Just basic science

I want to know where these people learn their “basic science”.

That reminded me of this post on We Hunted the Mammoth.

They are so confident and certain when they state absolutely batshit looney misinformation. Where do they learn that kind of confidence? In church, I suspect, because they aren’t getting it in any legitimate school.

I wonder if he confused conception with photosynthesis? Nah, that would be light plus carbon dioxide.

Don’t worry that something might shatter that astonishing confidence. He’s currently doubling down.

I can’t listen to these people anymore

It’s weaponized misinformation. Here’s a woman testifying before a school board about masking students in school. It’s painful to listen to, and so familiar and cliched.

Let’s take it apart.

I’m here for the children.

No, she’s not. This is the excused used by every puritanical defender of traditional customs ever.

There is zero evidence that COVID-19 exists in the world.

Except for all the detailed molecular analyses of the virus, the epidemiological studies, the crowded hospitals, and all the goddamned dead people.

This is a plandemic. Fake virus. Bioweapon jab.

Yes, she knows all the stupid buzzwords. For somebody who just declared their allegiance to the evidence, there’s a problematic deficiency in evidence-based reasoning here. Where did she get this nonsense?

Fake president.

Oh, she got it from Fox News, Donald Trump, and QAnon.

You will not experiment on my children. It’s always been about the children. We know you’re coming for the children.

The children again. No one wants to experiment on your brood, but lots of people want to ensure the health and safety of blameless children. Who is coming for your children? Name them, with evidence that they want your kids.

We will not comply. We only answer to god.

There is far more evidence for COVID-19 than for your god.

People are waking up. Nothing can stop what is coming.

What is coming? Be specific. I’m fairly sure there’s a number of antivax deaths coming.

You vote yes, you will all be tried for crimes against humanity.

Does this work both ways? If the school board adopts the idiotic policies demanded by Trump voters and Q fanatics, and children and educators die as a consequence, can we try this sad, deranged woman for crimes against humanity?

Children don’t disappear. 800,000 children in the United States disappear.

Uh, what? Do they disappear or don’t they?

This, at least, is a specific accusation with a number. We know where that number comes from: the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The QAnoners have ripped it out of context.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, roughly 800,000 children are reported missing each year in the United States — that’s roughly 2,000 per day.

Of those, there are 115 child “stranger abduction” cases each year, which means the child was taken by an unknown person.

So the 800,000 number is just telling us how often parents called in reporting that they couldn’t find their kid, not the number of abductions. The actual number of abductions is 115, which is tragic and horrible and terrifying enough without amplifying it to an unbelievable 3/4 of a million children being stolen away to be ground up for adrenochrome…for which there is no evidence, by the way.

Where do they go? Human trafficking is the real pandemic.

It’s a serious problem. It is not of the same magnitude as the pandemic.

The mainstream media doesn’t cover it. There is no virus. The media is the virus.

Well, maybe the media you consume, lady. Get off the Q websites and Fox and OAN and Newsmax, you won’t find the coverage at all perfect, but it’s better than the sewage you willingly pump down your throat.

The politicians, Hollywood are all involved.

Which politicians? I’m pretty sure any list you provided would be heavily biased against Democrats, and the Hollywood people you hate are mostly Jewish.

Please, vote no today. I’m begging you. I want you to think real hard about these children.

If anyone things real hard about the welfare of children, they wouldn’t be telling them to mill around in a mass with no protection.

Trump won.

Of course. We really need to put Trump on trial for crimes against humanity — he has poisoned the body politic of the United States, possibly irreparably.

I have a relative who is almost this bad. There’s a reason I’ve refused your Facebook requests, Linda — you sound just like this dangerous kook.

Tom Cotton is proud of his paranoia

Why else would Tom Cotton include the full text of his letter to Joe Biden, warning him of his insane concerns about those dang Chinese, on his own website?

First, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) operates the world’s most invasive domestic surveillance system. Chinese authorities closely monitor internet traffic within the country and block or censor online information that the Party views as adverse to its grip on power. The CCP also continuously tracks persons in Chinese cities through a network of facial-recognition cameras and other advanced sensors. Further, members of the American delegation should expect their rooms in the Chinese Olympic Village to be bugged with audio or visual surveillance equipment and all their onshore electronic devices to be hacked by Chinese authorities.

Second, the CCP also considers DNA collection a vital intelligence-gathering objective. As the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center recently noted, “The PRC views bulk personal data, including health-care and genomic data, as a strategic commodity to be collected and used for its economic and national-security priorities.”[2] The CCP has reportedly conducted tests to develop biologically-enhanced soldiers and intends to use DNA data to catapult Chinese biotechnology companies to global market dominance.[3]

In 2022, thousands of world-class athletes will gather to compete in China. Their DNA will present an irresistible target for the CCP. Thus, we should expect that the Chinese government will attempt to collect genetic samples of Olympians at the Games, perhaps disguised as testing for illegal drugs or COVID-19.

Wait wait wait wait. None of this makes any sense.

  • US athletes are not privy to deep, important state secrets. They’re going to be talking about competitions and workout regimes and the weather and how much they miss good ol’ American cherry pie and their sweethearts back home, probably while trying to have sex with each other. Aside from personal privacy concerns, why is this a concern of the president?
  • We don’t have a way to translate DNA sequences into “super-soldiers”. There isn’t a sequence imbedded in the genome that turns you into an agile muscular mass murderer. If there were, we wouldn’t know what to do with it, but there isn’t. Genetics isn’t that simple.
  • Chinese people have DNA. They also have outstanding athletes. Why would they need to tap into American blood samples to find the pieces for their super-secret super-soldier recipe? I suspect this is the product of combining unthinking American exceptionalism with racist bigotry, nothing more.
  • It’s got footnotes, but most of them are links to opinion pieces in places like the WSJ and Bloomberg. His claim that Chinas is making biologically-enhanced super-soldiers comes from an op-ed by John Ratcliffe, Donald Trump’s director of intelligence (imagine having that on your résumé).

It all sounds like something Cotton pulled out of The Sun or some other gossipy tabloid.

You cannot trust Tom Cotton at all, though. Look at his website: it’s got red stars all over the place. A red star! That’s how you know he’s a closet Bolshevik.

Goodbye, Naomi Wolf

Naomi Wolf first appeared on my radar with the presidential campaigns of Clinton and Gore, where she was, incomprehensibly, a presidential advisor. She has just been kicked off Twitter. In case you were wondering why…


Why did YouTube allow Steven Crowder back on?

Steven Crowder, the right-wing “comedian”, was previously banned from YouTube for hate speech. They’ve lifted his ban, though, and he’s back in action. He’s been mocking pride week in his inimitably repulsive way.

Now, if we just look at it — look, with kids, you’re going to say, “OK, you’re born gay. You’re born straight.” Fine, let’s just go with that. But you overwhelmingly celebrate gay. If it’s just something that’s a part of you, it either shouldn’t be celebrated or certainly you wouldn’t celebrate the one of the two versions that results in HIV, more likely; AIDS, more likely; promiscuity, more likely; mental health issues, more likely, but lower domestic abuse with gay people, higher with lesbians.

My point is if you’re just going to celebrate, hey, the preference of friction, why wouldn’t you celebrate the one that makes for the most productive environment for children and has worked for perpetuating the human species since ever. That’s all I’m saying. I just don’t think you need — you’re like — you’re just like telling kids, “Hey, hey, isn’t it great? They’re gay.” What does that mean? It means they have sex in a way that doesn’t work.

Honestly, let’s look at all major historical gay figures. You look at Milk.

You look at Harvey Milk. You look at people, you look at [UNINTELLIGIBLE] — these are people with AIDS.

How dare those gay people, who all have AIDS and don’t make babies when they have sex and are unproductive, celebrate their survival in a culture full of asses like Steven Crowder?

Also, though, I have to ask…how is that funny? Why are they wearing stupid costumes? Does Crowder need a sycophantic claque to laugh at his jokes, because no one with half a brain will?

Wise up, YouTube. Make this guy gone. He’s not a comedian at all, he’s just a mouthpiece for hate.

Marshrooms and araneiforms, oh my: the ongoing absurdity of Rhawn Joseph

Rhawn Joseph is back. Two years ago, I posted a comprehensive list of my engagements with that fraud, so if you want, you can review it there. There’s a lot. It’s all very silly. I even made a video about his claim to have found Marshrooms. Last year, I made a post about his latest publication, in which I wrote, “Let’s hope this is the end of Joseph and Wickramasinghe.” Hah! Right.

Here, in May of 2021, he has again published a Martian mushroom paper titled Fungi on Mars? Evidence of Growth and Behavior From Sequential Images in the journal Advances in Microbiology. It’s 63 pages long! Of course, most of it is photos cribbed from NASA that are blown up and processed to make his imaginary point. To quote some legitimate scientists:

Michael Brown, an astronomer at Monash University in Australia, said “there’s some pretty horrible over-interpretation of blurry photos,” while Gretchen Benedix, a geophysicist at Curtin University in Australia, noted “increasing image sizes to investigate the objects of interest does not change the resolution of the image and therefore does not give better analysis of the objects of interest.”

Rocco Mancinelli, the editor in chief of the International Journal of Astrobiology, called the science and logic “completely flawed,” and said he would recommend it be rejected for publication.

Yet various versions of this garbage hypothesis were and are being published. Here’s the abstract for Rhawn Joseph’s latest:

Fungi thrive in radiation intense environments. Sequential photos document that fungus-like Martian specimens emerge from the soil and increase in size, including those resembling puffballs (Basidiomycota). After obliteration of spherical specimens by the rover wheels, new sphericals-some with stalks-appeared atop the crests of old tracks. Sequences document that thousands of black arctic “araneiforms” grow up to 300 meters in the Spring and disappear by Winter; a pattern repeated each Spring and which may represent massive colonies of black fungi, mould, lichens, algae, methanogens and sulfur reducing species. Black fungi-bacteria-like specimens also appeared atop the rovers. In a series of photographs over three days (Sols) white amorphous specimens within a crevice changed shape and location then disappeared. White protoplasmic-mycelium-like-tendrils with fruiting-body-like appendages form networks upon and above the surface; or increase in mass as documented by sequential photographs. Hundreds of dimpled donut-shaped “mushroom-like” formations approximately 1mm in size are adjacent or attached to these mycelium-like complexes. Additional sequences document that white amorphous masses beneath rock-shelters increase in mass, number, or disappear and that similar white-fungus-like specimens appeared inside an open rover compartment. Comparative statistical analysis of a sample of 9 spherical specimens believed to be fungal “puffballs” photographed on Sol 1145 and 12 specimens that emerged from beneath the soil on Sol 1148 confirmed the nine grew significantly closer together as their diameters expanded and some showed evidence of movement. Cluster analysis and a paired sample ‘t’ test indicates a statistically significant size increase in the average size ratio over all comparisons between and within groups (P = 0.011). Statistical comparisons indicates that arctic “araneiforms” significantly increased in length in parallel following an initial growth spurt. Although similarities in morphology are not proof of life, growth, movement, and changes in shape and location constitute behavior and support the hypothesis there is life on Mars.

I admit, I perked up at the mention of araneiforms — that’s spider-like shapes. It’s not about spiders on Mars, darn it, it’s about these complex dendritic shapes that appear and disappear on the Martian landscape. Joseph wants to claim that that is evidence of fungal life, based on over-interpretation of photos from Mars rovers. It’s not. No one is denying that there are ongoing changes on Mars — seasonal variations, windstorms, erosion, shifting dunes, all that sort of geological stuff. The question is whether it is caused by biology, and so far, the answer is it is not. There are better explanations for the araneiforms, for instance: The formation of araneiforms by carbon dioxide venting and vigorous sublimation dynamics under martian atmospheric pressure.

The local redistribution of granular material by sublimation of the southern seasonal CO2 ice deposit is one of the most active surface shaping processes on Mars today. This unique geomorphic mechanism is hypothesised to be the cause of the dendritic, branching, spider-like araneiform terrain and associated fans and spots—features which are native to Mars and have no Earth analogues. However, there is a paucity of empirical data to test the validity of this hypothesis. Additionally, it is unclear whether some araneiform patterns began as radial and then grew outward, or whether troughs connected at mutual centres over time. Here we present the results of a suite of laboratory experiments undertaken to investigate if the interaction between a sublimating CO2 ice overburden containing central vents and a porous, mobile regolith will mobilise grains from beneath the ice in the form of a plume to generate araneiform patterns. We quantify the branching and area of the dendritic features that form. We provide the first observations of plume activity via CO2 sublimation and consequent erosion to form araneiform features. We show that CO2 sublimation can be a highly efficient agent of sediment transport under present day Martian atmospheric pressure and that morphometry is governed by the Shields parameter.

You’ve got a thin atmosphere where the repeated freezing and sublimation of carbon dioxide is a major factor, and you want to claim that mushrooms are thriving to the point that they spring up overnight in the tracks of Mars rovers? OK, pull the other one, guy.

By the way, Joseph still touts his affiliation as being with cosmology.com, his vanity website where he publishes articles about the Quantum Physics of Time Travel and the consciousness of the universe. That’s the fake journal I trashed, which he then put up for sale for $100,000. If you check it out now, he’s selling it for $50,000. I’m waiting for the price to get down around $1.98, and then I’ll snap it up.

Or…hey, Rhawn, I’ll take the responsibility off your hands right now, no charge, and keep the site up as a historical curiosity, with maybe just a little front-page editorial commentary. You know it’s an embarrassment, just dragging you down, pass it on to someone who’ll keep it alive a little longer.

Why does CNN pay Rick Santorum to appear in the news?

The “liberal” news media <snort>. Watch this and try not to throw anything heavy across the room.

There it is. There’s the great American myth. We are a nation that coalesced out of nothingness around two ideas: FREEDOM (for white landowners) and CHRISTIANITY (oh, judeo-Christianity) and the Ten Commandments and Jesus, despite none of those appearing in our constitution. Meanwhile, the people who were already living here were just sitting around slack-jawed and drooling, not a single thought in their heads, no art, no culture, no religion, no technology, no music, no traditions, so it was OK to slaughter them. It’s one grand smug lie, repeated over and over, and the rich white people sit there and lap it up.

The fact that that slimy fraud hasn’t been canceled and has in fact been prospering is all the evidence you need that cancel culture does not exist.

It gives me some slight satisfaction that I lived at a time in Pennsylvania when I could vainly vote against that horrible human being.

Hey, everyone! The creationists are over there now!

The creationists never, or rarely, show up on the blog anymore because they know they’ll all get dogpiled with refutations here — good work, gang. The new bottom of the internet which sucks down all the worst slime is YouTube, so if you want some real grade-A primo fine examples of the dumbest humanity has to offer, just trawl through YouTube comments. I haven’t made a new YouTube video in weeks, but the rancidity still keeps oozing out. Examples:

If only we knew the trugt about moon landings, communism, and the flat earth, and weren’t being paid off by “satanic bankers”…

This guy has a Masters degree in chemistry! Therefore he knows that evolution can’t work.

Yeah, I sometimes wind them up. They’re desperate for attention.

Who is Max Hodak?

And why does he say such stupid things?

To answer the first question: he’s a guy with a bachelor’s degree in engineering who developed some software to help colleges find “identify the next generation of high performers” which got bought up by some bigger company, making him relatively rich. Then he hooked up with Elon Musk (Warning! Danger!) to move to Silicon Valley and run Neuralink, despite having no qualifications in biology or neuroscience. He’s a wealthy techbro who has been promoted way above what his competence and experience should allow.

Wait, I think I just answered my second question, too.

New question: why does anyone pay any attention to him? Like me right now for instance?

Because he’s one of the new generation of hucksters whose sole claim to fame is grossly exaggerated promises, and also it helps that he’s associated himself with the crown prince of hucksterdom, Elon Musk. That gets him write-ups in the press, and then we all have to rebut his nonsense, which makes him more of a sensation, which leads to more press, where he gets to spew more nonsense. I don’t know how to get out of this cycle.

I don’t think Twitter helps, either. It enables these bozos to make quick blipverts to promote their idiocy even more. Hodak’s latest was to make this claim:

The co-founder of Elon Musk’s company Neuralink tweeted on Saturday that the startup has the technological advances and savvy to create its own “Jurassic Park.”

“We could probably build Jurassic Park if we wanted to,” Max Hodak tweeted Saturday. “Wouldn’t be genetically authentic dinosaurs but [shrugging emoji]. maybe 15 years of breeding + engineering to get super exotic novel species.”

Pure clickbaity bullshit. No they couldn’t, nor would anyone want them to. Hodak doesn’t even have the expertise to make such a claim, but that’s not going to stop a huckster!

We’re not even close to achieving such a thing, and Musk’s or Hodak’s company doesn’t have the tools to even start. It’s complete, arrogant hype.

Let’s break it down into a simpler problem. Let’s say tigers go extinct (unfortunately, it could happen in our lifetime). Super-rich uber-capitalist gets the fever and decides he’s going to reconstruct the species using “breeding + engineering” to modify house cats, and he gives himself 15 years to do it before his attention span flits off to something equally silly. Can they do it?

No. Maybe someday, but not in 15 years, and that’s a case where we have complete genomic information. Just to mention one obstacle, tigers have a generation time of 8 years. Even assuming the first couple of generations have breeding times of a year, like a housecat, that gives you virtually no time to work out the bugs in your production model. But worse, we don’t have any idea what all the genes that differentiate a housecat from a tiger are! We’re going to need a few decades of work to figure that out, which admittedly, would be an interesting research program, but doing it with the goal of making a tiger would be unproductive, especially given that we don’t seem to be able to keep the existing tiger population alive.

And that’s the easy problem, compared to resurrecting dinosaurs. The only templates we have for the dinosaur genome have been extensively modified by over 70 million years of drift and selection, and we don’t know what genes were lost or gained, or what their role in the complex outcome of “dinosaur” might be. It would be lovely to find out, but it’s not the accomplished fact Hodak thinks it is.

Also, “Jurassic Park” is fiction, based on a bad novel written by a hack writer of thrillers. I read it when it first came out, as an undergrad who was waffling between an oceanography and biology major, and it’s one of the first novels I recall ripping up and throwing in the trash because the science was so bad. It’s kind of a shame that it got rescued by CGI and movies.

As for the Neuralink connection, which I’ve written about a couple of times, that’s also bad science. The plan is to build a brain-machine interface, so you can just think at a computer and have your brilliance manifest in code, or control a fighter plane even faster. Here, though, is their great accomplishment:

Launched in 2017, Neuralink works on creating brain-computer interfaces with the hopes to one day help those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, paralysis and spinal cord injuries, among others.

In August 2020, Musk debuted Gertrude, a pig that Neuralink had implanted a small computer chip in its brain. The chip was planted near the part of the brain that controls its snout, so as Gertrude ate, a computer showed waves and spikes being emitted from the chip, monitoring Gertrude’s neural response.

Uh, right. My first year in grad school we repeated a classic experiment, placing hook electrodes on a cricket’s cercal nerve, and recording the pattern of “waves and spikes” as the insect processed sensory information. It was cool — you could see differences when you touched or moved the cerci, or with blowing on them from different directions, and this is just more of the same, only they’ve got it on a chip rather than the boxy little pre-amps and clumsy oscilloscopes we used. Congratulations. They’re catching up with JZ Young, who was doing recordings of neural activity 70 years ago.

One other difference: Young and that generation of neurophysiologists were working on organisms acutely — the animals were dead after the experiment was over. Are you willing to have a chip inserted in your motor cortex so you can play video games better?

The most biting sentence in the article is this one.

Hodak didn’t further explain what technology Neuralink could use to engineer the long-extinct dinosaurs.

Exactly. Hodak is talking out of ignorance, nothing more. Don’t listen to him.