Friday, February 12, 2010

A response to NPR's Adam Frank

Adam Frank wrote a thought-provoking article at NPR's new forum on science and religion called 13.7. He addresses the concern held by European, Indian, and Chinese scientists that Americans, in general, still prefer the warm, fuzzy blanket of dogma over science and empirical evidence. Particularly, when it comes to evolution vs. creation.

Frank makes several valuable points in his article, perhaps most important of which, is that this is an argument that should have been put to bed decades ago. That, as a country, we should be intelligent and wise enough to at least separate science from the hopeless void of dogma.

Frank adds that no amount of evidence is ever going to convince a creationist that they're wrong, nor will the faithful ever convince the most ardent atheist that spirituality is important. Although, I don't know a single atheist or agnostic who is against spirituality. On the contrary, they celebrate the spirit of man and the pursuit of knowledge. They are, however, against baseless dogmatism and those like Don McLeroy, who wish to pursue politics in order to put our education system on a fast track to nowhere. Spirituality does not necessarily mean organized religion.

On one hand, Frank is right - we shouldn't be having this argument. On the other hand, I couldn't disagree with him more.

As the rest of the world catches up with us and summarily passes us by, our country is left holding the bill wondering what the hell just happened. Not only does the value of our dollar continue to freefall, but so does our overall sense of wonder. The youth of today's America seemingly no longer struggle to understand our place in the Universe, nor where we came from. And all the while, our fellow man around the world are beginning to hand our rear ends to us on a big, shiny, silver platter.

As tumultuous as they were, the 60's is almost solely responsible for producing some of the best engineers this world has ever seen. The race for space was on, and the sky wasn't necessarily the limit. Back then, American scientists made kids wildly curious about science and space. Today, however, channels like TLC would rather showcase a family who's been brainwashed by a money-hungry, tax-evading, psychopathic control freak who can't keep his penis in his pants than air a show about space exploration. Sadly, it seems the wild curiosity of youth is going the way of the dodo.

I left the chains of Christian tyranny three years ago. Particularly Christian creationism. When I did, I had no idea what I truly was for 20 years - a slave. A slave to an ideology that is not bound by scientific scrutiny. It doesn't require you to know anything about geology, meteorology, biology, electronics, astronomy, taxonomy, physics, optics, or even culture. As a matter of fact, it doesn't require you to know anything - about anything! All creationism/ID requires of its adherents is willful ignorance, even in the blinding light of scientific knowledge and research.

The change in my personality and stance toward religion did a complete 180, literally overnight. At one point in my life I was a creationist. Now that I realize the lie that I had been living, I put snake-oil salesmen, liars, and charlatans like Ray Comfort, Kent Hovind, and Ken Ham squarely in my sights.

I agree that America is unique in the world with regard to science because of clowns like those mentioned in the last sentence, and we shouldn't have to stoop to their levels. These evil men would love to set our scientific advancements back to the Dark Ages when the church controlled all knowledge. And that is exactly why they need to be kept firmly in check, and out of the realm of science.

There is a battle going on, Mr. Frank, and it needs to be fought. With due respect, while you may think you are doing a service to all Americans by being friendly and taking a seemingly neutral stance toward the damage that creationism is doing to our culture and education, all you're truly doing is appeasing those who have nothing but utter contempt toward science. Simply because it doesn't fit their dogmatic worldview. American science should press on, but all the while freethinkers have to engage in this debate.

I'm not saying that faith is paramount to sheer stupidity. Even the most ardent non-believer would be the first to admit that Christian, Muslim, and Jewish scientists have made great scientific discoveries because of their desire to understand the mind of God. But I am living proof that we shouldn't just throw in the towel and forget about cretins like Comfort and Hovind, paying them no attention. That's exactly what they want. Where would I be if it weren't for scientists like my friend David and my wife who forced me to think critically, and fellow bloggers like Peter Buckland and PZ Meyers? I'd still be in a mind-numbed, fundamentalist church, as empty-headed and willfully ignorant as I was 5 years ago.

No, thanks. Been there, done that. Never going back.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The foolish mind of Tom Tancredo

The latest gathering of the minds of the Tea Party movement took place in Nashville last Thursday. Attendees showed up dressed in silly garb from the mid-1700's, as if somehow that makes them patriotic. Some of the conservative big guns were there in full force, including Sarah Palin, Joseph Farrah, the known racist Roy Moore, and most interestingly, Tom Tancredo.

Tancredo kicked things off with a speech that was another crystal clear example of what is wrong with conservatives these days. He was greeted by a shower of applause, but it wasn't long until his mouth got him in trouble. He found himself placed squarely in the hot seat by progressives and freethinkers on Friday morning.

According to Tancredo, there should be a mandatory "civics literacy test" for voters. He went on to say the reason Barack Obama was elected is "people who could not even spell the word 'vote' or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House. His name is Barack Hussein Obama," trying to draw a comparison between the president and the deceased Iraqi dictator.

Racist much, Tom?

The last time there was a civics literacy test for voting purposes in the United States was in the 50's in Alabama as they tried to ban black people from voting. They couldn't just come out and say, "You're black, so you're not allowed to vote." Instead, racist legislators in the Alabama state government made up a test that even a law professor couldn't pass. Rachel Maddow explains it best:

Tom's comments drew a roar of applause by the attendees, some of which paid up to $500 a ticket. But all Tancredo did was make himself, his party, and the the teabaggers in attendance the laughing stock of political ideology one more time. I'm still in awe, though hardly surprised, by the sheer foolishness, hypocrisy, and stupidity of conservatives like Tancredo.

Take a few moments to browse through some of the images in the numbered links below, have a good laugh at the expense of conservatives, then keep in mind that Tancredo has the nerve to infer that anyone who voted for Obama can't spell.

Go ahead. Take your time. Laugh until it hurts.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25.

The spelling in this image is correct, know...Medicare is socialized medicine.

I know that there is the chance that some of these pics have been photoshopped, but I seriously doubt it.

Anyway, I'm not too concerned about conservatives who can't squeeze two brain cells together to form a complete sentence with correct spelling and punctuation. What I'm really concerned about is Tancredo's interpretation of history and the First Amendment, not to mention recent American history:

"Somethings we can deal with just in a political way and just, you know, by the votes we cast. Other things will require a commitment to passing on our culture--and we do have one you know! It is based on Judeo Christian principles whether people like it or they don't! That's who we are! And if you don't like it, don't come here! And if you're here and don't like it go home! Go someplace else!"

I couldn't respond to Tancredo's commentary any better than Cenk Uygur did. Watch the clip at the bottom of this post as Cenk slams Tancredo and hands his posterior to him on a silver platter.

A few interesting things to note.

1. If you're a Teabagger and love Tancredo but hate the RealID Act, you should be aware that Tancredo co-sponsored the bill in Congress.

2. Tancredo's concerned that "the president and his left-wing allies in Congress are going to look for every opportunity to destroy the Constitution before we have a chance to save it." Now Tancredo is concerned about the Constitution?! This is the same man who attacked Obama as anti-Constitutional but voted for passage of the Patriot Act in 2001, which practically eviscerated the Constitution.

3. If you're one of the Teabaggers who try to draw the same stupid parallel between Obama and Islam because of his middle name, please stop. Some of you are the same people who worship neocon henchmen like Donald Rumsfeld, who shook hands with Saddam Hussein in 1980 then gave him all the chemical and biological weapons he wanted. 28 years later Hussein was hung for crimes against humanity, including using those weapons against his own people. And this makes sense how?

Monday, February 1, 2010

More evil than Pat Robertson?

What happens when you mix unbridled capitalism with pseudo-science? People die, that's what.

Meet James McCormick. He's the inventor of this little gadget - the ADE-651 "bomb detector". The Iraqi government has bought about 2,000 of these things that cost go for as much as $60,000 (US). Altogether, some investigators believe that Iraq has spent well over $85 million for the ADE-651. The catch is, it doesn't work. But the Iraqis, so desperate for anything to alleviate everyday bloodshed, they don't care if it works or not. They want these things, despite the best attempts of US officials to discourage them from wasting their money.

Says McCormick of the ADE-651, "the theory behind dowsing and the theory behind how we actually detect explosives is very similar".


He goes on to say, “One of the problems we have is that the machine does look primitive. We are working on a new model that has flashing lights.”

Ooooo...flashing lights! That's exactly what this piece of shit needs! Right next to a big, fat warning label.

Is this guy more evil than Pat Robertson? Too close to call. They both get people killed by the dozens everyday. Perhaps, if there really is a hell, they'll be bunkmates there someday.

Thanks to James Randi for exposing this murderer. Watch him eviscerate McCormick below.