Thursday, August 30, 2012

Eastwooded

What imaginary Mitt Romney?
Looking like a cross between Charlton Heston and Doc Brown, Clint Eastwood came out at the Republican National convention in Tampa, for Mitt Romney. He began by pretending to have a conversation with an invisible President Obama sitting in a chair next to him. His unkempt hair made Eastwood look more like he was on some combination of anti-Alzheimer's meds and crack. Now that I think about it that pretty much sums up how I see all tea-party cranks ranting away out there. Enough of my ramblings. See for yourself...


Scandal in Colorado!

Secretary of State for Colorado, Scott Gessler.
Scott Gessler is a one-man sleeper-cell for the GOP in Colorado. Very quietly in 2010 he amassed vast sums of money from the Republican Party to ensure his victory as the Secretary of State in Colorado. When Michael Steele, then chairman of the Republican Party visited Fort Collins in 2010 I attended his rally at the GOP headquarters inside an out-of-business blockbuster video on College Avenue. During the rally I noticed particular attention being paid to Gesslar by Steele. Gessler was the only politician to position himself in close physical proximity to Steele who was a controversial figure at the time.

Why all the love and attention?  This was all part of a quiet campaign by Steele to Gerrymander congressional districts across the country in favor of the Republican Party.  If you are not familiar with what Gerrymandering  is let me tell you. It is the process by which a political group manipulates geographical boundaries of certain voting districts to favor their group overall.

This is precisely what has happened in Northern Colorado in 2012. To understand this you need to know about the liberal/conservative distribution in the State of Colorado. Though there are pockets of liberals in the western mountains there are just as many conservative families up there as well. Neither group really have the numbers to make a big difference in the congressional districts. Looking down on the front-range, Boulder Colorado has historically been a liberal hub. But, over the last decade there has been some spill over as intra-national transplants have discovered the other cool parts of Colorado. 

As with any liberalization of an area the seeds started growing from the the centers of higher learning.  In Colorado this is partly true but there is a bit of a catch.  Denver and Boulder are chocked full of University students and have traditionally voted more to the left. Whereas Colorado Springs to the south, does not have such a liberal contingent.  though there are some private Universities there The Air Force Academy, Focus on the Family and more mega-churches than you can shake a stick at pretty much dominate the political climate in those parts. Now we come to my town - Fort Collins the jewel of Northern Colorado. Smack between Denver and Laramie Wyoming, Fort Collins is balanced town with just as many patchouli-drenched organic farmers as there are wrangler wearing country folk. Home to Colorado State University it is not uncommon to see someone donning Carhartts and cashmere.

I have called Fort Collins home for seven years and have watched as droves of bicycle-riding artists and musicians have taken up residence in this high flat sunny place.  The scales of reason have tipped gradually toward the left since I moved here.  Alas, my new home has now been tainted by the schemes of the Secretary of State, Scott Gessler.  Before 2010 it used to be that Fort Collins was the only large University town in its congressional district. I thought this was great as it pulled our representatives more to the center as they had to compromise with the ranchers and farmers of the high plains for a balanced approach to taxes and government programs for the area. But now the congressional districts have been redrawn and Fort Collins is now in the same geographical voting-bloc as Boulder. The powers that be have corralled  all the liberal folks into one big pen. By doing so they have minimized the liberal voice in Colorado. Instead of two slots for potentially liberal congress men or women there is just one.


See for yourself below.       The 2010 districts...



And here are the 2012 congressional districts!!!

Conclusion? Gerrymandering! In my opinion this is unconstitutional discrimination. The repercussions of this redistricting don't just affect Colorado but the entire nation as the new batch of Federal congress people will not be representing a fair cross-section of the American people. Redistricting in order to confine either side of the political spectrum to one geographical area only feeds the negative feedback cycle of political polarization rampant in America these days.

I do not care that the one person, one vote dogma is being followed. The spirit of the constitution is being violated!!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Colorado Republican "Obama is a N-word"

Ed Haynes spoke these words at a public opinion hearing at Colorado State University in September of 2007. Haynes was responding to a headline that appeared on a college newspaper's opinion page that read "Taser this... FUCK BUSH" I am posting this clip here and now as I saw Ed standing in the bike lane on campus at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO yesterday holding a pro-Romney sign outside the area where Barack Obama gave a speech. Ed Haynes is a member of the GOP in Colorado and I think the words he utters in this public video sum up the just-plain-racist attitudes of many Romney fans around the country right now.
 

Obama visits Colorado State University (Photos)

Power to the people!!! Photo by Kristopher Hite. Creative commons license - feel free to use any of these photos but please give credit to www.tompainesghost.com
President Barack Obama
I took these photos yesterday as I watched President Obama speak to a crowd of 13,000 people on the Monfort quad in the center of the campus at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. He talked a lot about expanding grants and tax credits for college students, not being discriminated against for who you love, and the dangers of a "Romney Doesn't Care" health plan. It made me happy that Obama mentioned the solar and wind industries in Colorado and how we need to re-elect him because "we have a lot more renewable energy to make!"
Photos by Kristopher Hite
Creative Commons license - feel free to use any of these photos but please give credit to www.tompainesghost.com
Ken Salazar - Secretary of the Department of the Interior and former Senator of Colorado
Ken Salazar - Photo by Kristopher Hite
John Hickenlooper - Current Governor of Colorado - I do not like him because of his stance on FRACKing. Thus the photo I choose looks like he is going to the bathroom.
Photo by Kristopher Hite PhD
Photo by Kristopher Hite PhD
Photo by Kristopher Hite PhD

Richard Feynman lectures at Cornell 1964

Big thanks to fellow blogger Jennifer Ouellette for sharing this wonderful lecture on gravity by Richard Feynman at Cornell University recorded in 1964. The preservation of the spirit of great teaching displayed by Feynman is, in my opinion, a testament to the archival value of YouTube.

A Cure for Homeopathy: Critical Thinking


Monday, August 27, 2012

Creationist Cousins

Just discovered this part of the rap guide to evolution by Baba Brinkman. Love the funky back-beat. Bobbed my head the whole time :)


Gay Marriage: Dan Savage debates Brian Brown

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tesla Museum!

Nikola Tesla is one of the most unsung heroes in history. But this week Tesla is finally getting the vindication he deserves through an outpouring of public support. An internet Über-site called The Oatmeal run by a young man named Matthew Inman has raised over $1 million to buy the land where the Tesla's old laboratory once stood. Inman partnered with the non-profit organization Indiegogo, and the State of New York to raise the funds to buy the land in just nine days. The plan is to build a kick-ass museum on the site commemorating Tesla's contributions to science and technology.

But who is Nikola Tesla you may ask? 

Born a subject of the Austrian Empire in 1856 Tesla came to the United States from present-day Croatia in 1884 to work for Thomas Edison. A slender man with a well-kept mustache Tesla brought with him his wild eyes and sharp mind filled with ideas that would change the world. Michael Faraday had only recently formalized the concepts of electromagnetism while Tesla used these ideas to build motors that could generate alternating electric current from any kind of turbine. 

Though it was his early investigations into wireless energy transfer that began his career-long mission to bring free electricity to every household on the planet. 

Tesla tried to usher in the age of alternating current, radio, and television with fanfare. However his showmanship as a scientist often made skeptics of his colleagues. When presenting his new concepts he insisted one of his coils be spouting off the visual manifestations of electricity, popping and fizzling so loudly as to make his words inaudible. If his contemporaries could have heard his voice they would see he had an infectious obsession with progress and the idea that the hidden powers of electricity and magnetism could be unlocked to allow humanity to live more easily. 
 
His efforts to realize this vision were thwarted by J. P. Morgan and other financial backers who caught wind of Tesla's scheme to deliver free electricity wirelessly to the public through Tesla's giant telecommunications tower at Wardenclyffe. There was no profit to be made by giving people what the needed freely.

Tesla spent the last years of his life spiraling into madness and obscurity. He did not marry or have any long-term companionship save for the pigeons he fed from his hotel window. He became so obsessed with the number three that all aspects of his life somehow revolved around that number including his chosen place of residence.

Between January 5th and January 8th 1943 Nikola Tesla, like an electron popping out of an uncertain orbital, passed out of earthly existence in room 3327 on the 33rd floor in the Hotel New Yorker.  

The story of this man's life is more magical because of its truth than the most fantastic fiction ever written. I imagine his life as a heavenly existence spent in reality passing time with some of history's brightest stars - Mark Twain, John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, and Thomas Edison. His vision for free and equitable POWER (in all philosophical and practical definitions of the word) for every man woman and child on earth has still not been fully realized. But as the internet gains depth and gravity this vision is pieced together slowly and perhaps one day will be complete.

I would like to thanks Matthew Inman for his efforts in raising funds for the Tesla Museum. I hope to bring my grandchildren there one day and I will think back to this particular entry on Tom Paine's Ghost.

Social Injustice: Chris Hedges talks with Bill Moyers

Live with Rebecca Watson, Jen McCreight, and PZ Myers

Cosmic Perspective: with Jana Levin

Jana Levin echos something I first heard Neil deGrasse Tyson say on last week's SPACE radiolab re-broadcast. When we observe galaxies in all directions from our vantage point on earth moving out and awy from us, logic would have us think we are near the center of the universe. This is not so, because no matter where an observer stands in the cosmos all distant points of light appear to be moving away from said observer at an equal rate. Knowing this subtle yet profound detail takes our anthropocentric earthism down a few more pegs. Which is great IMHO.

Lessons from the fall of Thunderf00t

Once upon a time there was a young man named Phil Mason. Using  the pseudonym Thunderf00t, Phil became famous on the interwebs by making a series of  youtube videos he dubbed "Why people laugh at creationists." Over and over he pleased his audience, pointing out the absurdly backward logic adopted by young-earth creationists. His audience watched in awe as he pwned one crazy zealot after another. One of the my favorites was his  refutation of Ray Comfort and his assertion that the banana is proof that god designed all living things in their current form and plopped them on earth's surface around six thousand years ago. Thunderf00t made many a video where he was the hero and his vanquished enemies were exposed as utter slime-balls. The Westerboro baptists, Ray Comfort, and VenomFangX being some of the most egregious creationists he refuted over the years.

But making yourself look good when pitted against idiots is an easy task I suppose. It is much more difficult to convince someone who you mostly agree with about some subtle point you happen to differ in opinion over.  As Thunderf00t and his droves of fans made their way to a new internet venue, Free Thought Blogs (FtB), things got a bit hairy. Phil Mason decided to test his boundaries in this new internet-hood right off the bat. Keep in mind, he was invited to this forum in an attempt to include more video participation at the FtB network.  He came in at the same time as other famous free-thinking rationalist video-bloggers like Cristina Rad.

Phil decided to make his debut on FtB by taking serious swings at some prominent feminist bloggers, namely the founder of the Skepchick network - Rebecca Watson. Phil accused Rebecca of causing unnecessary rifts in the skeptical community by shouting "Rape" at conferences without warrant in his opinion (Google 'elevatorgate'). Less than a week after publishing his first few blog posts at FtB Thunderf00t was stripped of his blogging privileges there and banned from the network.

Edit: Ian Watson kindly points out in the comments that Phil is not banned from commenting at FtB just writing a blog there.

I understand why the FtB leaders (namely PZ Myers) gave Phil the axe almost immediately. FtB is turning out to be a Juggernaut in the identity-politics coalescing around the freethinking, humanist, atheism+ community. Thunderf00t is free to keep on making you-tube videos and writing at whatever internet venue he creates, but the leaders at FtB decided they did not want him as a front-man on their network. I get it, and I do not see this as a violation of his freedom of speech or press or whatever. We are all allowed to choose our associates especially on the internet. We can choose to ignore whoever we want. The bigger your tribe the harsher the effects of a public shunning. 

Now, I’d like to explain why I see the demise of T-f00t on FtB as a good thing even though I am a staunch advocate of free speech. What are we (free-thinkers) fighting for? The big issues for me are the anti-vaccination movement, any kind of faith healers, homeopathic quackery, religiously induced bigotry and a slew of other social justice and environmental issues. I have witnessed self-proclaimed hardcore feminists also argue against vaccination and talk about how western medicine is "patriarchal" and how they need to fight it tooth-and-nail. Please do not get me wrong, I am not saying all feminists do this, just a vocal sub-group. As a white, able-bodied male in my late twenties it is nearly impossible to even start a conversation with a person in this camp because I am written-off before I open my mouth. So, rather than having a front-man on FtB loudly defending his rights to be a bit sleezy at skeptic conferences I’d much rather have strong feminists like Rebecca Watson and Jen McCreight who also speak out against anti-vaxers and other charlatans front and center on the most prominent free-thinking forum in the English speaking world. 

The biggest lesson I take from the fall of Thunderf00t is “Choose your battles wisely.”

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Origins of Morality

Lake Street Dive

I've been meaning to tell you all about this band since seeing them on stage in early July. The band is Lake Street Dive.  Keep your eyes out for them over the next year. I predict they will soar in popularity. Their soulful sound and carefully crafted lyrics backed by a strong bass-line and soft horn form a complete package not to be ignored. Have a listen! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

AJ Johnson A+ Atheist

I was introduced to AJ Johnson recently by fellow blogger Cara Santa Maria. When I asked where contemporary atheists draw their moral code Cara directed me to a panel recorded for the Point (a spin-off of the Young Turks network). After watching the entire discussion I came away floored by the clarity and resonance of one of the invited presenters - AJ Johnson - Director of Development for American Atheists. Her advocacy of secular morals is passionate and logical. See for yourself! 


My point is that secular morality is fundamentally superior to religious morality — and it's time we owned that. I'm an African-American bisexual woman. As such, I've experienced firsthand the intolerance perpetrated against these and other identity groups under the auspice of "religious morality." So let me be clear: Religious morality has supported slavery, misogyny, and homophobia throughout the ages. And "religious morality" continues to be the number one source of opposition against equality for women and the LGBT community right now. Secular morality, on the other hand, tells us that this is wrong. The secular values of equality, diversity, and tolerance — while found nowhere in the Bible — thrive in America today. "Why?" you ask? Because secular morality is superior. So chin-up, secular America. And don't be afraid to embrace the moral high-ground. Be proud when you stand against the hate and bigotry of so-called "religious morality." Because our modern morality demands that all Americans promote with vigour the freedom and fairness of our Constitution, including the right for all people to participate equally in the "American dream."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Morality without religion? Kenneth Miller fields my question

A little bird told me that Dr. Kenneth Miller would appear on the Huffington Post live this afternoon. I proceeded to create an account, log on, and record a video question for him. Lo and behold, Josh Zepp the HuffpostLive moderator aired my question. Skip to 21:25 in to see my question and subsequent answers. 

Functional bicycle 3D-printed!

A special thanks to Maria Popova for tweeting such awesomeness this morning.  Though this application for 3D-printing is indeed tantalizing there are many further implications to this technology. I heard a story on the Nature podcast a few moths ago that a 93 year-old woman had an exact replica of her lower jaw bone printed out of titanium. She then had her cancerous bone replaced with the printed metal one! On top of all the terminator body-part upgrades my mind is running wild with the possible effects 3D-printing will have on the economy and the environment. Imagine a manufacturing company setting up decentralized printing factories to save on shipping costs. Good for the bottom line and the environment. I'm sure there are caveats to the technology but watching this video I can't help think about future scenarios where something like the Star-Trek replicator becomes real.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pussy Riot takes down Putin

I would love to read that headline in the coming weeks.

A Russian punk-rock band named Pussy Riot has been sentenced to two years at a penal colony.  The trio of women were convicted of hooliganism after performing their music at an orthodox cathedral wearing masks. 

Their conviction is resonating with people across the globe who hold human rights above the power of governments. Their lyrics are strongly femisist and highly critical of Vladamir Putin and his lingering control of the country.

They cry out to expose the fascism that accompanies an internally rotten government backed by religious institutions.  As life imitating art they are now prisoners in in the very chains they sing to break.

"The phantom of liberty is in heaven" - one line reads from their new single.

Below is an excerpt from  Miriam Elder's article appearing in the Guardian.
The three women were arrested in March after performing an anti-Putin "punk prayer" inside Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The case against them is seen as serving two functions: a warning to other dissidents, and an appeal to Putin's conservative base. Russia's growing campaign against gay rights is seen as a part of that effort, and on Friday Moscow's main court upheld a 100-year ban on gay pride rallies.
In the spirit of Thomas Paine join with me in reading the story of Pussy Riot as it unfolds and calling on the Russian Government to stop being such ass-holes.    

Incidentally, Chess-master turned politician Gary Kasparov was arrested outside the court for protesting when the verdict against Pussy Riot was announced. Crazy.

Read the lyrics to one of their songs below and see a video the Guardian so kindly put together.


Punk-Prayer "Virgin Mary, Put Putin Away"

(choir)

Virgin Mary, Mother of God, put Putin away
Рut Putin away, put Putin away

(end chorus) ...
Black robe, golden epaulettes
All parishioners crawl to bow
The phantom of liberty is in heaven
Gay-pride sent to Siberia in chains

The head of the KGB, their chief saint,
Leads protesters to prison under escort
In order not to offend His Holiness
Women must give birth and love

Shit, shit, the Lord's shit!
Shit, shit, the Lord's shit!

(Chorus)

Virgin Mary, Mother of God, become a feminist
Become a feminist, become a feminist

(end chorus)

The Church’s praise of rotten dictators
The cross-bearer procession of black limousines
A teacher-preacher will meet you at school
Go to class - bring him money!

Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin
Bitch, better believe in God instead
The belt of the Virgin can’t replace mass-meetings
Mary, Mother of God, is with us in protest!

(Chorus)

Virgin Mary, Mother of God, put Putin away
Рut Putin away, put Putin away

(end chorus)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Les gènes de collaboration

Par Kristopher Hite.
Traduit par Yann Aubertin

Le trait que j'admire le plus chez une personne pensante est la capacité à se divertir avec une idée sans nécessairement tout croire de cette idee. Avec cela à l'esprit, je m'empressai d'écouter une conference donnee par E.O. Wilson sur « les épaules des géants » à la « Fête de la Science du Monde » à New York la semaine dernière.

J'ai récemment écrit à propos de E.O Wilson et sur sa reconsideration controversée de l'altruisme. Longue histoire courte, Wilson a créé une contreverse en abandonnant sa conviction de longue date et prone l'idee selon laquelle la coopération et le comportement altruiste chez les micro-organismes peuvent être simplement expliqué comme un égoïsme dissimule. Quand un organisme semble se comporter de maniere altruiste en se sacrifiant lui-même ou en se metant en danger, c'est en fait juste un gene individuel manoeuvrant pour la survie, qui ferait des copies identiques de lui-même vivant parmis un groupe de meme famille. Cette théorie est connue sous le nom de « Fitness Inclusive ».

Au lieu de continuer de develloper sa theorie du  « fitness inclusive » E.O. Wilson semble maintenant embrasser la notion controversée de «sélection de groupe." C'est l'idée que les gènes altruistes persistent en bénéficiant de l'action d'ensemble du groupe. Le trait altruiste persiste en aidant les groupes eux-mêmes  
a se multiplier; croître dans les réseaux de plus en plus grand avec plus en plus de biomasse. Dans cette théorie de la sélection du groupe tout cela se produit malgré le fait que le caractère altruiste est nuisible à l'individu. Les gènes altruistes s'unissent et coopèrent en concurrence avec des groupes de gènes qui agissent égoïstement.

Pour moi, il me semble que les deux modèles pourraient s'appliquer à des gènes différents.

Après la conference, j'ai eu l'occasion rare de questionner directement E.O Wilson au sujet de son récent changement de position et lui ai demandé :

    "Si le gène est l'unité fondamentale de la sélection, la chose physique qui fait le tamis de la sélection naturelle-, alors pourquoi avons-nous besoin d'un modèle de« sélection de groupe »? Et si un gène n'est pas l'unité de base de la sélection, alors qu'est-ce est? "

La question a frappé un point sensible. Wilson a répondu qu'il l'avait anticipe, il a rapidement reconnu que son récent « déménagement » loin de la théorie de l'inclusive fitness avait ulcéré de nombreuses personnes, y compris le célèbre biologiste évolutionniste Richard Dawkins qui a popularisé l'idée du « gene-égoïste » de l'évolution et a été par la suite un critique virulent de la « sélection de groupe ». Mais Wilson a campé sur ses positions, en disant:

    "Oui, le gène est l'unité fondamentale de la sélection, mais le phénotype est la cible. C'est aussi simple que cela."


Wilson me lança un sourire, et pendant un moment j'étais fasciner, pris dans la lueur de charme légendaire de Wilson. J'ai brisé  l'enchantement quand j'ai vraiment commencé à mâcher sur sa réponse. J'étais encore très confus au sujet de la façon dont le concept de «phénotype comme cible" était censé justifier la theorie de « groupe de sélection » . Comme je l'accompagne en bas de l'ascenseur, je me suis senti un sentiment de culpabilité et n'ai pas appuye plus fort. J'ai alors imaginé un petit Richard Dawkins assis sur mes épaules, avec un froncement de sourcils, me réprimandant, "Kristopher, tu ne te souviens magnifiquement comment j'ai expliqué tout cela dans mon livre « The Selfish Gene »? Comment pourriez-vous douter de moi ? Hamilton avait raison, le gène est l'Anneau Unique pour les gouverner tous, tout le reste est un mythe! "

Sur l'autre épaule ( «épaule de géant," pourrait-on dire car je fais presaue deux metres), je me représentais une EO Wilson en miniature, toujours charmant dans son blazer en tweed , me rassurer, "Kristopher, tout va bien se passer aussi longtemps que nous travaillons ensemble dans ce grand plaisir par des pairs de notre groupe."

J'étais et  suis encore déchiré. Comme nous sortions de l'ascenseur, je rencontré par hasard le prix Nobel 1989 de Medecine, Harold Varmus, ancien chef de la « National Institute of Health », et j'ai eu l'occasion de lui demande comment il interpetrait ce que  EO Wilson voulait dire quand il annonce que le «phénotype est la cible de la sélection." Le Dr Varmus a peu précisé. Le phénotype a t-il expliqué, est le trajet du véhicule « gène » à l'intérieur de la manifestation physique des gènes.  Pression sélective de l'environnement, comme l'évolution des niveaux d'oxygène dans l'atmosphère, ou le changement des climats locaux ne sont pas capables d'agir directement sur n'importe quel gène isolé.

Après avoir dirigé le Dr Varmus et sa femme à la station de métro de la rue la plus proche, j'ai continué à tourner sa réponse dans ma tête. Si la sélection naturelle se passe au niveau de la manifestation physique des gènes, le phénotype, et qu'il n'y a aucun organisme dans la nature comportant un seul gène, alors tous les gènes doitvent être collaboratif dans un sens.

Et c'est là que j'en suis dans mon processus de pensée. Si vous avez des corrections ou des critiques, je leur souhaitent la bienvenue. Ils ne feront qu'ajouter à ma compréhension.

Posté par Ghost Tom Paine. Traduit par Yann Aubertin.

Monday, August 13, 2012

We are made of DNA

Baba Brinkman performs an explanatory rap about DNA. Using sweet rhyme set to a middle eastern back-beat Baba portrays how descent with modification works as if charming a serpent. Glad to share this artist with you.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Yo-Yos in Space!

NASA astronaut Don Pettit gets excited about yo-yos and physics!

Lawrence Krauss at Chautauqua

Lawrence Krauss sat down to record On Being with Krista Tippett at Chautauqua Institution in July 2012. I wrote this post after attending. I am glad to have found the entire interview and Q&A session available to watch on you tube. I'm curious to hear your thoughts. I realize the video is long but it is certainly worth the time.

 

Friday, August 10, 2012

David Barton slanders Thomas Paine

It pains me to see David Barton, an evangelical christian, slander the founding fathers so terribly. Barton is not a historian. He has a bachelor's degree in Christian Education from Oral Roberts University. Though his writing is predicatably popular among conservative Christian Americans his transgressions as a researcher recently led his publisher - Thomas Nelson -  to yank his controversial book Thomas Jefferson Lies off the shelves.

I was personally pushed over the edge by Barton's cavaleir reference to of one of the most progressive freethinkers in American history - Thomas Paine. Watch the following clip in which Barton asserts that the founding fathers had decided creationism should be taught in public schools in the late 1700's and that Thomas Paine spearheaded the campaign. Nevermind how wildly out-of-context this attribution is considering the theory of evolution was not fully formed until nearly a century later.

If only Barton ever actually read Thomas Paine he would have come accross some of these gems...

"The chrstian religion is a parody on the worship of the Sun, in which they put a man whom they call Christ, in the place of the Sun, and pay him the same adoration which was originally paid to the Sun."

or...

"It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine, and murder; for the belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man."

Or any single page of Thomas Paine's lengthy diatribe on the man-made myths rampant throughout the bible entitled the Age or Reason.



Listen to the episode of all things considered below. Numerous errors in David Barton's scholarship are pointed out. Barbara Bradley Hagerty makes clear Barton is flat out lying in his pro-christian propaganda.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Science and the Religious Right

This week on the Point of Inquiry podcast Chris Mooney interviews author Peter Montgomery. The discussion is long so I felt compelled to transcribe the following exchange which I think neatly sums up their respective positions.

Chris Mooney: I wrote a book called the Republican War on Science and it had this section on the religious right messing with science. And so what turns out is that if you take away their god-inspired moralistic language about sex, abortion, or whatever, then they make up phony scientific arguments that are secular. So suddenly adult stem cells are better than embryonic stem cells, and they've got phony science on that. Or, condoms don't actually work, and they've got phony science on that. Or, abstinence education DOES work, phony science, here it comes. Or what are the other ones? It goes on and on. Abortion causes breast cancer, abortion causes mental illness. They start makin' all this stuff up. But REALLY it's the religion driving the policy view.

Peter Montgomery: Well that's right but the thing about the fact that they feel compelled to make up phony science, I think it's a good thing because that science can be exposed and challenged as bogus and phony and as no real basis for policy and that's what our side has to do better. If it's just about disputing their theology then you kind of get stuck on who's got god right. And there's really no way to know who's got god right. But it is a lot easier to know who's got science right. And even though they have a tremendous propaganda machine that backs a lot of these bogus scientific claims, those are things that we can engage on, we can challenge them and we can martial the consensus support of the scientific community to challenge those claims.

Listen to the entire discussion here.

While Peter Montgomery was making this point I immediately thought of the incessant denial of anthropogenic global warming among some very vocal conservatives. From my perspective, the best part of this debate is when conservatives fund scientific assessments of climate change and find exactly the same conclusions as have been reported over and over by federally funded researchers. The climate is changing and human generated carbon dioxide is largely to blame.  This recently happened to the Koch brothers. The satisfaction in seeing real science vindicated is priceless. 



Sunday, August 5, 2012

7 minutes of terror happening NOW!

The Curiosity Mars rover will land tonight at 1:30 AM Eastern Time. Watch this primer to get pumped!