Skepdude

From the creator of Video Skepdude

What is this Science thingy?

I ran across a nice quote from a certain Sir. William Bragg who apparently said:

The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.

That is such a nice quote, because it deals with a certain misconception that the general public holds about science and scientists in general. The general public’s view of a scientist is a geek wearing big glasses, with messy hair, and wearing suspenders who can blurt out all kinds of facts out of his head in a matter of seconds.

Now, having specific, technical knowledge is a necessary but not sufficient characteristic of a scientist. In its core, science is not about collecting facts, but explaining them. Science is a method of finding out why those facts are there, why they work the way they work. Making a list of facts is a small, but necessary, fraction of Science. Science answers many questions and “What” is only one of them. Mostly it is concerned with “How” or “Why” type of questions. Science is concerned with making predictions and testing them. It is concerned with the future more so than the past. It wonders what new facts could be discovered, not merely what has already been discovered and cataloged.

And that is why Science ROCKS!

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May 28, 2008 Posted by | Science, Thinking Out Loud | | Leave a comment

Illegal immigrants break 1,000 year-old ban…on women

Well, almost 1,000 year-old. Four Moldovan women illegal immigrants were dropped off in the peninsula of mount Athos, which apparently is monastery territory which has a standing ban on women being on premises, dating back to the year 1,045.

They told police they had sailed from Turkey after paying $6,300 to two Ukrainian people smugglers, but were unaware they were breaking Greek law.

The Greeks actually have a law, on the books, prohibiting vaginas from entering mount Athos? Weird!

Under Greek law, breaching the ban can lead to a jail sentence.

Women – even many female domestic animals – have not been allowed on the mountain since a decree banning women was issued by Byzantine Emperor Constantine Monomachos in 1045.

But, thankfully the story had a happy ending. The women were “forgiven” by the monks. Yeah, I get it, I would get really irritated if I was spending all my time alone in some island/peninsula with a bunch of other guys, and four women happened to drop by.

That aside, isn’t it funny to get in trouble due to a law issued in 1,045? I find that fascinating, even though it looks as though the Greeks aren’t taking that law too seriously themselves, and kudos to them for that.

May 28, 2008 Posted by | Funny | , | Leave a comment

Donkey jailed for being an ass

This is so ridiculously funny, it must be true. A donkey has been locked up in jail in Mexico for bitting and kicking a couple of guys. If that wasn’t funny enough check out what the police has to say about this.

Police officer Sinar Gomez said the donkey would remain behind bars until its owner agreed to pay the men’s medical bills.

“Around here, if someone commits a crime they are jailed,” he said. “No matter who they are.”

This guy is actually referring to a donkey as “someone” and “who”. Where do they find these guys? Apparently they seem to have experience in this area.

Chiapas police have thrown animals in the clink before, including a bull that ate corn crops and destroyed two wooden market stalls in March.

In 2006, a dog was locked up for 12 days for biting someone.

This is really bizarre and hard to believe. Sky News is not England’s version of The Onion, is it?

May 27, 2008 Posted by | Funny | , , | 1 Comment

The (Un)Discovery Institute and “Academic Freedom” bills

Apparently, the Louisiana House Education Committee unanimously passed SB 733, a so-called “academic freedom” bill. It is not my intention in this post to write my take on the merits, or lack there of, of such bills. What I do want to focus is an article that inevitably the (Un)Discovery Institute put up on its website. Obviously, they are very pleased with the outcome and write in support of this bill.

One biology professor from Louisiana College, Dr. Wade Warren, testified about how during his graduate studies at Texas A & M, the dean ordered him cease discussing scientific problems with students. Another biochemist, Dr. Brenda Peirson, testified about how random mutation and natural selection cannot produce many of the complex biological systems we see in the cell.

Let’s pay close attention to what Dr. Peirson says: “random mutation and natural selection cannot produce many of the complex biological systems we see in the cell.” That is such an unscientific statement, that it is hard to believe it came from a PhD in biochemistry. Any scientist worth two pennies knows that you can never say that something cannot happen. Never, ever under any circumstance can you make such claim. At most you can say that based on the current knowledge it is highly unlikely for something to happen, but you cannot say that something cannot happen period, as this person does. Right away that tells a lot about this person’s scientific skills and the reliability of her testimony.

One of those scientists, Dr. Caroline Crocker, testified about her experience losing her job at George Mason University after she taught students about scientific arguments against neo-Darwinism.

First, just because Dr. Crocker claims that is what happens, does not mean that is really what happens. Just a few weeks ago a bit of sensational news made the rounds on the internet. It was the story of a teacher who got fired for wizardry. The news and blogs picked up and all kinds of comments were written on the story. And as it turns out that was not really the reason this guy got canned, but there were well documented performance issues. Thus, the person who got fired is not the most reliable source to get the straight fact, as they tend to be a little biased.

Second, what the hell is neo-Darwinism? There is no such thing as Darwinism to begin with, so what is this Neo thing? Biology does not teach Darwinism, nor Neo-Darwinism, but Evolution. This is a typical strategy of the ID movement, the straw-man attack. These guys are fighting Darwin, they always mention how he was a racist and such to point out that his theory is wrong. These IDiots claim you are something you are not (i.e. a “Darwinist”) and then proceed to attack it. In fact they’re attacking a fictional thing, something they created. It’s hilariously stupid, if it wasn’t so successful when they’re dealing with less sophisticated people, such as …..oh let me see….politicians.

One LSU Darwinist biologist, Dr. Bryan Carstens, who opposed the bill had the temerity to claim: “let us be clear that there is no controversy among professional biologists about fact of evolution.” The glaring weakness in his false argument was not lost upon members of the legislature: he was immediately pressed by one legislator on the committee who asked the following:

In the document you just read and gave to us, in bold print it says, ‘let us be clear there is no controversy among biologists about the fact of evolution.’ Did you hear the testimony of the other professors we had here that were speaking before this committee?

Uuhhh yes, so what? These people can’t seem to understand that finding a few nut cases, does not constitute controversy in the field of biology. So let us be clear: THERE IS NO CONTROVERSY AMONG BIOLOGISTS ABOUT THE FACT OF EVOLUTION. There may be disagreement about the various mechanisms, various details, but the field of biology as a science has no problem with evolution. Does that mean that every last biologist accepts it. No! But none of them has been able to make a scientific case against it. That’s key and the IDiots don’t want to understand that. So what, if some biologists are so attached to their religious beliefs that they reject biology? Hypocrisy yes, controversy not even close, morons!

Just as if to make my point they went on to say:

But to testify that there is “no controversy” among “professional biologists” implies that scientists who doubt Darwinism do not exist.

Bzzzzz, wrong wrong IDiots! There are scientist who doubt Evolution. But they do so based on their own religious beliefs not their science. These people don’t have a scientific argument against it. All they offer is the argument from personal incredulity, or as I refer to it the “I’m too stupid to understand, thus it must be wrong” logical fallacy.

Moral of the story-Academic freedom does not mean freedom to do whatever you want and say whatever you want without answering to anyone. That’s what these people want. They want to be allowed to go in a classroom and say whatever crap they happen to believe in. That’s akin to cops making their own laws, because they may happen not to agree with the current ones. Would any of these IDiots fight to get the cops this freedom? Somehow I doubt they would!

May 27, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

SkepNews-Week of 5/23/08

  • Astrologers to pick US presidential race winner – Given their accuracy track record, they’ll probably go for Rudy Giuliani. Wow, this astrology stuff is quite potent. Not only can it tell you what you will do, but also pretty much what every other American will do, since winning the presidential election depends as much on the voters as the candidates themselves. Pretty fucking mind blowing potent if you ask me!
  • Euthanasia, the ultimate ignored human right – Only Oregon has legalized euthanasia so far in the US. One man is trying to make Washington go Oregon’s way. Let’s all hope he succeeds, for the sake of human rights and human dignity.
  • 12 year old boy beheads man on video – peaceful religion my ass. Such outcomes are the reason why religion should be wiped out, regardless of all the supposed good things it does for us, such as give us false hope through lies, lies and more lies. I’ll take the cruel reality thank you very much.
  • Self appointed prophet wanted to bed 7 virgins – Is anyone really surprised?
  • Female genital mutilation legal again in Egypt – No doubt everyone who voted in favor had hardware dangling in between his legs….and nothing dangling inside their head….complete void and emptiness.
  • Dutch cartoonist arrested for drawing cartoons offensive to Islam – really dutch folk need to get their shit together. I was always looking at that part of the world as the example of some of the best democracies around. This kind of censorship makes you think twice. Have these people never heard of freedom of speech?
  • The Shroud of Turin to be tested…yet againit’s fake folks! It doesn’t matter how many times you test it, it will come back as a medieval fake. And what’s the rationale for this retest? Oh, it must have been contaminated by a yet unknown process which moved the carbon dating about 1,000 years ahead. It’s kind of pointless anyway, even if they show that it does in fact date back to the times of Jesus. How does that prove it’s authenticity anyway? It would simply mean that it was produced 2,000 years ago, not that it is authentic. What a waste of time and money!
  • Oregon court upholds gay marriage ban – Ok, we can’t expect Oregon to have all the good laws can we? They’re ok on the euthanasia front, and running with the pack on the gay marriage front. Still better than most other states, with the exception of California may be, I say!

May 23, 2008 Posted by | Crimes against Humanity, Critical Thinking, Pseudo-science, Religion, Science | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments