Thursday, September 30, 2010

Senate Republicans

This is an update on an earlier blog. I learn today from Phil Plait that EVERY republican senate hopeful is against taking any action on global warming. This is the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Why?


American is broken. When you have evidence in front of you confirming an important topic like global warming but you sense that your team can get more votes by appealing to stupid people, well then the great experiment in democracy is broken.

When your support group is basically people who don't accept evolution, think God lives in the sky, deny global warming, and basically suspect anything that is supported by data. . . well, that's a nice little scary political party you have there.

I'm sad.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Baby Scientists

My daughter revealed to me the other day that young children and scientists are exactly the same. The same in how they go about doing what they do. A young child, say 1 year old or less, is constantly testing, trying, eliminating that which doesn't work, expanding on what does work, generalizing, hypothesizing, and then re-testing again and again. This is what science does. I know we are all supposed to learn the 'scientific method' in school (purpose, procedure. . . ) but I'm not sure any working scientist gives a hoot about it when she is busy testing, exploring, hypothesizing, etc. It's much messier than that and yet every bit as rational and logical in its approach.

I'm going to invent a pretend child who grows up being supported in their explorations by an experience explorer (teacher). As this child grows up they would gain knowledge about how the world works via the myriads of tests they perform every day and they would also become better explorers. They will take fewer turns down blind alleys and maybe suspect earlier on that a particular journey is going to bear little fruit. I know well seasoned physicists who can smell a rat in a proof (they've seen similar) way earlier than an apprentice will. The point is that if you ask reasonable questions, test possible answers, test again and so on, nature will 'teach' you naturally. It can do this because the workings of nature are based on repeatable, testable mechanisms. While they might be complicated they are always there waiting to be unraveled.

If you could let all that exploration with a qualified leader just go on and on would there be any point where the explorers would come up with God as an explanation to any phenomena? Understand that this explorer is my pretend person who has never even been given any idea about existing religions or the God idea. Their explorations would ultimately come up with all the laws of physics, evolution, DNA, the Copernican system, Big Bang, etc, but what phenomena would you unearth and come up with God. In what context would that happen? What would they be puzzled about and then go, "Ah. . .must be an invisible being living in the sky that caused this."

God exists in society because we teach it to very small children when they are too young to think critically. Even worse is that very small children's brains are wired to accept ANYTHING that adults say. This was a very key evolutionary trick to keep the kids with the herd. Using this wiring to infect kids with the God idea is, to me, a little cruel. This is key. You could NOT teach about god successfully to someone who was already thinking critically and skeptically to fantastic claims. They would keep asking annoying questions like, "Where is heaven"? Does God have a dick? Really? A virgin? How did that work? How does Jesus getting nailed to a cross do anything for me? And so on. . .

Understand that when people thought that God or the gods actually were the cause of everything from the origins of the earth to lightning, floods, and weather it would make sense to teach this to the kids. If God was your only idea of what caused things to happen, well, then might as well pass it on. But now we KNOW differently! We do because we are not ignorant shepherds any longer and yet we persist in teaching the God idea. Why do we do that?

Now you might say that as one explores one would naturally read the books of explorers that came before. One doesn't really have to sail around the south seas, re-tracing Darwin's journey to understand Darwin's theory and more importantly, one can read and understand that what is being claimed is testable and if one so chooses they can test the claims for themselves. Many have so chosen and THOSE findings can be read as well. So, you say, why can't one read the bible for it's lessons and learn about God from those that came before? Isn't that really the same thing? No. You can but nothing you read is TESTABLE. That makes a huge difference! What started out as the re-telling of lore and folk tales finally got written down at some point and became THE bible. This is a completely different document than any other investigative bit of writing. By its very nature the bible is to be taken as the true word of God because God (through man) says so. . . somehow.

As long as parents, and in most cases in an unthinking effort to be 'good' parents, drag their kids to Sunday school religion and the God idea will live long and prosper. You can put up all the billboards you like but I fear that you are preaching to the choir!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Republicans Have All the Nuts and none of the Balls

Is it just me or does it seem that all the nut-ball groups have gravitated (for those who believe in gravity) to the Grand Old Party? Why does is seem that the hysterical among us align themselves with conservative ideals, ergo, the Republicans. This must drive the reasonable among the Republicans (yeah, they have to be there!) crazy. In researching this post I find an exactly matching post with a better title...

Not all Republicans are science deniers but all science deniers are Repupblicans

Let's look at a few groups that tend to align themselves with the Republican party to illuminate my point

1. Evangelicals, like Terry Fox or the late Jerry Fallwell (do all their first names end in Y?) who preach the wickedness of abortion, evolution and homosexuality.

2. Global warming deniers. From that link. . .

Sen. Barbara Boxer had been chair of the Senate's Environment Committee for less than a month when the verdict landed last February. "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal," concluded a report by 600 scientists from governments, academia, green groups and businesses in 40 countries. Worse, there was now at least a 90 percent likelihood that the release of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels is causing longer droughts, more flood-causing downpours and worse heat waves, way up from earlier studies. Those who doubt the reality of human-caused climate change have spent decades disputing that. But Boxer figured that with "the overwhelming science out there, the deniers' days were numbered." As she left a meeting with the head of the international climate panel, however, a staffer had some news for her. A conservative think tank long funded by ExxonMobil, she told Boxer, had offered scientists $10,000 to write articles undercutting the new report and the computer-based climate models it is based on. "I realized," says Boxer, "there was a movement behind this that just wasn't giving up."

And then there's this:

Every GOP NH Senate Candidate Is A Global Warming Denier

And from Phil Plait. . .

Every single Republican senate hopeful is against climate change action

Evolution: War on science: Alabama’s “True Republican” TV ad mocks evolution

Young Earth Believers - Yep Republicans again.

This is getting very depressing. It's one thing to just be uneducated. It's another to use that stupidity to get votes. A true denier has to deny actual scientific data a priori and WANT things to be different than they actually are. They have an ax to grind and by God they are going to fucking grind it! Individually they are harmless and equivalent to the flat earth society. But, to PLAY to the audience whether you are a denier or not in an attempt (which might be successful!) to get votes is bordering on evil. What is to be gained by your real or feigned denial except your own elevation to a post to which you are poorly trained and with which you cannot possibly do good.

And then there's the whore, Sarah Palin who truly doesn't know shit from shine-o-la and has demonstrated that on national TV. Depressingly her convincing act as a typical American stupid person has endeared her to. . .well, to the millions of stupid Americans who seem to all be in the Republican Party!

Here's the question: When did it get to be OK to have an OPINION about scientific data and results. You can have an opinion about abortion, say but you can't have an opinion about evolution. . . or fucking gravity. Do your own experiment. Publish in accepted journals. Everyone is free to do that but you can't just look at the evidence for the earth being 4.5 billion years old and say, "I just choose to not believe that". Actually you can. Who cares. Be stupid but don't make that your platform for running for fucking office! Sheesh.

Jesus H. Christ, is it so much to ask that we deal with national problems on a rational level and leave the religious and crazy rhetoric outside the meeting room?

I guess it is.

If you travel at all you'll find people chuckling at the things that America gets all stirred up about. They ain't perfect either but they mostly don't go around voting based on whether or not you BELIEVE in a well proven scientific theory.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Stoning in Iran

This woman may or may not have already been given 99 lashes as the reports vary. I guess the lashes are to get her ready for the stoning which is a death penalty. Gee, with that it seems like they could skip the lashes but who wants to miss a good time like that.

She is being punished for not wearing a head covering (hence the lashes) and for committing adultry (death by stoning). Can you imagine any society based on reasoned thought and discussion coming to this conclusion? No. Only a backward society based on a distorted view of their own religion could make themselves think that a fellow human HAD to be stoned to death.

It's not that this particular religion is bad it's that forfeiting your reason in favor of ANY religion is bad. It takes you nowhere as a person and it holds society back in general.

There is no God. . . let's move on to problem solving PLEASE!