Berlinski again

Part two of his masturbation session is up; it makes me a little queasy, so I’m not going to link to it directly, but you can get to it via Stranger Fruit. This one begins with The Pompous One redefining science (these guys know ID doesn’t meet the standards of science, so their strategy is to redefine everything else, to lower it far enough that they can clear the bar. In other words, they’re digging a very deep hole) to exclude biology and to make mathematics the One True Science.

And then it gets worse.

We English-speakers have to hang together

In an interview with Michael Specter in the New Yorker, we get to be really depressed at the way the Bush administration is politicizing science to an unheard-of degree. Bush is bowing and scraping before the twin gods of the Religiously Ridiculous and the Myopic Mullahs of Big Business, and letting science diminish. As a patriotic (isn’t it sad that that word is fast becoming synonymous with stupid and selfish?) American, this bothers me:

Are we losing ground in science as a nation? Are other countries doing better science, and doing more of it? Are there economic as well as medical costs?

We are still immensely powerful, successful, and full of talent. Yet the sense that we are invincible as a nation of scientists is starting to fade. If the investments that China, South Korea, India, and the European Union make in research and education continue to grow at such a rapid rate, then it is hard to see how the result can be anything but a loss of prominence, innovation, and prestige.

However, there is some good news. Even as we sink into the mire of ignorance, we’ll still be able to kick England’s butt!

Creationist theories about how the world was made are to be debated in GCSE science lessons in mainstream secondary schools in England.
The subject has been included in a new syllabus for biology produced by the OCR exam board, due out in September.

Isn’t that just so special? It’s exactly like the excuses we get here in the US, right down to the mealy-mouthed rationalizations that they’re just exploring “different views”.

The schools standards minister, Jacqui Smith, said in a parliamentary answer that pupils were encouraged to explore different views, theories and beliefs in many different subjects, including science.

“Creationism is one of many differing beliefs which pupils might discuss and consider, perhaps when they learn about another aspect of science: ‘ways in which scientific work may be affected by the contexts in which it takes place…and how these contexts may affect whether or not ideas are accepted’,” she said.

There are a great many beliefs out there—if we’re going to use this old excuse of merely exposing kids to the wide range of different beliefs, then anything goes. Any old claptrap should be admissable in the science class, since they certainly aren’t going to be restricting topics to just science. What this is is simply the usual creationist routine of trying to get arbitrary myths validated by the authorities and treated as “theories”, a status they have not earned. This is not about improving the teaching of science, it’s all about legitimizing craptacular pseudoscience.

And they know it. Who is in favor of peddling creationism in British schools? The creationists.

The chairman of the Creation Science Movement, David Rosevear, told the Times Educational Supplement: “There is nothing wrong with presenting a different point of view to promote debate. It does not mean a student is going to say ‘I believe in Genesis chapter one’ any more than they are going to say evolution is fact.”

Yeah, they’ll just equate the validity of the scientific theory of evolution with the validity of Genesis chapter one—and the equality of ignorance and knowledge is exactly the end the creationists desire.

Oh, well. We will at least have each other to kick around while we’re down there in the cesspit.

Birthday thanks

Quite a birthday party yesterday, eh? Thank you to all the nice people who wished me well and for that roundup of birthday congratulations by grrlscientist. I’m blushing still.

It’s a dangerous business, having a birthday. Not only did my actual chronological age get exposed on the web for all to see (you people are geniuses to figure that out), but certain people used their detecting skills to break my cover, and post the first and only accurate photograph of me on the web. My anonymity is gone! Oh, well…at least everyone will understand why I get called an angry Darwinist.

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The shocking truth!

The Schoepenhauer awards are a delectable collection of interesting descriptions of parasites, such as the roundworm.

Today we’ll introduce you to the Intestinal Roundworm, a hideous parasite which infects one out of every four people in the world. That’s not a misprint: one out of four. More than one and a half BILLION people. Yup, every fourth person on this planet is nothing but a travelling worm farm.

Sweeeeet, right?

But hey, do you remember that moment in a certain cult movie when Sean Connery, dressed in little more than bandoliers and a speedo, is rummaging through a library and discovers the truth about his god, the incredible gun-spewing penis-hating flying head named Zardoz? He finds the book The WIZARD of OZ, and realizes he’s been tricked, and his whole life has been a lie, and he has to go kill all the Immortals and sleep with Charlotte Rampling.

i-4dcec59eb017889f3725eeba1aeb6f6e-roundworms.jpg

The Schoepenhauer article is accompanied by this figure.

Notice any remarkable similarities? Anything that makes you go “hmmm”?

Does this help?

i-5a966bd91137ac340b385e86283bd9fd-fsm.jpg

NOOOOOOOOOOO!

I’ve been tricked! Now I have to go home and get a pistol and some red underwear. Somebody…warn Charlotte Rampling, before it’s too late.

News from Enceladus

There were all kinds of rumors today (from Drudge, of all places) that NASA was going to announce some major discovery related to life elsewhere in the solar system. While that would be incredibly cool, I was dubious—anyone remember the Martian “bacteria”? NASA has a rather poor reputation for this sort of thing.

Anyway, Bad Astronomy has the actual news: it’s interesting, but the media blew it way out of proportion. Plumes of water (they think) have been observed on Enceladus, a moon of Saturn.

I’d be more enthused if the earlier hype hadn’t switched on my skeptical gland and flooded my system with cyniclin, the hormone of disillusionment.