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Michael Simpson

Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!

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.”

Read More »Richard Dawkins and the existence of god

Mormons baptise Anne Frank–frankly, it’s disgusting

I lived in Utah during a couple of points in my life.  It is a beautiful state, with numerous outdoor activities available like hiking, fishing, rock climbing, skiing, mountain biking…I’m not being funded by the Utah Chamber of Commerce, so you get the point.  Living in Utah is an interesting proposition for someone like me who considers religion nothing more than myths carried from the Bronze Age (3000-500 BCE approximately), when human culture had barely left the last Glacial Maximum, and science was starting a fire.  Utah is essentially a theocracy, where government is mostly run by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (known as LDS or Mormons).  If you’re a non-Mormon (whom they call Gentiles) living in Utah, you sort of learn about the religion just by osmosis.  And you mostly ignore them (there is a de facto segregation of neighborhoods between Mormons and non-Mormons for a lot of complex reasons).Read More »Mormons baptise Anne Frank–frankly, it’s disgusting

Amy Farrah Fowler may believe in homeopathy, but Sheldon does not

A couple of days ago, I talked about the Amy Farrah Fowler character on one of my favorite TV shows, the geeky Big Bang Theory, who is a neurobiologist played by a real neurobiologist, Mayim Bialik.  Yes, Bialik, former star of the TV show Blossom (never saw an episode) has a Ph.D. in neurobiology from UCLA.  Yes, the real UCLA.

As we discussed, Dr. Bialik seems to believe in a whole host of pseudoscientific alternative medicine ideas, all of which does not make sense given her education.  She believes in homeopathy, which is basically nonsense according to every definition of the word “nonsense.”  Homeopathy is considered a pseudoscience, since it is based on a nearly impossible foundation of water having a sort of memory to what it contacted.  In other words, the basic principle of homeopathy violates all the basic principles of physics and chemistry.  These aren’t ideas that require a Ph.D. to understand, and assuming that Bialik actually studied science, and didn’t cruise through her undergraduate and graduate training without opening a single book, she would have to be scientifically critical of homeopathy.

Read More »Amy Farrah Fowler may believe in homeopathy, but Sheldon does not

Indiana confirms 15th measles case

❝Public health officials in Indiana recently confirmed a 15th case of the measles in the central portion of the state.

Although all of the previous cases occurred in either Boone or Hamilton counties, located north of Indianapolis, the Indiana State Department of Health declined to specify where the newly confirmed case is located, according to the Indianapolis Star.

The health department said that the new case does not pose any increased public health threat because the individual has been in self-isolation since being exposed to the highly contagious respiratory illness.

“Through our investigation, we were made aware that this individual was exposed and may be at high risk for developing the disease,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Gregory Larkin said, WANE-TV (Ft. Wayne, IN) reports. “This is good news, because since we knew about the exposure and risk, this person was able to stay home and avoid exposing anyone else while infectious.”

An Indiana school district recently refused to allow unvaccinated students to attend classes in the wake of the outbreak. This is the second measles outbreak in Indiana in less than a year.

“In general, when we experience measles in the United States, it’s a result of an unvaccinated U.S. resident traveling abroad or a foreign visitor from a part of the world where measles is endemic,” Larkin said, according to WANE-TV.❞

Read More »Indiana confirms 15th measles case

BREAKING NEWS: Error Undoes Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Results

❝It appears that the faster-than-light neutrino results, announced last September by the OPERA collaboration in Italy, was due to a mistake after all. A bad connection between a GPS unit and a computer may be to blame.

Physicists had detected neutrinos travelling from the CERN laboratory in Geneva to the Gran Sasso laboratory near L’Aquila that appeared to make the trip in about 60 nanoseconds less than light speed. Many other physicists suspected that the result was due to some kind of error, given that it seems at odds with Einstein’s special theory of relativity, which says nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. That theory has been vindicated by many experiments over the decades.

Read More »BREAKING NEWS: Error Undoes Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Results

Victory for teachers who say that creationism is nonsense

Yesterday, the Supreme Court “declined to hear an appeal Tuesday from a former high school student who sued his history teacher, saying he disparaged Christianity in class in violation of the student’s First Amendment rights.”  The case, C. F. v. Capistrano USD, involved a high school student who was insulted that his history teacher, James Corbett, didn’t think much of creationism and religion.  Some of Corbett’s comments (which deserve some sort of hero’s award) are:

“Conservatives don’t want women to avoid pregnancies — that’s interfering with God’s work.”

“When you pray for divine intervention, you’re hoping that the spaghetti monster will help you get what you want.”

Referring to creationism as “religious, superstitious nonsense”, which lead to the lawsuit.

Read More »Victory for teachers who say that creationism is nonsense

Amy Farrah Fowler, I’m so disappointed

I’m a huge fan of CBS’ The Big Bang Theory (TBBT), mainly because I’m a lifelong geek, but also because it is one of the better written shows on TV (a low standard indeed).  The four main male characters are researchers at Cal Tech, although, as the show keeps mentioning, three have Ph.D.’s, and one only has a Masters from MIT.  TBBT also amuses me because I was one of those characters, seemingly clueless about the opposite sex, more interested in games and Star Trek than in anything else, and spending hours in a lab doing obscure experiments.  And I dressed that poorly too!  TBBT just reminds me of my life.  And I still love Star Trek (though Enterprise annoyed me).

Read More »Amy Farrah Fowler, I’m so disappointed

Heartland Institute plans to discredit teaching of climate change

The New York Times article, Heartland Institute Leak, a Plan to Discredit Climate Teaching, obtained some leaked documents from the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank that denies the link between second hand smoke and cancer; and denies anthropomorphic global warming (human-caused climate change).  These documents outlined “plans to promote a curriculum that would cast doubt on the scientific finding that fossil fuel emissions endanger the long-term welfare of the planet.”  According to the Heartland Institute, “Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective (pdf file).”

Read More »Heartland Institute plans to discredit teaching of climate change

Canadian university to offer antievolution degree program next year–not really

UPDATED. A few weeks ago, Memorial University of Newfoundland’s student newspaper, the Muse, published an article, “MUN to offer creation science program next year.”  It appeared that one of Canada’s top comprehensive universities, which has a some very good science… Read More »Canadian university to offer antievolution degree program next year–not really

Climate change denialists targeting classrooms

Why write anything when the LA Times (my hometown newspaper) says it perfectly:

❝The culture wars have been fought in the classroom for decades, waged over such issues as school prayer, the teaching of evolution and whether the Pledge of Allegiance should include the phrase “under God.” But the conflict usually pits backers of religious instruction against secularists. The latest skirmish, by contrast, is centered on a scientific issue that has nothing to do with religious teaching: climate change.Read More »Climate change denialists targeting classrooms