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Date: 2006/07/02 14:55:49, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Bob O'H @ July 01 2006,03:38)
Dembski's skating on thin ice.  He's complaining about someone who (a) appears to be less than honest in a book review on Amazon, and (b) dares to say that someone with a PhD in biology is talking rubbish, when they aren't themselves qualified.

Turn your irony-meters off before looking.


I saw that one and I can't decide what I find funnier about it. The insinuation that undergraduates don't participate in research programs, or the idea that Dembski apparently has nothing better to do than complain about book reviewers.

Date: 2006/07/02 15:16:23, Link
Author: mcc
Okay, so I'm confused. Lenny got banned?

Does this have something to do with that Ron Numbers trainwreck thread?

Date: 2006/07/03 17:06:11, Link
Author: mcc
Like Larry Falafelman says, you can still use the theory of evolution while telling yourself that it's not true.

The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. ... To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies—all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

Date: 2006/07/05 18:09:47, Link
Author: mcc
So this one seems bizarre to me even by Dembski standards

   A. How can we be sure we won’t make some discovery in the future that will invalidate the design inference?

   B. How can we be sure we’ve eliminated all possible naturalistic causes, particularly since we have so few details of what happened so long ago when no one was around?

Answer: We can be sure if we are dealing with the right kind of design, a perfect architecture to communicate design! The right kind of design will negate objections raised by questions A and B.

So the solution to the two most crucial flaws in Dembski's explanatory filter is... to change the subject. I see. Now how, exactly, does he hope to wish away the uselessness of an eliminative test by proposing an entirely separate positive test?

Things just get weirder from there, starting with

I must admit at first, A and B seemed impossible for finite humans like us to answer. I mean, after all, would we not have to be All-Knowing to answer such questions?

And then going on where he explains away the "when you apply the explanatory filter, how do you know that you're right when you say no law can generate the output?" by explaining "because no law could generate the output". Uhh...

He then explains that his bald assertion that it is impossible life could evolve is an example of "proof by contradiction".

He never does explain his mysterious "it screams design" test from the beginning, that I noticed. Pity. Or maybe it was meant to be taken literally, i.e. if you hold it up to your ear and you hear it screaming the English word "design", then it was designed?

Date: 2006/07/05 18:14:51, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Bob O'H @ July 05 2006,13:29)
[quote=tacitus,July 05 2006,00:52]...The story of the Bohemian Grove escapade is told by Jon Ronson in his book Them: Adventure with Extremists.  A great book, in which Ronson meets several nutters, and Denis Healey, who's responsible for setting up the secret conspiracy that really rules the world...

That is the guy who wrote "The Men who Stare at Goats", right? I read that one and really liked it, I guess I should read Adventures with Extremists also...

Date: 2006/07/08 12:23:00, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Jim_Wynne @ July 07 2006,14:18)
Wrt the Cordova post at UD which references this bit of luskinism, it appears that Luskin is (probably deliberately) conflating editions (i.e., revisions) of the Miller/Levine text with printings of it.  Books may be reprinted without being revised, thus when Miller said in his Dover testimony that the language that Luskin is whining about was removed in the xth edition, he was apparently telling the truth.

Has anybody yet tried just contacting Miller and asking him if he made a mistake on the stand?

Date: 2006/07/08 12:25:34, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Bob O'H @ July 08 2006,13:46)
Six posts already today, and of such profundity that I can't tell my XX from my YY.  What balls-up are they trying to hide now?


Hm. I'm XY, what does that mean?

Date: 2006/07/08 13:41:45, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Wonderpants @ July 08 2006,18:01)
Quote (mcc @ July 08 2006,17:23)
Has anybody yet tried just contacting Miller and asking him if he made a mistake on the stand?

You're new to UD antics, aren't you?  ;)

Oh, I wasn't asking if the UD crowd had. -_-

Date: 2006/07/12 21:02:06, Link
Author: mcc
Hi. I have a question about Panda's Thumb.

It appears sometimes, seemingly at random, Panda's Thumb will refuse to post a comment, saying something like
"I have enabled a feature that allows your comments to be held for approval the first time you post a comment".
It appears this happens more often when the comment is very long, although it doesn't seem to happen to all long comments-- I've only encountered it once. Some other people who encountered this were able to get the post to go through by splitting it up into two comments, the one time it happened to me this didn't work. Given the extreme rarity and arbitrariness with which this occurs, and the fact that the "held for approval" comments don't actually seem to be ever getting approved by anyone, it kind of sounds like a bug.

My questions are:
1. Is this a known problem?
2. If you get the "held for approval" message, does it mean you're doing something wrong?
3. What would be the correct thing to do when this message is encountered? Post again? Contact a moderator?


Date: 2006/07/14 18:04:22, Link
Author: mcc
I see, thanks

Date: 2006/07/14 18:28:56, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (stevestory @ July 14 2006,21:58)
IS it an ID paper, Dembski? Why don't you tell us whether or not it is. Coward.

Maybe he doesn't understand the vocabulary. Like, maybe it's actually an honest question and he isn't sure one way or the other.

Date: 2006/07/14 18:33:34, Link
Author: mcc
So today I was surprised to see, for the first time that I have seen, that Uncommon Descent had put up a blog post which was intelligently-written, interesting, and persuasive.

It was written by some guy named "Jim Downard"

Date: 2006/07/14 19:13:33, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (stevestory @ July 14 2006,23:45)
Quote (mcc @ July 15 2006,00:28)
Quote (stevestory @ July 14 2006,21:58)
IS it an ID paper, Dembski? Why don't you tell us whether or not it is. Coward.

Maybe he doesn't understand the vocabulary. Like, maybe it's actually an honest question and he isn't sure one way or the other.

Possibly. I'm betting it's his cowardly way of implying to his audience that this is ID research, without saying anything he can be held to later. He knows it isn't ID research, so he won't come out and say it, but he can get the same effect on the rubes by writing the sentence like he did.

Well, yeah, that's more likely.

Date: 2006/07/17 16:37:13, Link
Author: mcc
Oh, hey, look. Dembski's put up a post quoting a long article on the subject of how artificial selection doesn't behave like natural selection. Unfortunately he then doesn't actually comment on it in any way, leaving us to guess as to what, exactly, he thinks this article implies. Which is too bad, because I have a suspicion that if we knew what Dembski's opinion on this article is, it would be something pretty funny.

Date: 2006/07/17 16:52:42, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (guthrie @ July 16 2006,05:20)
Wow, just when you think its gone quiet, up pops Dembski, with another rehash of teleological thought:

thunder and lightning


The interesting thing to me here is that he never actually explains who said this, why they said it, in what context they said it, or whether they said anything else. Dembski gets an opportunity here to basically present an argument from a man made of straw, and then tear it down unopposed. But even despite this advantageous setup he doesn't really do a particularly good job, misspelling "lots" and then spending most of his space explaining how the lightning example is flawed since it makes no use of specified complexity-- an odd thing to concentrate on since the quote seems to have been an objection specifically to the design arguments made by Behe, and Behe doesn't use Dembski's specification concept.

It's really odd-- between this thunder and lightning thing, the Downard thing, and the artificial selection article, Dembski's blog for the last few days seems to be spending more space on presenting the arguments against him than presenting Dembski's arguments themselves.

Date: 2006/07/17 17:57:14, Link
Author: mcc
Hey. I was thinking about picking up Chris Mooney's "The Republican War on Science", which I have heard a lot of good things about. I was wondering if anyone here would like to recommend or discuss any other books related to conflicts between science and politics (religious politics or otherwise).

In particular, there's one book in specific I was wondering if anyone knew anything about it:

The book is called "Imaginary Weapons" by Sharon Weinberger, and it's apparently a chronicle of one specific military research project into developing something called an "Isomer Bomb", a project which continued on for years although independent analysis largely concluded the science behind the project was founded on simple experimental error. This book interested me a great deal because it reminded me of another book I read recently and enjoyed, a book by Jon Ronson named "The Men who Stare at Goats" on the subject of the strange things which can occur when military research projects are given poor oversight. However, checking up on Weinberger's book on the internet and Amazon's review page, I am finding some allegations that the book has factual accuracy issues. For starters, a couple of people observed that the book has glaring proofreading problems ranging from grammatical errors to a passage which apparently references the Yucca Mountains as being in Colorado. This sounds to me mostly just like the book was rushed to press, not really a problem, but this could indicate more serious errors slipped by unnoticed. More worrying to me are claims that the book plays fast and loose with facts, and misrepresents the history of the "Isomer Bomb" related research projects in order to make a more entertaining naarative. If these allegations are true I'd just as soon skip the book.

But this is where things get odd-- when I look carefully, I find most of the complaints about the book that a Google search turns up are excruciatingly vague, suggesting that specific objections about the book can be found on "blogs" but never explaining what blogs or where. All objections with any specificity seem to be directly linked back to a specific person named Doina Collins and her husband Carl, who have an entire website set up at dedicated to complaining about the book-- a website which seems to consist mostly of very vicious attacks on Ms. Weinberger which are long on rhetoric but scanty on details. This is very suspicious because, although they don't make this clear in their internet postings, Carl Collins turns out to be the scientist responsible for the research project the book was about in the first place. This mysterious failure to disclose makes me wonder if the Collinses were in some way behind at least some of the complaints that originally made me start worrying about the book-- since most of the complaints I'd seen on various sites were very repetitive, as if they were written by the same person who was just going from website to website posting the same thing. In one case I saw a comment along the lines of "this book has errors, search google for blogs on the subject" that had been cut&pasted literally verbatim directly into the comments sections of more than one blog. So now I'm just not sure what to think.

I was wondering if anyone had read Weinberger's book and could maybe give me some indication whether the book does in fact seem to suffer from factual sloppiness, or whether the book is a fine piece of journalism and the appearance of complaints about the book is due to a one-man internet astroturf campaign.

Anyway, just curious, and I'd be curious for any recommendations of other books that anyone might have. Thanks!

Date: 2006/07/18 16:51:10, Link
Author: mcc
Frankly, I'm baffled it lasted as long as it did.

Date: 2006/07/19 18:37:57, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (stevestory @ July 19 2006,19:36)
Arthur Caplan beats George Bush's stem cell policy like a rented mule:


I found this one interesting... if only because it was written by Ronald Reagan's daughter

By the way, a couple of mostly unrelated questions:

1. Did California's independent stem cell program ever go anywhere? Or are they still spending lots of money on trying to select a building to put it in?

2. Did Paley's Ghost ever actually, in the 'abortion' thread, demonstrate that his mythical 'gill slits=abortion' pamphlet ever existed? Just cuirous.

Date: 2006/07/19 19:20:29, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Ichthyic @ July 20 2006,00:03)
why not look for yourself?

The problem is not so much "looking" as "just trying to understand what on earth paley is trying to say half the time".

Date: 2006/07/20 20:13:37, Link
Author: mcc
If a system inspires us to design something, is that evidence that the system itself was designed? When or when not?

Ahh... truly amazing. Dembski has finally moved beyond "if I can perceive design in a system, it was designed" and into the realm of "if I can perceive a system does anything useful at all, it was designed". I expect Dembski will soon surpass traditional anthropics and move into the realm of saying "if I can perceive a system at all, it must have been designed".

Date: 2006/07/24 18:56:29, Link
Author: mcc
And now it appears Dembski is reduced to... complaining about week-old posts from William Elsberry's blog?

It's kind of neat to see the contrast sometimes.

The Panda's Thumb / Talk.Origins crowd are just a bunch of random volunteers on the internet, yet they're building genuinely useful resources that will serve as a living history of the contemporary creationism movement for years to come; meanwhile Panda's Thumb reports and informs on cutting-edge science on a weekly basis, and Jack Krebs seems to be making legitimate and productive use out of Panda's Thumb in his Kansas Citizens for Science activism.

Whereas William Dembski, the last remaining "Intelligent Design" "researcher" who's yet to be torn apart in a courtroom, who is basically being paid to do this stuff at this point... is using his time to engage in little internet wars on his blog, which he fills with attacks on other blogs and e-mail forwards about the ACLU, little tiny rhetorical victories that rile his readerbase up for ten minutes and are immediately forgotten.

Date: 2006/07/24 21:34:19, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Ichthyic @ July 20 2006,17:18)
no such thing as indefinetly.

delaying the inevitable is their best strategy, you say?

fine by me.


The thing is, when we're discussing research relevant to potentially life-threatening illnesses, there are many people for whom a difference of two years really is the same thing as "indefinitely"

Date: 2006/07/26 22:29:00, Link
Author: mcc

Kind of odd, though, that despite his attempts to distance himself from the DIRTY LIBERAL COMMUNIST ACADEMICS, what he's really proposing here in supporting the Kansas standards is less a "competitive marketplace" of ideas (you know, where ideas rise and fall on their own merits and supply and demand govern themselves and whatnot), and more some kind of weird government-intervention model. Under this model the schools, rather than teaching ideas in proportion to how successful they are, are under a politically-mandated obligation to artificially sustain market competition by keeping failed ideas in play in the education system. That would be... what? A Keynesian marketplace or what? I never got around to taking macro in school :(

Date: 2006/07/26 22:32:20, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Steverino @ July 26 2006,12:46)
From Dense O'Leary:

"Darwin’s corrosive principles laid the foundation for the murder of more than 125 million people in the 20th century. About three times more than the 38 million killed in all the wars of the 20th century!"


Date: 2006/07/26 22:49:57, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (guthrie @ July 27 2006,01:40)
If I were to be at all charitable to him, I might sugges tthat what we need (Sorry, you need- I'm British) is a nationwide campaign to ensure that all biology classes have up to date textbooks.  Perhaps someone should ask him to donate towards it?

Sounds great to me.

I keep wondering; before the ID wave of creationism dies down for good, is there some way "we" can take advantage of the amount of attention and mobilization that has been created in the fight against ID, and leverage it to call attention to deficiencies in the quality of science education nationwide? It would be a great thing if now that everyone's attention has been called to attacks on science standards, someone could seize the moment to improve science textbooks and standards on their own terms. It's even relevant to the whole creationism thing-- after all, the better science education becomes in the present, the harder it will be for creationists to peddle whatever nonsense they come up with once the next wave of creationism begins.

Date: 2006/07/28 18:04:02, Link
Author: mcc

Date: 2006/07/31 17:21:39, Link
Author: mcc
Why is a “giant” of evolution getting so excited about the “midgets” of ID?
In the latest New Republic Online, the irrepressible Jerry Coyne keeps the insults against ID coming:

So: A famous conservative commentator writes a book that sells well enough to get on the NYT bestseller list for many weeks... and... a famous neoliberal commentary magazine feels compelled to respond?? Holy smokes, those philosophical materialists really must be running scared!!

Oh-- by the way, has Dembski yet actually responded to or provided explanation for any of those myriad errors in Godless he's supposedly taken responsibility for?

It’s in my capacity as a mathematician, rather than as a theologian, that I make my primary contribution to ID.

Anyone who has read Dembski's supposed mathematics and actually understands how mathematics worse would know that this is flagrantly false. To Dembski, mathematics is nothing more than a bunch of fancy vocabulary words that he can string together at random to bamboozle the proles into thinking he has something to say.

Date: 2006/08/02 18:05:36, Link
Author: mcc
Goodness Dembski is BUSY today. Look at all those posts.

UD is REALLY having to work overtime to find ways to discuss things that aren't the Kansas elections.

Date: 2006/08/04 18:07:48, Link
Author: mcc
Yes, I’ll bet. Most media people are liberals. And just as materialism is the organized religion of the school system (and Darwinism its creation story), liberalism - in its modern form - is the social policy arm of materialism.

Ahh... for awhile a little sad that the new lady would turn out to be not as entertaningly insane as DaveScot. Now I'm not so worried.

Date: 2006/08/11 22:51:18, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Ichthyic @ Aug. 12 2006,01:12)
I'm truly sick of your posts, Jason.

I think they're very interesting. Or at least consistently funny.

Date: 2006/08/13 12:12:09, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ Aug. 13 2006,15:53)
Library Yenta said:

Hey, GoP, you ARE the lucky one, you racist shite, not to be ever in danger of face-to-face discussion.  Fuck you and go back to peddle your papers, you Xian doper.

Yeah....I'm as intimidated as Oleg Maskaev was last night....<yawn>.....but don't worry, I'll let this thread alone.

I suppose we're somehow supposed to imagine you're doing this to spare Lenny and Toejam embarassment, and not just because you're in over your head and scared?

Date: 2006/08/18 18:15:43, Link
Author: mcc
It didn't work.

Date: 2006/08/18 18:25:49, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Ichthyic @ Aug. 18 2006,02:31)
I tried, I really did.

I couldn't make it through the second paragraph of Joel's stream-of-consciousness, crossed-out, running commentary on whatever he was trying to paraphrase Dawkins as having said.

when i had to re-read the second paragraph 3 times, i finally gave up.

He really should try to write a book in that style.  It might appeal to the seriously dyslexic.

The Garden of Forking Paths.

Date: 2006/08/22 20:37:19, Link
Author: mcc
The UN want you to be a special humility / modesty envoy.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that DaveScot would never agree to work for those terrorist french traitors at the U.N..

Date: 2006/08/28 23:05:48, Link
Author: mcc
I would consider both A and B unnecessary. Intelligent design isn't particularly influential or well-regarded even from a humanities perspective; there are many much more important and interesting philosophers and theologians with writings on the subject of reason vs. faith.

Date: 2006/08/30 22:29:02, Link
Author: mcc
Schwartzenneger is going absolutely out of his way to do basically just whatever is possible to make democrats love him. I've not lived here long, but I was trying to follow the news out here even before I moved out here all the way, and Arnold seems to have realized after his embarrassments so far that (1) attempts to push a legitimately republican agenda will only backfire on him and (2) he can't go fiscal conservative in forming the budget no matter how badly he wants to, because of all the ballot initiatives guaranteeing minimum funding to nearly all social programs. So he seems to have settled into a resigned realization that he can at least hold onto personal power indefinitely by just waiting until right before an election and then trying to hit the most juicy-sounding left-wing hot-button issues he can find. How much, if any, of what he is doing as part of this strategy he believes in, I cannot begin to venture to guess. I can, however, tell you that it is going to get him re-elected.

Meanwhile, Angelides, the democratic candidate in this election comes across as an enormous slimeball. I somewhat doubt he is a slimeball, but he is doing a terrible job of selling himself. I already know people who won't vote for him because they bought some line that his competitor was pushing during the primary based around the idea that the Angelides is an ex land developer, and will supposedly do things in power that would be good for land developers hurting the environment etc. I'd practically imagine that  most of the voterbase doesn't even have a clear idea who Angelides is; he barely seems to be campaigning, the only reason I even really know anything about him was because I personally went to the effort to look him and his platform up. Maybe he's written off the bay area and is campaigning elsewhere, I don't know. Either way, it looks to me like he very likely would in fact fulfill if elected his campaign promise of balancing the perennially screwy California budget without gutting less-flashy-sounding programs (like Schwartenegger is resorting to)... and really, when it comes down to it, getting the budget settled seems to me like just about the only state-local issue that isn't just dessert topping... and he's making increasing educational funding a priority... but I'm doubting he has any chance of being elected so whatever.

In the absence of any credible alternatives to Schwartenegger, I find it hard to care whether he means what he's saying or not. All I know is that he is trying very hard to nakedly pander to the kind of voter I represent, and I don't have to trust him to benefit from that.

The above is as near as I can gather, you may want to give more credence to anyone who's lived here longer than this year.

Date: 2006/09/02 22:26:54, Link
Author: mcc
So what is the deal with comments on UD these days, anyway? Stuff is displayed by default, stuff is hidden by default, everything you post is hidden until your account is blessed, what?

Date: 2006/09/04 14:04:50, Link
Author: mcc
I think there are plenty of pressing reasons to decrease or eliminate dependence on fossil fuels that have nothing to do with the date at which the supposed peak oil apocalypse is set to occur.

Date: 2006/09/04 14:23:51, Link
Author: mcc
Frankly, I'm extremely uncomfortable with blaming the fall of Gray Davis on anyone except Gray Davis himself. Gray Davis's problem wasn't that somebody paid for a recall petition, his problem was that he was a horrible governor and nobody liked him. All the right-wing financiers did in the recall was capitalize on a problem Gray Davis created. If right-wing money had created the problem, then the voters wouldn't have voted by 55% to kick him out once the recall election actually came.

I am still of the opinion that the Democratic party's fortunes are not going to change until people find a way to stop letting the Democratic party send crappy candidates to the polls.

Date: 2006/09/04 15:50:00, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Ichthyic @ Sep. 04 2006,20:21)
Gray Davis's problem wasn't that somebody paid for a recall petition, his problem was that he was a horrible governor and nobody liked him.

put simply, prove it.

He lost.

Also, if I'm not mistaken, even before the recall campaign began, his approval ratings were somewhere in the 30s and had been there since 2001.

Date: 2006/09/04 15:59:45, Link
Author: mcc
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Sep. 04 2006,01:55)
As for the conspiracy, keep an eye on those computerized voting machines:

Note that Debra Bowen, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, has spoken out against electronic voting. I don't know who's likely to win that race and I'm not sure at this point exactly how against it she is, but she seems to have promised at the least increased auditing for electronic voting machines.

Date: 2006/09/04 16:14:30, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (keiths @ Sep. 04 2006,02:49)
Time has a new article on the talented Ms. Harris:

Katherine Harris' Comedy of Errors

The Florida primaries are TOMORROW?

Oh, but this should be interesting.

Date: 2006/09/04 17:45:40, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Ichthyic @ Sep. 04 2006,22:26)
and so were Arnie's after the 'referendum on the legislature'.  should we start a recall election for him too?

Sure, go for it. Would've been a good idea.

Looks like you kind of missed your window of opportunity on that one, though.

In the meantime, it looks like in the actual election, Schwarzenegger is set to win rather dramatically. And it looks like it isn't based on "star power", it's based on a (possibly superficial, i have no idea) embrace of left-wing issues by Schwarzenegger at the last minute and a Democratic candidate who apparently doesn't know how to campaign.

Date: 2006/09/04 20:15:27, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Ichthyic @ Sep. 05 2006,00:36)
...and you're still avoiding the issues I raised.

here, I'll simplify for you:

why do YOU think Davis was doing such a poor job?
I don't have a problem if you answer that you can't, or you aren't really interested in doing so, but right now all you are doing is sidestepping.

Yeah, I'm gonna have to be honest here. It just doesn't strike me as interesting enough to going to the bother of informing myself enough about the subject to have a meaningful discussion :) I've forgotten pretty much all details about what was happening in politics in 2003.

and yet if you look at the quoted commentary by someone who actually studies the politics, you read the following:

But others say it is convenient for the Democratic-dominated legislature to have a governor with Schwarzenegger’s star power. If anyone can sell something to voters, they reason, Schwarzenegger can. "The legislators understand they can get more out of Arnold than Angelides because Arnold has to bargain," said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political analyst at the University of Southern California.

so how would you interpret that?

Well, this is discussion of why the democratic legislature is pushing for Schwarzenegger, not why the voters are; that particular article brings up "star power" only in that one paragraph, and only as one of two differing interpretations analysts offer as to why state Democrats are half-endorsing Schwarzenegger. Meanwhile, first off, for purposes of that particular analysis that Schwarzenegger might be better at "selling" things, the celebrity is more or less interchangeable for that nebulous "charisma" quality, which if the Democrats had just found a charismatic candidate wouldn't be a problem; and second, the actual political analyst offered is, where I bolded, talking about something entirely separate from celebrity (though I assume the "star power" bit is a paraphrase of something the analyst actually said).

So I'd interpret it as, this reminds us that Schwarzenegger’s celebrity obviously is still a factor, and it's never going to go away entirely. But it's not the root cause of the comeback; it's just made the comeback easier. Whatever celebrity power Schwarzenegger had was blown with the referendum mess. His return to favor was caused by relentless issues jockeying, and getting up close with the state Democrats. People didn't forget and forgive the whole referendum mess because they went back and re-watched Batman & Robin or whatever. If Schwarzenegger is popular again now it's because of what he's done in the last nine months, not because of what he did ten years ago. (And if Schwarzenegger's advantage is a result of his acting skill, it's based on acting he's done in the last nine months, not acting he did ten years ago...)

Meanwhile, elsewhere the article, we see neatly reinforced that one of Angelides' big problems is that he is totally oblivious to the reality of the race he is in. Angelides is basing his campaign message off of the reality immediately after the referendum debacle, when trying to link Schwartzennegger to Bush made sense (instead of reminding everyone of multiple recent events where Schwartzenegger very publicly thumbed his nose at Bush). Meanwhile we're given examples of Schwartzenegger's ads, and they're issue-focused (i.e. Angelides is fiscally responsible, and everybody hates that these days).

Date: 2006/09/04 20:34:42, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Robert O'Brien @ Sep. 05 2006,01:15)
It is not Ahmanson's Claremont Institute; it is just the Claremont Institute, where he serves on the board of directors.

Looking around I find several sources, including Salon and Wikipedia, say the Claremont Institute is "funded by" Ahmanson. I cannot find a hard source on this or any indication of what proportion of the Claremont Institute's funding comes from Ahmanson.

However, it says here that on the list of groups that receive money from Ahmanson, the Claremont Institute is #4 in terms of money received, just behind the Discovery Institute at #3. So the funding must be pretty significant.

Date: 2006/09/04 20:44:27, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Ichthyic @ Sep. 05 2006,01:37)
makes sense the legislature might actually back Arnold under the circumstances; he was so powerless after the referendum failure that I'm sure the legislature feels he will rubber stamp their agenda for at least the near future.

hows that go again...

politics makes strange bedfellows.

The trick is, if he turns on them again he's going to be facing a serious problem in 2008. He can just as easily die by this sword as live by it. Meanwhile, he's staved off the budget issue this long, but I think at some point in the next two years he's going to have to either start raising taxes or cutting programs. I am pretty sure he'll balk at the former and if he goes with the latter (or resurrects that idea of rolling back California's guaranteed minimum funding voter referendums), he will be basically a sitting duck if the Democrats can field anyone even remotely competent in 2008. Arnold is going to have to step VERY carefully for the next two years, and if his newfound sorta-leftism is an act, he probably won't be able to keep it up that long...

Date: 2006/09/04 21:00:40, Link
Author: mcc
And working through your post backward...
Quote (Ichthyic @ Sep. 05 2006,01:37)
I can't figure out, personally, any reason to vote for somebody without investigating their actual positions on issues, and hopefully any plans they have to deal with said issues, or how they have actually dealt with related issues previously.  At least whether they are qualified by experience or education to be likely to be able to address the issues in a reasonable fashion.

all too rare these days, I know.

as to the second issue, the logical conclusion seems to be that there is no reason to run any candidate that doesn't already have "draw power" coming into an election in CA.

am I interpreting what you are saying correctly?

I'm not sure-- which second issue are you referring to exactly?

I did not vote in the 2003 recall election-- I was not a California resident at that time, though I watched sorta-closely from a distance. The Gray Davis thing, to me, is mostly important in that I see it as a parable of the dangers of Democrats assuming they'll keep their seat just because they're Democrats, or assuming that the Republicans can always be tricked into hanging themselves.

Yeah, the Republicans have all this money and stuff, and can fund huge ad campaigns and recall drives and whatnot-- but we knew that already, and the Democrats should be prepared for that already. The Democratic candidate has to offer the voters some reason to choose him that's compelling enough it can overcome the cash available to those aligned with the Ahmansons of the world. And if the Democratic candidate gets complacent (and it seems to me Angelides did just that-- waltzing in going "yeah, I can balance the budget without cutting programs" is probably enough to get my vote, but it's not going to be enough to get the rest of the electorate), then they're dead.

From the perspective of a voter, of course, all this is only particularly important in that it underscores the critical importance of getting the right people selected in the primaries... and yeah like you said, part of that is ensuring the candidate has "draw power".

Date: 2006/09/05 19:09:22, Link
Author: mcc
I think this is the one and only senate race I am now ready to call for the democrats.

Date: 2006/09/06 22:25:21, Link
Author: mcc
The funny thing is, the real-life PNAC* has basically proven conspiracies are useless. People don't trust cover-ups, if you act secretive about what you're doing people will consider that more worrisome than whatever it is you're actually doing. If you want to do something truly horrible in America today, what you want to do is do it way out in the open, and be very public and loud about what you're doing.

* You know, the one that's a think tank with incredibly good connections that for a time wrote policy papers that appear to have significantly either impacted or reflected the thinking of the current presidential administration in its first term... as opposed to a shadowy entity with the ability to make entire airplanes vanish into thin air and fire missles at the pentagon unnoticed

Date: 2006/09/11 20:49:37, Link
Author: mcc
Is any of Newton's alchemy stuff available or going to be made available to buy or download?

Date: 2006/09/13 21:30:17, Link
Author: mcc

I got involved in the latest Ongoing Ken Miller Thing thread much more than I intended to. I hope I did not step out of line.

Date: 2006/09/13 21:37:30, Link
Author: mcc
I notice the most recent post in the bathroom wall is from Sep. 6. I know for a fact PT posts have been bathroom wall'd since then, also I made a normal post in there a couple minutes ago (like, I hit "post reply") and it's not visible either. Maybe someone should look into this.

Date: 2006/09/23 16:49:32, Link
Author: mcc
Obviously America needs Christianity. If we didn't have Christianity, then what would we do with all the churches?

Date: 2006/09/27 19:14:03, Link
Author: mcc
So was the mystery Google delisting of UD ever explained?

Date: 2006/09/27 19:25:10, Link
Author: mcc
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Sep. 27 2006,18:07)
But once the Democans take power, look for the Republicrats to INCREASE their ties to the fundies and neocons, not decrease them.  The Republicrats need that power base --- they simply cannot survive without it.

It seems to me there are noticeable portions of the Republican party whom are beginning to be unhappy with the amount of power the religious right holds within the Republican party (at least as of the peak of that power that we've seen under the Bush administration). And no, I'm not even talking about libertarians. I suspect the backlash we see from these people in the near future, if any, will probably be about equal regardless of the outcome of the 2006 elections.

Date: 2006/09/27 21:59:37, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Altabin @ Sep. 28 2006,01:13)
Quote (mcc @ Sep. 28 2006,00:14)
So was the mystery Google delisting of UD ever explained?

A good friend of mine - who, for obvious reasons, wishes to remain anonymous - has informed me that the ACLU did it.

I'm afraid I won't be able to believe it until I hear it from a trusted source, like wikipedia.

Date: 2006/09/29 22:32:22, Link
Author: mcc
So I now notice that the wikipedia banned books list has the vandalism lock on it.


Date: 2006/09/29 22:48:14, Link
Author: mcc
Creationism is pseudoscience. I don't see a point in distinguishing between creationism and other pseudosciences either way.

But I think out of the various range of pseudosciences, creationism is the one which has the most momentum and is the most threatening to science. (Global warming denial has the potential to do more harm to humanity in general, but at least global warming denial is mostly working within the system of science-- it often promotes misconceptions of what certainty means in science, but it rarely attacks the principles of science itself.) Therefore I consider creationism to "bother" me in a way which the other ones don't. If some crazy faith healer tells us that quantum physics proves reincarnation is true, that's antiscientific, but it's also more or less harmless.

Honestly most of the time pseudoscience does more to make me laugh than it does to bother me.

Date: 2006/10/01 12:59:26, Link
Author: mcc
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Sep. 30 2006,21:57)
I'm sure it surprises nobody that my opposition to ID/creationism is largely POLITICAL in nature.  The fundies would like nothing more than to establish their own brand of theocracy here. One of my best friends is from Iran, and has seen firsthand what happens when religious kooks are allowed to gain real political power.  I have no intention whatever of allowing that to happen here.  And, since ID/creationism is the very "wedge issue" that the fundies themselves have chosen to fight about, that is where I oppose them.  When they give it up and move on to some other "wedge issue", I will follow them.

I also have no intention of allowing the neocons to turn the US into a fascist global empire (and it should be kept in mind that, though the neocons and the fundies overlap somewhat in aims and in personnel, they are different animals), so I fight them too.  But since they have fatally shot themselves in the head with their little Iraq adventure, my focus now is on the Democans.  I want to see how much of the neocon agenda the Democans explicitly reject and roll back.  Sadly, my guess is -- almost none.  They share the same aims as the neocons. They simply want to be kinder and gentler about imposing them.

I... dunno. To me it seems that the whole ID vs science thing is actually a good deal closer to the political problems of this country than just in terms of what a win for ID would mean for fundamentalist machinations respecting an establishment of religion.

I think a large part of why the current establishment-- neocon or traditional con-- is able to get away with the things they do is that America right now doesn't value truth or rationality. ID is about discouraging the value of the findings of honest science, while trying to suggest people should instead just adopt a cherry-picked version of "truth" that makes them feel good. The reasons why this works as well as it does are the same reasons why the public is at the same time being discouraged from listening to the findings of honest journalism, or the honest findings of our intelligence agencies, or the courts, or the lessons we can learn from history, or...

I don't think we can really make true headway in America's current political problems until we can convince the public, both the voting public and the media-watching public, to prefer reality over fantasy and care how to tell the difference. Being able to tell the difference between good and bad science is a significant part of that.

Date: 2006/10/01 17:59:38, Link
Author: mcc
ok, wait

heddle's banned from UD?

Date: 2006/10/01 22:02:49, Link
Author: mcc
I propose "Overwhelming Gibberish"

Date: 2006/10/04 21:39:12, Link
Author: mcc
Has dembski commented on this yet at his new overwhelmingwhatever site?

Date: 2006/10/07 09:52:29, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (stevestory @ Oct. 07 2006,13:57)
Over at Uncommonly Dense, they're now begging Phil Skell to join them.

Okay, so wait, they're letting DaveScot write for them again?

Date: 2006/10/07 21:57:41, Link
Author: mcc
I don't know where else to comment on this... has anyone else noticed that Ray Martinez is now arguing for the existence of Atlantis?

Date: 2006/10/09 19:44:41, Link
Author: mcc
So Google News spits up this gloom-and-doom article about the Republicans in the upcoming election. There's not much surprising here. What is surprising is that the article is being put out on behalf of the Claremont Institute, which is one of the couple of groups that Howard J. Ahmanson Jr. gives more money to than the Discovery Institute. (There was a list of the top 15 recipients of Ahmanson money I saw awhile back; it was something like the Claremont Institute at #3 and the Discovery Institute at #4).

What, if anything at all, to make of this?

Date: 2006/10/09 21:12:04, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (stevestory @ Oct. 10 2006,01:19)
If anybody here doesn't understand how stupid the boldfaced part is I will smack the bejesus out of you.

The problem I'm having is trying to figure out which of the three stupid things about it that immediately come to mind is the most important

Date: 2006/10/10 16:42:50, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Mr_Christopher @ Oct. 10 2006,14:39)
This is a laff riot, I mean a total knee slapper.

Holy crikey those guys are mentally ill or something and their cultists lap it up.  I bet their little "celebrate success" event is a sell out.

I suppose spending 4 million bucks promoting ID is pretty much all the evidence they need to prove ID really is science.

Well, you know, it's just like Ghandi says:

First your factual claims are soundly refuted and rejected,

Then you are unable to get traction or attention except among religious extremists,

Then a court rules you are barred from public schools,

Then your allies in the media and politics desert you,

Then you win.

Date: 2006/10/12 19:53:48, Link
Author: mcc
I actually do have to agree Dawkins' website is not very well designed. It's very, very busy, and it is not at all visually obvious what the purpose of the different sections of the front page are or how they relate to each other. I mean, I've seen worse, but they could have put more thought into that.

Uncommon Descent, meanwhile, isn't exactly the perfect website, but it is clean and easy to read. The problems come if you try to actually read it.

Date: 2006/10/12 20:33:25, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (stevestory @ Oct. 12 2006,20:12)
I've felt a little fin de siècle boredom too, my friend. I'm not sure what it means. Half the time I think about saying goodbye, and spending time on other things, half the time I'll see something like JAD advocating an amazing carbon sink which you can also use as fuel, and I laugh myself silly.

The thing to me is that the whole evolution-debate section of the internet, even though it was born out of attacks on biology, funnily enough offers a just really fantastic collection of resources for people who are best off reading at something like a popular-science level but are interested in a normal-science level of precision and accuracy. I partially read the evolution blogs to see the constant parade of crazy creationists, but a huge amount of it is just because it's a surprisingly good way of learning about biology. I've learned more about biology just reading the archives than I learned at any level of schooling. There really is not anything of this nature that I've found for any other branch of science.

Now that the last year's excitement on the evolution blogs is dying down I'm trying to switch to obsessively following some other subject, like physics, but the physics blogs (while there are some excellent ones) are mostly intended for people who already have some background in the subject and the learning curve is higher. (Unlike the evolution blogs, which are working under the constraint of trying to convince the general public that modern biology is right and so have to be written in a way the general public can at least kinda grasp.)

I don't know if I'm making sense in this post or not. I'm really sleepy right now. the way, can anybody recommend anything that might help explain renormalization groups and spinors and and field quantization to someone who understands abstract algebra and such but knows little to nothing about higher-level physics? :P

Date: 2006/10/13 19:22:01, Link
Author: mcc
Maybe it happened in Providence, Rhode Island.

Date: 2006/10/15 11:16:39, Link
Author: mcc
Maybe I knew this at one time, but I've forgotten. What was Dembski's PHD thesis again?

Date: 2006/10/19 17:09:43, Link
Author: mcc
The formation of galaxies and stars does not represent an increase in information.

Um... wow?

Date: 2006/10/19 21:45:14, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (hereoisreal @ Oct. 19 2006,16:14)
Take six pennies and place them around the seventh  and see if they “fit”.  They "rest on the seventh."

This is just because the hexagonal lattice arrangement is the optimal regular circle packing on a two-dimensional plane, which was proven by Gauss in 1831 for the case of only lattice packings and by Tóth in 1940 for the general planar case. As far as I can find any sign of, the general idea of the proof rests around the observation that in the hexagonal lattice packing (and no other), if you connect the centers of any three circles in contact, you get an equilateral triangle.

Date: 2006/10/20 17:32:32, Link
Author: mcc
I've heard so many fruitcake attempts in the last five or so years to explain the "cause" of autism I can no longer believe any of them. Although this one sounds more believable than most of them.

Date: 2006/10/31 20:25:52, Link
Author: mcc
Hey, look at all these blog posts that come up when I search for "PZ Myers" on

"Calcium signals monitored from leopard frog optic tectum after the optic nerve has been selectively loaded with calcium sensitive dye." Pfft. If only Myers would go out and do some real research, like Dembski does.

Date: 2006/10/31 20:32:45, Link
Author: mcc
In the creationism debate, nothing ever really dies. We're still seeing the second law of thermodynamics gibberish. We're still reliving arguments from the 1840s.

Looking at it this way, ID can't die and will never really go away, just like young earth creationism and flood geology and "creation science" will never go away, even decades after they've become as discredited as they could possibly be.

However, while none of these things will ever die, they have each in their way become irrelevant.

And I do think ID has become irrelevant. Its time has been spent. The next threat from the creationist camp will be something different, and ID itself can be put out to pasture with flood geology and all the other creationist strategies that have been tried and failed. This doesn't make the creationism vs evolution struggle is over or even any less relevant. It just means the direction of that struggle will be changing.

The discovery institute, meanwhile, still has the potential to do some damage, I think.

Date: 2006/10/31 21:03:33, Link
Author: mcc
Site doesn't work for me. Doesn't even ping.

Date: 2006/10/31 21:07:15, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Louis @ Nov. 01 2006,02:45)
I can't think of one attribute that humans have that is QUALITATIVELY different from an identical or analogous trait found in animals.

Pizza delivery.

You're not going to find that in nature, I tell you what.

Date: 2006/11/01 18:07:10, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Kristine @ Nov. 01 2006,17:39)
Anybody have independent evidence indicating that Dawkins actual intent was to attract fundy wrath like flies to, um, well you know?

I think it was to attract more agnostic/liberal believer butterflies to the atheist nectar, and away from the flame. ;)

Um, really? Because personally, the more I hear people like Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers go nuts obsessing over the whole religion thing, the more convinced I become to describe myself as an agnostic rather than an atheist in public. Even though I don't see much meaningful difference between the two words.

Date: 2006/11/02 19:43:54, Link
Author: mcc
I wonder if this textbook will FINALLY explain what CSI is and how to calculate it.

... what, what am I saying. Almost certainly will happen is that this textbook will contain an explanation of what CSI is and how to calculate it, and that explanation will be both different from and mutually contradictory with the multiple different definitions of CSI that Dembski has posted in the past.

Date: 2006/11/02 19:49:54, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ Nov. 02 2006,19:45)
The defense had declined to put the Hovinds on the stand and called no other witnesses. I don't think that I understand that strategy.

The only explanations for the strategy I can think of are ones I don't like, like "they are blowing off this trial and aiming for the appeal" or "they want to spend the next 20 years talking about how the IRS oppressed them".

Date: 2006/11/03 17:39:17, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (hereoisreal @ Nov. 02 2006,20:29)
I asked a simple question and expected a

simple answer.

You asked a gibberish non-question with no conceivable answer.

Date: 2006/11/10 01:25:56, Link
Author: mcc
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that when 2009 comes, Jonathan wells will suddenly declare that Darwinism has collapsed, and declare victory for himself and defeat for Darwinism.

Date: 2006/11/11 21:42:18, Link
Author: mcc
Wow. That Auster piece is really just... funny.

He might just as well have said: "There are lots of different people in the world, and they're all different from each other, so how can there be such a thing as 'man'"?

I guess you could make an argument like that, since "man" is a human-invented category and thus ultimately subjective rather than objective. It would mostly just be semantics though. We can avoid such problems by defining "man" in careful biological terms, for example in terms something like the set of those biological entities whose genes are close enough to that of any other human that their gametes can recombine, etc. That might not be a good definition since it might exclude people with trisomies or whatever but it's probably an okay place to start.

The point is, if you see only the material, then there is no such thing as God, there is no such thing as man, there is no such thing as objective good and bad, and ultimately there is no such thing as language itself, because all these things exist in a dimension beyond matter and what can be seen with the material senses.

Huh. I was under the impression language existed here.

Date: 2006/11/11 21:56:19, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Kristine @ Nov. 10 2006,16:42)
Well, the World Peace Herald sure didn't include my comments on that article. (Just as well, since the scoring system doesn't offer any choice less than 1.)

We should trumpet the "Dead by 2009" far and wide, as well as Dembski's "Evolution dead in 10 years" (well, 9 1/2 now) and "Nobel Prizes for ID in 15 years" gaffes. These dorks count on the American people to forget, in order to play upon ever-present resentments and a perpetual sense of underdoggedness (a term I just made up). I say, keep these "promises" in the public eye, so that eventually people will squint at it: "Hey, isn't evolution supposed to be dead by now? What happened?"

Date: 2006/11/15 04:26:35, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (stevestory @ Nov. 13 2006,13:06)

Is this a linear or a logarithmic scale?

Date: 2006/11/15 04:30:43, Link
Author: mcc
What if we pretend the title of this thread is "Campaign among the think tanks and media outlets of the right-wing noise machine to manufacture the illusion of controversy Over Evolution Not Going Away"

Date: 2006/11/16 00:52:21, Link
Author: mcc
I think it is quite certain that embryonic stem cell research will soon (i.e., january or february) become legal in America. I am very curious what the NSF/NIH grants we will start to see immediately after that will look like.

Date: 2006/11/17 02:44:50, Link
Author: mcc
So that scordova post that got deleted after a bunch of evo bloggers ripped into it.

Since UD apparently no longer stands behind that post, do you think they'll ever explain what it was about the post that they decided was inaccurate?

Date: 2006/11/21 02:16:34, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Robert O'Brien @ Nov. 21 2006,01:07)
Was the Ford Pinto, with all its imperfections revealed in crash tests, not designed?


Huh. Did Donald M steal that from the DI or did the DI steal that from Donald M?

Date: 2006/11/23 14:54:42, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (argystokes @ Nov. 23 2006,01:02)
[quote=UnMark,Nov. 22 2006,22:19]
Quote (deadman_932 @ Nov. 22 2006,22:29)
here's something I found about ...ah, a year ago? Something like that...anyway, keeping in mind all such online "tests" are suspect:

Interesting link.  I'm not sure what to make of my results, though. . . .

Well, that was boring.  Anyway, my scores:
Your Aspie score: 37 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 148 of 200
You are very likely neurotypical

And that picture in the beginning is totally a girl.

They use comic sans and the word "Aspie". I don't trust it.

Date: 2006/11/24 17:25:52, Link
Author: mcc
Very few people actually believe in states rights. Most people only claim to when there's something (pot, gay marriage, lack of gay marriage, education policy, entanglement of church and state, slavery) that they want to do which their state would approve of but the federal system wouldn't allow to happen. They will rarely remember their support for states' rights when the wheel turns and some other person's pet issue is suddenly being beaten down by the federal system.

Date: 2006/11/26 04:47:13, Link
Author: mcc
At this point, I guess, from the DI's perspective, why bother holding back? ^_^

Date: 2006/11/26 18:03:29, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,16:45)
This fight is indeed pointless, and indeed is yet again the standard fratricide of the progressive bunch. Hey we're argumentative fuckers, when our chew toy is bust we get all nasty until a new one shows up.

I don't really think it has anything to do with progressives. I think there's just a tendency of people in general being unable to discuss religion in a reasonable manner.

Date: 2006/11/27 04:20:17, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Louis @ Nov. 27 2006,01:44)
Fuck it. You all can think me as nasty as you like, but the sheer level of dumb being exhibited by Skeptic and others borders of the amazing.

Find me ONE example of where I have claimed all religious people are stupid.

Find me ONE example of where I have said religious people are not entitled to believe as they will.

Find me ONE example of where I have said that no god at all exists, absolutely, certainly in every sense of the word.

Find me ONE example of where I have said we should cast out the evil religionists from our midst and have nothing to do with them in the fight against fundies.

I could go on. In each case you will not find a single example. People, STOP now. STOP claiming the arguments I am making are somehow the same as the strawmen in your heads. They are not.

So... I might be about to ramble a bit here, please bear with me if so:

Personally I have a problem with people who claim that: all religious people are stupid; that religious people are not entitled to believe as they will; or that religionists should be barred from participating in the fight against fundamentalism.

But I haven't seen you espousing a single one of these viewpoints. In fact I haven't really seen you say anything particularly unreasonable in this thread at all, though I have to admit I mostly skimmed it. I can't know for sure, but I think pretty much any lurkers reading this thread will find it painfully obvious that you're the one being reasonable here and "skeptic" is being just a crazy, straw-man flinging fundie.

I'm making this post mostly to say: The people at PT and such who have been expressing concern with "burn the religionists"-flavored atheism over the last week or so aren't trying to say all atheists, all materialists, or even all people who think religion is harmful, fall into this excessive category. I think many or most of the people expressing this have been atheists, or nearly so, ourselves.

I am just posting to say I hope you realize there's a difference, and people like Skeptic who are just trying to paint anyone who won't accept their own religious viewpoint with the "evangelical atheist" strawman brush are not in any way the same as people who just plain think "evangelical atheism" (if it exists) is bad or to be avoided. Personally, when I speak out against what I would label as "evangelical atheism", I do so because I want the gibberish people like "skeptic" fling to remain straw men, and not valid criticisms-- I want it to be publicly clear to any honest observer that the intolerance toward others that is so standard in right-wing christian circles will not get be accepted in the same way if it tries to creep into rationalist communities.

(And to be clear, when I talk about evangelical atheism in the post above, I don't mean "strong atheists" or "atheists who actively believe religion is societally and personally harmful". I pretty much just mean "atheists who are dicks about it and/or run around trying to convert everyone whether they're okay with that or not". I'm beginning to suspect "evangelical atheism" isn't a very good term for this, as it's so ambiguous and so easy to turn into a straw man, but I'm not sure what best to use. If you can think of a better term to use, let me know. While I agree with Nick Matzke's side of the PT argument in principle, I have to admit I worry that he's doing the same thing he's accusing Dawkins of by using this loaded "evangelical atheist" term-- stating his viewpoint in impolite or excessive terms, and thus turning off people who might otherwise have agreed with his viewpoint if he'd just argued it calmly rather than bashing people over the head with it.)

Date: 2006/11/27 22:16:02, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Russell @ Nov. 27 2006,05:56)
I think pretty much any lurkers reading this thread will find it painfully obvious that you're the one being reasonable here and "skeptic" is being just a crazy, straw-man flinging fundie.
Well, now, that's not quite fair. "Skeptic" may be somewhat irrational, and is certainly given to flinging straw-men, but "fundie"? How so?

Well, I decided to use the label due to some comments he made about school prayer and the pledge of allegiance that I took issue with. I may well have been unfairly jumping to conclusions.

Date: 2006/11/28 22:19:06, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Richardthughes @ Nov. 28 2006,15:13)
DaveTard goes Ready, FIRE!, aim


Hiya Dave, you odious bellend. You lept to a conclusion that isn't, you bad creobot.

This particular one is so priceless I just want to quote it here in case they delete it later.

The Sound of a Nested Hierarchy Shattering
by DaveScot on November 28th, 2006 · 9 Comments

Chromosomal sex determination in the platypus discovered to be a combination of mammal and bird systems. The resemblance to birds is now more than just superficial.

Filed Under: Intelligent Design

Anyway, the funny thing here is, though I sometimes criticize them the New Scientist article about this particular subject seems to be pretty well-written. I do have one question though. This is the part of the article DaveScot's outburst seems to have been triggered by:

Mammals and birds

Another intriguing discovery from the study is that the ten chromosomes form chains during the sort of cell division that creates sperm or eggs. The chromosomes at one end of the platypuses’ chromosome chain shares similarities with mammalian sex chromosomes, while the other end shares characteristics with the sex chromosomes of birds.

The platypus X1 chromosome has 11 genes that are found on all mammalian X chromosomes. The X5 carries a gene called DMRT1, which is also found on the Z chromosome in birds.

But although many people believe that DMRT1 will turn out to be the key sex-determining gene in birds, Grützner cautions that there is no evidence that it plays a similar role in the platypus.

The way in which chromosomes determine sex in mammals and birds was thought to have evolved independently after the two classes diverged 300 million years ago.

"But this links the two systems together and raises the issue of whether the ancestral mammal had a sex chromosome system similar to birds,” says Grützner.

Is DMRT1 still present in other mammals besides just the platypi or other animals, and if so, what if anything does it do there? Typing the name of that gene into Google I see implications that humans have DMRT1 as well. Is that the same DMRT1 or something different?

Date: 2006/11/28 22:24:44, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (keiths @ Nov. 28 2006,22:19)
EDIT:  Oops, mcc -- our posts crossed in the ether.

So like do we have to trade insurance information now or what

EDIT: Okay, wait, I only just now got around to reading the comments.

6. Michaels7  // Nov 28th 2006 at 7:17 pm

Knock, knock.


Urchin who?

Urchin ya want to know why they put me and Tube Worms in the Kingdom Animalia?

Uhhh no, but the Tree is pretty.

Comment by Michaels7 — November 28, 2006 @ 7:17 pm

Is... I'm confused. Is he saying he doesn't think sea urchins and tube worms should be classified as animals?

And which kind of tube worm is he talking about? From a cursory check, there's apparently things named tube worms in four different phylums. You think he meant the "giant" ones?

Date: 2006/11/29 00:53:53, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (stevestory @ Nov. 28 2006,23:12)
Quote (phonon @ Nov. 28 2006,20:26)
Well then, by your logic of one miracle being no more miraculous than many miracles, we can just say that 6 billion humans were all created in 6 billion separate miracles and throw out evolution altogether. Case closed. -ds

Yeah but see, what if you use your one miracle to miracle like a thousand miracles into existence?

And have you ever like looked at the back of your hand? I mean, like really looked at it?

I bet this is how dogs see.

Date: 2006/12/03 03:55:10, Link
Author: mcc
"biological philosopher"?

Date: 2006/12/04 04:51:46, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (steve_h @ Dec. 03 2006,21:13)
Quote (Kristine @ Dec. 04 2006,03:44)
What do people make of that "TalkOrigins Delisted by Google" post?

It looks like has been hacked. AFAICT this site has never contained any advertising except a link to the panda's thumb for years. See for snapshots of it in the past.  I would advise everyone to be on the lookout for anyone  with any or all of the following attributes: a grudge against Wesley; a history of threatening him or his sites with hacking; personal experience of the damage that delisting can cause; and an inability to  suppress his or her glee at the delisting.

;)  added for legal reasons.

I can't imagine what you could be trying to say.

Date: 2006/12/06 04:44:30, Link
Author: mcc
So the first new Panda's Thumb post in five days or so goes up, and ... it's about Richard Dawkins.

:Sigh: I kind of have to admit, I'm wondering how long until PT's main topic of conversation starts being science again  ???

Date: 2006/12/11 02:26:59, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Kristine @ Dec. 10 2006,22:35)
Okay, okay...people want me back. Well, thanks.

Good luck on the final anyhow.

Date: 2006/12/13 22:57:49, Link
Author: mcc
This is the perfect follow-up to the discovery earlier this year that illegal immigration is caused by abortion

Date: 2006/12/14 22:06:29, Link
Author: mcc
This was a pretty good article by New Scientist standards.

This really isn't all that surprising, I don't think, even given the DI's loathing for labwork. The dembski/behe technobabble that they came up with in 1995 no longer works now that it's been aired in court. They now have to come up with some new technobabble if they're to continue at all. Using my amazing psychic powers, I predict that one of the following two things will happen:

1. We will literally never hear from these people ever again

2. In a few years Axe and Dixon will start publishing books full of technobabble under some new banner which is not "Intelligent Design", taking the exact places Behe and Dembksi took under the ID banner. This technobabble will be based on the "research" done at biologic over the next couple years; and since the list of research topics in that article is ALL about evolution and nothing about "design", we can assume the DI STILL hasn't learned their lesson and the technobabble will all be of the form "We did some research, and we discovered this thing about evolution that NO ONE CAN EXPLAIN AND NO ONE WILL EVER BE ABLE TO EXPLAIN. Therefore goddiddit."

Date: 2006/12/15 00:17:08, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Dec. 12 2006,16:26)
Language and speech of mankind cannot evolve by random mutation and natural selection too. It is also  Noam Chomsky opinion.

Good lord, I really hope you don't think this is some kind of profound statement (or that it actually means something)...

Wait. I'm no linguist, but isn't Noam Chomsky's big thing that all language can be derived from simple generative grammars?

Date: 2006/12/22 02:58:09, Link
Author: mcc
Either Houston or San Jose, depending on what you mean by "from".

Date: 2008/03/22 00:50:59, Link
Author: mcc
Hey, quick question. Sometime around the time he disappeared from Panda's Thumb, Lenny Flank made some kind of vague post indicating he was starting some kind of new blog of his own. I'd be curious to read that, but I never actually managed to get hold of a link to it. I've been wondering what that was about and if it's still up. On google all I can find related to Rev. Flank is some ancient geocities site.


Date: 2008/03/22 00:55:07, Link
Author: mcc
Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ Mar. 22 2008,00:12)
Quote (Guest @ Mar. 21 2008,17:41)
sort of like Eliza?

No. Eliza mimics Rogerian psychotherapeutic practice by pattern-matching and templated substitutions, coupled with a store of "punt" queries.

A Markov-chain travesty generator is both more flexible and more generic, but less likely to produce output that makes sense to us, though a surprisingly large proportion of it may be grammatically correct. An article in Byte magazine, I think October 1984, laid out n-gram analysis and provided a travesty generator in Pascal. Now, there is a travesty generator in "emacs" (M-x dissociated-press) and the standard Perl book also contains one in Perl.

Insofar as Markov chain babble generators go, I am a great advocate of the "MegaHal" software. It's got a simple programming interface and is easy to embed in larger programs.