I have a proposition

All atheist conferences should start with Ceremonial Disemboweling of Deranged Creationist Ideas.
At least, that’s how the Kamloop’s Imagine No Religion Conference started. After PZ Myer’s talk on evolution, one person asking a “question” that managed to combine “tolerance means accepting my wrong beliefs,” “if you don’t believe in god why do you keep living because then life is pointless,” and Pascal’s wager into one statement (because it wasn’t really a question). Another creationist crank then persisted to the post-talk mingling, and spent hours debating PZ. And by debating, I mean repeating tired and refuted arguments ad infinitum and changing the subject whenever someone tried to answer his questions.

Poor PZ. Can’t even drink his beer in peace.

But seriously, can all atheist conferences start this way? I’m feeling positively invigorated. It’s a great reminder of why we’re doing what we’re doing – because people are still spewing these noxious ideas into the atmosphere.

Apparently even in Canada. Is there nowhere I can escape to?!

That’s all you got, Ken Ham?

Allow me a moment to gloat.

Ken Ham is bragging about how much traffic his various anti-science websites have received in the past year, and how much they’ve improved from the year before. Let’s ignore for a moment that a good chunk of that traffic is people showing up to giggle at his wackiness and just look at the numbers:

• In 2010, the Answers in Genesis main website had more than 10 million visits for the first time (10,225,465 visits, previously 8,726,503–a 17% growth) from more than 5 million unique visitors (5,445,617 unique visitors, previously 4,650,206–a 17% growth).

• The Creation Museum website had more than 1 million visits for the first time (1,079,290 visits, previously 899,890–a 19.9% growth).

• The Answers Vacation Bible School (VBS) website had more than 100,000 visits for the first time (110,767 visits, previously 34,231–a 223% growth), with almost half a million page views (476,551 page views, previously 122,301–a 289% growth).

Alright, Answers in Genesis has me beat – even though Pharyngula‘s traffic dwarfs it. But I owned the Creation Museum. One million visits? Blag Hag had 2,316,028 visits during it’s second year of existence. It had 344,158 visits it’s first year – a 573% growth. And when you look at page views, I had a 791% growth.

Oh, and Answers Vacation Bible School? Psshhh. I beat you in a single day – 261,474 on the day of boobquake. The following day beat you too.

Even if you factor out all of my boobquake traffic, I still got over a million visits this year and a 295% growth. Me. A godless science student with a free Blogger account, some opinions, and a little bit a free time. I outpaced your multi-million dollar, highly advertised, anti-science “Museum.”

Two words:

Wah wah.

“What exactly is Christian about being gay?”

The Creation Museum recently hosted a “Date Night” for FamilyLife’s conference in Cincinnati, OH. While usually I’d consider animatronic dinosaurs the true pinnacle of romance, the whole Biblical literalism thing sort of ruins the mood for me. But one journalist decided to check it out with friends, and posted about his experience on reddit:

I write for an alt-weekly, and in the interest of journalistic science went to northern Kentucky’s Creation Museum for their couples’ Date Night, which basically consisted of a talk by museum founder Ken Ham, a buffet dinner, a musical performance by a country music guitarist and truckloads of cognitive dissonance.

Our party consisted of myself, my girlfriend Shanna and our friend Brandon, who was to be accompanied by our friend Joe, who was himself running late. As a coterie of security guards checked the three of us in, they wanted to know where Brandon’s date what kind of car she would be driving so they could keep a look out for her.

“Uh,” I said, “his partner’s name is Joe.” (I don’t know why I said it that way, it just came out. Joe and Brandon are heterosexual)

Needless to say, the security guard reacted with shock.

“Joe?” he said. “This is a Christian environment, and we can’t allow them to attend. It will disrupt the evening for everyone.”

When pressed, the guard reiterated that you can’t be a Christian if you’re gay.

“Can you tell me what exactly is Christian about being gay?” the officer rhetorically asked. Nothing, obviously.

Now, this is an anonymous post on reddit, so you have to take it with a grain of salt. Hopefully the author will link to his official write up for his job when it’s published. EDIT: His article can be found here. But it’s certainly not the first time we’ve heard this sort of sentiment coming from some Christians. You can’t be Christian if you’re gay, and your disgusting gayness is going to ruin the night for all these nice, godly people.

I don’t know if the guards were from the Creation Museum or Family Life. The Creation Museum’s website states “Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum are not affiliated with FamilyLife.” Until we know, this isn’t exactly great PR for them when they’re trying to get tax payer money to fund their new theme park, Ark Encounter.

I’m sure the Creation Museum will release a statement right away saying that all homosexuals are welcome to their museum and apologize for the situation.

"What exactly is Christian about being gay?"

The Creation Museum recently hosted a “Date Night” for FamilyLife’s conference in Cincinnati, OH. While usually I’d consider animatronic dinosaurs the true pinnacle of romance, the whole Biblical literalism thing sort of ruins the mood for me. But one journalist decided to check it out with friends, and posted about his experience on reddit:

I write for an alt-weekly, and in the interest of journalistic science went to northern Kentucky’s Creation Museum for their couples’ Date Night, which basically consisted of a talk by museum founder Ken Ham, a buffet dinner, a musical performance by a country music guitarist and truckloads of cognitive dissonance.

Our party consisted of myself, my girlfriend Shanna and our friend Brandon, who was to be accompanied by our friend Joe, who was himself running late. As a coterie of security guards checked the three of us in, they wanted to know where Brandon’s date what kind of car she would be driving so they could keep a look out for her.

“Uh,” I said, “his partner’s name is Joe.” (I don’t know why I said it that way, it just came out. Joe and Brandon are heterosexual)

Needless to say, the security guard reacted with shock.

“Joe?” he said. “This is a Christian environment, and we can’t allow them to attend. It will disrupt the evening for everyone.”

When pressed, the guard reiterated that you can’t be a Christian if you’re gay.

“Can you tell me what exactly is Christian about being gay?” the officer rhetorically asked. Nothing, obviously.

Now, this is an anonymous post on reddit, so you have to take it with a grain of salt. Hopefully the author will link to his official write up for his job when it’s published. EDIT: His article can be found here. But it’s certainly not the first time we’ve heard this sort of sentiment coming from some Christians. You can’t be Christian if you’re gay, and your disgusting gayness is going to ruin the night for all these nice, godly people.

I don’t know if the guards were from the Creation Museum or Family Life. The Creation Museum’s website states “Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum are not affiliated with FamilyLife.” Until we know, this isn’t exactly great PR for them when they’re trying to get tax payer money to fund their new theme park, Ark Encounter.

I’m sure the Creation Museum will release a statement right away saying that all homosexuals are welcome to their museum and apologize for the situation.

Yep, definitely not a ministry

Remember when Anderson Cooper interviewed Ken Ham, who repeatedly insisted that Ark Encounter was not a ministry, but a for profit organization that will bring jobs to the state of Kentucky?

Well, in a move that’s not surprising to anyone who knows anything about Ken Ham and the Creation Museum, if you actually want one of those jobs, you’re going to have to write a statement saying you support Answers in Genesis’s statement of faith. No, it’s not just being Christian. And no, it’s not just believing the Earth is only 6,000 years old and that evolution is false. In addition to those highly important job related traits, you also have to accept moral judgments, such as homosexuality and pre-marital sex being a perversion, and actively attend church.

Not sure how they’re going to enforce those last ones. Maybe part of the contract requires your bedroom be outfitted with one of those security cameras Ken Ham loves so much.

So…tell me again how it’s totally okay for Kentucky to help fund a project that discriminates against gays and non-Young Earth Creationists?

(Via Pharyngula)

That look of disgust looks about right

Bill Nye the Science Guy, personal hero of mine and Humanist of the Year, recently visited the Creation Museum in Kentucky. And by visited, I mean he drove up, look a picture of the side-show, and drove off. How do we know? Because Big Brother Ken Ham was watching.

While I understand the need for surveillance cameras at any big building with a lot of traffic, it’s a bit off putting that he’ll slap any images from it on the internet. Here’s Ham’s proof:Yep, that seems to be the appropriate reaction to the Creation Museum. I can hear the thoughts running through his mind just by his expression. “The stupid, it burns! It burns!”

Creation Museum seeks Kentucky tax support

It’s bad enough the Governor was speaking at a press conference with them today. But it’s terrifying now that we know why:

Operators of the popular Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky are seeking state tax incentives to build a creationism theme park at a nearby site — a project that Gov. Steve Beshear officially will announce today .

Mike Zovath, senior vice president of the non-profit group Answers in Genesis, one of the partners in developing the park, said Kentucky officials have told him the proposal for state tourism-development incentives “looks good.”

He said the park — to be called Ark Encounter — would include a massive wooden ark that would offer educational attractions. Additional details weren’t released Tuesday.

[...]The developers are seeking incentives under the Kentucky Tourism Development Act, which allows up to 25 percent of the cost of a project to be recovered. Under the law, the state each year returns to developers of approved projects the sales tax paid by visitors on admission tickets, food, gift sales and lodging costs. Developers have 10 years to reach the 25 percent threshold.

Wow. How could funding the freaking Creation Museum not violate the separation of church and state? The only way this place could be considered “educational” is that it educates us on how incredibly wacky some people are. Or if they had a sign every three feet along the “museum” explaining why they’re mind-numbingly wrong. You know, signs showing actual science.

Of course, what do you expect coming out of Kentucky? Wait, what’s that…?

Zovath said Answers in Genesis and its partner, Ark Encounter LLC, a for-profit company based in Springfield, Mo., have not finalized plans to build the park in Kentucky and are still considering locating it in Indiana.

OH GOD NOOOO! Not my home state! We’re embarrassing enough…

Seriously though, how could this fly? What’s the logic here?

Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst for the Family Foundation, said his organization doesn’t believe there would be a problem in giving a tax break to an organization that is “not explicitly religious.””Whether you agree with them or not, they are making a claim that what they are doing is scientific and it’s not necessarily the state’s business to second guess that,” Cothran said.

…Are you fucking kidding me? As someone who’s been to the Museum, they very clearly say that they get all their knowledge from the Bible, and that it’s their goal to make facts mesh with the Bible. They hardly claim that it’s scientific. No, they devote the whole museum to demonizing science and the scientific method.

But even if they do claim to be scientific, it certainly is the state’s business to second guess that! Are we just going to let any religious group throw the word “science” around so they can get funding?

It’s bad enough that Kentucky was unlucky enough to be the home of the Creation Museum. Explicitly helping them will give us a legitimate reason to laugh at the state. Laugh, and then cry.

Someone please make this for us evolutionary biologists

This man is a genius:

Tired of arguing with climate change deniers in 140 character quips, [Nigel Leck] wrote a script to do it for him. Chatbot @AI_AGW scans Twitter every five minutes searching for hundreds of phrases that fit the usual denier argument paradigm. Then it serves them up some science.

Those responses are pulled from a database of hundreds of responses that the software matches up to the argument made by the original tweeter. Those who claim the entire solar system is warming are met with something like: “Sun’s output has barely changed since 1970 & is irrelevant to recent global warming” followed by a link to corresponding scientific research.

People on the other end of an argument don’t usually pick up on the fact that they are arguing with a program and will continue the argument. And AI_AGW continues to fire back responses. Even when the tweeter keeps throwing the same argument at the chatbot, it will respond with a variety of different arguments and links.

Programmers, please get on this. It gets so old dealing with the same ignorant arguments over and over again. I would kill for an automated Index to Creationist Claims. Sure, we may only educate a small fraction of people making the claims – the ones who are open to science but simply haven’t learned about evolution. But the rest of the time, the hilarity of watching hardcore creationists argue with a bot would make all the effort worth it.

I'm published! …Wait a second

More evidence that you shouldn’t always trust Google Scholar to deliver the best research papers. I decided to look up my name to see if my paper on genetic bottlenecks was searchable even though it’s in a book. That’s the third link listed. The first and fourth aren’t me, just some other poor J McCreight who has had their Google image search ruined forever by boobquake. But to my surprise, the second link is also mine (click image for larger):
…It’s a pdf of a paper I wrote my senior year of high school for AP Composition titled “Creationists in Scientists’ Clothing: Scientific and Legal Reasons Why Science Classes Must Omit Intelligent Design.” It’s pretty damn good considering I was 18 when I wrote it, but I derive endless amusement at how serious it’s being treated. Apparently my English teacher is second author, and the journal is ImageShack.

I mean, come on Google Scholar, how unprofessional. You forgot to mention it was 3rd period! What will happen to my academic reputation if someone thinks I was in 2nd period?!