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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.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

In Memoriam: Benazir Bhutto

The two-time prime minister of Pakistan, the first and only woman to lead that country, has been killed in a suicide attack in Rawalpindi while leaving a rally.

Elections were scheduled for January 8, and Ms. Bhutto and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif (deposed in 1999 by current President Pervez Musharraf) were the leaders of the most successful opposition coalition in Pakistan.

It is not known if the elections will be held as planned, or delayed (or canceled).

UPDATED: Huck-a-wannabee opens his mouth, and his fans are already making excuses. OMFnG! Just shut up, man. Shut up, shut up, shut up.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christians Against Christmas

Christmas is such a well established tradition/shopping season in the United States that it's difficult for many people to imagine that it was once a controversial holiday, rejected by many Christian denominations, even today.

"People don't think of it this way, but it's really a secular holiday," said Foster, a Princeton-based pastor in the United Church of God. He last celebrated Christmas when he was 8.

His church's objection to Christmas is rare among U.S. Christians. Gallup polls from 1994 to 2005 consistently show that more than 90 percent of adults say they celebrate Christmas, including 84 percent of non-Christians. That's a huge change from an earlier era, when many Protestants ignored or actively opposed the holiday. But as it gradually became popular as a family celebration, churches followed their members in making peace with Christmas.

But think about it. Remember these lines from A Christmas Carol:

"There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say," returned the nephew. "Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"

"God bless Christmas"? Didn't that strike you as odd? It always did me. Did Christmas sneeze? Well, Christmas was not a universal holiday in England back then, either, and seen in this light, those words make more sense.

Christmas wasn't embraced by Americans until the 19th century - and even then, it was not embraced by all. But the idealistic writings of Washington Irving popularized the image of Christmas as a family-centered, egalitarian holiday dedicated to charity and peace.

In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent., a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly. In Irving's mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status. Irving's fictitious celebrants enjoyed "ancient customs," including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule. Irving's book, however, was not based on any holiday celebration he had attended – in fact, many historians say that Irving's account actually "invented" tradition by implying that it described the true customs of the season.

The United Church of God and Jehovah's Witnesses and other conservative Protestants do not celebrate Christmas. Wiccans and Pagans celebrate Yule, while many atheist/agnostics and non-practicing Jews prefer to celebrate the Winter Solstice, although some (like Richard Dawkins) celebrate Christmas - which gets some Bible-believing folks into a lather - a humorous lather, or in the case of Albert Mohler, a weird, Scrooge-like, fribbitiginny-conniption-fit.

On the other hand, the Klingons love Christmas! Who’d’uv thunk?

(I hope that I don't have to remind anyone that Hanukkah is not "how the Jewish people celebrate Christmas," as one woman griped in an interview on NPR in the 1980s, after she had just given a talk on Hanukkah to a bunch of Christians. I never forgot that one! A perfect example of projection.)

Presenting both sides:
and mine:

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Monday, December 17, 2007

"False Propositions Might Actually Disgust Us"

Sam Harris, aside from being a best-selling author of The End of Faith and Letters to a Christian Nation, is also pursuing a Ph.D. in neurology at UCLA (and he's my age - he looks so young!). His paper, "Functional Neuroimaging of Belief, Disbelief, and Uncertainty," appears in Annals of Neurology. I haven't had a chance to read it yet - I'm just getting through the latest issue of JASIST - but I intend to.

The full text of the paper is here, also as a PDF.

UPDATED: I have read the paper, and will post a summary soon.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

My Favorite Martians

Life is supposed to be fun - so for a change of pace I'd like to share with you another one of my favorite pseudoscience cults (in the least menacing sense of the word): the Unarius Academy of Science. When I first saw this stuff on cable access television in the 1990s, I thought, "Oh, how cool, some has made their own science fiction film - low production values, and laughable plot, but amusing, and you get to dress up in Star Trek outfits."

Well, I was wrong. These people are serious.

Meet Uriel.

And who are "they"? Well, hazard a guess willya? Meet Uriel's followers.

Poor Tesla. Still, why should Newton, Einstein, Galileo, and Dawkins be disproportionately hit with quote mines and distortions? Hell, I give the Unarians some credit for recognizing Tesla! (Just don't show this video to an, ahem, you know, an electrical engineer or anyone, *cough! cough!*)

Here's part one of one of the Unarius Academy of Science's "educational" videos.

Rumor has it that Turkana Boy's relative, who appears in this film, is so upset at his rotten performance that he's suing UAoS for posthumous emotional distress and humiliation due to the fact that 1) everyone assumes he's a Neanderthal, and 2) everyone assuming that he's a Neanderthal is the reason that they call him such a suckwad actor, when in fact, this acting just plain sucks. Sorry, man, but this scene blows goats.

You should have stuck to 1970s Bigfoot shows, man!

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Details Emerge

"The ultra-religious home-school curriculum that Matthew Murray ranted about in Web postings before he opened fire at two Christian centers forbids dating, rock music and "wrong clothes." It advises young men and women to live at home until their parents release them and counsels parents to choose marriage partners for their offspring.
[Bill] Gothard's teachings have been criticized by other conservative Christians who allege he has deviated from true Bible teaching and that his stand against rock music — even Christian rock — suspicion of modern medicine, belief in spiritual roots of disease, and opposition to women working outside the home and "evil" toys are wrong. Gothard warned followers in a 1986 letter that Cabbage Patch dolls can cause "strange, destructive behavior."

Swanson does not blame Gothard's teachings for Murray's actions and pointed out that Murray seemed in his writings to be following the example of Columbine shooters Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, who were educated in public schools. But he said there are home-schooling lessons that can be taken from the Murray shootings.

source: The Denver Post

It's child abuse. The influence of Bill Gothard's teachings on Matthew Murray is already up at Wikipedia. You be the judge.

And here's the killer, Matthew Murray, in his own words.

I still remember how we were told that “The Simpsons” was a very evil and Satanic TV show with the intent of causing people to leave Christianity (as if that’s a bad thing). As a teenager my mother had the TV tuner removed by a TV technician so that it could only receive from the AV inputs, meaning, could only watch VHS and DVDs. I remember me and the other church youth would go over to the Senior pastor’s house and ask to watch the very same movie that his 10 year old son or daughter had told us they’d watch and be told “sorry guys, that’s rated ‘R,’ it’s not Godly.” Of course we’d ask “but then why do you have it?” Sometimes he’d lie, other times he’d just say “sorry…you can’t.”

I remember wanting to listen to Christian music and be told by my parents and other church members that we couldn’t, EVEN THOUGH the senior pastor’s and other church leader’s families did.

Internet was treated as one of Satan’s special weapons in the “end-times” to promote sex(which everyone knows is of the Devil…..) Everyone was terrified that one of us teenagers might get a glimpse of a naked body and become demon possessed... Music was VERY restricted of course... Books were VERY restricted. We were only allowed to read Christian books and forced to memorize the bible. When Harry Potter came out we were all given lectures about how “we’re living in the end times and Satan is trying to capture the children and make them all witches!!!!” I knew of a few people who got harassed for letting their kids read Harry Potter.

I remember with all these different forms of media it was like I was always in Mission Impossible. We were either at church or being brainwashed in Christian home school. When we did have free time…we were either forced to pray, read the bible, do chores, or…..well nothing since we were not allowed to do anything. We were all being trained to “become the future of Christianity.” “The chosen generation that is going to turn America back to God in these last days.”

“The chosen generation who are going to become great prophets and pastors and evangelists and missionaries in the world.”

“The chosen generation who are going to take over the world and do away with everyone else’s false satanic religion and take dominion until Jesus returns!!!!!!”

Well, I got all fed up with the insanity, hypocrisy, conflicting doctrines, the and lack of absolute answers in regards to “salvation,” heaven and hell and other theological issues, the child abuse, brainwashing, lies, gossip, scandals, threats and fear mongering. I got tired of always hearing “oooohh, you’re saved by grace, not by works!” “Everybody loves you! Jesus loves you!” only to hear about how I was going to hell for watching “The simpsons” or could lose my salvation and could never be certain if 30 years from now I might lose it due to some odd sin and die in an accident and end up in this eternal hell preached to us day and night.

This is obviously an extremist cult, an abusive atmosphere, maladaptive, closed, sick, and dangerous. Why is this allowed to happen? Why do we allow subcultures like these within America to teach obviously deranged "values" to youngsters and to enfeeble them? What is it going to take for us to summon the collective will to say, "I'm sorry, some viewpoints just aren't valid, and you have no right to shoe-horn your kids into something they cannot be"?

Of course the killer is ultimately responsible for his choice to murder innocent people. But when are we going to start asking what happens when kids and young adults kill? (Especially if the young adults are taught to stay at home until mommy picks out a spouse for them?)

Certainly Murray’s parents were wrong to raise him in this way, but we should not just blame the parents, either. In fact I feel horrible for them. People must really be hurting to embrace such a morbid, rigid, and life-denying paradigm. They tore this kid down unintentionally because they’re tearing themselves down, too, and that has got to stop. The last thing Murray's parents need to do now is blame themselves. This event has multiple causes.

But I would say to Murray's family: Life is supposed to be fun. People don’t need to follow stupid rules invented by religious hucksters, or worry incessantly about letting their kid listen to some rock music, or try to manufacture the coming of some distant utopia through your relatives. Parents are supposed to make mistakes, anyway. You can guide, but you can’t control how your kids turn out.

You are a noble creature, the product of millions of years of evolution. Millions of years of successes (and mistakes), and you turned out basically good, so take a little pride in yourself! Trust yourself. Most people will be okay if they allow themselves to become themselves. They don’t need to embrace the silly, cheesy, and ignoramus teachings churned out by the likes of this Bill Gothard and Ted Haggard and Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, et al. Most Americans are head and shoulders above these frauds, if they would only believe that.

Everybody is somebody, but nobody wants to be themselves.
-Gnarls Barkley

A big thank you to Thought Theatre.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Well, Something Was On Fire, Anyway

I really didn't want to wade into the sewage of some so-called Christians selfishly blaming atheists for the tragic and sad Colorado shootings by an obviously mentally ill individual...

I live in Arvada, Colorado, and for many years I attended the church associated with the YWAM shooting on Sunday. Earlier this year I befriended two of the young men going through the training program there, one from New Zealand and the other from England. I am numb with sorrow, and my prayers go up for the families of the victims.

The media is reporting that Matthew Murray posted the following on the web: ”I’m coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed to the @#%$ teeth and I WILL shoot to kill. …God, I can’t wait till I can kill you people. Feel no remorse, no sense of shame, I don’t care if I live or die in the shoot-out. All I want to do is kill and injure as many of you … as I can especially Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world.”

Look at the last part of that quote closely. One wonders if Murray has been reading Dawkins or Dennett. By blaming the world’s ills on religious people do Dawkins and Dennett incite to hatred and make it more likely that tragedies of this sort can occur? I don’t know, but it is an interesting question.
-BarryA, Uncommon Descent

...but this just broke at the Star Tribune:

Guard Who Shot Colorado Gunman Had Been Fired From Minneapolis Police.

For lying.

The security guard credited with bravery for shooting a gunman at a Colorado church was fired from her job as a Minneapolis police officer in the 1990s for lying, Minneapolis police officials said today.

Investigators in Colorado said Jeanne Assam, a volunteer security guard at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, shot 24-year-old Matthew Murray when he entered the church on Sunday and began firing. Murray killed two sisters - Stephanie Works, 18, and Rachael Works, 16 - before he was stopped.

Authorities said Murray may have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but police and church leaders credited Assam for her bravery and say she averted a greater tragedy [emphasis mine].
On Tuesday, authorities in Minneapolis revealed more about Assam's past.

Sgt. Jesse Garcia, a Minneapolis police spokesman, said Assam worked at the department from March 1993 to November 1997, when she was fired for lying during an internal investigation.
Sgt. John Delmonico, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, said police were investigating a complaint that Assam swore at a bus driver while she was handling an incident on a city bus.

Delmonico said Assam was dealing with an incident on the bus and for some reason she swore at the bus driver as she exited the bus. The bus driver became angry and filed a complaint.
"In giving a statement about the incident, she was untruthful and she was fired," Delmonico said. The swearing was caught on tape, he said. "The union arbitrated the case and the arbitrator upheld the termination."

Assam's home phone number is unlisted and she couldn't be reached for comment.

I'm just putting this out there. I guess we'll see how this develops.

I really don't think the relatives of the victims need or want to hear "The shooter was an atheist! It's those evil atheists!" right now. And I don't think the relatives of the shooter appreciate it, either. At any rate, the shooter said, "See you on the other side" - not exactly an atheist's statement.

I'm sick of this crap. Is anyone else?

UPDATED: Coroner reports that gunman killed himself by gunshot to own head.

Gunman heard voices as early as five years ago. What I would like to know is, did he get mental health counseling? It does seem like he sat and stewed on an unreasonable grievance. Unfortunately, all too often the parents or relatives of someone with a mental illness have few resources to turn to.

Stephen Pinker on "A Brief History of Violence." Shimmies to Midwest Atheist.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

The Food of the Gods

Various ambrosia to sip:

(I say ambrosia, because we don't want to upset the tummies of Mr. Chairman and Senator Irving.*)

December 16 is Arthur C. Clarke's birthday. You can go here to send him birthday wishes.

It's also Ludwig van Beethoven's birthday.

Biologist Ken Miller gives an explanation of the significance of the recently-published Chimpanzee genome here:

And PZ explains it here. (Warning: Casey Luskin aftertaste.)

Shimmies to Pharyngula and, of course, Ken, Ludwig, and Sir Arthur.

*"Until a few centuries ago, the favourite food of almost all men was meat – the flesh of once living animals. I’m not trying to turn your stomachs; this is a simple statement of fact, which you can check in any history book…

"Why, certainly, Mr. Chairman I’m quite prepared to wait until Senator Irving feels better. We professionals sometimes forget how laymen may react to statements like that. At the same time, I must warn the committee that there is very much worse to come. If any of you gentlemen are at all squeamish, I suggest you follow the Senator before it’s too late…"

—Arthur C. Clarke, “The Food of the Gods”

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Find Ben Stein’s Marbles…

…because he’s lost them. Quick! Before he starts crying again.

First, this voice-of-profit-cy, or lack thereof, lost his listeners’ money for them last summer, after he expelled a lot of hogwash about financial stocks just before they turned into something you wouldn't wipe your nose with.

(Note that comments at You Tube are closed because THEY [“Darwinists”] are all out to silence this self-styled economist by engaging in free speech about Ben Stein’s revisionism, you know.)

Now, Ben Stein is huffing about the “invisible government” of Goldman Sachs – Goldman Sachs, for pete’s sake – and how it “sells fear,” and how its "highly placed economist" (must be Stein's code word for someone having a job), Dr. Jan Hatzius, presides over a “culture of the KGB,” making it "the closest I have recently seen to such a world-running body [i.e., another conspiracy]." Oh, my dog! My cat! Another conspiracy!

(There's an alternative link for Stein's commentary at

Excuse me, but in light of this and his hyperventilating coming attractions for Expelled (“If you see this film you could lose your job…Is there anyone out there who can stand up for freedom? Anyone? Anyone?” etc.), just who is selling fear here?

Apparently there's something called Ben Stein Watch. ;-)

Ben Bernanke sounds off on Stein’s accusations against Goldman Sachs

Paul Krugman, also of the NY Times, also replies to Stein.

I, too, was puzzled by Ben Stein’s conflation of a bank’s total assets with its capital, and assumed he was moving the goalposts as his intelligent design colleagues do. But, amazingly, it appears that I gave Stein too much credit in this, for apparently he doesn’t know the difference.

Ben Bernanke and Paul Krugman – and now, a "Darwinist" - well, you know what that means. It’s a conspiracy! No, I’m not kidding. Ben Stein digs himself in further, and even Krugman’s detractors are shocked. And as one observer remarked about Stein's assertion that housing prices have never declined over 15% in a very long time, one shouldn't drive while only looking in the rear-view mirror! (LOL! That is a good analogy for creationism as well.)

BTW, if you Google “Ben Stein” and “crying,” Amused Muse’s “Win Ben Stein’s Funneh” reached number 9. Thank you!

Well, anyway, I found all this out because Ben Stein was interviewed on Glenn Beck’s show. Glenn Beck! That Glenn Beck?

Hey, uh, Beck, what happened to the "end of the world on August 22" as prophesied by your favorite Princeton professor? I guess you should get up from your knees and thank "Darwinists" for ruining that, too?

Maybe during the battle of Armaggedon all the conspiracies against Ben Stein battle each other, and the winner gets to be teh Beast.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Cleansing the Palate

After watching the video of John West at Rev. Barky's place, one commenter remarked, "I'll need a chaser- or maybe morphine."

Here you go. (Yes, I was hanging around, watching this being taped - at least until I saw people climb into the jaccuzi with pina coladas.)

UPDATED: The "teaser" for the videos of West is now up at You Tube.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

John West's Talk at the University of Minnesota, Part 2

The videos are posted! The entire presentation by John West, plus Borrello's rebuttal and the Q&A are now available. You can view them at Rev. Barking Nonsequitur's site. He is working on uploading a teaser to You Tube.

In the meantime, here are my thoughts of what I saw last night. And Rev. Barky wrote his thoughts, too.

What I took away from West’s speech is this:

Eugenics (in the broadest terms) was supported by many in the scientific community, including some of the elite scientists of the time. This is TRUE.

Scientists’ inordinate “power to influence government policy” caused eugenics laws (in the narrowest term of forced sterilization) to be passed in America, and stuffed down the throats of Americans, with the only opposition being the religious lobby. This is FALSE.

Eugenics laws were extremely popular amongst a wide cross-section of the public, just as anti-immigration sentiment is now, or the off-with-their-heads sentiment that has resulted in the imprisonment of minors in adult prison populations for serious crimes (a fad now being rethought in our country due to the higher rate of recidivism of imprisoned youngsters versus those held in juvenile lockup). I suppose someday scientists will be blamed for today's anti-immigrant sentiment, too. (Who was the Republican candidate who said that if abortion had been illegal, we'd now have plenty of [white] workers to do all those jobs done by Mexicans? Answer: Huckabee.)

Eugenics laws were actually being passed at a time when anti-evolution policies were being imposed on public schools. How does that equate eugenics with evolution, Darwin, or with the broader scientific “establishment”?

Eugenics isn’t even good science; it is largely based on “lookism,” and even the most commonly held misconception about lookism today (race) has really no genetic basis. And yet it is largely “evolution dissidents” who insist upon essentialist “racial differences” today (The Bell Curve, Ann Coulter’s Godless, etc.).

It seems that West, like Dembski, is fixated on targeting individual, “elite” scientists (as evidenced in his early characterization of PZ Myers as “the American Richard Dawkins,” as if Myers had no unique contribution of his own) to the exclusion of the scientific method, and wants also to tar broad scientific consensus as some sort of anti-intellectual conspiracy (more on this later). He argued that these anti-evolution policies for public school were insignificant in light of the support of eugenics by a few past “elite” scientists. Yet even these scientists did not agree with the forced sterilization of so-called “feeble-minded” people, a fact West left out.

The question I asked West was this: Although not part of a centralized eugenics program, several things I can think of disproportionately and unjustly affect the poor, people of color, and people in developing countries in the world: namely, global climate change, the availability of birth control, including abortion, and the fact that HIV denialism, the argument that HIV does not cause AIDS, has caused AIDS to devastate several African nations (namely South Africa, whose leader has refused to acknowledge the scientific reality of AIDS as a retrovirus).

I also mentioned to John West that two of his colleagues at the Discovery Institute were HIV denialists – Philip Johnson and Jonathan Wells, and asked him for his response to this, and to lay out a positive program for implementing justice in the world today, in light of these realities I listed.

Dr. West looked sandbagged for a moment. He stated that my question was “so far afield of what we’re discussing here.” Why? Aren’t policies that disproportionately affect the poor, people of color, and people in developing countries a form of eugenics? If not, what are these policies then? They come from somewhere.

Weren’t we after all listening to a presentation on values and how we, in light of the reality of the unjust eugenic laws in the past, should live today? If this has no application to today, why talk about all this stuff that happened in the past, then? Didn’t Dr. West just tell us that we should learn from this story? Didn’t West try to teach us that we should temper “elite” technical expertise with human compassion and valid scientific data? How to do that was precisely what I asked him. I mean, we’re talking about how to be a decent human being, aren’t we? Well, I’m concerned about that, and I thought he was, too. I want to see him as a nice guy, after all—as nice a guy as he kept admitting that Charles Darwin was.

John West said he was concerned about the underlying moral frameworks that support eugenicist ideas—well, so am I! Therefore I’m concerned about the underlying moral frameworks that support global warming denial, HIV denial, restriction of birth control availability, and misconceptions about evolution itself. Surely that’s reasonable.

Then Dr. West stated that he’s “never heard” Jonathan Wells deny that HIV caused AIDS, and that Philip Johnson was not a Discovery Institute fellow. Well. I don’t know how he could not know their relative positions on HIV, but at least now he cannot so easily claim ignorance a second time at another talk. And all he has to do is ask Johnson and Wells, for pete’s sake.

West stated that we should “Keep doing what we’re doing on AIDS.” I couldn’t help but wonder, what would that be? Continuing to withhold condoms? Continuing to substitute valid AIDS treatments with traditional African-centered witch doctors and magic potions? Because that is exactly what is being done in Africa!

But because I had said the word abortion, Dr. West jumped on that and railed against “the rhetoric of choice” as being code for “forced abortion,” apparently because he thinks women doing anything but carrying the baby to term is enslavement. He then stated that he was “not opposed to voluntary birth control.” Well, does that include abortion, then? Somehow I doubt it. I wouldn’t be surprised if his idea of “birth control” means the universal availability of the rhythm method. But of course he would not say that here.

And naturally, he didn’t touch on the global climate change part of my question at all. I knew he would not, and that’s why I brought the issue up. I mentioned it specifically because West had earlier pointed to eugenics as an example of scientists “out of control” and having “too much influence” on the government, just like the “scientific establishment’s present claims about stem cell research and global warming,” which he said “marginalized” those who dared—obviously him—to “disagree” with the overwhelming scientific consensus.

Get the picture of what he was doing, now? Just as those who West claims to have dissented about eugenics in the past, those who “dissent” from the scientific consensus on stem cell research, global warming, evolution, AIDS, and abortion are grassroots heroes! Whereas scientists who today accept the overwhelming evidence for global warming, evolution, the benefits of stem cell research and the availability of birth control and abortion, are out of control hyperintelligent snobbish elitists with too much power to influence government policy, just like those evil eugenicists!

I would laugh at this pettifoggery if the reality of the continued powerlessness of America’s scientists to influence politics wasn’t the tragedy that it has become for our nation.

Ironically, it was people just like Dr. John West who in the past supported eugenics. Eugenics is a pseudoscience. And as there were some otherwise legitimate scientists who also celebrated eugenics, there are today some otherwise legitimate scientists who declare themselves “global warming skeptics” and “are HIV dissenters” and who “dare to challenge the Darwinian materialist monopoly on scientific thought” (in some cases not because they believe it themselves, but because they smell money). These are also pseudosciences, and the scientists who profit from them are the real snobbish elitists in their cynical grab for dollars. These scientists are as wrong as those particular scientists who sided with the majority of the American public in celebrating a policy of forced sterilization.

And yet now the past pseudoscientists who supported eugenics are painted as the “establishment,” while today’s pseudoscientists who proclaim themselves “dissenters” about the HIV to AIDS link, global climate change, and evolution are being raised by Dr. West to the level of heroes fighting the present “establishment.”

And the supreme irony is that in the future, similar pseudoscientists who wish to push their own dubious agenda could likewise point right to today’s pseudoscientific heroes—and to their pseudoscientific agendas of global warming “skepticism,” HIV “dissent,” “the abortion-breast cancer link,” and “intelligent design”—and do the same thing as West did last night. Tomorrow’s pseudoscientists could very well get up in front of young people and claim,

“Kids, can you believe that mainstream scientists once believed in intelligent design, and a link between abortion and breast cancer, and that global warming was a hoax, and that HIV did not cause AIDS? Can you believe that the atheistic, materialist scientific establishment believed this nonsense? Well, nobody knows the secret history! And it was the people of faith who raised objections to these dogmas, who alone pushed for sound science regarding cancer, and proper treatment for AIDS, and limits on carbon emissions. And it was evangelicals who sounded the alarm about global warming, against the overwhelming consensus of the scientific establishment! It was George W. Bush who stood up to scientists and said, ‘Do something about global warming, and don’t teach intelligent design.’ You didn’t know that, did you, boys and girls? That’s not what you were told by the liberal media, is it? And that’s why we should never let scientists have too much power in public policy, ladies and gentlemen! That’s why nonscientists should always be free to dissent from the scientific elite!”

(Okay, that spectacle made me laugh.)

Ironic, wouldn’t it be? No wonder Mark Borrello got so mad after John West’s speech. ID advocates always point at anger as a manifestation of “intolerance.” Borrello got as mad as a relative of mine did when some ignoramus told her, “If we had never nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki, then the Japanese would never have bombed Pearl Harbor.” (Yeah, there are some butt-stupid people out there!) If you heard that, wouldn’t that ass-backwards statement make you angry, too? Would it be fair to label you “intolerant and close-minded” then?

Well, that’s precisely the kind of revisionist history that John West cleverly presented in last night—using pseudoscience to point to earlier pseudoscience in order to tar the valid scientific community at the time which, in reality, had opposed the pseudoscience all along. That’s exactly the kind of crap the ID advocates are pushing when they say things like, “Once upon a time, scientists thought that the sun went around the earth!” as if the rest of society had not believed it too; as if the rest of society would not still be believing it were it not for those evil scientists.

Oh, that’s clever. That’s really clever. But it is not intellectual, nor is it convincing.

And it just is not true.

UPDATED: Bruce Chapman of the Discovery Institute is claiming that John West "won" on Friday night. My, how "Darwinian" these people are. ;-)

SECOND UPDATE: Rev. Barky and I did not get to the beer party beforehand, so I was wondering if anyone went to John West's subsequent presentation at Christ Presbyterian Church (sponsored by the Minnesota Family Council) the following day, Saturday. In light of his "answer" to my question I would really be curious as to what he had to say on, as is advertised about the second speech:

"The impact Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, rooted in scientific materialism/naturalism and its negative impact on a wide range of human endeavors including:
Comprehensive sex education
the treatment of crime as mental illness

the use of eugenics, sterilization, and abortion to solve poverty problems
'survival of the fittest' business ethics"

and so on.

Too bad I couldn't go. I would have loved to have been able to ask him a follow-up question demanding how he could be for voluntary birth control but against comprehensive sex education, and if the man who held Hilary Clinton's campaign staff hostage should get mental health treatment or jail.

I've always said that creationism is dangerous, folks. I reiterate that stance now.

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