Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jenny McCarthy Body Count.

Though not 100% responsible for each and every non-vaccinated preventable death. Jenny McCarthy has definitely contributed more to the dissemination of vaccine misinformation than anyone I can think of. So, I find it very appropriate to name this body count after her. Thanks Orac.

I really hate you Jenny.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ray Comfort...An Intelligent Person's Nightmare.

I just posted the infamous "Banana" video. Apparently Ray feels that atheists have misrepresented him by removing the coke can from his original video. The reason atheists shortened the video is that it's boring and the relevant portion is the discussion of the banana as the "Atheists Nightmare." I'll post the the whole thing here so that if you really want to suffer through it you can. His argument is ridiculous on so many levels but it is entertaining and relevant to the recent "Purpose of Purpose" talk by Dawkins. So, for all you Ray Comfort fans out there:

Ray, you are an ass clown.

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The Banana Video.

It has come to my attention that there are still people that haven't seen the Ray Comfort "Banana" video. So, for your viewing pleasure.

This video (the Ray and Kirk portion) is not meant to be a joke. This is the guy that wants to debate Dawkins.

Obviously not the original but I like the improvements.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

I Saw Dawkins Too!

Peder has a great post over at Two Gits about his experience during the Dawkins talk last week. I have to agree with his overview. There was not much substance. It was very much a talk presented for the layperson. However, it was entertaining and I don't regret attending. I do regret not knowing that Peder and Nils would be there. Next time guys.

I think Peder describes the Archi-, Archae-, or Arche-, and Neo-purposes more succinctly than Dawkins himself.

For the type of purpose that we can see in nature, the unconscious selections that nature has made through the survival of better adapted individuals and the passing on of their genes, he uses the term “archi-purpose”. The word “archi” being Greek for first or principal, it can also mean the earlier version, so all definitions apply here, I think.

For the type of purpose that we can see in human invention, deliberate creations that were meant to accomplish a goal, he uses the term “neo-purpose”. The word “neo” being Greek for new or recent.
He also poses some questions for Dawkins that he didn't get to ask. Since I doubt he's going to answer them, I thought I'd take a stab at 'em. Just for conversation's sake.

Do we as humans, having subverted archi-purpose, exist outside of natural selection?
Yes, and no. Certainly there are a number of situations in which we are able to avoid natural selection. Sick people that would die without medical care are able to survive and reproduce fairly regularly. However, it seems inevitable that we will run up against something that our technology can't conquer on it's own. We may find that we need to evolve or go extinct. As far as subverting our archi-purposes goes, those may be driving factors in natural selection. Our drive to eat fatty foods no longer serves us well. We are overweight, unhealthy, and die sooner because of the decisions we make based on this particular subversion of purpose. Will it result in less reproduction for those that have the greatest drive to eat high calorie foods? Maybe.

If not, what is the next step in human evolution?
Let me hope that the next step is that those of us that are able to find solace in reason and seek peace (assuming these things have a genetic basis) outbreed those that find it all too easy to murder in the name of imaginary friends (more subversion of purpose). Unfortunately, educated non-religious people seem less willing to reproduce. This really doesn't seem to be helping the cause from the view of natural selection.

If evolution is a scientifically provable, it means we should be able to model or predict future steps in the ladder; what traits will be favored in future human species?
I think that this may be theoretically possible but with very little accuracy. In reality there are just too many factors. I'm running into similar challenges in ecology. We can't even figure out why shallow lakes turn green and you want to know what the next step in human evolution will be? Good luck.

With out sounding like a fan of eugenics, does it look like we are headed in a positive direction? Can we do anything about it?
Ahh, eugenics. It's not a swear word but it sure feels like it. My personal opinion is that approached reasonably some of the ideas behind eugenics are both feasible and beneficial. I may open this can of worms another day. So, are we headed in a positive direction? That depends on what you consider a positive direction. Can we do anything? Yes. Will we? Not likely.

How about other species?
That's a bit broad. Maybe you can be a little more specific (get it?) and we can continue this one later.

Does the potential environmental disaster we are causing equate to any of the mass-extinction events in the earth’s past?
Wow. That's a great question. I would say that currently it's not even close. Will it get there? Well, I don't have a lot of faith in mankind. I don't think we'll stop until it's too late. This is another question that warrants an entire post with much discussion if you're interested. I'll bring friends too.

Just because we are content living within our epoch, where nothing has changed much in our cultural memory, doesn’t mean that things can’t go completely haywire. Assuming we don’t nuke the planet down to molten rock, and even if we do, won’t the earth’s myriad species just adapt with time and move on–with or without us?

How do you deal with theist family members (Nils’s question)?
I'd really have liked to hear how Dawkins responded to this one. I'm struggling with this myself. Some relatives are just fine with the fact that I'm an atheist. Some are worried. Some are upset. None understand it though. I just had a conversation with my mom last night about what an atheist is. I've never discussed it with my dad and doubt that I ever will. It's really varies between people. Let me know when you find a fool proof answer to this one.

It would be fun to continue this conversation if anyone is interested. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

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Obama and Science.

So far, so good. It appears that today will be the day that the ban on stem-cell research is lifted. More importantly, Obama appears to be working toward a government that actually considers scientific evidence on science issues. He's going to sign a presidential memorandum that will protect scientific decisions from political (thereby religious) influence. This is definitely a step in the right direction. I expect some serious but veiled resistance from NCCAM, the ID folks, and the climate change denial crowd (are they still a crowd?). Now my question is, does the presidential memorandum have teeth?

Here's to hoping.

More links:

National Post
The Daily Star

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Happy Birthday PZ!

What are the odds that of the 365 days of the year, today is PZ's birthday? And what are the odds that out of the over 70 million blogs out there, I chose to go to Pharyngula today and see that it's his B-day? Let's see, using creationist (AKA John Clayton) math that would be 1 in 365 times 1 in 70,000,000. By god, that's 1 in 25,550,000,000. It must have been god guiding me to his blog on this day. Perhaps I'm the chosen one. Let's try it using regular, plain old, boring, scientific, no magic man in the sky math. 1. That is the probability that I will go to PZ's blog on his birthday and find out about it. It happened. That means it has a probability of 1. Anyway, happy birthday PZ.

52 candles are on your birthday baby eh? I hope it's delicious.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dawkins on MPR.

We're headed to his talk tonight but for those of you that can't attend he was on MPR this morning. Give it a listen here if you have time. Kerri Miller (sp?) was kind enough to interview him. However, she seemed not to be as objective as I'm used to. I think she was offended and was a little bitchy in my opinion. Perhaps someone else should have conducted the interview. Dawkins handled himself well as usual.

Shane is a 6.8.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What if god disappeared?

I've stolen this PZ. I hope he doesn't mind. If he does, I'll buy him a beer tomorrow night.

If you watched that and didn't get the joke, please see Poe's Law.

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