Anil Potti likes to keep his name in the internet spotlight

Anil Potti is the dodgy researcher who, after being found guilty of scientific fraud, hired an online reputation manager to fluff up his name. Then the guy who made stuff up in 18 papers and padded his CV fled to North Dakota, where he’s working in a cancer center…now that’s chilling, isn’t it?

His latest exploit is to get posts critical of him yanked from Retraction Watch, the site that monitors journals’ behavior when fraud is exposed.

It’s a familiar strategy.

  1. A site says something rude (like the truth) about Potti.

  2. Fake site posts a copy of the rude article.

  3. Fake site files a DMCA claiming that the original article was a copyright violation.

  4. Rude article disappears! Anil Potti triumphs! He has successfully scrubbed criticism from the internet!

Oh, wait. Didn’t I just mention his name multiple times? He may have to rethink his grand plan, because it’s just going to make the situation worse for him.

Creationists will be poisoning children’s brains tomorrow

Once again, I’m going to have to miss the sad, sorry Creation Science Fair that takes place every year in Minneapolis. It’s taking place tomorrow, at the Northwestern College Totino Fine Arts Center in Roseville.


I say sad not because the participating kids do a bad job — some of the posters are fine, others definitely are not — but because these kids are having a healthy interest in science warped to support an absurd dogma. The science is subverted to support a ridiculous ideology.

Each exhibit MUST include a Scripture reference. Some ideas are not specifically mentioned in the Bible, but there are verses that develop principles that can be related to your project. The intent is to relate all areas of science to the Creator of the universe.

If you’re doing science, you’re examining a real world phenomenon objectively and testing it against a reasonable hypothesis; this activity is in conflict with the unreasonable hypothesis that phenomena are the product of an unobservable space ghost’s omnipotent whims. Imagine a secular science fair that demanded that all the results be supported by quotes from an atheist — it simply doesn’t happen, and even adamant atheists like me would consider that utterly weird. But creationists have no problem demanding that their ‘science’ bow down before an imaginary being.

A quick desert bobcat-related note

A few days back my neighbor Teddy Quinn asked me if I’d be willing to provide a minute or so of audio on the whole “bobcat trapping in Joshua Tree” issue I mentioned this week. Said audio would be aired on his new project, Radio Free Joshua Tree, a community podcast.

He asked me for a minute and I gave him five, but he played the whole thing anyway. It’s at minute 17 of hour 2 of his variety show for February 3, the whole thing of which you should check out. My neighborhood is replete with good musicians, and Teddy is kind of a local impresario curating their work and boosting their careers.

But if you don’t have time for that, or if you hate music, I’ve posted just my audio at Coyote Crossing as well.

I was reminded, doing this, of how easy and fun audio work is. I’ve decided I want to do more. Probably mostly ruminations on life in the desert, that kind of thing. If you want to be kept in the loop, my Twitter account is probably where I’ll announce new recordings more reliably. Follow me there to be part of the in-crowd.

“Peace process”? “Cease fire”? WTF?

This is utterly bizarre. We’ve got a bunch of people whining for a “cease fire” in the atheist community. It makes no sense at all.

“54°40′ or Fight” required negotiations. Rockets being fired across the border might need a cease fire. A displaced ethnic minority might have grounds for asking for reconciliation in a peace agreement. All these sorts of things involve two parties coming together with specific and conflicting demands on each side, with the goal of resolving them in some sort of compromise.

Specific demands. Get that? It’s important. There’s nothing to discuss if we aren’t bring some specifics to the table.

And that’s the thing: I am making no demands of the other side in these arguments. None at all. They can complain all they want. So what are we supposed to compromise on? I don’t give a damn what they do. Nothing we can argue over is going to compel me to like those assholes — that’s not something you can do in a “peace process” — and it’s quite clear that the feeling is mutual.

And the converse is also true: they have not said what I’m supposed to stop doing or change…well, other than stop being an evil feminist or whatever, which we know isn’t going to happen. It also doesn’t matter what they want, I’m not planning to change anything.

This is a reasonably diverse blog; I write about what interests me, against what I dislike, for causes I care about; no one is going to be able to tell me to stop writing about X. I’m also going to disagree with people, and say so. And yes, the blog content will continue to reflect my concerns about science, liberal politics, feminism, the environment, developmental biology, random weird observations, and whatever the hell strikes my fancy. These aren’t negotiable items.

This blog is not fixated on my hatred of some other person on the net; contrast that with our opponents, who have built an entire forum dedicated to their hatred of all things associated with Skepchick, Freethoughtblogs, and feminism. I do not troll other people’s sites. I do not create anonymous accounts for email or twitter which I use to express my secret contempt for anyone. I do not create sockpuppet accounts or fake accounts purporting to represent my enemies for the purpose of sowing confusion and lies. I do not address women by slang names for their genitals. I do not stoop to making photoshop collages of my opponents’ faces pasted onto pornography or clowns or animals (it would be hard to do, given that most of my opponents are anonymous cowards.) I do not court hate sites like AVoiceForMen for their endorsement or approval.

I do not tell the people on the other side of this argument to stop doing that. In fact, I am quite happy with the fact that they are the kind of corrupt and demented ignoramuses who would continue to indulge in such nonsense. So what is there to negotiate here?

Let’s get right down to the obvious fact: those yahoos hate us because we use our voices to speak out for feminism, social justice for all, and a willingness to advocate for all that as a natural extension of rational thought. That’s the real difference, and the only difference that counts here; and no, I’m not going to change that under any circumstances. It is not something I can compromise on. My silence on issues I care about will not be a bargaining chip.

I don’t care whether it’s an overt opponent or someone pretending to be a neutral party; I don’t give a good goddamn for anyone trying to dictate my causes. I’m also going to roll my eyes at anyone claiming to be disinterested and just trying to heal a Deep Rift, because every time someone protests that they “just want a dialogue”, they’re stalling to preserve the status quo. There is no compromise on equal rights for women and minorities, because any compromises are always seeking to settle on inequality.

There’s not one thing I would change about what I do. And I’m going to laugh in the face of anyone who tries to tell me otherwise.

SICB opposes “drill baby drill”

It’s always gratifying to see a scientific organization step up and use their collective expertise to make a clear statement on a political and economic issue. The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) has published an open letter to President Obama rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline is a ghastly stopgap that hinders the promotion of better, cleaner alternative energy sources by encouraging ever more desperate and destructive efforts to harvest marginal energy sources…efforts to keep us on our petroleum addiction until the last drop of oil is wrung out of the earth, at any cost.

How about taking the billions that would be squandered building a big ugly pipe and instead invest it in research and conservation?

6 February 2013

From the Presidents of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology

An open letter to President Barack Obama,

Members of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology are biologists from throughout the U.S. with the broadest possible perspectives—from microbes to whales, from molecules to ecosystems. The undersigned current and past presidents of the Society have watched with increasing dismay the deterioration of the life support system of our planet, threatening all life as we know it. It has long been known that one product of burning fossil fuel, carbon dioxide, is a powerful greenhouse gas, and more recently that this gas has been associated with drastic climate variations in Earth’s past. Consequently, it is no surprise that prodigious worldwide burning of fossil fuel is creating large-scale climate change with increasing disruption of life on the planet. While many in the western developed nations still enjoy relative prosperity – despite the horrific storms experienced in the U.S. in recent years – it is in poor nations around the world that the impacts of climate change are currently most destructive. Pacific Island nations are disappearing beneath the tides as sea level rises. Desertification is destroying agriculture in northern Africa and massive floods have devastated Pakistan, Bangladesh and Thailand in the last two years.

It is too late to avoid substantial disruption, but further damage can be reduced if we act immediately to keep remaining fossil fuel deposits in the ground, out of the air and sea. A most immediate decision is yours: whether or not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. More important than the fact that the pipeline itself will endanger aquifers and life along its length, the pipe will deliver the dirtiest, most CO2-producing petroleum source known to the refineries of the Gulf Coast. Additionally, the Athabasca tar-sands mine is destroying vast regions of northern Alberta that have been home and hunting and fishing grounds for First Nations peoples for thousands of years.

Even before fossil fuels are burned, releasing climate-altering greenhouse gases, the extraction phase itself produces environmental disasters, including toxins in water supplies due to hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, degradation of watersheds by mountain-top coal mining, and the loss of marine life from offshore drilling. Permits for all of these activities lie in the hands of agencies of your administration.

Alternative sources of energy are at hand. We do have the individual and collective intelligence and technology to see the urgently needed transition through to better times. What we require is sufficient political will on a global scale to meet the challenge. The U.S., for the last three federal administrations, has been a major impediment to ratification of international climate treaties. Clearly, the future demands that we – through your administration – reverse this pattern and join with leaders of other nations to ratify agreements that will quickly and drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr. President: you are arguably the most powerful person in the wealthiest and most powerful nation on the globe. To be clear: change will come, one way or another. Your task is no less than to steer the course of history away from its current devastating trajectory toward a sustainable existence for humankind.

Signed by:
Billie Swalla, University of Washington* President, 2013-2014
Peter Wainwright, University of California, Davis*
President-elect, 2013-2014
Ken Sebens, University of Washington* Past President, 2010-2012
Rich Satterlie, University of North Carolina, Wilmington*
Past President, 2009-2010
John Pearse, University of California, Santa Cruz*
Past President, 2007-2008
Sally Woodin, University of South Carolina* Past President, 2005-2006
Marvalee Wake, University of California, Berkeley*
Past President, 2001-2002
Alan Kohn, University of Washington* Past President, 1997-1998
Mike Hadfield, University of Hawaii* Past President, 1995-1996
David Wake, University of California, Berkeley*
Past President, 1992
* Affiliations for identification only and do not represent endorsement by the organization”.
Lynn Riddiford, University of Washington* Past President, 1991
Albert Bennett, University of California, Irvine*
Past President, 1990
Stephen Wainwright, Duke University* Past President, 1988
William Dawson, University of Michigan* Past President, 1986
Patricia Morse, University of Washington* Past President, 1985
Edwin L. Cooper, University of California, Los Angeles*
Past President, 1983
F. John Vernberg, University of South Carolina*
Past President, 1982
Mary E. Rice
Past President, 1979

Approved by the Executive Committee of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, 5 February 2013, as was the Society’s Resolution on Climate Change and Ocean Acidification, which was approved on 1 March 2012:

The expected Phelps reply

You’ve probably heard by now that Megan Phelps-Roper and her sister Grace have publicly left the Westboro Baptist Church. It’s not exactly a friendly place, you know.

An official spokesman for the church has made a statement:

“If they continue with the position that they have, those two girls, yeah, they’re going to hell.”

Well, that was predictable.

I wonder how far their defection will take them? Will we be seeing Megan and Grace at an atheist meeting in the future, along with Nate?

Wait, you mean I voted for the right guy for a change?

The Democratic governor of the state of Minnesota gave a State of the State speech yesterday, and actually made a strong statement.

Let me mention one other cause, which is controversial, but consistent with my faith [I am biting my tongue, let’s not quibble here –pzm] and my principles. And, more importantly, consistent with this country’s founding principles and its Constitution. I believe that every Minnesotan should have the freedom to marry legally the person she or he loves, whether of the same or other sex.

Last year, Minnesotans began a conversation about why marriage matters, and we found our common belief that it is about love, commitment, and responsibility. I want Minnesota to be a state, which affirms that freedom for one means freedom for everyone, and where no one is told it is illegal to marry the person you love.

Doesn’t that just make so much sense?

A story

She stormed into the living room, throwing her tools at the storage bench. The clatter would have startled him, if he hadn’t heard her cursing all the way up the hill. “Vile-assed, scum-eating, mouth-breathing idiots!” She pointed an angry finger at him. “They wouldn’t know competence if it dropped a hammer on their toe, and all they can do is sit around and make stupid fucking comments about women’s body parts.”

“Sweetheart, really. You shouldn’t let the Neanderthals get to you like this.”

“I’m not talking about the Neanderthals. You don’t get it. I’m about fucking ready to move in with the Neanderthals. This is the men in your clan. The so-called progressive males of our vaunted fucking Cro-Magnon community. They’re a bunch of mis-bred, ill-trained, self-absorbed, mouth breathing, own-breath-smelling…”

[Read more…]