Tuesday, July 31, 2012

No one who embraces Islam gives a shit about gay rights.

Boston Mayor Tom 'Muslims probably really like gay marriage' Menino.

Mark Steyn has an essay on this most recent manifestation of the multiverse of liberal hypocrisy.


... mayor Tom Menino announced that Chick-fil-A would not be opening in his burg anytime soon. “If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult,” said His Honor. If you’ve just wandered in in the middle of the column, this guy Menino isn’t the mayor of Soviet Novosibirsk or Kampong Cham under the Khmer Rouge, but of Boston, Massachusetts. Nevertheless, he shares the commissars’ view that in order to operate even a modest and politically inconsequential business it is necessary to demonstrate that one is in full ideological compliance with party orthodoxy. “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail,” Mayor Menino thundered in his letter to Mr. Cathy, “and no place for your company alongside it.” No, sir. On Boston’s Freedom Trail, you’re free to march in ideological lockstep with the city authorities — or else... 
Mayor Menino subsequently backed down and claimed the severed rooster’s head left in Mr. Cathy’s bed was all just a misunderstanding. Yet, when it comes to fighting homophobia on Boston’s Freedom Trail, His Honor is highly selective. As the Boston Herald’s Michael Graham pointed out, Menino is happy to hand out municipal licenses to groups whose most prominent figures call for gays to be put to death. The mayor couldn’t have been more accommodating (including giving them $1.8 million of municipal land) of the new mosque of the Islamic Society of Boston, whose IRS returns listed as one of their seven trustees Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Like President Obama, Imam Qaradawi’s position on gays is in a state of “evolution”: He can’t decide whether to burn them or toss ’em off a cliff. “Some say we should throw them from a high place,” he told Al Jazeera. “Some say we should burn them, and so on. There is disagreement. . . . The important thing is to treat this act as a crime.” Unlike the deplorable Mr. Cathy, Imam Qaradawi is admirably open-minded: There are so many ways to kill homosexuals, why restrict yourself to just one? In Mayor Menino’s Boston, if you take the same view of marriage as President Obama did from 2009 to 2012, he’ll run your homophobic ass out of town. But, if you want to toss those godless sodomites off the John Hancock Tower, he’ll officiate at your ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Menino (and Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago) have been humping the leg of any imam who applies for a mosque-building license. Mayor Menino actually spearheaded construction of "Menino's Mosque", built by a gay-hating imam who says he is undecided if homosexuals should be thrown off buildings rather than burned or stoned. Menino gifted the Mosque with $1.8 million from the hapless taxpaying citizen dhimmi of Boston ("separation of church and state" doesn't apply to mosques), and gave a fine speech alongside the gay genocide imams at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

You can bet there was no X-tian chicken served at the celebration. Menino supports gay marriage, presumably to streamline disbursement of survivor benefits when the Mayor's imam buddies toss gays off the John Hancock Tower.

If you thought that killing gays was just whimsical Muslim musing, you'd be wrong.


This inconsistency is very telling. The forces of “tolerance” and “diversity” are ever more intolerant of anything less than total ideological homogeneity. Earlier this year, the Susan G. Komen Foundation — the group that gave us those pink “awareness raising” ribbons for breast cancer — decided to end its funding of Planned Parenthood on the grounds that, whatever its other charms, Planned Parenthood has nothing to do with curing breast cancer. Within hours, the Komen Foundation’s Nancy Brinker had been jumped by her fellow liberals, and was strapped to a chair under a light bulb in the basement with her head clamped between two mammogram plates until she recanted. A few weeks back, Mark Regnerus, a sociology professor who “says he’s never voted for a Republican presidential candidate,” published a paper in the journal Social Science Research whose findings, alas, did not conform to the party line on gay parenting. Immediately, the party of science set about ending his career, demanding that he be investigated for “scientific misconduct” and calling on mainstream TV and radio networks to ban him from their airwaves.

As an exercise in sheer political muscle, it’s impressive. But, if you’re a feminist or a gay or any of the other house pets in the Democrat menagerie, you might want to look at Rahm Emanuel’s pirouette, and Menino’s coziness with Islamic homophobia. These guys are about power, and right now your cause happens to coincide with their political advantage. But political winds shift. Once upon a time, Massachusetts burned witches. Now it grills chicken-sandwich homophobes. One day it’ll be something else. Already in Europe, in previously gay-friendly cities like Amsterdam, demographically surging Muslim populations have muted leftie politicians’ commitment to gay rights, feminism, and much else. It’s easy to cheer on the thugs when they’re thuggish in your name. What happens when Emanuel’s political needs change?

Americans talk more about liberty than citizens of other Western nations, but, underneath the rhetorical swagger, liberty bleeds. When Mayor Menino and Alderman Moreno openly threaten to deny business licenses because of ideological apostasy, they’re declaring their unfitness for public office. It’s not about marriage, it’s not about gays, it’s about a basic understanding that a free society requires a decent respect for a wide range of opinion without penalty by the state.

The liberal agenda has nothing to do with human rights. The liberal agenda is power.

Liberals stop their opponents from speaking by using force. Integrity and consistency mean little or nothing. They are astonishingly intolerant of conservative or Christian viewpoints, and the intolerance is not motivated by any higher ethos. They boot-lick any gay-genociding clitoris-cutting Muslim nut who wants an imprimatur on a new mosque, but if a Christian leads a prayer in school or wants a license to open a chicken restaurant they call 911.

It would be easy to say that Mayor Menino and Mayor Emanuel are just stupid liberals. Their hypocrisy is beyond satire-- they make threats against a chicken restaurant because its Christian owner opposes gay marriage yet at the same time they embrace and fund the construction of mosques by imams who advocate gay genocide. But I don't believe that these mayors' advocacy is mere stupidity. This is a salient in a long struggle. These guys are playing to their donors and their political muscle, gay and gay-hating alike.

No one who embraces Islam gives a shit about gay rights.

What unites gay-marriage libs and gay-lynching imams is hatred of Christianity, which is what this is really all about.

Monday, July 30, 2012

“No, my husband’s hands were tied, not yours.”

Benjamin Weinthal has a superb essay about the International Olympic Committee's refusal to permit a minute of silence to honor the eleven Israeli athletes murdered by Muslim terrorists in the Munich Olympics in 1972.

Why Did the IOC Refuse to Honor the Munich Victims?

By Benjamin Weinthal

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) flatly rejected a minute of silence at today’s opening ceremony in London to mark the 40th anniversary of the murder of eleven Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Games. 
Why exactly is the IOC opposed to a rather modest attempt to commemorate the victims of terror? According to Ankie Spitzer, the widow of Israeli fencing coach Andre Spitzer, who was murdered by the Palestinian Black September group in 1972, IOC president Jacques Rogge capitulated to the 46-member bloc of Arab and Muslim countries because of the threat of Arab countries to boycott participation in the Games. 
Spitzer, who jumpstarted an international campaign to garner a minute of silence at the London games, reported that Rogge told her that “his hands were tied” by the influence of the 46-member group. 
Her rejoinder to Rogge: “No, my husband’s hands were tied, not yours.” 
Spitzer claims that the IOC balked because 21 Arab delegations are prepared to leave the Games if a public commemoration event took place. Her response to the IOC: “Let them leave if they can’t understand what the Olympics are all about — a connection between people through sport.” 
Predictably and unsurprisingly, Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Football Federation, praised Rogge’s decision in a letter, writing “Sports is a bridge for love, connection and relaying peace between peoples. It should not be a factor for separation and spreading racism between peoples.” 
Meanwhile, in a case of real ICO-sponsored racism and anti-Semitism, the IOC permitted Lebanon’s Judo team to boycott training alongside the Israeli team. According to the London-based Jewish Chronicle, “Olympic officials were forced to erect a special screen at the Excel venue following a complaint from a member of the Lebanese delegation.” 
What is unfolding in London is a mirror-image of the conduct of the United Nations and its organizations seeking to not hurt the” feelings” of Muslim-majority countries. In short, mass cowardice prevails over basic human rights and confronting terrorism. 
Moreover, the Obama administration’s ongoing refusal to invite Israel to participate in the U.S.-sponsored Global Counterterrorism Forum is part and parcel of the soggy indifference toward Israel’s security interests, this time at the expense of placating Turkey. 
In one of the most insightful commentaries on the failure of left-liberals to tackle pressing human-rights issues, the Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger neatly captured in his May article a new phenomenon. He wrote that “the Liberals and Democrats who work on human-rights issues won’t like to hear this, but with the Obama presidency, human rights has completed its passage away from the political left, across the center and into its home mainly on the right — among neoconservatives and evangelical Christian activists.” 
All of this helps to explain why conservatives have played a key role in the call to remember the murdered Israeli athletes and have consistently urged the Obama administration to include Israel in its Global Counterterrorism Forum.

Weinthal is right. Human rights issues-- from the right to life to the right to freedom of speech to the right to be free of coercive population control to the right to religious freedom to the right to be free of government-imposed racism to the right to a fair trial to the right to be free of anti-semitism-- are now causes championed by conservatives and widely opposed by liberals.

The London Olympic Games will run 24,480 minutes. As for the International Olympic Committee's refusal to offer even one minute for a brief tribute to the athletes murdered by Muslim terrorists 40 years ago in Munich, there's no need for an exhaustive analysis.

There's a simple explanation.

The athletes were Jews.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

"Have you ever been to the moon?"

Lie detective #2. Jimmy Kimmel interrogates another little kid, with the Truth Fairy in attendance.

This kid is very cute. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

In case you wondered what fascism looks like...

The Boston Globe has a great editorial on the threats by the mayors of Boston and Chicago to deny business licenses to Chick-fil-A because of the company president Dan Cathy's opposition to gay marriage. Cathy is a devout Southern Baptist.

Menino shouldn’t block Chick-fil-A because of president’s views

The president of Chick-fil-A opposes gay marriage. While this view goes against the grain in a state that made history by embracing it, it’s no reason for Mayor Thomas M. Menino to oppose a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Boston.

The fast food chicken sandwich chain was reportedly looking at property near Faneuil Hall at the location where the Purple Shamrock currently operates. Then company president Dan Cathy stirred national controversy when he said in an interview that “we’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.” In response, Menino told the Boston Herald, “Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the City of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion.”

But which part of the First Amendment does Menino not understand? A business owner’s political or religious beliefs should not be a test for the worthiness of his or her application for a business license.

Chick-fil-A must follow all state and city laws. If the restaurant chain denied service to gay patrons or refused to hire gay employees, Menino’s outrage would be fitting. And the company should be held to its statement that it strives to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation, or gender.” But beyond the fact that Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays, the religious beliefs of the company’s top executive don’t appear to control its operations.

The situation was different when Northeastern University blocked a proposed Chick-fil-A amid student protests. In that case, a private institution made its own decision not to bring the company in as a vendor. But using the power of government to freeze the company out of a city sends a disturbing message to all businesses. If the mayor of a conservative town tried to keep out gay-friendly Starbucks or Apple, it would be an outrage.

Ironically, Menino is citing the specific location along the Freedom Trail as a reason to block Chick-fil-A. A city in which business owners must pass a political litmus test is the antithesis of what the Freedom Trail represents. History will render judgment on the views of Chick-fil-A executives. City Hall doesn’t have to.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago has made the same threat. Ironically Emanuel, a short time after demanding exclusion of Chick-fil-A from Chicago, welcomed the aid of Louis Farrakhan, a venomous anti-Semite.

A Christian who expresses a political viewpoint shared by most Americans (and ostensibly by President Obama until a month ago) is threatened with denial of a business license in Boston and Chicago. But a crude Jew-hater is welcomed with open arms by the same Chicago city government. Apparently the views of the Nation of Islam that white people are "blue-eyed devils" and that Jews control the banks and Hollywood are less objectionable to the Chicago mayor than the Christian view that marriage is inherently between a man and a woman.

What Farrakhan-embracing Mayor Emanuel and Boston Mayor Menino did was not merely outrageous. It was a crime. It was a violation by a government official of the First Amendment rights of Mr. Cathy.

Government officials under the First Amendment are not permitted to withhold business licenses based on political speech of applicants for the licenses.

If a Christmas creche on city property violates the First Amendment rights of atheists who might perchance see it, then a mayor of an American city who denies a business license to a Christian businessman because the businessman has expressed a political opinion that differs from the mayor's opinion is an obvious violation of the First Amendment.

Private individuals have the right to boycott the businesses of those with whom they disagree.

Government officials, acting in their official capacity, have no such right. In fact, doing so is a civil rights violation. A crime. The use of government power to regulate economic activity based on an ideological litmus test is characteristic of fascism.

Such is liberalism in America today. If you pray in school, they call the police. If you ask questions about Darwin's theory in biology class, they drag you before a federal judge. If you oppose gay marriage, they deny you a business license. If you believe that contraception is immoral, they still force you to pay for it, under penalty of law. If you don't toe the liberal/atheist line, they use government power to ruin you.

National Review has a fine editorial as well. Excerpt:

It is one thing for private citizens to stage a boycott of a company with associations that annoy them, though the gay lobby’s hysterical demands for absolute conformity to its agenda in all aspects of public life is both unseemly and childish. (The gay lobby is also wrong about the issue of marriage and should be opposed.) As bad as organized homosexuality’s bullying tactics can be, it is a far more serious thing when elected officials appropriate the instruments of government to punish those with whom they disagree. The analogue to the civil-rights movement is a defective one: Whatever indignities homosexuals have suffered in our history, they were not held as chattel slaves or systematically excluded from political and economic life in the way black Americans were, nor is homosexuality categorically comparable to race. Boston mayor Thomas Menino threatened to withhold a business license from Chick-fil-A until somebody reminded him that doing so would constitute an illegal abuse of official power, at which point he withdrew the threat but confirmed his simmering hostility. 
Mayors Menino and Emanuel are not striking a blow for civil rights; they are exploring new ground in the abuse of political power. Their threats and posturing have been far more shameful than anything Chick-fil-A has undertaken, and their motives considerably less lofty.
Liberal fascism. Jonah Goldberg wrote a fine book about it. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Unprecedented Greenland ice sheet melt" happens once every 150 years

You can't make this stuff up.

NASA, an agency as incompetent (and corrupt) in climate science as it has been skillful and professional in space flight, recently issued this hysterical release:

Satellites See Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Melt

For several days this month, Greenland's surface ice cover melted over a larger area than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations. Nearly the entire ice cover of Greenland, from its thin, low-lying coastal edges to its two-mile-thick center, experienced some degree of melting at its surface, according to measurements from three independent satellites analyzed by NASA and university scientists. 
On average in the summer, about half of the surface of Greenland's ice sheet naturally melts. At high elevations, most of that melt water quickly refreezes in place. Near the coast, some of the melt water is retained by the ice sheet and the rest is lost to the ocean. But this year the extent of ice melting at or near the surface jumped dramatically. According to satellite data, an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface thawed at some point in mid-July. 
Researchers have not yet determined whether this extensive melt event will affect the overall volume of ice loss this summer and contribute to sea level rise. 
"The Greenland ice sheet is a vast area with a varied history of change. This event, combined with other natural but uncommon phenomena, such as the large calving event last week on Petermann Glacier, are part of a complex story," said Tom Wagner, NASA's cryosphere program manager in Washington. "Satellite observations are helping us understand how events like these may relate to one another as well as to the broader climate system." 
Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., was analyzing radar data from the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Oceansat-2 satellite last week when he noticed that most of Greenland appeared to have undergone surface melting on July 12. Nghiem said, "This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to a data error?"

Sounds pretty terrible. Must be another manifestation of the Global Warming Climate Change Climate Instability Apocalypse.

Run for your lives!

Oh... wait...

Here's the penultimate paragraph of the article:

"Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time," says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data. "But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome."

Oh. So this "unprecedented" Greenland ice melt happens every 150 years or so. NASA scientists are so smart they've redefined "unprecedented" to mean "routine". The last melt happened in 1889. That's 123 years ago. So if the melt didn't happen in the next few decades, something might be amiss. If the melt happens again in less than 150 years, something might be amiss.

But nothing is amiss.

So why the alarmist press release? Why use the word "unprecedented" in the headline? Why wait until the end of the press release to point out that the melt is cyclic and normal? Heck, why show the ice-less terrain of Greenland in red? Could it be to make it look really scary?

The only defense these "scientists" have against an accusation of fraud would be the claim that they are too stupid to impute premeditation. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Gun control and the Colorado massacre

As one might predict, the loony left has erupted with demands for more gun control in the wake of the theater massacre in Colorado.

The fact that gun control is everywhere a failure in the prevention of gun crimes seems not to bother these folks in the least. The Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms, and it's obvious that madmen who have no concern for human life will have no respect for gun laws.

Charles Cooke says it well:

[The outcry for gun control is] predictable, but deeply misguided. As usual, this is not an issue of gun control.

As Cesare Beccaria wrote in 1764 in Crimes and Punishments:

The laws of this nature are those which forbid to wear arms, disarming those only who are not disposed to commit the crime which the laws mean to prevent. Can it be supposed, that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, and the most important of the code, will respect the less considerable and arbitrary injunctions, the violation of which is so easy, and of so little comparative importance? Does not the execution of this law deprive the subject of that personal liberty, so dear to mankind and to the wise legislator? And does it not subject the innocent to all the disagreeable circumstances that should only fall on the guilty? It certainly makes the situation of the assaulted worse and of the assailants better, and rather encourages than prevents murder, as it requires less courage to attack unarmed than armed persons. 
As Beccaria implies, this crime was ultimately about people. It was about the shooter, the victims, and their families — and very little else besides — and we would do well to avoid breathlessly proposing radical changes to our constitutional order because a man abused his liberty. Those with evil in their hearts are prone to do evil things, and those willing to violate strict prohibitions against murder do not care much about regulation of firearms or much else. As such, unless the shooter was part of a bigger conspiracy or was systematically failed by an institution, our attentions might be better focused on Aurora, Colo., and not on any particular group, or — even worse — the whole citizenry of the United States.
Liberals are fools, as their policies-- from coddling criminals to destroying families with welfare to bankrupting our nation with trillions in debt and an idiotic decades-long program to encourage people to take mortgages for houses they could not afford-- have caused incalculable damage. The idiotic liberal 'catch-and-release' policies on crime in the 1960's caused several hundred thousand excess deaths in the United States.

Cooke notes:
Those who are willing to break the laws against murder do not care about the regulation of firearms, and will get hold of weapons whether doing so is legal or not. As the old trope goes, to expect a mass-murderer to be concerned that his firearm is obtained outside the law is akin to expecting a truck bomber to fret that his vehicle is occupying two parking spaces.
Do you really think that gun control suppresses gun crime? Keep in mind that the municipalities with the most strict gun control in the U.S.-- Newark and Oakland and St. Louis and Baltimore and Philadelphia and Chicago and Washington, D.C.-- are free-fire zones and bastions of liberal Democrat governance.

Consider this uncomfortable but undeniable observation: if you classify neighborhoods and municipalities according to local voting patterns, virtually all violent crime in the United States is committed by liberal Democrats against liberal Democrats in municipalities governed by liberal Democrats. Gun crime correlates much less with the availability of guns than with the availability of liberal Democrats.

It is not clear that anything could have been done to prevent the shootings in Colorado. It is obvious, however, that stricter laws to disarm law-abiding citizens-- law-abiding targets, actually-- make it easier for mass murders to kill without fear of being stopped.

Gun control is a spree-killer's best friend.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

'You are tricked into thinking that you are a you'

Daisy Yuhas' review of Bruce Hood's new book in Scientific American, with my commentary:

The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity 
by Bruce Hood. Oxford University Press, 2012 (29.95) 

"Self Illusion"? What could the author possibly mean? Oh, I hope this is not another one of those books that claims that the self doesn't exist...
When a newborn baby's eyes scan a room, Hood writes, the infant does not decide where to focus. Instead inborn cognitive mechanisms respond to the environment and focus the baby's attention. 
Of course the infant decides. A newborn lacks developed intellectual faculties, but he certainly has will and certainly carries out willful acts.

"Honey, that new machine in the crib is making that crying noise again. Could you get up and insert it a bottle into its intake orifice..."

Later in life, the child develops self-awareness and the conviction that he consciously controls his body and brain. Yet what if this belief does not reflect reality?
Who is it who "develops self-awareness and the conviction..."? Self-awareness and convictions are acts of intelligent agents, not acts of meat machines.

Note that the author can't even speak about mental acts without presuming a real self, even a real self to be deceived.
In The Self Illusion, Hood argues precisely that. After exploring various definitions of self--a soul, an agent with free will, some essential and unique set of qualities--he concludes that what we experience as a self is actually a narrative spun by our brain.
So the brain is the real self? Then we have a real self, embodied in neurons. And if the brain is not the  real self, just who is it that the brain deceives? Does the brain deceive the brain?

What gibberish.

Since we have no real self, I suggest that the publisher demand that Hood's brain, not Hood himself, sign the royalty checks.
To see why, consider an experiment in the 1980s by physiologist Benjamin Libet. He showed that neural activity reveals what an individual will do before that person becomes conscious of having made a decision.
Libet's experiments are fascinating. They suggest that our intentions to act are motivated by unconscious processes. Of course, most of our acts are driven in large part by mental processes of which we are only dimly aware. Are you aware of each muscle you are using at this moment? Are you aware of each muscle you use when you walk or talk or type or eat? Yet you are certainly conscious of doing each of these things.

The automatic nature of most of our routine acts is obvious. That does not mean that we are soulless automatons driven by electrochemistry and duped into believing we have selves.

It means that we are each an ensouled creature, a composite of soul and matter, with a complex intellect and complex will. Unconscious or pre-conscious acts make it possible to function in the world. If we had to consciously invoke each tiny thing we did, we would be incapable of efficient acting. That doesn't mean that we are robots, or that we don't have "selves".
Perhaps our sense of free will is just a way for our brain to organize our actions and memories, as Harvard University psychologist Dan Wegner has argued. Building on Libet's and Wegner's work, Hood proposes that our sense of self is an after-the-fact organizational trick for the brain.
Libet was a property dualist who, on the basis of his science, emphatically believed in free will. He noted that experimental subjects who demonstrated brain activity several hundred milliseconds before being consciously aware of a decision to act retained the ability to cancel the act. Libet's experiments substantiate free will, and support a dualist, not a materialist monist, understanding of the mind.

Many scientists and philosophers, usually of a materialist bent, misrepresent Libet's work. Libet had deep disdain for materialism.

As with a just-so story, our brain synthesizes the complex interactions of biology and environment to create a simplified explanation of who we are.  

So our brain is the agent deceiving us? Who is the brain deceiving? Itself? Perhaps Dr. Hood's brain is deceiving itself that it is deceiving itself? Double-deception. Maybe his brain is deceiving itself that it is deceiving itself that it is deceiving itself. Triple-deception!

Note to publisher: don't send Hood's brain the royalty check, either. It's not to be trusted.
Hood likens this fragile, malleable creation to a spiderweb being tugged in many directions at once. In the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment, for example, college students transformed into brutal guards who abused fellow students playing inmates. A milder illustration comes from the questionnaires used to assess personality traits: respondents alter their answers when imagining themselves in different social contexts. Hood argues that our protean personalities allow us to adapt to new surroundings. 
Who is it who adapts, protean-personality-wise?

Although Hood believes the self may be the greatest trick our brain has ever played on us, he concludes that believing in it makes life more fulfilling.
On whom is the brain playing a trick? Who is it who believes the brain's 'trick'? Whose life is made more fulfilling? Does the brain trick the brain to believe the brain's trick?

I'm getting a headache. Or my brain is getting a headache, or maybe it's just tricking me that I have a headache, or maybe it's just tricking itself that it has a headache...
The illusion is difficult--if not impossible--to dispel. Even if we could, why deny an experience that enables empathy, storytelling and love?

Welcome to idiot materialism. I assure you, this is the best it gets. Materialist theories of the mind are all pretentious self-contradictory crap, moron philosophy dressed up like science.

Materialism is nonsense.

You are real. You have a soul. You are created and loved by God. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Kin selection and your toilet bowl

Altruism is a catastrophe for Darwinism.

Darwinism posits that adaptations are the consequence of heritable undirected variation and natural selection, which is differential reproduction, generally on the basis of competition for resources.

Altruism is cooperation that is based on self-sacrifice, the antithesis of natural selection by competition.

So how could altruism have evolved by natural selection?

For any real scientific theory, a contradiction of this magnitude would have killed the theory in its cradle. But Darwinism serves purposes far removed from science, so it limps on.

Darwin and his descendants understood the problem, and there is considerable stammering in the literature over the past century and an half about the problem altruism poses for Darwinian theory.

The original efforts to explain the evolution of altruism invoked sacrifice that would aid dissemination of an altruistic individual's genes via relatives. As Haldane famously quipped,

Would I lay down my life to save my brother? No, but I would to save two brothers or eight cousins.

This  pseudo-science was given a mathematical imprimatur by W.D. Hamilton in 1964, with his theory of kin selection. Hamilton observed that in the struggle for reproduction there are sources of the individual's genes other than the individual-- the kin. In sexually reproducing organisms (e.g. humans), offspring share 50% of genes with each parent, ditto with siblings, 25% with grandparents and aunts and uncles, 12.5% with cousins, etc. Hamilton defined fitness as the passage of one's alleles to the next generation, regardless of whether the alleles resided in the individual or the kin. He defined this "inclusive fitness' as the sum of the individual's own contribution and the contribution of relatives divided together by the average contribution of the population.

Hamilton observed that in this scheme an allele that diminished the fitness of a particular individual could still increase in the population if the same allele enhanced the reproduction of kin bearing the allele. Hamilton kept the math to rudimentary algebra (suited to a Darwinian audience), and gave "Hamilton's Rule" that states that an increase in frequency of an allele in a population as a result of an altruistic act will occur if:

r > C/B
where r is the degree of relatedness (0-1), C is the reproductive cost to the individual of the altruistic allele, and B is the reproductive benefit to the recipient(s) of the altruistic act associated with the allele.

Succinctly, if the cost to the altruist is smaller than the benefit to the kin by a factor less than the degree of relatedness, the altruistic trait will propagate. The difference between the degree of relatedness and the cost/benefit ratio is a measure of the strength of the kin selection.

If r is much larger than C/B, kin selection (altruism) is strong. If r is only slightly greater than C/B, kin selection is weak.

That's kin selection, and that's a big part of the Darwinian explanation of altruism.

Does it make sense?

Let's see.

Take a simple comparison-- altruism of a (human) mother for her five children, and altruism of one bacteria for other bacteria.

Using Hamilton's Rule, now for human altruism

r > C/B
r is 0.5, the fraction of alleles that mother and her five children share. Let's postulate that the cost to the mother of an act (say, laboring to obtain good clothing for her children) is less than the benefit to the children (good clothing). Let's apply some kind of number to this (Hamilton's Rule is an equation after all), and say that the C/B ratio is 0.1 for each child. The reproductive benefit to the children of good clothing is ten times the reproductive cost to the mother of obtaining good clothing, multiplied by five (for the five children who will carry the altruistic alleles).

Thus r > C/B is 0.5 > 0.02, which is true. r is 25 times the cost/benefit ratio. The altruistic allele for the mom to buy good clothes for her kids will increase in the population. Altruism spreads. The strength of the kin selection for the spread of this altruistic trait would be 25.

So far so good.

Now compare this kin selection explanation for altruism between a mother and child with the kin selection explanation for altruism between... bacteria.

Consider a colony of bacteria in your toilet bowl. For simplicity, assume it's a clonal colony of e. coli (you missed one little bug with the brush.) He rapidly proliferates, and in a few days there are a billion e. coli in the little colony.

Using Hamilton's Rule, now for bacterial altruism

r > C/B
Remember that the bacteria are clones, so r is 1. They are related as identical twins-- a relationship twice as close as that of a mother and a child. Let's postulate that the cost to one bacterium of an altruistic act (say, sharing a little plasmid or extending a pseudopod to the daughters) is less than the benefit to the daughters (a handy plasmid or a helpful pseudopod). And let's again apply some kind of number to this (Hamilton's Rule is an equation after all). Let's assume that the effect of the altruistic allele of the bacterium  is of the same magnitude as that of the human mother of the children-- the cost/benefit ration for the altruistic bacterium and one daughter is 0.1. 

But the original bacterium now has 1,000,000,000 daughters, each of whom is an identical twin and each of whom will carry the altruistic allele. 

An altruistic perfect storm. 

So the C/B ratio is 0.0000000001. Hamilton's rule for the bacterial colony, which measures the strength of kin selection, is 

r > C/B

r is ten billion times greater than the cost/benefit ratio, so by Hamilton's Rule the altruism (the strength of the kin selection) in the e. coli in your toilet bowl is 400 million times stronger than the altruism between a mother and her children. 


Kin selection is not an explanation for altruism. Kin selection is pseudoscience with a mathematical patina.

Altruism is a catastrophe for Darwinism.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"Grief is the price of knowledge"

Peter Wehner at Commentary has an essay on the massacre in Aurora Colorado.


We all know evil exists, that life is fragile, and that people die. But the suddenness and scale of an event like this, in a country like this, is what shocks our system. And for all the efforts by the greatest theological minds in history to explain theodicy, nothing I have ever read or heard addresses it in a satisfactory manner. The “problem of pain” is something that some people might be able to wrestle to the ground when the issue is abstract. But when pain pierces our lives in ways we could never imagine, the neat, tidy explanations – that tragedy is the consequence of the fall of man, that God allows human beings to choose evil, and all the rest – often wash away like sandcastles on the edge of the ocean. 
It isn’t that these explanations are necessarily wrong. It’s that they offer very little comfort to those besieged by sorrow. Because what we learn in time is that (to paraphrase the writer Chad Walsh) grief is the price of knowledge – not the knowledge of the mind but of the heart. It is the knowledge of friendship, of affection, of love. Those who live in the shadow of people’s love eventually live in the shadow of grief. Understanding this basic fact of life doesn’t make it any easier to endure. Bereavement can fracture even the sturdiest foundations of our lives.

Wehner decries the politicization of such massacres. I agree. Even if political motives could be ascribed to a shooter, understanding such motives takes time and detailed knowledge, something no one has in the first hours and days after an atrocity.

And political motives for lone shooters are rare.  These people are evil and crazy, and their political views are generally tangential to their real agenda, which sounds the darkest crevices of the soul. If a lone killer kills for the left or the right or the Godfull or the Godless, it is the willingness to kill innocents, not the ostensible ideological motive, that is the real issue.

And even if a killer's ideology did play a real role, it is by no means an indictment of others who hold to that ideology nor of the ideology itself. Every ideology has been used by some madman somewhere to do evil. Ideologies should be assessed by their truth and by the broad impact of their influence. Anecdotes about madmen distract from a thoughtful assessment.

And what of theodicy? Why would God allow such things?

I don't find such horrors so difficult to understand, from the perspective of a Christian. God created man in His image, which means He created man with free will. That means that man has the capacity for radical evil as well as radical good. There in fact can be no radical good if there is not the capacity for radical evil. Good must be a choice. God respects each individual's choice.

What of the suffering of the innocent victims? Where is God's love?

What great horror tells us about human existence is that this brief life is not all of our life-- that we have a life of eternity, where all mortal suffering will be wiped away. God's willingness to allow evil in our mortal life can only be understood in light of our eternal life. In fact, I consider suffering in this life, in light of God's love and sovereignty, to be manifest evidence of the joys of eternal life. God allows great suffering because there is immeasurably greater joy.

But, atheists would insist, isn't it easier to say that there is no God, no transcendent good or evil, just pitiless fate, indifferent to our joy or suffering? That view is self-refuting. If the atheist/Darwinian understanding of man is true, we have no reason to care about the fate of strangers, except to exalt in the demise of those with whom we compete in the struggle to reproduce. If you're an atheist, and you are consistent and rational, you should celebrate your victory in the massacre in Aurora. Your genes will prosper, unimpeded by the genes of the perished.  When innocents die-- fecund young competitors-- atheists/Darwinists hit the lottery.

But of course no atheist believes that. We all grieve, and we are all saddened by this horror. Those of us who know and love God pray to Him to protect the innocent, to take the souls of the perished into His arms, to bring His kingdom among us. Atheists grieve as well, horrified by the suffering of innocents.

That such grief for innocents is utterly inconsistent with atheist/Darwinist ideology won't bother atheists in the least.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Please pray

Please say a prayer for the people who were killed or wounded in that horrible shooting in Colorado last night. And please say a prayer for their families.

I note, sadly but with anger, that ABC News already tried to inject politics into this massacre, by inaccurately implicating the Tea Party, and then retracting the viscious baseless accusation. 

Beneath contempt.

Public schools reject "abstinence-only" drinking-and-driving instruction

"Safe-DWI is Good DWI":
Planned Intoxication's new logo for Safe-DWI programs in schools.

(Dissociated Press) In a major shift from away "abstinence only" teaching in high schools, the organization Planned Intoxication has rolled out a new program for teaching schoolchildren to drink and drive more responsibly.

"We can't stop kids from drinking and we can't stop kids from driving." said Margaret Singer, spokesperson for Planned Intoxication. "So the only responsible thing to do is to teach them to drink and drive responsibly".

Citing recent data from the Corpsemaker Institute, the research arm of Planned Intoxication,  Singer pointed out that well-trained drunk drivers are 17.5% less likely to kill themselves or others in accidents.

Singer's new 'Safe-DWI" school curriculum includes instruction on opening pop-top beer cans while driving ("we supply soda cans and plastic steering wheels for the kids to practice"),  instruction on using I-Phones to search for liquor stores while on interstate highways, tips on how to mix drinks and still control the motorcycle, and an instructional video entitled "Double-vision and the quadruple-yellow line-- How to steer when you have two roads in front of you".

"We believe that teaching kids not to drink and drive is as futile as teaching them not to have sex before marriage." Singer said, smiling.  "Rutting and bingeing are what children do. It's no use saying no. They just have to learn to do it safely".

Planned Intoxication acknowledged inspiration for their rejection of abstinence-only drunk-driving education from Philip Morris' highly successful Safe Smoking program for middle school students, which has decreased the use of unfiltered cigarettes among 13 year-olds by 33.9%.

"The rejection of abstinence-only education on smoking has had an impact on smoking by children. They do it much more safely now", Singer noted.

Singer also notes that Planned Intoxication is rolling out new programs for safe piloting to be used by the major airlines.

The first installment will be an instructional video for commercial airline pilots entitled "Is That a Unicorn on my Rudder?-- Flying Commercial Airliners More Safely While on Hallucinogenic Drugs".

Singer added pointedly "We reject abstinence-only education in teaching children about sex. So why not reject abstinence-only education in other aspects of our lives as well?"

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wesley J. Smith talks sense on AIDS

My friend Wesley J. Smith at Secondhand Smoke has a great post on AIDS prevention:

New HIV Cases Remain Steady–Behavior, Not Healthcare the Key
Thursday, August 4, 2011, 10:47 AM
Wesley J. Smith
I am sorry, but there is no excuse in an advanced and educated country like the USA, which has been grappling at great cost in human suffering and financial output with AIDS for three decades: Last year, 50,000 new cases of HIV were reported. From the NYT story:
Despite years of great progress in treating AIDS, the number of new infections with the virus that causes it has remained stubbornly around 50,000 a year in the United States for a decade, according to new figures released on Wednesday by federal officials. The American epidemic is still concentrated primarily in gay men, and is growing rapidly worse among young black gay men.
AIDS is too often treated as a civil rights rather than a public health issue. And the meme that condoms are the answer, is clearly wrong. Until and unless a vaccine is developed, the only way to end this devastation is for people to indivually restrain their personal conduct. Don’t have sex, except with a mutually monogamous, uninfected partner. Don’t share needles. Don’t pick up someone at a bar and jump into bed. Don’t go to sex clubs (and municipalities should shut them down). Don’t engage in the most risky sexual behaviors involving body parts in which tissues easily tear. Care more about life than sex.
And I, for one, am utterly fed up with AIDS being treated as a political matter:
That realization is causing a rift in the AIDS community. Activists say the persistent H.I.V. infection rate proves that the government prevention policy is a flop. Federal officials are on the defensive even as they concede that the epidemic will grow if prevention does not get better, which they know is unlikely while their budgets are being cut. And some researchers believe it is impossible to wipe out a fatal, incurable disease when it is transmitted through sex and carries so much stigma that people deny having it and avoid being tested for it.
Baloney. Humans have the capacity to restrain their behavior regardless of the urgency of their desires. The time has come to quit worrying about moralizing and create a societal expectation that they do.
And get this rationalizing:
Philip Alcabes, a public health epidemiologist at Hunter College in Manhattan, noted that 50,000 is close to the number of Americans who die in road accidents each year — almost 40,000 — “and in some ways, we consider dying on the road an ordinary thing.” By contrast, he said, nearly one million Americans a year die of heart disease and strokes. “So it’s not clear that prevention is a failure,” he said. “The average adult’s chances of encountering H.I.V. infection — 0.02 percent a year — are rather low. It’s not reasonable to expect that a sexually transmitted virus will disappear in America, or anywhere else. But I agree with Larry Kramer that there has been a dearth of new policy ideas.”
Here’s one: How about a campaign that tells people to just don’t do it unless partnered and monogamous. We don’t hesitate to tell people not to smoke. We even require cigarette packs to carry graphic photos of the health consequences of smoking. It hasn’t ended tobacco use but has materially reduced it. We don’t hesitate to tell people not to drink and drive.
Bottom line: A sexually libertine lifestyle makes you sick (and not just with HIV). No more “you can have your cake and eat it too” anti AIDS advocacy. That’s not prejudice, it is common sense. And, more importantly, it is love.

Smith is exactly right. AIDS is an infectious disease usually spread by a very specific lifestyle: intravenous drug abuse and male homosexual sex. It can be prevented in the majority of cases, just as other diseases with clear predisposing behavioral factors and be largely prevented.  Smith's recommendations are obvious:

Don’t have sex, except with a mutually monogamous, uninfected partner.
Don’t share needles.
Don’t pick up someone at a bar and jump into bed.
Don’t go to sex clubs (and municipalities should shut them down).
Don’t engage in the most risky sexual behaviors involving body parts in which tissues easily tear.

"Care more about life than sex." Human beings are not animals. We are capable of self-control. The trope that condoms are the answer has cost many lives.

We need an honest national discussion about this horrible disease, free of political correctness and politicization. This is a deadly disease for which there is an obvious and very effective prevention.

Chastity-- intelligent moral sexual conduct-- is by far the best way to prevent AIDS.

Is pregnancy a disease?

My disdain for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius provides grist for scores of posts.

Here's one, part of the lead-up to the to the recent regulations requiring that Catholic institutions pay for health insurance that covers contraception:

Panel Recommends Coverage for Contraception

Published: July 19, 2011WASHINGTON — A leading medical advisory panel recommended on Tuesday that all insurers be required to cover contraceptives for women free of charge as one of several preventive services under the new health care law.
Fertility is not a disease. Pregnancy is not an illness. Contraception is not 'preventative health care'. Contraception is a technique to facilitate having sex without having a baby. That is not "health". That is a personal choice, generally a lifestyle choice. It is not 'health care'.

Obama administration officials said that they were inclined to accept the panel’s advice and that the new requirements could take effect for many plans at the beginning of 2013. The administration signaled its intentions in January when Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, unveiled a 10-year program to improve the nation’s health. One goal was to “increase the proportion ofhealth insurance plans that cover contraceptive supplies and services.”
Damn right that the Obama administration is 'inclined' to accept the advice. The Obama administration is the most anti-Life administration in American history.
Administration officials, who say they hope to act on the recommendations by Aug. 1, are receptive to the idea of removing cost as a barrier to birth control — a longtime goal of advocates for women’s rights and experts on women’s health.

But the recommendations immediately reignited debate over the government’s role in reproductive health.

Why is contraception called "reproductive health". Why isn't it called "reproductive suppression"? How is the prevention of reproduction reproductive health? It's the antithesis of reproductive health. It's Orwellian.
Women’s groups and medical professionals applauded the recommendations while the Roman Catholic Church raised strenuous objections.

The recommendations came in a report submitted to Ms. Sebelius by the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences. The new health care law says insurers must cover “preventive health services” and cannot charge for them.
Preventative health services prevent disease. What is the disease prevented by contraception?
Ms. Sebelius will decide on a minimum package of essential health benefits and her decision will not require further action by Congress. 
The panel said insurers should be forbidden to charge co-payments for contraceptives and other preventive services because even small charges could deter their use.

That's right. The provision of contraception to poor women has been a goal of these b*stards for a century. Give it away free, so the undesirables will use it. Justice Ginsburg said as much, and Margaret Sanger proclaimed it unabashedly for years.
The recommendation would not help women without insurance.
Don't worry. A major thrust of 'reproductive freedom' is making sure that the wrong kind of women don't reproduce too freely. Birth control has always been about controlling births among the 'wrong kind' of women. These folks will find a way to make sure that poor women get contraception.
The administration asked the Institute of Medicine, a nonpartisan, nongovernmental arm of the National Academy of Sciences, to help identify the specific services that must be covered for women.

“This report is historic,” Ms. Sebelius said on Tuesday in accepting the recommendations. “Before today, guidelines regarding women’s health and preventive care did not exist. These recommendations are based on science and existing literature.”

Right. Labeling pregnancy as a disease "is based on science and existing literature."

In addition to contraceptive services for women, the panel recommended that the government require health plans to cover screening to detect domestic violence; screening for H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS;

That is, coverage for maladies caused in large part by government destruction of poor families by subsidizing family breakdown (welfare).
and counseling and equipment to promotebreastfeeding, including the free rental of breast pumps.
They want to make sure that the few babies who pass the gauntlet of contraception and abortion get breast milk. Aww....

Defending its recommendations on contraceptive coverage, the panel said that nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States were unintended, and that about 40 percent of unintended pregnancies ended in abortion. Thus, it said, greater use of contraceptionwould reduce the rates of unintended pregnancy, teen pregnancy and abortion.
But we've been using contraception at astronomically higher  rates since 1960, and abortion rates have gone astronomically down astronomically up. Don't actual facts matter to these people?

The chairwoman of the panel, Dr. Linda Rosenstock, dean of the School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, said, “We did not consider cost or cost-effectiveness in our deliberations.”
The pill. $10

An abortion. $1000

Eliminating children of undesirables. Priceless.

But the panel’s report says that “contraception is highly cost-effective,” averting unintended pregnancies that would be far more expensive than contraception.
What the hell is "averting unintended pregnancies"? Sterilization? Abortion?  How about chastity? How expensive is that?
To reduce unintended pregnancies, the panel said, insurers should cover the full range of contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration, as well as sterilization procedures and “education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.”
"Sterilization procedures". It's like they're trying to stop an insect infestation. Wanna bet on the proportion of affluent white women vs poor black women offered these 'education and counseling services for all women with reproductive capacity"?
This recommendation would require coverage of emergency contraceptives including pills like ella and Plan B, panel members said.
We need multiple levels of protection against the unwanted.
Under rules issued last year, many health plans are already required to cover numerous preventive services like blood pressure and cholesterol tests, colonoscopies and othercancer screenings, and routine vaccinations. A provision of the law drafted by Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland, requires coverage of “additional preventive care and screenings” for women.
Nice. They categorize pregnancy with hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and colon cancer.
Most private insurance provides contraceptive coverage, but co-payments have increased in recent years, the panel said.
Oh no. You don't want people paying for contraception. That would mean that wealthy people would contracept at a higher rate than poor people. How un-eugenic.

The report touched off a fierce debate Tuesday. Obstetricians, gynecologists, public health experts and Democratic women in Congress hailed the recommendations.

“We are one step closer to saying goodbye to an era when simply being a woman is treated as a pre-existing condition,” Senator Mikulski said. “We are saying hello to an era where decisions about preventive care and screenings are made by a woman and her doctor, not by an insurance company.”
A woman needs her doctor to prevent pregnancy?
Representative Lois Capps, Democrat of California, said the recommendations would remove cost as a barrier to birth control — and in hard economic times like these, she said, cost can be a formidable barrier.
'Affluent women can get all the birth control they want now. Poor (non-white) women often have cost constraints.  The government needs to fix this.' Can you figure this one out?

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and some conservative groups, including the Family Research Council, denounced the recommendation on birth control.
“Pregnancy is not a disease, and fertility is not a pathological condition to be suppressed,” said Deirdre A. McQuade, a spokeswoman for the bishops’ Pro-Life Secretariat. “But the Institute of Medicine report treats them as such.”
Ms. McQuade expressed deep concern about requiring coverage of surgical sterilizations and contraceptive drugs and devices.
Jeanne Monahan, the director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, said: “Some people have moral or ethical objections to contraceptives. They should not be forced to violate their conscience by paying premiums to health plans that cover these items and services.”
The Catholic Church is the only large organization standing against this evil. A voice of sanity.

The Catholic viewpoint: love, marriage, sex and procreation are parts of a whole, a seamless fabric. Contraception is to sex as bulimia is to nourishment. Lifelong love gives rise to new life. In many ways, having children is the most beautiful of God's gifts. We are given the astonishing privilege of participating in the creation of new life.

One panel member, Prof. Anthony Lo Sasso, a health economist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, filed a dissent, saying the committee did not have enough time to conduct “a serious and systematic review” of the evidence.
The report, he said, includes “a mix of objective and subjective determinations filtered through a lens of advocacy.”

Prof. Lo Sasso told the truth. Bless him. Hope he has tenure.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

aDarwiniststheists outraged by tactics of cdesign proponentsists

ASkepticaltheist panel announces new ahumanisttheist dogma: "DOGMA-FREE AMERICA". 

(Dissociated Press) Leading aDarwiniststheists today called a press conference to express outrage at the deceptive tactics used by proponents of intelligent design.

"They are invidiously deceptive", said Dr. Richard Dewkins, former professor of the Public IUnderstandingndoctrination in aSciencetheism at Oxford. "Everyone knows the story of the 'cdesign proponentsists' typo in the Dover Intelligent Design trial".

"It's an outrage", said Dewkins, a renowned hbiologistasbeenscientist.

His colleague, Minnesota abiologytheist bprofessorlogger and tsceptichirdratescientist P.T. Byers, concurred.

"Intelligent design proponents' whole agenda is to pose as objective, rational experts, when in fact they are devoted to an agenda so radical and anti-science that they dare not name it."

The gscientistsodlessbrownshirts, meeting at the hastily prepared press conference, implored Americans to root out intelligent design proponents wherever they find them.

"We need to insulate asciencetheistideology from cattacksritiques by Acreationistsmericans", thundered Byers. "Aanti-scientismcademicfreedom is a mortal danger to asciencetheism."

"Cvigilanceensorship is our only hope" noted Professor Byers, solemnly. "Intelligent design proponents constantly lie about their real agenda."

Maybe E.T. was a double-agent?

An article in Foreign Policy notes that we're woefully unprepared for a space alien invasion:

[T]here's one thing that unites Americans: Our shared fear of an alien attack. They also remind us that when the invading space fleet arrives, humanity is not going to surrender without a fight to our intergalactic invaders. Instead, we will band together to fight off their incredibly advanced weaponry with our ... well, with what, exactly? Are we really ready to battle our would-be alien overlords?

 With the Global Warming Apocalypse looming, we sure don't need another threat the planet earth. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sophomoric atheism in scientific drag

Columbia University theoretical physicist Brian Greene has a nice essay on the latest in cosmology and the multiverse.

As a proviso, I'm a big fan of Greene's . I am not acquainted with his metaphysics, but as a popular science writer he is first-rate. His book Fabric of the Cosmos is stunning. I couldn't put it down, and I read it again right after I finished. He has a gift for explaining very deep stuff. His discussion of Bell's theorem-- the verification of which has devastated deterministic models in quantum mechanics-- is uncommonly lucid. Highly recommended.

Greene pens an essay on the exciting cosmology of the multiverse, which is the hypothesized array of countless universes, each with different physics, of which ours is just one. I'm not a cosmologist, so I have no professional scientific opinion on the existence of the multiverse or of any alternative universes.

But, as you might imagine, I do have an opinion. I am skeptical of multiverse cosmology for two reasons:

1) How can the existence of other universes ever be empirically demonstrated, given that the definition of "universe" seems to entail the entirety of the natural world that we can observe? If we see "evidence" for the multiverse, isn't it necessarily just part of our universe?

2) Whatever the theoretical justification of multiverse theory, the ideological motive for pushing the multiverse concept is obvious. It provides atheists with a (flawed) scheme to evade the Anthropic Principle, which in its strong form suggests that the universe was designed for us-- for observers-- to exist. If there are countless universes, each with different physical laws, then just by chance one universe would have the properties that allow observers to exist. No need for God. Whew!

Of course, readers who are acquainted with classical demonstrations for God's existence understand that multiplication of universes has no bearing whatsoever on those proofs. The classical arguments (prime mover, first cause, necessary existence, etc.) presume eternity of the past and depend not at all on the number of universes that exist.

Just as Darwinism is an ideological project dressed up as biology, the obsession with multiverse theory is an ideological project dressed up as physics.

However the architects of the project are metaphysical illiterates. Neither project touches in any way on proofs for God's existence.

Darwinism and the obsession with the multiverse are just sophomoric metaphysics-- atheism-- in scientific drag. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Maybe the belief that you'll never have to answer for your life has consequences.

From Religion News Service:

Do atheists have a sexual harassment problem?

Kimberly Winston | Jul 12, 2012 |

(RNS) As skeptics, atheists and humanists prepare to gather for their largest meeting in Las Vegas this weekend, attendance by women is expected to be down significantly. 
Officials for The Amazing Meeting, or TAM, said Wednesday (July 11) that women would make up 31 percent of the 1,200 conference attendees, down from 40 percent the year before. A month before the conference, pre-registration was only 18 percent women, organizers said. 
The explanations are many -- the bad economy, that women, as caregivers, are less able to get away, and that more men than women identify as skeptics, whose worldview rejects the supernatural and focuses on science and rationality. 
But in the weeks preceding TAM, another possible explanation has roiled the nontheist community. Online forums have crackled with charges of sexism in TAM’s leadership and calls for the ouster of D.J. Grothe, the male president of the James Randi Educational Foundation, TAM’s organizer. In June, Rebecca Watson, a skeptic blogger and speaker, canceled her TAM appearance because, she said on her blog, she does “not feel welcome or safe.” 
Other nontheists -- both male and female -- have shared stories of unwanted sexual attention at nontheist gatherings, including propositions for sex and unwelcome touching. Chatter has ranged from calls for more women to attend nontheist events to personal attacks on prominent female skeptics for discussing harassment. Meanwhile, two more skeptic/feminist bloggers announced they will not attend TAM.
The debate has had two major impacts -- a call for cooler tempers and the immediate implementation of sexual harassment policies by all of the major nontheist organizations, both national and regional. 
No one is suggesting that all nontheist events are unsafe for women. But the controversy has members of the nontheist community, which prides itself on its embrace of rational thinking, asking whether they have a sexual harassment problem. And if so, what should be done?

“We are a small movement, so it might be very important for some men and women to find a partner who shares their beliefs,” said Maggie Ardiente, director of development for theAmerican Humanist Association, which recently adopted a sexual harassment policy. “That does not mean sexual attention, when it is clearly rejected, is allowed. We need to be clear that these events are a great way to meet people, but there are appropriate ways to conduct yourselves. There are common-sense ways to address this for both men and women.” 
This is not the first time the skeptic community has struggled with sexual harassment charges
Last year, at another skeptic conference, Watson said she was approached late at night in an elevator by a man she believed was seeking sex. When she blogged about it, the “atheosphere” erupted in comments, both supportive and negative. British biologist Richard Dawkins, the best-selling author of “The God Delusion,” wrote that Watson should “stop whining” and “grow a thicker skin.” 
The current hullabaloo can be traced to May’s Women in Secularism Conference, a first-of-its-kind gathering about nontheist women. On a panel examining feminism and nontheism, Jennifer McCreight, an atheist blogger, said women speakers at nontheist events warn each other privately about male speakers who make unwanted sexual advances.

“They brought up a concern about harassment at conferences and I was not aware of that problem,” said Ron Lindsay, president of the Center for Inquiry, a humanist-skeptic group that organized the women’s conference. “Maybe I should have been. But once I became aware of that concern it wasn’t that difficult to come to a decision that we should have a policy in place to deal with that.” 
CFI unveiled its policy earlier this month. American Atheists, American Humanist Association, and several large regional groups have also announced policies in the last few weeks. Most organizations had sexual harassment policies covering their employees and workplaces, but the new policies are aimed at non-employee attendees at special events.
As these groups and others unveiled their policies, members of the skeptic community asked whether TAM had one in place. 
And that’s where things got ugly. In an appeal to assure women that TAM is welcoming and safe, Grothe made comments that upset some in the community. They accused him of underplaying, and even ignoring, reported harassment at past meetings, and of “blaming the victims” of the alleged incidents. Grothe apologized to Watson on her blog, Skepchick
“I believe strongly that women’s voices need to be taken seriously in the atheist and skeptics movements, that any reports of harassment or assault at atheist and skeptics events need to be taken seriously and recorded, and acted on effectively, and that those who make reports of such harassment shouldn’t ever be blamed for such,” Grothe wrote. 
Asked to comment for this story, Grothe said he stood by his online remarks. 
Those remarks continue, “I do not deny that there is a problem with sexism at atheist or skeptics conferences, nor any of the accounts blogged about in general terms by women who have attended TAM or similar kinds of events, but I would appreciate if such reports were balanced with an acknowledgment of the great effort the JREF goes to ensuring that TAM is a safe and welcoming environment for women.” 
This year, TAM has hired an outside consultant to deal with harassment incidents. And TAM is notable among nontheist conferences in that roughly half of its speakers are women, including keynote speaker Carol Tavris, a social psychologist. Many skeptic women say they have no plans to abandon the conference or the broader nontheist community. 
“We may not be able to ever completely solve misogyny online but we can absolutely do a better job ensuring that our physical events are welcoming and safe spaces for women and minorities than we have been,” said Amy Davis Roth, a longtime skeptic who has helped raise almost $8,000 for grants to send 22 women to this year’s TAM. 
“Anti-harassment polices are a good start because it sends the message that event organizers want everyone to feel safe and that harassment will not be tolerated by our community,” she said.

It seems that atheist women are an endangered species. Endangered by atheist men.

It's predictable, I guess. It's a logical application of skepticism. If you're really a skeptic, and you believe you'll never be judged, why take "no" seriously?

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Michael Medved has a fine post on public displays of gratitude to God.


The musical manuscripts of Johann Sebastian Bach show him writing the initials "SDG" at the beginning and end of all of his some 300 church compositions, as well as attaching the same abbreviation to many of his immortal secular works. The initials stand for soli deo gloria ("to God alone be glory"). No one assumes that Bach expressed these sentiments to imply some divine favoritism for his music above contributions by his less religious friend and rival, Georg Philipp Telemann. Instead, Bach humbly acknowledged the creator as the ultimate originator of his miraculous creativity, much as a distinctly blessed athlete in our century might acknowledge the almighty as the true source of his own health, power and skill. 
The argument against injecting blessing and praise into what Rabbi Jacobs calls the "fleeting trivialities of popular culture" maintains that association with such ephemera actually diminishes our sense of the divine. But the other side insists that expressions of appreciation to a higher power help place even our silliest earthly endeavors in proper perspective, without any alteration of our perceptions of God. 
If a champion wins an Olympic medal, an Oscar, a Super Bowl, or even a significant political campaign, and celebrates the triumph with invocation of the almighty's reign, that victor doesn't claim supernatural favor but rather recognizes mortal limits to his own power. When the most admired public figures take time to express gratitude and share credit, it suggests an admirable quality of humility that remains in short supply in celebrity culture and the nation at large.

I agree. Unashamed public expression of gratitude to God enrichs our lives and our culture. I thank God regularly, to myself. I should probably have the courage to be more explicit about it.  

Thanking God is the most appropriate kind of gratitude, as it tells the truth about who we are and the truth about to Whom we owe our blessings, our trials, our lives and our love. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Scientists demonstrate the non-existence of the Roberts' Taxon

Iowahawk has a post on this breaking scientific discovery:


DNC Scientists Disprove Existence of Roberts' Taxon
WASHINGTON DC - Jubilant scientists at the DNC's High Speed Word Collider (HSWC) announced today they have conclusively disproven the existence of Roberts' Taxon, the theoretical radioactive Facton particle that some had worried would lead to the implosion of the entire Universal Health Care System.
"I think it's time to pop the champagne corks," said HSWC Director David Plouffe. "Then blaze some choom."
The landmark experiment in Quantum Rhetoric began early this week after legal particle cosmologist John Roberts published a paper in the Quarterly Journal of Tortured Logic that solved the long-debated Pelosi's Paradox in Universal Health Care Theory.
"Pelosi's Paradox states that in order to find out what is in a health care bill, it would have to be passed," explained physicist Steven Hawking. "But in order to be a law it would have to be constitutional, which means someone would have to know what was in it, which would mean it couldn't have been a bill in the first place. Think of Schroedinger's Cat, except with a lobotomy."
To solve the paradox, Roberts proposed the existence of the Taxon - an ephemeral, mysterious facton particle that in theory would allow the Universal Health System to be constitutional, without directly observing what was in it...

Hilarious. Read the whole thing.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The evil spam filter has been hungry


In response to a commentor I checked the spam filter and found 20 prisoners. They are mostly really good comments, and there are a couple that are complimentary (!).


I've freed them.

I sincerely apologize for not checking. I'll try to check every day from now on.

I appreciate all comments, even scathing negative ones (especially scathing negative ones, if they make coherent points.)

Sorry about this.


"Egnor... declares that there is no science of evolution"

Commentor oleg, on my criticism of Darwinism:

Egnor is not limiting his criticism to a philosophical school of thought, while setting aside a scientific theory. No, he lumps it all together and declares that there is no science of evolution, it's all atheism in disguise. Evolution as a scientific theory, he says, is a tautology.

Do you see that?
Nope. Evolution is not a tautology, and there is very much a science of evolution.

It's true that natural selection, as usually invoked by Darwinists, is a tautology.

'Evolution' means three things:

1) Changes in populations over time,

2) The study of changes in populations over time (evolutionary biology)

3) A theory about the causes of changes in populations over time (Darwin's theory).

Changes in populations over time certainly occur. This is a banal definition of evolution.

The study of changes in populations over time is very real science.

The theory about the causes of changes in populations over time (Darwin's theory) asserts, when you strip away the pretentious junk-science and thinly disguised ideology, that life is explained by survival of fitter individuals, whose fitness is defined as their survival.


So what about the study of changes in populations over time-- evolutionary biology?

Evolutionary biology is a field of science. It is large, fascinating, and has contributed much to our understanding of nature. Evolutionary biology is good and important science. It is science in three distinct ways:

1) Evolutionary biology is an historical science. It collects and categorizes living things over time.

2) Evolutionary biology is the study of acausal changes in traits and allele frequencies across time. It entails some very good mathematics (the field of biostatistics was basically invented by evolutionary biologists-- Galton, Pearson, Fisher, etc) and plays an important role in population biology and other areas of biology.

3) Evolutionary biology is the study of the causes of changes in populations over time. This necessarily involves inference to teleology, although the teleology is often concealed in jargon ("teleonomy", blind watchmakers, etc). Evolutionary biologists find it necessary to conceal evolutionary teleology because evolutionary biology is a flop-house for scientifically-inclined atheists, a vindictive claque who destroy the careers of colleagues who don't toe the ideological line.

Evolutionary biology is a fine and important field of science. It has the unfortunate burden of providing a platform for an infestation of atheists, from which it will free itself, in time.

Only then will it do more than catalogue and describe evolution and begin to address the real causes of evolutionary change