Schrödinger’s cat is, famously, both dead and alive, simultaneously. There has been doubt as to whether macroscopic objects could be prepared in cat states, but Answers in Genesis has done it! As Ed Hensley of the Kentucky Secular Society observes below, AIG is both a nonprofit and a for-profit entity, simultaneously (a condition that we noted earlier on PT). Following up on material that Dan Phelps acquired under the Freedom of Information Act, Mr. Hensley sent the following (lightly edited) press release to a number of interested journalists:

Freshwater: Tick, tock, tick, tock …

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John Freshwater’s application to the Supreme Court of the U.S. for a writ of certiorari was placed on the Court’s docket for Sept 29, 2014, yesterday. According to the Court’s web site

Scheduled order lists are posted on this Website on the day of their issuance, while miscellaneous orders are posted on the day of issuance or the next day.

It’s now Sept 30, but no order list for the 29th has yet been posted. Two Miscellaneous Orders are posted (one granting a stay of a lower court’s ruling on the Ohio (Republican) Secretary of State’s election finagling of early voting), but nothing on Freshwater is up.

Apis mellifera

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Apis mellifera – western or European honeybee, dining along with others on a milkweed flower. Apparently a melanic form, because Bugguide assures me that it is “just a dark one.”

Noctilucent clouds

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Photograph by Kari Tikkanen.

Photography contest, Honorable Mention.


Noctilucent clouds. Mr Tikkanen writes that these “are bluish clouds located in the mesosphere at altitudes of around 80 kilometers. Relative recent appearance and their gradual increase may be linked to climate change.”

Brachystola magna

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Photograph by Ralph Arvesen.

Photography contest, Honorable Mention.

Ralph.Arvesen - Plains Lubber (Brachystola magna Girard).jpg

Brachystola magna – plains lubber, or western lubber..

Science is not about certainty

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That is the title of an interesting article in The New Republic by the theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli. I read it mostly because it had been quote-mined by Elizabeth Mitchell here. Professor Rovelli’s article was perhaps a bit windy, and I could take issue with some of his discussion, but it was not all that hard to understand. One of his main points is that science has been extremely successful and any new theory will have to reduce to existing theory in the appropriate limit:

Happy Jason Lisle Day!

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Note: This is a guest-post by DiogenesLamp. He has cross-posted it at WordPress and Blogger versions of his blog. I have BLEEPed a few things as PT is supposed to be in part an educational resource. – Nick Matzke

Happy Jason Lisle Day! Today is the second anniversary of the day when Jason Lisle, director of what passes for research at ICR (Institute for Creation Research), promised he would explain why his alleged solution to the creationist “Starlight Problem” wasn’t really demolished by the math of Einstein’s General Relativity– in spite of much proof to the contrary that had been shoved right in his face. Lisle had whipped up a convoluted, technical explanation for why Young Earth creationists [YECs] are right about the universe being created only 6,000 years ago, even though we can see galaxies that are millions of light years away, and their starlight must have been traveling towards us for much longer than 6,000 years. Subsequently critics confronted Lisle with a handful of different mathematical and observational arguments that refuted his alleged solution to the Starlight Problem, which he calls “ASC” [Anisotropic Synchrony Convention]– one point being that his ASC would in fact require a gravitational field that ought to be observable, but isn’t observed. In his only response, two years ago today, Lisle promised to explain why we’re all stupid and maths are all wrong and his BLEEPy model actually rules.

A friend brought this 2012 news article about the evolution of the rhesus monkey Y chromosome to my attention. The primary work itself is about characterizing the gene content of the rhesus Y chromosome (a laborious, and necessary task). This particular write-up, however, is slightly frustrating for some of the (wrong) assumptions it makes, but most noticable is the image:

The picture of the “X and Y” chromosomes where the X chromosome, presumably, looks like an X, and the Y chromosome looks like a Y. If this were true, we might then assume that chromosome 1 looks like a “1” and chromsome 22 looks like a “22”. None of these are true. 

All human chromosomes, even the six acrocentric chromosomes (13, 14, 15, 21, 22, and Y), look kind of like “X’s” when they are duplicating, having sister chromatids (see this karyotype, a picture of chromosomes:[…]ryotype.html). And none of the chromosomes look like X’s when they are not in the duplication process (see this image from the J. Craig Venter Institute:[…]figure2a.jpg).

Alluvial fan

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Alluvial fan created by the torrential rainfall 1 year ago, as seen from the Visitor Center, Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, September, 2014. The meander at the bottom of the screen passes through the bed of Fan Lake, which was formed in 1982 when the Lawn Lake Dam burst and inundated the City of Estes Park.

Acting on a tip, I checked out Careers at Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum and investigated CAD Technician Designer, Ark Encounter. After clicking “Apply for This Position,” I came upon a pop-up that informed me,

Answers in Genesis, Inc. is an Equal Opportunity/ Affirmative Action employer. We provide equal employment opportunities to all qualified employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, religion, sex, age, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, citizenship status, veteran status, disability or any other legally protected status. We prohibit discrimination in decisions concerning recruitment, hiring, compensation, benefits, training, termination, promotions, or any other condition of employment or career development.

That is good, because Ark Encounter is a for-profit corporation, but farther into the job application, I encountered

House Bill 597 enshrines ignorance

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The more I think about this the madder I get. In a Facebook comment on my previous post, Anne Jefferson made a trenchant point:

We’re not going to teach about process, but we’re going to expect students to critically evaluate? Right.

She’s exactly right. Here’s the relevant language from the Bill:

(iii) The standards in science shall … focus on academic and scientific knowledge rather than scientific processes; and encourage students to analyze, critique, and review, in an objective manner, the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the standards.

So students are blocked from learning about the processes of science, about how science evaluates and tests knowledge claims, about the interplay among theory, hypothesis, and data. Then, against this background of ignorance, they are to critique scientific knowledge claims. They are to evaluate scientific theories without having learned how to evaluate them!

I no longer believe that the authors of this Bill are merely ignorant. I now believe that they are consciously and deliberately subverting science education. They would produce students who are shackled to pre-existing ignorance, who don’t have the tools necessary to evaluate scientific knowledge claims, who are sheep ready for shearing by demagogues and charlatans. The authors of the Bill are profoundly anti-science. They prefer uninformed opinion and myths to real knowledge of how the world actually works.

The authors of House Bill 597, which is aimed at derailing the Common Core standards in Ohio, have revised it (PDF). (Columbus Dispatch story here). Their revisions now embody the ‘strength and weaknesses’ trope of creationists. The Bill now says

(iii) The standards in science shall be based in core existing disciplines of biology, chemistry, and physics; incorporate grade-level mathematics and be referenced to the mathematics standards; focus on academic and scientific knowledge rather than scientific processes; and encourage students to analyze, critique, and review, in an objective manner, the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the standards.

Creationism, here we come. Wikipedia has a review of the ‘strengths and weaknesses’ ploy when it is aimed directly at evolution. The revised Bill generalizes it to ‘existing scientific theories,’ but that’s merely camouflage.

The Bill goes on to claim that

Nothing in division (A)(1) of this section shall be construed to promote any religious or nonreligious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or nonbeliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.

That’s a plain attempt to shield the Bill from Constitutional scrutiny. But the Bill sets up a Dover trap, and some poor school district in Ohio will walk right into that trap, to its legal and financial cost.

Further, the revised Bill retains without change the evisceration of science education I described a few days ago. The ‘no scientific processes’ language would gut science education in Ohio.

Canis lupus baileyi

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Photograph by Dan Stodola.

Photography contest, Honorable Mention.


Canis lupus baileyi – Mexican wolf, Brookfield Zoo, Illinois.

Giant panda fakes pregnancy

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The Xinhua news agency reported the other day that a giant panda, Ai Hin, had faked pregnancy, possibly in order to receive better treatment in the form of a private room, air conditioning, and luscious bamboo. This observant and inventive panda is, of course, a distant relative of Professor Steve Steve.

Another case of … erm … Darwinist censorship

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[sarcasm] Jeff Shallit calls attention to an egregious case of Darwinian censorship. [/sarcasm].

I think the “atheistic leaning neo-Darwinist blog” is Panda’s Thumb. Recall Nick Matzke’s critique here.

Tradescantia occidentalis

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Photograph by Rob Dullien.

DullienTradescantia occidentalis_600.jpg

Tradescantia occidentalis – prairie or western spiderwort, near Coyote Buttes, Arizona, May, 2014.

Panda cub is 1 year old

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That cub is Bao Bao, the cub born at the National Zoo in Washington. See here for a short video or here for still photos. Bao Bao is the second panda to have been born at the zoo and survived to her first birthday. She is, of course, a distant cousin, once removed, of Professor Steve Steve.

Ohio: Here we go again

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Ohio is in the process of considering the Common Core standards to guide public education in a range of disciplines from English language arts to math and science. Ohio’s State Board of Education adopted the Common Core in June of 2010, and local districts have been creating curriculum materials under the Common Core for implementation this year. Now two state legislators, Republican Andy Thompson of Medina and Republican Matt Huffman of Lima have filed a bill, House Bill 597, that would abandon the Common Core and eviscerate those curricula, wasting the work of hundreds of Ohio educators. House Bill 597 also contains a deadly form of anti-science propaganda. It is a lovely example of right wing ignorance of science.

Lonicera X bella

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Honeysuckle, by Richard Meiss.

Photography contest, Finalist.


Lonicera X bella – Asian bush honeysuckle. Mr. Meiss writes, “This photo shows the coexisting ripe berries and new flowers of the Asian bush honeysuckle, an invasive species in the American midwest. This ‘second flowering’ in mid-September was induced by the very hot and dry summer of 2012. The phenomenon, an adaptation to environmental stress, was also widely noted in the British Isles; its prevalence is likely related to global warming. In this case, it may give a ‘leg up’ to an already-troublesome invasive species.”

The scare quotes are my gloss, but that is the headline of a credulous Dallas Morning News article on the “research” being conducted at the Institute for Creation “Research.” The article quotes Pat Robertson to the effect that it is silly – or, rather, looks silly – to deny the clear geologic record, but mostly the author appears to take the “research” seriously. Indeed, he makes the point that Charity Navigator gives ICR a 3-star rating, which, to my mind, means only that they waste contributions efficiently.

Buried at the tail end of the article, no doubt for “balance” (using a lot of scare quotes today; sorry), the author interviews Ron Wetherington, an anthropologist at Southern Methodist University. Professor Wetherington observes, correctly, that ICR puts the cart before the horse:

The problem is, they’re not scientists. They cherry-pick data in order to use it to justify the Genesis account of creation.

Sure enough, the ICR scientists claim that spiral galaxies, ocean salinity, and the (surprising) existence of soft tissue in dinosaur bones are clear evidence against what they call evolutionary naturalism. Real scientists, notes Prof. Wetherington, constantly test their hypotheses, rather than simply “line up facts to support a hypothesis.”

Professor Wetherington is careful not to disparage anyone else’s religion, which I suppose is a laudable position. But frankly when a scientist’s religion teaches something that is contrary to known fact and by his own admission prevents that scientist from getting a real job in a real research laboratory, then maybe it is time to admit that it is the religious view, not the science, that needs drastic modification.

Acknowledgment. Thanks are due again to Alert Reader for providing the link.

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Recent Comments

  • Scott F: Robert, your “equation” was answered and refuted multiple times over, just in the last few pages. You simply ignored all the refutations. Simply repeating the same thing over and read more
  • Scott F: Uh, actually IIRC, we’ve been around that block before. Our creationists “explain” this by denying that the egg protein genes exist. Humans don’t lay eggs, so obviously those genes read more
  • Malcolm: It isn’t possible to defend the Bible. read more
  • phhht: I mean that you cannot offer any backup for your assertion that gods exist. And I will insist on backup that I can test for myself to see whether read more
  • Doc Bill: So, they’re creating 47 jobs, not hundreds. Probably just about covers Ham and his relatives. read more
  • Scott F: You noticed that too, eh? Grammar? Punctuation? Sentence structure? Maybe we’ve only ever experienced Robert when he’s off his meds. read more
  • IBelieveInGod: What do you mean by no evidence for the existence of my God? read more
  • phhht: So Poofster, still no evidence for the existence of your gods, right? You believe, you believe, you believe! - but you just can’t say exactly why. You don’t know read more
  • IBelieveInGod: It isn’t necessary to defend the Bible. read more
  • Scott F: Interesting. According to the AU site, that would come to a tax subsidy of about $340,000 for each one of the 265 jobs, 218 of which would be part read more



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