Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Creation Museum visit update

PZ has posted an update concerning his trip to the Creation Museum. Apparently they have over 20 people signed up to attend and it is getting Answer in Genesis a bit worried about security. I don't blame them, that's a of of people. I'd like to think that in general, rational thinkers are well behaved people, but with such a large group who knows how every person is going to act?

Monday, July 20, 2009

If Marijuana is legal, Will Addiction Rise?

There is a nice discussion in the NY Times today on this topic.
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
... or
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

The Amazing Meeting is streaming

Click here to watch The Amazing Meeting going on right now in Las Vegas.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

PZ's visit to the Creation Museum

Here's some more information on PZ Myer's visit to the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky.

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

Sea Level Rise: It's Worse Than We Thought

I just read an interesting on-line article from the New Scientist that discusses this. As the article states:

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

Paleontologists at the creation museum

The University of Cincinnati just hosted the North American Paleontological Convention and many of the scientists took a side trip to the creation museum in Northern Kentucky, itself created by the group Answers In Genesis.

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.