Thursday, May 28, 2009
Read it on The Observer's site at http://theobserver.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1585499
Here is the text (in case they remove it)
LETTER CONTAINED INACCURACIES: READER
Sir:Michael D. Shoesmith recently wrote a disingenuous letter ("'Extraordinary' claims need a closer look," The Observer, May 22, 2009) promoting a creationist agenda, ignorance over knowledge and clearly demonstration he doesn't understand science. I will attempt to highlight his inaccuracies.
His use of language, "Atheistic evolutionist community," is just a standard creationist attempt to discredit a scientific field. It is disingenuous to label scientist like this. It is like saying atheistic physicists. Scientists are believers, non-believers and fence-sitters. Science is based in the natural world and not the supernatural.
Maybe God put these laws in effect. The reason scientists disregard "Intelligent Design" and accept evolution is the same reason they don't accept "Intelligent Falling" instead of gravity. Right now no one knows if something created or controls these laws. We only know laws exist.
Creationism is a supernatural explanation that has no place in science because it isn't verifiable. The saying "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" is why science disregards creationism. There's enough lack of evidence to ignore creationism. Also, most times creationism tries to avoid the scientific process and go lose in court (Kitzmiller trial).
He says evolutionists "have claimed to be in possession of enough transitional fossils to close the books on the debate between evolutionism and creationism." It's not just fossils metaphorically closing the books, it's the mountain of evidence of DNA, comparative anatomy, geographical, speciation and interspecies fertility. These demonstrate the evolution theory's strength. No theory can explain everything and details will continue to be flushed out with more theories. A theory is one of the highest spots an explanation of facts can achieve within science.
I understand his caution towards new evidence. He writes about the hoax fossil Piltdown Man. Ida could turn out to be a hoax as well, but wouldn't help discredit evolution. Science is an infinitely giant puzzle. You can use wrong pieces but the image continually becoming clearer. Every piece could still move. This is what makes science "self correcting."
Michael and many creationists imply there are conspiracies amongst the scientific community in protecting the theories to keep funding. Science isn't dogma, it changes. He demonstrates misunderstanding by thinking scientists wouldn't want to disprove a major theory. Disproving a major theory like evolution would involve making an improved theory, relatively making them the next Einstein. What scientist wouldn't want that legacy?
He says scientists try to teach children that we are nothing more than animals. It's because it's true. If he's against teaching the truth, what he's really against is science. Promoting creationism is saying you prefer the supernatural instead of natural answers.
He asks why it is "such a big deal?" The better question is why are discoveries and theories behind them not as exciting to him as they are to myself and many others? Science is the one thing universally accepted as knowledge, so far as we can know. He's missing out on the wonderful discoveries and theories that profoundly connect us to the animals, life, the earth, the Milky Way and even the cosmos.
-- Bryan Haasen Bright's Grove
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I realized that it'd be time consuming - compiling the list of businesses and entering the data about what they claim to do as well as getting valid contact information for the business. The idea was good, but the data collection process would be a substantial burden for a single person.
It would be nice if you could get people to volunteer to submit their own information about their own woo-woo establishment and even have them maintain the data but that is a bit unrealistic - who would volunteer to be giggled at?
Well, someone has successfully started such a site and with some mild success (it is sure to grow). The part that I didn't think about was where she pretends to be a legitimate site supporting pseudoscience and tricks (hey, they started it!) woo-wooists to send in their information.
People in Sarnia, thanks to one enterprising woman (why is it that most of the people listed in the directory are women, by the way??), now have a place to go to see if they are being fleeced. Simply search the directory for a type of service you are interested in and, odds are, if it is listed, it's woo-woo.
Though I don't like to promote whack-jobs and woo-woo pushers, this site is far from that - it is disguised as a valid "holistic services" directory but it is really just a method of getting woo-woo artists to self identify! Check it out for yourself - http://www.holisticbusinessnetwork.com. Congratulations Lin Oliver - you are an inspiration to all skeptics. (What? Lin is a Reiki Master/Teacher? Oh well, I guess WE'll just have to use the site for identifying woo-woo practitioners while others use it to find their favourite fleecer.)
Note: If you didn't click on the Reiki link, you'll miss a funny story about a major woo-woo group slamming another woo-woo method. Enjoy!
Monday, May 25, 2009
WARNING: Rational thinking people will end up with a headache from reading the contents of Michael's letter. Please stay away from walls and other hard/firm objects - you will want to bang your head against something. You have been warned.
The title of this blog is "Ummmm.. WOW" because there is hardly anything that can be said to counter such inanity. Here it is:
Evolution a myth, says reader
Sir:Feb. 12 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of the incarnation of the perpetrator of the greatest intellectual meltdown ever, none other than Charles Darwin. Not only was it an assault on intelligence and reason, but also a full frontal attack on the known laws of physics which govern the universe foundationally. By taking a proverbial sledgehammer to the foundation pillars, Darwin set in motion the shockwaves that led to the holocaust, abortion, and the list goes on and on. Teaching kids the theory of evolution is the single greatest act of child abuse ever thrust upon humanity.
Those who celebrated the event in festive form identified themselves with barbarians -- human beings reaching down to identify with animals instead of reaching up to identify with God. They are religious in the most negative sense of the word possible. They swallowed a lie and called it truth. They believed a myth because it tickled their ears.
It is utterly amazing to me that anyone, in today's age of scientific enlightenment, would continue to hold the false evolution dogma as truth in the face of overwhelming evidence against it. I've written books about this and I've debated scientists from around the world and the only solid psychological conclusion to be reached is a flat out denial of the facts to support such barbaric ideology which can only be the result of mental illness. May God help us to find a cure.
-- Michael D. Shoesmith Sarnia
I've met some pretty deluded people in my life but none come close to Michael Shoesmith. He is a "hazardous chemicals expert" and he has written two books (popular ones, his profile has been viewed 6 times - well, 7 now!) but I think that's about the extent of the facts presented in his posting.
The Theory of Evolution does not violate laws of physics (that's an old one from creationists that has been dealt with more times than the bible has been edited - okay, maybe not that many times but many many many people have explained, clearly and concisely, to creationists that they have no idea what they're talking about) and evolution is not a lie or a myth - it is a fact.
Natural selection did not lead to the holocaust (Hitler was a Catholic and was 'doing god's work' - he even wrote a book and, though creationists will claim that Hitler idolized Darwin, he failed to mention Darwin). Abortion is often caused by failed (abstinence only) sexual education (or as a result of priests raping young girls - see Your Donations at Work). The real list that "goes on and on" of things that the Darwin's theory has truly helped includes vaccines, modern medicine, food sciences (solving world hunger), etc.
I'm glad he brought up child abuse - it's one of my favourite topics! Teaching people the truth may not be comforting and sometimes it may be frightening but compare learning that we're all related (all species, every living thing on the planet is related) with the threat of hellfire and I think evolution comes out on the lower end of the severity scale. Child abuse is: LYING to children; the threat of eternal damnation; and, discouraging critical thinking - none of which is science or evolutionary theory. (And I didn't even mention child sexual abuse scandals! Whoops, now I did.)
For the record, I celebrated the anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth and proudly identified myself with barbarians (in the sense that I know we're related to animals). How that is classified as religion is beyond me - but so is pretty much every absurd statement in Michael's letter.
'EXTRAORDINARY' CLAIMS NEED A CLOSER LOOK
Sir:Everyone's talking about Ida, that cute little lemur skeleton. However, there are primatologists who think people may have jumped the proverbial gun. It may only be a lemur skeleton.
I received the actual peer review article which published the scientific data collected by the scientists over the course of two years. The media storm surrounding this was enormous. Headlines from media sources all over the globe proclaimed "Missing link found," "Scientists find missing link" and so on. From the Guardian in the U. K. to Yahoo News to local radio stations, it was the echo heard around the world: "The missing link has been found."
There are, as you might have guessed, a few "problems." First of all, there is nothing new or spectacular about any of this. The claim has been made that this picture (of Ida) will be in school textbooks for the next 100 years, but has everyone forgotten Piltdown Man? Discovered in 1912 in a village near Uckfield, East Sussex, England, the scull fragments were thought by many "experts" to be the fossilized remains of early man and likewise trumpeted as the "Missing Link." The hoax was published and appeared in school textbooks for over 40 years before it was discovered in 1953 to be a forgery. It turned out to be the lower jawbone of an orangutan that had been deliberately combined with the scull of a fully developed modern human.
There is an even greater embarrassment in store for the atheistic evolutionist community with all of this. For many years now, they have claimed to be in possession of enough transitional fossils to close the books on the debate between evolutionism and creationism. Why in the world is it such a big deal all of a sudden that a missing link has been found when they've supposedly had all the evidence they would ever need to call creationists radical fundies and lift themselves up as the lone scientific authority?
Allow me to enlighten you about the motives. The evolutionist community gets most, if not all, of the scientific funding right now. Piltdown Man was an attempt to keep the money flowing. The imaginary fossil record they have is also a designed illusion to keep the grants coming. So, too, was Archeoraptor. And the list goes on and on. The hype is designed to keep the self-proclaimed animals out of the unemployment line.
This is big business, folks. The person who had the Ida fossil was asking $1 million for it. Richard Dawkins has made millions selling books which teach your children that they are nothing more than animals.
People really do need to learn how to read between the lines with these extraordinary claims. This one is going to be examined by some highly intelligent individuals who aren't swayed by money or fame. They simply want the truth and it could very well turn out to be another Piltdown Man or at very best just a really old lemur.
-- Michael D. Shoesmith Sarnia
I don't (shocking!) disagree completely with what Michael Shoesmith has to say - Ida was (overly) excessively promoted. It may not have helpful to science but, for the most part, it is another nail in the coffin of creationism.
However, Ida is millions of years old - that is not disputed in the science community. That, alone, demolishes a 6000 year-old view of earth. Ida isn't the only "missing link found" - Neil Shubin's book "Your Inner Fish" is another that should fit into the "missing link" category.
Most importantly, fossil evidence is far from the most impressive evidence available to support the theory of evolution.
There is biogeography which, to many, is the most awe-inspiring area - it enables us to PREDICT where we will find specific fossils (not only what place on earth but in what types of rocks and in what age of rocks). It is amazing because it has been 100% accurate - we have never found a fossil rabbit in the Precambrian period rocks (that would disprove the theory of evolution).
Genetics has provided substantial (possibly insurmountable) evidence in support of evolution and, the understanding of evolution, has provided countless life-saving medications and treatments.
If you want to learn more about evolution and why it is true (yes, true), check out Jerry Coyne's book, "Why Evolution is True".
Back to Michael's letter to the editor, simply because someone has produced something as false in the past, doesn't mean that everything, moving forward, is automatically (or even highly likely to be) false. The evidence (real evidence) is described, accurately, in current evolutionary models. Science doesn't need to present false evidence to support the theory. As I mentioned earlier, the theory of evolution could be disproven by finding something like a fossil rabbit in the Precambrian rocks.
I don't quite understand what Michael is referring to when he says that the "evolutionist community gets most, if not all, of the scientific funding right now". If he is suggesting that scientists who agree that the theory of evolution is likely true get more money than those scientists who are creationists, he is right and that is right. Where else should/could the scientific funding go? After all, creationism/intelligent design ISN'T science!
Mr. Shoesmith later goes on to suggest that science is all about the money and in many ways, it has to be. Public funding is always (or should be) seen as an investment - we invest in mental health to save future costs, we invest in technology to make our lives better, we invest in basic scientific research to advance our knowledge. It is from that knowledge that a great number of applied research projects are then funded - to find applications for discoveries or find solutions to widespread problems (disease, accidents, limitations, etc.). It is an amazing bang for our buck, however.
Compare that to churches/religion and the payback to humanity is measurable and worthwhile. (What do we get for all the money that gets donated to churches? Extravagant buildings, beautiful parking lots and a shitload (that's a scientific term) of misinformation/lies/oppression/abuse.)
It is funny to see Richard Dawkins' name thrown in even though he had NOTHING to do with "Ida" and the press surrounding it. Richard Dawkins is wealthy - he has written some extremely successful science popularizing books as well as his latest (though this position will soon be taken up by his upcoming book - The Greatest Show on Earth) book, The God Delusion. His wealth, however, has little to do with public funding of science - he wrote books (good ones!) that were of interest to a great number of people. Richard Dawkins has made contributions to evolutionary science and he is and will be considered one of the greatest intellectuals of our time. He deserves all the success he has achieved - and he hasn't had to lie to people to get it!
Oh... and Ida is related to us and we are all animals. I'm proud of those two facts!
(Note: J.B.S. Haldane wrote about the rabbit fossil in the Precambrian rocks disproving evolution. I wish I could take credit for the catchy phrase.)
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
What we must first consider, however, is the definition of "help" and I'm not sure that it was appropriately used in this situation. You see, "psychics" either have paranormal abilities or they don't. You can't "help" by providing inaccurate information (1-in-20 hits on vague information is less helpful than randomly creating "tips" using a common occurences written on torn-up pieces of paper that you pull out of a hat).
Just to update you on what has since transpired. Two people have been arrested in connection to the abduction and murder of Victoria "Tori" Stafford. A press conference is about to be held regarding the arrests. Since Robbie Thomas "helped" in this investigation, one of a limited number of things is now going to happen - and they are:
- Robbie Thomas will be standing at the press conference with the police and they will be crediting him with solving the crime (this is the most likely scenario given the claimed abilities of "psychics")
- Robbie Thomas will not be at the press conference but come forward with a list of things that he supplied to the police that, so happened, to match the evidence (but no police will confirm the story)
- Robbie Thomas will come up with some story regarding why he was completely wrong (psychics are great story tellers)
- Robbie Thomas will stay silent regarding the evidence (who wants to admit to being no help or that they don't have the powers they once claimed/still claim?)
To deal with issues relating to #2 (as they often occur in cases where "psychics" "help"), I am suggesting that Robbie Thomas, select new (unsolved) crimes and send ME (email@example.com) the same information that he submits to the police at the time he submits it to the police and, after crimes the are solved (which they surely will given his participation), we will calculate the success rate.
Robbie Thomas could prove his abilities but the flip side, for Robbie, is that the truth could be revealed.
Robbie Thomas - you don't have psychic abilities and James Randi has a million bucks that says you don't. Stop wasting the time of our police forces, stop taking money from trusting people and stop misleading the public.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The story, itself, has taken a number of weird turns and there are accusations abound. However, a story that appears in today's (May 19th) London Free Press talks about Rodney "searching for himself" and what has happened in his life leading up to the abduction. The story claims that his search has come to THE logical conclusion.
Rodney apparently finds "god" - though he's "not a huge bible thumper or huge believer in higher powers", he knows something saved him the day he rolled his car into a ditch.
He returns to the scene of the accident to see what he can salvage and everything is covered in mud except, miraculously I'm sure, two bibles (Apparently god's word can't be dirtied any worse than it is - and I'd have to agree with that).
Near the end of the article, it states "Stafford wonders aloud why, with all the prayers and vigils, that higher power that saved his life isn't bringing his daughter home."
STOP WONDERING, Rodney, your "higher power" is incompetent (or doesn't exist - I'd pick option #2). Don't you ever wonder why "he" let you crash in the first place? Or why it is that god hates other people who die in car accidents? (I know, I know, it's because of gay marriage that god randomly punishes other (non gay) people - it makes complete sense.) Your "higher power" was awfully nice to let your daughter be abducted - if I were you, I'd call "him" my best friend.
As I've said before, in a previous posting, "Pray, it's the least you can do!"
I'm not one for providing coverage of such an event but I think it is important that skeptics consider this a "call to arms" - we need to develop an approach to this event (and others like it) to counter what these people pass off.
If you have ideas, I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. We could possibly set-up a booth at the event and sell skepticism - offer books from Prometheus Books, possibly get some videos together from the likes of James Randi, Penn & Teller and maybe even snag Ben Radford to join us at the event (Ben, you had to know I was going to suggest it!).
I had been praying 5 times a day, facing towards Sam Harris' house, that he'd send me an email telling me that he'd finally launched the Reason Project. My prayers have been answered and my knees will now get a chance to heal.
I could try to explain what the reason project is but, instead, I'll just copy it from their "about" page.
The Reason Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society. Drawing on the talents of the most prominent and creative thinkers across a wide range of disciplines, The Reason Project seeks to encourage critical thinking and wise public policy through a variety of interrelated projects. The foundation will convene conferences, produce films, sponsor scientific studies and opinion polls, publish original research, award grants to other charitable organizations, and offer material support to religious dissidents and public intellectuals — all with the purpose of eroding the influence of dogmatism, superstition, and bigotry in our world.
If that isn't cool enough, their advisory board includes: Clifford S. Asness, Peter Atkins, Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, Brent Forrester, Rebecca Goldstein, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Christopher Hitchens, Lawrence Krauss, Harold Kroto, Bill Maher, Ian McEwan, Steven Pinker, Salman Rushdie, Ryan Scott, Lee M. Silver, J. Craig Venter, Ibn Warraq, and Steven Weinberg.
Visit the Reason Project online at www.reasonproject.org.
Friday, May 15, 2009
I don't believe it takes any sort of scholarship to realize the bible isn't true so I'm not sure this deserves to be a headline on CNN. However, there are many people who actually believe that the bible is true, that Jesus (who probably didn't exist) was actually resurrected and other unbelievable (literally) things - and many of these people would, otherwise, be considered intelligent people.
Bart Ehrman (the non-anti-christ), is a former fundamentalist who (seriously) went to Princeton Theological Seminary to become a college bible professor. There, having actually read the bible, he realized that it probably wasn't as true as he first thought it was (shocking!).
He has recently released a book about the bible being, for the most part, a forgery and THIS IS NEWS? (Former fundamentalist 'debunks' bible)
It'll be a long time before a book is written that says "the bible is true and here is the evidence for it" - well, at least before we see one that is full of something other than lies or blank pages!
I know that my wife thinks I should be a bit more respectful to believers but that hasn't worked and isn't working. We need to call a lie a lie and we need to STOP giving religion such undeserved respect.
God almost certainly does not exist and your religion is no more "true" than any other myth (that was once considered a "true" religion - which includes pretty much all of them).
Our morals don't come from the bible, you don't need religion to be good and the world isn't a better place because of religion. Religion is oppressive, it is harmful and it is MAN made.
And for religious people who are raising young kids, stop lying to/abusing them!
On that note, have a great freethinking weekend!
Monday, May 11, 2009
I know that for some time I've been questioning the historicity of Jesus Christ and up until recently I have found little (okay, none, other than the bible) evidence to support the existence of such an historical figure.
However, having recently read a book written by a trusted skeptic, I have to admit something.
If Jesus didn't really exist, would we be able to find parts of the cross that he was hung on?
If Jesus didn't really exist, would we find his foreskin?
Well, the evidence is in - if it is completely absurd to deny the existence of Jesus if you find his foreskin, then it must be 16 times as absurd to deny the existence of Jesus if we are able to locate 16 of his foreskins! Really, most men only have one foreskin removed, it'd take a god-man to be able to give up 16!
And the cross? They've found enough splinters from the actual cross that Jesus was hung on, as they say, to build a few log cabins! What does that tell you? There is not a non-god man in this world that could carry a cross that weighs as much as a few log cabins - it must have been Jesus/god's cross.
Add to all this, a few shrouds (including the shroud at Turin) and there is no denying the historicty of Jesus Christ.
(Note: Don't go claiming that the shroud at Turin isn't real, I saw Religulous and one of the people interviewed even stated that the shroud was in the shape of a man but only consisted of female DNA - something you'd expect since Jesus was born of a virgin! Oh - they even found jars of the Virgin Mary's milk - you can't make this stuff up!)
In case you want to know more, I encourage you to get your hands on the book by James Randi, entitled "Faith Healers" (you know it's more proof of god and Jesus' existence because faith healers must exist or there wouldn't be a book written about them). (Visit http://www.sarniabookkeeper.com/ to get a copy!) If you're not in Sarnia, it's available on Amazon.com too.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
In the post I linked to above, one of the comments is from a member of another church - a church that happens to be helping fund the start-up of Nathan's church. The comment, by Mark McLaughlin, basically says shut up or we'll shut you down:
"Yea Nathan, nicely done.With a chip on your shoulder and lack of discernment you managed to rip the “the Christian Church of Sarnia” using a secular media outlet for all the unbelievers of Sarnia to witness and laugh at. Great job!Here is a suggestion. Instead of judging every other Christian in Sarnia with your narrow agenda (which apparently nobody else gets), maybe just focus on your tiny niche in the downtown core struggling with poverty and not sabotage everyone else’s efforts to reach the rest of non-believing Sarnia. I hope the pastor of The Story, Joe, will have the wisdom to sit you down and either tell you to find yourself in quiet or cut you loose. I’m a member of the church that has supported Joe Manafo’s church plant and is making your mortgage happen at the Story, and we are also one of the churches in your letter that all we do, as you so foolishly put it, “is plan church services, collect money in buckets (while conveniently receiving a tax receipt) for our building fund and missionaries abroad, and invigorate other Christians to do it all again next Sunday.” For your sake, I hope this keeps happening each week or The Story might not have such a happy ending. Anyone that loves Jesus does not wish that, including myself.And finally, that’s great that you cleared up Kelly’s confusion (03/31/09 @ 19:34 )on your rant by emailing her, way to go. As for the remaining cynics and unbelievers that were confused over your garbage, please leave it to “The Christian Church of Sarnia” to clean up the rest of your mess. Mark McLaughlin. "
It is that very "don't ask questions, keep in line" approach that makes the church (religion) so horrible and dangerous. It is probably the same approach that I am sure thousands of priests took advantage of when fondling, raping and sodomizing children. I'm not saying all reglion is bad, but setting such expectations of its followers is.
Question everything - if something isn't right, you have the power to make a difference. Don't accept things simply because that's what you've been told or that's how it has always been.
Mark McLaughlin, if you demand respect, expect to justify your position - you have no right to oppress the feelings, beliefs and speech of others. I would fight to support your right to free speech but, with freedom of speech doesn't come protection of your feelings.
Nathan - there are thousands (millions?) of people who have the same questions as you - don't let someone so closed-minded stop you from trying to make a difference.
Friday, May 8, 2009
London Diocese settles with sexual abuse victim
Imagine what $2,000,000 could do to support the sick and the homeless. Instead it goes to paying for your holy leaders' CRIMES.
It's probably good to know, for Pro-Lifers and the Christian Right, that at least one abortion (something you abhor) was the result of the rapes committed by this priest. Another example of practicing what you preach.
Congratulations on proving that being a Christian makes you so much more moral than the rest of us.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Here is the two-minute back-story to his letter to the editor that I'm referring to.
Local city buses had advertising on them about 9 months being the length of time allowed for person to have an abortion in Canada with the implication that it does happen. Someone complained about the ad, the city took the ad off the buses and now "Pro-Lifers" (as if the other side is Pro-Death) are out in full force.
"The truth of the matter is that there are no abortions performed in Canada after 24 weeks of gestation. I would challenge you to find a hospital or clinic that is performing this procedure after 24 weeks, but it would be a fruitless effort though as it does not happen." (Shayna Hodgson, a director with the Morgentaler Clinics of Canada)
Even after the facts have been presented, Rev. Russell Murray sends a letter to the editor implying that we do, in fact, abort "unborn children up to 9 months".
Read it yourself - I don't care what you believe regarding abortions, we need to hold advertising to higher standards of truthfulness. The ad on our local buses almost encouraged people to consider a pregnancy knowing that they could simply abort it at any time. Is that the message to be portrayed?
Russell Murray, get your head out of your ass and consider letting facts interfere with your inane babble.