It’s creationism all over again

It wasn’t that long ago (and it’s still ongoing) that creationists followed a relatively successful strategy of packing school boards with loons. School boards are not popular career destinations — it’s relatively easy for a fanatic to run for the board, and often they get strong support from local churches.

Now take a look at this: the same strategy is being followed by anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, and anti-CRT kooks.

We need more reasonable, serious people to run for school board positions, so do consider it yourself. When I first moved to Morris, I offered to run…and got nothing but looks of horror from local DFL people. I guess I’m not the kind of guy to be popular with the church crowd that is likely to turn out for a school board election, so they were probably right to look for more congenial candidates.

If you can’t run, the next best thing is to VOTE in those elections. School board elections are far more important than most people assume.

Who will exterminate the exterminators?

No, no, no, this cartoon is wildly inappropriate, unless tomorrow’s follow-up is a bloody scene of vengeance as Lio turns his giant spider (with three body segments? Come on, Mr Tatulli) loose upon the exterminators.

It’s something of a peeve of mine when exterminators try to advertise in something like #spidertwitter, for instance, especially when they frequently categorize spiders as pests. I don’t even like to see insecticides sprayed on other arthropod targets — leave the bugs alone, they have a right to live, too.

You’ll find his picture next to ‘disingenuous’ in the dictionary

How stupid can creationists get? I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it’s even more stupid than they assume me to be.

A short while ago I mentioned this Indonesian creationist who was posing as an evolutionary biologist writing a book “for the science community”. He wrote to me Just Asking Questions.

He wasn’t very good at the pretense. His first question was about the Atlas of Creation.

I was not very nice in dismissing him.

Really, if you can’t explain what is wrong with the Atlas of Creation, you’ve got no business writing a book about evolution. It’s that simple.

Alas, he is persistent and has come back with more requests. Dude, you are obvious, go away.

Ray Comfort only asks questions that biologists can’t answer because they are based on his misconceptions. Have you seen a cat evolve into a dog? The first elephant to evolve would have had to wait for millions of years for the first female elephant to appear. How do you explain elephants, then?

Not to mention that if you do give an answer, he’ll cut it out of his video.

I’m not responding directly to Mr Arif — I don’t want to encourage him. But if Muhammad Arif wants to be exposed as a dishonest fool, I’m happy to help.

How to commit violence using only your words

Remarkable. Judge Bruce Schroeder is doing a fine job demonstrating the power of systemic bias.

That trial is going to be a real shitshow, isn’t it?

Some journalists need to STFU

Editors seem to love to publish waffling centrist apologists for journalistic weaseling, and I hate it. Here’s some opinion columnist saying The media slant on Joe Rogan and covid has been wrong. Journalists must do better. He thinks journalism has been too hard on that hack.

In my experience, a journalist who admits uncertainty and owns up to mistakes is ultimately more trusted, not less so. (Even opinion writers should be accountable to facts and alive to the unknowable.)

I agree. So what misstatement of the facts did CNN make?

For this reason, CNN is wrong to double down on its smug reports that vaccine-skeptic podcaster Joe Rogan treated his coronavirus with “horse dewormer.” He did not, as nearly as I can determine. Rogan’s covid-19 was treated, he said, with a number of medicines, including the anti-parasite drug ivermectin — the same medication that former president Jimmy Carter’s foundation has used to fight the scourge of river blindness in Africa and Latin America. Like many drugs, ivermectin also has veterinary applications.

CNN reported that Rogan had treated his infection with a cocktail of glop — antibodies and ivermectin and vitamins, and who knows what else. That is accurate. That’s what Rogan himself announced. He was dosing himself with an anti-parasitic drug to treat a virus. This is a problem, because it spreads the word that maybe taking random drugs is an effective way to handle a specific disease, and maybe this columnist hasn’t noticed, but there are people refusing to take the effective treatment because they’re doping themselves with horse dewormer or betadine. We did not mock Rogan enough.

Further, talking about river blindness is a dishonest distraction. It’s irrelevant. Did Joe Rogan have onchocerciasis? He had COVID-19.

So far, there isn’t a lot of evidence that ivermectin is a good anti-covid therapy, and federal agencies have warned people who hear about the drug not to consume a paste intended for livestock. But that doesn’t mean Rogan ate horse dewormer. You don’t fight disinformation with disinformation. Not if you’re a good reporter.

A good reporter would explain that Rogan was misleading his audience by taking horse dewormer seriously as a treatment for a virus. They’d also mention that the evidence is in: ivermectin is not a good anti-COVID-19 therapy.

All we have here is a hack writing dodgy crap to sow doubt. Here he is talking about how the vaccines are “new” and might have “unforeseen effects”.

CNN’s pundits might not have sneered at Rogan if he had toed the line on coronavirus vaccines — even if it is a line that is underinformed and overconfident. I yield to no one in my enthusiasm for these vaccines. They are wonderfully effective, and the speed of their development was a scientific triumph. However: The vaccines are new. There are unanswered questions about long-term effectiveness and potentially unforeseen effects. And even vaccinated people keep dying — albeit at much lower rates. It’s understandable that some — such as Rogan — will air doubts. CNN shouldn’t be stigmatizing their natural skepticism.

What I learned from this is that David Von Drehle, the author, is a marginal crank and not a reasonable source (he got his start as a sports writer, and evolved into a political pundit — he has zero qualifications in science or medicine). I’ll remember that name.

I’m probably going to be a bit punchy today

  • Reason #1: I’m off the prednisone and pain-killers, since the tendinitis agonies have now subsided greatly. I’m just stuck wearing The Boot to immobilize my left foot for a few weeks while everything presumably repairs itself. Good news, right? Except now I dread the return of the pain. Ask my wife about all the screaming and cussing that was going on last week.
  • Reason #2: Now my immune system is out of wack. With this round of drugs, I was immunosuppressed while teaching mobs of young men and women, and now I’ve developed a nasty hacking cough and sore throat. This is not good in a time of COVID-19. I should probably get tested soon.
  • Reason #3: Yesterday was meeting hell, and I’ve got the Zoomies now. On top of my classes, we had our annual tenure and promotion review meeting last night…for almost 3 hours. Three hours of pedantry and petty nit-picking. And that was after student seminar rehearsals. If my throat weren’t so sore I’d have been screaming.
  • Reason #4: We only got halfway through the list of promotion cases! We have to meet again tonight.

You can’t say that

Those fervent conservative Free Speech Warriors have hit on a new strategy to protect our sacred right to say anything we want to anyone we want to: banning the bad words. Wisconsin Republicans have proposed sweeping censorship of words and concepts from the public schools there.

Curiously, they forgot to ban “irony”. Maybe they didn’t know the word exists.

Fortunately, the bill is just posturing by sanctimonious Republicans, and has virtually no chance of passing. If it did, I suppose I’d have to gallop across the border to rescue my granddaughter once she hit school age.

It’s such a strangely blatant defiance of the principles these people usually hide behind, but there’s a reason for it. We can’t make our white children conscious of racism.

The Wisconsin Assembly passed legislation on a party-line vote Tuesday that would bar public schools from teaching critical race theory, the latest Republican-controlled legislative chamber to take action on a culture war issue that erupted in school board meetings around the country this summer.

The measure mirrors efforts in other states to block teachers from instructing students on concepts of racial injustice or inherent bias.

But in testimony before a Wisconsin Assembly committee considering the bill in August, one of the measure’s lead authors went farther than in other states, spelling out specific words that would be barred from the classroom.

“It has come to our attention, and to some of the people who traveled here to Madison today, that a growing number of school districts are teaching material that attempts to redress the injustice of racism and sexism by employing racism and sexism, as well as promoting psychological distress in students based on these immutable characteristics,” state Rep. Chuck Wichgers (R) said of his bill. “No one should have to undergo the humiliation of being told that they are inferior to someone else. We are all members of the human race.”

Nothing in Critical Race Theory is about telling anyone they are inferior — quite the opposite. You can tell what really concerns him, though: the idea that white people might be told they’re inferior. When it was just discrimination against brown people, then it was OK to talk about their imaginary inferiority.

Wichgers, who represents Muskego in the legislature, attached an addendum to his legislation that included a list of “terms and concepts” that would violate the bill if it became law.

Among those words: “Woke,” “whiteness,” “White supremacy,” “structural bias,” “structural racism,” “systemic bias” and “systemic racism.” The bill would also bar “abolitionist teaching,” in a state that sent more than 91,000 soldiers to fight with the Union Army in the Civil War.

The list of barred words or concepts includes “equity,” “inclusivity education,” “multiculturalism” and “patriarchy,” as well as “social justice” and “cultural awareness.”

Whoops, there goes social studies and history.