I am proud to be non-religious and non-Christian

Since this is what it means to be a religious Christian:

“We are a religious state. We are going to fight to keep that (LGBTQ) filth out of the state of Oklahoma, because we’re a Christian state.”

He makes a good case for keeping Christians out of the state government. That’s a very un-American sentiment, to claim that our government is sectarian and religious.

Reminder: here’s the “LGBTQ filth” he wants to eradicate.

What’s an arachnophile who needs his morning coffee to do?

She looks very happy in there — she’s been expanding her web, dropping gumfoot lines to the bottom of the cup, scouting out the slippery edge of the cup, and grooming herself. I don’t think it’s a great spot to capture small insects (but what do I know? I’ve got a spider in my coffee cup, maybe flies visit it all night long), so I’m going to have to relocate her.

Also, I need my coffee.

We hunted the rabbit

I know it’s not as impressive as the mammoth, but it gives AMAB people an edge in rugby, therefore trans athletes should be banned. So saith Sean Ingle, chief sportswriter for the increasingly transphobic Guardian.

As he repeated many lies about trans women in sport, whether through ignorance or malice, Ingle said, And going back to the start with the science is to have a separate, exclusive, preserved category for natal females with trans women and trans men then going into an open, universal category. And those that support this approach point to the recent science that suggests that even when testosterone is reduced, strength in transgender women only goes down 5%.

Most of that advantage for male puberty is retained. They also point out, and I hear this a lot, that women are not men with lower testosterone. They point out there are thousands of physical differences between males and females, and they aren’t always obvious.

Females tend to have better peripheral vision than males. Males, in contrast, are quite as fast[sic?] at accurately detecting the trajectory of a moving object. That is, how fast it’s moving, in which direction it’s moving, and where it’s going to be 1 second from now.

That’s helpful when you’re trying to chuck a spear at a rabbit. If you’re going back to evolutionary biology times, it’s also helpful when you’re trying to intercept a rugby ball. My general view here is that The Guardian should be at the heart of all this and that we should write about the subject fearlessly.

Ah, even sportswriters have absorbed the biases of evolutionary psychology. Now men, not women, have evolved to be better at throwing spears.

These glib comparisons always make me wonder what was being compared in these studies. All women tend to have better peripheral vision than men? What if you compared men, in general, to women tennis players? Is it still true? Isn’t it quite likely that peripheral vision, and the ability to calculate trajectories, are plastic and responsive to practice?

Also, how large is the variation within men, and within women? Aren’t we really dealing with selected subsets of populations, making blanket claims about the aggregate abilities of diverse populations rather problematic?

The whole premise is flawed. It assumes that men of the paleolithic were specifically and exclusively selected for spear chucking, that women of that time had no use for that talent, and that some epigenetic factor inhibits the genetic spear-chucking complex in women. No evidence for any of that. Then we have to assume that there was no further selection for or against that complex for 100,000 years — men retained a fairly specific ability through many generations of life farming. Then we assume further that whatever epigenetic modifiers allow for enhanced spearchucking in men, they don’t include things like testosterone that might be blocked by inhibitors — these hypothetical male advantages sail through everything that affects trans women unaffected.

But sure, if you’re an evolutionary psychologist sportswriter, you can just propose that whole chain of improbabilities as a given and call it “science” or “biology,” all in the name of transphobia. I call it magical thinking.

Pinker is embarrassing

Seriously, dude? Steven Pinker is peddling NFTs now?

On March 14th at 7pm ET, thought leader and Harvard professor Steven Pinker will release digital collectibles of his famous idea that “Free speech is fundamental”.

These collectibles will guarantee recurrent access to intimate group video calls with Pinker to discuss this topic for the next several years.

Two tiers will be available: the gold collectible, which is unique and grants the buyer the right to co-host the calls with Pinker, will be priced at $50,000; the standard collectibles, which are limited to 30 items and grant the buyers the right to access those video calls and ask questions to Pinker at the end, will be priced at 0.2 Ethereum (~$300).

The NFTs will be available for purchase on the Polemix NFT platform. Holders of the NFTs can expect to book their first call with Pinker as soon as two weeks following their purchase; thus receiving utility for the NFTs shortly after.

HIS famous idea that “Free speech is fundamental”? And all it is is a picture of Pinker with the words “free speech is fundamental” printed on it? Here you go, I’ll save you $50,000, although I can’t provide the phone call.

My first thought: this has to be a joke, a satirical web page made to poke fun at the self-importance of these IDW gomers.

It’s not. Pinker himself promoted it.

Jesus. It is a big joke, a joke named Pinker.

Except…apparently they’ve already sold out. Maybe humanity is the joke.

Rot in hell, Pell

Admire this work of art.

That’s beautiful.

As you’ve probably heard, Cardinal Pell is dead and will be buried in the Vatican tomorrow. The news has been strange — I’m not seeing much talk about his child sex abuse history, since he was acquitted, after all. All was forgiven, the Catholic church was relieved to be let off the hook.

On the day of Pell’s acquittal in 2020, Francis offered his morning Mass for all those who suffer from unjust sentences, which he compared to the persecution of Jesus.

Ironic, then, that the latest scandal is the discovery of a memo written by Pell.

Australian Cardinal George Pell was lying in state on Friday, with funeral preparations overshadowed by revelations that he was the author of an anonymous memo that branded Pope Francis’ pontificate a catastrophe.

You don’t expect loyalty from a junkyard dog, do you? He was just a mean-spirited, nasty little man. He was the kind of rabid conservative who hated science and did immense harm to society.

The late Cardinal George Pell left a legacy of climate science denial which – in his later years – became ever more distanced from reality and the position of the Catholic church.

For decades in newspaper columns and speeches, Pell popularised climate denial talking points to dismiss the science of global heating and to brand environmentalists as hysterical and in the grip of a pseudo-religion.

What’s impressive is that Pell was one of the few people who could make a positive contribution to humanity by simply dropping dead.

Yet another Twitter alternative

I tried out Hive Social. I don’t think I like it much yet.

What is Hive Social? It’s like a mashup of Twitter and Instagram, with a dash of MySpace. It offers the simplicity of Twitter before it went down the drain, puts a bit more emphasis on images like Instagram (or at least before video), and you can even add music to your profile. It’s interesting and certainly a bit easier to use than Mastodon.

Simplicity is good — it has a simple chronological timeline, none of that algorithmic crap that just gets in the way. That “dash of MySpace” isn’t appealing at all, nor is the melding with Instagram and emphasis on images. Mastodon is really easy to use, I’ve never understood how people can complain about its difficulty.

But here’s the deeply off-putting part, for me. You get on, and it’s just a wall of images. Not text, not words, none of the stuff I’d prefer. What I immediately see is selfie culture, picture after picture of attractive young twenty-somethings showing off their makeup and posing game, and I don’t want to click further. I mean, that’s all fine, I think it’s fabulous for the younglings to thrive and have fun on social media, it’s just not for me, and we grizzled old people don’t belong at that party.

If I were to join in and felt obligated to flaunt my beauty, it would be nothing but spider photos, and it would be another place where I don’t fit in at all.

All you beautiful people would be less uncomfortable than I’d be, so try it out. It’s mobile only, so you’ll have to rummage around on your phone to find it. I’ll just lurk for now, as is appropriate for a homely old person, I guess. Maybe it will grow on me.

Shameful pseudo-scientists

Dan Phelps sent me a link to a terrible, awful video of the Answers in Genesis astronomers babbling about how the JWST proves the universe is young. I know, that’s just nuts, but what else can you expect from AiG?

Fortunately, Dan provides a description, so I don’t have to watch it. You don’t have to either.

Young Earth Creationist Astronomers Declare Victory for Creationism Because of the Findings of the James Webb Space Telescope

Our favorite Young Earth Creationist (YEC) astronomers have finally discussed the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) at length. On Wednesday 9/14/22 on Facebook Dr. Danny Faulkner and Rob Webb of AiG, and Dr. Jason Lisle (formerly of AiG, now at the Biblical Science Institute) discuss the early findings of the JWST for a full excruciating hour. See: https://fb.watch/fymizG2T2H/ .

Faulkner and Lisle have PhDs in astronomy. Rob Webb, recently was hired by AiG as a preacher/scientist and has experience in aerospace engineering, helping design several different spacecraft (hence his AiG nickname “Rocket Rob”). Their “discussion” consists mostly of self-congratulation and sundry claims that every new finding supports Young Earth Creationism including having light from galaxies billions of light years away getting to Earth in 6,000 years (a miracle!). Their self congratulations are based on the fact that astronomers are revising their ideas about how quickly galaxies and heavy elements formed in the early universe because of new data from JWST findings. This motley crew seem to be gloating that other astronomers are, gasp!, doing science. Much of the rest is preaching/scripture quoting and, at about 23 minutes in, claiming a nefarious conspiracy of morally questionable “secular astronomers” based on their “worldview.” Most astronomers I know are rather upright citizens. The exceptions know who they are ;-).

About 32 minutes in Drs. Lisle and Faulkner joke about dead Democrats voting in Chicago, and Dr. Lisle claims “dead people vote Left.”

In Dr. Faulkner’s esteemed scientific opinion God only created life on earth, not elsewhere (~36 minutes in). However, he intones, this only includes “physical life like us; I’m not talking about spirit beings like angels and demons, and so forth.” (Is this video from the 13th century?). Then, after a discussion of exoplanets, Dr. Faulkner also tells us that God will destroy stars and galaxies when he creates a “new heavens and a new Earth” (~39 minutes). Golly wow! Thankfully, Dr. Faulkner goes on to rebuff an online questioner who asks about the Flat Earth, giving Biblical and scientific reasons the ancient Bible-based cosmology is wrong. Dr. Faulkner has even written a thick tome about the subject (for sale at the Creation Museum and Ark Park, as well as online). The three gentlemen then discuss Flat Earth Theory and the psychology of the cultish behavior behind it for a bit. They appear oblivious to the irony, that, in spite of their education, promoting a 6,000 year old universe and Earth. When they agreed that it is a “psychological issue,” I stopped the video for a few minutes out of necessity. I couldn’t decide to laugh or cry, so I took a bathroom break.

Near the end (~53 minutes) Dr. Lisle bemoans that mainstream science is ignoring his claim that he predicted the findings of the JWST. He goes on to claim that science itself wouldn’t be possible if the Bible weren’t true. Lisle then posts the inane cartoon below (my screenshot) insulting scientists and intelligent people as well as confusing evolution and cosmology/cosmogony.

The video ends with mentions of books they have for sale and the Creation Museum planetarium.

But, you ask, what about the biologists? We have to turn to the Institute for Creationist Research, which employs the most appallingly awful guy with some credentials in biology, Jeffery Tomkins. I’ve discussed Tomkins several times before, and I’m tired of. He’s incredibly dishonest fellow whose entire expertise is about distorting the scientific evidence in ways that anyone who knows the field sees is wrong, but he throws around technical terms that make lay people think he’s smart. It’s a classic pseudoscientific move.

I am spared the pain of working through Tomkins’ lies by Dan Cardinale, who explains how his arguments about junk DNA are totally bogus.

Reminder: Wanna hear some bad defenses of Noah’s Ark?

At noon my time Dan Phelps and I will be grading Answers in Genesis’s answers on the topic of Noah’s Ark. Spoiler: they fail. But you can tune in later to see how they fail.

If you want to help out, here is the AiG video (only 20 minutes long), and you can chime in in the chat. I’ll keep my eyes open for better rebuttals than ours. We sure won’t get it from the comments on their video, because they’re mainly about sucking up.

Welp, guess it’s time to start committing crimes

Only big crimes, though. The little crimes get you shot.

At least, that’s the lesson I get from the news. Arm yourself with a big gun, go murder a couple of protesters, you’re fine — better than fine, you’ll be lauded by your fellow gun fondlers. Commit treason and try to overthrow the government, and if you’re the big kahuna who incited it all, everyone is afraid to arrest you, although your little dupes get picked up and get jail time. Fill a court with incompetent ideologues, and you’ll be safe from everything, in addition to corrupting the entire goddamn government. Wrap yourself up in a great big flag and a great big god, and no one can touch you, as long as your criminality is sufficiently massive.

That’s justice in America. I really should start planning my crime spree. It’s tough, though. You can’t just knock over a local bank, instead you’ve got to wreck the entire economy to steal billions, and then you can get away with it. Anything less, then some bigger crook will take your ill-gotten gains and punish you.

Also, darn it, I’m infected with this no good secular morality that tells me I shouldn’t do harm to others. It’s really getting in the way of taking advantage of our system.