Welp, Ben Carson just lost my vote


Not that there was a chance in Hell I’d ever vote for him for anything, but now in a rambling and dogmatic monolog, Carson explains how evolution is stupid, and exposes himself as someone who embraces ignorance.

In a Faith & Liberty interview posted last week, potential GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson discussed his rejection of the theory of evolution, arguing that the science of evolution is a sign of humankind’s arrogance and belief that they are so smart that if they can’t explain how God did something, then it didn’t happen, which of course means that they’re God. You don’t need a God if you consider yourself capable of explaining everything.

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Mary’s Monday Metazoan: Spot the Monarch!

I took an awful grainy cell phone picture yesterday, one where it’s hard to see the subjects for the sun glare. But really, this is amazing:


Fifteen years ago when I started out at UMM, our intro biology course had an exercise where students were given butterfly nets and sent out to capture, tag, and release monarch butterflies. It was relatively easy: you’d find a tree with a swarm — and I do mean swarm, they’d be covered with butterflies dripping from every branch, and there’d be clouds of them flying about — and you’d swish that net and catch dozens. Then every year after that, we saw fewer and fewer, until it was an exercise that was frustratingly impossible to do. Most years of late I’d see only an occasional solo monarch, and some years I’d see none.

But yesterday, I was seeing scattered monarchs everywhere, and then I found this tree across the street with masses of butterflies hanging from a few branches. It was nothing like the glory days, but still…maybe they’re making a comeback?

Machines driven to meaningless, mindless murder


Earlier this summer, Michael Shermer wrote a column for Scientific American to explain Why Do Cops Kill?. I was rapturously unaware of it because he’s an author I long ago decided I could ignore, but just recently a reader had to destroy my state of ecstatic ignorance by pointing it out to me. I read it with growing disbelief, my jaw sagging further and further at the dreadful illogic and the scientismic insipidity of the thing. How does he still get published?

To make it short, for those who prefer not to read anything associated with The Shermer, his answer is…it’s not racism, it’s because they have brain circuitry. No, really. It’s even illustrated with a cartoon of a clockwork murder-bot.


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I get email

I often get requests from students to answer questions about biology — typically, they’ve been told to write to a scientist and get a response, and somehow they’ve picked me. I try to answer them, but due to the number of requests, I usually only give brief answers. Here’s an example:

Dear PZ Meyers,

Yeah, I know. Somehow my name is impossible to spell correctly. I’m resigned to it and just let it slide nowadays.

My name is XXXX and I’m a 19-year-old junior in college.

Now this part was a little weird. They’re a college junior…but the questions are more like what I’d expect from a grade school kid. But OK, I’ll go with it.

I know you might be quite busy, but I wanted to ask if you could assist me with a simple assignment for one of my college courses dealing with the origins of life on earth. I am required to ask anyone (preferably someone who is science-minded such as yourself) the following four questions:

Here are their four questions, and my short answers.

1. How long are the days in Genesis 1? Why?

The bible is not a science textbook, and trying to pin a specific length to a vague metaphor is a category error. All that matters is that the events described in Genesis 1 cover a period of billions of years, and are presented in an incorrect order.

2. How old is the earth and life? Why?

The Earth is approximately 4 1/2 billion years old. Life arose approximately 4 billion years ago. We have multiple corroborating lines of evidence from physics and astronomy that confirm the first date, and genetic and trace fossil evidence confirms the second.

3. Did man and apes share a common ancestor? Why or why not?

Humans ARE apes. Yes, all modern primates share a common ancestor. The last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees lived roughly 6 million years ago. Again, this is confirmed by molecular and genetic evidence.

4. Were Adam and Eve real people? Why or why not?

No. Humans have more genetic diversity than could possibly arise by divergence from only two ancestors; also, a population of 2 lacks the genetic diversity that would allow the population to survive. Population genetics tells us that the greatest population bottleneck in our history occurred about 80,000 years ago, when the human population was reduced to 15,000-20,000 breeding pairs. Not two.

I fired those off, and thought I was done. I just got a thank you from the student, though, which was nice.

Dear PZ Meyers,

I hope you’ve been doing well.

First, I’d like to thank you again for helping me with this assignment because I got all the points on my grade for it! As promised, my professor sent some comments (quite a bit in fact) for me to read over and share with you. I don’t know how much you’ve heard already, but if you have the time, you can read them over and give a reply. I’m not as knowledgeable in this scientific area but I do believe in God and that his Word is true.

Uh-oh. Their professor did send a reply.

Jebus, did they. 11,000 words of pure, ripe, grade-A creationist bullshit. I’m exhausted just looking at it.

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Lomborg is a hack


Oh, here’s a good takedown of that shill for the petroleum industry, Bjorn Lomborg.

Lomborg’s message to the newspaper readers has thus nothing to do with a fair portrayal of how much sea-level rise the scientific community expects. Rather it is a distortion and blatant attempt at downplaying future sea-level rise. Looking at Lomborg’s many other Project Syndicate columns shows that this is not a singular case but a regular pattern in his columns. This is all the more irresponsible given that Project Syndicate opinion pieces are widely reprinted by newspapers in developing nations, where reporting on the actual state of science is often poor and where people are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Earlier this year Lomborg travelled to Bangladesh to tell people there that “focusing on global warming instead of child nutrition is quite frankly almost immoral” (his standard false dichotomy).

It’s quite a thorough analysis, and exposes some of the most egregious of Lomborg’s sleights-of-hand. But here’s another very effective takedown: another long article on yet another small town in Alaska that’s disappearing into the sea.

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Who elected Jack D. Ripper?

Here’s a treat: a congressman who has been in office since 1989, and is on the Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

claiming Global Warming they create powerful Global gov. Claiming tooth decay they mandate chemical fluoride in our water

He’s a Republican, of course.

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