No, rape is wrong even if there is a wizard with a nuke

Jamie Bernstein had to deal with a hypothetical, one that’s even better than the ticking time bomb scenario. This gentleman was wondering when it would be OK to rape someone, in response to this article on Skepchick, and he was straining hard to plop out a possible situation, and he came up with this one:

[Read more…]

Torture is bad science

Martin Robbins writes about how the US got suckered into playing torturer to the world. One reason is that we live in a culture that seems to celebrate torture: there sure are a lot of people wearing representations of an ancient torture device, where audiences will happily sit for hours watching torture porn in the guise of a religious movie, and where TV pretends that torture works every time as a way of getting results.

But here’s the thing: torture doesn’t work. Reason and evidence together ought to tell you that.

[Read more…]


Answers In Genesis scuttled their big boat: it just became too obvious that the Ark Park was going to be a sectarian religious establishment to proselytize their weird little sect, so Kentucky will not grant tax incentives to the Ark Encounter. There goes $18 million!

“As you know, since the filing of the original incentive application in 2010, we have strongly supported this project, believing it to be a tourism attraction based on biblical themes that would create significant jobs for the community,” wrote Stewart in a letter to Ark Encounter’s attorney. “However, based on various postings on the Answers in Genesis (AIG) and Ark Encounter websites, reports from Ark Encounter investor meetings and our correspondence, it is readily apparent that the project has evolved from a tourism attraction to an extension of AIG’s ministry that will no longer permit the Commonwealth to grant the project tourism development incentives.”

[Read more…]

The end is in sight

One more class hour to go, and it’s a review. Then a unit exam on Thursday, a unit exam in another class on Friday, a final exam next Wednesday and one last final on the Thursday after that, which means I’m substituting hours of lecture prep for days and days of non-stop grading. I may have to rethink my syllabi in the future to avoid this last-week crush of tests, because grading exams is my very least favorite thing about teaching.

Can I just give them all a C and pretend I read their work? That would be fair, wouldn’t it?

Brandenburg is back

In case you’re curious, JE Brandenburg, the fellow who claims to have evidence of nuclear war between intelligent aliens on Mars, is commenting at length on my article criticizing his silly hypothesis. His arguments so far are 1) he’s a physicist, 2) there are radioactive deposits on Mars, 3) there was once lots of water and oxygen on Mars, 4) the mediocrity principle and the Fermi paradox, therefore…aliens.

[Read more…]