Yesterday I had the pleasure of reading Roger Ebert's eviscerating review of Ben Stein's film "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." I hesitate to link people there, because while it does a fantastic job of pointing out the poor logic and deceptive tactics used in the film, it also carries a tone of condescension that is sure to turn off anyone who might have fallen trap to the film's dishonesty. Like most well-written screeds against the ideologies to which logic-minded people take issue, Mr. Ebert's is clearly intended to "preach to the choir," using language aimed at individuals sharing the opinions therein. Everything Mr. Ebert has to say is backed by logic and scientific evidence, but while saying it he sounds like a total asshole.
I think this one-sidedness is one of the many things keeping this ludicrous "debate" alive, ensuring that people on both sides of the issue keep fighting into the coming decades. I airquote "debate" in the previous sentence because the actual issue is extremely simple: Intelligent Design is not science, and thus doesn't belong in science classrooms. See, Science™ is a protocol devised to get to the bottom of things logically and rationally, limited to what can actually be observed and tested. That's it. No magic, no faith; just What You See is What You Get™. If you can't observe it, it can't be covered by science. If a theory cannot be backed up by testing and observation, it can't be called science.
Rather than putting effort into explaining to the layman that science is a protocol designed to attempt the determination of how things work, using ONLY WHAT CAN BE OBSERVED AND TESTED, proponents of science (who are by definition anti-ID -- not because of some hatred for religion, but because an Intelligent Designer CANNOT CURRENTLY BE OBSERVED OR TESTED FOR) feel the need to attack the misguided attempts by ID-proponents to attack the theory of evolution, and even science itself. Back and forth these attacks go, doing nothing but reaffirming what IDers already believe: that evolution is an attack on Christianity.
Unfortunately, I fear this is going to continue for a very long time. While I take issue with how the ID movement portrays science as "anti-religion," I have to admit that many of the outspoken folks trying to cry foul of Intelligent Design's methods, logic, and purpose happen to actually BE anti-religion folks, many of them of rather asshole-ish persuasion themselves. (I'm looking at you, Richard Dawkins.) I find this incredibly disheartening.
As of now, the opposition to the teaching of Intelligent Design in science classrooms is as follows: scientific theories are based upon the notion that observations and evidence overwhelmingly back them up. Intelligent Design theory posits no such testable, observable theories. All their time and energy is spent finding problems with portions of the evolution model, which, while actually pretty useful, is not the same thing as positing a theory of their own. The notion that everything was created by an intelligent force is a nice notion -- one which I happen to believe -- but it is not the same thing as a scientific theory. If you want to do science, then you have to do considerably more than just come up with a nice notion.
ID proponents (and Ben Stein's film) portray themselves as being "shut out" by science, that what they're doing is being ignored on the grounds that it attacks the accepted model, and that science is akin to persecution of religion. This simply isn't true. If the ID folks actually were to do the work involved in creating such a theory, doing the experimentation and observation necessary to back it up and get their work peer reviewed, it WOULD be accepted by science. Unfortunately, the main proponents of Intelligent Design Theory have no interest in doing that; they'd rather just fabricate controversy, pretending that the mean-old scientists just won't let them play because scientists hate Christians.
Sadly, it's far easier to rile up congregations and make them feel persecuted than to actually do the science they purport they're doing. By portraying evolution as anti-religion while claiming persecution at the hands of scientists, they've painted an inaccurate portrait of the "debate." People with no understanding at all of science now feel that their viewpoint ought be represented where it simply doesn't belong. This two-faced approach is nothing short of dishonest, and I personally feel that the level of dishonesty exhibited suggests that it's not just misguided, but also intentional.
I'm not sure What Jesus Would Do™, but I'm pretty darn confident that he wouldn't support lying to and misleading people in order to get them to believe the things he says.
The Bush administration is likely to move its research on one of the
most contagious animal diseases from an isolated island laboratory to
the U.S. mainland near herds of livestock, raising concerns about a
The creature‚Äôs organs were also perfectly preserved, and its heart
could be clearly seen with the help of computer scanning techniques. Some experts hope that the perfect condition in which the body of the
mammoth was found could allow extricate intact DNA from his cells, and,
as a result, clone the animal in future.
The new Geneva collider will re-create the rapidly changing conditions in
the universe a split second after the Big Bang. It will be the closest
that scientists have come to the event that they theorize was the
beginning of the universe. They hope the new equipment will enable them
to study particles and forces yet unobserved.
ARTIFICIAL human sperm could come to the aid of infertile men, according to a team of scientists who have used lab-grown sperm to inseminate female mice. Dr Engel said if sperm could be grown in the lab, it would be possible to take early germ cells from one woman, turn them into sperm cells, and use those to fertilise the egg of another woman.
Cloning long-dead species, recreating the Big Bang, making cattle viruses easier for cattle to catch, creating a man-less utopia -- what could go wrong? I mean, it's not like these scenarios haven't all been done TO HORRIBLE EFFECT in movies, right?
Had a mini road-trip today, during which I invented a new type of turn signal. Rather than indicating to other vehicles on the highway that I intend to change lanes, this new signal will indicate to them that they should do so. This is most useful when people are attempting to merge onto the highway, and would solve a constant frustration of mine. Seriously, people can't merge on their own, and I feel that an additional signal would go a long ways towards solving this problem. (Initially my idea was for the indicator to CAUSE the other person's car to change lanes, but I'm not sure that even I would be able to use that only for good -- let alone all the idiots that can't merge on their own in the first place.
I'm not even going to charge money to license this technology; I feel the good this will do for mankind far outweighs the potential profits from it. You're welcome, world.
In other news, we're off to an 'adults-only' member night at our local Museum of Science and Industry. A quick peek at the website has taught me that it's not quite the evening I had imagined when D sold me on the idea a few months ago; rather it's just an evening where no one under 21 is admitted so the adults can enjoy fancy appetizers and 'sciency' cocktails. My imagined version was much better, but the real one sounds like it might be fun too. What's better than Chinese dinosaur bones? Slightly tipsy rich people to appreciate my sophisticated 'bones' humor all evening.
This got me thinking, though. If it's possible to convert the CO2 emissions from industrial plants into baking soda, what's to stop the same process from converting the exhaust from the millions of vehicles on America's roads as well?
Remember when I suggested that we should be paving our roads white instead of black, so as to reflect more of the suns rays back out of the atmosphere? Well, having every car on the road leaving a fine dusting of white baking soda everywhere it goes seems like a pretty simple solution for the short term. This does cause a few problems, however: 1) the frequent overturned-vinegar-tanker incidents we have will suddenly be a lot more catastrophic, and 2) the amassing white powder might reflect TOO MUCH of the suns rays, putting us into a permanent winter. Hopefully these two problems will simply cancel each other out; when too much baking powder piles up, it will increase the frequency of vinegar tanker crashes, turning the baking powder back into CO2 where it can enter the atmosphere and encourage global warming. It's win/win, really.
"I was the biggest skeptic in the world," Dr. Rubin said."ďAnd I sit here and say, 'This canít possibly be happening.' I feel like the credibility of my scientific career is sitting on a razor's edge between 'Wow, this is really cool,' and 'These people are nuts.'"
Other scientists are understandably hesitant to buy into this, citing that "correlation does not equal causation." Just because the fat levels are decreasing while the bones get denser doesn't necessarily mean that the fat is turning INTO bone. I think further study will probably bear out that there is some other cause for the fat decrease -- like maybe the fact that the mice are forced to stand rather than lie down, thus expending more energy, or maybe that the vibrations excite them sexually and thus increase the metabolism -- but the bone density findings are pretty cool. Imagine osteoporosis sufferers simply standing on a vibrating plate to strengthen their bones a few times a week, no longer worrying about going ballroom dancing or tying eachother up in the backroom of the bingo parlor.
If the findings are proven conclusive, however, it will be finally possible to say with utmost truthfulness that you're not fat -- just big-boned.
I was thinking about global warming the other day, when I came up with what I believe to be an easy (but expensive) solution to our problems.
First, some background:
It is believed that ice ages are more likely to start as a result of cool summers than overly-cold winters. The theory being that snow falls in winter, then melts in summer/spring. If summer and spring are both cooler than normal, then the snow takes longer to melt, meaning more of the sun's rays are reflected off of it rather than helping to warm the ground. This results in continued cooler temperatures, which in turn encourages more snow fall. This sort of thing can snowball rather quickly resulting in year-round snow, meaning you'll have to bundle up.
If you take a peek at satellite photos of inhabited areas, you'll quickly notice that a very large percentage of the land-mass is covered by black heat-absorbing asphalt. I'm not going to claim that rampant asphalt use is responsible for our climate warming, but it certainly isn't helping. I was thinking that if we were to paint all the asphalt white it would reflect more sunlight away from the earth, thus lowering temperatures and fixing global warming once and for all. The only problem with this, though, is that if the 'snowball' theory actually works, this could result in another ice age pretty quickly.
So, my refined solution is to pave all our roads not with inexpensive asphalt, but with some sort of heat-responsive color change substance, meaning that while it is warm, the color will lighten, and when it's cold the color will darken. Perhaps something like this hyper-color shower tile?
For the last several years, Mt. St. Helens has been increasingly more active; steam frequently vents in a somewhat dramatic fashion and magma can be seen at night via one of the online webcams. Experts have used their expertise to expertly report that one of two things will happen: a) nothing at all, or b) a really big explosion. It seems as if a is a pretty safe scenario, but b could cause all sorts of problems.
The eruption in '80 caused massive destruction in the immediate areas around the volcano, incited chaos and confusion on roadways for hundreds of miles around, and caused a disruption of the quality programming our viewers expected to see on television by live news coverage. We are still feeling the health effects of that much ash in the environment, which is slightly less of a concern than being sick to death of seeing every little steam burp on the nightly news.
Remedying this situation has taken up the forefront of my mind for nearly a year now; with the help of a few people in the local Cacophony Society, I think I've finally come up with a solution to the problem.
Know how the bomb squad uses controlled explosions to prevent much larger accidental ones? My plan is based on that principle, but the execution is much simpler. We will use a scientific process to 'diffuse' the eruption capability of Mt. St. Helens using household chemicals.
First off, we simply need to fill 10% of the volcano's caldera with ordinary baking soda. That's a roughly 1 square mile area that we'd need to cover to a depth of 400 feet or so. Multiplying that out gives us 1.338 trillion cups baking soda, a requirement which shouldn't pose too much of a problem.
Let's move ahead shall we? The next ingredient we need is roughly 81.2 billion gallons of vinegar, which we'll store in nearby Spirit Lake until time to cause our eruption.
Our last ingredient isn't really necessary, but will add a nice flourish: 8 billion 1oz. bottles of red food coloring. These should be added to the vinegar in Spirit Lake. Stir.
Once we are ready to activate the volcano, all we need to do is to pump the colored vinegar from Spirit Lake up into the caldera. Because of the time required to pump that much vinegar, the reaction will start out relatively slowly, only building in power as more vinegar is added. The escaping gas will demolish the lava dome a little at a time, allowing all the pressure to slowly escape -- thus diffusing the explosive power. Once the reaction is complete, there will be a gaping maw where once a lava dome resided. Mt. St. Helens will never interrupt our regularly scheduled broadcast again, and the Pacific Northwest will finally see Hawaiian-style red 'lava' flowing down the sides of our volcano.
My plan is to coincide the end of the diffusing process with the last day of my nephew's Science Fair, where he'll win the largest First Place ribbon ever recorded.
Congo's "hippies of the forest" apes dying out fast. Ok, seems like the animal experimentation portion of the quest for hippie obliteration is progressing nicely. Let's go ahead and move into human trials so we can eliminate this terrible blight from our population as well.
"The female voice is actually more complex than the male voice, due to differences in the size and shape of the vocal cords and larynx between men and women, and also due to women having greater natural 'melody' in their voices. This causes a more complex range of sound frequencies than in a male voice."
"He was in the club with some friends watching the shows when she came up and asked if he wanted a lap dance," Hassen said. "He said no, she got upset about it, they argued back and forth. She pulled knife out of her bag and stabbed him."
After hearing so much about Terri Schiavo for weeks and weeks, I decided to not read/listen/watch any more coverage of her and not give her any more thought. That was a good 3 months ago and I haven't thought of her once. Until today that is -- I found an article that speaks of some potential hope for improvement in her condition!
Donald Herbert broke 10 years of virtual silence on Saturday and announced that he wanted to speak to his wife, his family and doctors were astonished and bewildered.
"He has classic signs of hypoxic damage," said Dr. Alan C. Carver, an assistant professor of neurology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "It's not hard to understand what happened to his brain in 1995. What is remarkable is to think that after 10 years of being like this the brain should show evidence of regeneration, because when cells don't get oxygen for a prolonged period of time they die."
Little is known about people like Mr. Herbert, who enter a state of subdued awareness and then abruptly awaken a decade or more later. But Dr. Fins of NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell said their stories are strikingly similar, and suggest that recovery from years of minimal consciousness follows a steplike progression.
The case with perhaps the most parallels to Mr. Herbert's may be that of Terry Wallis, a mechanic in Arkansas who slipped into a coma and then minimal consciousness at the age of 19 after a car accident. He was largely unresponsive, but could track objects with his eyes and even respond to some commands periodically. His family was told that he was unlikely to ever recover. But in 2003, after more than 18 years of virtual silence, he suddenly perked up and began speaking.
Don't pull that feeding tube yet! Hang on Terri, recovery may be closer than you think!