May 2012 Archives

ScienceBlogs migration problem

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As most here know, ScienceBlogs has moved to National Geographic (well, not literally moved, but is now somehow affiliated with NatGeo), and also just migrated to WordPress. That has caused some problems. One problem I found today was that Google Reader no longer recognizes new posts on Jason Rosenhouse’s EvolutionBlog. I had to resubscribe in the reader to get the new posts.

The problem appears to be general across ScienceBlogs–it’s the same in Aardvarchaeology and Greg Laden’s Blog.

Commenting is still screwed up over there, too, and they are aware of it. But to get new ScienceBlogs posts it looks like you’ll have to resubscribe in Google Reader.

Speaking of Answers in Genesis …

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Whilst spending the afternoon catching up on the 1,000+ unread posts in nearly 200 blogs in my reader, I happened onto a two week old post on Exploring our Matrix pointing to a post by Fred Clark at Slacktivist on the Patheos Progressive Christian channel titled Answers in Genesis teaches how not to read a story. An excerpt to whet your appetite:

The beginnings of the Clovis culture date back to around 13,500 years ago. The newer findings suggest people had arrived in North America even earlier – as early as 14,300 years ago. Allow me to translate those figures for my young-earth creationist, illiteralist fundamentalist friends. The godless scientists used to believe that the first humans arrived in North America 7,484 years before you think the Bible says the universe was created, but now the godless scientists have found evidence that humans were here at least 8,284 years before the creation of the universe.

I know, I know, picking on the young-earth creationists is too easy. Fish in a barrel and all that.

But they invite it. They’re not just wrong, but audaciously wrong. The weirdness of their conclusions becomes all the more horrifying when you try to trace the arcane routes they traveled to arrive at them.

Don’t miss the dig at a freethought billboard for taking the creationists’ literalist Biblical exegesis (semi-)seriously by calculating rainfall rates for Da Flood.

Castor canadensis

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Castor canadensis – American beaver. Sorry, the beavers are asleep now, but they deforested this area to build a lodge. Walden Ponds, Boulder, Colorado.

I think I’ll skip this one

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For my sins I’m on AIG’s emailing list, so I get regular invitations to various YEC and apologetics events. I got this one just the other day:

Voddie Baucham at Proclaiming the Faith 2012

We are excited to announce that Dr. Voddie Baucham of Voddie Baucham Ministries and pastor of the Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas, will be joining us at the Proclaiming the Faith family conference in Branson Missouri this July! Voddie was one of the favorite speakers with us two years ago at our family conference in Sevierville, Tennessee.

The following quote from Grace Family Baptist website describes Dr. Baucham’s unique style of teaching:

Voddie makes the Bible clear and demonstrates the relevance of God’s word to everyday life. However, he does so without compromising the centrality of Christ and the gospel. Those who hear him preach find themselves both challenged and encouraged.

Voddie’s area of emphasis is Cultural Apologetics. Whether teaching on classical apologetic issues like the validity and historicity of the Bible, or the resurrection of Christ; or teaching on biblical manhood/womanhood, marriage and family, he helps ordinary people understand the significance of thinking and living biblically in every area of life.

Joining Dr. Baucham will be Todd Friel from Wretched Radio, Mark Spence of Ray Comfort’s School of Biblical Evangelism, Ken Ham, and all your favorite AiG speakers.

This is a summer experience you don’t want to miss! Bring your whole family for a week of fun, teaching, and a challenge to proclaim your faith.

Register online today at www.proclaimingthefaith.org.

I don’t think I could take Ken Ham and a Ray (Banana Man) Comfort minion on the same program. I don’t have Jason Rosenhouse’s forebearance.

Coyne on NYTimes on tax credits for creationist textbooks

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I read Public money finds back door to private schools in the NYTimes last night and planned to post on it this evening, but Jerry Coyne beat me to it. I’ll quote just a bit from the story and refer you to Coyne’s post:

Mr. Arnold, the headmaster of the Covenant Christian Academy in Cumming, Ga., confirmed that his school used those texts but said they were part of a larger curriculum.

“You have to keep in mind that the curriculum goes beyond the textbook,” Mr. Arnold said. “Not only do we teach the students that creation is the way the world was created and that God is in control and he made all things, we also teach them what the false theories of the world are, such as the Big Bang theory and Darwinism. We teach those as fallacies.”

With creationist books from Bob Jones University and A Beka bought via donations that yielded state tax credits for the donors.

Opuntia macrorhiza

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Vestigial leaves on Opuntia macrorhiza – plains prickly pear cactus. The leaves are the spikes that stick out of the central, greenest pad. Identification and tutelage courtesy of Ronald Wittmann, coauthor of Colorado Flora. Mr. Wittmann adds, “Opuntia leaves are deciduous. They persist for a few weeks then drop. … O. macrorhiza is the most common species on the eastern plains of Colorado and certainly deserves mention [in the Wikipedia article on Opuntia]. O. ficus-indica is cultivated for its fruits in warm climates throughout the world.”

The Sensuous Curmudgeon lays it on creationism

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One of my favorite bloggers is The Sensuous Curmudgeon. He exemplifies the holy writ of curmudgeonhood, “The Curmudgeon’s Handbook,” a compendium of extracts from historical curmudgeons (Mencken was prominent among them) that I read more than four decades ago and can no longer find. I can only dream of aspiring to the heights SC regularly reaches. He recently vented about creationism in a post titled The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Creation Science. (Well, he actually vents regularly, but this one is a keeper.) Highly recommended!

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I sent this link to an AP biology teacher, who pronounced it “cool” and forwarded it to other teachers in his district. The link describes a project by three scientific animators to develop a video game to teach the internal working of the cell – and presumably make it fun. The organizers of the project are seeking what I would consider fairly modest support through Kickstarter. As of this writing, they have a long way to go before the deadline, May 30. I intend to make a smallish pledge and encourage others to do so as well.

Yes, you read that right. According to an article in the Detroit News, the Center for Inquiry has sued a country club for canceling a speech by the distinguished biologist Richard Dawkins, allegedly because the owner of the country club did not want “to associate with certain individuals and philosophies.” From our “if I did that, then you would …” department, imagine the outrage if someone had canceled a speech on finding out that the speaker was a religious fundamentalist. What is the difference?

Odocoileus virginianus

Photograph by Richard Buquoi.

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Odocoileus virginianus – white-tailed (Virginia) deer. This fawn is a melanic form found largely in Texas. Photograph copyright © 2010 by R.M.Buquoi Photographics. All rights reserved.

Freshwater: Board’s Supreme Court Memorandum in Response

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As I posted earlier, in April John Freshwater filed a Notice of Appeal and a Memorandum in Support of Jurisdiction with the Ohio Supreme Court, asking that the Court consider an appeal of his termination. Now the Board’s attorneys have filed a Memorandum in Response. Basically, the Board argues that the case as decided by the 5th District Court of Appeals is a narrow one, a “run of the mill termination case,” concerned solely with whether the Knox County Court of Common Pleas abused its discretion in denying Freshwater’s appeal of his termination. The Court of Appeals ruled that there was no abuse of discretion.

The Memorandum in Response argues that Freshwater’s appeal to the Supreme Court is no more than a ploy to convince the Supreme Court that it should “take another look at the facts”–in effect, to rehear the case. It argues that Freshwater is attempting to “transform this case into one about academic freedom and free speech,” but no substantial constitutional question is raised by it. It says that Freshwater’s invocation of academic freedom and free speech in his MIS is a “… desperate attempt to make this case appear as a matter of public or great general interest … [and] … has no basis in reality” (p. 11). The Memorandum in Response argues that had Freshwater been allowed to continue his behavior in the classroom, the Board of Education, in its failure to control Freshwater’s behavior, would itself have been exposed to the risk of violating the Establishment Clause and resulting litigation.

The next step is for the Supreme Court to decide whether it will hear the case or let the Appeals Court ruling stand. I have no idea how long that will take, but I’ll try to find out what typical delays are.

Today on the DI Media Complaints Division blog, William Dembski writes,

I recall posting on my blog a gorgeous picture of wildflowers, hinting at the wonders of God’s creation, and seeing comments by atheistic evolutionists who dismissed it as merely “sex” run amuck.

I actually remember this post. It was a post Dembski put up on May 14, 2005 at Uncommon Descent. Quoth Dembski:

I am not sure how much I want to make of this – indeed, I am not sure I want to make anything of it - but Science Now recently ran a short piece to the effect that analytical thinking may “cause [people’s] religious beliefs to waver, if only a little.” More specifically, the author, Greg Miller, describes a number of studies that show that when people are made to think analytically, they are slightly less likely to express a religious belief than when they think intuitively.

Trachemys scripta elegans

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Photograph by Paul Burnett.

Photography contest, Honorable Mention.

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Trachemys scripta elegans – red-eared slider, a non-native invasive species in California – but very well established in the (former) habitat of the western pond turtle.

47th Carnival of Evolution

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At John Wilkins’ Evolving Thoughts, titled “All the Evolution News that’s Fit to Blog.” Go easy on him: he’s injured.

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