You wanna see arrogance? Look to a creationist

Ohio State Board of Education has an ID lesson plan on the books. Ohio Citizens for Science has been fighting it, but at a recent meeting, the Board voted to maintain it’s anti-science position.

A friend sent this scan from the Columbus Dispatch. It does show the ignorance, the contempt, and the arrogance of the creationists.

Richard E. Baker, a member of the State Board of Education, displays his apparent lack of interest in arguments for changing the state’s science standards being put forth by fellow board member Martha W. Wise. Baker, who later voted to maintain the current standards, did not speak during yesterday’s afternoon session, choosing instead to read the newspaper throughout.

This Richard E. Baker:

“Richard Baker, an avowed creationist and vice president of the OBE,
disagrees. ….Baker accused the scientific community of wasting time
debating the plan. “We spend all this malarkey and baloney when 99 percent
of all the people who are taught this have nothing to do with the rest of
their lives. These scientists, they don’t care about wasting their own time
or anybody else’s time. In business we don’t waste time. To me, [the lesson]
is not a big deal.” According to Baker, the real reason scientists want to
do away with the lesson plan is, as he said to a group of scientists at a
board meeting concerning the lesson plan, “[They] think [they] know
everything. [They’re] just a bunch of paranoid, egotistical scientists
afraid of people finding out [they] don’t know anything.””

That’s a man who does not belong on the Board of Education.

And you thought Jesse Ventura was wild

An exploding aardvark whispered in my ear that we have a new candidate for governor here in Minnesota: Jonathon “The Impaler” Sharkey.

Honesty is very seldom heard nowadays, especially from a politician. So, I am not going to break from political tradition. My name is Jonathon “The Impaler” Sharkey, Ph.D., L.D.D.D. I am a Satanic Dark Priest, Sanguinarian Vampyre and a Hecate Witch. My Magikal Path name is: Lord Ares.

The first two sentences taken together are a little amusing, but I’m sill not planning to vote for the guy. He’s a former Republican (surprise!), but has now founded his own party, VWP. The Vampires, Witches, and Pagans Party.

Are you wondering how he got his nickname?

As previously stated by me, any Terrorist who commits
an act of Terrorism in Minnesota while I am governor,
will be Impaled by me in front of the State Capital.

He’s also planning to run for president in 2008. I could see him stepping into GW Bush’s shoes easily. The Religious Right might not care much for him, but otherwise, he’s the perfect representative of Republican sentiments.

Hemichordate evo-devo

Every biology student gets introduced to the chordates with a list of their distinctive characteristics: they have a notochord, a dorsal hollow nerve cord, gill slits, and a post-anal tail. The embryonic stage in which we express all of these features is called the pharyngula stage—it’s often also the only stage at which we have them. We terrestrial vertebrates seal off those pharyngeal openings as we develop, while sea squirts throw away their brains as an adult.


The chordate phylum has all four of those traits, but there is another extremely interesting phylum that has some of them, the hemichordates. The hemichordates are marine worms that have gill slits and a stub of a tail. They also have a bundle of nerves in the right place to be a dorsal nerve cord, but the latest analyses suggest that it’s not discrete enough to count—they have more of a diffuse nerve net than an actual central nervous system. They don’t really have a notochord, but they do have a stiff array of cells in their proboscis that vaguely resembles one. They really are “half a chordate” in that they only partially express characters that are defining elements of the chordate body plan. Of course, they also have a unique body plan of their own, and are quite lovely animals in their own right. They are a sister phylum to the chordates, and the similarities and differences between us tell us something about our last common ancestor, the ur-deuterostome.

Analyzing morphology is one approach, but this is the age of molecular biology, so digging deeper and comparing genes gives us a sharper picture of relationships. This is also the early days of evo-devo, and an even more revealing way to examine related phyla is to look at patterns of gene regulation—how those genes are turned on and off in space and time during the development of the organism—and see how those relate. Gerhart, Lowe, and Kirschner have done just that in hemichordates, and have results that strengthen the affinities between chordates and hemichordates. (By the way, Gerhart and Kirschner also have a new book out, The Plausibility of Life (amzn/b&n/abe/pwll), which I’ll review as soon as I get the time to finish it.)

[Read more…]


Just in case anyone is concerned that I’ll soften my hardline rejection of all religion just because I’ve assumed fancy new corporate digs, allow me to quote Dan Savage approvingly.

And finally, to Rob in Albany who felt my aside was proof of my intolerance and hypocrisy: Joking about Christianity isn’t evidence that I’m intolerant—hell, I’m perfectly willing to tolerate Christians. I have never, for instance, attempted to prevent Christians from marrying each other, or tried to stop them from adopting children, or worked to make it illegal for them to hold certain jobs. I don’t threaten to boycott companies that market their products to Christians, and I don’t organize letter-writing campaigns to complain about Christian characters on television.

It would indeed be hypocritical for me to complain about fundamentalist Christians who’ve done all of the above to gay people if I turned around and did the same thing to Christians—but, again, I’ve done no such thing. Intolerant? Hell, I’m a model of tolerance! Oh sure, I joked about the Virgin Birth because I think it’s silly and sexphobic. And I’m free to say as much, however unpleasant it is for some Christians to hear. Fundamentalist Christians, for their part, are free to think homosexuality is sinful and unnatural, and they’re free to say so, however unpleasant it is for me to hear. But fundamentalists aren’t willing to just speak their piece, Rob. Nope, they seek to persecute people for being gay, and that’s where their low opinion of homosexuality—which, again, they have an absolute right to hold—transubstantiates into intolerance.

Excellent. As has always been the case, you can continue to expect me to tolerate Christians…but don’t expect me to ever respect Christianity.

(via Stupid Evil Bastard)