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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Location: Surreality, Have Fun Will Travel, Past Midnight before a Workday

Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Homework Hoo-Hah

Here I sit,
got homework? S&#@!
I've barely started...

If only there was a way that I could read all this evolution/intelligent design/politics/creationism stuff and do my homework at the same time. But I really must get going on my final project, which is to write and present ten abstracts of articles for my Indexing and Abstracting class... !!!

Begosh n' begorrah! That's the answer! I'll abstract the articles that I'm already reading!* What's the matter with me?

* Gould, S.J. (1994). The evolution of life of earth. Scientific American, Oct. 1994.
Dembski, W.A. (2006). Christian theodity in the light of Genesis and modern science. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Dembski, W.A. (1991). Randomness by design. Nous.
Niebauer, C.L., Reid, S.A., Garvey, K. J., & Christman, S.D. (2004). Interhemispheric interaction and beliefs in our origin: degree of handedness predicts beliefs in creationism versus evolution. Laterality, 9(4). Yeah, I'm looking foward to this one! Feel free to suggest others.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Did Religiosity Evolve? And Why?

This is an excellent article that I read on the plane to Portland, Oregon, in December 2005 just days before the Dover decision (Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District) came down.

(I'll never forget John's mother saying, "I thought you saw a spider!" because I screamed and jumped up and down at the headline in the paper about the decision. Then I tried to e-mail this article to PZ in a garbled communication using her e-mail in my latte-besotted joy.)

UPDATED: Believe it or not, I was too young to know about Morton Smith's elaborate hoax The Secret Gospel when it came out in 1973 (I was only 8!), but it's making headlines again, along with this item, a librarian's near-nightmare, about another rare Bible tossed into the dump. (Scroll down to see the insert on this.) I tell you, people just throw Bibles out no matter how old they are. I must have 10 of them by now, rescued from the "grab-box" at estate sales. Don't get it, I don't get it...


Egnorance and its Double

I have been trying to ignore Dr. Michael Egnor's spouting. Trying, I said. He is the latest darling of the Discovery Institute and a professor of neurosurgery at SUNY-Stony Brook. I don't know how these people survive college, frankly, let alone end up teaching students; I don't know what is going on in this country regarding evolution and sound science education. This nation seems to be going crazy.

Dr. Egnor's most memorable quote so far is thus:'s safe to say that the only contribution evolution has made to modern medicine is to take it down the horrific road of eugenics, which brought forced sterilization and bodily harm to many thousands of Americans in the early 1900s. That's a contribution which has brought shame - not advance - to the medical field.

What the-? Visit earth often, Dr. Egnor? Dr. Tara has a good summary and takedown here.

Shimmies to Dr. Tara at Aetiology.

UPDATED: Jason Rosenhouse at EvolutionBlog (who is fast gaining a rep for performance over and above the call of duty) has emerged from the lion's den, so to speak. (Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.) He encapsulates in Part 4 the verbal abuse that so-called "open-minded" believers often resort to. This is bad (although it gets better toward the end before the final downer); I must say that the discussions that I've had with believers regarding evolution and the Bible have gone quite well, much better than this (but, perhaps because I am a woman, no one tried to grab me!). And here's the conclusion, Part 5. Jason is a mensch. Shimmies to him.

SECOND UPDATE: Now they're recycling this crap that I heard in church.

Shimmies to Mike the Mad Biologist.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Who Is a Christian?

This is interesting in light of a recent conversation here. Another post about Dobson here.

(Shimmies to RSR and Pharyngula)

From Pharyngula: "I'm not surprised at all. I've seen the UD crowd say that they don't think Ken Miller is a Christian, too. It's basically a way to punish people for not following their individual worldview."

I'm not surprised either, particularly considering what I've seen lately at Uncommon Descent. Shimmies to BC.


Monday, March 26, 2007

The Extended Phenotype: Organisms, Groups, and Memes, Part 2

At the Triumvirate.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

William Dembski's School of Science

As you may recall, William Dembski sent an, er, animation-gram last Christmas to many of the people that I admire. Being a lover of the animated show "Family Guy," I came across an animation-gram that my favorite undertaker can really, um, get behind!


(Shimmies to Kabane52, who's just a kid but also an up-and-coming biologist and who has some sage advice for Christians, being that he's one himself.)

UPDATED: Holy crap, this is so unbelievable that I'm going to cross-post it at the Darwin Didn't Believe This! thread as well. Dembski claims that his misattribution of a racist quote to Charles Darwin was his little plan all along! So, if it looks designed, it's designed, but if it looks dishonest, it's not dishonest. Got that, class? There will be a test.

Un-be-lievable. (Shimmies as always to RedStateRabble)

SECOND UPDATE: Now Dembski says that Christian biologist Kenneth Miller has "wasted his life" and is on the verge of "collapse." Kenneth Miller, fer pete's sake! A scientist and a Christian who wrote the marvelous book Finding Darwin's God. (Well, I didn't get the last two chapters, but the rest of it rawks.) Okay class, here's your test. According to William Dembski, you can be a Christian and accept evolution at the same time. True or False?

A. True
B. False
C. Depends if your audience is an group of informed biology students, or a bunch of gullible, fundy-home-schooled teeny-boppers.
D. False, but I say true, because that pulls in the undecided students and the confused parents.
E. True, but I say false on my blog because it suits me. And I can change my answer whenever I want. (Which I do - constantly.)

Okay, post your answers, class.

Afarensis shows how deeply Charles Darwin loathed slavery.

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Friday, March 23, 2007


Mel Gibson. A college campus. The film, Apocalypto. A date with the microphone. Students asking questions. Oh - and a female professor.

What could possibly go wrong?

(To be fair, it sounds like the professor was being a bitch and going on and on. Maybe she should try to be more like Margaret Cho.)

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The Other "Wedgie"

My friend and fellow activist Ken Avidor has a post up about that other Discovery Institute boondoggle by those pod people, "intelligent transportation."

(Shimmies to Ken in all his aspects)

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Darwin Didn't Believe This!

William Dembski, at his blog, falsely attributes to Charles Darwin this nefarious quote from The Descent of Man:

The reckless, degraded, and often vicious members of society, tend to increase at a quicker rate than the provident and generally virtuous members. Or as Mr. Greg puts the case: “The careless, squalid, unaspiring Irishman multiplies like rabbits: the frugal, foreseeing, self-respecting, ambitious Scot, stern in his morality, spiritual in his faith, sagacious and disciplined in his intelligence, passes his best years in struggle and in celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind him. Given a land originally peopled by a thousand Saxons and a thousand Celts—and in a dozen generations five-sixths of the population would be Celts, but five-sixths of the property, of the power, of the intellect, would belong to the one-sixth of Saxons that remained. In the eternal ’struggle for existence,’ it would be the inferior and less favoured race that had prevailed—and prevailed by virtue not of its good qualities but of its faults."

Charles Darwin was quoting other people.

In order to refute their racist arguments.

Have you no shame, William Dembski? How many lies are you willing to tell? You know better. What is your point? How is this justified at all?

Truly having an open mind does not mean keeping a defunct argument open forever. It means looking at the evidence and then drawing some conclusions.

I think we can safely draw the conclusion that the intelligent design movement has run out of ideas and must resort to these easily-refuted tricks to shock its Frankenstein monster again. But can Dembski shock his patchwork creation for the next nine years? (See left.)

UPDATED: On "cursing the light."

(Shimmies to RedStateRabble and Pharyngula)

UPDATED: Now William Dembski says:

I was well aware of the context [of the quote by another attributed to Darwin]. But if I make the context clear, PvM and his fellows will find something else to attack. Better to give them what appears a minor slip-up, let them attack that, and then show how they’re acting in bad faith because they have ignored the gist.

Believe it or not, it really helps that the other side thinks we’re such morons... [This is] a fact, one that can be exploited.

Oh, boy! Something that can be exploited - you being considered a moron! Only you, Bill. You know what? I don't think you're a moron. I think you're an opportunist.

And as for the "Have you no shame?" question, you just answered it. Thanks.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Faith is So Fragile

I never watch "American Idol." I only hear about it - constantly. But now there's a controversy about the Bob Jones University graduate who is a top contender for the whatever-it-is top title: He picked a nonChristian song! Auugh!

Hundreds of people gather each week to hear Sligh's music at Seacoast, where his electric guitar and vocals have become an integral part of services, Surratt said.

Support for Sligh also is strong at North Greenville University, the small Baptist school he attended for several years after leaving Bob Jones in the late 1990s. Cheryl Greene, the professor who helped Sligh hone his vocal talents, said just because Sligh may not be singing strictly Christian-themed songs shouldn't reflect on the depth of his faith. "It would be like me being in a jazz band," Greene said. "You can be a Christian or non-Christian. It's a style of music."

But Greene said she still has worries over Sligh's long-term spiritual journey. "Is he going to stand strong by his true Christian morals?" Greene said. "Christianity is a lifestyle ... and there are things in your life that you do need to stand for."

What a non-issue. Do these people have a problem with the guy appearing on a show called "American Idol" in the first place? Obviously not. So what's the big deal?

And moreover, why is his religion everyone's business anyway? It's not atheists who are raising a ruckus about this - it's his supposed fans.

I understood that one's relationship to God or Jesus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or whoever was between you and Him/Her/It. In fact, that has been a staple of the Protestant Church - that no earthly authority or peer has any say in your relationship to whoever. That has changed, slowly, during the course of the evangelical movement in America. It now resembles the Puritan ethic, when everyone knew everyone else's business and constantly eyed each other for hidden flaws. Well, they found them all right.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

A Meeting with Medusa

The age 42 is jangling its irritating ringtone in my ear (okay, it's not attractive to let your mouth hang open like that - yes, that's how old I am), and to console myself because I hate birthdays I bought myself a present.

I haven't read some of these stories ("Reunion," "Food of the Gods") since I was a very young girl, and others ("The Star," "Dial F for Frankenstein") since college, and I've never before read "The Wind from the Sun." Can you believe it? I guess I never got around to it - and it's wonderful, a beautiful story, so sad and heroic.

UPDATED: This dates me.

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The "Red Pill"

Shelley at Retrospectable has added my blogs to her page and is a welcome new friend to my blogroll. Her current post is a short bio on her own journey from small-town religious orthodoxy to making that big scary leap.

Shimmies to Shelley!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

News Flash! I Joke, So Laugh

UPDATED: Looks like curmudgeon didn't show, but that curmudgeon grandaddy John A. Davison hasn't changed a bit - he now insists that PZ keeps taking down the Molly Award thread to hide all the disemvowling - but he's also announced that he has been interviewed by Jason Rennie of the Sci Phi Show. (I erroneously reported that this interview would air in March. Well, that's what JAD told me.) Now, that was sweet of him. Yeah, what a guy. Kyxxyx, JAD!
I get a lot of flack for being an outspoken woman and that includes insults. I turn the insults into jokes. Apparently I must explain this to some people.

"Proud Darwinian Dawkobot" is a joke. It was an insult directed at a group of people at Pharyngula (practically everyone, actually), so I appropriated it. Okay?

Likewise, "Female Triumvirate of Evolution Experts" was an insult thrown directly at me by John A. Davison. The rest of it had to do with the Isle of Lesbos (because I must be a lesbian, you know - either that, or I'm a man's sock puppet - thanks people, you really know how to compliment a woman) and a reference to "gay abandon." So okay, I took the "gay abandon" to heart, and fuck the rest. Everyone knows I'm not an evolution expert. (And I left out the part in which John mentions me "bleeding to death" because that's creepy.)

Okay? So if some aging grouch visits in order to rip me (another) new one, I hope that person will pause and let a laugh rip instead, or at least chalk me up to being a lunatic, and move on.

Call it exaptation, or just a plain old coping mechanism.

UPDATED: Well, now I've added a hunting metaphor to my image. Great way to celebrate my femininity! They'll never question me again. (I can't help it! I love the heat of battle! And this has got to be the weirdest troll-chase ever.)


Monday, March 12, 2007

Belly Up to the Bar

(aka, ID is going belly-up...)
UPDATED: Of course, if you prefer more dignified discussions (as opposed to just digs at the UDudes), you can head to this one at the Triumvirate.
OMnG, if you aren't at the official Uncommonly Dense Discussion Thread at After the Bar Closes, you're really missing out. This is where the laughs are. Click here to join the ongoing diss-cussion.

Patrick at "" (another Dembski brainfahrtchild):
To an observer looking at the evidence, the result can look a lot like structures somehow modifying themselves over the course of generations (perhaps through the hocus pocus of natural selection), but anyone with any sense can see that these are modifications of underlying designs that came from OUTSIDE the natural world

My Bold! It's classic stuff. I mean, how credulous is Patrick anyway? Is he like 13 years old? I think he just accepts the premise that is just is that way and everything else is just filling in the details. I mean, sombody told him something years ago

because accepting them as being designed would upset historical narratives (they're older than they "should be").

And forever more things are as they "should be" and if not you are wrong! muh-huh!

Man, I'm learning so much about science at Dembski's trogs. Yeah, evolution's going to be dead soon.

I'm all confused now. I thought all the canyons and mountains and everything were carved out by Noah's flood. If that's not Intelligent Design, I don't know what is. Filtering that explanation will lead down a slippery slope, I tell ya.

Not to mention that the "undesigned" pretty mountains are Michael Behe's control for detecting "design" in "designed" thingies, like mousetraps and flagella.Actually, this development is hilarious. It throws the whole EF and irreducible complexity into the canyon. If everything's designed, how are you supposed to be able to tell?

2ndclass (being facetious):
Silly Kristine. Not all mountains are designed. Only the pretty ones.

I understand now! And I'll drink to that (but what?).

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

The New Anti-Semites

There have been some arguments erupting in the comments of Pharyngula and Uncommon Descent regaring the so-called "anti-Semitism" of atheists/agnostics/"Darwinists" and other evil-doer boogey(wo)men of the right wing. Some people love to trot out Darwin's nonexistent ties with Hitler and Stalin, as if either of these men believed in evolution. (News flash! They didn't; they replaced it with "Aryan science" and "proletariat design." Hitler especially couldn't stomach the idea that all human beings belong not only to one species but to one race as well, which we do - we are Homo sapiens sapiens.)

However, the Southern Poverty Law Center is now tracking a new surge in anti-Semitism among some Catholics. I admit this took me by surprise.

Few Americans defended Mel Gibson's drunken rant about the evils of the Jews. But radical traditionalist Catholics did. A three-year investigation of this subculture by the Intelligence Report has found that these Catholic extremists, including the Gibsons, may well represent the largest population of anti-Semites in the United States. Organized into a network of more than a dozen organizations, scores of websites and several extremist churches and monasteries, radical traditionalists in the U.S. are preaching anti-Semitism to as many as 100,000 followers. A few, such as the lawyer [did you know that? I didn't] for Terri Schiavo's family, Christopher Ferrara, are even movers and shakers in important right-wing Republican circles.

...While spouting the same kind of anti-Jewish propaganda as the Nazis, Fahey crafted an argument that he believed should exempt him from the label of anti-Semite. Fahey claimed he didn't hate the Jews per se, but merely opposed their "naturalistic aims." Since he also argued that Jews can't help but work to further those aims -- communism, the destruction of Christianity, and the like -- this was a distinction without a difference. (Today's radical traditionalist Catholics, including the Society of St. Pius X, a far-right powerhouse that has thousands of supporters, continue to claim they are not anti-Semitic, just against "Jewish naturalism.")

(Hoo boy, sound familiar? Can you think of anyone today who similiarly attacks scientists, philosphers, feminists, etc. for their naturalism? I'm not saying this person is anti-Semitic - I have never seen any indication of that at all and I don't mean to imply that - but it's weird to see these words tossed around in the past as they are today.)

This comes at a time when the SPLC also reports that Catholics themselves are increasingly under attack from without - and from within.

At the same time, a major theme at the increasingly hyperbolic blog Uncommon Descent is that "the Darwinists hate us all!" (And if you're a scientist and a Christian who got banned from that blog, you're a wicked "nihilist" - just like me . Man, did they give it to me. How am I supposed to "prove" that I've never lacked for a purpose in my life?) I am so sick of the "you hate us" talk! Apparently I must spell out once again for people that my not hating anyone is just that - my not hating anyone. But people accuse me of hatred because I refuse to choose one group of human beings as more special than another. (Besides, when you read the thread at UD, it seems that they hate me.)

Richard Dawkins in his television show Root of All Evil? - a show that will never be aired on television in our "free" United States (yeah, "teach the controversy" and all that) - stressed the damage that unswerving believers do to each other. He talked about the intolerance in Jerusalem just before Israelis and Lebanese civilians suffered from a vicious war that broke out last summer. He talked about children learning to hate other children because of the religion that neither child chose. (Northern Ireland is a great example of that - girls can't even walk through certain neighborhoods without being pelted with stones.) That's what he means when he says that raising a child as a religious label is child abuse, and it is child abuse, because it doesn't encourage the child to become and express his or her own unique self. It doesn't allow the child to think or to question - it just pushes individuals through the sausage-grinder. Dawkins has also unequivocably said that raising a so-called "atheist child" would also be child abuse, and I agree! No one is born with any one view any more than anyone is born racist (although there is some evidence that tendencies toward religiosity/nonreligiosity are genetic, just as our capacity to have morality, rather than any particular morality itself, could have evolved as Pinker describes).

Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind. - Eric Hoffer

The folks at Uncommon Descent have trouble imagining morality and altruism without a belief in God. Well, we learn by doing. When we practice altruism, we think altruism. Evolution does not mandate that we all snap at each other like wolves - that's a Victorian era stereotype. That is what I tried, and failed, to communicate to the other commentors at Uncommon Descent, who insisted that I was a lost person, that if I took my atheism to its logical conclusion I could have no purpose in life, that I could do no good as a person, that I was some sort of monster. (Well, for a horrible monster I sure got my feelings hurt.) So I just stopped communicating (I was never banned as far as I know). Now I see them sniping at each other at UD, and banning commentators left and right. The tone has grown even more hostile and sarcastic, and yet the only people left there are the fanatics.

It's like a microcosm of the same religious hatred that Dawkins described.

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Why Young Earth Creationists Are Wrong

Part One.

Part Two.

Radiometric dating.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Advice from that "Atheist Mom"... a struggling young person. What a great read.

Although this bundles the undies of the poor folks at Uncommon Descent, ultimately an atheist must define herself by what she does believe in.

Someday the fundies will understand that.

Shimmies to AtBC and Possummomma...and to the UDudes at Uncommon Descent, because they need 'em. Therapy, don't you know. Only for medicinal purposes! (Who just said, "Yeah, right"?)

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Fed Mints "Godless Dollars"

Quick! Getcher godless dollars here!

UPDATED: Of course, we could always use this as currency instead.

Talk about a lack of reverence.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What a Friggin' Nerd am I...

Yes, I'm very happy that I received an "A" on one midterm, in the class that really scared me (Reference Services), for which we had to find answers to research questions using both online and print sources. I slaved over that project, crawling through the reference section of not only St. Kate's library, but the downtown Minneapolis Public Library (which is a central repository) and the University of Minnesota's Walter and Wilson libraries as well. (Walter is the science, mathematics, and technology library - visit it if you can, for it's been restored, and has beautiful woodwork and high plaster ceilings.)

But here is one of the things that I'm really proud of (gloating to come): For the question that asked for the etymology of the word "doh," in addition to finding a use of the word as an exclamation (on a radio program in 1947), and the first English use of the word to mean a musical tone in the mid-18th century, I scanned the novel Day of the Locust by Nathanael West to see if the term appeared in there. Why? Because I knew that there was a character called Homer Simpson in the novel.

Nerdy, nerdy, nerdy! Well, the word "doh" isn't in the novel, but nevertheless I put down my effort to search the novel in my answer, and the professor placed an exclamation point next to it. When I mentioned it in class, everyone sat there like I was from outer space. I have no idea whether or not the creators of The Simpsons took the name "Homer Simpson" from West's novel. Does anyone out there know?

(I'd research it myself, but now I've got a bunch of questions to work on for the final, plus another midterm. Gaaaa. The Galapagos are calling me...two more months...)

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Shimmy the Blues Away...

...because I can't be the next Ann Miller of Darwinian shimmies if I'm blue!

(Well, you can't see the blue anyway.)

I am
Rocketdyne "American Flag Blue" aerospace logo paint

As seen on NASA launch pads!

Which house paint are you?

As seen on NASA launch pads, damn straight. I'm a nastynaut. (JanieBelle asked if writing a story about me like this was okay, and had me proofread, and yeah, I had some changes: I corrected her spelling! How's that for an English nerd? Waddaya think all those little, quiet, nice-seeming librarians are doing, reading Nabokov and Vonnegut and Updike and such? *Pant, pant*)

Via Obfuscati, who came to the Triumvirate and gloated. Okay, Obfuscati, you get shimmies, but just don't rub it in next time.

And of course, shimmies to JanieBelle, Kate, and The Boy for The Lilith Quotient.

UPDATED: Dan was right.

Rogue Ninja

You scored 7 Honor, 3 Justice, 6 Adventure, and 7 Individuality!
You are as quiet as the wind, deadly as a viper and you follow no master. You are a Rogue Ninja. Let no one say you are without honor, lest they meet a quiet and questionable end.
Dress as you like and keep your knives close. You'll do just fine

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 42% on Ninjinuity
You scored higher than 15% on Knightlyness
You scored higher than 42% on Cowboiosity
You scored higher than 75% on Piratical Bent

So...this means I still get to be a pirate, right?

(Ninja shimmies to Pharyngula)

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Newest Addition to Blogroll and a Summary

UPDATED: Yikes! Sometimes it gets downright weird at Uncommon Descent: "I can't wait to see all those other folks rot in hell."

Doug, honey, I don't believe James Cameron's Lost Tomb of Jesus crap either. Okay? And as for wishing all those other folks to rot in hell, well - don't wish your time away, huh?

And what do you think about the crap "documentary" by this Cameron?

SECOND UPDATE: James Cameron's Lost Tomb of Jesus is fiction. And so is intelligent design. If you criticize one, criticize them both.
It's high time that I added Ed Brayton to the blogroll. I visit Ed's blog, Dispatches from the Culture Wars, all the time.

Ed has the latest on the spat between William Dembski and the Templeton Foundation. This is getting interesting, because it seems that some of the charges that Dembski leveled at the foundation are true. The foundation's spokesperson claims that Dembski was paid $100,000 to write a book on theology; however, Dembski's claim that it was to write a "pro-ID" book appear to be borne out by the facts. (I know, I know, ID is theology, but let's just set that aside for a wee bit.)

(We're just pretending that the two aren't the same for the moment. That's called...wait for it...playing devil's advocate.)

However, all this points to is more whining and scab-picking by Dembski about past slights, real or imagined. Still smarting more than a year later by the resounding defeat for intelligent design in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, he launched a vitriolic campaign to smear the presiding judge in the case, Judge Jones (a Republican appointed to the bench by none other than President George W. Bush), accusing the judge of having lifted his decision from the plaintiffs' paperwork (which is routine, people, it's done all the time).

Let's just gingerly add that somebody got listed in Time Magazine's TIME 100: The People Who Shape Our World, and it certainly wasn't Bill Dembski.

This culminated in an incredibly puerile flash animation (now scrubbed of the fart noises - see it here) that portrayed Jones as the puppet of...lemme get this straight...reputable scientists and academics, among them Richard Dawkins, Wesley Elsberry, Barbara Forrest (who testified against intelligent design at the Dover trial, and who has the affrontery of being a woman), and Eugenie Scott, among others. Wow. These people can put their words in my mouth any time!

Dare we say that the farting animation, er, backfired in a major way, resulting in some personal humiliation for Dembski (in which I gleefully participated, but RedStateRabble gets the credit), one really good smackdown (nice one, Ken!), and some fancy backtracking. (I liked the farts--the only thing I liked about the animation was the farts. Dembski should have left the farts in and gotten rid of everything else.)

So if there's something to this Templeton "scandal," that's interesting, but not surprising. No, considering the kind of year Dembski has had since the Dover trial (in the shitter, basically) it's not really very surprising that the Templeton Foundation, after showing initial hope and interest, would run away from the intelligent design movement like, well, someone from a small room with a farting roommate. You know, come to think of it, that really makes Dembski look bad once more.

If you really want to keep up with the shenanigans of the intelligent design woo wizards like Dembski, O'Leary et al., go to After the Bar Closes and click on the "Official Uncommonly Dense Discussion Thread" devoted to the inane blog by Dembski, "Uncommon Descent." Please note that this link starts at the beginning of this incredibly long discussion - you may want to click at the end to get your feet wet and then go back to enjoy the past yucks. December 2006 was a good month, really prime for belly laughs. (I wrote them a poem and everything!)

Right now Uncommon Descent is pretty boring, due to Dembski's whining, but I'm hoping that he'll snap out of it soon - he usually does. As with me, the dark clouds gather, but his have internal thunderbolts. Holy crap, you think I'm angry? You think I'm tempestuous? You think I have my moments? You should check out this guy! It's those quiet ones that you always have to look out for, and he looks like some harmless, small-town undertaker - but then he rails against the "materialist conspiracy," and rants that if he were the dean of a major university (he's not, which is another sore point with him, so tred lightly there - yeesh!) he'd dismiss half the professors in the biology department (since it's not really a science, you know - just "stamp collecting") and rename it the "nature appreciation unit." Yeah, he's a lunatic. A loveable lunatic!


So here's to hoping that he'll quit sulking and contribute more laughs to the world. Just like this guy. Hallelujah! And welcome, Ed, to my blogroll (now a scroll almost as long as evolution itself). *Shimmy!*

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Test Your Religious Literacy

SECOND UPDATE: Stephen Prothero has an article on religious illiteracy in the Christian Science Monitor. For the most part, he's on the money.
UPDATED: Another great video from August: Lewis Black on Religion.
A Boston University Professor claims (and I heartily agree) that despite Americans' faith, most Americans are ignorant about religion. However, he would rectify this by teaching religion in school, and he has some weird ideas about atheists.

"The hard-core atheist," Prothero writes, "once a stock figure in American life, has gone the way of the freak show." Well, except for Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, whose books on atheism have topped the best-seller lists for two years.

Really? Take the quiz (it's pathetically easy) and then write to Newsweek with your scores and show this guy who the freaks aren't. (I got 100%.)

Oh, and the next time someone pleads with you to believe both science and religion, ask them why fellow Christians are crucifying Edward O. Wilson. Talk about freaks, going after someone of the caliber of Wilson. Happy Easter, and ecologists are the antiChrist, so may your soul rot in hell! But then, as Dawkins writes in his book, they went after Einstein, too. (Of course, as these same nutjobs keep reminding us, Dawkins "caricatures" religion.)

Shimmies to Pharyngula

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Saturday, March 03, 2007


UPDATED: Javier again gives me a great link. And click here and then click on "Michele Bachmann on Homosexuality Movie" to see a video of Michele Bachmann, #1 Ann Coulter Fan, hyperventilating about same sex marriage leading to "group marriage." I guess she oughtta know.
Lilly-livered atheists attack Dawkins' book, The God Delusion, for having the gall to be the on the best-seller list for 22 weeks.

“We have more than one form of understanding,” [Thomas Nagel] continued. “The great achievements of physical science do not make it capable of encompassing everything, from mathematics to ethics to the experiences of a living animal. We have no reason to dismiss moral reasoning, introspection or conceptual analysis as ways of discovering the truth just because they are not physics.”

Well, that's brilliant, Mr. Nagel. The problem is, Dawkins is not a physicist.

Do I sense some jealousy here? Maybe because these people sat comfortably in their ivory closets, let other, less rich atheists get thrown to the wolves, and let America go off the deep end about Jesus, only to see Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris garner success by having the balls that these mincing faint hearts like Nagel don't have? (Ironically, James Cameron's so-called documentary would be the first independent evidence that Jesus existed, but it's all a rehash of crap from the 1980s.)

But what the nay-sayers really want to point out is, Dawkins "caricatures" religion. The American people are not bigoted, superstitious, homophobic fundamentalists. Oh my, no. Ann Coulter is not a household world in this country, whereas Dawkins is. Right.

Nice going, Ann, you cunt. ("Did I say cunt? Oh, can't she take a joke? After all, I wouldn't insult cunts by identifying them with Ann. That would be mean.")

Shimmies to Ken Avidor (Dump Michele Bachmann), Rude Pundit and Rev. BigDumbChimp.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

The Next Gould and Sagan?

UPDATED: It's serendipity—August Berskshire sent me this link to a video clip of Neil deGrasse Tyson speaking at the Beyond Belief conference (notice Dawkins in the audience), and he's a scream! Very entertaining, very informative—I'll have to learn more about this guy. Here he speaks about how he learned about the poetry of science from an art class. What a wonderful speaker.

Javier, the Science Pundit, also sent me this video of Tyson's recent Book TV appearance regarding his latest book, Death by Black Hole.

As I said, I just can't believe that there aren't people out there to take the place of Gould and Sagan. There are probably many, many people, just not as many polymaths anymore (as Randy Olson points out).

I'm also a fan of Sylvester James Gates, Jr., a physicist and another engaging speaker, and naturally, an active advocate for science.
If I may say, I think the blog RedStateRabble is a national treasure.

Talk about being on the front lines—and about asking the questions that need to be asked.

Via the RSR site I got an opportunity to ask the filmmaker Randy Olson (A Flock of Dodos) my question about the successor to Stephen Jay Gould and Carl Sagan, who were and are my heroes, as the spokesmen for science in America. The discussion is here.

Now, RSR supplies an answer to the question. And a good candidate, too, along with Ken Miller and Neil deGrasse Tyson as suggested by Mousie Cat in the comments, and Richard Dawkins, who has already assumed much of the responsibility for two nations, and PZ Myers, of course. (If you haven't read Miller's Finding Darwin's God, do so—it's a great book, although I admit I just didn't get the last two chapters.)

Perhaps there is no one candidate today. Perhaps there is no one scientific giant anymore. That makes sense—these are new times, and we must turn to many people, including nonspecialists in science, activists and educators, to be the spokespeople for science in America. Perhaps now it must be a collective effort, a grassroots, noncentralized effort. There are now many heroes out there, many of them teachers and communicators—and among them I would nominate bloggers like Pat.

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Snowed In!

Minneapolis is under a snow emergency and it's so thick around here that the museum closed!

Whoopee! It's a day of sleeping late, doing homework, heading to the bar down the street for food, and maybe (if I am good and get all my work done) doing some web surfing and posting more of my fiction.
In the meantime, per a request from Scotius, here are my pics of the children.

This is Pirate, the kitty who I lost to breast cancer. (Yes, she really did have breast cancer.) Pirate was nuts. She was the runt of the litter, just a little scraggly bat-thing squalling like a demon. She was the cleverest cat I ever encountered, even hopping around on her hind legs (evolving? We're sunk!) and doing a flip once when I came home (she got really excited easily).

Here is Twyla, the foundling who came to us after Pirate died, being coy. She's very different from Pirate, very vulnerable and shy, and doesn't pick on Pirate's brother, Topcat, the way that Pirate does. Topcat (on the right) and Twyla in many ways are more close than Topcat and Pirate were. But hey, they're all partners in crime.

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