Jordan Peterson is an ass

Remember Peterson? The tenured professor at the University of Toronto who insists on disrespecting his students? Shiv is collecting all the news about this bozo, so if you want to learn more, you know where to go.

One of the things that surprised me, sort of, was this account of a teach-in to discuss the issues.

The event was interrupted by Lauren Southern from The Rebel, a right-wing online media outlet. Southern, pretending to be transgender, took to the microphone to defend Peterson and was quickly shut down, having not identified herself as a media correspondent.

That left me very curious. How does someone who doesn’t believe in the reality of transgender people pretend to be transgender? That could be revealing in itself.

I guess I’m going to have to come down on the side of free speech, though. If that ass Peterson can refuse to address his students respectfully, I think it’s only fair that his students get to address him as “Peterson, you ass…”.

We can no longer be surprised by the Republican party

There was a time when I could hate-read David Brooks, back when I was young and virile and mighty and barbarously savage and could stomach a bit of hackery, but those days are long gone and now I rely on his chief eviscerator, Driftglass, to do the dirty work of rending his pious bullshit. His latest does a fine job of exposing the Republican party’s evasive strategy: always pretend the bad actor was not a true member of the party, and constantly reinvent itself in name only while promoting the same old bad behavior. Brooks is their most experienced actor at pretending to be shocked, shocked I tell you at the shenanigans he previously endorsed but have now been revealed to be criminal failures.

Driftglass also mentions the other curious phenomenon that has so wrecked our country: conservatives ruin everything they touch, and when they are caught at it, they fall upwards into the loving arms of the media, where they then get to spend the rest of their careers papering over their abuses…and bringing in the next crop of crooked conservatives to help them in their propaganda. If you ever wonder how the press got so awful in this country, you can start by blaming Watergate.

Bonus points for citing this Charles Pierce piece. We shouldn’t be surprised that Trump is thinking about refusing to abide by the results of the election. This is exactly what the Republicans have been doing for decades. He’s just more brash and less slithery than your standard Republican con artist.

It also leads to a scary prospect. I think Trump will lose, and lose hard…which just means that all those godawful idiotic Trump surrogates will be promoted to higher positions at Fox News and CNN and all the other outlets, and will never ever go away.

I am sadly lacking in Atlantean or alien ancestors

Did you know that PEOPLE WITH RH NEGATIVE BLOOD MAY BE DESCENDENTS OF EXTRATERRESTRIALS OR ATLANTEANS? I learned it on a site called Spirit Science, so it must be true. And their logic is impeccable: the Rh- phenotype is rarer than the Rh+ phenotype, therefore it must be specialer, therefore it must have been inserted into the genome by aliens, and implicitly those aliens love sticking things in people, so QED.

There are also some curious assertions.

So, if all mankind evolved from the same ancestor, their blood should be compatible. Do you get what I’m saying? If we had all evolved from the same ancestor, we would all have the same blood.

Continuing with that logic, if we had all evolved from the same ancestor, we would all have the same hair. I have thin, straight, weakly pigmented hair, unlike the majority of humans on this planet, therefore I must be an Atlantean. My beard has been slowly turning grey over the last 20 years, which my wife can use in the divorce proceedings as proof of my ongoing affair with an alien.

Where does this person think all human diversity comes from? Somehow the species has this mad jumble of varying alleles; one hypothesis would be that each difference is the product of a recent coupling between a human and a pure breeding, cross fertile creature from another planet, but it seems to me more likely (and readily demonstrated) that spontaneous mutations within individuals within our species produces variation. Evolution does not predict genetic uniformity.

The author has more “evidence”, though.

We don’t! RH Positive blood can be traced back to the Rhesus monkey and all other primates, but RH negative blood CANNOT. In fact, it cannot be traced anywhere else in nature.

This is simply not true. The author doesn’t understand Rh genetics.

We bear two closely linked, closely related genes, RHD and RHCE. The RHD gene produces the protein antigen D. RHCE has four common alleles that produce the antigens ce, cE, Ce, and CE. Individuals with Rh- blood are lacking the products of the RHD gene.

Get it? Rh- is caused by the absence of a specific antigen on blood cells. It doesn’t even make sense to say that it’s some kind of evidence for your alien hypothesis that Rh factor D isn’t present in some people, and it isn’t present in monkeys. It isn’t present in frogs, either, or in mushrooms or in paramecia. You’d also have to argue that these alien interbreedings weren’t adding a magic Rh factor, they were removing one.

Also, of course the Rh factor can be found elsewhere in nature. It’s present in all primates, as far as I know. Humans carry the results of a gene duplication event — our RHD and RHCE genes are copies of one another, about 92% identical in their coding sequence, and this duplication occurred sometime before the last common ancestor of humans, gorillas, and chimpanzees. I guess the star-man must have showed up about 10 million years ago to screw a monkey, and the shock was so great it duplicated a gene it already had.

It’s just nonsense and errors through and through, but let’s skip even more crap and go straight to the important stuff: the magical properties of being Rh-.

RH Negatives also tend to have strange characteristics about themselves that are uncommon to most other people in society, such as:

  • A feeling of not belonging
  • Truth seekers
  • Sense of a “Mission” in life
  • Empathy & Compassion for Mankind
  • An extra rib or vertebra
  • Higher than average IQ
  • ESP Ability
  • Love of Space & Science
  • More sensitive vision & other senses.
  • Increased of psychic/intuitive abilities
  • Lower body temperature
  • Higher blood pressure (some say lower)
  • Predominantly blue, green, or Hazel eyes
  • Red or reddish tint to hair color
  • Increased sensitivity to heat & sunlight
  • Unexplained Scars
  • Empathetic Illnesses
  • Ability to disrupt electrical devices
  • Experience strange unexplained phenomenon
  • Psychic Dreams
  • Prone to Alien Abductions
  • Cannot be cloned

Well now I’m curious. I have O+ blood, the most common and mundane type, which explains why I’m so easily cloned and why my laptop seems to be working just fine, but it also means I’m missing out on all these supranormal abilities. I’d like to hear from my Rh- readers. So tell me: do you have higher or lower blood pressure? Are your eyes a color other than brown? Are you responsible for the disruptions of world wide web services that occurred yesterday?

I suppose you boring Rh+ positive people could chime in with stories about how you hate the truth and lack ESP and despise science and have a low IQ and have a blood pressure that’s neither higher nor lower (OMG, that’s exactly describing me!), and maybe you’ve had the experience of an alien showing up in your bedroom late at night and saying, “Oooh, ick, not that one.”

Open thread, except every statement must be somehow related to your blood type.

Hey, history sure is easy!


There’s a study that identified a mutation relatively common in Ireland that can lead to acromegaly.

They undertook an ambitious and widely collaborative study, enlisting the invaluable help of patients and the general public to set the study up in Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. They identified a particular mutation in Irish patients and now searched for carriers of this gene in Ireland. The frequency of the AIP mutation (R304*) was found to be surprisingly high in Mid-Ulster, Northern Ireland. The data suggest that all Irish patients with this particular mutations (18 families and 81 carriers) are descendants from the same ancestor, who lived in the area 2,500 years ago. Out of the identified 81 carriers 31 had developed acromegaly and over half of these had gigantism (18 patients, 58%). The clinical importance of this study is that we can now screen family members and carriers can be followed to pick disease up early. Our larger study has showed that 24% of seemingly unaffected gene carriers in fact have early signs of acromegaly, and some were immediately operated as a result of the genetic screening process.

Sure. That’s interesting, and also, as they point out, useful.

But this is nonsense.

This study may also give a scientific explanation for the numerous Gaelic myth of giants in Ireland, where the Giant causeway and the legend of the creation of a lake is strongly linked to giants. In modern history, famous Irish giants include Charles Byrne whose skeleton in the Hunterian Museum, London was studied and DNA sample showed he also carries the same mutation. There is data available of numerous giants living in this area over the last centuries such as Mary Murphy (the ‘Portrush Giantess’) and James Kirkland (one of the ‘Potsdam Giants’) making this data support a colourful story.

Professor Sian Ellard, of the University of Exeter Medical School, who collaborated on the research said: “Irish folklore has numerous stories regarding Irish giants and the remains of some of these giants have been studied in the past. Our data provides an explanation for the observation made by the pioneering anthropologist James C. Prichard in 1826.”

Do no other cultures have folklore about giants? Scandinavian mythology is full of giants, and dwarves, too. The Chinese have a creator-god named Pangu, who was a giant. Greek myths have Titans. Do they all have associated mutations? Are AIP mutations the only source of giants in our species?

Why would you take a perfectly legitimate scientific explanation for a specific genetic abnormality and patch an unsupported pseudo-historical just-so story onto it unless you thought history was so trivial that you didn’t need evidence to make that kind of association?

DANGER DANGER DANGER — 2500 milliHovinds of stupidity ahead


You know you’ve got a live one when a creationist post begins with The Most Abused Quote in Creationism:

To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree. – Charles Darwin

They never bother to quote the pages and pages that follow in which Darwin explains how that “seems” is misleading, because here are all the intermediates and mechanisms that are extant in nature right now. Trust me on this: when a creationist starts that way, you can just stop reading.

But I kept going anyway. I’ve got years of experience dealing with toxic levels of stupid. But here, even I was challenged. It was a bit like stumbling across Chernobyl’s “Elephant’s Foot”. It’s a post titled X-Men and the Theory of Evolution, and yes, it actually tries to use comic book science to argue against the theory of evolution.

You see, if evolution were actually true, we’d all evolve into Wolverine because, somehow, mutations are supposed to be able to defy entropy.

The entire living organic system is in a constant fight for survival. Unfortunately, there is nothing in its intrinsic composition powerful enough that would enable it to suppress the inevitable and fateful pull toward its own dissolution or death.

Otherwise, it would divert all of its energy into overcoming said fate by “evolving” out of it, exactly like X-Men’s Wolverine manages to do. Why? Because the survival instinct is the most dominant one. Said evolving characteristic – if it were possible – would in turn be uniformly present in all of creation, and entropy would be nothing but a bad memory.

Then we get a dictionary definition of evolution, which is not how scientists use the term at all, and another argumentum ad comicbook.

If according to evolution, mankind is the end result of animals evolving into a better species – hence the word evolution which Webster defines as “a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state” – how come many of the X-Men, like Wolverine, devolve into beasts?

Because…comic book? It’s fiction, and fiction that is nonsensically unscientific at that?

I had to just stop, because I left my lead-lined suit at home. These were lethal levels of idiocy. I got a brief glimpse of a diagram that’s somehow supposed to show life would have billions of…lines?…(I don’t understand) if evolution were true, and that everything in nature is supposed to go in cycles, and since evolution isn’t cyclic, it must be false, and then I had to flee. I’m trying to detoxify myself with massive coffee doses right now. It’s not helping.

Maybe I need to switch to alcohol. It’s Friday, it would make my last class of the day entertaining, anyway.

Terrifying tales of anti-medical delusions

An anti-vaccination site recently polled its members about the health of their unvaccinated children, and Orac has extracted some of their comments. They are horrifyingly ignorant. Most of them are talking about how much healthier their kids are than all of their vaccinated peers, which is nonsense. It doesn’t even work as a poll question. If you didn’t vaccinate, and your kids started having terrible infectious diseases compared to their vaccinated school kids, wouldn’t your first rational response to get them medical help to prevent the problem, and stop being anti-vax? There has been no wave of distinctive child deaths among anti-vax children because they’re taking advantage of herd immunity. I also know enough psychology to realize that if these people did have an afflicted child, and they remained committed to their anti-medicine ideology, they’d be even more frantically rationalizing their beliefs.

Online polls. When will people learn?

(By the way, we had three kids, all healthy, no particularly debilitating diseases, and no chronic conditions. They were vaccinated. Therefore, vaccines are totally safe! No, that’s not how the evaluation of medical procedures work.)

Take a look at the comments Orac has pulled out, though. They are amazingly goofy! And dangerous. Here’s just one that leapt out at me.

1 out of 2 of mine are vaccine free. That one is super healthy, never had a concern except for colds and a couple ear infections as a toddler, which I attribute to the antibiotics she was given as a newborn. Chiropractic fixed that. My partially vaccinated one has had developmental delays, sensory processing issues, gastrointestinal trouble, tics… But he’s coming back around with good nutrition and avoiding toxic junk.

There are several comments that do this kind of in-family comparison: we didn’t vaccinate child #1, and they’re now working as a superhero in the Justice League; we gave child #2 one little shot, and now they’re crippled, damaged, bleeding from the left lung, their right ear turned inside out, and we like ’em less than the other kid. Please, people, don’t judge your children by your own self-fulfilling prophecies. I’m reading these and feeling dismayed at the ugly family dynamics on naked display, and feeling pity for the kids who, through no fault of their own, get a childhood illness or even get a poor report card and are used as evidence for their parents’ awful ideology and nonsensical beliefs.

But the worst part is that their daughter had ear infections, a very common thing, and they blame them on antibiotics (What? Our kids had them, too, and antibiotics were effective at clearing them up), and thinks Chiropractic fixed that. They have a baby with an ear infection, and they took them to a chiropractor?

They took them to a chiropractor for an ear infection?

I have no words.

You may have heard the news about Katie May, who was apparently a very popular person on Snapchat, and who recently died suddenly at a too young age. What killed her? Neck manipulation by a chiropractor tore an artery. Never let a chiropractor go anywhere near your neck. For that matter, never go near those quacks, period.

She got “adjusted”. And now she’s dead.

But now I’m wondering…what kind of vertebral diddling do chiropractors do that they imagine could correct an ear infection? No, don’t tell me. I’m trying to suppress thoughts of what those frauds do to children.

That’s a non-response

One of Montana’s candidates for governor, Greg Gianforte, is being brutally attacked by paleontologist Jack Horner.

A new television ad features former Montana State University paleontologist Jack Horner saying candidate Greg Gianforte thinks the Earth is only a few thousand years old. Horner says Gianforte supports using taxpayer money to fund “private schools that obscure the truth about dinosaurs and the age of the Earth.”

“He’ll say I’m attacking his religion — I’m not,” Horner says in the ad. “We just need to make sure that our kids learn the truth. I’d think twice about voting for Greg Gianforte.”

Gianforte, a Bozeman technology entrepreneur who is making his first run for political office, is in a tight race against incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock. Gianforte campaign spokesman Aaron Flint on Wednesday called the ad silly and said it misrepresents Gianforte’s strong support of public schools and teachers.

Oh, it’s “silly”. OK. But the question is whether Gianforte is a creationist who denies basic biology. Is he?

“From his personal support of CodeMontana, computer science in every high school, support for more trades education and more — Greg is proposing increasing investments in our public schools once he’s elected governor,” Flint said.

Gianforte does not have an opinion on the Earth’s age, Flint said. Regarding Gianforte’s views on evolution, Flint forwarded a comment made last year by Gianforte in which he said, “I believe young people should be taught how to think, not what to think, and a diversity of views are what should be presented.”

Yes, I guess he is. Point to Jack Horner.

Wait, there’s more?

Gianforte has steadfastly refused to talk about his religion, and it has not emerged as a major issue in the campaign. He attends and helped build an expansion to Grace Bible Church in Bozeman and has donated millions of dollars to religious organizations in the U.S. and in Africa, according to tax records released by Gianforte last year.

He also funded an expansion to the Christian school his children attended, Petra Academy, and his foundation has donated at least $2.3 million to help students afford tuition at Montana private schools.

OK, OK, point made. He’s a religious creationist. Why are public school teachers supporting him, if they are, as he claims?

The tax records show Gianforte’s foundation also donated $290,000 to a museum that holds the creationist view that humans and dinosaurs coexisted.

Alright already! Case closed! How can anyone who supports science possibly vote for this Gianforte clown?