I know we haven’t been that active on the blog of late. But on behalf of the whole AXP gang, allow me to wish everyone a safe and happy new year. My hope is for a year of reason and goodness, with fewer things such as superstition, conspiracy ranters, mass shootings, superstorms, misogynist abuse both on and offline, and greedy homophobic rape-apologist anti-science Republicans. (Yes, I know there are douchey Dems as well, but there’s no denying that your average Repub has a much longer checklist of appalling personality failings on the whole.) What I’d like more of? Good friends, good music, good times, good food, a nice tall Guinness every now and again, an inquiring skeptical approach to living, and a nonstop feed of Grumpy Cat photos.

Best wishes to you all.


  1. vgerdj says

    My first time seeing this new layout. I really don’t like it. Having the TOC on the left seemed like a better layout. And now I know why. At my desk, I now have to lean to the right to read the comments.

  2. says

    right, same for me. in the old Twilight Zone when they wanted to show us a weird time with strange habits most of the time like 1989 was enough far for showing us big science-fiction stuff.

  3. sonorus says

    I heard a “new” argument from a creationist. I didn’t find it on iron chariots so I thought I would share it since I’m sure some caller will phone in with this one thinking they have a slam dunk. I’m not that well versed in evolutionary biology and it was a social occasion so I didn’t attempt to argue with this person. I find those ambushes frustrating in general because half the time I get home and iron chariots or snopes or some other website has the debunking of the argument about politics or young earth creationism or what have you.

    Anyway: It goes like this. Anything in parenthesis is my own mental rebuttal to the lack of logic:

    According to evolutionists (there’s no such thing as an evolutionist. it’s not a belief system or ideology.) man is the most highly evolved creature (I’ve never said anyone say that and I’m not sure it’s true. Many species can do things we can’t. Imagine how useful it would be to have the ability to change skin color to fit into your environment or to be able to live in the water or on land! We are evolved in one way and other species in another. Ours is not superior no the end of a process.) we should have the longest DNA sequence. (Again, something I’ve never heard or read a scientist say. Don’t some apes have more chromosomes than we do? Isn’t one of ours spliced together from two from an ancestral species and evidenced by end-sequence DNA found in the middle of one of our chromosomes?) So why does corn have a far long DNA sequence than humans? (There’s no relationship between human DNA and corn DNA. Animals and plants split off from each other billions of years ago and while we share some DNA, our development was separate and the relative length of or DNA sequences is completely irrelevant.)

    I’m sure I missed something in this. This person was so proud of himself for being able to inflate this factoid (so far as I could tell from reading online it’s true that corn does have a surprisingly long and complicated genetic code). I’ll be happy to be corrected or upgraded in either facts or logic.

  4. jacobfromlost says

    I wouldn’t say there is NO relationship between corn DNA and human DNA.

    I would, however, say that the person you are arguing with doesn’t understand the rules of argumentation…or facts.

    If anything goes, including redefining facts and your opponent’s positions, just tell him you don’t understand why he thinks the earth is flat as all Christians do…and repeat it over and over again even as he corrects you, lol.

    He won’t get the connection, but it might be fun. Or not.

  5. edmond says

    This doesn’t really sound like a “new” argument, more like a spin on the “irreducible complexity” argument, or the argument from ignorance. They don’t get how DNA works, so they have to say goddidit. (Actually, not only is it not a “new” argument, I’m not sure it’s really an “argument”. What exactly are they saying here, that God must have created humans, because corn has more alleles? So what if it does? Then what?)

    I like to counter “irreducible complexity” arguments with my own “NEEDLESS complexity” argument. We may not be able to think of or understand every step that evolution has taken, but it’s a naturalistic process no matter how you look at it. On the other hand, a magical, all-powerful being who can simply “will” things to happen, has absolutely no NEED of things like DNA, no need of a cardiovascular system or endocrine system or brains, no need of gravity, physics, fluid dynamics. There’s no need for gods to use the processes that are in place for creating life or matter. It’s all TOO complicated for magical beings. Why go to all these lengths? Why all these “systems” of energy and motion? Do ANGELS need DNA or neurovascular systems or cellular mitosis? If not, then why do HUMANS need these things?

    This is the way NATURE does things, not gods. Gods could run the universe on “will” alone, on nothing but magic. Nature makes errors, thus we have things like deformities and cancers. Gods should make no errors. Diseases would be deliberate creations. Deformities and natural disasters would be part of a “plan”. These things can be EXPECTED if nature is in charge. But if the universe operates according to gods, then those gods violate all the expectations of being “omiscient” or “omnipotent” or “omnibenevolent”. They operate in needlessly complicated and naturalistic ways, when they have magic at their disposal.

    And worse, they BLAME people who aren’t comfortable in presuming “supernatural” causes for natural processes, and they punish those people for limiting their assumptions to the natural world. And followers of those gods consider that to be “moral judgment”. And then they wonder why their gods don’t make any sense to us.

  6. says

    Anyway thanks for the blog here and happy new year Martin!! I hope we will see you more often on the show in 2013!!!

    Hope also that Matt will write a book so it could be discussed in philosophical and theological faculties
    around the world.

  7. Lord Narf says

    It’s not really a new argument, just a grotesque ignorance of Evolution. The fly that I squished a few minutes ago is (was?) evolved the exact same amount as I am. We were just evolved to fill different niches in the environment. Saying that we’re the most highly evolved creature is stupid.

    The best you can get to is that we’re the species that’s best evolved for the transmission of knowledge and technology. In pretty much every other way, we suck compared to most mammals.

    He’s (or she’s) just someone proud of his ignorance of evolutionary theory..

  8. sonorus says

    Sadly I was in a room full of people who were joking about how foolish those scientists were for thinking the earth is billions of years old. ha ha ha isn’t that hilarious. I was seriously outnumbered and there wasn’t any point anyway since nothing I said was going to convince them of anything. I just had two purposes 1) to point out something I heard that hadn’t come up on the AE show (at least since I’ve been listening) but probably will and 2) to see if I was on the spot thinking through all the problems with the argument. I think I did pretty good for someone whose last science class was in the Reagan administration. Honestly they sounded like what you guys often call “Poes” but they were very serious. The flood smooshed all those dinosaurs down! (No explanation of where all the water went, though.) And their home schooled kids really didn’t know any better. And these weren’t stupid people. They are all educated. The problem is that people get this crap reinforced for them at church every week but their last science class was decades ago. I don’t know the solution to that but it’s an ongoing problem.

  9. sonorus says

    There were also a lot of strawmen arguments as well. “Evolutionists say…” Well, first of all there’s no such thing as an “Evolutionist” and second no one ever said what they attributed to their strawman.

    I wonder if there’s a prize for most logical fallacies in one statement?

    I also would not at all be offended if it turned out that another species like dolphins turned out to be smarter than humans. To be honest with a few hundred notable exceptions like Newton, Da Vinci and Mozart, we haven’t exactly set the bar all that high!

  10. Lord Narf says

    Yeah, we had one wacky Creationist in my department at work, in my last job. He kept making these insane, stupid statements about evolutionary theory. I just told him, flat-out to his face, that he was too ignorant to have a discussion on the subject, and he was automatically wrong, until he went and read a few books by evolutionary biologists. I even have a few I offered to loan him.

    If you get an idiot like this, just tell him to his face that he’s ignorant and wrong. You can’t do anything with people who are that gleefully ignorant.

  11. Lord Narf says

    Why the hell were you in a room full of people like that? Yeesh. I avoid people like that.

    You should pick up The Greatest Show on Earth. Most libraries should have it. It’s a great primer on the subject.

  12. sonorus says

    I wish I could avoid people like that but around the holiday I like to visit my family and that means dealing with relatives and their friends who are pretty much all like this. The ones who know better keep their mouths shut.