Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Most of the stories are about new species being discovered/rediscovered or found in places that are unexpected. I guess this is meant to make the idea of finding one of the traditional mysterious beasts such as Bigfoot or Nessie seem likely. But the major difference is that we see more than a fuzzy shaky video image of coelacanths.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
A presentation of selected sections of performances followed by an attempt to answer the questions "How do you think of these things?" and "What makes one performance Art, and another performance not Art?"
Shirley Maul, a former recipient of an Ohio Arts Fellowship, has been creating performances and collaborating in group performance pieces for 20 years. Shirley has performed in several venues in the Cincinnati area, as well as in Columbus, Cleveland and Yellow Springs.
Meet at Molly Malone's in Pleasant Ridge at 10:00AM on Saturday 12/12/2009.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I didn't go to this meeting, but I think it is important to highlight it here. It's nice to see that the billboard has brought some more atheists to CinCor, but I find it odd that when a group has to define itself by what it is not. That's why these news stories end up sounding like the atheists are fighting believers, and, in turn, why believers think that atheists are mad at god or some other nonsense.
I do need to get out to at least one of these meetings to see what it is like, I really can't be critical of them just from what I've learned from the media's perspective. And I can't be angry at the media for a poor portrayal if that isn't the case.
I know it goes hand-in-hand, but the view of atheists from the outside is probably similar to the public's view of skeptics. How can you meet and talk about what you don't believe? With ART, the answer should be obvious; we meet to discuss a wide variety of subjects not limited to the 'traditional' skeptical subjects of homeopathy, psychic cats, and little green men from across the galaxy. We turn our skeptical eye to topics on the cutting edge of science, art, and public policy. How different are the groups within' CinCor? I will have to find out. Not knowing is my own fault.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
My mistake, Lamar was not threatened, actually the landowners from whom Lamar leases were threatened. More info here
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
How dare those godless people express such a simple message in public? Don't they know that we're not supposed to discuss controversial issues, such as religion and politics, in public?
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Also the 2009 Darwiniana Symposium: Darwinism, Science, Religion, and Society will be held at UC October 29-30.
Speakers include Eric Plutzer (Penn State University), George Bishop (University of Cincinnati), Patricia Pricehouse (Case Western Reserve University), Robert T. Pennock (University of Michigan), NCSE Supporter Francisco Ayala (University of California at Irvine), Jon Miller (Michigan State University), Michael Roos (University of Cincinnati), and Robert Richardson (University of Cincinnati).
Friday, October 9, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
If you were wondering, the college professor is sitting right next to Satan and Mr. Hollywood.
You can see a revised version of the art with a humorous slant to it here.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
LOCKLAND - A Lockland resident has filed a lawsuit against the village, claiming a display of the Ten Commandments outside town hall is unconstitutional.
Christopher Knecht wants the sign removed and a court order to prevent any future displays of "religious fables and myths."
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
In war news from Afghanistan, we hear of wedding parties decimated by unmanned drones, and women and children recklessly killed by Blackwater in a street fight. This is news for a couple of days, and then we forget and accept it as the cost of war. These people are true innocents. But, for a person who is on death row for a murder he or she most likely did commit, we agonize for 20 years and spend millions of dollars before we are willing to carry out the sentence.
I don't know if there are reliable statistics about wrongful convictions, but my guess is that a very small percentage are innocent of the crime they were convicted for, and an even smaller percentage are true innocents.
At what point do we say society can't afford this process anymore, and we have to accept it as collateral damage?
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The gist of it was:
"What if the only way to send astronauts to Mars is to leave them there for good? Lawrence Krauss, a physicist at Arizona State University and director of the Origins Initiative, argues that a one-way trip is worth considering, and that it wouldn't be hard to find passengers."
An interesting concept.
The argument is that a round trip would be exponentially more expensive.
According to the guest, he has been able to find quite a few people who would be willing to volunteer.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Just for grins, check out her site at:
Here are some graphics that are worth a chuckle (I shudder to think how many people believe this sort of stuff).
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
It took me a few minutes to see anything, but once I did it became difficult to 'unsee' it.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
What I wanted to talk about was their Creation Studies Department.
Apparently, they lost their accreditation in Virginia in 1982 from pressure from the ACLU, so that graduates were uncertifiable as public school teachers, since Liberty only taught creationism in biology classes (and everywhere else). To respond to this, the university moved all the creation coursed to their new Creation Studies department and was able to have students be teacher certified. All Liberty students are required to take a course in creation studies, biology majors are also required to learn evolution studies. As Roose says:
Liberty still seems to teach the original creation science. I gather many of the more funamentalist based colleges now teach intelligent design, but Liberty has remained pure to the original creed. BTW, he mentions that his required course was taught by a Dr. Dekker with some reasonable science cred in neuroscience. He recounts his first encounter in the classroom describing Dr. Dekker as in a white lab coat as if he was shipped from Central Casting as a movie extra playing Chemist #4. The first words he said in class were "My name is Dr. James Dekker, and I am a real scientist." This strikes me as a little defensive. Sort of reminds me of Dr. Science.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Of course, in real scientific studies there are no doctrines that one must follow in order to do experiments or research.
Do I have to believe a literal interpretation of Genesis, including creation about 6,000 years ago, to participate?
One reason we are holding this Science Fair is to show that creationists are capable of conducting good science. We also want to provide an opportunity to encourage creationist students with an interest in science to pursue their goals. In light of these intentions, the invitation to participate is open to any 7–12 grader who agrees with the Answers in Genesis Statement of Faith.
The cost of participating is $5/student, but I don't see anything on how much it would cost to attend the fair. In the past other creationist 'science' fairs have been good evidence for how otherwise bright children are being misled.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
From Yahoo News:
An undated photo released by The University of Cambridge shows a rook, a member of the crow family, as it drops stones into a tube to raise the water level and bring a worm into reach, at the Sub-department of Animal Behaviour at University of Cambridge. In Aesop's fable 'The crow and the pitcher' a thirsty crow uses stones to raise the level of water in a pitcher to quench its thirst. A new study published online Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009 in the journal Current Biology demonstrates that rooks, birds belonging to the corvid, or crow family, are able to solve complex problems using tools and can easily master the same technique demonstrated in Aesop's fable.
(AP Photo/The University of Cambridge)
Monday, August 10, 2009
On the one hand, most of the people of the US have few concerns about genetically modified foods. Yet they react very strongly against Irradiated foods. Just the opposite is true in Europe.
From the standpoint of the consumers, I have to side with the Europeans. Irradition is actually a very simple technology, which has been thoroughly tested, and really can't offer a lot of surprises. There can't be any residual radiation or others toxins in the food as a result of the radiation. I have read that if fresh strawberries are packed in Mylar and irradiated, they can last for 6 months on the shelf without refrigeration. Less spoilage and no refrigeration costs translates to more food getting to the people who need it. The only concern I have about irradiation is for the safety of the employees at the food processing end.
Genetic modification, on the other hand, especially if done at the DNA level, provides an almost infinite number of possible recombinations. The odds of accidentally producing something detrimental to humans are extremely high. Right now we are taking an Alchemist approach to the science of Genetics. We just dice and splice, and see what happens. Even if we learned enough to be able to accurately computer model the results before we splice, the science can never be perfect.
What do you think?
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I finally went to the creation museum in Kentucky.
The Secular Students Association got a group rate for the tour reducing the admission cost from about $22 to $10. I donated the difference to the SSA and purchased my ticket through them.
There were a little over 300 people who came for the tour. The museum was quite crowded and I would estimate that a little over a half the attendees were with the group for the morning. The museum is doing a very good business in general, even without secular students and their supporters.
I have a few pictures to share and a few impressions. I don't want to give a guided tour, but rather leave you with my sense of the museum.
I had a tendency to view the museum through the lens of intelligent design .vs. evolution. There is a lot of such thinking represented at the museum, but the real mission of the museum is the larger argument for the bible and young earth interpretations. The very excellent dioramas, animatronics, and exhibits are aimed at bolstering the faithful in their viewpoint of the infallibility of the bible and the biblical message as interpreted in modern fundamentalist thought today. As such, there is as much there on the garden of Eden and the flood as in showing evidence for why the earth is as young as they claim. Their two messages throughout the museum are "Prepare to Believe" and the 7 Cs (These start with Creation, Corruption, etc).
I took in the special effects show that was quite fun and included blasts of air, rumbling seats, water mist, flashing lights etc. and had an excellent three screen projection display. The theme was quite illuminating about a girl who was trying to decide if all this evolution stuff she was learning could be true rather than her religious training. She was troubled about having to defend religious views in our secular society. The point of the show was to give the audience viewers the confidence to express such creationist views in the general public arena of school and elsewhere. They made fun of the science teachers and made them out to be fools. In other words the show was quite defensive and tried to give the museum goers the confidence to express an inferior position in public.
I also came away with an admiration of what efforts science teachers must have to make to prepare themselves for such children. The museum had a number of key arguments to use against an old earth interpretation and against natural selection. For example, how do you respond to a student who asks you to explain why there is carbon 14 in diamonds, or why there is anomalous helium in zircons, or why some Mt St. Helens rocks give anomalous radioactive dating? I don't know the answers to these right now, but I would definitely have to be on top of such specific minutiae in order to answer comments from students from fundamentalist families.
Lastly, I listened to a talk from Dr. Jason Lisle who has a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Colorado on "The Ultimate Proof of Creation" . Dr. Lisle was very intelligent and rational and tried to impress us with how he would convince us with a rational argument that the bible and Christianity are right. He spent quite a bit of time discussing the various ways to approach persuasion with a nice summary and stressed his wanting to win us over with a strictly rational argument. He eventually got down to his main points about the uniformity of the universe, the continuity of the universe, and that the universe is logical. He asked the big questions about these, ie, why is the universe uniform, do we have any reason to believe the universe will act the same tomorrow as today or as it has in the past, and why should the universe exhibit a logical consistency (he didn't get to say much about this for lack of time)? His "convincing" argument was that secular science has no answer to these questions, but the bible gives answers to all these, so religion is the right answer. I leave it to the reader to see if you agree with this.
On to a couple of pictures:
A garden of Eden picture with penguins.
The Garden of Eden with dinosaurs. BTW, all dinosaurs before the fall ate plants including such species as tyrannosaurs and velociraptors.
The Villain of the piece.
The temptation of Adam by Eve. Interestingly, the fruit of the tree of knowledge looks like small berries.
This is from the flood. These signs were interspersed with the museum displays all through the exhibits.
If you want to see lots of pictures, I recommend the flickr entries from John Scalzi at:
I will make the obvious point that this beautiful state of the art $27,000,000 museum is really nice as a religious artifact, and has some beautiful illustrations of natural history, but is a terrible representation of science.
Friday, August 7, 2009
I am absolutely convinced that almost all of the problems facing the human race today could be solved if we could get a handle on population growth. In fact the ideal situation would be to roll back the population and maintain it at a sustainable level. Rational humans who care about the quality of ALL human life, should be able to formulate a strategy to accomplish this. In fact, it is essential for the long term survival of the race.
Easier said than done.
So what are our options?
The Chinese have tried using law and coercion, with quite obviously very little success.
Pol Pot had some rather distasteful notions of his own. So did Stalin and Hitler.
Abstinence education is a dead end for obvious reasons.
The human drive to procreate is based on the notion that there is infinite room for growth. It is built into our primal nature. So we are on a self destructive path which no amount of rational discussion can end.
Force is not an option. The only humane and totally equitable solution would be a capitalist one. Reward for deferred or ended fertility would be the only way I could see this working. A one-time small cash payment for elective, reversible sterilization. The payment has to be large enough to incentivize those who are not ready to handle the cost or responsibility of children. But small enough that there would not be a black market in cheap reversals. When, or if, an individual considers him or herself ready for children, they would pay back the amount they received, with interest, and get the reversal.
The first ones to line up would be the alcohol and drug addicts who should not have children anyway. Care of their children costs us millions a year. This would be a windfall savings for society. I am sure that there is a large portion of the population which would never consciously want to have children. Accidental or unwanted children would be a thing of the past. There is another segment which would never achieve the economic status to raise children properly.
This is the only form of Eugenics which allows each individual to choose for themselves. There would be no majority deciding the reproductive fate of a minority. There would be no pressure to make a decision. The only pressure would be economic.
I haven’t worked out the details of applying this on a global scale. But, we have to start somewhere.
If someone has a better, more equitable, idea I would love to hear it.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
The article includes several opinions. One of the nice things is that the article doesn't contain the usual comments by:
1 - A usually less well informed parent concerned about the drug menace to their children
2- A representative from a government agency whose budget is dependent on the war on drugs
3- Someone with a religious argument against the use of drugs
Don't get me wrong. Like anything else that has psychotropic effects there are downsides to taking a drug like marijuana. Furthermore, there will likely be an initial rise in use, although my guess is a longer term return to current use levels or lower. Also, I am sure there are people who will get "addicted" to marijuana. I think the issue here is that we all have an addictive personality to a greater or lesser extent and those who would get addicted to marijuana would find something else otherwise. Most people in the article would agree, this is a drug that is much safer than our current legalized alternatives of tobacco and alcohol, and likely safer than many of the widely prescribed drugs such as ambien and prozac. As Norm Stamper (former Seattle police chief) points out, one of the problems with marijuana, is not it's current higher strength, but no standards such that the consumer knows what strength of drug they are smoking.
Peter Reuter (professor of public policy and criminology) states there were 750,000 arrests last year for marijuana possession. This is a ridiculous waste of time, money, instills a disrespect for the law. Clearly, the current system doesn't work and the laws need to be changed.
I could go on, but you can fill in the blanks yourself.
BTW, for the record, I don't smoke marijuana and am not planning on doing so.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Looks like if you wish to join him on Aug 7th that you can register in advance and get $10 tickets as opposed to the full $22. Might be a good chance to go as they don't offer many free days.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
In its 2007 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecast a sea level rise of between 19 and 59 centimetres by 2100, but this excluded "future rapid dynamical changes in ice flow".
The rest of the fairly extensive article discusses the various types of modeling being done, much of it after the IPCC statement. As is often with such modeling, there is a great deal of uncertainty with complicated system such as the earth including how much greenhouse gas the world produces. However, the conclusion is that the sea level is likely to rise something between 0.8-2.0 meters by 2100 (and of course still increasing in subsequent years).
Sea level rise comes from a number of factors. To briefly mention a few from the article:
- Thermal expansion of water
- Glacier movement of ice into the sea from land
- Melting of surface water on the glacier tunneling beneath to lubricate the glacier movement.
- Surface melting on glaciers creating giant "ice cubes" which may tumble over increasing glacier flow rate
- Warmer sea water near the ice sheets melting from below releasing more dammed ice to increase flow off land
The author also points out that such a rise is consistent with geologic history. There have been instances where sea level has risen by 1.6 meters on average in a 100 year stretch during the last interglacial period and one report that suggests that sea level had risen by 3 meters in 50-100 years.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Several of us have gotten the NY Times which had an article about this.
The article reported comments from the scientists such as:
Many of the paleontologists thought the museum misrepresented and ridiculed them and their work and unfairly blamed them for the ills of society.
“I think they should rename the museum — not the Creation Museum, but the Confusion Museum,” said Lisa E. Park, a professor of paleontology at the University of Akron.However, there was a curious neutrality from the reporter, Kenneth Chang. He expressed the opinions of museum officials and a couple of non-scientist museum attendees as well as the paleontologists. It came across as much more "balanced" than I think the topic deserved.
Perhaps someone in the other camp would think the liberal NY Times has portrayed the creation side unfairly, something like the old Ronald Reagan line: "There you go again."
From my biased point of view, there is no other reasonable position and I would hope reporters would call these things honestly instead of with a false neutrality.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
There were no fiddles we know of during Roman times although they had other stringed instrument, the best known of these, the lyre. Nero loved to perform and had aspirations to be as good as professional performers and commissioned the making of lyres by the best in Rome. Suetonius, who viciously attacked Nero (with good reason in general), claimed that Nero had the fires set that burned down a substantial part of Rome in 64 AD as a means to forward his aim of urban renewal. He also claimed that Nero sang "The Fall of Llium" as he watched the flames engulf the city. Others saw Nero's actions as moderate and even a help in the catastrophe. In any case, the meaning of the phrase as it comes to us is clear, an act of purposely ignoring a catastrophe as it happens around us.
Such is the case with our government today. In an excellent editorial by Paul Krugman in the NY Times he points out the acts of congress concerning global warming with statements like:
And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.
But if you watched the debate on Friday, you didn’t see people who’ve thought hard about a crucial issue, and are trying to do the right thing. What you saw, instead, were people who show no sign of being interested in the truth. They don’t like the political and policy implications of climate change, so they’ve decided not to believe in it — and they’ll grab any argument, no matter how disreputable, that feeds their denial.
This exactly captures the sense I get from the opposition to this problem. I couldn't have put it any better.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
One of the things you learn as a skeptic is that sometimes seeing it isn't believing it.
Our group logo was meant to symbolize this idea with an apparent figure visible even if it really isn't there. (the symbol would probably be better if we could have slightly curved the line ends in the punctuated triangle).
Anyway, I came across a great optical illusion, by way of onegoodmove.org from Phil Plaits blog on bad astronomy at:
The color illusion is so striking, it is hard to believe.
Check it out.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Previously, they created a web site giving information about the elements:
There is a similar site, also from England and the University of Sheffield that includes much more information and some amusing touches:
For instance, under Iridium, they have the following cartoon:
Anyway, Nottingham has also started up a web site with nice little videos about various symbols of science. Here you can learn about symbols as diverse as Jupiter to the fine structure constant to Feiganbaum's constant:
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I had always wondered whether humans were still evolving through a biological level of natural selection. The argument against would be that society supersedes selection. For instance, a society with remedies for genetic ailments may not naturally select for evolutionary improvements.
This article suggests the opposite with some genomic and observational evidence. They make the point that evolution is faster in larger populations, such as humans today.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
The 113th edition is hosted at The Uncredible Hallq. Enjoy.