The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Andrew Wakefield Failed

Andrew Wakefield, the researcher started the whole "MMR vaccine = autism" faketroversy, has been slapped with a court ruling that says he was "dishonest" and "misleading". Check out that link, specifically pages six and seven.

The Guardian said that, "...vulnerable children were subjected to 'inappropriate and invasive' tests by the doctors, who breached of 'some of the most fundamental rules in medicine'".

This is just a ruling about Wakefield's conduct (which was not good) and says nothing about the "vaccine/autism" deal, which as been sorted by lots of trials. Vaccines and autism are not linked. At all. In any way. If you think they are, then you're misunderstanding the situation. Period.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

129th Skeptic's Circle

That's right, the 129th edition of the Skeptic's Circle is up over at SkepVet. Go check it out and enjoy the clarity. Revel in it. Love it....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mike Adams, The Health Ranger, Loses His Shit

I really can't explain the situation better or show what a tremendous ass Adams is better than PZ does here. Not that he needs the traffic or anything, but go check it out if you want to see what a dishonest, petty, delusional man is The Health Ranger, Mike Adams.

Edit Update: Please go and read this post from Dubito Ergo Sum taking Adams apart Fisk-style. It's well worth the time and laughs.

Also, check out Orac's virtual napalming of Adams. The good times, they keep on comin'.

Oh, and now Steve Novella drops his hammer as well.

See, now Adams has absolutely no excuse for not knowing the actual position of skeptics on the issues he so thoroughly "researched" for his initial article. With all the high-profile names in the skeptical blogosphere addressing his points (one by one with flaming, glowing, burning precision), he has to concede that he has simply made shit up.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Yeah yeah yeah, I'm posting a lot of videos and not writing. I know. Apologies. New kid coming in March and priorities are shifting. I'm still writing but it's just not here. Trying to make it pay and all that fun stuff. Anyhoo, in the meantime, enjoy one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands, sadly now missing the featured lead singer in this song. :(

Maybe the Coolest Scale Video You'll See Today

Check this out. If you've ever wanted to see how much of the known universe smart folks have mapped out, this will answer that question. It will also make you feel both small and incredibly awesome all at the same time.

(h/t to Orac)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Skeptic's Circle #128

For all you other skeptic-type folks out there searching for reading material, look no further as the 128th edition of the Skeptic's Circle is up over at Ionian Enchantment. Hell yeah.

I Get Comments from MRS. Anonymous

This is what I have to deal with.

It's a comment from this post which, admittedly, I didn't handle well. Being in a bad mood and then getting an arrogant, condescending, alt.med apologist being a tremendous douche just put me over the edge. Once I got this comment, however, I thought I'd just post it here (in italic bold) and give my comments (in regular text) for some good times.

I'm going to just pass this off as feeling sorry for you that you are obviously a very unhappy person.

Yeah, I'm terribly unhappy. All the time. You've figured me out. Fabulous parting gifts.

You don't answer any comment articulately, or with facts, you infuse your comments with reams of 'fucks', 'shutup' and name calling, and again simply your opinion without having a leg to back it up. Yeah, that's entirely correct. If you've read this blog at all, you'll notice I'm pretty liberal with the "salty" language. I usually only dig for my facts if the commenter makes a point, which you didn't.

"Boy did you take a step down on the employment ladder."... well seeing as how you share the same profession, I guess you just pissed on yourself!! AHAH!! What does that say about yourself?? Yeah, I make fun of myself all the time. Self-deprecation can be funny to people, although obviously not you. Being an RMT is a decent job, but let's not think ourselves too important, shall we?

And that this is probably the only form of higher learning you've received?? Have made anything else of yourself?? I personally have had a good experience in my career as a Massage Therapist. I have professional hockey players, (I'm pretty sure you've heard of most of them!) cirque du soleil, olympic athletes, politicians, high profile media personalities, etc., etc. as clients...... I believe if you enjoy what you do, nothing is a step down....furthermore I make $250 - $400 a day, and I'm booked 2 weeks ahead, travelling to my clients 5 days a week, providing private home service to exclusive clients, I don't think I could ever make that as an engineer. Furthermore it is very difficult to find a job as an engineer. Well la-di-da. I'm happy that you're making a decent living and that you seem proud - overtly so, actually - but if you're recommending "treatments" like acupuncture or "energy" therapies based on your understanding of whatever, then in the long run, you're hurting your clients. I'll back that up later, not that you'll give a shit.

I do know how the traditional medicine world works, and I never said it was "evil"..... I think your problem is you read into things too much, looking for opinions to jump, since that's the level you're on, instead of focusing on the facts. Yes, these "facts" you refer to.... You've stated that you think acupuncture (for example) is validated as a supposedly scientific modality. Please, even though we have to look at the literature as a whole (which shows quite clearly that acupuncture is a placebo) to form a scientific opinion, please show me the one most airtight, slam dunk piece of evidence you have that proves to you that acupuncture is real. I'd love to see it.

You still haven't showed that YOU actually know anything about medicine, OR science. Once again...opinions and not facts....don't have anything smart to say?? Nope guess not. I'm a massage therapist, not an M.D. I know enough about medicine to know when I have to refer out to a specialist. I know enough about science to understand its methods and that if you objectively look at all the evidence for something like acupuncture and *then* conclude that it's real, you're the one with the comprehension problem.

Oh and PS: MASSAGE THERAPY, the career you are supposedly in....IS alternative medicine.... though you imply that this form of care is not "good". Why are you a therapist? Do you actually have clients... I'm going to go out on a limb here... you haven't had a good experience,(you are male afterall, usually people don't want to be treated by men) you don't have that many clients, you're pissed that you can't pay off your debt and want to vent your steam on anything you decide you can have an opinion on. Dammit, you got me. I'm just a bitter, no-client-having, shitty experience, debt-addled, gender-biased, total hater.

In case anyone was curious, massage therapy is not "alternative medicine". It's a treatment modality, that's all. It's helpful for a short list of fairly benign ailments and anything beyond that, you could potentially call it a "complementary modality" - think of things like physiotherapy for whiplash, for example. It's not medicine at all. If MRS. Anonymous up there had her head on straight, she'd know that...but then again, I'm just a lowly, uneducated, bitter, tool.

"You say this as though altruism runs thick through so-called "alt.med" when it's a multi-billion-dollar a year industry " First I'll give you credit for using your first big word in your entire rant, (nice use of condescension there) second, Yes, since it is a mutli-billion dollar industry, it proves the efficacy, (Umm...no, it doesn't. What people spend their money on isn't any indicator of its efficacy, otherwise randomized controlled trials wouldn't be necessary. See what I mean about not knowing about science?) otherwise why would people choose the costly "alternative" as opposed to the free traditional means... Because people like you convince them that it's effective. If people just went by what the...what's that word? Oh, right, "evidence" showed, no one would use "alt.med" stuff. As Tim Minchin said, "Do you know what they call alternative medicine that's been tested and shown to be effective? 'Medicine'."

Furthermore, how does being an alternative therapist equal the understanding to remain piss poor?? No one said starving artist and therapy goes hand in hand, if someone is a professional they deserve to be paid what they are worth. Agreed. And obviously why would anyone pay tuition and waste time to be altruistic??? Sorry, what? So with payment of tuition and time spent learning, altruism goes out the window in favor of money earned? I'd rather be a bit on the starving side and know that what I'm telling my clients was the best that our current methods had to offer, rather than throw my integrity out the window and recommend something that was ineffective and potentially harmful. Oh, wait, you were going to digitally yell something?

DO YOU ACTUALLY HAVE A POINT HERE?? Because I really can't tell if you do...Let me save your breathe...you don't have ANY points anywhere, (In fact, I'm quite pointy) other than the one we first agreed on....Mr. Raynor. Hopefully I have given some insight to anyone on here that is reading this. You won't win an argument with me buddy... I'm too well read, too educated... you obviously don't know how to debate. Yes, I see how "well read" and "educated" you are, what with the multiple exclamation points and no real substance.

See I back up what I say with facts, you back up yours with "troll"..... WOW!! Good argument!! OMG, you really hurt my feelings....wa wa wa... Yep, like I said, you need to read more.....I have a suggestion to start with that might be right up your alley / level ....ever heard of "Jack and Jill"?? "Jack and Jill"..."Jack and Jill"...hmmm...nope. Not ringing a bell. Oh, wait, did they do that study that showed sham acupuncture was more effective than actual acupuncture? No? Oh, that must have been someone else.

Oh, and PS: It's MRS. Quantum Physics, I'm sure that'll burn your ass even more!!! AHAHAHAHA!!!! This is hilarious!! My ass is so burnt now it's amazing. I'll probably go rub some homeopathic tincture on it later. Hilarious? Oh yeah, agreed.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dr. Peter Kreeft's Speech

A few weeks ago, a good friend's brother (Hi, Steve) gave me a couple of CDs to listen to on Catholic apologetics. One lecture by Dr. Peter Kreeft and another by Dr. Scott Hahn. Today, I'll go over the former's speech entitled Seven Reasons Everyone on Earth Should Be a Roman Catholic.

This was pretty hard to listen to, not because it was difficult to refute or anything, but because there isn't any decent logical points at all to dig into. I mean, his first argument is, "What else is there?" Seriously. He asks, "Why believe anything at all? Because it's true." See, as an example, Santa made you happy, and good/moral. You were good before Xmas, and you were happy. Why don't you believe in Santa? It's not true. So, as he says, "Truth trumps everything." Ok, what's this truth stuff?

His questions are, Do you desire truth? Do you seek truth? This is sounding a bit new-agey. Kreeft goes on here about wanting truth and a bunch of stuff, but there's no argument in sight.

He then quotes the best atheist question, supposedly from Bertrand Russell on his deathbed after being asked, "What will you say to God if you're wrong?" Russell supposedly answers, "Fair enough, why didn't you give us more evidence?"

Ah, but see, God would compel us against our will if he gave us too much evidence. (Ed. note: Whaaaa?) Yeah, God gave just enough "light" for those who truly seek him to find him ("seek" here is an ancient Babylonian word meaning "have enough blind faith").

The point: "Either there's some sort of a God, or there isn't...Assuming that the religious view of some sort is true..." No no no... you can't just assume that. We can end the discussion here because everything apart from this is just more floors built upon the non-existent foundation. It's Tooth Fairy philosophy.

Kreeft asserts, "Many Gods just doesn't work"? Well, it seems to work fine for Shintoism. Worked for the Romans and Greeks. That flat statement is both condescending and ignorant of history and other religions.

In this lecture, there are so many either/or assumptions based on ridiculous "logic" that it's difficult to even follow along. It's almost like trying to listen to Deepak Chopra and attempt to make any sense out of his driveling rants.

Regarding the church's history, Kreeft says, "If the bones of the dead Jesus would just turn up in some tomb in Palestine, all Christianity would be destroyed." Sure, assuming Jesus was a real person. Plus, it's hard to find the bones of one guy who's grave was (if he was real) likely pilfered for relics.

He says that science relates to Christianity in that there's, "not a single scientific discovery that refutes a single doctrine of the Christian religion". Umm...how about Heliocentrism? Just a thought. Catholic dogma held that back for a long long time; remember Cardinal Robert Bellarmine who said that, "we should have to proceed with great circumspection in explaining passages of Scripture which appear to teach the contrary". That would be the contrary message to what Galileo figured out, which was the that Earth went around the Sun.

Weak weak weak arguments.

Now we get into C.S. Lewis. You had to know he was on the way. It's the old, "Christ was either the messiah or he was a liar/madman" bit. Kreeft says that this argument, "forces you to say one of two extremes", which is true, but why go with the craziest? A little razor cut from old William of Occam fixes that right up, especially the old school version that says, "plurality should not be posited without necessity". Exactly. If the guy's either crazy or the "son of God", well, there's no proof whatsoever for the existence of some man in the sky, therefore the best answer is that he's a crazy person. Boom. Done. Let's go grab a beer.

Oh, wait, he's not done....

Sure, the Nicene Creed which gave the four marks (clues) of the Church:

Firstly, it's got to be holy, Catholic, and apostolic. Really? It's got to be "Catholic"? But what about this part of the creed, which is the really scary bit to me: "I expect the resurrection of the dead; and the life of the world to come." Death cult, anyone? People who expect to live forever and yearn for the "world to come" make me afraid because it so takes away from the importance of this life. We only have about 80 years, on average, to do what we like and be around those we love - to piss on that for some empty vague promise of what's to come is incredible weak. Tim Minchin expresses this thought beautifully in his nine minute beat poem, Storm, heard right here:
Back to Catholic doctrine and the lovely idea that they don't allow divorce because "we don't claim to have the authority to change the words of our Master." - to a nice little applause break...or as the Japanese say, "Apprause blake". So screw you, missy, you stay with that abusive, wife-beating drunk, you second-class woman, you. Way to hang on to that tremendous misogyny.

Oh, and women also can't be ordained for the same reason. Simple misogyny. You stay classy.

So, if you can't change the "word"...do you stone adulterers? (Lev. 20:10) Do you kill homosexuals? (Lev. 20:13) Not so "infallible" now, is it?

Kreeft says that because Catholics don't change with the times, they're persecuted and are the "new Jews". He says, "We're like an iron ball in the pit of the world's stomach, we can't be digested, we can't be assimilated." Another applause break from the supportive-yet-unthinking crowd. Great. I guess I'm just weird in thinking that unchanging dogmatism is a bad thing.

Next item of interest is "Apostolic Succession". He makes this point by pointing out three "historical facts": 1. Jesus did appoint apostles. 2. These apostles exercised their powers to pass on themselves in the form of bishops. 3. These bishops are still around. I think when you look at arguments for why everyone in the world should be a Catholic, this counts as the worst argument ever.

I had two mice. Those mice had babies and became my new mice. I still have mice. Therefore the bible is true. See how that works?!

This one made me laugh out loud. Kreeft says that, "Reason can prove very much of the Faith, not all of it, but much of it. And it can refute all objections to it." Really? I call BS. If the Catholic faith (or any faith, for that matter) could refute any and all objections, then I'd be convinced, but it can't. Period.

Kreeft said that he was bored on a beach and read St. John of the Cross. When he was done he said, "I don't understand this, but I know it's true." There's the mindset, in one concise sentence. If you don't take away anything else from this blathering I do, remember that one sentence because it sums up religious belief very succinctly. If ever there was a phrase to encompass the arrogance of ignorance, this is it.

We're nearing the end, thankfully, because this line made me almost seltzer my milk out my nose: "The hypocrisy of Catholics is a very strong argument for the infallibility of the Church." What? So no one bothered to change the text, big deal. Bishops had mistresses, church officials stole money, now a not-inconsequential number of priests rape children...that means the church is infallible? I think you live in Topsy Turvy Land

Kreeft says that the church and its inspired music/architecture/art are beautiful. He listened to music and thought, "I absolutely know that this music comes from Heaven." Argument from ignorance, anyone? Anyone? This is quietly, seemingly viewed as a serious point. He says, "I know three ex- atheists who were converted by J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion." Good for you. I have a newsflash - they weren't knowledgeable atheists, because any atheist worth his or her salt (see what I did there, making men and women equal? Right) would realize that Bach was great at something. Period. It's a lot like Francis Collins' frozen waterfall conversion. As Michael Shermer says, sometimes smart people are great at rationalizing the things they came to believe for not-smart reasons.

Here's where I actually got angry. Kreeft said that while visiting Africa, some members of the tribes he talked to couldn't believe two things: 1. They couldn't believe that there was such a thing as an atheist. No one near a river or an ocean could be an atheist.

This is, to be blunt, stupid. Who cares what the tribes believed about atheists? You might as well go back a couple hundred years and ask someone then about iPhones. If you have no technology and no science, the clouds and rain are magic.

Secondly and much more infuriating, Kreeft said that the tribespeople, "couldn't believe that, 'In America alone, a million and a half mothers pay hired killers called physicians to kill their unborn babies.'" All this is is inflammatory rhetoric from a deluded fool. It's bullshit. It also ignores womens' safety issues and shows the black/white mindset for the dangerous tripe it is.

Kreeft's final message to non-Catholics: Come out into the "splendor of Truth". I'm pretty sure that you don't mean that in the Stephen Colbert, ironic and hilarious way. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I left the Catholic faith a long time ago and Dr. Kreeft has nothing at all to make me think I made a mistake. Thanks, but no.

A Quick Message to Pat Robertson

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Please Donate to Haiti & Pat Robertson is Still Insane

*sigh*

Are we even surprised anymore? No? I didn't think so. I mean, Pat Robertson is such an outdated sort of person (I hesitated to use that last word there for him). He represents the archaic, brain-diseased model of our species that we have to move beyond, and for the most part we have succeeded in doing so.

Seriously, if you read that link, who can you think of that would actually say something this stupid and insensitive and insulting?
Something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about...They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third and whatever. (edit: nice...you stay classy, Pat) And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.' True story. And so the devil said, 'Ok it’s a deal.' And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got something themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another...
One thing I do love is the abject insanity of Robertson's assertion that an entire population of a country, as one, talked to the Devil - the DEVIL, mind you - and then says flippantly, "True story."

I guess to someone who believes in an invisible man in the sky, there's not too far to jump to reach SuperCrazyLand.

Please donate what you can to the relief effort in Haiti and ignore Pat Robertson in all his insane irrelevance until his, hopefully soon and painlessly in his sleep, death.

Monday, January 04, 2010

As We Knew, The Discovery Institute Are Assholes

Check this:



(h/t to The Good Atheist)

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Know Your Grammar - Apostrophe

If "its" and "it's" confuse you, if "your" and "you're" get you in a tizzy, and if the difference between "McDonalds'" and "McDonald's" messes up your head, then go here. Read. Learn. It's important.