I survived my meeting with Seattle Atheists

It looks like Seattle Atheists are a good active group, and they hammered me with questions for about an hour after my talk. It was OK, they fed me good Puerto Rican food afterwards. My mother and two sisters came along to see what I was up to, as well, and they survived my ferocious rhetoric and haven’t disowned me yet. So I guess it was a good evening.

Now today I’m heading up the hill to Norwescon, where I’m going to be talking science on an evo-devo panel this evening, I think.

No, I will not ever debate Joseph Mastropaolo

So you can stop sending me email about it now. Also, dear gob, but I despise the Huffington Post. They’ve started this recent flurry of publicity for deranged loon Mastropaolo with an awful article on his tired old stunt of announcing a $10,000 prize for a debate — an article in which they blithely consult the Discovery Institute to get their opinion that both evolution and young earth creationism are unproveable assertions that can’t be tested by “observable science”.

I’ve known about Mastropaolo for almost 20 years now. He’s been on the same worn out horse all that time, doing exactly the same thing over and over again, and every once in a while some gullible news outlet gives him a breath of publicity and this crap starts up again. He was a noisemaker on the usenet group talk.origins, or rather, his amanuensis Karl Priest was there constantly promoting his master Mastropaolo in tedious, abusive tirades.

The Mastropaolo/Priest duo was cited in Richard Dawkins’ well-known article in which he explained why he doesn’t debate creationists. Not only is it a waste of time, but Mastropaolo is one of the best examples of an untalented, unqualified hack who wants to ride the coattails of other people’s reputations, and he has been flailing wildly for attention for a long time now. He is simply a typical ignorant creationist.

One small example of the level of competence we’re dealing with here. He claims to have disproven abiogenesis — one of his constant themes is that abiogenesis is a lie. You can judge the quality of his mind:

To test simply the alleged self-combining tendency of carbon, I placed one microliter of India (lampblack) ink in 27 ml of distilled water. The ink streaked for the bottom of the test tube where it formed a dark haze which completely diffused to an even shade of gray in 14 hours. The carbon stayed diffused, not aggregated as when dropped on paper. At this simple level there is no evidence that the “primeval soup” is anything but fanciful imagination.

He’s a young earth creationist. You want more evidence that he’s a dumbass? Here’s his argument to cast doubt on the age of the earth.

Evolutionists of the 19th century claimed that the Earth was millions of years old. Their estimates from nature, solar thermodynamics and ocean salinity ranged from 75,032 to 100,000,000 years old or 53,015,006 ± 45,199,699 years old (mean ± standard deviation). The evolutionists of the 20th century claimed that the Earth was billions of years old. Their estimates ranged from 200,000,000 to 5 billion years old or 2.61 ± 1.79 billion. Curiously according to the evolutionists, in one century, the Earth aged 2.56 billion years. It seemed strange that in 1921, according to them, the Earth was 1.5 billion years old and in 1991 it was 4.5 billion years old. In those 70 years, according to the evolutionists, the Earth and I as well, aged 3 billion years. According to the evolutionists, I am a 3 billion-year-old ambulating fossil.

No one in their right mind would want to debate this clown. Here, have some fun with this argument:

Let us extrapolate to the past and see what medical science specifies. Going backward in time we find the Earth’s human population ever diminishing until we arrive at an original couple. The medical evidence also reveals fewer and fewer genetic disorders until we find that the original couple, Adam and Eve, are genetically perfect. For every other complex life form we find their genetically perfect Adam and Eve in what would be a genetically perfect garden, Eden, with pristine Age of the Earth, Medical Science, Adam, Eve, Eden, and the Flood ©Joseph Mastropaolo 2004 3 air and water and soil, where longevity for humans is normally 900 years. We also have unimpeachable medical evidence that suggests the correlation of the curvilinear decline in post-flood longevity, from Noah to David, with the curvilinear incline of new genetic disorders. The data suggest that genetic disorders began to increase after the flood and that probably was associated with the diminished longevity to 70 years by the time of David. This suggestion is shown by the dashed line in Figure 1. Uncensored medical science confirms the Bible and destroys the lethal, psychotic, inverted-fantasy antiscience of evolution.

Figure 1. The correlation of the curvilinear decline in post-flood longevity with the curvilinear incline
of medically reported cumulative new genetic disorders supports Genesis and refutes evolution.

Right. Plotting the claimed ages of the Biblical patriarchs against made-up ‘data’ about new genetic disorders (also false; there’s no evidence of such a rapid increase in the frequency of mutations) … that’s this self-proclaimed ‘scientist’s’ idea of evidence.

He’s got a whole website full of this crap, and the amusing thing is that most creationists consider him to be on the fringe. He reminds me a lot of Jerry Bergman, and I’ll never waste another moment of my life debating him, either.

By the way, Mastropaolo’s debate challenge is rigged, anyway. He’s got the judges all picked out, and anyone who wants to debate him has to put $10,000 of their own money up front first…and he’ll pocket it when his kangaroo court declares you a loser.

Here I Stand; I Can Do No Other

I weigh in on Google Glass at KCET.

The gist:

Some of us come out to the desert to escape the Panopticon that life in the city already is, increasingly. In Los Angeles, Google Glass might be just one more increment of invasion in a landscape already thoroughly colonized by surveillance cameras, red light cameras, random private webcams, smart phone videographers and other such prying eyes. But there are places out here that don’t even have 4G yet. In fact — and you might want to sit down here and swallow that mouthful of coffee — there are some places out here where even the 3G coverage is spotty. We are in the back of beyond here in much of Eastern California.

And we like it that way, mostly.

So by all means, come on out and visit the desert. Bring your recording equipment, whether it’s a shoulder-mounted Steadicam or this latest bit of geek lust from Google sitting on your face. Document your hike. Record that coyote begging for sandwiches. Take video of that gorgeous desert bloom backlit by sunrise. The desert needs all the documentation it can get.

But if you’re talking to me, take that Google Glass off and put it away. If I’m speaking in public — which I do from time to time, offering lectures and poetry readings and such — and see you’re in my audience wearing Google Glass and you haven’t cleared it with me first, I will stop what I’m doing and ask you to put it away or leave. If you’re at an adjacent cafe table facing me and recording in my direction, I will write something derogatory in Sharpie on a sheet of paper and hold it up. I may escalate from there. And I’m not alone.

Read the whole thing.

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I endorse this message

Jill Filipovic points out that sexism in the workplace is alive and well.

If it sounds like I’m comparing the people who threaten Richards with rape to actual rapists, and the people who tacitly justify those threats with hand-wringing over what Richards could have done differently to rape apologists, it’s because I am. Despite attempts to characterize the internet as a space suspended outside of "real" life, cyberspace is real. It is a place where actual human beings connect, communicate, mobilize and work. And online harassment and misogyny very closely parallel harassment, misogyny and sexual violence in the "real" world.

The line is blurring between the physical and virtual world, and we’re not going to reduce a serious physical problem if we encourage it to flourish in a different domain.

Brown paper wrapper only, please

Atheist Shoes, a German company that makes atheist-branded shoes, did a simple experiment. They shipped duplicate packages to American destinations, with one difference: one package would be plain, the other had tape with the word “atheist” put on it.

Atheist-labeled packages were ten times more likely to be lost in transit.

Their interpretation: workers at the post office are taking offense at overt godlessness, and most unprofessionally, are ‘accidentally’ losing packages with labels they don’t like. They’re going to be more discreet in their packaging from now on.

Alternative explanation for godbots: the USPS is more dependent on divine assistance to get their job done than they want to let on.