Hanging out Friday night (tonight!)

We’re doing another podcast tonight at 8pm Central, and you’re welcome to join. Send me your google+ ID if you want to get an invite (by the way, if you were on my podcast list before, you’re going to get an invitation anyway; ignore it if you want).

I usually do two topics, half an hour each, so there’s a little something for everyone. The first half will be about the intellectual bankruptcy of creationism, as represented by how the DI dealt with Carl Zimmer, and any other examples you want to bring up.

The second half? Let’s talk about what humanism means! Here’s an excellent video to get you started thinking:

I’ll try to follow along with comments on my youtube and Google+ accounts — you can ask questions and tell me I’m all wrong there, maybe I’ll invite you in, too.

What strange beast is this?

The Institute for Creation Research is going on and on again about Haeckel and gill slits. It gets tiresome; I’ve explained so many times that Haeckel’s theory was wrong and he skewed his drawings to fit his model, but that it really is true that human embryos have pharyngeal arches that are modified in a peculiar way to build the face and neck, and this really is evidence for our evolutionary history. Fortunately, this time, I don’t have to go into it because Troy Britain has covered all the details. Yay!

But I do want to mention one really strange thing. The ICR is going on and on about Haeckel faking his embryo drawings, but this is what they used to illustrate their own article.

CHRIST JESUS, WHAT IS THAT THING? That is creepy — no human embryo ever looked like that. They’ve neatly painted out any kind of branchial structures, and it has no post-anal tail — yet it’s supposed to be a 7-8 week embryo. I guess reality was too uncomfortable for them, so they dug up some uninformed stock art that leaves out those vestiges of our ancestry, tails and gill slits, that refute their claims.

Either that or they performed an abortion on a Grey. Good for them, those UFO pilots are always sticking probes up our butts, it’s only fair that someone grabbed one and did a D&C on them.

Alt Med does harm

I always hear this argument that, well, maybe those herbs and enemas don’t help that much, but they don’t hurt, and they make people feel better, so get off alternative medicine’s back. Right. Because distractions from real medicine don’t affect the legitimate work being done.

You might want to read this criticism of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Paul Offit’s editorial in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA. 2012;307(17):1803-1804.) goes through the history of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine(NCCAM) and nicely points out that studies funded by NCCAM have failed to prove that complementary or alternative therapies have any more benefit than placebos.

Offit points out how NCCAM spent $374,000 proving lemon and lavender scents do not promote wound healing, $750,000 to prove that prayer does not cure AIDS, or improve recovery from breast reconstruction; $390,000 to find that ancient Indian remedies do not control type 2 diabetes, $700,000 to find that magnets to not treat arthritis or even carpal tunnel syndrome; and $406,000 to show that coffee enemas do not cure pancreatic cancer.

Half a million here, half a million there begins to add up to some real money. Now maybe your big R1 universities sniff at that level of funding…but I’m at a small university where we’re accustomed to scraping by on little bitsy budgets that would barely constitute a single line item at a bigger place, and I see $400,000 uselessly sluiced into the colons of cancer patients, accomplishing nothing but increasing the discomfort of dying people, and I think…wow, that much money represents a huge difference in education.

And don’t get me started on the prayer study. I’d get down on my knees and fucking pray to any deity you want to name if it would bring in that much cash to my university. Of course, we’d use it for something a lot more useful than pretending magic incantations might heal viral diseases.

Also, it’s not just NCCAM: homeopathy sucks up a lot of money and wastes a lot of effort in Europe.

Skip Evans is gone

Well, shit.

An old pal from the days of talk.origins, and also formerly of the NCSE, Skip Evans, has died. He’s been active in the freethought community in Madison, Wisconsin, and now I really regret not looking him up last time I was out that way.

Skip was notorious for getting his hands on Kent Hovind’s Ph.D. dissertation. That’s the kind of thing he was good at: tearing up the creationists and leaving us all laughing.

A Chick-fil-A poll

I guess it’s topical, but I feel a bit odd to even think about it: I’ve never eaten at a Chick-fil-A anyway, not before I learned they were a business run by a fundagelical homophobe, and especially not now.

Will you eat at Chick-fil-A?

Yes (44.6%)

No (55.4%)

They’re what? One of those greasy fried chicken fast food places? I hear that stuff will kill you, too.