Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tai Ji Class, for College Credit?

OK, I know it's Evergreen, the hippie feel-good school of Washington, but this is a little much. I just got a flyer for their extended education courses for winter term. Included in the course catalog is this course, which is worth 2 credits.

"Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain, Tai Ji Workshop"

It is described as a unique opportunity to study with Chungliang Al Huang: a philosopher, calligrapher, dancer, bamboo flute player and Tai Ji master. Chungliang is the embodiment of energy and wisdom: a matchless catalyst of East meeting West. The workshop will show people how to incorporate Tai Ji into their business and everyday lives. The participants will learn how to create an energy that transcends daily life activities in order to make them more successful in their professional and personal lives.

What a load of crap! This is a joke, shouldn't be worth any credits, and is paid for by public money, since it is a state university. Damn Hippies!
And the picture is from a billboard alongside I-5 south of Chehalis. It usually has statements that are of an extreme conservative, fundamentalist point of view. It's privately owned and maintained, so nothing can be done about it. Morons.

Monday, November 19, 2007

An Unfortunate End for Two Podcasts.

It is with much regret that I bid farewell to two of my favorite podcasts. Logically Critical and Dogma Free America are both calling it quits. The hosts cite the time needed to produce the shows as the primary reason for ending the shows. I only wish it wasn't so.

Logically Critical promoted rational thinking, and took a very humorous approach to presenting the material. Shows included topics on "Why Atheism?" "Wacky Bible Stories" and "Ode to a Superhero" and they always included funny references to TV shows and movies of all ages. Dogma Free America was put together to inform about news stories of extreme dogmatic thinking. Malaysia, Australia, and the Southern US were often locales for these news stories, and the unfortunate thing was the truth of the news.

Both shows are still well worth checking out. While they are still up on I-Tunes, give them a listen.

Friday, November 9, 2007

More Credulous Programming From the History Channel

From the moment I saw the ad for this show, I dreaded what the final product would be like. Monsterquest is produced by The History Channel, and the first episode I witnessed was about a Sasquatch sighting in Canada, north of Ontario. Ottowa. The show consisted of interviews with witnesses, who provided poor testimony at best, and a couple true believers, one with unfortunate authority provided by his position as a professor at University of Idaho.

Their evidence was flimsy, and the conclusions were pretty bad. Of particular note was the tissue that was analyzed. When evaluated by an independent lab, the result was that it was note of animal origin (likely synthetic) and they couldn't find any DNA. But the believers used their own method to extract DNA, by repeatedly adding chemicals and agitating the sample until something appeared. This "sample" tested as somewhere between chimp and human DNA, basically one gene was mutated, and somehow they managed to say it was halfway between humans 23 chromosomes and chimp 24.

MonsterQuest was yet another History Channel production that promotes pseudoscience in the worst way. Please, avoid this like you would avoid a mangy bear.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

New Bigfoot/Sasquatch Sighting

The bad photo taken at night is the most recent photo of Bigfoot, taken with a motion-sensitive camera. Hard to see what it really is, and I always thought Sasquatch was supposed to be a biped. I personally agree with Dr. Steven Novella (of The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe fame) in his assessment that, if you absolutely had to pick a supernatural creature to compare this to, I'd chose a werewolf. Most credible people think it's a mangy bear.

Of course, everyone should know that good ol' Sasquatch, also known as Squatch, is drumming for the Presidents of the United States of America, and being a Sonics mascot while their still in Seattle.

Ben Stein and Intelligent Design

Ben Stein, he of "Bueller" fame, is apparently heading up a film on ID. The film is entitled Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed and focuses on ID, the "flaws" in evolutionary theory, and the controversy of how this aspect of science is taught in public schools. From the run-up I've heard about, this type of film is exactly what rational, pro-evolution thinkers need to come up with. Unfortunately, the first major volley in the evolution-ID wars to hit the big screen will come from the ID camp.

Ben Stein is a household name. Most people look at him as a very intelligent, reasonable person, and many will probably leave with the opinion of "If Ben Stein supports ID and thinks evolution is all wrong, and he's a smart guy, then he must be right, so I guess ID is correct." ID has the financial backing (from groups like the Discovery Institute) to put out big-budget movies, hire the notable names, and get people talking about the controversy. Stein was recently on "The O'Reilly Factor" where he and Billo were casually laughing and joking about those silly "Darwinists" and discussing how damaging the ideas of evolution are to society. It made me ill to watch.

The time has come to fight back, utilizing the same methods and funding that ID has. Some form of significant funding needs to help produce an entertaining, engaging, and educational film that illustrates the true nature of evolutionary theory. Science is getting it's collective ass kicked by IDers in the public realm because science feels that the facts simply speak for themselves. When presenting the case for evolution, most scientists feel they are getting their point across in a dynamic fashion. (Sorry guys, but we're not always the most effective at engaging the target audience.) Most refuse, or struggle mightily, to get funding and consult some media specialists to make a "trendy"film that entertains and teaches that evolution is a fact!!

In the 80s, science declared the creationism movement dead, after creation science was ruled to not be acceptable for the classroom by the supreme court. It came back as ID. Several years ago, ID was proclaimed to be irrelevant and essentially dead by many scientists. Two months later, it was on the cover of Time magazine. After the recent Kitzmiller v. Dover court case, science had a tremendous legal victory over ID, and many considered this case closed. Now, Expelled and Ben Stein prepare to bring ID to the mainstream audience on the big screen. What will evolution science do to respond? How will we put the final nail in the ID coffin?

Thanks to Dr. Randy Olson, make of Flock of Dodos, and Derek and Swoopy of Skepticality for some of the information used above.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Another October 31st has come and gone. So passes Halloween, Samhain, Celtic New Year, or whatever you celebrate. I'm very pleased with how my pumpkin turned out (it was a drowning victim, poor thing) and, as usual, the only ghosts and supernatural events were either kids on the street or on TV.

CSI:New York themed the show around the house from the Amityville Horror story, and a zombie in the big city. I was pleased to discover that both mysteries were solved on the show to be natural in cause, no spirits needed. At least the show got something right for once.

Looking forward to next year's pumpkin and costume planning already. Now if only I could get to Bob Novella's Haunted House/Maze in Connecticut.....

Haunt you next year!