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Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Happy Origin Day!

Today marks 150 years since the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, and scientific understanding of evolution continues to take some remarkable twists and turns. To commemorate this historic day, the National Science Foundation has released a special anniversary edition of their Evolution of Evolution online resource.

This report, with its thoughtful essays, intriguing interviews, and extensive timelines, chronicles the challenges and triumphs of the evolution of evolution.

How are you commemorating this historic day?



posted by Jeremy Mohn




Plug Your Nose, Then Insert Bookmark

The latest from the NCSE's Don't Diss Darwin Institute:



Get your own saftey bookmarks here!



posted by Jeremy Mohn



Monday, November 23, 2009
The science in the movie "2012"

Greg Laden has the scoop.



posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams



Friday, November 20, 2009
Branching Out

Look out, Internets!

Cheryl and I are expanding our presence on the web!

We recently created a "stand up for REAL science" page on this little up-and-coming website called Facebook.

If you happen to have your own Facebook account and would like to help us continue to stand up for REAL science, then we encourage you to become a fan.



posted by Jeremy Mohn



Monday, November 16, 2009
Oh, yeah. Now I remember...

This is why I gave up arguing with creationists on the Internet.

Consider the following exchange between yours truly and someone named "afar1" in the comment section of one of my YouTube videos.

afar1: Let me dwell on the fossil record since most people assume it is supportive of evolution. It is not. The fact is, evolution fails miserably and in this regard there is zero evidence for macroevolution, which is why evolutionists never present any. And they should not claim to be presenting evidence, when all they have is the claim that "many micro step lead to macro", which is a load of crap that they cannot prove and they know it!

standup4REALscience: Zero evidence?

Have you seen video #5 in this series yet?

watch?v=l_Dad_GhkT4

I'd like to know how you can so casually dismiss all of this evidence.

afar1: The evolution THEORY is plagued with a primitive idea with no real evidence. Il give it to you guys for using your imagination...but the lack of credibility speaks for itself. I think the ape cartoon drawings are a testament to the inventiveness and primitive approach used. Believing in a creator that is in full control of everything including the steady expansion of the universe that science only figured out recently is far easier to digest using logic and reason. Evolutionists - in a fantasy.

standup4REALscience: I'm a Christian who believes in a "creator that is in full control of everything."

It seems to me that you're more interested in dismissing evolution as "fantasy" than actually discussing the evidence for it. That's too bad, because you might actually learn something new.

If you want to discuss the evidence of evolution from the fossil record, I'd be happy to do that.

If you'd rather simply dismiss the evidence and insult your fellow believers who accept evolution, then count me out.

afar1: Sorry,liberal Christianity hurts the real one.
Interestingly, militant atheists get much of their beliefs about "Christianity" from liberal Christians.They'll pejoratively label all Christians as "Fundies",then presumptively attack liberal theological concepts
they suppose us "Fundies" subscribe to. You do more harm to thr Bible than the God Haters could ever achieve with the best of their b.s.

standup4REALscience: It's interesting that you label me a "liberal Christian" without even knowing anything about my specific beliefs. It's much easier to label others than to put in the effort to understand them, isn't it?

Apparently, your real reason for rejecting evolution stems from the fact that it conflicts with how you choose to interpret the Bible. Otherwise, you'd be interested in discussing the scientific evidence, right?

If you'd like to discuss the fossil evidence of evolution, my offer still stands.

afar1: If the first Adam never existed, there would have been no need for Christ to come and qualify to rule earth. If there was not a first Adam, the reason for Christ's first coming would not be true! Again, there would be no need for a second Adam, because there would have never been a first.You are an apostate w/ no evidence to back up your anti-Biblical beliefs.

standup4REALscience: There you go again, calling me an "apostate" without even knowing anything about my beliefs. Nevertheless, I have not labeled you or your beliefs, even though you have disparaged mine.

Clearly, your reason for rejecting evolution is theological, not scientific. Otherwise, you'd jump at the chance to discuss the fossil evidence of evolution. That evidence will not go away, despite your desire to ignore it.

Apparently, you are too afraid to even discuss the scientific evidence. Why is that?

afar1: You're so sure of yourself, deliver the goods. Give us *the* answer and this thread will be over and you can get your nose back in joint. Every book, by evolutionists provides many embarrasing quotes that can be used as ammunition against the theory of evolution. I've studied this issue for over twenty-five years. How many of these quotes would you like to see me post? Believe me, some of these guys *are* real nutcases.

standup4REALscience: Who cares about quotes? Let's discuss evidence.

Earlier, you claimed that "evolution THEORY is plagued with a primitive idea with no real evidence." How do you dismiss the evidence presented in Evolution is REAL Science #5?

What about Gerobatrachus?
What about Odontochelys?
What about Najash?
What about Onychonycteris?
What about Amphistium?
What about Pezosiren?

Evolutionists predicted these fossils and their intermediate characteristics before they were discovered. How do you explain them?

afar1: Gerobatrachus is a specimen,and an incomplete one at that. However, shared features are not transitional features, Fossils do reveal some truth about Darwins theory they reveal that the same inconsistencies he noted between his theory and the fossil data persist, even after 150 years of frantic searches for elusive transitions.Not only is there no single, undisputed transition, but real fossils reveal that animals were fully formed from the beginning.

standup4REALscience: If you wanted me to read an ICR article, you should have just pointed me to the article. Instead, you copy-n-pasted from it and dishonestly tried to pass it off as your own.

Apparently, you just typed in "Gerobatrachus" in the search bar on the ICR website and clicked on the only article that came up. That's not a very effective way to build a convincing argument. You don't come across as someone who has been studying this issue for 25 years.

Care to actually address the evidence?

afar1: Evolution is about as scientific as a rooster plucking ceremony in Haiti. Evolution has no labs and no testability. Evolution lacks supportive fossils and has more changes in it than Tyra Banks dressing room and a gazillion pissed off fruit flies haven't suggested it.Now let's talk real science.

standup4REALscience: I'm still waiting for you to actually offer a response to the fossil intermediates that I presented earlier. Those are each examples of the testability of evolution. Paleontologists used evolutionary theory to predict the existence of those fossils *before* they were actually discovered.

As it stands, all you have done is copy-n-paste material from a creationist website that does not answer my question.

You want to "talk real science?"

Address the evidence that I presented please.

afar1: Offer a response to what? You've yet to present anything that remotely helps you.The science behind evolution is not empirical, but forensic. Because evolution took place in history, its scientific investigations are after the fact-no testing, no observations, no repeatability, no falsification, nothing at all like physics. I think this is what the public discerns-that evolution is just a bunch of just-so stories disguised as legitimate science.Convoluted facts stirred into half-truths.

standup4REALscience: Another copy-n-paste from a creationist website?

Is that really all you can come up with?

I wish I could say I was shocked by your continued dishonesty.

Evolution is testable and falsifiable. My videos demonstrate that.

You have no explanation for why paleontologists were able to use evolutionary theory to predict the existence of transitional fossil *before* they were discovered. This is evident from the fact that you have not even attempted to address the fossils that I presented.

I think I'll go back to ignoring comments from people who so obviously have no ability or interest in conducting an honest argument.


posted by Jeremy Mohn



Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The Evolution of Standardensus kansiensis

Now showing on YouTube, a brief history of the science education standards issue in Kansas:



This is my first *ever* YouTube venture . . . please don't hesitate to advise and critique!



posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams




Infestation

Elementary science teachers receive little instruction in science. Part of this is understandable because of the emphasis on reading, writing, and basic mathematics that comprise childrens' basic literacy toolkit. But I've heard discouraging reports from professors of general education science courses about the dearth of scientific literacy among their students who are elementary education majors.

So, it's safe to say that the instructor of a science teaching methods course has considerable influence on what these elementary science teachers actually do in the classroom. Which is why I found the following little news item - "IPFW religious forum explores the nature of science" - troubling, with the concerning bit bolded:

Nowak is an associate professor of science education at IPFW [Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne] and director of Northeast Indiana Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (NISTEM) Education Resource Center. He will discuss why people believe the theory of intelligent design is not true science and attempt to demonstrate that intelligent design should be considered a scientific theory.

Dr. Jeff Nowak has been listed as the instructor for IPFW's "EDUC Q200 - Introduction to Scientific Inquiry" as well as the faculty advisor for IPFW's InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. This fall, Nowak is listed as teaching "EDUC-E328-01 Science In Elem Sch:"

Objectives, philosophy, selection, and organization of science materials and methods. Concept development and use of multidimensional materials in science experiments. Analysis of assessment techniques and bibliographical materials. Public school participation required.

This course is likely the only science pedagogy course these future grade school teachers will receive.

We're not sure why Dr. Nowak considers his own background and experiences to be superior to those of the vast majority of scientists and science educators in this country. Likewise, his religious beliefs are rightfully not considered in evaluating his job performance.

When a key science education professor is taking a public, pro-IDcreationism stance, though, one has to wonder how far the ID movement has infested public education.

Of course, this has been the goal of the ID movement all along: get ID into the public school science classrooms through political pressure and stealth instead of actually doing the scientific research.


posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams



Tuesday, November 10, 2009
"E.T. Phone Rome"


Recently, the Vatican convened experts in science and theology to delve into the implications of the possible existence of extraterrestrial life.

Fundamentalists have long argued against the existence such life, stating that since God "created man in His image," and because God "gave his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" to die for our sins, that we humans on this pale blue dot must necessarily be the only form of life in the universe.

The largest Christian denomination begs to disagree: according to Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, an astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory,

"How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere?" Funes said in that interview.

"Just as there is a multitude of creatures on Earth, there could be other beings, even intelligent ones, created by God. This does not contradict our faith, because we cannot put limits on God's creative freedom."

Funes maintained that if intelligent beings were discovered, they would also be considered "part of creation."

The importance of astronomy in science education cannot be underestimated. Indeed, during the infamous 1999 Kansas EvoWar I, creationists on the Kansas State Board of Education removed three key concepts from the standards: evolution, the 4.6-billion-year-old earth, and the history of the universe. Although much of the headlines went to the removal of evolution, cutting out cosmological concepts was just as damaging.

"It was astronomical observations that let us understand that Earth (and man) don't have a privileged position or role in the universe," he said. "I ask myself what tools will we use in the next 400 years, and I ask what revolutions of understanding they'll bring about, like resolving the mystery of our apparent cosmic solitude." - Tommaso Maccacaro, president of Italy's national institute of astrophysics

Just another reminder that science education battles aren't issues of science v. religion. Nope, they're strictly sectarian squabbles between competing sects. And the residents of Northern Ireland and Iran can tell us how productive those disputes are.




posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams




Science in Art

Our Science Cafes in Hays have been lucky to have local artist/musician/barrista Brendan Arnold design our posters. The entire collection can now be seen here.



posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams



Monday, November 9, 2009
"Wonder Drugs Gone Bad:


The Dark Side of Antibiotics" is the title of our next Science Cafe in Hays, tomorrow night.

Dr. Jon Hauxwell, a retired physician from Stockton, KS, will help us

see how scientific theory can be applied to a real-life problem to help us understand what's going on, and develop strategies for changing it. The misuse of antibiotics has contributed to the emergence of superbugs we're increasingly unable to fight. Development of new antibiotics isn't keeping up. For every Gorillacillin, there's a Godzillabacter.

Jon is a fascinating man, with a wealth of diverse experiences which he shares in a regular column in the Hays Daily News. I was intrigued by a piece he wrote in July 2008 and emailed him my thanks. He became the inspiration for getting the Science Cafe going in Hays, as evidenced by a portion of his 7/12/2008 email to me:

I have regretted that although there would seem to be many of us who would like to see genuine science assume its proper role in informing and influencing our society's development (evolution?), I haven't found any local organizations devoted specifically to that purpose.

Do you know of any such? Is there a common ground upon which we could establish such in Hays, KS - or at least Ellis Co.?

A Friends for the Advancement of Science meeting is one I'd attend. Given all your current commitments of time and effort, could you participate in establishing a thing like that?

As usual, we'll be at Semolino's, 110 W. 11th Street, Hays, around 7 pm-ish.

Ed. for grammar


posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams



Saturday, November 7, 2009
This 'n' That

First, Orac has a great post up, "The anti-vaccine movement, cranks and 'pseudo-expertise' " which once again reminds us that a little knowledge brush with not-validated information is a dangerous thing:

In the case of the anti-vaccine movement, what drives this arrogance of ignorance is an old-fashioned American distrust of authority (often good, but not always) combined with a democratic tradition in which every person is assumed to be equal. The problem is that equal under the law and possessing equal rights (which is he American ideal) does not mean equal abilities or knowledge. We as a people seem to conflate the two and assume all too often that, if Paul Offit can pontificate about vaccines, so can we, even though we don't have any special expertise in the relevant sciences. Too many of us assume that several hours (or even much, much less) spent in front of a computer studying at the University of Google renders our understanding equal to that of scientists and experts who have spent their entire lives studying a problem.

Second, it's time to party like it'll never be 1999 (or 2005) again! Kansas Citizens for Science celebrates its 10th anniversary and the 150th of "On the Origin of Species" tonight at KU's Museum of Natural History. Josh Rosenau, of "Thoughts from Kansas" (and points west) fame will lead the celebrations. More details at "The Pitch."

As we celebrate, we must keep in mind that ignorance and arrogance masquerading as expertise may be temporarily dampened in Kansas, but anti-science hasn't gone away:

Fifty-three percent said they favored teaching both evolution and creationism in public schools. Polling data from 4/28 - 9/8, 2009, of Kansans, by FHSU's Docking Institute

But tonight, at least we can rejoice in how far we've come since 1999!


posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams



Friday, November 6, 2009
Expelled! No, Really.

Unblemished teaching of evolution, that is, from a university's science classes.

A Riverside Seventh-day Adventist university is under fire for teaching evolution in its biology classes without telling students that the scientific explanation for the origins of life contradicts church beliefs.

The controversy has spurred debate among Adventists across the country. Some say La Sierra's biology classes are guided by Satan, and others point to the "overwhelming scientific evidence" in supporting evolution.

There's no doubt that some want those evil biology professors Expelled! from their positions:
Art Chadwick, a research professor of geology at Southwestern Adventist University in Texas, said instructors who don't instill in their students the view that creation occurred in six literal days should not be allowed to teach at Adventist universities.

The petition does not call for the dismissal of the three La Sierra biology professors who are at the center of the controversy. But Hilde [Shane Hilde, the Beaumont man and La Sierra graduate spearheading the petition drive] said "that ultimately is what happens in these situations."

"I would blame the administration for hiring people like this," he said.

Dare we hold our breaths for the Discovery Institute's doom-laden documentary shrieking loudly about this situation?


posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams




DI Repeats Same Ol' Lies. Sun Will Rise in the East Tomorrow.

Stephen Meyer, principal DI shill:

"One of the things that I think makes people feel ill at ease about the culture is this pervasive and overweening devaluing of human life," Meyer said, citing as an example a University of Texas professor who garnered attention for suggesting that 90 percent of the earth's population should be eliminated in order to preserve the earth.

"He at one point suggested that the Ebola virus would be a perfectly legitimate means by which to accomplish this, although he later kind of backed off on that," Meyer said. "But he has gone on to advocate that we ought to confiscate the wealth of all families with two or more children as a way, again, of saving the earth."

Meyer was referring to a 2006 presentation by Dr. Eric Pianka which stated a cold hard fact: overpopulation leads to disease. William Dembski, of the twisted underwear, sweater, and code of ethics, blared loudly that stating this fact means Pianka was advocating for the death of 90% of the planet's population. Dembski reported Pianka to Homeland Security as a possible terrorist. (If you're interested in hearing from Pianka himself, go here.)

Unfortunately for the Discovery Institute, these claims were reported by Forrest Mims, a wannabe scientist who's no longer associated with NASA satellite work. (And no, writing stellar electronics cookbooks does not a professional scientist make.) Nobody else who was present at the presentation has backed up Mims' claims; in fact, Mims' claims have been solidly debunked.

For Meyer to continue to make statements which are outrageously false is yet one more example of the duplicity of the DI. And it doesn't stop there: according to Jonathan West,

Concerning family life and human sexuality, Darwin argued that monogamy was useful for survival in 19th-century Britain, but he admitted that marriage customs could change if necessary for survival. More recently, some Darwinists have approved of child molestation based on this principle, West said.

West, of course, provided no evidence or references for the bolded statement. But by now, are we really surprised at the machinations of the DI overlords?


posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams



Thursday, November 5, 2009
Gotta Quit Frontin' on Darwin

Should blatant scientific ignorance be promoted on college campuses?

Apparently, Ray "Banana Man" Comfort and Kirk "Crocoduck" Cameron think so.

They're planning to distribute a bowdlerized version of The Origin of Species on college campuses later this month.

Of course, the National Center for Science Education firmly opposes such nonsense. They recently announced the launch of their new anti-ignorance campaign called "Don't Diss Darwin."

I sincerely wish that my fellow Christians wouldn't go to such great lengths to make themselves look like ignoramuses when it comes to the REAL science of evolution. They're not only damaging science by talking nonsense on these topics. By allowing others to show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn, they're harming the faith.*

Gotta quit frontin' on Darwin.

*Hat-tip: St. Augustine



posted by Jeremy Mohn




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