Posts Tagged ‘evolution

24
Sep
08

Who Thinks Obama Is Going To Win The Sept. 26 Debate?

I’ve seen a lot of certitude from the Democrat side that Obama is going present USC-OU 2004 National Championship-style smackdown on McCain this Friday at the first presidential debate. And while if I were christian, I’d get on my knees every night till they bleed begging baby jesus for such an outcome.

But I don’t think it’s going to happen. And here’s why.

McCain has morphed into a desperate tall-tale-teller allowing his ambition to parasitically leach the soul from our once honorable and happier warrior. All that’s left is a shell of political expediency that clings to the life-force of a five-year POW who existed forty years ago.

Given the current situation of McCain’s character – or lack thereof – how many times do you think those of us watching will want to call bullshit Friday night? How many times do you think Romney tried to call bullshit during the primaries? Probably never. My experience with Mormons is that they don’t curse.

Still, the level of untruth perpertrated by McCain and his campaign has reached atmospheric levels. They wouldn’t know reality if it bitch-slapped them in the face and called them “man-whore.”

The worse part about it is not McCain’s lying – despite it’s unprecedented levels – it’s that the type of people who would vote for McCain do not care.

Jonathan Chait offers a compelling profile of McCain’s whoppers in today’s (LEFT-LEANING) The New Republican and I’ve pulled the significant paragraphs from his 6-page report. It’s long because McCain’s told a lot of lies. Here’s what I found extremely interesting from his piece, entitled, “Liar’s Poker” (bear with me – I know it’s a long – but it’s definitely worth the read):

Here we have the distilled essence of the McCain campaign’s ethos: Perception is reality. Facts don’t matter. McCain has presented himself as the grizzled champion of timeworn values. But the defining trait of his candidacy turns out to be a postmodern disdain for truth. How could McCain–a man widely regarded, not so long ago, as one of the country’s most honor-bound politicians, and therefore an unusually honest one–have descended to this ignominious low? Part of the answer is that McCain is simply doing what works–and there is good reason to believe that his campaign’s strategy of persistent dishonesty will pay dividends come November 4. But part of the explanation for all this recent dishonesty may lie, oddly enough, in McCain’s legendary sense of honor.

If this is McCain’s strategy, then a bunch of news reports debunking his claims isn’t going to hurt. Indeed it may even help. Last February, political scientists Brendan Nyhan of Duke and Jason Reifler of Georgia State published the results of an experiment designed to test the effects of political untruths. The results would unsettle any idealist. The first conclusion they found was that lies work. When subjects were confronted with an untrue political claim (President Bush banned stem-cell research; weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq) respondents naturally moved toward those positions. When the lie was corrected, however, the effect of the untruth in moving opinions largely remained. The truth, in other words, is no antidote for a lie.

Their second conclusion was even more disturbing. Subjects who identified as politically conservative were not only immune to the effects of having a lie corrected, the correction made them even more likely to believe a lie. So, for instance, one group of conservative subjects was presented with a news story that depicted President Bush claiming weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq. A second group of conservatives was presented with the same thing, along with a paragraph noting that Bush’s statement was untrue. The second group was more likely than the first to believe that Iraq possessed WMDs. The very fact of the press challenging their beliefs seems to have made conservatives more likely to embrace them. If this finding is broadly correct, then the media’s new found willingness to fact-check McCain will only succeed in rallying the GOP base to his side.

The pattern here is perfectly clear. McCain has contempt for anybody who stands between him and the presidency. McCain views himself as the ultimate patriot. He loves his country so much that he cannot let it fall into the hands of an unworthy rival. (They all turn out to be unworthy.) Viewed in this way, doing whatever it takes to win is not an act of selfishness but an act of patriotism. McCain tells lies every day and authorizes lying on his behalf, and he probably knows it. But I would guess–and, again, guessing is all we can do–that in his mind he is acting honorably. As he might put it, there is a bigger truth out there.

Main point: Conservatives who are told a lie, then told the truth, believe the lie more after they were told the truth! This means, people, that no matter how many times Barack says (with a hint of condescension), “Now, John, you know that’s just not true,” it won’t make a smidgen of difference. Even if Obama presents a coherent, thought-out, truthful rebuttal to McCain’s lies (“He wants to tax the American people,” “He was wrong on the surge,” “He doesn’t put country first,” “Palin has more experience.”), it will not make a difference in the belief conservatives have in McCain words. It truly is a sad commentary.

I must, however, point out that most of these conservatives are evangelical christians and believe the bible is fact, the Earth is 6,000 years old, all life came from the animals Noah could round up, Jesus rose from the dead and you have to believe in him – with no evidence – or their benevolent, all-loving god will send you down to the hellfires for eternity. Critical thinking isn’t their best attribute, to say the least.

I’m not sure how many of these conservatives will be watching Friday night, but seeing as how the main convention speeches drew around 40 million viewers, I’m thinking a lot will be tuned in. These people, however, would be in the bag for the Republican candidate even it was Elmo. I know, I know – there are loads of Dems who would vote for the Cookie Monster if he said he’d end the Iraq War. I get it.

While the debates will be a vital deciding factor in the outcome of the election, I think it will be harder to decide the victor. Palin has already won the VP’s go-round on Oct. 2. The bar is so low for her (perhaps the Devil is holding it up) and there are no rebuttal periods, which means than unless her boob pops out or she says, “I’m changing my mind and voting for Barack Obama,” she’s won. Actually, she’ll probably win big time if her boob pops out. Good luck, Joe B – try to chant, “I am not a political god. I am not a political god,” before heading on stage. That will probably help impede your gaffe-propensity.

What we can conclude here is that the arguments, facts, issues, policies, etc. presented during the debate will not determine the victor. The viewship will. The more informed and analytical the viewership, the more likely Obama will win. The opposite is true for McCain. I plan on watching.

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10
Sep
08

Saving U.S. Dominance and the Environment

Hegemony [hejuh-moh-nee] – leadership or predominant influence exercised by one nation over others, as in a confederation.

The Washington Post reported on the upcoming report “Global Trends 2025” by Thomas Fingar, “the U.S. intelligence community’s top analyst,” in which Fingar predicts U.S. dominance will decline in the coming decades. Fingar goes on to say that U.S. military strength “will ‘be the least significant’ asset in the increasingly competitive world of the future, because ‘nobody is going to attack us with massive conventional force.'”

“The U.S. will remain the preeminent power, but that American dominance will be much diminished,” Fingar said, according to a transcript of the Thursday speech. He saw U.S. leadership eroding “at an accelerating pace” in “political, economic and arguably, cultural arenas.”

In the years ahead, Washington will no longer be in a position to dictate what new global structures will look like. Nor will any other country, Fingar said. “There is no nobody in a position . . . to take the lead and institute the changes that almost certainly must be made in the international system,” he said.

The predicted shift toward a less U.S.-centric world will come at a time when the planet is facing a growing environmental crisis, caused largely by climate change, Fingar said. By 2025, droughts, food shortages and scarcity of fresh water will plague large swaths of the globe, from northern China to the Horn of Africa.

CNN’s Farheed Zakaria makes a very good point, WaPo points out, in his book, “The Post-American World,” in which he claims that the decline in U.S. dominance is due more to the rise of other economies (China, India) than an actual slide by the U.S.

The world is in fluctuation and always will be. What this means for Republicans – especially Old School

Republicans – who follow the “Might Makes Right” theory is that their views are growing antiquated and useless. The United States, especially under George W. Bush, has engaged in an arrogant, isolationist foreign policy that does not take into account global geopolitical currents or world opinion. McCain is obviously of the same fabric and same blind mindset. The United States must interact with and seek cooperation with foreign countries rather than spouting our view and vilifying those who disagree with us. It’s petty and unproductive.

Now we face a declining economy – which will result in a weakened military. And instead of working on new technologies, as Americans have always done, to progress our country and kick start our economy again, the Republicans are stupidly chanting “drill now, drill now.” By burying their heads in the sand and refusing to acknowledge the importance of alternative energy development, they are attempting to forfeit our future – and not just environmentally.

Alternative and clean energy development could be our next Dot BOOM, it could be our next technological breakthrough and economic stronghold. Americans have long dominated innovation and technological progress. Of the 4,222,954 patents in the world, 2,460,775 have come from the U.S. We are creatures of development – the discovery of electricity, the light bulb, the steam engine, the telephone, the television, the car, the computer – you name major technological advances in the last 200 years and the U.S. almost always has its stamp on it.

And its time we did again.

Let’s discuss our oil industry. Gas prices have risen so steeply largely due to growing global demand for oil – especially from China and India. Now that prices have slid a bit and the oil industry is learning where America’s pain threshold is in regard to oil prices – at least when we’re in an economic downturn – they will not allow prices to return to the days of cheap fuel.

Just today, OPEC decided to reduce overall output by 500,000 barrels a day to offset the recent decrease in prices – even though Ike is barreling toward the Texas coast. You see, even when prices are “outrageously” high, OPEC will still make sure that profits are maximized. So what’s the answer? Well, you saw what Republicans wanted to do.

The problem? First of all, drilling now solves nothing because we do not have the refining infrastructure to handle the increase in fuels – largely due to inattention by Washington and the whole Not In My Backyard argument. About a month ago, when a McCain spokesman (can’t remember his name, but he had ring-around-the-head and a goatee) was asked about the infrastructure issue, he said, “One problem at a time!” So, he was basically saying drill first, ask questions later. Not smart policy.

Secondly, oil companies are given leases – areas of land upon which they may drill – for around 10 years. There is plenty of hydrocarbon-rich land available to the oil companies now, but these lengthy leases reduce the competition by the oil companies and many hang on to the available land without ever drilling.

Our domestic oil companies like high prices as well and as soon as prices begin to slide because “we’re not dependent on foreign oil,” they will slow production enough to drive demand and squeeze more money from the consumer.

So, Americans are not just held hostage by oil-rich foreign countries, Americans are also held hostage by our own domestic oil companies.

But no one wants to tell you this – not Barack Obama and certainly not John McCain because they enjoy corporate donations.

What’s the answer?

Alternative, reusable, natural and clean energy. Not only does it lessen the grip oil companies have on our wallets and our economy, the entire world is in desperate need and want of alternative fuels. If we develop the technology that our global partners are clamoring for, we can not only save the environment, we can save our standing in the world.

We must not let the Right Wing – with their Big Oil cohorts – kill the most viable option we have for America’s future by closing the door to new clean energy. Furthermore, the dumbing-down of our children by the Religioners and their assault on our science classes has got to stop. We have a major fight brewing in the Texas Board of Education regarding the introduction of Creationism or at least the doubting of Evolution into our schools and I’m sure this is occuring in many other states. This will hurt America – culturally, economically and globally. Ensuring the best and brightest and most-prepared students emerge from our educational institutes should be a major priority because their actions will dictate whether our nation progresses or withers.

You want to protect America? Protect science classes, encourage serious scientific education, and support the development of clean energy.

15
May
08

Anti-Intellectualism Syndrome and The Growing Smart Gap

The wealth gap in America isn’t the only growing dichotomy in our melting pot of various demographic slices. An intellectual gap is asserting itself in dangerous levels as these demographic slices form battling coalitions over differing priorities. While the Internet is a fascinating equalizer, providing information and education to those who seek it, the increasing vilification of education and intellectualism is alarming. And the 2008 Election, with its record-breaking participation, has brought illustrations of the growing smart gap to the forefront of mainstream media – even if the media doesn’t understand or acknowledge exactly what they’ve got their hands on.

The most recent example of the degradation of education in America is the difference in voter groups in the Democratic Primary. We are continuously reminded that educated Americans lean more toward Obama and blue-collar (they hardly ever say “uneducated”) voters side with Clinton. In an effort to celebrate these blue-collar Americans, the media and the candidates repeatedly refer to them as “hardworking Americans” – which should seem offensive to white-collar workers who undoubtedly work just as hard whether it’s in the operating room or on the trading floor.

Obama’s opponents readily reach for the “elitist” attack, however, simply because educated voters choose him more than any other candidate. How ridiculous. How backwards. How indicative of the anti-intellectualism that seems pervasive even in our most top levels of government.

It is not far-fetched to assume that educated voters are more informed, know more about current events, and are more familiar with the global effects of our national decisions and, thus, can apply critical analysis – even in the voting booth – better than their uneducated counterparts. This is not to say that a college-educated voter will always make a better decision than an uneducated voter. Intellectualism has more to do with the seeking of knowledge than the attaining of a piece of paper in the form of a degree. Smarter, more educated decisions, however, lead to a better – even longer – life and benefit not just the educated, but society as a whole.

Hillary Clinton began to solidify a political base as she began to pander to the uneducated, as Republicans do in most of their campaigns. In a fantastic blog entitled “In Defense of Being Educated” on The Huffington Post, Robert J. Elisberg writes that Hillary Clinton thinks she should be president because her voters are less educated than those of her opponent. He’s simplifying for effect, but the message is clear. The uneducated, potentially poorer-decision making voters who have always been courted by Republicans, are being celebrated and lauded. Yes, this may just be a political tool to get ahead, but the message it sends to America is a very dangerous one indeed.

I’m reminded of the 60 Minutes Report “All Eyes On Ohio” during which Kenny Schoenholtz, a worker at the Glatfelter paper factory (which was shutting down) told Steve Kroft about Obama, “Well, I’m hearin’ he doesn’t even know the National Anthem, you know. He wouldn’t use the Holy Bible. He’s got his own beliefs, got the Muslim beliefs. Couple issues that bothers me at heart.” Now, I don’t know anyone who saw that report and were not – too put it lightly- gobsmacked by the stupidity of such a person.

Now, that may seem a harsh judgment, but it is difficult to watch as voters just like Schoenholtz are routinely courted as the Holy Grail among voting blocs. He is the perfect constituent for Republicans or Clintons, who salivate at the opportunity to use unreasoned and illogical attacks. He is the audience for Willey Horton ads and Swiftboat campaigns. He is the voter to whom it will matter that Barack Obama’s middle name is Hussein. He is the voter who most likely voted for Bush a second time.

Why is he this type of voter? Because he is uneducated.

The pat-on-the-back for those who opted out of higher education or choose not to seek information and enlightenment will have grievous results beyond the quality of our elected leaders. With the diminishing appreciation of education – specifically science and math (largely due to religious fundamentalism) – the U.S. will continue to lose its stronghold as hegemonic power and falter economically, technologically and culturally. I recommend reading Susan Jacoby’s “The Dumbing of America” on The Washington Post for further statistics and examples of our rapid intellectual back-sliding. Jacoby has also recently written published “The Age of American Unreason“.

As the media and political parties request audience with uneducated voters using sugar-coated labels of importance, one must remember that lack of education and information encourage crime, teenage pregnancy, poverty, obesity, disease and more. Autocratic regimes and dictatorships prevent instruments of knowledge from reaching the masses as a tool with which to construct their oppressive governments.

I know many people who have not had access to a college education, yet are still very much intellectuals. The seeking of information, arming oneself with the ability to make enlightened decisions and the understanding of the importance of knowledge are all that is required to be intellectual.

As a nation, however, we glorify the rejecting of education to our own detriment.

There a fewer shames I can think of that the anti-intellectualism movement has produced than those presented by Nicholas D. Kristoff of The New York Times in his Op-Ed “With a Few More Brains…“:

“A 34-nation study found Americans less likely to believe in evolution than citizens of any of the countries polled except Turkey.

President Bush is also the only Western leader I know of who doesn’t believe in evolution, saying “the jury is still out.” No word on whether he believes in little green men.”

26
Mar
08

Good read: Newsweek Article on Physics and God

Even though those bastards at Newsweek hired evil non-genius Karl Rove, they are still managing to churn out quality pieces. It seems they haven’t received lightning bolts of bad karma or a plague of bubonic-infested rats and have continued publication. Of course, I know this because I’ve received my regular subscription for Festivus and those weekly issues just keep on comin. I vacillate between taking a squiz between the covers and using the magazine for kindling.

This week, they’ve interviewed Physicist Steven Weinburg (hook ’em, horns) on this huge particle experiment starting in Switzerland this summer. The interview addresses the possibility of physics eventually proving the existence of god and a lot of fun context around the topic.

I recommend reading the interview for yourself, but if you do not have the time or the inclination, here are some interesting excerpts. At least, I find them interesting. Pat Robertson or John Hagee or any others who make oodles of dough perpetuating the idea of “The Almighty Lord” might find it distasteful. Now, because the physicist is speaking in crazy, never-leave-the-lab langue, I’ll provide the best layman translation I can following each quotation. Hope you enjoy.

Quotation: “As science explains more and more, there is less and less need for religious explanations. Originally, in the history of human beings, everything was mysterious. Fire, rain, birth, death, all seemed to require the action of some kind of divine being. As time has passed, we have explained more and more in a purely naturalistic way.”

Translation: The idea that there is some inexplicable superbeing responsible for all the eye can see and the origins of the universe – i.e. intelligent design – is a croc of shiznit.

Quotation: “But religion has evolved along with science. It is something created by human beings, and as human beings learn more and more their religion changes. Today, especially in the more established religious sects in the West, they’ve learned to stop trying to explain nature religiously and leave that to science.”

Translation: Religion and faith are man-made and as humans progress, as they inevitably do, religion and mythology fade into the past. Each time you play Guitar Hero or call someone on your iPod or recycle a plastic bottle and appreciate the progress of mankind in any way, a particle of organized religion dries up and dies. And doesn’t go to heaven.

Quotation: “The more we learn about the universe the less sign we see of an intelligent designer. Isaac Newton thought that it would require an explanation in terms of the action of God to explain how the sun shone. Now we know that it shines because of the heat produced by the conversion of hydrogen into helium in its core.”

Translation: All the peeps wanting “intelligent design” to be taught in schools want to dumbify our children so that we are less and less competitive with emerging technological economies and end up returning to the jungle as the apes we once were.

Quotation: “All human beings, whether religious or not, are caught in a tragic situation of never fully being able to understand the world we are in.”

Translation: Certitude is the luxury of the inherently stupid.

Quotation: “I don’t think that we can ever prove that God does not exist. But if he does exit [sic] it might be possible to prove it.”

Translation: Paging Richard Dawkins! It looks like closure for Atheists is as remote as orgasms for nuns.

25
Feb
08

More On The Evolution Teachings In Schools – This Time In Texas

The March 4 primary isn’t just a big deal in Texas because for one of the first times, the Lone Star State will have a hand in deciding a presidential nominee, an election for a members of the State Board of Education is also a hot topic. The decisions Texans in District 2 and District 11 will set the scientific agenda for the state’s schools, including whether to scale back teachings of evolution and increasing the notion of “intelligent design” and abstinence vs. contraception, etc. Echoes of the Wild, Wild West still linger in this diverse state and the School Board is no exception.

If you’ve read my blog, you already know how I stand on this issue. The teaching of evolution is merely a factual presenation of the evidence we have found as to the Earth’s origins and its development. “Intelligent Design” – or the notion that there is a specific designer of the universe and we humans are merely too “unintelligent” to explain it. Well, I’m not.

First of all, the idea that science will never discover how or why the Earth came into existence is insanity defined. Science grows by leaps and bounds all the time. Look at how much we can explain scientifically of the Earth’s history, molecular structures, the biological mechanics of the human body and the “why”s that accompany these discoveries. Humans have discovered an exponential amount in the areas of technology, physics, chemistry, etc. than even 100 years ago. That science is somehow handicapped and limited is freaking ridiculous and a myth Christians hold on to because to disprove the bible would undo all that they’ve based their souls on. They are biased. Science is not biased. Science wants to discover, not destroy. Christians want to destroy all that is separate and disagrees with them. Their behavior is shameful and embarrassing.

I’m not worried about the development of the School Board. You cannot stop progress. To teach intelligent design in schools will simply prove the “conservatives” imbeciles and the children whose education they choose to forsake will understand this in time. Information is everywhere and boundless and unstoppable.

And, FYI – if all you intelligent designers want to know how the Earth came into existence, watch Naked Science “Birth of the Solar System” on National Geographic. That should clear up a lot of questions you might have.

And if you live in District 2 or District 11 – please research the candidates and vote INTELLIGENTLY. There is no Democrat Running for School Board in District 11, so I cannot vote as I will be voting in the Democratic Primary. You Republicans out there will have 2 choices and I suggest PAT HARDY- who is Christian, but does not endorse the teaching of Intelligent Design.

19
Feb
08

Florida Approves the use of “Evolution” in Schools

Well hallelooya, jesuschrist! The state school board, however, did stipulate “scientific theory of” must be placed in front of the term. It’s a start.

In the words of Job on Arrested Development, COME ON!!

Enough already, really. This is 2008 for crying out loud! Factual evidence proving the means of Earth’s birth and the evolution of the beings which inhabit this planet exist in abundance and have for decades. The idea of intelligent design or creationism is an insult to the very essence of common sense and good judgment. Leave it alone, people! If you want your kids to be myopic, unintelligent and unintelligible dumbasses, by all means – throw them into the nearest church excuse for a school. But don’t heap your addiction to the most recent ridiculous mythology onto the rest of us who appreciate evidence and truth and National Geographic.

I have an analogy. If you hate analogies, as many do, please stop reading and move on to the next blog about Ben and Jerry endorsing Obama. Thank you.

A Christian meets a believer in the Hawaiian volcanic diety, Pele, whose tempestuous personality causes the eruptions of the archipelago’s volcanoes. Obviously, the Christian thinks, the eruptions are caused by rock beneath the Earth’s crust melting and becoming magma, thus expanding – causing it to rise and, especially if it contains water and dissolved gases, burst forth through the surface in an explosive manner. We can prove that. There’s evidence and, really, it’s quite clear that the volcano erupts through basic geological developments and not the due to the ire of some mythical crazy lady.

Well, evolution-disbelievers, that’s what we think about you and your inability to progress normally that will eventually cause the downfall of your religion in its entirety. As humanity evolves, illogical religion, just as the myths of the ancient Greeks, will fade as education and information replace cult and control. Duh!




Scarlet Letter of Atheism

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