There’s been a lot of press and internet complaints about the new Tennessee anti-evolution bill that recently passed the Tennessee Senate, and passed last year in the House. Essentially the bill encourages teachers to present the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of “controversial” topics such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” And I can’t say this enough, what scientific weaknesses? The only debate that makes sense would one on the ethics of human cloning, but then again, it could be a code word for anything from stem-cell research to in vitro fertilization.
Tennessee Senate Bill 893, which, if enacted, would encourage teachers to present the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of “controversial” topics such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”
There are no scientific controversies about biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming or human cloning. The only controversies exist if you add political expediency, religious faith and corporations who want to pollute without restrictions.
Unfortunately for the science side of the equation, the Tennessee House passed the bill in April 2011, so after a conference between both houses to resolve small differences in language (the Senate amended the bill), it will be sent to the Governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, for final approval. Haslam is a Republican, but has stated in the past that the State Board of Education and not the legislature who should be responsible for educational standards. Nevertheless, even if he signs it, the state will be sued soon thereafter for violating the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution, costing the Tennessee school system millions of dollars. Undoubtedly, the legislature did not fund the bill to help school districts fight the inevitable lawsuits.
Again, it’s nice to live in an area of the United States that lacks this overt religious dominance over the body politic.
The other day, I was watching some news story about climate change; it was mostly from the denialist point of view, but I was struck by what seemed to be almost the same arguments that the creationist folks say about evolution. I began to wonder if there was a religious component to the global warming denialists, maybe at the same fundamentalist belief level as the creationists.
While I was digging through the Huffington Post’s Science Section (which publishes story about how homeopathy works or how a bug jumping on a camera lens is obviously a UFO chasing the powerful Chilean Air Force, I noticed a couple of articles by Victor Stenger, a world-renowned particle physicist who writes about scientific skepticism of religion and faith. It’s possible that I’m too harsh about HuffPo’s general anti-science content, though Stenger only partially makes up for the rest of the anti-science articles on HuffPo. Continue reading “Religion and global warning denialism”
I know all of my liberal friends love the Huffington Post (HuffPo), but I think that the online newspaper is no better than anything published by Rupert Murdoch. And it’s not just me. Brian Dunning, over at Skeptoid, considers it one of the 10 worst anti-science websites, although I think it deserves a higher seeding in the Pseudoscience Bracket. Here’s how I look at it: if they can’t get the science right, if they continue to support non-evidence based stories, how are we to trust anything else they write? If they aggressively promote homeopathy, anti-vaccine lunacy, and colon detoxification, all thoroughly debunked with real science published in real peer-reviewed journals, then what are they promoting in their political news? I rarely read anything from HuffPo, and I consider them an insult to the science journalism. Continue reading “Huffington Post sees UFO’s–logical fallacies everywhere”
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. Continue reading “iPhone and iPad Apps–skepticism and atheism (update 1)”
There’s been lots of news this week regarding anti-evolution legislation. Republicans in various state legislatures are starting to push their religious agenda in violation of the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution. Remember, according to the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution, teaching religion in public schools is prohibited, and numerous court rulings have clearly stated that creationism is a religious doctrine, not a scientific controversy. These Republican legislatures are trying to push a full anti-science agenda, forcing school children to think that abiogenesis (the origin of life on Earth), global warming and evolution are somehow scientifically unsound principles. In the real world, these is no controversy, except with regards to fine-tuning mechanisms, rather than on the broad theory.
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. Continue reading “Skeptics guide to skeptical iPhone apps”
In 1925, in the state of Tennessee, the most famous legal proceeding in the battle between evolution and anti-evolution occurred. In what became known as the Scopes Monkey Trial, a high school science teacher, John Scopes, was accused by the State of Tennessee for violating the Butler Act,a Tennessee law that required school teachers to not “deny” the Biblical account of the origin of man. The trial grabbed the attention of the whole country, and two of the greatest attorneys of that era, William Jennings Bryan (a three time Democratic candidate for President of the US) prosecuted the case, and Clarence Darrow defended Scopes. Even though the trial is often considered a science vs. religion battle, in fact, it centered around a “modernist” view, that evolution was consistent with the bible and religion, against a “fundamentalist” view, that the bible is the “word of god”, which would exclude evolution. Continue reading “Creationism legislation–Tennessee, or The Return of the Monkey Bill”
Yesterday, I responded to an article that I read, where the author wanted African-Americans to refuse HIV testing because of…pseudoscientific nonsense. I refuted the 10 claims of the AIDS denialist without too much trouble, though I doubt that the denialist will care that much. An AIDS denialist, for those who might not know, is someone who denies the link between HIV and AIDS, blaming AIDS on something else (other than the scientifically supported HIV infection).
There are consequences to denying real science. Vaccine denialists are leading to an increase in communicable diseases that were once almost unknown. Climate change denialists may lead us to finding New York City under a few meters of water. Continue reading “Consequences of AIDS denialism–African American Female HIV Rates”
I ran across a blog that is titled Homeopathy: Science Modern Evidencebased (sic). Since any reasonable person would understand that homeopathy violates some of the basic principles of physics, chemistry and biology. And because there is no viable mechanism that would make you think homeopathy actually could work, clinical trials show that it doesn’t work, or, at best, it is a mythical placebo. So, if it doesn’t work in clinical trials, and there is no possible mechanism underlying it, employing Occam’s Razor, we would have to say the simplest explanation is the best: Homeopathy does not work. It’s a lie. It’s a scam. Period. End of story.
But you want more. You want real explanations. Continue reading “A homeopath discusses evidence based homeopathy–except no evidence”