And his car

Who knew he liked Corollas?

Darwin Sighting

He looks good for 201.

This is wildly offensive

A dozen reasons to celebrate Darwin.

1. Charles Darwin was not an atheist. He struggled with his faith for most of his life, as do many of us. He respected faith, and people of faith. In fact, his wife Emma was deeply religious, and talked with him throughout their marriage about God.

Water on the Moon

NASA discovered there is plenty of water on the moon.

Experts have long suspected there was water on the moon. So the thrilling discovery announced Friday sent a ripple of hope for a future astronaut outpost in a place that has always seemed barren and inhospitable.

“We found water. And we didn’t find just a little bit. We found a significant amount,” Anthony Colaprete, lead scientist for the mission, told reporters as he held up a white water bucket for emphasis.

He said the 25 gallons of water the lunar crash kicked up was only what scientists could see from the plumes of the impact.

This is equivalent to roughly a bathtub’s worth of water from this double-impact.

One part of me wants to endlessly speculate at the possibility of microbial life. But all reason and rationality tell me to be cautious. Water does not automatically mean life (especially when its frozen).

…but what if it does mean life, at least in this case? Would the world realize the utter significance of this discovery? Not since Darwin described evolution by natural selection has there been such an important find.

Origin of Stupidity

The stupidity, it doesn’t stop

This is currently on Conservapedia’s front page:

The killer at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, James von Brunn, was a white supremacist and also an evolutionary racist. James von Brunn wrote that “Only the strong survive. Cross breeding whites with species on the evolutionary scale diminishes the white gene-pool while increasing the number of physiologically, psychologically, and behaviorally deprived mongrels.” The evolutionist Charles Darwin was also an evolutionary racist. The shooter, James von Brunn, also appears to have had close ties to neo-Nazis and his ex-wife said his anti-semitism and racist hate “ate him alive like a cancer”. Adolf Hitler was also a rabid evolutionary racist.

Aside from reading like a child wrote it, this is just the same old creationist appeal to emotion. These people have no evidence to back up their horribly stupid views, so they resort to dumb things like this; evolution means racism!!! It’s therefore wrong!!1!!

But here’s the kicker. Even if one were to ignore the glaring logical fallacy in the wee little minds of Conservapedians, the argument still fails. Being wrong is also a major no-no when making any argument.

James von Brunn’s beliefs are not based upon any real understanding of evolution or genetics. If they were, then he’d know that two white people can be more genetically diverse between each other than a white person and a black person. In other words, race doesn’t have any biological grounding. So if Conservapedians actually think it is a valid tactic to judge the merits of scientific evidence based upon inconveniences that it may give, then the real argument here is that evolution informs us that racism has no good basis and is therefore stupid.

von Brunn’s idea of evolution is very close to the creationist idea of the theory. Neither one is anywhere near correct. They both use their particular versions of this revolutionary concept to suit themselves. von Brunn thought there was a significant genetic basis for races. Creationists think evolution actually says that. The only difference between these abuses is scale. von Brunn is one guy with wrong ideas and the crazy to back them up. Creationists are a huge group of poorly educated, unfortunately ignorant individuals* who harm the progress of science by rejecting the most fundamental concept to an entire field.

The Conservapedia piece mentions that Charles Darwin was an “evolutionary racist”. This is more conservative screaming and kicking. Reasonable people keep pointing out just why they are wrong, but the conservatives just switch to more convinced language. That’ll do it.

Darwin held many of the racist beliefs of his day, but he didn’t need evolution to get him there. His science stands firm, regardless of what he may have believed. But for what it’s worth, he was ahead of his time with his race views. He also was a big abolitionist.

As for Hitler, he suffered from the issues as von Brunn. In addition, however, the man may have just been abusing any old idea for his purposes. He invoked all sorts of beliefs, including the words of Jesus, to rally support for his plans, actions, and goals. This says nothing of whether or not he was right.

*Ignorance is no crime. We’re all guilty of it. Fortunately, there are remedies.

The stupidity, it doesn't stop

This is currently on Conservapedia’s front page:

The killer at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, James von Brunn, was a white supremacist and also an evolutionary racist. James von Brunn wrote that “Only the strong survive. Cross breeding whites with species on the evolutionary scale diminishes the white gene-pool while increasing the number of physiologically, psychologically, and behaviorally deprived mongrels.” The evolutionist Charles Darwin was also an evolutionary racist. The shooter, James von Brunn, also appears to have had close ties to neo-Nazis and his ex-wife said his anti-semitism and racist hate “ate him alive like a cancer”. Adolf Hitler was also a rabid evolutionary racist.

Aside from reading like a child wrote it, this is just the same old creationist appeal to emotion. These people have no evidence to back up their horribly stupid views, so they resort to dumb things like this; evolution means racism!!! It’s therefore wrong!!1!!

But here’s the kicker. Even if one were to ignore the glaring logical fallacy in the wee little minds of Conservapedians, the argument still fails. Being wrong is also a major no-no when making any argument.

James von Brunn’s beliefs are not based upon any real understanding of evolution or genetics. If they were, then he’d know that two white people can be more genetically diverse between each other than a white person and a black person. In other words, race doesn’t have any biological grounding. So if Conservapedians actually think it is a valid tactic to judge the merits of scientific evidence based upon inconveniences that it may give, then the real argument here is that evolution informs us that racism has no good basis and is therefore stupid.

von Brunn’s idea of evolution is very close to the creationist idea of the theory. Neither one is anywhere near correct. They both use their particular versions of this revolutionary concept to suit themselves. von Brunn thought there was a significant genetic basis for races. Creationists think evolution actually says that. The only difference between these abuses is scale. von Brunn is one guy with wrong ideas and the crazy to back them up. Creationists are a huge group of poorly educated, unfortunately ignorant individuals* who harm the progress of science by rejecting the most fundamental concept to an entire field.

The Conservapedia piece mentions that Charles Darwin was an “evolutionary racist”. This is more conservative screaming and kicking. Reasonable people keep pointing out just why they are wrong, but the conservatives just switch to more convinced language. That’ll do it.

Darwin held many of the racist beliefs of his day, but he didn’t need evolution to get him there. His science stands firm, regardless of what he may have believed. But for what it’s worth, he was ahead of his time with his race views. He also was a big abolitionist.

As for Hitler, he suffered from the issues as von Brunn. In addition, however, the man may have just been abusing any old idea for his purposes. He invoked all sorts of beliefs, including the words of Jesus, to rally support for his plans, actions, and goals. This says nothing of whether or not he was right.

*Ignorance is no crime. We’re all guilty of it. Fortunately, there are remedies.

Evolution debate ends in compromise

Absolutely not.

For 20 years, Texas science teachers have been required to cover the strengths and weaknesses of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Two decades later, that rule has been changed. They traded the curriculum for a new set of standards.

Board of Education member Bob Craig said the new curriculum will require students to use critical thinking to discuss, analyze and evaluate the information for yourselves.

Lies. The new ‘standards’ will set science back.

For example, the revised biology standard (7B) reflects two discredited creationist ideas — that “sudden appearance” and “stasis” in the fossil record somehow disprove evolution. The new standard directs students to “analyze and evaluate the sufficiency of scientific explanations concerning any data of sudden appearance, stasis and the sequential nature of groups in the fossil records.” Other new standards include language such as “is thought to” or “proposed transitional fossils” to make evolutionary concepts seem more tentative.

These people are stupid. Straight up stupid. Not politically, of course. They are, naturally, quite coy in that respect – that is the second most notable characteristic of the creationist mind. The most notable, of course, is the ability to simply not understand a single, damn thing about science. These people hate science. It conflicts with the beliefs with which they grew up, so they act like little babies and fail to realize that they are wrong. They assume what they hear of science must be incorrect because it does not fit their fairy tale. It’s rather pathetic, really.

By making these changes, the board of education hopes students will use reasoning and experimental testing to examine all sides of scientific explanations, including evolution.

“You need to have that critical thinking by the student,” Craig said, “and you need to have a free discussion of any scientific explanation.”

The revisions apply to students in kindergarten through 12th grade who take the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS test. However, they focus primarily on high school students.

“Have that free discussion, analyze and evaluate,” Craig said. “Critique those scientific explanations, and encourage critical thinking because that’s what we want to do in all fields.”

Scientists have that free discussion. High school students are not qualified in the least bit to tackle any of the vague, coy-creationist, sneak-attack, trojan, flat-out-fucking-liar terms listed.

“Somebody’s got to stand up to experts!” cries board chair Don McLeroy.

Don McLeroy is the chairman of the Texas State Board of Education. He is also a dentist. Next time 9 out of 10 of his colleagues tell you to do this or that with your teeth, tell them they aren’t allowing you to freely discuss, analyze, or evaluate any of the evidence. Tell them it is YOU that should be critiquing the field of dentistry. Those arrogant experts have been holding down the ignorant layman for far too long, I say!

Discovery Institute is shut out; whines

The Vatican held another meeting trying to squeeze its tiny God into the ever shrinking gaps of reality as brought to us by science. (Apologies for the FOX Noise link, but it is an AP article.) Even though they have most things fully 1/2 wrong, them there Catholics do have some things entirely correct.

The Discovery Institute, the main organization supporting intelligent design research, says it was shut out from presenting its views because the meeting was funded in part by the John Templeton Foundation, a major U.S. nonprofit that has criticized the intelligent design movement.

Good. The Discovery Institute is filled with hacks who are purely motivated by religion, not science. They are, by definition, liars.

Organizers of the five-day conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University said Thursday that they barred intelligent design proponents because they wanted an intellectually rigorous conference on science, theology and philosophy to mark the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species.”

The implication being – though not as eloquently as I am about to put it – is that people who actually think intelligent design is science are fucking mooks who have no idea what science actually is. Honestly. Can any IDist actually give one prediction made by intelligent design ‘theory‘? Does any IDist understand why his failure to do this is one of the major reasons intelligent design is not science?

Muslim creationists also complained about the conference.

Oktar Babuna, a representative of a prominent Turkish creationist, Harun Yahya, was denied the right to speak at the opening session Tuesday.

Notice this says “right to speak”. I assume this is in the same sense that I have a right to swing my fists. That right ends once it impedes someone else’s liberty. At that point, we no longer refer to my fist-swinging as a right: harassing, dangerous, disturbing, etc, perhaps we call it one of these, but certainly not a right. So surely Babuna couldn’t have been figuratively swinging his fists with his gaping mouth of creationist inanity, correct? After all, he was denied a right, not the ability to harass people or spew dumb, disturbing ideas of stupidity.

Participants took the microphone away from Babuna when, during a question-and-answer session, he challenged them to give proof of transitional forms of animals in Darwinian evolution.

Organizers said he hadn’t formulated a question and was just stating his point of view.

Babuna said afterward that the conference was clearly undemocratic. A statement from Yahya said, “Although there are discussion parts, they want this discussion to be one-sided.”

Surprise. It looks like Babuna took his verbal fists and started throwing them around the conference. It’s fortunate there’s no muscle to back them up.

Scientists can keep pointing to these fossils, but creationists just keep asking the same question over and over. They’re like little kids who keep asking their parents “why?” no matter what the answer. They aren’t actually seeking any information, truth, or answers; they just want attention because no one takes their childish ideas seriously.

Happy Darwin Day

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. The discover of the principles of the most important theory yet formulated, Darwin also wrote his landmark book, On the Origin of Species, 150 years ago this year (though not this day).

As more people are likely to note, it is also the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. Certainly a man of high significance, his contributions to humanity have been greatly smaller than those of the aforementioned great scientist. Evolutionary theory is the backbone of life itself. It goes to explain far more important things than Lincoln’s actions affected mankind.

I am tentative in the qualifiers and apologies within these statements because it is abundantly clear Darwin trumps in greatness most men, at least insofar as contributions to his fellow species are concerned. However, this post isn’t intended to tarnish the image of Lincoln. Rather, we recognize Lincoln as one of the great men in history, one of the great contributors. In contrasting and comparing the man with Darwin, the intention is to illuminate the significance of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Lincoln was great. I hope we agree. Darwin was greater.

Let’s not forget, however, that Darwin is great for his discovery, but greater still is the discovery itself. It explains so much.

Earth