Saturday, November 20, 2010

reddit's r/atheism passes 100,000 subscribers

[Clocked over at around 8:20 am (GMT)]

100,000 atheists (well, mostly atheists) in one forum makes for quite a lot of links, posting and discussion

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Human Development Index ... and unbelief

Taking the newly released UN Human Development Index (HDI) figures from here, and percentage of unbelief figures from here (specifically, the Gallup figures), I decided to take a look at how they were related:

The green curve is a loess curve, which simply smooths the relationship to indicate the basic trend.

The fact that HDI increases with Unbelief percentage does not mean that greater unbelief necessarily causes greater HDI; the causality may run the other way, or both variables may be caused by some other variable, or there may be complicated feedback between the two variables, and probably several other causal factors (which is what I would imagine is the truth).

The identified countries, clockwise from top left, are United Arab Emirates, USA, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Dem.Rep.Congo.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We have a budding mathematician

(budding ... becaue that's how mathematicians reproduce, of course.)

My daughter, who is in year three, was given the opportunity to enter the Australian Mathematics Competition (which presently has kids from over 40 countries competing in it).

Not everyone gets to enter; at her school it was only offered to the kids in the extension class.

She got a distinction, which places her in the top 15% of her division (the year 3 and 4 students that entered). Pretty good going, I thought.

Edit: Turns out she was in the top 6% among the entrants in the competition, for her year and the year above.


I believe I actually competed in an early incarnation of the same competition way back when I was a school kid, in around year 10 - probably the first year it was offered in NSW, when it was called the Wales awards. (Assuming it's the same competition; in any case I got $40 in an account from the Wales bank, now Westpac. For me at the time that was a lot of money and I used it carefully - I didn't actually finish spending it until I went to university, nearly two and a half years later. I don't know if they still offer any cash.)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Atheist blogroll widget

I only just saw that is shutting down and that Mojoey's atheist blogroll has been affected; he has some new (temporary) code up that will link to the list of blogs while he gets something new up.

If I get time today I'd put his new code in, but in any case I am putting this here to remind me that I need to do something about it, and to help promulgate the issue (if I didn't know, presumably some other people don't either).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This is what a smackdown looks like

Over at Dear Coke Talk blog, coketalk has on occasion delivered some epic smackdowns.

Take a look at this one, where every sentence someone wrote to her has been linked to the wikipedia page of a logical fallacy it invokes.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Is faith a reliable way to find religious truths?

A response to "I just have faith."

By faith here we mean religious faith of course - which is related to the meaning of faith as something like "belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence" (one of the meanings of faith) rather than the kind of faith that is confidence that arises because of reason or material evidence (a different meaning of faith). Beware equivocational imitations.

Is faith a reliable way to find religious truths?

While we ponder that question, look at this:

If the answer is yes, how, then, it is the case that more theists in the world think Christianity is false than think it is true — surely faith, if it is a reliable path to truth, would overwhelmingly lead people of faith to truth?

Either faith isn't a reliable way to find truth - and so we should not rely on religious faith to discover what's true
the truth that most people are led to by faith is that Christianity is false.

(Aside: I'm not making an argumentum as populum here - I'm showing a consequence of the premise of reliability)

The same argument works for any religion.

Any consequences for the old argument about "different ways of knowing" is left as an exercise for the reader.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Financial advice

A guy with a gun, a really good plan and a bit of luck might steal a hundred thousand dollars.

To steal a billion dollars, he has to swap the gun for a briefcase.

And the Christian Lobby goes ballistic about ethics classes... again

This morning on breakfast-news TV* there was discussion of the ethics class issue, between a representative from the NSW Council of Churches and another fellow whose affiliation I didn't catch but I presume to be representing the St. James Centre - the group that designed the syllabus for the ethics class trial.

*(this was on ABC2 - the ABC is basically a government-owned but editorially independent national broadcaster - their breakfast news and current affairs coverage is substantially more serious than on the commercial networks, which tend to be more like the US network-style breakfast programs - a glossy entertainment magazine of celebrities, diets and other ephemera)

Well, the guy from the Council of Churches was pretty upset that the government was going to go ahead and implement the recommendations, but his central objection was telling. He stated that the biggest problem was that the students *currently* getting religious instruction ("scripture class") *would have the option to take the ethics class*.

That's right - he was objecting primarily to parents having the choice, if their child was currently going to religious classes. But he didn't actually explain why the choice was bad.

Why is this? Well, the problem was he couldn't raise a serious objection to the kids not currently in religious classes having the choice of attending the ethics class instead of doing nothing (though he did attack the content of the syllabus also) - the interviewer asked him specifically what objection he could raise to then having the choice. So he was only left with the fact that the kids not already sitting out the various forms of available religious instruction would be able to choose to opt for ethics classes as well. [The church lobbhy have even argued at one point that the kids in religious classes would miss out on instruction in ethics (!) ... oops. Er, no, we didn't mean to say we don't teach that.]

This choice is a problem for the churches. While about 20% of Australians list no religion on the census, many of the ones in NSW still have their children attend school religious classes for a variety of reasons. There is also an even larger group that do have a nominal religion and list it on the census (i.e. they list whatever religion ran the religious class they attended themselves when they were children, which would have been the church one of their parents actually attended at some point) - these "nominally religious" people do send their kids to religious instruction - but many of them would choose not to if there was a serious alternative.

Provided sufficient volunteers can be found to run the ethics classes, this could easily halve the attendance at religious instruction (it's what they feared before the trial began, and it's what actually happened).

Hardly anyone actually goes to church any more (to my recollection, something like 10% of Australians attend church more than twice a year, other than weddings and funerals - and most weddings and funerals aren't even held in churches any more). Apart from that core, the rest of the kids are "up for grabs", and they know parents will vote with their feet.

Sundary school is largely a wasteland. The religious classes are, for many, the only place the churches have to get their hooks in... so they're hanging on for dear life to the one really solid free shot at impressionable minds they've got - an advantage they've had entrenched in legislation for 150 years now. The legislation won't change, but for the first time there will be an alternative to religious instruction for those who opt out of religious class, and many, many more are going to take that option.

They're afraid (and they made that quite clear) that free choice will mean an even more rapid demise than they're experiencing now. And they're doing whatever it takes to make sure that doesn't happen.

Hell hath no fury like a vested interest masquerading as a moral principle

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Finally - a real alternative to religious classes

The report on the trial of ethics classes in ten NSW schools has come in with a recommendation to adopt the ethics classes alternative model used in the trial.

News story is here.

(Edit: broken link above now repaired)

Since the Premier had already said if the report recommended adoption, that it would be implemented, it looks like it will go ahead next year. On top of the same-sex-couple adoption legislation (her speech), this will make another worthy achievement for her (nevertheless still doomed) government. Keneally will go down at the next election, but if she manages this, I will certainly remember her as having had a number of very worthwhile achievement.

It's worth noting that Keneally is a Catholic, and has an MA in religious studies from a US Catholic university (she was born in and grew up in the US).

Thankfully, someone is keeping a watch on those very scary atheists...

Someone is very worried.

It's all red because atheists are dangerous and must be watched. Or something will happen!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

An increasingly realistic God's Eye View of the Bible

"Inspired" by this.
(I couldn't help but think "why would God be in Low Earth Orbit?!")

The crossing of the Red Sea

The crucifixion

Noah's Ark after the Deluge

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (look closely!)

Update: something vaguely similar that I quite enjoyed is here (source ) - okay the last panel is speculative, but still it's well done.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Science literacy in Australia and the US

A survey (pdf) commissioned by the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies of Australian science literacy has somewhat mixed results.

(Update: See also an ABC News (Australia) report on it here. )

The report on the survey, which was conducted just over a week ago by Auspoll, seems show some disturbing results, though others are mildly encouraging.

For example, 30% of Australians think humans and dinosaurs coexisted, and 39% don't realize it takes a year for the Earth to orbit the Sun. On the other hand, I found that 13% of people knew that 3% of the world's water was fresh surprisingly high.

The survey replicates a survey conducted in 2009 by Harris Interactive for the California Academy of Sciences. The press release (which contains all the information I can find online) only describes a brief subset of the results, but I have compared everything I have information on.

Steve Novella commented on the US survey last year; his questions and criticisms would apply to both surveys.

Summary of the results of the Australian poll (correct answers underlined):
Q1: How long does it take for the Earth to go around the Sun?
One Year: 61
One Day: 28
One Month: 2
One Week: 1
Not Sure: 8

Q2: Is the following statement true or false? The earliest humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs.
False: 70
True: 30
Not Sure: 0

Q3: What percentage of the Earth’s surface is covered by water?
0-25% : 0
26-50% : 2
51-60% : 4
61-69% : 9
70% : 41
71-80% : 33
81-100%: 6
Not Sure: 6

Q4: What percentage of the Earth’s water is fresh water?
0% 0
1% 5
2% 5
3% 13
4%-10% 23
11%-25% 19
26%-50% 9
51%-60% 3
61%-70% 1
71%-80% 0
81%-100% 0
Not sure 22

Q5: Do you think that evolution is occurring?
Yes, I think evolution is currently occurring: 71
No, I do not think evolution is currently occurring: 8
No, I do not believe in evolution: 10
Not Sure: 11

Q6: Do you think that humans are influencing the evolution of other species?
Yes, I think humans are influencing the evolution of other species: 77
No, I do not think humans are influencing the evolution of other species: 7
No, I do not believe in evolution: 9
Not Sure: 7

Q7: In your opinion, how important is science education to the Australian economy?
Absolutely essential: 42
Very important: 38
Somewhat important: 16
Not at all important: 2
Not Sure: 2

One highly amusing outcome of this survey is that even though only 71% of people think "evolution is currently occurring", 77% think that "humans are influencing the evolution of other species". Presumably at least six percent of people think humans are affecting evolution while isn't happening. The cognitive dissonance must be astounding.

Here's the corresponding information I was able to pull out of the Calacademy press release:

- 53% of adults know how long it takes for the Earth to revolve around the Sun.

- 59% of adults know that the earliest humans and dinosaurs did not live at the same time

- 47% of adults can approximate (within 5%) the percent of the Earth's surface that is covered with water.

- 15% of respondents answered this question with the exactly correct answer of 70%

- Less than 1% of U.S. adults know what percent of the planet's water is fresh (the correct answer is 3%).

- Science eduction: Essential or Very Important to the US economy: 77%

The Calacademy press release didn't mention the evolution questions, but we can do a comparison with another Harris Interactive poll (pdf) which suggests that rates of "do not believe in evolution" and "not sure" in Question 5 above are about half of the equivalent rates in the US, roughly consistent with other figures I have seen.

Here's a graphic showing a comparison of the corresponding the percentage of correct answers from the two surveys on Questions 1-4 and the percentage rating science education as "essential" or "very important" for the national economy:

(Graphic generated in the free statistical package R)

Australia is outperforming the US (pretty handily on some questions), but that may not be saying a whole lot.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The fruits of accomodationism?

PZ and Jerry Coyne have both discussed the PLOS paper on a survey of high school biology teachers in the US.

The graphic I want to discuss is here:

If we remove those who failed to express an opinion (the same in both surveys - 9%) we can do a "triangle plot" or Ternary plot, showing the three other percentages:

On this plot, moving up is "more creationism", moving (roughly) southwest is "more acceptance of evolution" and moving southeast is "more acceptance of ID".

We see that the general public (in blue) and the high school biology teachers (red) are not in the same place. We can't from this tell for sure whether it's the training of biology teachers and the materials and curricula that they have to work with that makes a difference or whether those who might become biology teachers are a priori different from the rest of the population, but numerous anecdotes (which attest to the fact that education does change people's opinions) suggest that training and the teacher's available teaching materials (like textbooks and so on) and curricula will have a substantial impact on what positions they will endorse. Cognitive dissonance is a powerful motivator.

Since training at a university level will generally tend to be based directly on evolution rather than be ID-oriented, while school-level teaching materials and curricula will tend to be more influenced by (for example) NCSE policy, one has to wonder at the overall effect of the two.

If we attribute the shift between the red and the blue points largely to effects other than pre-disposition, we must say that these have produced a shift away from Creationism... but not even slightly shifted toward the position of actual biological science relative to ID.

The suggestion that I take away from this is that this may be in part to the effectively accomodationist stances of influential organizations like the NCSE - by openly tolerating, sometimes even advocating unscientific positions like ID (that God "guides evolution", rather than the scientific position of evolution operating by natural selection, sexual selection, genetic drift and so on is basically ID), they merely succeed in replacing one load of unscientific nonsense with another.

This is not science education.

Enough with accomodationism. Let's advocate actual science, and get everyone's favourite god(s) out of biology class.

Even though I am in Australia, this sort of thing has particular relevance for me because the Australian school curriculum in under review right now... and while the science curriculum is safe, look what's in the senior History curriculum:

UNIT 2A, pg 8


Students develop their historical skills in an investigation of TWO of the following controversial issues:

a) human origins (e.g. Darwin’s theory of evolution and its critics).

b) dating the past (e.g. radio-carbon dating, tracing human migrations using DNA)

Yep. Maybe if we looked at the controversy itself as historical, this would count as 19th century history. But this is the Ancient History curriculum... as if human origins and radio-carbon dating are actually substantially in doubt now as being useful for informing us about the past - as if we don't really know these things quite well, and as if actual human origins (and carbon dating, for crying out loud) were at issue.

If these are controversies, why not look at the flat earth/round earth controvery, and while we're at it, germ theory too?

I think accomodationism is poisoning our education, by trying to make us accept as equally reasonable points of view that have nothing to do with the actual science.

I think it's insidious. I think it ruins everything it touches.

If it doesn't work, try something else.

Here's an idea - why don't we try NOT being accomodationist for a decade or so. Try actually insisting on science as science - no holds barred. Actually advocate for science. Insist that we teach the accepted scientific positions (and even the parts where there's some actual scientific disagreement if you like) as is. Without trying to fit in everyone's pet unscientific ideas as well, just because it makes them feel all warm-and-fuzzy.

Let's see what happens.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Too old for Santa

Too old for Santa?

Telling someone that there's no god is not like
telling a small child there's no Santa.
It's like telling an adult there's no Santa.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Banging my head on yet another brick in the wall, part III - debating theists

I've had some ongoing health issues and some additional illnesses - I'm still somewhat invalid, and as a result my brain really hasn't been up to much intellectual work.

So instead I've had a number of discussions with theists.

Many of those discussions have had a somewhat similar character, and one in particular sums the whole experience up. This is a brief summary of the course of that typical case.

At the beginning, in response to a comment I made about modern apologetics, a very pleasant theist (let's call him Michael) tells me that William Lane Craig is a "really clever guy" with "persuasive arguments", and I "really should read his book" (they generally mean Reasonable Faith, but sometimes it's another book).

I respond that while I haven't read his book, I have seen video of him debating, and I have seen detailed reviews of his book that discuss some of Craig's arguments and I have had some of his arguments presented to me before, and that I am inclined to doubt the assertion that Craig's arguments are actually very persuasive.

I ask Michael to present to me what he thinks of as one of Craig's best arguments. His response is "the Kalam Cosmological argument".

Well, let's leave aside the fact that he only named the argument, he didn't actually present it - but instead left me to find the argument (I've seen it before, so it wasn't all that hard to find again, but I find it interesting how I always seem to get left with all the heavy lifting in these things - I have to locate the argument, check that this is really what my opponent means and then explain why it's wrong).

(Let's also leave aside the fact that the Kalam scholars were busy establishing the existence of the god of Mohammad, not the Christian god of the New Testament that Michael worshipped. If his argument went through I wasn't going to make him change religions.)

So anyway, I present Michael's argument to him and he says, yes, that's completely convincing, the conclusion definitely follows form the premises and the premises are "obviously true".

So I take him carefully through an analysis of the premises. Fortunately my correspondent is an extremely honest debater, so this only takes us several days.

Long story short - he ultimately agrees that in fact the premises consist of multiple sub-premises, not all explicitly stated, and that none of the sub-premises are actually established. Not one.

Indeed, he comes to agree that at best one of them is "probably true", and is reduced to arguing that the other premise is "not definitely established to be false".

After some prompting he agrees that yes, he does actually need to have them both be "definitely true" before he can try to apply the argument, and that's not the case.

So Michael's choice of "best argument" from Craig turns out to be a house of cards.

We end the discussion amicably. Michael departs with the suggestion that I still go read Craig's book "because some of his other arguments are really good".

I can't clearly apprehend quite how the cognitive dissonance doesn't make his brain explode into pink mist, but I am satsified that at least (given hours of effort and an honest counterpart), I can actually show one person that one of their "best" arguments for god isn't an argument at all.

(I have come to find that this is about as good an outcome as any such discussion is going to get.)

So, at least slightly satisfied, I return to the discussion from where our little debate originated.

What do I find? Another earnest Christian telling me that I "should read the book by William Lane Craig" and that it has "really good arguments".

I resist the temptation to spend several more days - if I am lucky - removing just one item from this new guy's list of "really good arguments".

Friday, May 21, 2010

Time is short, so ... Mohammad... in a sandstorm

Time is short (well already gone here, to be honest), and I can't draw all that well. But on the other hand I'm not planning to let everyone else take the flak for this protest alone.

Mohammad - in a sandstorm

I think he's looking very prophetic.

Edit: I think Greta Christina covers the reasons why this matters pretty well.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Human Brain Evolution - a clear kink

Jerry Coyne has discussed human brain size evolution a couple of times recently, the latest one here.

Anyway, I grabbed the data from Lee and Wolpoff (2003) ("The pattern of evolution in Pleistocene human brain size", Paleobiology, 29(2), 2003, pp. 186–196), read it into R and looked at log brain size (since linear trend on the log scale corresponds to constant percentage growth). If there was a sudden jump in growth rate, it should show as a kink.

I then used the lowess function (which is a form of locally-linear regression) in R to smooth the data, to hopefully identify any such kinks and see where they fell. I used the default value of the smoothing parameter (f = 2/3). I then tried a range of other f-values, and all values between roughly 0.5 and 0.8 (a fairly wide range, so the conclusion is robust to the smoothing parameter) give very similar-looking fits, and a clear kink at the same x-value:

The smooth shown in green here is for f = 0.8

(Click the image for a larger version)

With this analysis, the kink plainly appears at 300 thousand years ago (but the ages of the observations are approximate and subsequently rounded).

There does seem to have been a substantial acceleration in growth in brain volume approximately 300 thousand years ago.

Edit: Here's a link to a somewhat related article at Panda's Thumb from some years ago, based on a different paper. Much of the data is the same, but contains additional information.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The message of Easter must have been 'sink the boot into atheists'

This Easter a bunch of god-botherers in Australia have decided they needed to get out all that angst and tizzy they built up while the Global Atheist Convention was in Melbourne. Besides, there was all that child-raping-coverup stuff they needed to distract people from, and blood-libelling the poor old Jews every time you have a bit of trouble is out of fashion now.

So the atheists have copped some of the vile crap we're used to seeing from the crazy christian rump. And tha Australian media have done their usual sterling job of reporting these things in a balanced, reasonable way (i.e. very badly indeed - that last was supposedly the "balancing" article describing the atheist response, but largely consists of far more theist quotes).

Yesterday I pointed out to my partner that as galling as it was, it was actually kind of good for us, because the more reasonable believers who have come to know a few atheists and discovered we just aren't the baby-eating nihilists we have been painted as will only be driven away even faster by this sort of rhetoric - it will hasten the demise of religion among the broader community, and become ever harder to claim any kind of moral authority when all that comes out of their mouths is hatred and lies.

If the Nielsen poll I pointed to late last year is accurate, and we combine with some information from the last census, the two largest religious denominations in Australia have recently become outnumbered by those that can't say they believe in god (20% and 26% for Anglicans and Catholics, compared with 30% who don't state a belief in god - and most of those - 24% are explicitly atheistic, choosing the option "don't believe in god".)

If anything, I expect these sort of attacks to become even more common for a while. And of course, the smaller the religions denominations become, the more radical the remainder must be, so I also expect it to get nastier.

Bruce at Thinker's Podium has a pretty good discussion and an interesting take from a somewhat similar perspective.

Barry Duke's article in the Freethinker is also worth looking at.

Happy Easter! Don't forget Jesus died so you could hate atheists!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Australian Tyrannosaur

Well, the headline is overblown, but it's still interesting; I wouldn't have expected a tyrannosaur would be found in Australia

Monday, March 15, 2010

Finally, a report that isn't a hatchet-job

The coverage of the 2010 Global Atheists Convention in the Australian media has been generally appalling, full of the usual theist combination of stereotype, bile, and bafflement - "militant" this, "unhappy" that.

However, I was impressed to see one reasonably straightforward, in places even positive, report - which is unusual enough that I thought I'd point to it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hey I can read my blog again

First time is more than six months, I can actually read my blog when logged on as efrique.


I didn't change anything before it stopped working, and I didn't change anything before it started working.

At least it's working again.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Crocoduck 0 - Crocadillo 1

This is just the cutest thing.

Interesting how "upright" the stance is, with the legs under the body rather than splayed. Some other land-dwelling crocodilian fossils seem to have that more mammal-like stance.

In other news, Scripps Institute scientists have advanced the study of abiogenesis, by putting together self-replicating ribozymes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

First, try thinking *inside* the box.

One of those phrases that drive me nuts is "think outside the box". A lot of the problem is that people don't bother to *think* "inside the box" (in the usual framework), particularly when it's repeated as a mantra (yesterday I heard someone say it to me three times in ten minutes .... gnnnhaaahhh, makes me stabby).

The problem isn't so much the box, its the lack of thinking.

We have frameworks - ways of thinking about things - for a reason, and we should take advantage of them first. Then, maybe we should consider if the framework is the problem.

You want an illustration of the emptiness of the concept "think outside the box"?

An obvious one is that rarely to people give you strategies for doing so*. Without it, "think outside the box" is pretty useless.

Here's a second one: the people exhorting you to "think outside the box" can't be bothered to think outside their framework for long enough to come up with a less hackneyed and overused phrase, thus illustrating that they are utterly unable to follow their own advice for the few minutes it would take to come up with a more interesting expression.

"Think outside the box" is about as useful and as cliche as that poster of a kitten saying "Hang in there".

*(de Bono does have some exercises/approaches that are sometimes useful, sometimes not -- but he also doesn't say "think outside the box", thankfully)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Out of body experiences... interesting, but not mystical

The weekly TV science program on our national broadcaster, called Catalyst, started its 2010 season on Thursday, and had an item on the various things that combine to produce out of body experiences (I don't know if that video works outside Australia, but the transcript is there too).

The text there is only a fraction of the item on out of body experiences, they talked about what produces the feeling of floating up out of your body (showing how you can induce sensations of rotation and floating), and how you can identify your body as being somewhere other than it is, before talking about trying to actually produce an out of body experience.

[As usual I didn't watch the whole thing live (early evening is a hectic time in our house, so we record anything we actually don't want to miss). I'll give it a more careful look when I get to it, but what I saw of it was fascinating.]

So anyway, the point was that out of body experiences are simple consequences of the way our body and brain work, and that it's not hard to reproduce many aspects of them. Nothing particularly mystical, and certainly not evidence for a soul.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The God Delusion - English Language sales pass 2 million

In a thread related to the The God Delusion being back in the bestseller lists, Richard Dawkins mentioned English language sales figures for TGD (here):

How many have been sold in the USA?

As it happens, I have just been sent some recent figures for sales of The God Delusion in English:-
North America 907,161
Rest of World 1,179,241
Total English language 2,086,402

(Another commenter mentions in excess of 260,000 sales for the German edition)

Not bad.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I just recently posted on polls.

This comic kind of says it all.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Darwin vs the crocoduck

A bit of fun. I do love schadenfreude.

Kirk Cameron on O'Reilly:

"Darwin said in order to prove evolution [...] you gotta be able to prove [...] one animal transitioning into another. And all through the fossil record and life, we don't find one of these - a crocoduck."

(original here)

So did Darwin say that? Well, no. In fact, he specifically debunks the notion.

Darwin, Origin of Species, Chapter IX:
"... it should always be borne in mind what sort of intermediate forms must, on my theory, have formerly existed. I have found it difficult, when looking at any two species, to avoid picturing to myself forms directly intermediate between them. But this is a wholly false view; we should always look for forms intermediate between each species and a common but unknown progenitor; and the progenitor will generally have differed in some respects from all its modified descendants."
(emphasis in the original)

Nothing more needs to be said. Darwin completely debunked Cameron and Comfort 150 years before they even thought of it. When you're pwnt by a guy that's been dead for about a century, you're too stupid to argue with. Just quote what Darwin actually said, and you're done.

[But just in case a creationist wanders by and is too dumb to just read Darwin, it's kind of like this. If I find you and your cousin and I'm looking for an intermediate form to see if you're related, I won't find a direct intermediate (a 50-50 mix of you and your cousin, or even worse, a Frankenstein's monster of components of both of you, like Cameron's crocoduck). The intermediate form is your nearest common ancestor -- your grandparents. Your grandparents will have characteristics different from both of you, and will not be directly intermediate. Not exactly like that, of course, the analogy is imperfect. But it's really not that complicated.]

The only possible conclusions are that they never read Darwin, or they did and they're deliberately lying. Either way, we end up with creationist lies. As usual.

To paraphrase Haldane, God must have an inordinate fondness for lying creationists, since he made so many of them.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Years "What shits me"...

What shits me is when people make a youtube video out of a piece of text.

If it's just a piece of text, make a fricking blogpost. I can read it ten times as fast as your video goes, and twenty times as fast as it will download.

I can jump back and forth instantly to the parts I want to reread. I can rescan a sentence I read that I didn't quite understand without reaching for the mouse.

Oh, and the comments will sound less like they were made by a 12 year old with Tourette's Syndrome.

If you have an animation, or a sequence of images that's more than a second or two (too long for an animated gif), then by all means, youtube it. But if it's just a way of fancying up some text, and putting it to bad music, forget it, it's a blogpost.

A youtube of a blogpost is a waste of time and bandwidth.

It's the present day version of what 5 years ago would have been a 14-point-purple-comic-sans-in-blinking-text blogpost.