Yes, that is a Coital Simulator

Posted in Uncategorized on March 17, 2009 by delivis

I like weird science. I like creative ways of testing thigns and doing experiments. So i was delighted to come across this blog post about a study done taking a look at why condoms to break.

http://scienceblogs.com/neurotopia/2009/03/friday_weird_science_condoms_a.php?utm_source=readerspicks&utm_medium=link

To test this they had to build a coital simulator. For those not keen enough to click on the block post, just take a look at what some poor grad student had to build:

Awesome

Awesome

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Islamic Law is Scary

Posted in Uncategorized on March 16, 2009 by delivis

Never forget how lucky you are (hopefully) to live somewhere with a seperation of church and state. Here is a recent story of a 20 year old student in Afghanistan who was convicted of Blasphemy without even being allowed to defend himself.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/student-facing-20-years-in-hell-1643069.html

Here are two select quotes that will give you the gist of the situation:

Mr Kambaksh was found guilty of blasphemy and sentenced to death last year for circulating an essay on women’s rights which questioned verses in the Koran.

and….

Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, the student journalist sentenced to death for blasphemy in Afghanistan, has been told he will spend the next 20 years in jail after the country’s highest court ruled against him – without even hearing his defence.

It later emerged he was convicted by three mullahs, in secret, without access to a lawyer. The sentence was commuted to 20 years on appeal. At that appeal, in October, the key prosecution witness withdrew his testimony, claiming he had been forced to lie on pain of death. The prosecution then appealed to the Supreme Court to reinstate the death sentence. The defence appealed to quash his conviction altogether.

Meanwhile, the student has been languishing in a Kabul jail, fearing for his life. Islamic fundamentalists have been baying for his blood while moderate groups have led marches countrywide demanding his release.

Michael Shermer Interviews Creationist Researcher

Posted in Uncategorized on March 16, 2009 by delivis

In my previous post I quoted a creationist paper that was about as stupid and unscientific as anyone can imagine. Make no mistake, it is not an isolated fringe view within creationism. That sort of pseudo-scientific approach to try and make Bible stories and other creationist ideas sound scientifically legitimate is very common. Here is an interview that Michael Shermer (an excellent and prominent skeptic) did with a PhD that works at the famous creationism museum and does research for Answers In Genesis. The very beginning of the video has the creationist describing her research which is exactly along the same lines as the paper in my last post.

Here are some notes i took while watching the video.

1. Notice the early discussion about the definition of evolution. Virtually no creationists deny that organisms undergo genetic mutation and change over time. What they say is that only “micro evolution”is possible but not “macro evolution”. There is   no real hard distinction in actual science, macro evolution is just micro evolution over long time spans. Another creationist idea that one very commonly hears is that no matter how much a species changes, they are always the same species. Sure you can breed dogs to be as small and bald as you want or as big and fury as you want, but it is still a dog. God made a template for each species at the moment of creation and no matter how much something mutates it can not turn into another species.

2. Though i am still only a couple minutes into the video another common creationist meme has cropped up at least twice which is the idea that unless something is observed you can not know about it. She seems to be sayign that since evolution and creation happened in the past which we did not directly observe, both camps are just interpreting the data and “speaking for it” from their own perspective – each starting with their own assumptions and viewing the data from that lens. In a contest between starting with man’s ideas vs god’s ideas, you can guess which she thinks win out.

3. Yup, all dating methods, even radiocarbon, are unreliable. In fact any evidence you have ever heard for the earth or universe being more than 6000 years old is unreliable or simply evaluated from a faulty human perspective rather than trusting god’s word.

4. Yes, even a one year old is a dirty sinner.

5. Everyone who has an different view point from her is “ïnterpreting” the bible whereas she is simply “reading it for what it says”. She seems to really believe that she is not interpreting at all when she reads which is, of course, impossible.

The video is only 23 minutes and cuts out in the middle of a question so maybe a second part will be posted soon. I always find it fascinating to hear creationist reasoning.

Best Creationist Paper Ever

Posted in Uncategorized on March 16, 2009 by delivis

This is a paper that was presented at the 2004 Baramin Study Group conference. It is one of the funniest things i have read, particularily the phrase “Satan et al””. This was actually presented in front of a group of people, can you imagine?

The Origins of Natural Evil
Gordon Wilson
New St. Andrews College

In a cursory survey of life it is obvious that a vast number of species spanning most kingdoms and phyla have features that are teleologically designed to deal out disease and/or death. Many pathogens, parasites, and predators have sophisticated genetic, morphological, and behavioral arsenals (natural evil) that clearly testify to the God’s eternal power and divine nature (Romans 1: 20), i.e. they are not the result of mutation and natural mutation.

These range from the bacterial type III secretion systems, the cnidarian nematocysts, the toxoglossate radula and apparatus of Conus, the parasitic physiology of Wuchereria bancrofti, the piercing/sucking mouthparts of predaceous insects, and the solenoglyphous skull, pit organs, and venom apparatus of pit vipers. Scripture states that: 1) every green plant was given for food (Genesis 1:30), 2) death and disease are a consequence of sin (Genesis 2:17), and 3) creation was completed on the sixth day (Genesis 2:1). The following six scenarios attempt to explain the presence of natural evil in the biological world from a young earth creationist framework. I will then assess them in light of these aforementioned biblical truths.

At creation creatures that were to become pathogens, parasites, and predators:

  1. had dual gene sets: (such as in holometabola: larva, pupa, and adult) one gene set for benign morphology and behavior (sinless contingency) and one for malignant morphology and behavior (Fall contingency) with only the benign genes sets expressed prior to the Fall.
  2. had malignant morphological gene sets expressed for an imminent preordained (or fore-known) Fall, with no usage prior to the Fall. Malignant behavioral gene sets expressed after the Fall.
  3. had the same malignant morphology before and after the Fall, however benign usage was normative before the Fall. After the Fall micro-evolutionary factors altered benign behavior into malignant behavior.
  4. were morphologically and behaviorally benign and then subsequent to the Fall malignant genes were designed, created, and incorporated into the genome of certain creatures transforming them into pathogens, parasites, and predators.
  5. were subject to random mutation and natural selection after the Fall transforming their benign gene sets into malignant gene sets. The latter were not designed by God.
  6. were completely benign in all respects but at the Fall the enemy (Satan, et. al.) engaged in post-Fall genetic modification and/or bestiality that resulted in creatures with malignant behavior and morphology.

I will argue that the two scenarios that are the most harmonious with both scripture and the scientific data are 1) and 2). Any scenario attributing the presence of these highly complex morphological and behavioral arsenals to random mutation and natural selection is granting creative powers to mindless processes (this is no better than atheistic evolution). Any scenario that attributes these complex arsenals to God’s creative power yet shifts their time of origin to a post-Fall creative act, contradicts the finished creation on day six. Finally, any scenario that attributes these complex arsenals to Satan et. al., attributes too much creative power and intelligence to the powers of darkness.

Funny Youtube Video

Posted in Uncategorized on January 19, 2009 by delivis

Remember the PrayerMAX 5000 video? Same guy makes a bunch of videos. Very funny..:) Enjoy!

The Devestating Effects of Homophobia and Family Rejection

Posted in Uncategorized on January 19, 2009 by delivis

A recent study(link goes to the abstract of the study) that has come out recently has found some alarming and sad statistics on gay kids who have been rejected from their families.

While this particular study focused on gay kids in particular, family rejection happens, though less frequently i imagine, for many other reasons such as not accepting the religion or cultural of the parents and engaging in whatever other behavior, natural or not, harmful or not, that the parents consider unforgivable.

Here are some of the highlights, as the abstract summarizes:

Higher rates of family rejection were significantly associated with poorer health outcomes. On the basis of odds ratios, lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse compared with peers from families that reported no or low levels of family rejection. Latino men reported the highest number of negative family reactions to their sexual orientation in adolescence.

That suicide statistic, as one medical blogger has pointed out means that:

“67 percent of study subjects in the high rejection group had attempted suicide by age 25!”

The subjects of the study were graded on the amount of “rejecting behaviors” they had experienced. They ranged from “low rejection” which included things like the parents disapproving of their sexuality to blaming anti-gay experiences on the child rather than the perpetrators to “high rejection” which can go as far as outright rejection like forcing the kid to move out and stopping financial support for school, etc. The above stat refers to the high rejection group.

I have read some detailed personal accounts and interviews with kids who were in situations like that. The worst ones tend to be in small towns where the communities are very insular but very supportive and caring as long as its members strictly cohere to the norms. Kids who did not are disowned by the parents, shunned out of their church, rejected by their friends, and essentially driven to leave the community all-together. Money that was promised to them for school suddently cut off, they have to make their own way. It is very heart-wrenching and devastating so i am not very surprised by stats like the ones these researchers found.

New Proposed Evolution Disclaimer

Posted in Uncategorized on January 19, 2009 by delivis

I’m sure you have all heard the creationist anti-evolution strategy of placing “disclaimers” in biology textbooks warning students about evolution content in one way or another. A new bill in Mississippi wants to have the following disclaimer put in textbooks:

“The word ‘theory’ has many meanings, including: systematically organized knowledge; abstract reasoning; a speculative idea or plan; or a systematic statement of principles. Scientific theories are based on both observations of the natural world and assumptions about the natural world. They are always subject to change in view of new and confirmed observations.

This textbook discusses evolution, a controversial theory some scientists present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things. No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life’s origins should be considered a theory.

Evolution refers to the unproven belief that random, undirected forces produced living things. There are many topics with unanswered questions about the origin of life which are not mentioned in your textbook, including: the sudden appearance of the major groups of animals in the fossil record (known as the Cambrian Explosion); the lack of new major groups of other living things appearing in the fossil record; the lack of transitional forms of major groups of plants and animals in the fossil record; and the complete and complex set of instructions for building a living body possessed by all living things.

Study hard and keep an open mind.” (emphasis mine)

How asinine. Can someone really believe that unless someone was there to witness something we can know nothing about it with any degree of certainty -that it is therefore just a theory (in the colloquial sense of a hypothesis)?

As far as i know, no one was around to witness all of the movements of the continents that we are pretty damn sure happened. No one was there to give us first hand accounts of of the formation of the Himalayas or the volcano at St. Helens. Why do geology textbooks not include a disclaimer? Why do we let geologists be so arrogant as to think they can know something they have never seen first hand and lie to the children when they present it as fact? Think of the children!

What about virtually all of astronomy and cosmology? No one was there when the big bang happened so how can we say anything in the big bang theory is beyond guesswork? No one was there during the formation of the first stars and the first nuclear reactions and the formation of elements either so how can our theories of nucleosynthesis not be deserving of a disclaimer? There are countless examples here. My goodness, do you realise we have never seen Pluto orbit the Sun? In the time since its discovery it has not had enough time to complete a single orbit and yet we tell kids that Pluto orbits the Sun.

Furthermore i hope the people who are pushing such bills are also trying to get a good chunk of the prison population freed. A lot of them are in for charges of rape and murder where there was no witness, where mere DNA evidence and semen and blood samples were used. We just guessed that they did it since no one saw them – no one who survived anyway. I look forward to seeing some efforts to bring the criminal and penal and legal codes of the US into a consistent evidence standard to only make witness testimony admissible.