New at Rosetta Stones: Stories from Survivors of Creationist “Science” Education

I’m republishing our Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education series over at Rosetta Stones. The posts are essentially the same, but with fewer in-jokes (like the word “Christianist”), and aimed toward an audience whose computers (or brains) have naughty-word filters. There will be places where I’ll add direct invitations to creationist students to really think about what they’re learning. I’m also letting through some creationist comments I’m getting, in case you want to go have fun with their myths, misconceptions, and outright ignorance about science. I’ve already had a dude making the “we only use 10% of our brains” claim – it’s hilarious. I’m still contemplating how much creationist schlock I’ll allow to clog up my comments section, but I actually haven’t gotten much. I’m impressed. [Read more…]

Let’s Bring Skepticon and the Ada Initiative Together! #skeptics4ada

So, remember how I talked about taking our activism, passion and filthy atheist lucre elsewhere?  Here’s an elsewhere: the Ada Initiative. It’s named for Ada Lovelace, “the enchantress of numbers” and the first person who wrote an algorithm meant for machines. She was essentially a computer programmer before there were even computers, people. That’s how awesome she is.

Image is a watercolor of Ada Lovelace, wearing a lovely purple dress and holding a fan.

Ada Lovelace, my darlings. She exudes awesome, doesn’t she just? I definitely need to make this costume for Halloween once I’ve got the hang of this seamstress stuff. Watercolor portrait by Alfred Edward Chalon (1780–1860). Image courtesy Science & Society Picture Library via Wikimedia Commons.

So this foundation honors her memory by supporting women in tech. They are not afraid of a certain f-word, either:

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An Obvious Alternative

You know, maybe we should be debating abortion after all. We sometimes get so hung up on the way things are and the way we think they should be that we forget there’s more than one way to solve our problems. Yes, it’s true that there isn’t a lot of common ground between anti-abortion and pro-choice folks. One side wants to prevent pregnant people from getting abortions, and the other doesn’t want to force pregnant folk to be forced to carry unwanted pregnancies. So what do you do with an unplanned pregnancy, eh?

But maybe there’s a way to prevent most abortions AND not force unwillingly pregnant people from staying pregnant. Maybe there’s a third way. Mimmoth has an innovative idea:

Perhaps we have been asking, over and over and over, the wrong question.

If we are going to deprive people of bodily autonomy to save wonderful wonderful fetuses from death there is an obvious alternative that we, as clear-eyed skeptics willing to question tradition and religion, should be examining–an alternative that causes less harm and does more good, as it benefits not only women, but also men.

The question we ought to be asking is, should we sterilize men to save wonderful wonderful fetuses from death?

Every man over the age of puberty would make a few sperm donations, which are frozen away, then promptly be vasectomized, period, no exceptions. The frozen sperm is saved for when he and his partner decide together to have a child. In the meantime, never again need a man fear being tapped for child support for a child he didn’t consent to. And never again need a woman fear being made to endure pregnancy and labor for a child she didn’t consent to.

It’s true that this would deprive more people of bodily autonomy–all men instead of one third of women. But the harm would be much smaller. Instead of vomiting through nine months of pregnancy and screaming through eighteen hours of labor we would be talking about a half-hour visit to the doctor’s office, of which the shaving would be the most time-consuming part of the procedure.

With every child a deliberate decision on the part of both parents, abortions plummet–not quite to zero, alas, as there are those rare tragedies when a wanted pregnancy goes badly awry–but by easily 90-99%. Surely that is cause for rejoicing, if saving wonderful wonderful fetuses from death was actually the point.

And it may turn out, when it’s men’s bodily autonomy we’re talking about stripping away, that bodily autonomy is important after all, so we’ll live with abortion on demand and without apology. That’s also okay with me.

#UpForDebate

Brilliant! There is so much win here. MRAs could stop whining about getting spermjacked – they’d never have to worry about that again! Fetus worshippers could rest easier, knowing that the only “babies” being “killed” would be ones where it was self-defense. Women wouldn’t have to worry about unwanted pregnancies and birth control. Even God would be happier, knowing sperm was no longer being wasted. The “no sex except for procreation” crowd would still be grumpy, but they’re only happy when they’re mad, so even they would be satisfied.

It’s the perfect solution. I look forward to it being implemented in the very near future.

Image shows a cat sitting slumped over like a dejected person. It's front legs are draped like arms with its paws in its lap. The caption says, "Don't look. I just got back from the vet.

 

The Outstanding Imagery of Amanda Reese

Originally published at Scientific American.

You want some Yellowstone? You got some Yellowstone! Amanda Reese is one of my most talented friends, and she’s just got her photography website up. After I did a lot of squeeing and awing and OMGing, she graciously agreed to let me filch a few of her images to show you. Because supervolcano. Love it!

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, WY, June 2013. Photo copyright Amanda Reese, used with permission. All rights reserved. Image shows a ridge behind Grand Prismatic Spring. Part of the spring, bright orange, is visible in the foreground. Steam is rising between the spring and the ridge.

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, WY, June 2013. Photo copyright Amanda Reese, used with permission. All rights reserved.

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Thank You, Ron

Dear Ron Lindsay,

Thank you for your apology. Thank you especially for this bit of your apology:

I am sorry that I caused offense with my talk.  I am also sorry I made some people feel unwelcome as a result of my talk.

You could have taken the Way of the Weasel and said so sorry we were offended, but you did what a leader needs to do and accepted full responsibility. I respect that. And that has, in turn, restored a bit of my respect for you. (Still – I’d have suggested replacing some with many, but otherwise not too bad.)

I’d also like to say that you just bested your own Board of Directors (and it might be nice if they stepped up and followed your lead – it would show they have the same ability to recognize when they’re wrong that you do). I appreciate that. I realize you could have left matters with their ridiculous non-statement and cut us all loose, but you didn’t – you did the right thing, and you’ve explained why you waited to do it. I hereby rescind my request for your head on a pike your resignation. Never wanted that as much as a sincere apology, anyway – you’ve done good work in the past, and it will be good to see you continue that work with a new understanding going forward. I certainly haven’t forgotten your strong statement against hate directed at women in the secular community. Perhaps now we’ll see you live up to your own words:

Those who are incapable of treating others with decency and respect do not belong in our communities. To such individuals we should say with one voice: take your hate elsewhere.

(Hint: Justin Vacula is one such individual. Y’know – the dude you hugged who writes for a hate site? Yeah. The people who cheered your unfortunate speech, snippy blog posts, and subsequent silence, and are now no doubt enraged by your apology, are others you should consider carefully before extending any welcome.)

Some folks are still wary, some are still pissed, and all of us will be watching to make sure you and CFI were actually listening, but I for one am reasonably sure you were. I think you’re the kind of person who can take criticism on board and, after the heat of the initial moment, and the instinctive defensiveness, comprehend why it is you came under so much fire. I know you can read past our anger and disappointment, extract our advice, and put it to good use. And I know that will make you a better ally, one I’ll be proud to stand beside.

We all fuck up sometimes. Thank you for being a person who can recognize a serious mistake and issue a true apology. Thank you for letting pride bend when it needed to.

See you at WiS3.

Sincerely,

Dana Hunter

PS. Have a sleeping kitten as a symbol of peace between us. Who (other than PZ) can resist that, amirite?

Sleeping Luna.

Sleeping Luna.

PPS. Dear Board of CFI: You have a long way yet to go before you earn forgiveness for that appalling and frankly insulting non-statement of yours. Get crack-a-lackin’.

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No Longer Donating to CFI? Skepticon Could Use Your Help!

Thanks to our own John-Henry Beck, I was made aware of this outstanding adherence to principles, irregardless of money:

However, after witnessing the actions of one of our years long sponsors, the Center for Inquiry (CFI), it has come to our attention that, in order to uphold the values that we have come to embody and endorse, we will no longer accept their sponsorship.

So what does this mean for Skepticon? Well, losing a large sponsor is going to hurt a little bit (we’re probably going to have to sell some of those awesome hats were were talking about) but it has made even determined than ever to make a conference that we can be proud of.

That right there tells me Skepticon is worth supporting. If you’ve withdrawn your fundage from CFI, Skepticon is a great place to redirect your donations. I’ve thrown some money in their coffers, and will be doing so on a semi-regular basis. Remember, this is student-led and free, and principled. If you can spare the change, show them some love.

And, Skepticon? Thank you for being awesome. Much love!

h1C568DB0

Being Visible

Agents of change make status quo folks rather squirmy. Folks who were previously absent or invisible either join up or speak up, and next thing you know, colored people want to drink out of lily-white fountains, and red people want their land back and treaties honored, and homosexuals want to get married, and women want to be treated as more than sex objects…. It’s hard. It’s very hard for those who’d been used to the Way Things Were. There the world was, ticking over nicely in their estimation, and suddenly a horde of uppity upstarts are there harshing their mellow. [Read more…]

Los Links: I Laughed, I Cried, They Became a Part of Me

Some of you will remember Los Links from back in the day when I could spend two days out of every week reading blogs, and then share the linky goodness with you. Life’s been too busy for a while for that, unfortunately. It should have been too busy tonight, but my brain said, “You know what? Fuck you. I’ve been thinking all day.” War at work, y’see: fighting to make things the best they can possibly be at an American megacorporation. It’s fun, and fulfilling, but taxing.

Thankfully, I had posts written (longhand) in advance, but my wrists said, “You know what? Fuck you. We’ve been typing most of the day.” So today ended with me lying about catching up on some freethought reading. If this continues tomorrow, I can bring you a roundup of recent geology posts. I suppose that won’t be so bad, now, will it? And then, on Wednesday, you will be guaranteed an original post of near-epic proportions, because we’re going to talk about why Mount St. Helens melted some bits but not all the bits on the cars. If we’re very fortunate, we’ll end up on Boing Boing again (thank you, Maggie Koerth-Baker!). I say we, because I wouldn’t have written up cars if it hadn’t been for you lot liking things like that, and as it turns out, you’re not the only ones. So, thank you, my darlings!

It’s not all happy fun times, alas. The thing with frequenting the freethought and skeptic blogs that I do is that Things That Are Not Happy get discussed, and if it weren’t for the bloggers and commenters restoring my hope for humanity, I’d have crawled off to a cave and become an official misanthrope by now. Between all of you, though, I am not willing to declare the vast majority of human kind irredeemable arseholes. Only a subset of it. Sigh.

There will be a humorous intermission, and loving comfort at the end. Stay with me. [Read more…]

A+, Plus Drool-Worthy Geology, AW #49 Info, and Other Bits

Blowing the dust off ye olde computer to say “Allo, allo, I’m still alive!” Taking a break, still, although I’m dipping my toes back in to a desultory bit o’ work. Like, this post.

First off, I just want to throw my support to Jen McCreight’s brilliant Atheism + idea. When my brain is back from its temporary vacation, I’ll have something more to say than “Woo! Count me in!” But this, plus the overwhelmingly enthusiastic reception, reminded me once again why I’m so damned proud to be a part of FreethoughtBlogs, and why I won’t ever give up on the atheist movement. People like Jen see problems that almost seem intractable, roll up their sleeves, and get to work.

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This Isn’t A Review of Victor Stenger’s New Book

God and the Folly of Faith. Cover Art credit Prometheus Books.

I’d actually like to do that book justice. I’ve read it. I’m still digesting it. I can tell you my foremost thought whilst reading it: “Damnit, Victor, I’m a geologist, not a physicist!” It’s been a long time since I’ve read up on physics. The middle chapters, in which he drills down pretty deeply into physics, put my brain through the kind of workout that still leaves you wobbly days later.

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