I am horrified at what goes on in philosophy departments, personally


A couple of vegetarian philosophers with no knowledge of biology are alarmed…no, horrified at what’s going on out there in the wilderness.

The animal welfare conversation has generally centered on human-caused animal suffering and human-caused animal deaths. But we’re not the only ones who hunt and kill. It is true (and terrible) that an estimated 20 billion chickens were born into captivity in 2013 alone, many of whom live in terrible conditions in factory farms. But there are estimated 60 billion land birds and over 100 billion land mammals living in the wild. Who is working to alleviate their suffering? As the philosopher Jeff McMahan writes: “Wherever there is animal life, predators are stalking, chasing, capturing, killing, and devouring their prey. Agonized suffering and violent death are ubiquitous and continuous.”

They have a solution to this problem, though. We should humanely execute all predators. It’s the most ethical solution!

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Rewriting history and sucking up to misogynists


There’s a reason I’ve lost all respect for Hemant Mehta: wearing smug sanctimony while pandering to MRAs, slymepitters, and notorious harassers is not a good look. He’s now insisting that Phil Plait, Rebecca Watson, and I owe Tim Hunt an apology, on the basis of a poorly written bit of hackery, inspired by that blinkered obsessive, Louise Mensch, in a far right wing rag. It’s the latest bit of revisionist history, and it’s published in Commentary magazine, alongside articles whining about Obamacare, the Iran deal, and students opposing campus rape culture, overseen by editor John Podhoretz. I suppose it’s possible that he didn’t notice the stench of the company it’s keeping, but he might at least have thrown a red flag at the title: The Timothy Hunt Witch Hunt.

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The Walking John Birchers


Anyone else remember the John Birch Society? I had relatives wrapped up in it — they were dangerously nuts and full of evil ideas that even I, as a young kid, could tell were demented and destructive — and that last article brought back ugly memories. They seemed to have declined rather precipitously in the 90s, but I should have known…they were just going underground. They’ve risen from the dead now, as the Tea Party.

Here’s an account by a woman who grew up in a John Birch family. I only saw these jerks tangentially, on the fringe of my family, but I can tell you that this story rings true, and I agree — life in that kind of society would be hell.

I recognized the anti-government rhetoric and the unlimited money and I realized that Tea Party had locked arms with libertarians, big business, the religious right and the John Birch Society. This was a potent coalition of ideology, money and power—a coalition fifty years in the making.

Most Americans have no idea that these “new” ideas are the same “old” ideas that the John Birch Society preached fifty years ago.

I do.

I lived in the heart of radical right-wing extremism. I left the movement when I realized that living in a Birch society, libertarian America would be hell.

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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No, I’m not even tempted by this one


I haven’t played a role-playing game in decades. I enjoyed them, but…no time, and as you all know, I have no friends and am universally despised, so no one to play them with. And now I have another reason to not play at least one of them: it sucks. There’s a new RPG out called Myfarog, which looks unplayable, and is written by a proud racist who sees RPGs as a rehearsal for the coming collapse of Western Civilization. At least it gets away from the tired old stereotype of evil Orcs, and instead has you facing hordes of evil Jews.

It’s strange how half the internet seems to be complaining about “political correctness”, yet there doesn’t seem to be any significant suppression of some of the foulest crap, from Myfarog to Donald Trump, anywhere. In fact, it’s like a golden age of shit everywhere!

I’ve heard of not-pologies…


But not-lawsuits? You know that Rebecca was asking for help to deal with a not-threat of not-censorship and a not-suit from the non-litigious non-jerk Ben Radford. Now she has posted her amusing response to Radford’s non-demands. So many contradictions! He keeps insisting he has no intention of suing in a cease-and-desist letter that demands that she take down posts she has written.

The biggest contradiction, though, is that this is all after Radford hounded Karen Stollznow into retracting and promising to never ever mention their disagreements ever again…an agreement that Stollznow has been honoring, while Radford keeps stirring the pot and reminding everyone what an asshole he can be.

I don’t think he wanted to bring this affair to a close at all.

I repeat: Octopuses are NOT aliens


Jebus. The stupidity of the media is maddening. Here are two articles now out there: Don’t freak out, but scientists think octopuses ‘might be aliens’ after DNA study and Octopuses ‘are aliens’, scientists decide after DNA study. These reporters are embarrassing.

Not to freak you out or anything, but scientists have just revealed that octopuses are so weird they’re basically aliens.

The first full genome sequence shows of that octopuses (NOT octopi) are totally different from all other animals – and their genome shows a striking level of complexity with 33,000 protein-coding genes identified, more than in a human.


As I said earlier, the study is open access. Read it. If you can’t understand the big words and the details, then you shouldn’t be writing news stories on science.

The study says exactly the opposite. It shows that octopuses use genes shared with vertebrates — the common metazoan toolbox. They have amplified genes used by other earthly animal life in unique ways, but protocadherins are a known earthly family of molecules, and zinc finger genes are a known earthly family of genes. This study reinforces the concept of common ancestry.

Do I need to add that it’s even plainly said in the abstract? Just read the abstract!

The core developmental and neuronal gene repertoire of the octopus is broadly similar to that found across invertebrate bilaterians

I just know this nonsense is going to be propagated by creationists everywhere, and I’m going to have to slam it down repeatedly. The only good thing is that it’s an easy one to rebut, and I’ll have many excuses to wrap my virtual tentacles around their rhetorical throats and squeeze.

It begins.

Proving that octopuses are creatures that arrived from another planet, possibly from another solar system, may not be revealed any time soon. However, their alien existence upon the Earth is expected to be the focus of significant research in the coming years. It is likely that they will be found to be born of the Earth, but the mysticism that they may be aliens makes the genome discovery quite intriguing.