Turn up the heat on Burzynski

Oh, look here. Majikthyse has dug up the publicly available information on Burzynski’s proposed clinical trials, all 61 of them. Almost all of them have been neglected and abandoned, and the FDA even sent a warning to the clinic. Join in the letter writing campaign asking the FDA to investigate the Burzynski Research Institute — it looks like responsible oversight has been overlooked, and maybe a little reminder would kick up some action.

Whose side is God on?

On the side of the investment bankers and plutocrats, of course!

That’s a sign that’s gone up in Minneapolis. You want healthcare? You’re going to hell, you covetous sinner. You don’t think the obscenely rich ought to keep every penny they’ve got? You’re going to hell for that, too, Communist.

I guess it should be no surprise. Since the Bible says only 144,000 will go to heaven, he’s always been on the side of the 0.002%.

Burzynski going ka-boom

First, a nice bit of news: Marc Stephens, the lunatic who stirred up the recent blogospheric buzz with his clumsy thuggery, no longer has a “professional relationship” with the Burzynski clinic, that warehouse of quackery. One thing about charlatans is that they have a fine-tuned sense of who might be hurting their bottom line.

But the damage has already been done. The Burzynski clinic is getting scrutinized.

Josephine Jones is tracking all the commentary.

And this is rich: Jen McCreight digs into the Burzynski publications list. Would you believe it’s a collection of marginal, low-impact journals and unreviewed conference presentations? Yeah, I knew you would.

(Also on Sb)

Gals and show mares

This video has been going around — it’s a group of women talking about the importance of evolution to the biological sciences.

I confess to cringing in a few places — there’s too much ready equation of evolution with natural selection — but I certainly wouldn’t question the competence of these accomplished scientists, even if I might argue with them a bit.

But now the clowns at Uncommon Descent have discovered it and given their assessment.

It shows sixteen female academics or science writers, mostly young, whose enthusiasm for evolution is so overwrought that they turn themselves into propagandists.

Eager to show how well they have been trained, they are like show mares who trot around the paddock jumping over each gate in turn. All the while they give the camera a look that says: “Aren’t I good?”

And then the conclusion:

Here, we’d wondered who would be the next Lynn Margulis. Our scouts can now save time by crossing these gals off.

“Gals”? Really? And since when do creationist hacks get to cross “gals” off the rolls of worthy scientists?

That’s right there in the article. There is worse in the comments; I know the site isn’t entirely responsible for what commenters say, but this is from one widely known freakish creationist who agrees with the sentiment in the article, that these women won’t cut it as real scientists. (There are also others that disagree with this guy; no one seems to have noted the patronizing attitude of the article itself.)

There is however a liberal establishment with a agenda to promote women and this means over more deserving men. Affirmative action , openly/secret, is powerful in nOrth america.
They want women to be as smart as men in these perceived smarter things.
They think it should be at least 50/50.
However it ain’t and it never will.

(Also on Sb)

A chat about drops of blood and chewed flesh

Just in case you haven’t heard enough about bogus Islamic embryology yet, I’ve been invited to call in to the TheJinnAndTonicShow on Saturday at 21:00GMT (which is sometime mid-afternoon my time…I’d better look it up). Tzortzis has also been invited to call in, but even if he doesn’t, we’ll have a grand time ripping up Muslim pseudoscience.

Oh, look…a promo!

Another reason to never debate creationists

Because they are scumsucking profiteering liars.

Case in point: a few people had a conversation with Eric Hovind and Sye Ten Bruggencate, a couple of dishonest frauds. This was not a commercial transaction.

We did not agree for God Quest, inc. to edit the conversation we had with Sye and Eric. We did not agree for God Quest, inc. to use our comments for any commercial purpose of any kind. We were not asked if God Quest, inc. could use our comments in this way. We specifically said the whole point of our having the conversation was that it would not be used in this way.

Guess what? Eric Hovind is planning to sell a DVD of the discussion to profit his lying ministry. It isn’t even a complete recording: it is an edited version, with additional commentary slapped on from their sleazy creationist perspective. It’s unethical and dishonest — two words that will always be associated with the Hovind name.

One lesson I’m learning: it’s not just that I won’t debate a Hovind, I won’t be associated with them in any way. Crossing paths with Hovind means you’ll have to spend a lot of time scraping the slime off your shoes.

Eric Hovind just called me. He wanted to inform me that my website contains misinformation.

I laughed and laughed. A man who peddles lies to children as his profession, believes the earth is less than ten thousand years old, and thinks the book of Genesis is a science textbook complained to me about misinformation on my website.

Anyway, he said no, they’re giving away parts of the debate for free. But then he let slip that the debate will also be included on a DVD they’re selling as part of a creationist curriculum (you can guess how much that won me over). Then you’re selling it, I said. No, he replied, they’re giving away parts of the debate for free. But you’re selling this curriculum, I said, and he said, yes, but they’re giving away parts of the debate for free. And it went around and around that way for a while. And I laughed.

If anyone is interested, you can go down to Pensacola, borrow Eric Hovind’s car, and sell it to a chop shop, as long as you rip out the car stereo and give it away to someone for free. Did you steal that car for money? No, you’ll be able to say, I gave it away for free.

Eric Hovind: “I wish to complain about the misinformation on your website.” Cracks me up every time.

Why I am an atheist – T.E.P.

Fish paste sandwiches.

Not the kind of answer to the question that you were expecting, I suspect. Also, it’s a more-than-slightly facetious answer and not entirely true, but it’s not entirely untrue either…

My earliest memories of religion are much like those of many others: sitting in a cold and draughty church with my grandparents, getting bored and fidgety, the feel of the hard pew and the dusty smell of my grandmother’s “Sunday best” coat. Or going to Sunday School in the church hall, with pictures on the walls of lions and camels and all the exciting and exotic bits of the bible, such as are wont to capture the imagination of a four-year old. And of bright and shining people telling stories in tones of wonder, and trying to relate their awe at miracles to the experiences of children too young to really have any.

But they were wrong. I’d had experience of stories. I knew that stories told of things that weren’t real, that couldn’t happen, that didn’t now or hadn’t ever been. My bible in those days involved a bear of little brain and a piglet who went hunting heffalumps. I knew that people made these stories up, sometimes to entertain themselves or for their friends, and sometimes just because they didn’t know the answers, and a story is more fun than just a shrug and “I dunno.” I knew that people sometimes made up stories to teach lessons, or what else could be the point of Sunday School?

But Aesop taught that being kind to others would repay in not being eaten by a lion, which is a most important lesson to a four-year-old. Had he but known, the ancient Greek could have given his tale more impact with an allosaur, and I always did prefer a stripy tiger to a lazy lion, but even then I knew you’ve got to work with what you’ve got. If lions were the best he had, at least they made the point.

And what of Christ? What lessons were there here for me to learn? I learned that he could walk on water, and that he cast his nets upon the sea and filled them full of fish. But I didn’t like fish much. I learned that he could heal the sick and make the lame to walk. Well, that I didn’t even think about – I walked because I had my operations and my surgeons and my callipers to wear.

If I did what I was told, would I be able to heal others? Would I have superpowers?

“In a minute,” was the answer. “When you’re older,” or “we’ll see,” the bible says. “Not just now, but maybe later, if you’re good.” It doesn’t take the brightest child to figure out by the age of four just what these phrases mean. They mean “don’t bother me just now, and behave.” They mean “I’m too busy to explain.” They mean “no”.

So the stories had a most unsatisfying ending. Yet these people, with their shining cheerfulness, kept insisting they were true. They told me that he fed a multitude with three loaves of bread and just two fishes, and when he finished there were baskets full of scraps. “But how?” I longed to know. “How did that work?” I tried to understand*.

No-one told me, so I filed it, like so much of what I learned in early years, in a big box in my head labelled “things that grown-ups tell you that aren’t really true, and in time you’ll figure out the reasons why,” and didn’t worry. When they brought out food for us (which was a treat, you understand, and not a thing that happened every week), my stomach over-rode my brain as often happens when you’re four. And I took a bite of sandwich, and I chewed and



Postscript/Authors note:
No, the betrayal of a fish paste sandwich masquerading as a meat paste sandwich (which I did like) wasn’t what killed all of religion for me (although I never did forgive Sunday School for it). You see, there really wasn’t ever anything there to kill. It was pretty much always just stories, and not very good or believable ones. I only stopped attending services regularly when I stopped attending a youth group for which regular church-going was a necessary condition of membership, about a decade after the events recounted above. For all of this time, religious observance was always something I thought could only be a social observance for the vast majority of attendees. I mean, any child could see that man had made god in his own image, and that the supernatural was just a way of explaining the natural-but-yet-to-be-understood. To believe otherwise required a level of wilful stupidity which I, in my sheltered naivety, thought had to be really quite rare.

The fish paste sandwich does make a nice metaphor for when I found myself disabused of that notion, though.

*And also, “What did they do with all those scraps? Did they take them into town and feed the poor,” I thought. “Shouldn’t that be the moral of the tale? They’ve left it all half-finished!”

A Secret Base Under an Antarctic Volcano.
(I don’t think I believe that)

Live by advertising, die by advertising

A beer company, Molson, came up with a cunning plan. Their market is primarily male, so they bought ads in women’s magazines, not to broaden their market, but to set up a ploy to appeal to men.

Here’s the ad they placed in Cosmopolitan, a magazine read primarily by women.

Then they placed this ad in magazines like Playboy, read primarily by men.

If you can’t read it, here’s the ad copy.



As you read this, women across America are reading something very different: an advertisement (fig. 1) scientifically formulated to enhance their perception of men who drink Molson. The ad shown below, currently running in Cosmopolitan magazine, is a perfectly tuned combination of words and images designed by trained professionals. Women who are exposed to it experience a very positive feeling. A feeling which they will later project directly onto you. Triggering the process is as simple as ordering a Molson Canadian (fig. 2).

Extravagant dinners. Subtitled movies. Floral arrangements tied together with little pieces of hay. It gets old. And it gets expensive, depleting funds that could go to a new set of of 20-inch rims. But thanks to the miracle of Twin Advertising Technology, you can achieve success without putting in any time or effort. So drop the bouquet and pick up a Molson Canadian…

The ad is a success in one sense: it’s getting a lot of attention paid to Molson Canadian, and if you believe there’s no such thing as bad publicity, sure, it works.

But in another sense, it’s just closed off a chunk of the market for them. Assume they are correct, and that the ads can ‘program’ or at least bias women to have a specific attitude towards men. The effect relies entirely on women not seeing the men’s ad, which announces that the women are being manipulated. The fact that both are being juxtaposed all over the place means that now the only feeling women will project directly onto men drinking Molson’s beer is one of mistrust, a very negative feeling.

It was stupid. It was frat-boy stupid. It’s just too bad there are a heck of a lot of frat boys out there who will think it’s cool.

For those who argue that it’s just a funny ad: OF COURSE, this ad is manipulating men. It won’t, by intent, convince women to buy Molson beer. The ad campaign is targeted entirely at men, and it works because there are a lot of men who will laugh at an ad that makes out women to be stupid and easily swayed by sweaters and puppy dogs.

What you’re missing is that the response to the ad, these juxtapositions of the two commercials, shows that they are incredibly dismissive of women. Molson is playing up the idea that women are gullible and not very bright, and that men will get a kick out of a campaign that claims to manipulate women in the shallowest possible way.

And of course, if it works and sells beer, it shows that men are gullible and not very bright. Sexism hurts men and women, since here it is, used to trick people into drinking crappy beer.

Arkansas is promoting sexual ignorance

Arkansas schools are promoting abstinence-only sex education, through a program called “The Real Deal”. Like all abstinence-only programs, it’s foundation is in morality (their byline is “abstinence builds character”, which isn’t true, unless you mistake sanctimonious prudery for character) and lies — they announce statistics on their main page that claim that their abstinence programs reduce sexual activity by 30-40%, although they don’t bother to give us a source for those numbers, and all the other evidence available says that abstinence-only fails in comparison to comprehensive sex education.

On their site, they do cite a general source, WebMD. Let’s see what what WebMD has to say about abstinence-only sex ed, shall we?

Students who took part in sexual abstinence programs were just as likely to have intercourse as those who did not. And, those who attended the classes reported having similar numbers of sexual partners to those who did not attend the classes. Mathematica also found out that the average age of having the first intercourse was the same for both groups – just a little less than 15 years old.

Four different abstinence-only programs were examined from around the USA. Students were about eleven when they participated in these programs in 1999. They were surveyed again in late 2005 and early 2006 when they were about 16.

They found that about half of the abstinence-only students had experienced intercourse and about half of the control group (having no program) had also. The 2,057 students were from Miami, Milwaukee, Powhatan, VA and Clarksdale, MS – with both urban and rural settings represented.

The site also touts True Love Waits, a page created by LifeWay Christian Resources, providing “Biblical solutions for life”, which is owned by the Southern Baptist Convention…which reveals the real motivation behind this organization. Has anyone ever seen a genuinely secular abstinence-only program? They all seem to be driven by a conservative social agenda that wants to police children’s thoughts and behaviors, and force them to conform to a failed and obsolete biblical model of culture. At best, they strain to strip the program of any appearance of faith-based thinking (does that remind anyone else of Intelligent Design creationism?), but they can’t hide the fundamentalist/absolutist foundation of their ideas.

They’re also ludicrously stupid. Look at what some Arkansas parents discovered that “The Real Deal” had their kids signing: a card promising to conform. My favorite part is the expiration date.

My wedding night was 31 years ago. Woo hoo! Alcohol, illegal drugs, pornography, and sex outside of marriage, here I come!

The only real deal for sex ed is comprehensive sex education, which also encourages restraint and good sense, but gives accurate information about how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Anything less is encouraging ignorance, and we’ve got the example of a few thousand years of Christianity to show what a mess that makes of people’s lives.