Skeptical Raptor's Blog hunting pseudoscience in the internet jungle

Richard Dawkins says he’s an African ape–yes we are.

Whenever I read statements from the anti-evolution/creationist crowd, I often wonder if they’re satisfied with their intellect and knowledge.  Their level of denialism is so high that they cannot even get basic science right.  In Vasko Kohlmayer’s Washington Times article, Is Richard Dawkins an ape?, decides to deny most basic biological knowledge just to make some point that humans are somehow “better” than an ape, and use it to “disprove” evolution.  Kohlmayer’s logic, if you can call it that, is so fallacious, I’m not sure which fallacy would fit.  Maybe I’ll just use them all.

Before we start, you should know a little bit about The Washington Times. It was founded by the Unification Church (better known as Moonies, from their namesake, Sun Myung Moon) as a competitor to the Washington Post, a rather progressive newspaper in Washington, DC.  The Post had written some negative articles about Moonies back in the late 70’s, while it was the only newspaper in the US Capital.  The Washington Times has a very conservative editorial bias, based upon anti-communism and “Judeo-Christian values.”  Of course, the paper is generally a mouthpiece for the conservative movement in the US, with its preference for climate change and evolution denialism.  
(more…) «Richard Dawkins says he’s an…»

Comments (4)

Richard Dawkins talks about GMO crops

Richard_Dawkins_Cooper_Union_Shankbone

For New Year’s Day, I’m republishing the top 10 articles I wrote in 2013. Well, actually top 9, plus 1 from 2012 that just keeps going.

#2. This article was published on 12 June 2013, and has had nearly 40,000 views. GMO’s cause so much unscientific drama, that when Richard Dawkins, a “saint” for the a lot of pro-science people, makes it known that being against GMO’s is anti-science, it causes the time-space continuum to break. 

Thirteen years ago, Richard Dawkins, noted secularist, author and evolutionary biologist, wrote an open letter to Prince Charles, noted promoter of pseudoscience and heir apparent to the British throne, about the Prince’s hostility to science. Even though the letter was written more than a decade ago, the salient points still ring true today:

…Sir, I think you may have an exaggerated idea of the natural-ness of ‘traditional’ or ‘organic’ agriculture. Agriculture has always been unnatural. Our species began to depart from our natural hunter-gatherer lifestyle as recently as 10,000 years ago – too short to measure on the evolutionary timescale.

Wheat, be it ever so wholemeal and stoneground, is not a natural food for Homo sapiens. Nor is milk, except for children. Almost every morsel of our food is genetically modified – admittedly by artificial selection not artificial mutation, but the end result is the same. A wheat grain is a genetically modified grass seed, just as a pekinese is a genetically modified wolf. Playing God? We’ve been playing God for centuries!
(more…) «Richard Dawkins talks about GMO…»

Comments (228)

We are humans and apes

Previously, I wrote about how Richard Dawkins claimed he was an African Ape. Fortuitously, I ran across an article in io9 by Annalee NewitzThe last time we redefined what it means to be human. Newitz clarifies the current cladogram, a diagram that shows relationships among organisms, for humans and their closest primate neighbors (from an evolutionary standpoint).

Humans today are the species sapiens, the genus Homo, the subfamily Homininae, the family Hominidae, the order Primates, the class Mammalia, and the kingdom Animalia. There are other classifications, like tribe and subtribe, sub family, and other fine tuning, which has made the taxonomic classification of organisms complex, especially because of the use of Latin names. Moreover, there are a lot of similar sounding taxonomic groups for humans and great ape relatives. But let’s try to make it as clear as possible..

(more…) «We are humans and apes»

Comments (11)

Science is not based on absolutes–Richard Dawkins proves that

dawkins-bus-advertOne of the tropes of pseudoscience pushers is that science is too fungible, that is, scientists can change their mind or, horrors of horrors, refuse to make an absolute “this is the TRUTH™” statement. There are numerous articles, published in peer-reviewed, high impact factor journals, that state “more research should be done to confirm these results.” The anti-science crowd uses these comments as “evidence” that science isn’t sure about something.

Black/white absolute truth doesn’t exist in real science. Many people state that science “seeks truth,” and it does, if we do not ascribe moral qualities to the word “truth.” Actually, science seeks evidence to support or refute a hypothesis (or some other scientific principle like a theory). It’s all about the evidence (and the quality thereof), not about proving that it’s either this or that.

Part of the problem, amongst both “pro-science” and anti-science types is that they both think that science is some magical word to either be loved or despised depending on the answer it provides. But science is, in reality, a coherent method to find an answer to a question about the natural universe, but it is not itself the answer. Science is a systematic and logical process, using the scientific method, that finds and builds data, and eventually knowledge, into testable explanations and predictions about the natural universe. it is not a magical word that implies truth, but it is a rigorous process to separate meaningless information from high quality evidence in support or refutation of an explanation of the natural world. 

Oftentimes, someone will report that “scientists believe that birds are living dinosaurs” or “scientists believe humans cause global warming.” To the lay audience that sounds like a bunch of men and women, sitting in an apartment with a keg of beer, a dartboard, and inventing some new theory. OK, in my experience, we have often sat around with a keg of beer and a dartboard, but we were discussing 10 years of research and how to sum it up clearly. Or wondering if a new set of results adds to the data or may actually move us in a different direction. But all of it was based on many years of hard work (including education, bench and field research, withering criticisms from peers and mentors, and countless nights of worrying if an experiment would fail because the power went off), not just making a random guess.

Moreover, even after hard work, publications, and critiques, science is filled with doubt. New evidence, as long as it is as strong as the evidence that supported a previously held explanation, can create new explanations and predictions. The whole scientific process is based upon criticism, open-mindedness and accumulation of new data. It’s not based on “ok, we’re done, we’ve answered all of the questions.” Science evolves over times, because it simply isn’t dogmatic.
(more…) «Science is not based on…»

Comments (15)

iPhone and iPad Apps–skepticism and atheism (update 2)

There’s an app for that.

Update 2.  Just added one more app that I’ve been using and just forgot to put in the original article.

When I write about skepticism, sitting at my trusty MacBook Pro, I have access to every source and bit of information that is required to write about evolution, vaccines, global warming, and the existence of sasquatch.  If I need to dig up a link to an article that debunks some silly anti-vaccination lunatic’s claim, it’s easy to do.  However, since people make pseudoscientific claims all the time, it’s always good to have access to information right at the tip of your fingers.  Of course, it’s relatively easy to put your question in google, in the hope of getting a good answer.  Then again, you have to weed through the 100 hits that might actually support the bogus claim.

(more…) «iPhone and iPad Apps–skepticism and…»

No comments

iPhone and iPad Apps–skepticism and atheism (update 1)

When I write about skepticism, sitting at my trusty MacBook Pro, I have access to every source and bit of information that is required to write about evolution, vaccines, global warming, and the existence of sasquatch.  If I need to dig up a link to an article that debunks some silly anti-vaccination lunatic’s claim, it’s easy to do.  However, since people make pseudoscientific claims all the time, it’s always good to have access to information right at the tip of your fingers.  Of course, it’s relatively easy to put your question in google, in the hope of getting a good answer.  Then again, you have to weed through the 100 hits that might actually support the bogus claim.
(more…) «iPhone and iPad Apps–skepticism and…»

No comments

Richard Dawkins and the existence of god

You’re going to be reading this story about Richard Dawkins and his doubts about the NON-existence of god.  The Telegraph, a British newspaper, wrote about a recent public discussion between Dawkins and the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the traditional head of the Church of England (known as Anglicans outside of the USA, and Episcopalians in the USA):

There was surprise when Prof Dawkins acknowledged that he was less than 100 per cent certain of his conviction that there is no creator.

The philosopher Sir Anthony Kenny, who chaired the discussion, interjected: “Why don’t you call yourself an agnostic?” Prof Dawkins answered that he did.

An incredulous Sir Anthony replied: “You are described as the world’s most famous atheist.”

(more…) «Richard Dawkins and the existence…»

Comments (9)

Huffington Post and quote mining–one more reason to ignore them

The Huffington Post published an article recently entitled, Science and religion quotes: what the world’s greatest scientists say about God.  I rarely read HuffPo, despite my having a similar political point-of-view, because of what I perceive to be a high number of anti-science articles.  In this case, HuffPo tries to show how some of the great scientists were actually deeply spiritual if not religious.  Using quotes as evidence for a history or biography of an individual is pathetic and disingenuous, especially if taken out of context.  It would be as if we tried to describe Los Angeles based on a snapshot of one house in San Pedro.
(more…) «Huffington Post and quote mining–one…»

No comments
Powered by WordPress 4.0.1
Don't forget to subscribe to this blog through any the services in the right sidebar.