Tag Archives: evolution

Black, Muslim, Non-citizen, Socialist President Re-elected!!!

Obama - 2012In a shocking development, the United States of America re-elected a black, Muslim, non-citizen, socialist president.  Barack Hussein Obama, a communist born in Kenya, has spent the last four years on an American “Apology” tour, while simultaneously plotting to destroy American’s religious freedoms, secretly installing Islamic Shariah Law, and moving to take away guns from all Americans. The ONLY reason Obama, a known lizard man who is also the AntiChrist, won, is because of 1) Media Bias 2) Vote Fraud 3) Hurricane Sandy 4) Alien influences.

So…what do you think?  I think I could probably post the paragraph above on a host of right-wing websites, and get a lot of “serious” discussion.  BACK TO REALITY, REPUBLICANS!!! Guess what? The polls were (gasp!) RIGHT!!  The mainstream media was (gasp!) RIGHT!! Americans (gasp!!) PREFER a leader who tells the truth!  Shocking!!!

The rational folks who actually looked at the evidence, like Nate Silver, have been proven correct.  Were there any states missed by Silver?   It looks like 332 will be the magic number.  Look at Silver’s prediction site, and you’ll see the most predicted outcome was 332 electoral votes (look at his histogram of potential outcomes).  In the meantime, right-wing “pundits” such as Dick Morris, who predicted a Romney landslide, were very predictably proven to be nothing more than right-wing shills. 

I have high hopes that this election will mark an end to the Republican Party as it currently exists.  I hope it results in a reformed Republican Party, where FACT, where SCIENCE play an important role.  I have no problem with those with well-informed opinions that are different than mine, if they are indeed based on fact, on science where applicable.  That’s obviously NOT today’s Republican party, where even simple POLLS are doubted, where climate change and evolution are a sham.  I hope this election marks the end of the right-wing takeover of the Republican party.  I hope it marks the end of politics dictated by HATE and INTOLERANCE.

Hey, I can dream.  But on a night like tonight (OK, it’s now officially morning I guess)…even a cynic like me can believe in the basic goodness of Americans.  Congrats, Mr. Obama!  America has spoken, and they have, perhaps, SLIGHTLY lessened my overall cynicism regarding the human race.  :-)

Scum of the Week – Paul Broun

Paul Broun

Can't we have a simple IQ test before allowing idiots like Paul Broun to run for office?

And people wonder why science in the United States is on the decline…

Republican (did I even need to say that?) Congressman Paul Broun was shown in a video this week, saying “All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, the Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell“.  He goes on to say that the ”earth is but 9,000 years old“.  It’s bad enough that a sitting U.S. Congressman is so incredibly stupid that he would talk like this.  One would HOPE that the political leaders in the U.S. weren’t complete idiots (OK…take a moment and collect yourself until you stop laughing, since obviously many of them are dumber than a stick).

But what’s absolutely dangerous is that this idiot is on the House Committee for Science, Space, and Technology.  A sitting congressman who has a large say in the direction of science and technology policy and funding in the U.S., and he’s a bible-thumpin’ wacko who believes the earth is 9,000 years old.

That should scare the hell out of people.  It’s already been abundantly clear in recent years that conservatives have completely abandoned logic, have completely abandoned science, and frankly, have completely abandoned sanity.

Rep. Broun…you are the recipient of a WELL deserved “Scum of the week” award.

You are NOT entitled to your opinion – Shut the hell up

From Patrick Stokes, here’s a nice piece on why you are sometimes NOT “entitled to your opinion”.   The point he’s making is that you are only “entitled” to an opinion that you can make a coherent argument for.  He uses an example of anti-vaccination paranoia to make his point, where the manic anti-vaccine crowd doesn’t have a scientific leg to stand on.  Science is science, fact is fact.  If your opinion is based on conjecture, intuition, “faith”, or other factor not supported by the facts?  Then you are NOT entitled to your opinion, when trying to argue against science and against fact.

Thus, a “Shut the Hell Up” topic for this post.  As we enter the home stretch of the presidential election, it’s rather laughable to read some of the opinions of those on the right.  Do you believe any of the following?  If so, then please do everyone else a favor, and save yourself some embarrassment.  Just Shut…the…hell…up.

- Obama Muslim? Obama a non-citizen? – Do I need to even mention these? Are you a disgusting, racist, pig-of-a-human being who believes Obama is not a citizen?  Do you believe that historical newspaper reports and a birth certificate are simply part of some massive conspiracy? Are you a disgusting, racist, pig-of-a-human being who refers to Obama as “Barack Husein Obama” and believes he’s secretly a Muslim?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, PLEASE…SHUT…THE…HELL…UP.

- Evolution Denial – Science is based on theory.  Theories are tested, with evidence either supporting or negating hypotheses.  With evolution, the evidence is extremely clear, both in the fossil record, and in real-world, observable processes.  Do you believe in creationism?  I really don’t care if you believe some omnipotent, all-powerful entity created the earth and the universe, IF you can reconcile that in your own mind with the science.  Do you believe evolution is false?  Do you believe evolution is a “lie straight from hell”, like Paul Broun, quite possibly the most ignorant congressman in the U.S.?  Do you belive the earth is just a few thousand years old?  If so, then SHUT…THE…HELL…UP.  Save yourself the embarrassment that’s sure to come whenever you open your mouth.

- Climate Change Denial – Possibly as soon as 5 years from now, the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer for the first time in at least 13 million years.  The U.S. is about to set a record for its warmest year ever.  Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to rise, and the scientific evidence continues to overwhelmingly point to not only a warming climate, but a warming climate caused by anthropogenic activity.  Do you believe climate change isn’t real?  Do you believe scientists and liberals are involved in some unprecedented, massive conspiracy to somehow consolidate government power by pointing to climate change?  Do you believe that climate change is occurring, but humans have nothing to do with it?  If so…SHUT…THE…HELL…UP.

- Polls are politically biased – Just one week ago, before the debates, conservative talking heads and blogs were expressing outrage over the liberal bias of polls that showed Obama with a healthy and growing lead over Romney.  Obama with a 6-point lead in Ohio?  A 5-point lead in Florida?  BALONEY, said those on the right!  It’s a liberal conspiracy to discourage Republicans and depress voter turnout from the right!!  One short week later, and an Obama debate flop has the poll trends strongly reversing towards Romney. Hey Rush?  Do you still think the polls are biased toward Obama?  How about you other buffoons and blowhards who scoff at polls when they show Democrats ahead?  GMAFB.  The very success and long-term continuance of polling entities depends on them being RIGHT.  If they’re wrong, they are ignored in future elections and the polling group goes out of business.  Are you one of those idiots who thinks political polls are purposely biased towards Democrats?  Do you think there’s some conspiracy in the polls to depress Republican turnout?  If so, then SHUT…THE…HELL…UP.

- 1997 Michigan was better than 1997 Nebraska - A bit off topic, but…do you believe the 1997 Michigan Wolverines would beat the 1997 Nebraska Cornhuskers?  Do you believe the Wolverines were “robbed” when a perfect, 13-0 Nebraska team finished first in the coaches poll, while the Wolverines finished first in the AP poll?  Puh-lease.  The Nebraska ground game easily wears down the Wolverine defense, and the Blackshirts dominate the Wolverines.  Final score if they’d have played?  Nebraska 31, Michigan 13.  Do you believe the Wolverines were the better team?  Laughable!  SHUT…THE…HELL…UP.

- Unemployment numbers manipulated by Obama and Liberals - Unemployment numbers out last week were good by any measure, with unemployment falling to 7.8%.  Good news, right?  Well, to nutjob conservatives, ANYTHING positive that could EVER be attributed to Obama has to be a lie!  A liberal conspiracy!  Clearly Obama has somehow influenced the unemployment statistics!  Are you one of those conservative wackos who believes last week’s unemployment numbers were altered by Obama?  Please, just SHUT…THE…HELL…UP.

- Romney Budget Miracle - Do you believe that you can simultaneously 1) Cut taxes 2) Maintain or raise military spending, and 3) balance the budget?  Romney/Ryan seem to believe in such a formula for long-term fiscal sanity.  Do you believe it’s possible?  GMAFB….SHUT…THE…HELL…UP.

- Voter ID Regulations Are About Voter FraudReport after report show that voter fraud in the U.S. is insignificant.  However, a number of states have pushed strict voter ID regulations, with Republican-led state legislatures and governors leading the charge to increase scrutiny of in-person voters.  If in-person voter fraud isn’t an issue, if very few instances have been documented…why the push by Republican state legislatures to push for very strict voter ID laws?  Under oath, I don’t think you’d even get most Republicans to say the laws are about curbing voter fraud.  It’s about suppressing votes by minorities and other groups who historically lean very heavily towards Democrats.  It’s a form of discrimination, it’s a form of racism, it’s about voter suppression.  If you believe it’s actually about voter fraud?  You’re an idiot…SHUT…THE…HELL…UP.

People believing what they want to believe

Cigarette Warning

It's a lot easier for a smoker to deny the facts, than it is to accept that their habit may be killing their friends and family. People are wonderful at ignoring fact, if it doesn't jive with their own lifestyle or beliefs.

From Slate.com today, a story about smokers, with only 28% of smokers saying second-hand smoke is very harmful to others. 63% of nonsmokers think second-hand smoke is very harmful.  This brings up a question…why the HELL do people “believe” what they believe?

I put “believe” in quotes, because frankly, the way people answer a question like this may differ from what they truly believe.  Do nonsmokers really think all that extra smoke floating around isn’t harmful?  Or…do many of them just try to convince themselves that it’s not harmful, knowing the truth, but trying their best to deny it, just so they don’t have to face the fact that their bad habits are not only harming themselves, but also harming others?

It’s amazing that an age of free information flow, where your computer or smart phone can instantly lead you to answers for practically any question you may have, that ignorance appears to be GROWING, not lessening.  Granted, it doesn’t help when any quack with a computer can set up a website saying the earth is flat, or that aliens are secretly running the earth.  However, just as smokers HAVE to really believe in their hearts that second-hand smoke is harmful to others, I think it has to be the same with climate change denialists, evolution denialists, or others that deny sound and well-established science.

Some right-wing wacko can listen to Rush Limbaugh or go to a right-wing “climate” site and hear plenty of “evidence” that climate change isn’t real.  But even as cynical as I am, I find it very hard to believe that deep down, people are truly that stupid, that they’ll believe a Rush Limbaugh over an actual climate scientist.  Life-or-death situation, if your immortal soul is in the balance…would even a right-wing wacko go with the word of a Limbaugh, over the established science?  I find it very hard to believe that someone would do so.

It’s human nature to be, well…stubborn.  God knows my 8-year old son can vouch for that.  People are also selfish sons-of-bitches.  Does Shell Oil or Exxon spend money denying climate change science, because they don’t believe it’s real?  Of course not, they fight climate change science because it could affect their bottom dollar.  It’s the same with an individual human being.  We’re selfish, we want to live our lives in comfort and style.  If some annoying piece of information clashes with how we want to live our lives, if something causes us a bit of GUILT…our first reaction is to react defensively, and dispute the information, rather than changing our beliefs.  And that’s true if it’s smokers denying the danger of second-hand smoke, Humvee drivers who scoff at climate change, or even evolution-deniers who don’t want to face their own mortality without the comfort that their religion (and eternal life) provides them.

People will “believe” what they want to believe, facts be damned.  As a scientist, that can be awfully damned maddening.  But what’s dangerous is that this form of “personal ignorance” has become an accepted component of politics and collective thinking.  There’s no way in hell Republican leadership truly believes that climate change is a hoax.  There’s no way in hell Republican leadership thinks evolution is false.  But they are certainly willing to use people’s own biases and personal ignorance for their own political ends.  And that is even less forgivable than an individual trying to deny the danger of second-hand smoke, just so they feel less guilty about puffing away.

 

Faith in natural selection

Prairie Rattlesnake

There are plenty of prairie rattlesnakes around parts of South Dakota, but unlike idiots in the Appalachians, people here aren't stupid enough to take a literal interpretation of one bible verse, and handle these things in church services here.

A couple of things lately to help soothe my angst regarding the cruelty and stupidity of the human race.  First, a 2-week vacation with little internet access. Hard to get worked up about current events when you’re not keeping up with current events for a couple of weeks.

The 2nd event…a story of the idiot Appalachian minister who was killed by one of the rattlesnakes he uses during his services.  Evidently the idiot was “worried” that the tradition of handling snakes during church was dying out in the Appalachians, so he’s been traveling all over, using his rattlesnakes in his services.   And, just like his idiot father before him, this idiot was bitten by a rattlesnake during a service and died from the venom.

Perhaps I should have more faith that natural selection will lead humanity towards a path where the survivors live sustainable lifestyles and don’t spend a lot of their time trying to kill each other.  However, life is just simply FAR too easy for many human beings, and natural selection never really comes into play.  You can be as dumb as a board be a completely out-of-shape slob in America, and still get along quite well in life…something that is abundantly obvious once I’m back “online” after vacation, and again start reading stories like this one. 

This guy shouldn’t have worried that people in their 20s and 30s were “losing interest” in snake handling during church.  I DON’T have faith in the ability of natural selection to eventually improve the human race, but I have plenty of faith in the continued stupidity of humanity.   This guy won’t be the last Appalachian hillbilly snake-handler to die for his “faith”.

Fight for teaching climate change and evolution

Climate Change and Evolution

There are remarkable similarities in the growing fight to just teach the SCIENCE of climate change, and the SCIENCE of evolution.

The National Center for Science Education has long been fighting a battle to teach the science of evolution in the classroom.   Note the organization’s name…SCIENCE EDUCATION.  Theology has no place in the science classroom, unless what’s being taught has an actual scientific foundation.  The NCSE has been fighting to keep theology out of the science classroom, and focus on the actual science of evolution.

Well, add another topic to the NCSE’s agenda.  The NCSE has now also started to push back against those trying to introduce “both sides” of climate change science.  There are striking similarities between the issues of how evolution and climate change are viewed in the U.S.   From a scientific standpoint, from the standpoint of evaluating empirical evidence, there IS no controversy behind either issue.  From a scientific standpoint, evolution is obvious and well established.  It’s a real, measurable, observable phenomenon, one with a wealth of supporting data in the fossil record, and one that we can actually see happening in the present day.   There IS no “other side” of the issue to examine.  There IS no scientific controversy between evolution, and the belief in creationism.

The same can be said for climate change.  There is no doubt that climate change is occurring.   The empirical evidence is overwhelming, from measured temperature increases, shocking declines in the Arctic ice pack, melting of long-stable permafrost, retreat of glaciers all over the world, etc.   There is overwhelming empirical evidence that human activity is the major contributor to climate change, with measurable, unprecedented rapid atmospheric increases in greenhouse gases. 

For evolution, those that are pushing to teach “both sides” of the issue are those that feel their religious beliefs are threatened by the science of evolution.  For those who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, they SHOULD feel their religious beliefs are threatened by the science of evolution.  The earth is not 5,000 years old.  We ARE descended from more primitive primate forms.  There is simply zero doubt on those facts.  For those pushing to teach “both sides” of the climate change issue, the primary driving force isn’t religion, it’s $$$$$$$$.  

Oil companies and others with a financial stake in keeping the status quo in terms of energy use and our treatment of the environment have been funding a massive misinformation campaign on climate change.  Given that the Republican Party is THE party where the almighty dollar trumps everything else (including the future welfare of the planet for our children), the GOP has picked up on climate change as a core issue they think can resonate with their (ignorant) masses.  And they have been correct!!  The Republican masses have fallen for the hype, have IGNORED the actual science, and now (stupidly) believe there ARE two “sides” of the climate change issue.  And just as with those backing evolution, there have been efforts to introduce the “other side” of climate change in our children’s classrooms.

THANK GOD there are groups like the NCSE who are fighting the anti-science nonsense that is being pushed on our children.  People are currently concerned about the future of the U.S., with the focus right now seemingly being on the economy, and global economic competitiveness.  The best way to ensure a strong future is through investment in education and our children.  There ARE
“two sides” to our future.  The first future has a well-educated workforce, one where our children were indeed brought up to examine issues on their own merit, but one where SCIENCE and empirical data forms the backbone of their reasoning. 

The second future is one where religious and political forces result in our children becoming global laughingstocks, where science plays second-fiddle to religious belief and the politically driven propaganda.

Snapshot of Human Evolution

Human Evolution

Yet another fossil to help fill in the evolutionary pathway of humanity. Yet more evidence creationists will simply ignore.

The find of bones in South Africa from a newly identified primitive pre-human, Australopithicus sediba, has been described as “a snapshot of evolution in action”, and a “strong confirmation of evolutionary theory”.   The unique find has features that seem to be intermediate between ape and human, including a brain with human features, although much smaller.  

As this story notes, those who choose to ignore all logic and evidence and disbelieve in evolution constantly point to the lack of a “missing link”, some intermediate form that clarifies the evolutionary link to prior ape-like forms.  However, it’s not as if there has been a lack of fossil evidence regarding human ancestry, or a lack of fossil evidence pointing to likely evolutionary pathways for other creatures.  The fossil record is replete with evidence that supports the theory of evolution.  So, despite this fossil find being described as a “game-changer” in terms of our ancestry, I have NO doubt that creationist wackos will simply ignore it or somehow explain it away, just as they ignore all the other scientific evidence.

Part of it is simply a complete misunderstanding of science in general.  At the end of this article, it talks about the fossil find forcing scientists to re-evaluate previous concepts regarding how we evolved.  Creationist wackos will likely point to any “re-evaluation” as evidence of the weakness of the theory.  They simply don’t understand the concept of scientific theory in general, as creationists often seem to take delight that evolution is “just” thought of as a theory, not “fact”.   Gravity is “just” a theory as well, another theory we’re continually re-evaluating and tweaking, which makes me believe that if gravity were discussed in the Bible, there would be just as many gravity-doubters as there seem to be evolution-doubters.

"Alternative-Reality Right"

Seek Alternate Reality

The "alternative-reality right"...perhaps just visitors from another dimension?

David Brooks today wrote a rather disheartening article today entitled “President Rick Perry?” , in which he suggests the sudden rise of Rick Perry in the polls may not be a passing fad.   I won’t debate the logic in the article, as sadly, I think Brooks is probably right.  It’s the reason that Brooks points to for Perry’s staying power that I found the most telling, saying that Perry polls well with the “alternative-reality right“.

This is why I enjoy reading David Brooks.  He’s conservative, but he’s also pragmatic and a realist.  He’s recognized that the GOP has largely gone off the deep end, and I love the phrase he coined.  The alternative-reality right is defined here as those who don’t believe in global warming, evolution, or that Obama was born in America.  If I may, I’d like to expand on his definition.  I’d like to define the alternative-reality right as idiotic red-necks with a healthy dose of bigotry and jealousy.

The “idiotic” part is self-evident.  If you ignore the evidence right in front of your face and ignore scientific evidence regarding climate change and evolution, you’re an idiot.  The “red-neck” part is, well, a well-deserved derogatory term meant to insult this particular demographic.  Look at the top of the page…I told you one purpose of this blog is for my own cathartic purposes!!   The “bigotry” part is also VERY self-evident.    Birthers…I don’t care how you justify it, I think we all know the real reasons behind your doubt of Obama’s citizenship.

And, I have NO doubt that a big driving force behind the ideology of the alternative-reality right is pure jealousy.  This particular demographic is often poorly educated and working class or poor.  Thus the charge of “elitism” that the alternative-reality right often levels towards the educated, professional liberal demographic.  A PhD talks about evidence for climate change?  From the alternative-reality right’s point of view, simply dismissing the scientific evidence is their way of hitting back at the “elite”  who are better educated or better off than themselves.

The irony is that the alternative-reality right is aligning itself with a political force that is directly opposed to changing the status quo, and providing more social and economic equality for their demographic.   Another reason to apply the “idiotic” label to this group.  The Tea Party group that has the alternative-reality right’s support is the same group that focuses on eliminating social welfare programs, destroying unions and workers’ rights, and expanding the divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots”.

Huntsman, and the "Anti-science" Party

Jon Huntsman

Jon Huntsman - The (one and only?) sane choice for the GOP

You know, I’m starting to like Jon Huntsman.  No, not from the standpoint that I’d ever vote for him (man, if you thought that, you don’t know me at all!!), but…in a relative sense, I’m starting to like him, when you see what the other options are in the GOP.

Huntsman has come out and said he believes in evolution.  He has said he believes in the scientists who study climate change, that it’ s happening and that man is causing it.   He’s come out and said how ridiculous Michelle Bachmann sounds when she says she’ll get gas down below $2.00 a gallon.  And now, Huntsman is throwing out a general blanket over the rest of the GOP, warning his party is in danger of looking like the “Anti-Science” party.

With Perry and Bachmann each deuling to see who can look like the biggest wacko, it will be interesting to see if Huntsman starts to gain any traction.  Whether he does or not will say a lot about the future of the Republican party.  Continue down the path of wackiness and nominate a Perry or a Bachmann, and they will continue to alienate moderates and move down the path to a fringe, extremist party.  

If more moderate voices prevail, then the GOP may be setting themselves up for a very promising future.  While I hate to say it, I do agree with those in the GOP, including Huntsman, who say this is a “center-right” nation (blergh…got a little sick to my stomach saying that).   If the GOP would ever get their act together and would focus on a candidate with conservative social and economic views, but with less radical views on the role of religion in politics, and on education and science issues, the GOP would be a force to be reckoned with for the long term.

My LAST Letter to the Editor!

Last Letter

This is my LAST letter to the editor! Blogosphere, here I come!

And THIS is one of the reasons for this blog now existing!!  I’ve decided that instead of wasting my time spouting my opinions in letters to the editor, it might be more efficient to waste my time spouting my opinions in my own blog.   I thought I could be even more obnoxius that way, as I can update a blog a lot more than I can have letters to the editor published.   And as my wife will attest to, I enjoy being obnoxius.  :-)

So, my LAST letter to the editor dealt with the baffling way that Republicans seem to come up with their own conclusions on scientific or economic issues, facts-be-damned.  Here’s what I wrote…

Terry L. Sohl, Brandon

Tonight as I pondered my young son’s eventual college education, I had an epiphany. After reading the news online, I realized my son won’t need a college education. All I need to do is instruct my son to register as a Republican on his 18th birthday.

My logic is apparent when reading the news. Republicans have proclaimed global warming to be a sham. Republicans say we don’t need the EPA to protect us from harmful pollutants. Republican politicians are criticized if they believe in evolution. And finally, Republicans are scoffing at current doomsday scenarios about not raising the debt ceiling.

When my son registers as a Republican, it’s obvious he will magically be given a level of understanding of climate change, toxicology, biology and economics that far surpasses the wisdom of those who have earned Ph.D.s in these fields. By our youngsters all registering as Republicans, we will solve the decline of American dominance in science and research.It’s a simple, cheap and immediate solution that doesn’t require a lot of hard work or thought. And sadly, this method of solving our problems also seems to be both the new American paradigm, and simultaneously, the reason for our decline.