News Bits

by Luke Muehlhauser on September 3, 2010 in News

Philosophy TV. Yes.

Back a bit, Daniel Florien did a great little interview with one of his favorite Christian bloggers, the former editor of Contemporary Christian Music Magazine, Matthew Paul Turner.

I updated the atheism blog rankings.

Stuff Fundies Like.

An excellent article on the Templeton Foundation.

Watch one of Barbara Walter’s superstitions die before your very eyes, at the hands of James Randi. Losing faith, even on so insignificant a thing as bent metal, can be painful.

Nice. Brian Dunning (Skeptoid.com) takes down the Myers-Briggs Personality Test.

7 Frustrating Creationist Policies in Public Schools.

Free access to Sage Journals through October 15th! None of the major philosophy journals are published by Sage, unfortunately.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill Maher September 3, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Haha. Randi was at Dragon*con today.

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Hermes September 3, 2010 at 7:10 pm

So, are we trusting The Huffington Post or being selectively skeptical?

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Scott September 3, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Aww…I liked Myers-Briggs…INTJ, baby…

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mojo.rhythm September 3, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Luke are you still mapping the Kalam? I haven’t seen an article in a while.

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lukeprog September 3, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Yeah, I’m still mapping the kalam. Just veeeeeeeery slowly.

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Zeb September 4, 2010 at 4:09 am

Is anyone else having a problem with the comments rss? Bloglines says “The server hosting the feed returned a Forbidden message.”

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lukeprog September 4, 2010 at 5:21 am

Zeb,

Huh. It works for me, by itself and in Bloglines. Try here.

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Zeb September 4, 2010 at 8:01 am

luke, nope. When I unsubscribe and resubscribe, it gives me 10 comments from September 2, and the little red exclamation point indicator with the “forbidden message” error. I don’t know what it is, but “forbidden message” sounds exciting. Might it be some kind of marching orders from the atheist overlord that you’re not letting us theists see?

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lukeprog September 4, 2010 at 8:29 am

Zeb,

Hmmmm…. that’s not what I’m getting. I’ll look into it.

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cl September 4, 2010 at 8:33 am

On the 7 frustrating creationist policies…

1. This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

While I object to the generic evolution, this is otherwise a sound disclaimer – every single word of it. Still, any good science book should already have such a disclaimer – not in the specific context of evolution, but scientific theories in general.

2. “‘Ms. Comer’s e-mail implies endorsement of the speaker and implies that TEA endorses the speaker’s position on a subject on which the agency must remain neutral.’” In 2008, Comer filed a suit against the TEA which was dismissed, and her appeal filed in 2009 was ruled in the favor of TEA saying that it’s policy of neither advancing nor inhibiting a certain agenda does not violate the First Amendment.

This one is more difficult to pass judgment on, as the key issue is one of intent. Since I’m not in Comer’s head, I have no idea what she intended. However, if intent can be proven by using the same standards a court of law normally uses, then, as much as I hate to see somebody lose a job, we have to apply the law fairly.

3. In 2004, the Georgia Department of Education, at the hands of Superintendent Kathy Cox, decided to remove any and all mentions of evolution and any related ideas from both its middle and high school science materials.

If that’s true as stated, it’s fascism – plain and simple.

4. After the board’s approval, opponents fired back that the county’s curriculum is “required ‘to investigate and develop processes that encompass a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning’ of the theory of evolution, ‘along with all other topics that raise differences of thought and opinion.’”

Wasn’t that one a victory for the anti-ID crowd? How does that constitute a “frustrating creationist policy?”

Not much to say on 5.

6. In a huge “F you, Supreme Court” move, the Dover school board ruled to totally ignore any previous laws and decided that its high school biology students would “‘be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin’s Theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, Intelligent Design.’”

This one’s tricky. On the one hand, it’s fair to say that taxpayer-funded institutions should comply with Supreme Court law. On the other hand, problems with any theory ought to be discussed.

7. Selman, the man responsible for bringing the suit to court argued that “‘It [Georgia's decision] singles out evolution from all the scientific theories out there. Why single out evolution? It has to be coming from a religious basis, and that violates the separation of church and state.’”

Refer to 1 above. A good science book should explain that all scientific theories are provisional. If we have a good science textbook, such stickers are unnecessary. However, instances of the sticker do not violate separation of church and state because they supply no positive endorsement for any sort of religion whatsoever.

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Justfinethanks September 4, 2010 at 11:46 am

cl

While I object to the generic evolution, this is otherwise a sound disclaimer – every single word of it

No, it’s not. It plays into the common misconception that… well, Gould had the last word on the “theory vs. fact” stuff in 1981, so I’ll just let him explain it.

“Evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world’s data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein’s theory of gravitation replaced Newton’s, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin’s proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered.”
- Stephen J Gould, “Evolution as Theory and Fact”

However, instances of the sticker do not violate separation of church and state because they supply no positive endorsement for any sort of religion whatsoever.

Yes, that’s how creationists are selling the teaching of creationism now. “Oh no” they say “We don’t want teachers to teach intelligent design. We want teachers to have the academic freedom to present the arguments for and against Darwin’s theory.”

And what exactly are these arguments against Darwinian evolution? In a not so surprising coincidence, they are identical to the arguments that creationist present in favor of intelligent design in biology.

It all sounds fair and perfectly harmless, but the intent is obviously to sneak creationism past the establishment clause. And as you point out elsewhere in your post, “intent” matters in the law.

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Hermes September 4, 2010 at 12:06 pm

I’m with Cl on this. And Ellery Schempp;

All physics textbooks should include this warning label:

This textbook contains material on Gravity. Universal Gravity is a theory, not a fact, regarding the natural law of attraction. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.”

The Universal Theory of Gravity is often taught in schools as a “fact,” when in fact it is not even a good theory.

First of all, no one has measured gravity for every atom and every star. It is simply a religious belief that it is “universal.” Secondly, school textbooks routinely make false statements. For example, “the moon goes around the earth.” If the theory of gravity were true, it would show that the sun’s gravitational force on the moon is much stronger than the earth’s gravitational force on the moon, so the moon would go around the sun. Anybody can look up at night and see the obvious gaps in gravity theory.

The existence of tides is often taken as a proof of gravity, but this is logically flawed. Because if the moon’s “gravity” were responsible for a bulge underneath it, then how can anyone explain a high tide on the opposite side of the earth at the same time? Anyone can observe that there are 2 — not 1 — high tides every day. It is far more likely that tides were given us by an Intelligent Creator long ago and they have been with us ever since. In any case, two high tides falsifies gravity.

Source: http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/p67.htm

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Hermes September 4, 2010 at 12:07 pm

In additional support of Cl’s honest comments, stork theory.

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Tshepang Lekhonkhobe September 6, 2010 at 6:19 am

@lukeprog: any ideas this fabulous blog fell from #3 to #4?

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lukeprog September 6, 2010 at 7:28 am

Tshepang,

I tell myself it’s because I aim for a narrower audience: more educated, with a longer attention span. :) Yeah, that’s what I tell myself.

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Tshepang Lekhonkhobe September 6, 2010 at 9:56 pm

I’d love to see it sharing the top spot with the excellent Pharyngula :)

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lukeprog September 6, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Tshepang,

Tell your friends. :)

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