Nevada Tea Party candidate opposes abortion because rape is part of God’s plan

Sharron Angle is the Tea Party candidate running as a Republican in the Nevada senate race. Oh, and she’s a misogynistic godwalloping asshole:

MANDERS: I too am pro-life, but I’m also pro-choice. Do you understand what I say when I mean that?

ANGLE: Well, I’m pro responsible choice. There’s choice to abstain, choice to use contraceptives … there’s all kinds of good choice…

MANDERS: Is there any reason at all for an abortion?

ANGLE: Not in my book.

MANDERS: So, in other words, rape and incest would not be something?

ANGLE: You know, I’m a Christian, and I believe that God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives and that he can intercede in all kinds of situations and we need to have a little faith in many things.

I really don’t understand why Christians would want to promote the idea that God is a sadistic dick who’s making you get raped for your own good, but hey, feel free to continue your bad PR. What I do have a problem with is when you illogical fairy tales are going to hurt people and become public policy. The fact that people support this woman is terrifying.

The egg, the chicken, and evolution

A question from

“Who came first, the egg or the chicken?!”

The egg, of course! Reptiles were laying eggs before the first bird was even around. Now, if you’re specifically talking about a chicken egg, it gets a little more complicated. I was going to create my own explanation, but I think Wikipedia already does quite a nice job:

Since DNA can be modified only before birth, a mutation must have taken place at conception or within an egg such that an animal similar to a chicken, but not a chicken, laid the first chicken egg.[8][9] In this light, both the egg and the chicken evolved simultaneously from birds that were not chickens and did not lay chicken eggs but gradually became more and more like chickens over time.

However, a mutation in one individual is not normally considered a new species. A speciation event involves the separation of one population from its parent population, so that interbreeding ceases; this is the process whereby domesticated animals are genetically separated from their wild forebears. The whole separated group can then be recognized as a new species.

The modern chicken was believed to have descended from another closely related species of birds, the red junglefowl, but recently discovered genetic evidence suggests that the modern domestic chicken is a hybrid descendant of both the red junglefowl and the grey junglefowl.[10] Assuming the evidence bears out, a hybrid is a compelling scenario that the chicken egg, based on the second definition, came before the chicken.

There you go – a scientific answer to an age-old question! Of course, the Biblical viewpoint is that the chicken came first, since God created birds on the fourth day and made no mention of eggs. Guess proving the Bible wrong again is the cherry on top.

Geeky quickfire!

Questions from

Which Ninja turtle do you prefer?

Donatello, of course! How could the scientist not be my favorite? I’d always choose him in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles video game for NES. I still remember how accomplished my friend and I felt if we made it to the skateboard level (we were in 1st grade, cut us some slack).

And just to prove my TMNT/art geekiness, I own this shirt:
So I hear we shall see Harry Potter nude in the next movie…could be wrong. The perv in me so wants to tho ;D

Hm, I’m torn. On one hand, I was never a fan of Harry in the books. He annoyed the living crap out of me. Pretty much all of his characteristics were the antithesis of traits I look for in a guy, so I never understood the Harry fangirling. On the other hand, I’m always for gratuitous male nudity, especially within my geeky fandoms. That and I like Daniel Radcliffe – he seems intelligent, witty, and humble. You know, traits that actually are attractive to me.

Now if someone invents a time machine and we get a Younger Alan Rickman nude scene, then I’ll join you in flailing.


I’ll show you something even better:Ah, the bad decisions we made at age 17. As a funny side note, we had no idea who that person in the Pikachu suit was.

Kangaroo rats!

Right now I’m about to give my talk at Evolution 2010. Don’t worry, I’m not blogging instead of practicing – I made this post a while ago. But I figured it would be appropriate to share some love for my study organism, the kangaroo rat! And what better way to do that than a David Attenborough clip:

That’s a different species than my particular k-rat: I study banner-tails, which are totally cuter with their fancy tails. For more information and photos, check out one of my previous posts about my research! Or just look at this cute little baby:

Religious accommodationism at Evolution 2010

Amongst evolutionary biologists, there are differing opinions on how to communicate science to the public and increase acceptance of evolution. One of these opinions is religious accommodationism, which attracts much ire from more outspoken activists such as PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne. While I happen to agree with them, I do understand not everyone does. There are those who believe science and religion are totally compatible, that theistic evolution is good enough, and that we need to mince our words lest we offend liberal theists who could be on our side.
However, I was surprised to find a whole 2 hour symposium at the Evolution 2010 conference devoted to accommodationism. It was the Communicating Science Symposium, which started with a talk by Robert T. Pennock on Communication Evolution, focusing on audience and message. You all know my love for evolution and communicating it to others, so I was initially very excited for this talk. It definitely had good parts, especially about carefully choosing our wording as to not confuse others (Don’t say you “believe” in evolution, don’t call it “Darwinism,” don’t say you have “faith” in science, etc).

But it quickly went downhill. Much of the talk was about distancing support of evolution with atheistic views – that we need to stress that religion and science is compatible so people in the “middle” can still accept theistic evolution. That people are more willing to accept evolution if they hear it from their pastor. He lauded Francis Collins and the BioLogos foundation for being pro-evolution…even though BioLogos just had a piece trying to reconcile Biblical Adam and Eve with evolution.

That’s why there’s a problem with accommodationism. It’s more about winning numbers for your cause than truly communicating and educating people about evolution. Are people truly supporters of evolution if they’re not accepting it as a natural process? Do people really understand natural selection if they think God is zapping in mutations or had a plan for humans to eventually evolve? Why is it that our tactic involves people preserving their religious beliefs (which are based on faith), but molding science (which is based on facts) to fit their world view? If anything, it should be the other way around. Religion should have to accommodate science.

The reason why people feel compelled to do this is because religion holds a special status in our society where it can’t be criticized, even when it’s blatantly wrong. This really came out in the second part of the symposium, which was by a woman from AAAS (I unfortunately missed her name). She said there’s no use in including creationists or atheists in the discussion because we’re extremists who won’t change our minds.

Yep – we don’t want to potentially alienate theistic allies, but it’s totally okay to ignore those atheist extremists. Why is theism worth accommodation, but secular opinions are not? I commented on this in the Q&A, saying if they’re accommodating religion they should also accommodate secular opinions, but all I received was an awkward “Okay” and the Q&A ended – where every other question got a long reply.

I guess it’s just disappointing seeing such a one sided representation of “communication” at a large conference. Should have spent my morning going to the research based talks.

The Secular Student Alliance conference is approaching!

This is a friendly reminder that the Secular Student Alliance conference is quickly approaching! It’s July 23-25 at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. If you’re involved in high school or college secular groups (or thinking about starting one), this is a wonderful opportunity. I wish I had attended when I was first starting the Society of Non-Theists – I learned so many useful group-running skills that would have made my life a lot easier. If you’re hard up for cash (aka a student), the SSA also awards travel grants to help you make the journey!

But the conference is not just for students. There will be a lot of great speakers talking about various non-theist issues, including (photos and descriptions shamelessly stolen from the SSA’s last newsletter):

Keynote Presentation by Greta Christina, atheist/LGBT activist and blogger: “What the Atheist Movement Can Learn from the LGBT Movement”

Hemant Mehta, chair of the SSA Board of Directors, author of “I Sold My Soul on eBay,” and blogger at the Friendly Atheist: “How the Religious Right Went After Me… and Lost”

Meeeeeeeeee, founder of the Society of Non-Theists at Purdue University, blogger at Blag Hag, and the founder of “Boobquake” presents “Edgy Yet Friendly”

Julia Galef
, co-host and blogger at Rationally Speaking: “Moderating Discussion”

So even if you’re not a student, you should consider attending! The atmosphere alone is work it – it’s pretty awesome hanging out with a large group of godless heathens for a couple days. Plus, there’s a field trip to the zoo with a guided tour by a professor of human evolution, and there’s almost assuredly going to be at least one night out at a bar. And if you’re more motivated by charitable things, your registration fees help support the SSA, which could always use more money to help secular groups across the country. I had a blast last year, and I’m sure you will too.

Registration rates go up on July 1, so don’t wait!

Scientists discover bike riding is incredibly hard

To all the people who’ve made fun of me for never learning how to ride a bike*: Suck it.

Hmmm, why do I have a feeling this will just bring me more mockery?

*Yes, really. Yes, I tried. I have no sense of balance and was never interested enough to put forth the extra effort. My family gave up trying to teach me when I outgrew my bike. My dad would taunt me that I would be the first person to get their driver’s license before learning to ride a bike, in hopes that it would guilt me into learning. I thought this was amusing, so that’s what I did.

Twitter affects brain chemistry the same as love

Why is Twitter so addictive and appealing? It seems the answer may be more scientific than one would have guessed. An experiment by an industrious blogger has found that sending a tweet increases oxytocin and decreases stress hormone levels in the brain. This is similar to the reaction a person has when being in love.

I would love to see this investigated on a larger scale. Is this guy an anomoly, or is this a common experience for tweeters? How does reading other tweets affect us? Are the effects magnified when someone replies to us? Are the thousands of tweets I’ve sent in the last year considered drug abuse?

Hop to it, NIH! Fund this essential research.

Should birth control pills be available over the counter?

There’s an interesting Op-Ed over at the New York Times suggesting that it’s about time the birth control pill be available as over the counter medication. Since a prescription is the status quo, it never even dawned on me that changing that was an option. This would certainly help women who don’t have access to a doctor or had other complications arise (forgetting your pills before a vacation, etc). And in a country plagued by teen pregnancy, it would certainly help sexually active teens who don’t have methods of getting a prescription, whether they be for monetary or parental reasons.

But on top of the social aspect, Kelly Blanchard makes many good points on why we should make this change based on the science behind the pill:

The pill meets F.D.A. criteria for over-the-counter medications. Women don’t need a doctor to tell them whether they need the pill — they know when they are sexually active and want to avoid pregnancy. Pill instructions are easy to follow: Take one each day. There’s no chance of becoming addicted. Taking too many will make you nauseated, but won’t endanger your life, in contrast to some over-the-counter drugs, like analgesics. (There are even side benefits to taking the pill, like reduced risks of ovarian and uterine cancer.)

It’s true that the pill could be dangerous for women with certain conditions. Women who are 35 or older and smoke, and those with high blood pressure, are at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke if they take oral contraceptives that combine estrogen and progestin. But these are not complicated conditions to identify; women already have to tell their doctor about their health problems when they get a prescription, and research shows that women can screen themselves for contraindications almost as well as providers do.

What do you think? Is it time for birth control pills to be available over the counter? Do we have these regulations in place just because it deals with women’s sexuality, or are their valid medical concerns that Blanchard failed to mention?


I get crazy email sometimes, but this person seemed to have my best interests at heart. How about I share it with you guys, and see what you all think?

My name is Eric [redacted] and I have read much on what you have had to say on various subjects.

Gay rights

You have a rebelious nature. You are about the same age as my children, and I see a lot of immaturity in you.
You enjoy attacking people to much.
You demand your right to be heard and then are rude to those who disagree with you.

All of the various subjects that you believe so strongly in are all tied together under one real subject. Your desire to buck the system.

Most people do believe in God…. you do not and you consider anyone who does an uneducated backwards fool.

You believe in Gay rights….. Yet HIV/AIDS has shown that nature itself has cursed this life style.

You would fight for the right of a serial killer to be saved from the electric chair and later that day fight for a woman to have the right to kill an innocent unborn child.

I would ask a feminist this: If women are intelligent why is abortion even needed? Today we have so many different forms of birth control abortion should no longer even be needed.

Could it simply be that women are not using birth control and then saying they do not want children? If you want men to take the responsibility can a woman not say ” not until you put that condom on”>??????

Maybe what your belief system is really all about is being able to do whatever you want anytime you want with anyone you want and their being no consequences to any of your actions….

We use to call people that thought like that children….. maybe it’s time to grow up

My new email address is: [redacted]

I wish you good luck

You know, I feel it’s only fair to respond to people with the level of respect that their thoughtful arguments have earned. Which is why, Eric, I feel compelled to say this:


Hey, if there’s anything maturity has taught me, it’s to not waste my time responding to the insane judgemental ramblings of random internet strangers. Each sentence he wrote could get it’s own novel-length rebuttal, but what does it matter if it’s flying in one ear and out the other? The only reason I’m posting this is that I think it’s unfair to keep all this merriment to myself. Or so you could facepalm at the stupidity and develop your own counterarguments. Whatever floats your boat.

Though I do have to point out one thing: If I really wanted to rebel against my parents, I would have become a fundamentalist Christian Republican Sarah-Palin loving housewife. I think just typing that made my dad feel a disturbance in the Force.