

This Facebook censorship really hits home because this blog could be shut down on the grounds that it contains holocaust revisionism (as well as Darwin-to-Hitler stuff). Facebook must be stopped.

Boycott Facebook. The freedom of expression you save may be your own.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Facebook restricts access to its holocaust-denial sites

Wikipedia describes Facebook as --

. . a free-access social networking website that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc.. Users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school, and region to connect and interact with other people. People can also add friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves.

Bradley Smith wrote on his "One Person with Proof" blog,

Technically Incorrect has posted an interesting article on censorship instigated by Dallas Cowboys owner Mark Cuban's brother and attorney for his companies, Brian. Brian has written to Facebook demanding to know why the social-networking site allows Holocaust denial groups. His opinion is that this is not a First Amendment issue.

"The belief that the First Amendment protects speech in the private social media arena or at your place of employment is a common misconception," he says.

Wrong. TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers, for example, are usually privately owned, yet the courts have ruled that they are subject or potentially subject to 1st Amendment freedom-of-speech requirements.
Although Holocaust denial is not illegal in the US, it is a crime in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Israel, Slovakia, and Switzerland.

To Cuban, any Holocaust denial group is clearly committing an illegal act in those countries. He has therefore written to Facebook asking the company why it permits the five Holocaust denial groups he has found on the site.

It is not Facebook's job to enforce foreign censorship laws. Facebook's first obligation is to the US Constitution. Our courts have been severely criticized for merely mentioning foreign laws and court opinions, let alone applying them.

A Facebook spokesman said that Facebook is not planning to remove the holocaust-denial sites -- at least not yet [link]--

. . .we are sensitive to groups that threaten violence towards people and these groups are taken down. We also remove groups that express hatred towards individuals and groups that are sponsored by recognized terrorist organizations. We do not, however, take down groups that speak out against countries, political entities, or ideas.

However, he said that Facebook is using IP addresses to block access from countries where holocaust-denial is illegal [link]--

When dealing with user generated content on global websites, there are occasions where content that is illegal in one country, is not (or may even be protected) in another. For example, homosexual content is illegal in some countries, but that does not mean it should be removed from Facebook. Most companies approach this issue by preventing certain content from being shown to users in the countries where it is illegal and that is our approach as well. We have recently begun to block content by IP in countries where that content is illegal, including Nazi-related and holocaust denial content in certain European countries. The groups in question have been blocked in the appropriate countries.

As I said, Facebook's obligation is to follow the US Constitution and US laws, not foreign censorship laws. And I am really surprised that anyone in the US would dare restrict access to homosexual sites.

Also, using IP addresses to block Internet communications is illegal or frowned upon in Europe. A news article said,

(AP) IP addresses, string of numbers that identify computers on the Internet, should generally be regarded as personal information, the head of the European Union's group of data privacy regulators said Monday.

Germany's data protection commissioner, Peter Scharr, leads the EU group preparing a report on how well the privacy policies of Internet search engines operated by Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and others comply with EU privacy law.

Here are some excerpts from Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995:

Article 1

Object of the Directive

1. In accordance with this Directive, Member States shall protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, and in particular their right to privacy with respect to the processing of personal data . . . .
Article 2


For the purposes of this Directive:

(a) 'personal data' shall mean any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person ('data subject'); an identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors specific to his physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity . . . . .(emphasis added)

Article 6

1. Member States shall provide that personal data must be:

- - - - - - - - -

(e) kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the data were collected or for which they are further processed . . . . .

Article 7

Member States shall provide that personal data may be processed only if:

(a) the data subject has unambiguously given his consent; or

(b) processing is necessary for the performance of a contract to which the data subject is party or in order to take steps at the request of the data subject prior to entering into a contract; or

(c) processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which the controller is subject; or

(d) processing is necessary in order to protect the vital interests of the data subject; or

(e) processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller or in a third party to whom the data are disclosed; or

(f) processing is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by the third party or parties to whom the data are disclosed, except where such interests are overridden by the interests for fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject which require protection under Article 1 (1).

As for Articles 7(c) and 7(e) above, "compliance with a legal obligation" and "performance of a task carried out in the public interest," Facebook has an obligation to follow the US Constitution and has no obligation to follow foreign censorship laws.

Some of this blog's articles about misuse of IP addresses to block Internet communications are here, here, here, here, and here.

If Facebook's restriction of access to a Facebook site shows disapproval, then what does unrestricted access to a Facebook site show? Approval? Does Facebook want to imply that it approves of every Facebook site that has unrestricted access? Why can't Facebook just post a disclaimer saying that Facebook does not endorse or approve any Facebook site?

Facebook is so big that they think they can get away with almost anything. However, like Wikipedia, Facebook is going to find out that, as the saying goes, "the bigger they are, the harder they fall."

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Proposal for totalitarian national standards for education

A news article says,
It's been a long-held tradition in American public education that decisions about standards and curriculum are best left to state and local school systems, not the federal government. But that soon could change, amid mounting evidence that American students are falling behind their peers in other countries.

Leading education groups and government officials agreed at a congressional hearing April 29 that adopting common academic standards across all states might be the way to give U.S. students an advantage in an increasingly competitive and international marketplace.

Though American students' performance at any particular age or grade level tends to be mediocre, that is compensated for by the fact that Americans tend to have more years of education than people in other countries.

Having national standards would make it harder for the average individual citizen to influence education policy. Having national standards would make it much easier for high-powered lobbying organizations to uniformly impose their "politically correct" dogmas in such controversial areas of education as evolution and the holocaust. Highly centralized education standards are characteristic of totalitarian fascist and communist regimes -- look at the Hitler Youth, for example. We should be going the other way by abolishing state standards for education -- except perhaps for listing the kinds of courses to be taken (in fact, IMO there should be national standards for the kinds of courses to be taken) -- and going to local standards. It is fairly easy for average citizens to attend local meetings of school boards, but attending statewide -- let alone national -- hearings on standards of education is a big burden for most citizens.



Friday, May 08, 2009

Anti-McLeroy campaign targets lieutenant governor

TFN Insider, the blog of the Texas Freedom Network, says,

Texas State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy . . . has been making the rounds of Senate offices this week with a lobbyist . . . The two are trying to turn the tide on McLeroy’s endangered confirmation for another term as board chairman. We hear from one Capitol office that McLeroy is telling folks he believes his confirmation hopes have been resuscitated.

TFN then urges readers to ask Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to oppose confirmation of McLeroy. I urge you to ask Dewhurst to support McLeroy. Contact information for Dewhurst is here. Background info on McLeroy is here. There is no time to waste -- the legislative session ends June 2 and the Texas Senate probably has a lot of other business to deal with.

TFN is seeking petty revenge against McLeroy. If McLeroy is denied confirmation, the governor will probably just replace him with another board member who is no better than McLeroy in TFN's eyes and maybe even worse.

The Darwinists have been intimidating Darwin-doubters for too long and that needs to end.



Another Texas Death Match: McLeroy's confirmation fight

The Texas Death Match is a kind of pro-wrestling match. I thought that it was named for the Alamo, but later found out that it really did originate in Texas. Sports announcer Dick Lane described it as a wrestling match that ends when one of the competitors must be carried out of the ring, but I later found out that it is not that bad.

I previously reported that Don McLeroy was having trouble in getting confirmed by the Texas Senate as chairman of the Texas state board of education. This is an update.

A news article said,
The confirmation of State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy is dead in the water, Sen. Mike Jackson, R-La Porte, said Thursday.

Jackson, chairman of the Senate Nominations Committee, said McLeroy will be left pending in committee because there is enough opposition on the floor of the Senate to block his confirmation, which requires approval of two-thirds of the senators.

There are too many other important issues to take up on the floor to waste time on a doomed confirmation, Jackson said.

After a contentious confirmation hearing last week, Jackson said he would take the temperature of his colleagues before determining whether to give McLeroy a committee vote.

I suspect that a lot of senators who would vote for McLeroy tried to discourage a full-Senate vote by threatening to vote against him.

Later the Texas Freedom Network said,

Religious-right pressure groups, including the Texas chapter of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family and the Texas Pastor Council, have unleashed a flurry of calls urging legislators to support the SBOE. And their calls are having an effect. We have heard from senators that they are swamped with calls demanding McLeroy’s confirmation.

So as the saying goes, it ain't over until the fat lady sings. I urge readers to support the McLeroy confirmation campaign by contacting the members of the Nominations Committee of the Texas Senate.

The purpose of having an elected board of education is to enable the voters to focus exclusively on issues of education when electing the board members. This purpose is defeated when the state legislature becomes involved in issues of education, because the voters cannot focus on issues of education in the election of legislators because the voters must take into account the candidates' positions on other issues. Even in the field of education alone, there are many different issues that the voters must weigh. In fact, from my standpoint it would be nice if there were elected boards of evolution education and elected boards of holocaust education. It is sufficient that the members of the board of education are directly accountable to the voters, and the legislature should not unnecessarily become involved in issues of education.

On the subject of evolution education, the board listened to several days of public and expert oral testimony, received thousands of written comments, and spent several days of internal debate. The state Senate has done none of these things and is not in a good position to second-guess the board's decisions about evolution education.

Also, Don McLeroy's views on evolution have nothing to do with his fitness to serve as chairman of the state board of education. Denial of confirmation for McLeroy would have a chilling effect on public officials' willingness to question evolution.



Thursday, May 07, 2009

Allowing students to opt out of evolution

A news article about a legislative bill in Alberta says,

A controversial Alberta bill will enshrine into law the rights of parents to pull their children out of classes discussing the topics of evolution and homosexuality.

The new rules, which would require schools to notify parents in advance of "subject-matter that deals explicitly with religion, sexuality or sexual orientation," is buried in a bill that extends human rights to homosexuals.

IMO the idea of an opt-out policy for dogmatically-taught evolution education is good. The religious implications of evolution are now stronger than ever, with Darwinist cafeteria Christians bragging that they believe the gospel story but not the bible's creation story, even though both stories are supernatural. William Jennings Bryan said,

If those who teach Darwinism and evolution, as applied to man, insist that they are neither agnostics nor atheists, but are merely interpreting the Bible differently from orthodox Christians, what right have they to ask that their interpretation be taught at public expense?

Moreover, what right have they to insist that their interpretation be dogmatically taught to all students in the public schools?

The courts have not even allowed evolution-disclaimer statements. Such statements were struck down in three fairly recent cases -- Kitzmiller v. Dover, Selman v. Cobb County, and Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish.

If I were a student, I would opt out just to protest the dogmatic teaching of evolution. Also, IMO whether to opt out should be the student's decision, not the parents'. And students should have a right to object on scientific as well as religious grounds to the dogmatic teaching of evolution.

An evolution opt-out policy would require that evolution be concentrated and confined in just a few lectures at most and one small part of the textbook. Unfortunately, evolution is often sprinkled throughout some textbooks and some teachers' lectures. For example, Dover school board member Bill Buckingham complained that Miller & Levine's textbook "Biology" was "laced with Darwinism" [link] --

In looking at the biology book the teachers wanted, I noticed that it was laced with Darwinism. I think I listed somewhere between 12 and 15 instances where it talked about Darwin's theory of evolution. It wasn't on every page of the book, but, like, every couple of chapters, there was Darwin, in your face again. And it was to the exclusion of any other theory.

Of course, under any reasonable opt-out policy, students who opt out would not be tested on evolution.

If the schools and the courts won't make reasonable accommodations for some students' sensibilities regarding evolution, then let those students opt out. And which is worse -- allowing evolution opt-outs or teaching both the scientific strengths and the scientific criticisms of evolution theory?



Debunking the "intelligent design creationism" myth

The term "intelligent design creationism" epitomizes the Darwinists' efforts to conflate intelligent design with biblical creationism. This conflation was debunked in an excellent article by journalist Melanie Phillips, who said,

I hold no particular brief for ID, but am intrigued by the ideas it raises and want it to be given a fair crack of the whip to see where the argument will lead. What I have also seen, however, is an attempt to shut down that argument by distorting and misrepresenting ID and defaming and intimidating its proponents.

One way of doing so is to conflate ID with Creationism. I wrote below [i.e., previously] that this is wrong, since ID comes out of science and creationism comes out of Biblical literalism. This provoked Charles Johnson on LGF [Little Green Footballs] to accuse me of being either duped or dishonest. Johnson – who has become unhealthily obsessed with ID and Creationism in recent months -- says I am wrong to say that ID is based on science rather than on religion, and wrong to say that it is different from Creationism . . . .
To repeat – I have no particular brief for ID. I am not in a position to judge whether its arguments about ‘irreducible complexity’ and the logic of intelligent design are soundly based or not. But I do know that the attempt to shut down this debate runs against every principle of rationality and scientific freedom; and that the claim that it is rooted not in science but in religious fundamentalism is a falsehood designed to smear and intimidate people into silence . . . .

Dogma is certainly what is on the other side of ID in this fight – a materialist dogma which, posing as the standard-bearer of reason against obscurantism, actually embodies irrationality and a kind of intellectual fascism. It is a secular inquisition – as the reaction to my [previous] post makes all too plain.

Intelligent design is indeed based on scientific evidence and scientific reasoning -- there is nothing in the bible about irreducible complexity, bacterial flagella, the blood-clotting cascade, etc..

The Darwinists' claim that ID is not science because ID proponents have not conducted a lot of experiments is of course wrong. A lot of science is not experimentation but is analysis of existing data -- my studies of coevolution are like that. I have done no experiments and made no field trips in my studies of coevolution.

The Darwinists' charges of guilt-by-association -- that many ID proponents are motivated by religion -- are also improper. Indeed, when it comes to guilt-by-association, the Darwinists live in a glass house because so many Darwinists are (1) atheists and (2) cafeteria Christians who are inconsistent about supernaturalism because they believe the supernatural gospel story but reject the supernatural creation story.

One of the main reasons why Darwinists insist that intelligent design is religion is to enable them to use the Constitution's establishment clause to attack it.

Instead of looking at all the evidence, the Darwinists cherry-pick their evidence, like the following guy who was on trial on a charge of stealing chickens:

Defendant to witness: Did you see me go into the henhouse?

Witness: Yes

Defendant: Did you see me come out of the henhouse?

Witness: No

Defendant: Aha! Ise still in that henhouse!

The full story of the debate is here.



Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Darwinist trolls' straw-man pseudosciences

Darwinist trolls are fond of making straw-man attacks on criticisms of evolution by likening those criticisms to obvious pseudsciences. Among the pseudosciences most frequently used in these attacks are: (1) flat-earth theory; (2) astrology; (3) alchemy; and (4) geocentrism. One of them, the flat-earth theory, never really existed as a serious theory since at least the 3rd century B.C., and two others, astrology and alchemy, apparently never were in a major historical conflict with real science. Of these four pseudosciences, apparently only one -- geocentrism -- ever seriously challenged real science. I call these pseudosciences "straw men" because trolls shamelessly and frivolously introduce them into debates over evolution strictly because these pseudosciences are easy to knock down and not because they are really comparable to criticisms of evolution. I assert that no serious debater would introduce any of these pseudosciences into the debate and I can't recall ever seeing any leading evolutionist introduce any of these pseudosciences into the debate. I will examine each of these four pseudosciences here.


The flat-earth theory is the great-granddaddy of the pseudosciences used in the straw-man attacks on criticisms of evolution. It is probably the only such pseudoscience that was promoted expressly for the purpose of attacking those criticisms. It is probably also the only such pseudoscience that was never widely accepted among educated people since ancient times.

A historian at the Univ. of Calif. - Santa Barbara said [link],
It must first be reiterated that with extraordinary few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the earth was flat . . . (emphasis in original)

The reason for promoting both the specific lie about the sphericity of the earth and the general lie that religion and science are in natural and eternal conflict in Western society, is to defend Darwinism. The answer is really only slightly more complicated than that bald statement.

I remember being taught in elementary school that Columbus's crewmen threatened to mutiny because they were afraid that they would sail off the edge of the earth but that Columbus just bravely told them, "sail on."

Since the flat-earth theory was never widely accepted by Christian scholars, the question of whether the bible supports the theory is moot. However, it is noteworthy that nothing in the bible expressly says that the earth is flat -- a flat earth is only at most suggested by some verses in the bible, e.g., [link],

. . . .the essential flatness of the earth's surface is required by verses like Daniel 4:10-11. In Daniel, the king "saw a tree of great height at the centre of the earth ... reaching with its top to the sky and visible to the earth's farthest bounds." If the earth were flat, a sufficiently tall tree would be visible to "the earth's farthest bounds," but this is impossible on a spherical earth. Likewise, in describing the temptation of Jesus by Satan, Matthew 4:8 says, "Once again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world (cosmos) in their glory." Obviously, this would be possible only if the earth were flat. The same is true of Revelation 1:7: "Behold, he is coming with the clouds! Every eye shall see him..."

But the above verses of the bible would not suggest a belief in a flat earth if the ancients believed that all of the kingdoms or all of the earth's land area covered only a comparatively small part of the earth's surface or at most just one hemisphere.

Considering the embarrassing history of the flat-earth theory, one would think that the Darwinist trolls would avoid citing the theory as a straw-man pseudoscience, but this theory happens to be one of the Darwiniist trolls' favorite straw men.


To my knowledge, astrology has never been in conflict with astronomical science. Astrology is the idea that the apparent motions and relative positions of celestial objects in the sky determine or influence events on earth and can be used to predict the future. Astrology might be based on the false idea that celestial objects exist in 2-dimensional rather than 3-dimensional space, but astrology has continued despite our awareness that celestial objects exist in 3-dimensional space. Astrology's predictions are obviously falsifiable. Astrology has made important contributions to modern astronomy through (1) the naming of constellations in astronomical maps and (2) the astronomical symbols for celestial objects.


The best known goal of the alchemists was to transmute base metals into gold and silver. A lesser known goal of the alchemists was to discover an elixir for perpetual youth. We now know that alchemy is pseudoscientific, but I don't know of any historical instance where there was a conflict between alchemy and real science. Today the alchemists' goal to transmute elements has been achieved by means of nuclear fission, fusion, and radioactive decay, though this goal has not been completely achieved in a way that the alchemists would have preferred.


Of the four pseudosciences that I mentioned, this is the only one that historically was ever in a major conflict with real science, and that real science in the conflict with geocentrism was heliocentrism. The Catholic church's persecution of heliocentrists -- notably Galileo -- is well-known. Geocentrism is expressly and implicitly supported by some verses in the bible, e.g.[link] --

I Chronicles 16:30: "He has fixed the earth firm, immovable."

Psalm 93:1: "Thou hast fixed the earth immovable and firm..."

Psalm 96:10: "He has fixed the earth firm, immovable..."

Psalm 104:5: "Thou didst fix the earth on its foundation so that it never can be shaken."

Isaiah 45:18: "...who made the earth and fashioned it, and himself fixed it fast..."

BTW, the above verses were cited in attempted support of the notion that the bible supports the flat-earth theory, but the above verses do not really support the flat-earth theory but only support geocentrism.

Geocentrism is sometimes called the "Ptolemaic" system or model, named for Ptolemy, an ancient Greek living in Egypt under the Roman Empire. The Ptolemaic system is based on ancient science rather than on religious sources.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Banned by so-called Texas Freedom Network

My comment submissions to the blog of the so-called Texas Freedom Network are no longer being considered for publication on a case-by-case basis but all of them are being blocked. What instigated this ban was my response to a video of comedian Bill Maher. Bill Mayer made several statements ridiculing the state of Texas, including the statement -- "Texas has a board of education?" My comment included the following statement: "TFN, you applaud when this stupid comedian ridicules your state. I have no respect for you. None at all." TFN's response was, "We love you too, Larry. Now goodbye." The TFN bloggers have pretty thin skins to kick me off their blog for something like that. And TFN has allowed other commenters to constantly abuse me. The Darwinists can dish it out but they sure can't take it. If my comment was so offensive, TFN had the option of not publishing it (TFN has comment moderation turned on) but they chose to publish it and then banned me. I believe TFN was looking for an excuse to get rid of me because my comments on the TFN blog are persuasive and irrefutable. As Gov. Arnold Schwarenegger said, "I'm always kicking their butts -- that's why they don't like me."
I can sometimes evade comment bans by submitting comments under false names and/or using anonymous proxies to get around IP address blocks. However, I like to submit comments under my real name and the free-of-charge anonymous proxies that I use sometimes don't work in getting around IP address blocks. IP address blocking is illegal or frowned upon in Europe and should be illegal in the USA. IP address blocking appears to be illegal in California.

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Teacher's anti-creationism remark violated 1st Amendment, judge rules

A news article says,

SANTA ANA – A Mission Viejo high school history teacher violated the First Amendment by disparaging Christians during a classroom lecture, a federal judge ruled today.

James Corbett, a 20-year teacher at Capistrano Valley High School, referred to Creationism as “religious, superstitious nonsense” during a 2007 classroom lecture, denigrating his former Advanced Placement European history student, Chad Farnan.

The decision is the culmination of a 16-month legal battle between Corbett and Farnan – a conflict the judge said should remind teachers of their legal “boundaries” as public school employees.

"Corbett states an unequivocal belief that Creationism is 'superstitious nonsense,'" U.S. District Court Judge James Selna said in a 37-page ruling released from his Santa Ana courtroom. "The court cannot discern a legitimate secular purpose in this statement, even when considered in context."

In a December 2007 lawsuit, Farnan, then a sophomore, accused Corbett of repeatedly promoting hostility toward Christians in class and advocating "irreligion over religion" in violation of the First Amendment's establishment clause.

In 2007, there was a rally of 200 protesters who supported the teacher [link] --
MISSION VIEJO – To an almost continuous stream of blaring car horns and cheering, more than 200 Capistrano Valley High School students and alumni rallied outside their school Wednesday morning to show support for embattled history teacher James Corbett, who is being sued by one of his students for making remarks about Christianity and traditional Christian viewpoints in class . . .

“I support Corbett because he’s a teacher who supported free speech and allowed us to discuss in an intelligent way,” said protestor Matt Yee, 17, a junior who took AP European history with Corbett last year . . . .

Down the street from the school, at Via Escolar and Marguerite Parkway, about 10 supporters of Farnan held up signs that read "Freedom from hate" and "Stop Dr. Corbett’s Intolerance." . . .

Corbett's critics say he monopolizes much of his class time promoting liberal viewpoints and leaves little room for students to interject . . . .

Also Wednesday morning, Pastor Wiley Drake of the First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park visited the school, leading a small prayer vigil for Farnan and doing an Internet radio broadcast for RepublicRadio.com on the controversy.

"We object to Mr. Corbett,” said the Rev. Rod McDougal, who came up from San Diego for the prayer vigil. “We don't want him strung up; we want him fired."

IMO the judge's decision is reasonable. The teacher just went too far, and the judge had to draw the line somewhere. There were charges that the teacher made several other statements that allegedly violated the 1st Amendment and the judge dismissed those charges.

The Corbett case is discussed on:

Volokh Conspiracy, a law blog

Religion Clause, a law blog

Sleazy PZ Myers' Pharyngula blog

Fatheaded Ed Brayton's Dispatches from the Culture Wars blog

Note: this post has been revised since it was first published. The reference to Seiman v. Cobb County -- a reference which I now consider to be inappropriate -- was removed.



Saturday, May 02, 2009

ACSI v. Stearns appeal briefs filed

ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) v. Stearns is a lawsuit challenging the University of California's denial of accreditation to particular Christian high school courses. UC denied accreditation on the grounds that the textbooks and/or subject matter of the courses are unacceptable. This blog has a post label group of articles about the case. UC won in district court and the case is now under appeal. My analysis of the district court decision is here. The National Center for Science Education has an article and a big collection of court documents on the case. So far, the ACSI opening appeals brief and the UC answering (responsive) appeals brief have been posted by NCSE. The optional ACSI reply to the answering brief may be posted later. There are six amicus briefs, two supporting ACSI and four supporting UC. Nine expert witness reports are listed but only one, by Michael Behe, is on the side of ACSI.

The lawsuit covers several course subjects but I focused on the rejection of the biology textbooks.

UC's answering (responsive) brief says of the Bob Jones University biology textbook (pages 24-25 of PDF file, pages 15-16 of original document),
These "science" texts unqualifiedly state (for example): "[i]f the conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong, no matter how many scientific facts may appear to back them" and "[s]ince the Christian worldview comes from God, it is the only correct view of reality; anyone who rejects it will not only fail to reach heaven but also fail to see the world as it truly is."

I agree with UC's rejection of the BJU biology textbook. IMO the above statements in the textbook just go too far -- they discourage critical thinking and promote the spoonfeeding of Christian dogma to the students.

UC's brief also quote-mines Behe's expert witness report in the paragraph containing the above statement, but that is another matter.

The Bob Jones University Press textbook United States History for Christian Schools appears to take the same supernaturalistic approach as the Christian biology textbooks, even though this approach is even less justified in the case of history textbooks because human history, unlike macroevolution, has been directly observed by humans. The amicus brief of the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians says,

The textbook at issue does not evidence a respect for historical sources, historical research and varying interpretations of the past. Moreover, it does not encourage students to examine and understand the complex causation of historical events. Indeed, the textbook discourages students' examination and discussion of causation of certain historical events by citing "providence" or "divine intervention" as the overriding force causing these events. This is evidenced by the statement of Mark Sidwell, one of the co-authors of the textbook, that "[t]he Christian always takes his stand on the Word of God in dealing with the issue of providence and not on the results of historical research." Providence and the Teaching of History. (page 7 of PDF file, page 4 of original document)

I don't know what is the matter with these Christian schools -- they seem primarily concerned with indoctrinating students with Christian dogma and not concerned about preparing them for the real world. These schools are obsessed with teaching Christian this and Christian that, maybe even a course in Christian underwater basketweaving. Maybe that is because Christians feel shunned by society -- for example, Judge Jones gets up there and says that his Kitzmiller v. Dover decision was based on his cockamamie notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief that organized religions are not "true" religions.

IMO the district court decision provides little guidance for other court cases and does nothing to help prevent or reduce similar litigation in the future. Here are my recommendations:

(1) Universities' evaluations of textbooks for the purpose of accreditation of high-school courses (and also college courses for transfer credit) should be declared to be non-justiciable (or unreviewable), except in extreme cases of arbitrariness and capriciousness. We don't want to turn the courts into textbook accreditation agencies. Court review of textbook evaluations are very time-consuming and time that a court spends on one case takes valuable time away from other cases (I know this from unfortunate personal experience). Judges need to learn how to make decisions that are quick, fair, conclusive, and as broad as possible.

(2) If a university rejects a high-school textbook, then the student may be given credit for the course by passing an appropriate College Board subject test, and if the student fails the test, then the student may be admitted on condition that (s)he repeats the course at the university or elsewhere. Students now have the option of getting credit for the course by examination; conditional admission, i.e., admission upon condition that the course will be repeated, should be added as compensation for (1) the ruling that the textbook rejections are non-justiciable and (2) requiring the students to take the College Board subject test when others who took similar courses are not required to take the test. Ironically, if the student goes to a community college for two years and then transfers to UC, the unaccredited high-school course does not have to be repeated. One of the problems here, of course, is that a student who took too many unapproved courses might have to take too many College Board subject tests and/or repeat too many courses.