mardi 30 juin 2015

1% Crib Notes

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Campus Reform correspondent Cabot Phillips took to the streets of Washington D.C. and found young people to play a simple game showing them a list of 2016 candidates and asking them to match the names to photos of four extravagant estates.

The Photo:

Here's the names:
(R) Donald Trump
(D) Hillary Clinton
(R) Marco Rubio
(R) Ben Carson
(D) Martin O'Malley
(R) Jeb Bush

can you match the candidate to their crib?

Top Left Home market value $5,700,000
Hillary Clinton

Bottom Left Home market value $1,700,000
Hillary Clinton

Top Right Home market value $17,000,000
You got it! Hillary Clinton

Bottom Right Home market value $11,000,000
Yep, Hillary Clinton

Now don't get me wrong I don't begrudge anyone as nice a home as they can afford and I don't believe that just because someone is wealthy and successful that they can't sympathize with and address the needs that poorer citizens deal with, But it does change my perspective about candidates that try to affect the impression that they are one with the masses in their daily struggles and have only the interests of the least among us in their hearts.

via International Skeptics Forum

Both Co-Hosts Quit Donald Trump's Miss USA Pageant



The Miss USA pageant has suddenly found itself without hosts or broadcaster.

Professional dancer Cheryl Burke announced on Tuesday that she was withdrawing as co-host thanks to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s derogatory comments towards Mexican immigrants, according to CNN. Later, NBC confirmed that newsman Thomas Roberts was also relinquishing his hosting duties.

via International Skeptics Forum

SB 277 passed and signed by Governor

I think it is time to celebrate, this is a serious win for science and health. Party on dudes!!!

via International Skeptics Forum

California's New Vaccination Law

Governor Jerry Brown has just signed a new law requiring children to be vaccinated before entering school.

Hooray for common sense. Brace yourselves for the inevitable court challenges.

via International Skeptics Forum

The end of the world tonight?

"If you happen to be awake, and gazing at the dial on an atomic clock, it will read 23:59:60 before ticking forward to 00.00.00.

The addition of a “leap second” is designed to allow the Earth’s rotation, which is gradually slowing, to catch up with atomic clocks, keeping official time neatly in sync with night and day. But trade floors, tech companies and those in charge of the internet are bracing themselves for potentially calamitous computer glitches linked to the 61-second minute."

The Guardian

On the plus side, it gives Greece an extra second to repay the IMF today :)

via International Skeptics Forum

Fire in Japanese bullet train kills 2

Plus 20 injured, train line stopped. The man set himself on fire in an apparent suicide.

Damn, if you're going to kill yourself, do it smartly, asshat.

via International Skeptics Forum

Making electricity demand match the supply

So one of the problems with renewable energy like solar power or wind power is that it's unpredictable and isn't generated when you want it to be generated. This is a big problem which many people aren't necessarily aware of. There's no good way to store that energy and use it later. Sure, you could use it to charge giant batteries, but that's expensive too and not very efficient. If energy is being generated that's not going to any productive use, any honest accounting should view that as a waste.

But if it's hard to get renewable energy to reliably generate when you want to use it, what about finding ways to make the demand respond to the supply instead of the other way around? This article is about that:

Making electricity demand match the supply


The grid control room at Østkraft, on the Danish island of Bornholm, is a mix of old and new. On one side of the room, huge computer monitors detail the flow of electricity throughout the system. On the other, printed circuit diagrams hang on '60s-era control boards with dancing needles. Lounging at a desk in a grey jumpsuit and thick eyeglasses, engineer Erik Malmkvist jams to early '90s dance music, while explaining that his job is to do as little as possible.

“When I shall do anything, it costs us money," he says.

Malmkvist works for Østkraft, the utility on the Danish island of Bornholm. He's one of the engineers responsible for keeping the island's grid in balance.

Doing as little as possible has gotten more difficult in recent years though, as Bornholm has stepped up its share of renewable energy. It’s much easier to balance a system that relies on coal than on fluctuating power sources, like wind and solar. Malmkvist grabs a graph printing out of one of the analog machines on the wall.

“You can see here the wind, it goes up and down all the time," he says.

Bornholm gets half of its power from wind and solar. But of course,that power supply is intermittent, and doesn’t always match the times of day when people are using the most electricity. Malmkvist grabs another printout.

“All days look alike," he says. "You can see, people get up in the morning, about half past 5, and then they go to eat, then don’t do anything anymore.”

Right now, when demand spikes and the wind isn’t blowing, utilities like Østkraft ramp up production at their coal or gas plants, but Denmark is planning to be fossil-fuel free in its power sector by 2030, which means soon, that won’t be an option.

The main Østkraft power plant on the island of Bornholm, powered by coal, biomass and biogas.

So, instead of making supply meet demand, Østkraft is testing what it would take to make demand meet supply.

“Demand response has nothing at all to do with energy savings. It has to do with using the energy when it's there,” says Maja Bendtsen, who works for the utility and is in charge of a project called EcoGrid EU.
Is this the answer? Or part of the answer?
Personally I think that nuclear is the way to go, but politically it's a tough go.

via International Skeptics Forum

Peak Oil

Mod Info Several old threads were recently resurrected and for ease of reading, I have collected the posts relating to Peak Oil and future energy use into one thread.
Posted By:Agatha

Peak oil is not a theory but a fact because oil is a finite resource, and most oil is too expensive to access because of gravity and other factors.

The use of unconventional production does not discredit peak oil but actually proves it. Otherwise, conventional production would be rising significantly to meet demand.

Another effect of peak oil includes high prices, costs, and capital expenditures. That's why shale oil became accessible only because prices went up. That's also why rig counts are dropping when prices fell. Meanwhile, more money is being spent in exchange for lower increases in oil production.

Finally, if one compares the annual increase in oil demand the past three decades with the additional production from shale oil, then there's no boom. After that, unconventional production has to make up for both increasing demand and a drop in conventional production.

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Hillary Clinton: McKibben tells Hillary why environmentalists don't much care for her

McKibben to HIllary Clinton: 5 Reasons Why Environmentalists Distrust You -- and How to Fix That



1)Climate change has not been your issue.

2)You were terrible on Keystone. Even before the State Department began its review of the project, you said you were “inclined” to approve it. That’s been your last public word on the project, but your team performed an intellectually corrupt review of the plans, your campaign bundlers landed rich lobbying contracts, and your former advisers took jobs with Transcanada.

3)You took the Obama administration’s affection for fracking and ran with it.Working with a deep team of oil company advisers, you set up a whole office at the State Department whose job it was to push fracking all over the world (Cambodia, China, New Guinea); you gave speech after speech in country after country. This was bad policy in the extreme

4)As the world’s top diplomat, you presided over the monumental failure that was the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009. Six crucial years were lost as a result. Enough said.

5) All that endless money. The right-wing attacks on the endless speaking fees and foundation gifts aren’t actually just a concern to the right wing.

my bold

It's no longer enough for a politician to state that climate change is real. It's necessary to back that with action...
(rest of article at link)
Though I was a rather strong and vocal supporter of Hillary's campaign in 2007, that was then and this is now. I have a lot more reasons than merely her environmental record that I disagree with, as well as a lot more doubts about and problems with her politics. To me, her environmental issues are merely the tip of the iceberg.

via International Skeptics Forum

You might be a 'fundy atheist' if...

This thread was inspired by a comment from a poster on another thread here:

I created the list of 20 items below a long long time ago, not long after I converted from agnosticism to theism, and then to a liberal Christianity (I won't go into reasons why here). Even though I'd never thought the Bible was anything other than a collection of myths and fables, I was surprised to find that some atheists (some!) were more critical of that position than any fundy Christians I encountered. I called them 'fundy atheists' for that reason. I wouldn't use that term now, since it means something different to people today.

I wrote the first 11 items myself, another theist contributed the 12th, and the other 8 were provided by an atheist. My favorite one is No. 18, followed by No. 15.

You may be a fundy atheist if one or more of the following apply to you...

1) You become upset when a Christian says that s/he doesn't believe the Bible to be literally true.

2) You find you have a grudging respect for fundy theists for 'sticking to their guns' even while complaining they don't think for themselves.

3) You dislike how liberal theists try to interpret the Bible for themselves, while you create your own interpretations of the Bible for yourself. e.g. Exodus 34 contains a new set of 10 Commandments, Jesus asked His disciples to slay all His enemies.

4) 'Thinking for yourself' means adopting an atheist viewpoint.

5) Any scholar who believes in a historical Jesus must be a theist. If they are an atheist, then they haven't been able to escape earlier 'brainwashing' or they are afraid of losing their jobs.

6) You demand that theists explain news items where bad things have happened to theists, even though no theists on the board have claimed that belief in God is some kind of a lucky charm that wards off bad luck.

7) You demand that theists explain news items where theists do bad things, even though no theists on the board have claimed that it is impossible for theists to do bad things.

8 ) You became an atheist when you were 10 years old, based on ideas of God you learned in Sunday School. Your ideas about God haven't changed since.

9) You think that the primary aim of an omnibenevolent God is for people to have FUN.

10) You believe that extra drippy ice-cream is a logical proof against the existence of God, because an omniscient God would know how to stop the ice-cream from being extra drippy, an omnipotent God would have the ability to stop the ice-cream from being extra drippy, and by golly, an omnibenevolent God wouldn't *want* your ice-cream to be extra drippy.

11) When an atheist says "I don't know" they are being brave and honest. When a theist says "I don't know" they are being dishonest and are trying to dodge the question.

12) When your thoughts on any complex matter are sensible and clear, and a theist's thoughts on any complex matter are 'mental gymnastics'.

13) You make a point to cry out 'Oh, Random Universe' during sex.

14) You leave 'freethought' tracts lying around, like the littering missionaries.

15) You have actually calculated an estimate of the number of people drowned in The Flood.

16) If someone says 'God Bless' when you sneeze, you make them 'take it back!'

17) You debate (argue, vilify, etc.) as if every theist was a Jack Chick fan.

18) You know the bible better than most least the parts where someone dies.

19) The only Commandments you know are the ones that are unconstitutional.

20) You can't remember if she was Mother or Sister Teresa, but you can name every pedophile priest listed in the media over the last seven years.

via International Skeptics Forum

lundi 29 juin 2015

Security camera recommendations

For my own peace of mind, I'm looking to buy install some outdoor security cameras around my house. I'm going to place these around the perimeter of my home, and a few cameras facing into the street.

Ideally, I'm looking for the following:

- Required: at least 8 video channels
- Required: upgradeable disk space, or some way to archive old video data. I have a few terabytes of unused HDDs laying around to store video data.
- Optional: I would be happy if the security kit comes with at least 4 cameras with 720p or higher resolution, otherwise I'll buy cameras seperately.
- Wish: under $800 would be a plus.

Recommendations appreciated in advance :)

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College of Curiosity Death Valley Tour

College of Curiosity going to Death Valley, and you can come!

And it's free, but you'll need to have your own vehicle or bum a ride from someone.

Thursday, July 16th. Leaving from Tropicana at 8AM. You will miss workshops at TAM.

Reminder, this event is not associated with JREF or TAM. It is open to all.

Full details are at the link:

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First mention of intelligent reptiles in a book

Howdy folks a trivia question on the history of literature:

When is the first mention iof intelligent reptiles?

Some goggling brought up one my childhood favorites, Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar, Mahars are introduced in the first book, At the Earth's Core (1914).

However I suspect some earlier version lurks somewhere in the dim recesses of Victorian literature.

Thanks in advance

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Foucault Pendulum debunked?


Claim #1; The experimental apparatus consists of a tall pendulum free to swing in any vertical plane.
"Free to swing in any vertical plane." is the claim we will be examining. With a little google search we are able to find many links that show an electromagnetic drive is used in museums to act upon the pendulum. [1] [2] [3]. It appears that in modern situations the platform the bob is swinging over has an electromagnetic ring that is considered a drive. This electromagnetic drive is usually calibrated to help steer the pendulum in the motion that is intended by the pendulum's desideratum.
Additionally, the construction of the Pendulum includes a Charron ring. A charron ring is the stabalization system or dampener used at the top of the pendulum's construction. While the cable attached to the bob moves in it's oscillation, the cable contacts the Charron ring. This forces the cable to move on one plane. The Charron ring also is used to prevent elliptical movement. Since the cable comes briefly into contact with the Charron Ring in each period, the oscillation plane no longer oscillates in relation to the ground during that period. In consequence, the rotation of the oscillation plane “slows down” and a complete turn takes slightly longer than expected.
What we find here is a misrepresented claim of free movement. It is readily seen that the slowed motion of the Pendulum by the Charron ring dampener necessitates the electromagnetic drive to continue to move the Pendulum. The contacts with the Charron ring creates a force and further the electromagnetic drive creates a force. These forces alone remove "free movement" from being a reliable claim for this experiment.
For the record, I have found one without a magnet.
Also it looks like the original one in Paris didn't have one.
He also mentions the allais effect which is debunked here:
He makes other claims which I don't understand...

Claim #2; The actual plane of swing appears to rotate relative to the Earth.
The first thing about such a claim is that it is not a statement of fact. It appears to do as they say it does. Again, a desideratum. The construction of the anchor at the top of a Foucault Pendulum makes use of an anchor point that allows rotation. Where as other pendulums use a back and forth motion that does not allow rotation to occur at all. Consider Pendulum clocks as an example of a non-rotating anchor point. The Pendulum is allowed to rotate in a complete circle over a period of time. Besides these facts of construction, No one has ever seen the Earth rotate by watching a Pendulum swing.
Conclusion of claim #2; FAIL
Claim #3; At the equator the Foucault pendulum will be at a fixed plane of back and forth motion not showing any gradual sideways rotation that is found at other locations around the Earth.
Here is where we look into the Foucault's sine law. The Equator brings a peculiar division of 0 to the equation. "For a given longitude the surface velocity varies from 1 EVU at the equator to zero at the pole even though the angular velocities are all the same." [4] At the equator the pendulum axis is perpendicular to the Earth's axis and the sine of 0° = 0. " The time to observe a full rotation is equal to one day at the North Pole with the time increasing with decreasing latitude and not observable at the Equator (infinite length of time)."
So, zero according to the Foucault's sine law is the equivalent of meaning infinity. That way in Ecuador it has even been described as a setting that could be fit for some actualization of "infinity" the infinite fixed plane of perpetual horizontal motion. There is zero value in the equation at the equator, yet this zero has been given infinity as a value. This is basic math that has now become a farce. Anything divisible by, or multiplied by zero is zero.
Conclusion of claim #3; FAIL

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Venus & Jupiter Meet in the Evening Sky

During tomorrow evening (2015 JUN 30), the two brightest planets Venus and Jupiter will appear separated in the western sky by only 20 arcminutes (two-thirds the diameter of a Full Moon). That’s the tightest this year, although when they move into the morning eastern sky they will conjunct again but with 1° separation on 2015 OCT 25. A really close angular separation will occur next year when they are again in the evening western sky and appear separated by only 4 arcminutes on 2016 AUG 27.

My June astronomical calendar previews tomorrow’s close separation of Venus and Jupiter. Meanwhile, my July calendar is now available featuring the trio of Venus, Jupiter and Regulus when Venus will be at its brightest for the current evening apparition.

Link to astronomical calendars:

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Fiction set in prehistory? Mitochondrial Eve, etc.

Can anyone cite titles of novels set in prehistoric times, preferably which incorporate accurate anthropology and geology? I'm considering writing a book about Mito Eve and would like to know if there is any competition out there.


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Is the Yeti an ancestral memory of Giganthropithicus?

The searches for the Yeti which apparently doesn't exists are often done in what was once the habitat for Giganthropithicus. Could the Yeti be an ancestral memory of that creature?

I believe bigfoot came from Indian legends warning their children not to build a village near Mt. St. Helens which is where they said hairy cannibals lived and the story was picked up and later mixed p with european legends of boogymen in the forest.

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dimanche 28 juin 2015

Outcomes of same sex parenting

I'm currently arguing with a Chrsitian about whether same sex couples are as good parents as hetero couples. His critique of the first batch of studies that I threw at him (I'm a lay person in this field) was

"It is very important that people not be allowed to self report, nor drop out of the study, and best of all when they don't know they are being counted. Now, admittedly, this is kind of hard, but that is how you get quality."

Sounds reasonable to me. Anyone know of good studies that avoid theses traps, or at least some or most of them?

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Top 5 Skeptical Fallacies

There was a post like this made on another forum, but since I can't re-post the content, I'm posting a new version. The examples shown here can apply to any cryptid, not just Bigfoot.

Top 5 Skeptical Fallacies

1) Appeal to Ignorance

"After thousands of years of being on the continent, we would have had proof of Bigfoot by now if Bigfoot was real."

This is a fallacy where something is considered to be false either because it hasn't been proven to be true or because it's just hard to believe that it could be true. It's not possible to know about something you haven't discovered yet, so it doesn't make sense to conclude that something isn't real, simply because it hasn't been discovered.

2) Argumentum Ad Populum

"The current consensus is that Bigfoot isn't a real animal, therefore it isn't real and isn't worthy of scientific investigation."

A fallacious argument where it's concluded that a proposition is true because many or most people believe it.

3) Burden of Proof and False Default Position

"Bigfoot doesn't exist and it's up to proponents to prove otherwise."

The denialist assumes a negative default position and shifts the burden of proof to others.

It's not possible to prove a negative in the case of Bigfoot, so the burden of proof in this case can't ever be fulfilled. It's important to at least be theoretically able to back up the claims you make.

4) Special Pleading

"No other film like the PGF has surfaced since 1967, therefore, the PGF isn't evidence for the existence of Bigfoot." or "The film doesn't qualify as evidence."

Moving the goalpost after the claim of there not being any evidence has been shown to be false.

5) Genetic

"The PGF was made by a person with a questionable history, therefore, the film itself should be dismissed."

This fallacy avoids the argument by shifting focus onto something or someone's origins. It's similar to an ad hominem fallacy in that the skeptic leverages existing negative perceptions to make the PGF look bad, without actually presenting a case for why the film itself lacks merit.

via International Skeptics Forum

How many times have the 'Elite' been evacuating?

One of Alex Jones's new videos claims that he was approached by two 'wealthy' people and asked why he was not leaving America before October. Here is the video

As Alex Jones generally has a track record of failed predictions it is always the cause for skepticism, for instance why did they come to ask him this?

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Difference between action and beliefs

I like to think that there is a clear divide on our beliefs or our actions. Thus should we judge people's actions solely when it comes towards morality?

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The Deadly GMO false debate

GMO ‘Right to Know’ movement takes food off of plates of hungry in Africa, Asia - http://www.geneticliteracyproject.or...n-africa-asia/


One of the most contentious and polarizing issues today is the use of biotechnology in farming. While many farmers in industrialized countries have been safely and successfully using genetically engineered crops for almost two decades, adoption in the developing world has been significantly slower, only recently eclipsing the U.S. in terms of total acreage.

Many of these crops have been developed to produce naturally occurring nutritional compounds, resist aggressive diseases and tolerate extreme environmental conditions. The benefits of GE crops are not equitably spread throughout the developing world, as those in most critical need often cannot benefit from existing solutions created by public scientists.

The slow global adoption of the technology is tied mostly to political resistance stirred by unsubstantiated fears that generate anti-GM sentiment amongst the broader public. In the developed world, some companies — Chipotle most recently — have been willfully leveraging this phenomenon to deceive consumers. The burrito fast food giant “banned” GMO’s from its menu to create an image that its 900+ calorie burritos are somehow better for you. Yet, Chipotle continued to use meat that was raised on GM grain, cheese made with a GM enzyme, and sodas containing high fructose corn syrup derived from GM corn. These changes were all obviously a marketing gimmick and only one example of what’s happening today by food related companies.

Unsubstantiated fears about the safety of GM crops in developed countries with an over-abundance of food has spread anti-biotech sentiment to the poorest parts of the world, biasing both citizens and policy makers. In turn, politicians are pandering to the loudest voices amongst their constituents, resulting in them lobbying against a technology that could help those who need it most: the critically malnourished...
Reality doesn't always possess a left-handed bias, there are plenty of science deniers in both political persuasions.

via International Skeptics Forum

Energy is far less forgiving than genes

The title is the first sentence of the third to last paragraph of Nick Lane's "The Vital Question".

The last sentence of that paragraph is "Genes are almost infinitely permissive: anything that can happen will happen." Lane goes on with two equally more eloquent paragraphs about the importance of energy to life.

But to me, the point of the book is that the Cold Equations of physics and chemistry are not at all permissive towards biology. If it can't happen it won't. Life as been straitjacketed by certain physical fundamentals for its entire existence. I think people who listen too much to biologists and not enough to chemists and physicists forget that.

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Bad Gateway

Whenever I try reading the forums without being logged in, the public forums all come back Bad Gateway when I click on a thread or post. This isn't the 'you can't read this thread' of the Community forums, it's 502 Bad Gateway. Are all the forums being made private?

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How would I respond?

So this guy says about a gay marriage supporter:

'but you're doing a bad job at trying to make me look like a hypocrite.'

Actually I think you did a fine job of that yourself.

Just say what you mean

'EQUALITY FOR long as they fit into MY standards.'

Gay marriage was illegal too, but I guess that was ALWAYS wrong.
But NAMBLA? That will always Always ALWAYS be wrong...always...

So the logical problems here?
I make a response here:
Basically he thinks equality between orientations equals equality for everything...

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CRS-7 failure

Well, that sucked. Anyone else watching? When is the next ISS resupply?

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Churches in US using facial recognition to see who is and isn't turning up


One of the latest developments is the way it's being used by churches in the United States, who can scan the faces of their congregation and know who has turned up for mass on a Sunday.
What? Is god not doing a good enough job of it.

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IRVA 2015 (Remote Viewing) conference dying today

The IRVA 2015 (International Remote Viewing Association) conference at the New Orleans Hyatt French Quarter appears heading to its own death spiral. While attendance the past years has been increasingly thin ----with the majority of both attendees and guest speakers typically 65-80 in age--- attendance yesterday and today fell to new lows. Just a few dozen attendees came to some sessions and the total paying guests during lunch and dinner sessions was according to a source on the scene “perhaps 60 on average”. The main conference room often had scattered chairs filled upfront and two hundred empty chairs behind them. See photos and a video shot by attendees at

Russell Targ, Dale Graff, Pam Coronado, Nancy Jeane, Patricia Cyrus, and Noreen Renier were among the guest speakers. Some historical trackers would likely cite credibility issues within such a guest speaker list. And one can now question the paranormal powers that these and other IRVA members have claimed for decades. Such claims include their powers being both supported and powered by the interest of governments and billion-dollar companies. But no such interested parties showed up. Not only was there no national, regional, or even statewide media coverage, but no major leaders (government or private enterprise) paid any attention at all to such claimed powers. Perhaps after decades of exaggerated delusions no one really cares about their “legendary gift of contact” except sixty people among the 7 billion on the planet.

via International Skeptics Forum

samedi 27 juin 2015

The end of SJW's?

Gamergate might have sent them packing, but they still had a stranglehold over the atheosphere and secular movements, but this latest round of self destruction, by so many of the most prominent really brings me some hope

At long last sir, have you no decency?

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misquoting Darwin

“If … various checks … do not prevent the reckless, the vicious and otherwise inferior members of society from increasing at a quicker rate than the better class of men, the nation will retrograde, as has occurred too often in the history of the world. We must remember that progress is no invariable rule.”
Now the actual quote goes: "If the various checks specified in the last two paragraphs do not..."
This is bad quote mining. As they don't even mention these checks.

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Forum Spell Checker: How to Turn Off

I am having trouble with spelling. However, the problem doesn't totally originate from my schooling. When I post a reply, some of my words are replaced with some other word that sounds somewhat the same.

The mistaken correction occurs before I submit the post. However, there is often a delay between my typing the word and the replacement. So I am often unaware that the word has been replaced before I submit the post. So there remain in the posts these awful spelling errors.

When I correct the word, the word is replaced a second time. So even when I think that I have corrected it, it somehow gets fixed incorrectly by the time I submit.

I have made frequent use of the <edit> button on my submitted posts. However, the edit option disappears as soon as someone else comments on my post. I understand this policy and don't want it to change. However, I am often unaware of the spelling error until someone else gets confused or upset about it. Then I am embarrassed and can't change it.

I am not sure where the spell checker is. It may be in the editor of this forum, or somehow attached to my own editor. Where ever the spell checker is, I don't like it. I would rather take chances with my own spelling ability than overzealous correction software.

I don't see other people complaining about it, so maybe it is specific to my system. Just for the record, I am using an Apple computer. However, I suspect that this may be a problem for IBM clones (sometimes called PC) too.

My too questions are:

1) Is the spelling checker associated with the Skeptics Forum or something on my system?

2) How can I turn off or modify the spell checker?

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Help!! "A script on this page may be busy..."

Help!! "A script on this page may be busy..."
I use Firefox and I usually have a number of tabs open and very often I open two Firefox's to accommodate all the tabs I have opened. This usually is no problem, but lately FF will get really sluggish and slow to respond and this message always pops up when this happens. I'm not very tech savvy and don't know what's going on. Any help is greatly appreciated.

A script on this page may be busy, or it may have stopped responding. You can stop the script now, open the script in the debugger, or let the script continue.

Script: line 24 > eval:131

Reply With Quote

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CNN Epic fail.

Sorry if this is in wrong section not sure where it belongs, but it's funny.

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What does "forgiveness" mean?

Several family members of the people who were murdered in church in Charleston have publicly stated -- even facing him in court -- that they "forgive" the racist killer Dylann Roof. What can this mean? "Forgive" can't possibly mean "I think it's all right that you murdered my husband or wife or child," or "I understand you thought you were doing good, so it's okay," or "I don't like what you did but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it." I think of "forgiveness" as something you might grant for an infraction that is comprehensible, as in "I forgive you for stealing my money because I know how much you needed it" or "I forgive you for causing the accident that killed my child because I know you didn't intend to hurt anyone." At the simplest level "forgiveness" might just mean "I'm not going to expend my energy trying to get even with you for what you did." But how can anybody forgive deliberate, intentional murder of a loved one for the most evil of motives?


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Starlet allowed to take off a commercial flight. Pilots sacked.

In the following video, the Argentinian starlet Vicky Xipolitakis is allowed in the pilot cabin, and then offered to action the accelerator in order to take the plane off [It's a decadent video. The relevant part starts at 3:58. Bellow, a rough translation of the dialogue]

YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.

Starlet - No! No! No! I don't want to operate the lever
Starlet (to the phone) - We're ready to take off..
Starlet - Ah! This is to accelerate?
Co-pilot - At my sign, you push it a bit forward
Starlet - Oh, dear! How frightening! I'm going to accelerate and we're going to take off. Are you sure about what you're doing? Yes??
Starlet - This is the accelerator. Turn on the light for a second so I can record it. This is it? Am I going to do it? Oh, dear!
Starlet - Are you sure nothing can happen? It's the critical moment, this moment.
Starlet - Now?
Pilot - Shhh! Authorized flight Austral 2708
Co-pilot: Now, one by one
Starlet: I am accelerating! It's f******* moving!
Co-pilot: Forward, a bit more
Starlet: More?
Starlet: Hey, boys! I am doing it! (joyful screaming)
Starlet: Do it right. I operated the accelerator and it's going forward. Are you sure about what we've done?
Starlet: Boys, aren't you enemies and you want me to ...
Pilot: Now, we remain silent.

Of course, pilot and co-pilot were sacked and the three of them were brought to justice for endangering a commercial flight. Warrants were granted to take phones and other elements that may tell the complete story.

The popular feeling is wondering if the tugs they got at 12,000 feet were worth their whole careers.

The IMF already has offered the pilots jobs as officials because they are experts in making a total mess when something Greek is involved.

via International Skeptics Forum

Shouldn't we be preserving the best skeptical arguments?

In reading the latest irreducible complexity thread, I realized Dinwar really is Penultimate Amazing. Joined a month before I did and has 15000+ posts and I haven't reached 50.

When I think about winning the lottery, I don't think of retiring to a tropical island. I think of starting a nonprofit to promote skeptical events around here and start up a website that does something I haven't seen yet:

When somebody sees a commonly circulated BS argument, they copy and paste the BS into a customized search engine which hopefully recognizes the key words and brings up links to arguments already made against that BS. One then copies the link and pastes it in a reply to the BS post. Work done. Perhaps the visible portion could be a long sentence/short paragraph with the gist of the argument, so some readers don't even have to click to be convinced.

Of course, one should only respond if the BS is posted to a general audience in a forum like this or a comments section. We should be trying to influence the bystanders not get into a pointless one on one argument with a BS spreader.

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a Simpler Doublet Code before genetics

I used that title because 1) this might have happened before RNA and certainly did before DNA and 2) can something be genetic if it is deterministic chemistry?

This paper is old news but I was reminded of the contents by page 136 of Nick Lane's "The Vital Question". He refers to the DNA chapter of "Life Ascending" where he discussed this work, but then only points out that it assumes a constant supply of precursor chemicals which an alkaline hydro-thermal vent system would have supplied.

The following may be the most succinct statement I've seen of why fourteen of the current amino acids likely made up the first code:

Mapping of the Modern Genetic Code onto a Simpler Doublet Code

The 20 amino acids encoded by the modern code do not saturate the bound for the number of amino acids that can be unambiguously encoded by three bases (64) because of the degeneracy of the code. The structurally and synthetically complex amino acids (Trp, Tyr, Phe, Lys, His, and Met) are distinguished from simpler amino acids only in the third position of their codons and are likely to have been added to the code relatively late (30). The 14 remaining amino acids can be specified by using a doublet code and, in fact, these amino acids nearly saturate the bound for the number of amino acids that can be unambiguously encoded by two bases (16). These properties are consistent with later addition of a third base to an established two-base association. They are also consistent with an emergence of the reading frame and tRNA concurrent with or later than the emergence of the triplet code. We do not seek to explain the full code, the mechanism for addition of the complex amino acids to the code, or the emergence of translation here, although the arguments we provide are a consistent foundation on which to pursue these questions later.

This reminded me of papers on how ten of the amino acids are thermodynamically favored. Since I'm not willing to pay to get the full text I'm referring to the lpetrich post discussing them at SecularCafe:

One paper has the most abundant amino acids being:

Glycine, Alanine, Aspartate, Glutamate, Valine, Serine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Proline, Threonine

Which are all 7 metabolic steps (Isoleucine, Leucine) or less and none of them the ones requiring the third codon. Asparagine and Glutamine are Aspartate and Glutamate with a different side chain as the names suggest. That makes 12 of the 14. Arginine and Cysteine would complete the 14.

The oddity is that the 9 step Arginine is supposed to be an early AA while the 7 step Methionine is not. On the other hand, Copley etc paper posits Arginine replacing its simpler precursor Ornithine. Also, Methionine takes two steps more than Cysteine, the only other AA with sulfur.

Plenty of work needs to be done, but despite anything creationists might say it is not unreasonable for the genetic code to have arisen from plain chemistry.

via International Skeptics Forum

Suppose Booth had pissed

Seriously- suppose Booth had decided not to shoot Lincoln but to urinate all over him to show his disdain!! Lincoln would have had to miss the play, the box he and others were in would have stunk a good deal and others would have also been inundated by the yellow stream had Booth's hand been shaky.

Instead of being a martyr, Lincoln would have looked silly and many events that followed historically would no longer occur. Plus the event would not be well enough known except to historians who would have their little jokes about it in privacy as it would be improper to mention in the lower school grades.

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What do you need to critically evaluate *studies*?


I am wondering about this. I have seen online posters post things like the comments to this page:

and there are claims regarding studies, and some studies are cited and they claim a refutation study (which is linked to) is flawed and its data actually "supports" something paranormal. I also find it weird that there are no commenters on the site who posted anything in support of the article's topic.

However, this makes me wonder: what is needed in terms of knowledge, etc. to go about investigating these "study" claims in a critical manner? Considering there are such a huge variety of such claims in the world touching on so many different fields, what exactly does one need to sift the truth and the bs?

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vendredi 26 juin 2015

The Black Dilemma.---From The Baltimore Sun

The email that appears in this Snopes article was forwarded to me by somebody close to me.

The person routinely forwards me miscellaneous right wing rant style stuff like Obama wasn't born in the US, global warming is a hoax, etc. Sometimes there's some of the routine hypocritical stuff about how they worked hard and their money is getting used up to subsidize all the malingerers that aren't like them.

I never know exactly what to do with this stuff. On the global warming and birther stuff I responded with a fairly long email explaining why I disagreed. On occasion I've done a reply all with my responses but usually I just limit the response to the person in question or a few of my family members. Mostly I just ignore the stuff, but I have mixed feelings about that since I assume the person forwarding them to me is looking for an opinion from me. On the other hand, my thought is, there isn't that much time in life and why make a big deal out of a few areas where we might disagree. The individual in question is significantly older than me.

This email was the first one where I've noticed a significantly racist tone, except for the Arab bashing which is a pretty common theme.

I've wondered for awhile about who is the initial source of these emails. They almost always contain some significant falsehoods or misrepresentations (the birther one was particularly bad on falsehood front). Often times they are misattributed like this one.

I wrote this reply this evening, but I may not send it.


Originally Posted by dave

Hello ########,

As you might have guessed the Baltimore Sun didn't run this editorial.

While many online postings of the above-displayed article in June 2015 claimed that it had been recently published in Baltimore Sun, this article has actually been circulating on the Internet since at least September 2014, when it was published under the title “Ten Percent Is Not Enough” in the American Renaissance blog.

The American Renaissance posting was originally attributed to Anthony Bryan; but his name was stripped from versions shared via Internet forums, craigslist postings, and comments sections of several race-related articles. Several different authorial names have been attached to the piece, including “John S. Mosby” (a Confederate cavalry officer) and “Edmund Hughes,” but the article didn’t truly go viral until after the Baltimore Sun attribution was tacked on.
Perhaps there is some truth to the editorial, but it is also wildly racist.
From the article:
The fundamental problem is that American black culture has evolved into an unfixable and crime ridden mess. They do not want to change their culture or society, and expect others to tolerate their violence and amoral behavior.

Who constitutes the "they" that is being referred to? Only a racist individual would refer to a group of people as if everybody in the group is the same. White people can be all sorts of things and have all sorts of opinions but black people are a monolithic group that consists only of people that "do not want to change their culture or society, and expect others to tolerate their violence and amoral behavior"? This is racial stereotyping of the most disgusting kind designed to pander to whites who want to pretend their **** don't stink.

The comment about half the people think that they don't have to work because they think the other half is going to take care of them is blatantly ignorant. Millions of black Americans work damn hard in this country and they aren't looking for anybody to take care of them.

This is not to say that there aren't problems in the black community that are disturbing, but lumping every black person in this country (almost all of whom have some white ancestry) together as some sort of malingerer only trying to have somebody else pay his way is uninformed to say the least and is really just vile racist narcissism by the jerk that wrote this.

via International Skeptics Forum

Polygamy Anyone??

The thing I can't figure out is why anyone in favor of same sex marriage, based on the fact that two consenting adults in a same sex union deserve the same "rights' as a male/female couple, would be against polygamous relationships?

The argument doesn't make sense. What makes sense is this ruling and the gay rights activist aren't really interested in rights but pushing their own agenda on everyone else.

This was never about rights if it was about rights we would give everyone the same benefits and we do not. The same people in favor of gay marriage are for some strange reason opposed to polygamy or whatever comes next.

It will be hard for this court to rule against new forms of unions people will come up with.

This is what I call liberal fascism


Welcome to the exciting new world of the slippery slope. With the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling this Friday legalizing same sex marriage in all 50 states, social liberalism has achieved one of its central goals. A right seemingly unthinkable two decades ago has now been broadly applied to a whole new class of citizens. Following on the rejection of interracial marriage bans in the 20th Century, the Supreme Court decision clearly shows that marriage should be a broadly applicable right—one that forces the government to recognize, as Friday’s decision said, a private couple’s “love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family.”

The question presents itself: Where does the next advance come? The answer is going to make nearly everyone uncomfortable: Now that we’ve defined that love and devotion and family isn’t driven by gender alone, why should it be limited to just two individuals? The most natural advance next for marriage lies in legalized polygamy—yet many of the same people who pressed for marriage equality for gay couples oppose it.

via International Skeptics Forum

Questions from my hammock

So, I'm laying on my hammock enjoying the day and suddenly this question popped into my head.

What if, suddenly and without warning there was no longer gravity on earth.

Let's assume that the planets all continue to circle around each other, but just on earth the rule no longer applies.

We humans, we're toast right? we float off into space and die. Jumping would be a very bad idea.

What about birds? Can they land and grip onto a tree branch and still fly around? Do we become a bird planet? Could anything survive an earth with no gravity?

And how about an airplane in flight? I don't think it could ever land but would the plane be fine until it ran out of fuel and then just fly forever in whatever direction it was heading when that happened?

These are the things that plague my mind while I swing on my hammock.

via International Skeptics Forum

Why is "God Not Great"?

If God existed, would it be great?

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San Francisco tonight and this weekend.

I have never seen the city this joyous, and for good reason.

After the range I got home the same time as my uphill neighbors, and they were glowing (I don't think alcohol or substances were involved) When we started talking and I told them I was marching in the Pride parade (pink pistols) I thought they were going to faint, but this decision brought about a discussion that (I believe) they never thought they would have - when I moved in here it seems they made up their minds that I was an older straight guy and wouldn't be friendly to them as a gay couple, and that was that.

Now they know that they were right about my preference and absolutely wrong about my attitude.

Now if the damn wind would slow down, this might be a weekend for the ages for the city.

via International Skeptics Forum

The first branching event of life

It's a cliche that the oldest deepest divide in life is between bacteria and archaea, but if you assume that it happened in an alkaline hydro-thermal vent (or at least someplace with natural proton gradients), we might have an answer.

One of the most enlightening parts of Nick Lane's "The Vital Question" (coming out in North America on July 20) is explaining the most elegant reason to date for that split, based on these two papers and yes he was a coauthor.


The second one came later and I agree with David Marjanović posting at

that it states the premise more clearly. Lane was undoubtedly already writing "The Vital Question" and uses diagrams from the latter paper in the book.

In short, LUCA developed a simple single protein Proton/Sodium antiporter which is still part of the energy converting hydrogenase (Ech) and Complex I of the respiratory chain. It should be called hydronium/Sodium antiporter because hydronium is a cation that forms from water in the presence of hydrogen ions and is nearly identical (115pm vs 117pm) in size to a Sodium ion and allows the antiporter to be indiscriminate. After this event, pumping Sodium ions using the existing proton gradient become advantageous. This led towards a tight modern membrane rather the leaky early one and more sophisticated pumping mechanisms.

From page 151 of the book:

"Yet the similarities and differences begin to make sense if we assume that LUCA did indeed depend on natural proton gradients. If so, the key to pumping could lie in the direction of proton flux through Ech - whether the natural flow of protons into the cell drives carbon fixation, or whether this flux is reversed, with the protein now acting as a membrane pump, pumping protons out of the cell."

The papers say much the same but not as clearly to a layman. :) As Lane says, it was a binary "choice" made by two lines of descendants. One became acetogens and other bacteria and the other became methanogens and other archaea, and much much later they merged to become Eukaryotes that led to us.

Yes, yes this has not yet become the consensus view, but it is slowly growing in adherents.

via International Skeptics Forum

Could a human function okay without emotions?

Unemotional responses would be appreciated (but not expected).

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Terrorist Attack in France tops wave of Terrorist attacks..

"Men never do Evil so readily as they do in the name of God".

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Non SJW podcasts?

I'm tired of being preached at, and it seems like most of my favorite podcasts have jumped on the SJW bandwagon. I really loved Dogma Free America, but it is no more. Are there others out there I'm missing?

via International Skeptics Forum

shootings in tunisia-my family just had a serious scare

My cousin and her idiot husband thought it was safe(despite being told by me,my dad,there own parents etc that it was not)to take there kid to Tunisia. We just heard they are OK but they were fairly close to the site of the shooting.
We have already had Cameron on TV saying Islam is a religion of peace and those who commit violence in the name of Islam pervert the religion. They don't,they like the vile Phelps brood merely read there holy book and obey what is written. The koran-and bible-tells the believer to commit horrors.
Soon we will have the usual" moderate"religious leaders and spokespersons claim the violence is horrific and inexcusable in one breath then in the other say buuuut....and come out with some good old victim blaming.

Hey,its my birthday today-im 36

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A different war in 1861

What if there hadn’t been a war between the States instead a huge opponent from Europe such as France, England and Spain combined? (just for instance).
Who could have been the US commanders at the start?
Robert E. Lee Overall Command
Army Commands: P.T. Beauregard, Sedgwick, T.J Jackson, Albert Sidney Johnston; Edwin Sumner; W.T. Sherman; Henry Halleck; Joseph E. Johnston; James McPherson, John Fremont. Opinions please?

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A law about objects and their existence

In philosophy, we can think of a law to establish the criteria for the existence of objects.

An object exists when at least two observers experience/observe this object independently from each other.

That's a valid criterium for the existence of objects in this world.

Ergo: the experienced tunnel and the experienced light of an NDE have such a existential status.

via International Skeptics Forum

Carbon Tax, how does this work?

I've recently read quite a bit here regarding a "carbon tax", but I'm interested in how this is supposed to solve, or at least appreciably reduce, global warming.
Just how does this work, and how much will it affect global warming?
Most of the chatter seems to indicate that the money will actually be spent on things other than reducing global warming, and while I understand the concept of a punitive tax, it really looks like this is just another dodge to redirect money from the middle class.
I could certainly be wrong though, and this seems like the perfect place to find out.
Any thoughts?

via International Skeptics Forum

jeudi 25 juin 2015

Religions for marital advice?
While this article is honest enough to admit that yes religions have changed overtime, and spends a chunk of the article on this fact it goes on to say:

An intermingling of worldly and divine, or one religion and another for the right reasons does not necessarily lead to the deterioration of tradition and heavenly concepts. Seeking pick up advice from Paul the Apostle, martial arts tips from ha’Ba’al Shem Tov, or guidance on political organization from the Sufi Mystic Yunus Emre is no sacrilege.

In fact, the faithful have been doing it for hundreds and thousands of years: religions had the dual purpose of granting a glimpse into the glorious galleries of God and providing practical advice on the daily grind. Analyzing various religious traditions for the sake of a masculine growth of character constitutes no profanity.
That's their whole argument...not very convincing. They don't show any evidence or examples that these truths have any value what so ever. It would help their case.

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Story about a hermaphroditic human culture?

Maybe 30 years ago I read a story about a "sleeper" who awakes in the distant future to find that the human race had become hermaphroditic. I remember little else except the Twilight Zone-type ending to the story.

Any help with the author and title would be appreciated.

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"..fully informed and has done her homework"

Heard from an acquaintance. I believe it is true. Not very incredible anyway. Just sad.


I just had someone at the door that was canvassing for a Democrat for the VA Senate. For the record, this person happened to be young, black, and female.

She said "Since you voted democratic last time, you may be interested in voting for the candidate". That immediately raised a red flag. How did she know who I voted for? I thought it was secret who you voted for? I did not vote for anyone last time and I have not ever voted for a Democrat. So I pushed her and she admitted that she was not aware of how they knew my voting preference. I asked her, do you find that there should be some concern about that? She said her mother felt the same way.

I said don't you think you should know something like that before you go out and talk to people? She said she was not stupid and went to U of Virginia. So I asked if she knew who Monsanto is? "NO". Do you know what GMOs are? "NO". Do you know what TPP is? "An insecticide?", she replied. I told her she was woefully misinformed and uninformed and that was because of people like the candidate she was working for.

She said she went to U of Virginia and she was fully informed and has done her homework. I said no you haven't and told her she was not supposed to be soliciting in the condominium properties. She said OK and left.

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Scotus to enroll in Obamacare

"A House Republican on Thursday proposed forcing the Supreme Court justices and their staff to enroll in ObamaCare.
Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) said that his SCOTUScare Act would make all nine justices and their employees join the national healthcare law’s exchanges.
“As the Supreme Court continues to ignore the letter of the law, it’s important that these six individuals understand the full impact of their decisions on the American people,” he said.“That’s why I introduced the SCOTUScare Act to require the Supreme Court and all of its employees to sign up for ObamaCare,” Babin said."

What a pissy, bitchy thing to do. :cool:

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The Old South Tradition of Church Burnings Continues...

Torching Black Churches:Southren Traditions at it's best.

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Bristol Palin announces second out of marriage pregnancy

States, ""Honestly, I’ve been trying my hardest to keep my chin up on this one." Perhaps keeping her contraceptive prescription up to date would have helped more. Luckily God will help, according to her.

First, of course I would not make fun of almost anyone else who finds themselves unexpectedly pregnant. This is a very difficult event for all concerned. I appreciate that completely and I am not holding Bristol to some out of date concept of morality, or criticizing her because of the political positions taken by her Mom.

I am noting this event because Bristol Palin has been a very visible spokesperson for pre-marriage abstinence and a public advocate of a life based on very conservative viewpoints. Yet, these "ideals" appear to apply primarily to others, and it is too difficult for Bristol to adhere to them herself. So, in common with many on the religious right, she claims to be forgiven by God, who understands and will help her. Nice to have such a good, powerful friend- unfortunate that we unbelieving, Godless liberals will just have to go to hell.

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Amazon banned Confederate merchandise on orders from the U.S. Government

The voice on the video is that of Ghetto Monk, chief cook and bottle washer of Godlike Productions. He is talking with a "supervisor" at Amazon who does not really have command of the English language. Alex Jones has plastered this on Infowars, temporarily healing a longstanding wound between the two.

The video is short. Should you listen, you will understand why one of my tags on this thread is "rooters".

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Obamacare is here to say

**** you Republicans that don't like it. The Supreme Court ruled in the favor of good so there is officially ZERO that you can about it ever again (probably). The good guys won.

PS; When I saw that it was a 6-3 decision, I knew exactly who the bad guys in the decision were (Thomas, Scalia, and Alito).

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Planet X revealed on Google Sky

According to several ct "news" sites, planet X has been revealed in a particular section of sky on Google earth, it is depicted as an orange disk with wings coming out from the sides. Here is a link to one of the articles claiming this

They also connect this to volcanic and earthquake activity which is completely bogus claim.

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If you and your kids can't swim, would you take them swimming?

Here in Dallas yesterday, a 10-year old died and 2 of her siblings are in the ICU after going swimming in a swimming pool.


A 10-year-old girl drowned and her 9- and 11-year-old brothers were in intensive care after they were pulled from a murky swimming pool at an Irving apartment complex Wednesday, police said.

Their mother was in the shallow end of the pool with a 3-year-old child and didn’t notice the older children go underwater, police said. Unable to swim, she began screaming for help.
So mom takes her 5 kids swimming...even though none of them can swim. No lifeguard present, no "floaties" no nothing. She apparently had her back to them when all three went under...and she could do nothing. Thankfully, a heroic maintenance man dived in and helped pull out the kids, but for one was too late.

Personally, I think she should be charged with criminal endangerment. What do you think?

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What would a total economic collapse in the USA REALLY look like?

Let's put aside the zombie apocalypse fantasies and survivalist rhetoric.

Let's look for relatively realistic scenarios here. I came across this article detailing a recent Congressional Budget Office Report while looking up reports on the TPP deal.


Congressional Budget Office Warns of Coming Complete Economic Collapse


We’ve been saying it for years here at The economy is on its way to collapse. Usually when we say it, however, people point to the stock market and claim it’s not so bad because the market is on the rise. People also say our claims are in place simply because we don’t agree with Obama’s policies. We stand by our assertion the economy is on its way to collapse because it is. It’s not what we want. It’s not what we hope for. It just is what it is. The writing is on the wall and anyone who ignores it does so at their own peril.

Today there is a new report that elevates the danger to a whole new level. It’s no longer just alternative media pointing to the coming collapse. No, now it’s the actual Congressional Budget Office....

CBO report:

If current laws remained generally unchanged, federal debt held by the public would exceed 100 percent of GDP by 2040 and continue on an upward path relative to the size of the economy—a trend that could not be sustained indefinitely.
So, let's have it. Let's say the worst has happened. US govt defaults, announces the worst possible scenario for the economy. the FED can't save us with all it's worthless money printing. What will happen? Like Weimar Germany pre Nazi regime? wheelbarrows of dollars for a candy bar? worse?

Seems like it's only a matter of time now, and no one seems to give a darn. Just more kicking the tin can down the road while politicians line their pockets with lobbyist money.

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mercredi 24 juin 2015

The economics of climate change mitigation

From a climate science discussions thread:

Originally Posted by Reality Check (Post 10728572)
China To Spend $6.6 Trillion To Meet Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals is a bit of science with a lot of politics.
The political part is the timing of the announcement to be just before the United Nations' climate negotiations and the commitment to climate change mitigation that the spending implies.
The science part is how the money is going to be spent to reduce CO2 emissions which has not been detailed yet.

The Atheist: Can you cite the mathematics to back up "mathematically it doesn't stack"?

The estimates that I have seen are costs of ~1% reduction of global GNP, e.g.
According to estimates presented by the 2006 Stern Review, climate change could cause a 5 percent reduction in the global GNP, whereas only 1 percent of global GNP would be needed to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions.
The article does not state a timescale for that 6.6 trillion spend but Earlier this month, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reaffirmed the government's commitment to hit a carbon emissions peak by "around 2030." which is 15 years away or 0.44 trillion dollars a year. In 2013 China's GNP was 16 trillion dollars as far as I can find out.
Thus I get about 3% of China's GNP being spent on CO2 emission reduction - well above that which is thought to be needed.
ETA: I suspect that the timescale goes past 2030 since China should not stop spending money on CO2 reduction as soon as they stabilize. But these numbers suggest that they can do this for the next 75 years and still spend more than enough of their GNP annually to achieve the goal of stabilization.

Any economist here to check out this rough calculation?

via International Skeptics Forum

Is Diversity Good?

Recently, I’ve done roughly 50 hours of reading and research on “diversity”. And so far, this is the most fascinating article I’ve found:

In summary, the author attempts to clearly define “diversity”, and then challenges the assumption (where all "diversity" discussions usually begin) that “diversity is good”. I won't spoil his conclusions. I was even able to contact the author. He said that the paper was not well received (“the response was a gut response, rather than an attempt at logical refutation”). I have since found a few articles (paywalled, so I can't share) that attempted to reasonably refute the paper, but failed (IMO).

This is a sensitive topic which often loses its way due to unchecked emotional responses. I myself am still forming my own ideas and opinions on the topic. But, I’m interested to see what the skeptical community thinks.

So, what say you...?

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The Higgs fake: How Particle Physicists Fooled the Nobel Committee

Does Higgs boson Nobel Prize In Physics Make Einstein Turn In His Grave? The book "The Higgs Fake – How Particle Physicists Fooled the Nobel Committee" is a merciless critique of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN and of the theoretical model on which the world’s most expensive experiment is based. Unzicker, a German physicist and award-winning science writer, argues that the reaction of the Swedish Academy to last year’s discovery appears to be a result of being beguiled by CERN’s attempts to justify the billions of dollars of public money being spent. The book starts off by claiming that the greatest physicists such as Einstein, Dirac of Schrödinger would have considered the “discovery” of the Higgs particle ridiculous. The reasons, according to the author, are that: “1) the so-called standard model has grown unbelievably complicated, 2) none of the great riddles of physics that have persisted for a century have been solved, 3) history suggests that the current model is a dead end, 4) with their ever-more intricate experimental techniques, particle physicists are fooling themselves with alleged results, 5) scientific convictions in the community are established by blind faith in expert opinions, group-think and parroting, and 6) the data analysis in its complexity cannot be overseen by anybody.” Unzicker gives a historical survey of the field, and concludes that particle physics, as practiced since 1930, is “a futile enterprise in its entirety.” The book is peppered with a series of funny quotes from famous philosophers and scientists. In the last section, “Antidotes,” he specifically attacks “the overstated claims by famous physicists such as Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Michio Kaku, Lisa Randall, Sean Carroll, Brian Cox and Jim Al-Khalili.” At the end, Unzicker lists questions that he would like to be asked to particle physicists at press conferences, hearings and discussions. Unzicker's books have been praised as “well-grounded, sound, [and] informed,” and as “vehement pleading for physics as a natural science, in its best tradition,” but also dismissed by particle physicists as an “incoherent rant” and “time-wasting nonsense.” The new book, written in an even more explicit and provocative tone, is likely to upset the high energy physics community. Praise for previous books of the author: The assertion that “science means, after all, not being a sucker” is well worth taking to heart. – Publishersweekly A broad dismissal of modern theoretical physicists…Unzicker also targets the massive expenditures of funds on high-energy particle accelerators. – Kirkus Reviews Unzicker dares to think outside the mainstream. A refreshing and provoking book... – Prof. Hans Volker Klapdor-Kleingrothaus, University of Heidelberg Timely needed revision of contemporary physics´ idiocies. – Prof. Antonio Ruiz de Elvira, University of Alcalá de Henares A passionate and profound search for scientific truth. Unzicker's questions to particle physicists at CERN are justified. PD Peter Thirolf, nuclear physicist at Munich University. A major contribution to physics... Unzicker is pointing out that the emperor is naked... The establishment scientists will curse and moan.

Edwin E Klingman, author, former NASA Research Physicist

Interesting book.

via International Skeptics Forum

Suppose Booth had missed?

The renewed controversy over the Confederate flag reminds me once again that the South never really stopped fighting the Civil War. The Black Codes and Jim Crow laws, the lynchings, the "massive resistance" to civil rights, etc., were basically guerrilla war against America. Question: Suppose Lincoln had lived? Would reconstruction have lasted longer and accomplished more? Would he have been succeeded by someone who was committed to Lincoln's values? Would Confederate leaders have been called to account (ideally hanged for treason, to my mind)? Where would we be today if Lincoln hadn't been murdered by Southern terrorists?

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Dylann Roof, Anders Brievik - Bin Laden, Mohammed Emwazi, Colonial thinking

I can't think that there is any doubt that there is a world of difference behind attempts to try to understand the motivations between these two different groups of terrorists. For the first two, the reports in the media try to make a concerted effort to uncover any mental insanity. In Breivik's case it went as far as his lawyers trying to convince the court, media and world that he was suffering from some variation of schizophrenia, personality disorder, or something else in relation to his mental health. I have already seen in depth investigation in the media and wider online community to understand what must have been broken in Dylann Roof's mind.

By contrast, no attempt was made to understand what must have been broken in the mind of Bin Laden or Emwazi. Seems ridiculous, doesn't it, to suggest that Emwazi committed his beheadings whilst in the midst of a severe psychotic episode, or that Bin Laden plotted the murders of thousands of individuals due to voices in his head. But when it comes to a white male....

Maybe I am wrong, but to me this seems to come down to a very clear case of an inability to escape colonial thinking when it comes to assessing the minds of white westerners and brown and black easterners. White westerners could not have committed this action without being insane.

It gets even worse. The black or brown easterner could not have committed this act without being warped into this thinking by the colonial overlords. They lack the capacity to think for themselves, an inability to become radicalised by ideas that have no connection to the words of people in places such as Washington and Tel Aviv. There has been no end of articles and words written about how Bin Laden and Emwazi would not have committed these actions if the West had not 'driven' them to it. This debate about how the actions of the west have 'driven' the perceived downtrodden to evil has been a continuous debate in our generation.

However, point out to me the articles and words written about how Roof and Brievik would not have committed these actions had it not been for threat to the Confederate Flag, the proposed introduction of a Muslim majority country (Turkey) into the EU, the rise of ISIS. Anyone? Anywhere? There is none. It sounds ridiculous, it is ridiculous. But it doesn't seem that way when applied to Bin Laden and Emwazi.

It seems to me nothing less than old fashioned colonial attitudes (and dare I say, racist attitudes) that further serve to drive a division between East and West. It worries me that this is not seen, when it is demonstrated so vividly when we compare the contrasting attitudes to these four people.

via International Skeptics Forum

Chuck Norris is right?

Lately he has been quiet on his more extreme moments...
For example:
Instead of jumping on the bandwagon about Jade Helm, he suggested it might be practice against an Isis plan. Thoughts?

via International Skeptics Forum

the 'launch' of the ark

How's the construction of the concrete ark going ?
Corresponding with a friend the subject came up and caused much merriment.
As well as a series of puns.
Thanks for any catchup

via International Skeptics Forum

Spike in microbiologists death rate

Spike in microbiologists death rate.

Seems odd.


Nov 12, 2001—Mar 25, 2002: 13 renowned microbiologists mysteriously die over the span of less than five months. All but one or two are killed or murdered under unusual circumstances. Some are world leaders in developing weapons-grade biological plagues. Others are the best in figuring out how to stop millions from dying because of biological weapons. Still others are experts in the theory of bioterrorism. [Globe and Mail, 5/4/02, NY Times 08/11/02]
Some details in spoiler:
(Link is below spoiler)

Nov 12: Benito Que, 52, an expert in infectious diseases—killed in carjacking, later deemed possible stroke. [Globe and Mail, 5/4/02]

Nov. 16: Don Wiley, 57, one of the world’s leading researchers of deadly viruses—body found in Mississippi River. [CNN, 12/22/01]

Nov 21: Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, 64, an expert in adapting germs and viruses for military use—stroke. [NY Times, 11/23/01]

Dec 10: Dr. Robert Schwartz, 57, a leading researcher on DNA sequencing analysis—slain at home. [Washington Post, 12/12/01]

Dec 14: Nguyen Van Set, 44, his research organization had just come to fame for discovering a virus which can be modified to affect smallpox—dies in an airlock in his lab. [Sydney Morning Herald, 12/12/01]

Jan 2002: Ivan Glebov (bandit attack) and Alexi Brushlinski (killed in Moscow), both world-renowned members of the Russian Academy of Science. [Pravda, 2/9/02]

Feb 9: Victor Korshunov, 56, head of the microbiology sub-faculty at the Russian State Medical University—killed by cranial injury. [Pravda, 2/9/02]

Feb 11: Ian Langford, 40, one of Europe’s leading experts on environmental risk—murdered in home. [Times of London, 2/13/02]

Feb 28 (2): Tanya Holzmayer, 46, helped create drugs that interfere with replication of the virus that causes AIDS, and Guyang Huang, 38, a brilliant scholar highly regarded in genetics—murder/suicide. [San Jose Mercury News, 2/28/02]

Mar 24: David Wynn-Williams, 55, an astrobiologist with NASA Ames Research Center—killed while jogging. [Times of London, 3/27/02]

Mar 25: Steven Mostow, 63, an expert on the threat of bioterrorism—private plane crash. [KUSA TV/NBC, 3/26/02]

For more, page search Dead microbiologist on this page.

Here is another odd bit:

June 1, 2002: Memphis, Tennessee, medical examiner O.C. Smith is attacked with chemical spray, bound with barbed wire, and left lying in a nearby parking lot with a bomb tied to his body. He is rescued several hours later. In recent months, Smith has been working on two interesting cases. One is the death of Harvard University microbiologist Don Wiley, who supposedly fell from a Memphis bridge in December (see November 16, 2001).

He also helped identify the body of Katherine Smith, a state driver’s license examiner who was found burned beyond recognition in February 2002, a day before a hearing on federal charges of helping five Middle Eastern men obtain fake driver’s licenses (see February 10, 2002). Adding to the mystery, Smith had received a series of death threat letters early in 2001. [AP, 6/4/02]

via International Skeptics Forum

A good historical resource on the McLean Vs. Arkansas Trial

I found a website linked to the Wikipdia article on the McLean Vs. Arkansas trial that was trying to ensure that the (surviving) testimony given at that trial was preserved and disseminated.

The link is below:

This exchange during the testimony of Dr Langdon Gilkey (Who later wrote a book on his experiences entitled "Creationism on Trial: Evolution and God at Little Rock") is priceless:


Q: I will ask you if you will please read that.

A: "Creation science does propose the existence of a creator to the same degree that evolution science presupposes the existence of no creator." I would dispute that, but that is neither here nor there.

"As used in the context of creation-science as defined by Section 4 of Act 590, the terms or concepts of `creation' and `creator' are not inherently religious terms or concepts. In this sense, the term `creator' means only some entity with power, intelligence and a sense of design."

"Creation science does not require a creator who has a personality, who has the attributes of love, compassion, justice and so on which are ordinarily attributed to a deity. Indeed, the creation-science model does not require that the creator still be in existence."

Q: Doctor Gilkey, I would like to ask you, as a theologian, are you aware of a concept—As a religious premise, are you aware of the concept of a creator-deity who was not also not loving, compassionate and just?

A: There are a number of them, of course. In many—

Q: If I might, sir, in Christianity particularly.

A: Right. Well, I was going to back up just a moment. That is to say, there are a number of polytheistic faiths which have spoken of a creator deity, who may or may not be the deity who saves.

In a monotheistic faith, of course, this is impossible. Actually, it is interesting to me that this conception of a creator being who is not the god who saves—I would say the creator being is inevitably a deity—but a creator being who is not the god who saves has appeared within Christian history as its first and most dangerous major heresy.

Now, I am hoping that was intended by counsel here, but this was the Marcionic heresy and the Gnostic heresy, which the church with great vehemence reacted against in the first two centuries.
That's right, to defend the 'inerrant' Bible Creationists were willing to dump the Council of Nicea and the Apostles Creed and go straight to good old fashioned heresy, and if I remember Gilkeys book, they had no idea that's what they'd done.

via International Skeptics Forum