Archive for September, 2013

It’s a bit of an old story and I almost didn’t bother to write about it on here because the comments are what you would expect and WND only linked to a Washington Post article about it: Bush 41 Witness at ‘Gay’ Marriage in Maine.”

In fact, I’m only writing about this in case you, dear reader, missed it. George H.W. Bush, US President #41, from 1989 to 1993, was a witness on a marriage license for a homosexual male couple who got married in Maine. Father of George W. Bush, US President #43, one of the most conservative and religious presidents in recent memory.

Well, I suppose I’m also writing about it to point out just how far we’ve come as a society where even a guy like H.W. Bush would do this. And to show just how über-conservative and out of touch World Net Daily commenters are (i.e., two of the three top-rated comments are Bible verses condemning homosexuality).

I feel fairly confident in that title for this particular post. I’m writing it in reaction to Joseph Farah’s normal column, this particular article entitled, “‘Science’ Is Giving Itself a Bad Name.


Let’s review what he’s talking about in this particular case. He’s talking about a story that I saw earlier this week, a new study suggesting that life could survive on Earth for around another 1.75 billion years, then Earth will become uninhabitable. The story was big, oh, last week (Joseph’s a little behind in his ranting, or he saved it for a day he didn’t have something else to rant about).

This is what I personally consider interesting research, and it gets to the whole question of habitability, and if we discover a planet somewhere, what criteria does it need to meet in order to consider it habitable. The number is actually not new — around 7 years ago when I was taking a seminar on habitability, we were reading papers that said around 1.5 billion years (250 million years is NOT a large uncertainty in doing these kinds of models). The modeling is based on the increasing temperature of the sun and Earth’s position in the solar system. Then, how would – how could – Earth respond, as a planet, with all its known feedback mechanisms, to that increase in solar energy.

As I said, an interesting problem, and a very complicated one. The latest research is apparently now putting it at 1.75 to 3.25 billion years (read that as “1 and 3 quarters to 3 and one quarter” as opposed to knowing a value to the three significant figures). Anyway, so that’s the news, that’s the research. After that period of time, based on what we know about various feedback mechanisms, Earth would become too hot to have any liquid (or solid) water and would bake, becoming lifeless.

Now we go to Farah’s article. He seems to be ranting about this research. Except he’s ranting about climate change and “Climategate.” And it has overtones of young-Earth creationism.

In a clear non sequitur, he’s pointing out that this research was done at the University of East Anglia (UK), which is infamous in conservative circles for “Climategate” e-mails that were read out of context by people who don’t know how science works and showed nothing except the ignorance of their readers but persuaded many in the public that scientists were faking data (sorry for the long sentence, I typed it all in one breath).

Besides that, he’s confusing climate change making life a pain in the ass for current human society with the Earth being unable to support life. Again, a non sequitur, or perhaps even a false equivalence.

Not only that, he uses this as a springboard to argue that all of modern science is flawed because, effectively arguing as Ken Ham does, effectively asking the question, “Were you there?” Don’t believe me? Here’s what he says (in part):

How did these researchers at East Anglia University determine the world has at least 1.75 billion years left?

Did they use scientific methodology? Did they consider all the possibilities, including how much longer the sun will continue to shine? Does any scientist or team of scientists have the capability of considering all the possibilities?

I think not.

Furthermore, the particular “scientist” behind this study makes some pretty amazing pronouncements that go well beyond the ability to “observe” and “experiment.”

For instance, he states categorically that life first appeared on Earth nearly 4 billion years ago. Did he see it? Did he observe it? What evidence does he have for that statement? He continues with more sweeping suppositions: “We had insects 400 million years ago, dinosaurs 300 million years ago and flowering plants 130 million years ago. Anatomically modern humans have only been around for the last 200,000 years – so you can see it takes a really long time for intelligent life to develop.”

I know, you hear this kind of thing from “scientists” all the time. But is it really science? Is there any evidence whatsoever to support these statements. If so, I would like to see it. I’ve searched and searched and can’t find any.

Where’s the observation? Where’s the testing of the hypothesis? Where’s the scientific method we’ve been using since the 17th century?

It’s simply not there.

I’m writing this post only a few hours after Farah put it live on WND, so there are very few comments. Though, I’m making it go live two days after I wrote it, because I’m currently in Yellowstone and without any internet. But, I think that this stuff stands on its own without needing WND commenters to make it even more ludicrous.

Another week, another video from David Rives. One of the only up-sides to these videos is that they do not attract a lot of comments, and those that they do, are mostly against him.

The purpose of this past week’s two-minute video, “Evolution: Are You a ‘Believer’?” is to try to put evolution on the same “belief” footing as creationism. To argue that both are simply world views and are on equal footing (false dichotomy, anyone?).

I’ve actually written about this before on my other blog, back in 2010 in a post entitled, “Do Scientists Believe?” In it, I argued – perhaps pedantically – that we should avoid using the word “believe” when it’s something based on objective data. If it’s something we’ve come to through reason, logic, and evidence, the term should be “think,” or even “conclude.”

The top-rated comment to Rives’ video this week comes from “fredw” who wrote this:

I don’t “believe” in evolution. I *accept* evolution because it explains the facts better than any competing theory. Rives is welcome to present his competing case at any time, but this “they’re both equal and we’ll never know” stuff is false equivalence – he’s trying to whitewash over the fact that most of the evidence is on the side of evolution. Of course we can determine things about the past – ask any historian or detective, or any geologist, physicist, astronomer, etc.

I notice that this is a regular series – all we hear is “famous scientist X was a believer”, or “evolution can’t answer question Y” – none of these mean evolution is wrong, or creationism is correct.

If he wants to convince me, show me the direct evidence of creationism.

Eh, false equivalence, false dichotomy … whatever. Otherwise, I completely agree, and as I mentioned, it’s reassuring that the most popular comments to David’s videos tend to be on the side of science. Especially on a site like World Net Daily.

It’s a headline you might expect from The Onion, but it’s how I feel these days after reading a headline like this one from World Net Daily: Did Divine Intervention Prevent McDonald’s Massacre? The story was originally a link to another news source and under the headline, “Did Mother’s Prayer Stop McDonald’s Massacre?”

I hate to say in a situation like this that the story itself is again, somewhat unimportant and not unusual for America: Guy walks into a place (McDonalds in this case), waves a gun, asks for valuables. And in this case, he fired at people. Except that his gun wouldn’t fire. He ran outside, fixed, it (why did he have to go outside to do that? why didn’t someone lock the doors when he left?), came back, and it wouldn’t fire again. Ran outside, fixed it (again, why did no one lock the doors?), came back in, and again it wouldn’t fire.

The shooter apparently has a mental illness. From the few psych classes I took, based on what his mother is saying, he sounds like he has paranoid schizophrenia (and he’s 24, around the age when schizotypal disorders manifest): ““He said, ‘They’re trying to kill me, Mama! I’m going to die tonight! I’m going to die tonight!’” the mother, who didn’t want to be identified, told the newspaper. … [Her son] said he was hearing voices.”

And, after he told his mother that the previous night, she prayed: “Last night, I told God to keep Jestin, and that’s what I do believe happened.”

Okay, let’s not minimize that it’s a good thing the gun didn’t work, and it’s a good thing no one was injured nor killed, and that the gunman is now in custody and hopefully being mentally evaluated.

With that out of the way, let’s look at this again from a perhaps more cynical vantage point, and let’s say the mother is 100% correct and there is an omnipotent deity who does answer prayers and answered hers. So, this god decided to answer one prayer to keep safe a guy and saved 15 would-be victims by making a gun misfire. Meanwhile, this omnipotent god – all-powerful, -knowing, -capable, -etc. – didn’t have the guy to go a hospital. Turn himself in. Or let’s go further: This creator of everything and able-to-intervener in everything is allowing untold tens of thousands of people to be slaughtered daily across the world in civil wars, dictatorships, other gun-related crimes, malnutrition, no medical care situations, etc.

It decided to save 15 people instead of thousands.

Lady, your god sucks.

Not that I expect you to agree with me. Nor do I expect WND commenters to agree with me. Let’s take a sampling of the top-rated comments out of the 218 on this 13-hour-old article, shall we:

  • kingdad – “Thank You Good Lord for Favors received and Prayers Answered!”
  • LindaRivera – “Amen! What a Wonderful, WONDERFUL, Most PRECIOUS God! May God’s Name be praised for all eternity! “
  • gardeninggal1 – “After reading the story there is nothing to say, but, Praise the Lord.”
  • AnitaHaircut – “Divine intervention indeed…there have been other accounts of such incidences. God is great and merciful.”

Those are the top-rated comments, all with more than 20 up-votes and no down-votes.

Sorry, I disagree. Your god is not worth worshiping if it is willing to prevent 15 people from dying in the US at a McDonalds and not willing to prevent the nearly 21,000 deaths every year from hunger. I’ve never read Hitchens, but I’ll quote his book at this point: god Is Not Great.

World Net Daily censors its comments. All you have to do is go to my About page for more on that. Or some of my earlier posts where I mentioned how many comments WND had deleted in some articles.

So, when I saw a news story on WND linked to the London Guardian entitled, “Popular Science Kills Comments,” I knew that it would be rich in cognitive dissonance.

The article itself isn’t even really important, but I’ll mention it in one line if you haven’t figured it out: The website Popular Science has decided to remove the ability for readers to comment on its articles because “Simply including an ad hominem attack in a reader comment was enough to make study participants think the downside of the reported technology was greater than they’d previously thought.”

Right now, the top-rated WND comment is from “ratamacue76” who wrote, “Sounds like they just can’t handle opposition to their views.”

“onooop” wrote, “Nobody wants to know what the publics real thoughts and feelings are anymore! they just want us to be subservient and indoctrinated to them!”

And, “Captain America’s Wife” wrote, “I’ve noticed recently that a few of their articles were politically motivated and skewed to the left, so it’s no surprise that they want to suppress opinions and discussion.”

Sometimes you just have to shake your head and wonder if these people realize that everything they say applies to their own views, too.

I had just posted my, “Forced Out of Business Because of The Gays,” when I realized that I had missed a second article from WND about the same subject: “Christians Facing ‘Hunger’ After ‘Gay’-Rights Battle.”

It’s the same drivel except goes into a few more quotes, such as this nice bit: “The Bulls told the Mail they are being forced to sell their nine-bed facility because last winter they “were actually shivering and were hungry.”” Either that’s hyperbole or they were stupid and didn’t find supplementary income. Or ask someone to come in and review the place to figure out why no one was coming (see my previous post on it).

At the moment, five days after it was posted, it has 214 comments. I was initially just going to post it as an “Edited to Add” to the previous post, but then I saw this WND story by Bob Unruh: “Facebook OKs ‘Jesus F–ing Christ’” and, knowing what WND is all about, I couldn’t resist the irony. So you get a tag-team post for today.

So let’s review: The first story is about how these Poor Innocent Christians® who were just practicing Christian Love™ by telling gays they couldn’t stay at their bed and breakfast but were fined over it and told they had to provide equal access are now going to lose their business because no one wants to stay with the bigots who don’t know how to clean. (That’s me paraphrasing the article.) Meanwhile, WND is clearly bemoaning the idea that religious freedom AND freedom of expression are dying out because they’re being forced to tolerate The Gay. (Someone from the UK please enlighten me — do you actually have guarantees of freedom of expression/speech and religion?) For example, the top-rated comment is from “Springdale” who wrote, “Another of increasing examples of not only the intolerance of the homosexual movement and their fellow travelers, but of their persecution of those who adhere to Christian values.”

I don’t think I’d get any argument by stating as a matter of fact that World Net Daily portends to value freedom of speech and (Christian) religion.

Which is why Unruh’s post is deliciously ironic, and it even contains an “Editor’s Note: The following report includes explicit language and links containing statements that may offend some readers.” Here are the first five paragraphs:

Just imagine, you have a family friendly Facebook page and are happy for others to join the conversation and interact.

Then someone comes along, creates a Facebook identity using the most filthy language imaginable – such as “Jesus F—ing Christ. Slut Mary’s Bastard” – and starts posting on your page as “liking” the various items.

Suddenly, children are exposed, adults are hurt and people question your own integrity and values.

Then you learn Facebook has approved the group’s name and refuses to remove its page.

That’s apparently what’s happening to the group called The Center for Marriage Policy, which believes the failure of traditional marriages in the United States “is the primary driver of America’s self-compounding intergenerational socioeconomic and governance problems.”

The horror! Oh, wait — weren’t you guys just posting an article where you were trumpeting an idea that freedom of speech was being squelched? And here you’re clearly angry that someone is exercising their freedom of speech? It just so happens that it’s against your religion, mocking it.

The comments are what you’d expect so are not worth going into. I just wanted to do this post because I think it displays, yet again, the hypocracy of screeching about how your “freedoms” are being trampled on because you’re having a harder time legally being a bigot, while at the same time you’re yelling about people using those very freedoms in such a way that offends you and you want those freedoms taken away from them. It’s a two-way street, suckers.

Pun intended in the title considering the story is from the London Guardian that WND titles, “‘Rotating Moon’ Filmed by NASA.”

This is basically a movie made with Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter photographs of the lunar surface. The movie was made by people specifically tasked to create education and public outreach (“EPO”) materials to help get the public educated about and interested in NASA science. It’s a tiny part of many large science budgets of NASA missions, but it’s a required part usually.

The post has generated 24 comments on WND in the roughly 1 day that it’s been up, and they do range over a large number of “issues.” Fully 8 comments (that’s 33%) are complaining about the 30-second ad to watch a 29-second video on London Guardian‘s website. Another 6 (that’s 25%) are debating whether we actually landed on the moon with astronauts during the Apollo missions. And another 6 (another 25%) are arguing about geo vs heliocentrism (Earth- or Sun-centered solar system).

I weep for the state of education in the United States.