What happens when you lose a piece of your thalamus?

Some of the best evidence against dualism is the experience of stroke victims — in an instant, a small biological incident can completely change who you are. This story by Christina Hyung-Oak Lee, about her stroke at the age of 33, is fascinating and terrible. Also a bit scary, since her stroke symptoms didn’t fit any of the standard easy diagnostics, and it was days before she went in for treatment.

[Read more...]

Not a racist or a sexist, no sir, certainly not!

I have been down the rabbit hole. I got sucked down into a prolonged web search on the matter of pre-WWII eugenics, which is more than a little squicky, but was fascinated to discover a thriving community of correspondents which reminded me precisely of the various flavors of blog commenters today — that is, opinionated, sometimes pretentious, and often liberally sprinkled with asses. I started picking out names and searching for their contributions.

[Read more...]

Ada Initiative status report

Ada-Initiative-color-sticker-208x300

I promised that all donations to Pharyngula for a couple of weeks would go to the Ada Initiative, less the price of taking my wife out to a nice dinner; I’ll be sending them the money on 1 October. I figured I’d fill you in on how things are going.

OK, I splurged. I took my wife out to the fanciest restaurant in Morris, Minnesota, and we just went nuts and ordered a fabulous meal. I hope you’ll all forgive me: dinner for two was -$21.18. A little extravagance was acceptable, I think.

The sum remaining is $1756.82. You could add more to that anytime — just click on that big “DONATE” button on the sidebar.

Myth: multicellular life arose in the Cambrian

multicell

Creationists are much vested in the idea of “suddenly” — they love the idea of inserting the fingersnap of God into every abrupt transition. This is why they are infatuated with the Big Bang and the Cambrian Explosion, and why they flirted with the idea of renaming “Intelligent Design” to “Sudden Origins” theory. If something had no antecedents, no gradual build up, well then, we have to explain it with “God did it!”.

Unfortunately, the media plays along with it. I found a bit of scientific misinformation on the Raw Story — such obvious stupidity that anyone with any basic training in evolutionary biology would have caught it. I just gave my first year biology students an exam, and they would have caught it (I hope). Multicellular life did not arise in the Cambrian — it’s much older than that.

Here’s the story. A fossil of a multicellular organism was found, and…here comes the hype.

[Read more...]

The Atheist Disillusionment

I’ve been writing about atheism for about 10 years now. What has driven me is a combination of awe at the amazing insights produced by science, so much deeper and more substantial than any collection of myths, and a furious rage at the lies and injustice and corruption of humanity by religion. For a while there, in the middle, there was also an ebullience at the growing success of atheism, and hope that someday we would be able to cast aside the follies of faith. The awe is still here, the rage is still burning, but the optimism is fading and is being consumed by a new anger at the incompetence and betrayal of the self-appointed atheist leadership.

[Read more...]

A Pink Floyd poll!

We atheists are a heartless people. Dr Rubidium is trying to raise money for GeekGirlCon science, and to trick a certain sect of the musically elect to donate, she promised to listen to a whole Pink Floyd album. The moment has come. She is committed. She has bravely walked up to the mark and is now asking us which Pink Floyd album she has to listen to…with an internet poll. Uh-oh. She is asking for it.

[Read more...]