Dienstag, 15. April 2008

Bishops and Altar Boys

Why support anyone who doesn't think child abuse is important enough to do something about it?

Victims: Pope Benedict Protects Accused Pedophile Bishops

No Trial, No Punishment...


It's as if the pope didn't understand what a horrible deed this is.

Despite the graphic, this is not a laughing matter. This is sexual abuse committed on children.

Montag, 14. April 2008

Too precious to ignore

I found this little gem by the writer of "Expelled" on Manufactroversity (an awesome term to describe the core claims of Expelled).

Kevin Miller, one of the writers for "Expelled" spills the whole guts
of their anti-science agenda at "After the Bar Closes":

"As for being mystified by "my cause," my main interest in this
project is the whole philosophy of science angle. How do we
conceptualize science and its implications? How can we know that we
know anything? The debate between rationalism and empiricism.

First of all, that last sentence is laughable. We apply rationality to interpret these results of empiricism. How there can be a debate between those two things is beyond me. I can only wildly guess that he sees empiricism as some sort of empiricism without rationality. Maybe that would mean one would rather not apply the rational explanation that drugs can cause hallucinations, but claim the things these people see are real. I would not call that empiricism, though, and I am sure Kevin Miller agrees. Yet, if you apply supernatural cause, which you never measured, but only felt, assumed, or claim to have seen, you're doing exactly the same thing as applying reality to hallucinations. So, I remain baffled as to what his definition of empiricism is supposed to be, if rationalism is not supposed to be part of it.

Epistemology, that sort of thing. Personally, I see ID as a challenge
not just to Darwinian evolution but to the very foundation of the
scientific enterprise itself. Will we allow non-material causation
into science or won't we?

We most certainly would if evidence spoke that way. Since I can remember ever hearing about ID, they've been asked to bring forth just such evidence, and not delivered. Even before it was 'ID', but just crationism, there has always been a major fail at producing anything substantial - like functioning theories, experiments, etc. Empty claims were debunked by the evidence, such as irreducible complexity... so, we're still waiting for the epistomological evidence.

Most people think this question was settled
decades or centuries ago.

Centuries, I don't know (but I would think so), but certainly for decades, it has been the consensus among science to only allow explanations that are evidence-based into science. The answer to the question is the same as above and has been for all this time: any form of causation will only be allowed into science if there is evidence for it, and if it is testable. If it's not testable, it's not even in the realm of science.

IDers say new evidence in biology and
elsewhere compels us to reconsider our answer.

Yes, that's true: That's exactly what IDers say. Unfortunately, saying it doesn't make it true, at least not in the sense creationists claims. Evidence in biology leads us elsewhere all the time - so if I took this sentence out of context it could even be considered correct. After all, this is how science works - follow an intriguing hint of new evidence and hope to discover something new. Unfortunately, evidence does not currently lead us to "non-materialistic" causation. There's no other way of saying it than pointing at the above sentence in context and realize that it is simply wrong, if not a deliberate lie.

I find this intriguing,
especially when you bring in philosophers like Michael Polanyi, Alvin
Plantinga, and new discoveries in quantum physics that are essentially
saying the same thing. I'm not talking about supernatural causation--
as in magic. Just non-material causation, such as human consciousness.

Okay, stop. That's one of those absolutely typical creationist strategies - one of the very typical non-scientific ones (and I am not so sure they're doing this consciously), so let's expose it. A) He finds it intriguing. That's his right, for sure. I used to find the "Bible Code" intriguing, before I realized what a bunch of nonsense it is. But - uh - quantum physics are saying the same thing? I am sorry, sir, you fell for another unsubstantiated creationist claim - or made up one yourself. But here comes the big mistake: Suddenly, human consciousness is a non-materialistic causation. Would you have noticed the blatant flaw in that one, if I had not pointed it out? Maybe, maybe not. He uses human consciousness as a reason, as evidence for non-material causation, suggesting that it really is, implying that it's just a fact that fits the subject. It's not. There's no evidence that human consciousness has a non-materialistic causation. It's a complex subject and we might not yet know how it works (and it is very intriguing), but as always "we don't know yet" is certainly no evidence whatsoever for "non-materialistic" causation. There's no positive evidence for "non-materialistic" causation, either, but Kevin Miller would like you to buy that as a fact when he writes this sentence, hidden in the paragraph. Whether that's deliberate or not, the context tempts us to believe that.

Right now, I see many branches of science--particularly evolutionary
biology--as highly rationalistic. Theory-driven rather than evidence

I would like his definition of 'rationalistic'. He seems to wish to imply this is a bad thing, so I am highly interested in his definition. All I can think of is "thinking rationally", which is the very core of science. People who don't think rationally, but irrationally, certainly don't produce useful results that others or they themselves can build upon. So I am really intrigued as to what this "rationalistic" is and why he implies its a bad thing. If that last sentence in the above quote is supposed to be any explanation for that, it fails its purpose. Or he just didn't get the point of a theory. We can spell it out for him, though:

Evidence leads to conclusions. Lots of evidence leads to hypotheses. Tested hypotheses, based on that whole lot of evidence leads to theories. Theories drive further science by being continuously applied, tested and refined to produce more evidence that leads to new realms of discovery and strengthens the theory. Evidence and theory, in science, are inseparable. I am starting to get the feeling that Kevin Miller has a whole lot of problems with the connections within science. First he couldn't see a connection between empiricism and rationalism, and now he fails at the connection between evidence and theory. In other words, he throws up his hands and calls us a yoghurt-pudding-and-butter driven society, rather than a milk-driven society, not seeing the connection between all these products.

ID seems to be an attempt to call science back to a more
empirical approach--at least according to the rhetoric I've heard from
ID advocates. (I can't tell you how many times I've heard them say,
"Follow the evidence wherever it leads.") So I'm prone to wonder if
all the fireworks over ID are really just the most recent
manifestation of an age-old scientific debate that's been cloaked in
all sorts of modern religious and political agendas. It's just the
latest swing of the rationalist/empiricist pendulum. At least that's
one way of trying to conceptualize it. I could be way off."

Yes, he is way off. ID is the very opposite of calling science back to a more empirical approach, it basically says 'throw empiricism overboard!', but he's probably correct that it's a rhetoric he's heard from ID advocates. They tend to repeat things over and over again in the hopes that either people will buy it or that it becomes true. The evidence leads away, far away, from ID. It has been shown over and over again that ID is actually not leading us back to empiricism and it's claims have been debunked (and not by the proponents of it, because they seem to not be doing research to begin with). Again, saying that ID leads to a more empirical approach is simply wrong, or even a deliberate lie.

It's been a long day.

I picture a drowsy, tired Kevin Miller at his keyboard, trying to make sense of the world after working for a couple of days straight (the best state of mind to be in for IDealistic brainwash). Somehow he thinks that a rational and an empirical approach necessarily exclude each other.

Curious, when you consider that in fact, rationality applied to empiricism is how science actually works.

I'd forgive him, I'm tired, too sometimes. But unless he was drugged up, tired and drowsy throughout writing Expelled, he must already have consented to this nonsense while being aware of his senses.

Sonntag, 13. April 2008

I should get bored by Expelled-lies.

Recently, people on scienceblogs.com (or at least that's my source) have been pointing out that there is an anti-semite in the creationist movie Expelled: No Intelligence within allowed.

In fact, it is Maciej Giertych, who is speaking for the ID creationist side of things. Of course, as far as I understand it, his unfriendly ideas towards Jews are not mentioned in the movie, only the side that he, as a scientist, speaks for ID.

So, nobody is surprised by this. Everyone is merely pointing it out.

But I was wondering, why are we not at all surprised? The answer seems obvious, to say the least: It's yet another lie (yawn) within this movie.

But it's not only that - it's an absolutely typical lie for the creationist fraction, and especially for Expelled. It goes into the same ranks as excluding Kenneth Miller and other religious scientists from the movie: It is evidence against the purpose of the movie, which is to suggest that an acceptance of evolution ("Darwinism") leads to atheism, and is necessary for the Holocaust to happen.

Religious scientists in acceptance of evolution and creationists with hostile views towards Jews would totally ruin the movie. Neveretheless, Giertych is in the movie and Miller is not. And we're still not surprised.

Now why that? Because it's ID, and ID doesn't do research, ID doesn't put effort into anything but publicity and political agenda. And that research includes that on the people they're talking to and about. That includes research on Darwin's lack of racism, the meaning of the title of his book, the premises of evolution and also research on the people they interview.

It does not matter which side people are inteviewed for, all that matters is purpose. And the purpose here is that a scientist agrees with the creationist view. It isn't of any relevance, apparently, that he's the best example against the main point made in the movie.

And that's exactly another reason why this movie is anything but scientific. In science, all you do for 'purpose' is set up your experiments in the hopes that the results will fulfill the purpose (or rather, the hypothesis you have). But if they don't, then you either move on into a different direction, or you accept the results and think about what they'll tell you. You don't go picking and chosing things to your liking. And you'd do better within research, knowing as much as you can about what you're talking about - all of it, in the best case scenario, though that's not always possible. So you'd go back into the literature about whatever you're investigating and try to figure out not only how to design your experiment, but also how to interpret the results based on this background.

If they had ever applied such a basic, scientific premise to the making of Expelled, not only would they have needed to include religious scientists into their 'documentary', but also taken a good look on the whole of their evidence. And one piece of evidence in the movie is Mr. Giertych. And 'interpreting' his anti-evolution ideas on the full background of his views would definitely mean something. Let put this in a scientific way:

These findings suggest that both belief in ID and acceptance of evolution are possible, but not necessary, for the development of anti-semitism in a person.

In fact, it can be assumed that neither causes or facillitates hostility against Jews, but that anti-semitistic views are decided on other premises or on a personal basis.

What this doesn't mean is that ID causes anti-semitism. It just means Giertych is an immoral little.........

The Blatant Insult at the heart of "Expelled"

This post is taken from my journal, using it as a first test, as I am not familiar with blogs just yet.

Sorry, I shall talk about Expelled again.

Harvard, Dembski, and the great Insult of Expelled

There's an awesome video I posted a while ago made by Harvard depicting the inner life of a cell (called "Inner Life" by XVIVO). It's a compromise between biological fact and aesthetics - because if you pictured the cell correctly, you'd not see anything: Cells are PACKED with functional elements, most of all proteins. In order to see something, you just have to leave something out - and make your choice as to what you'll leave in. In short, this video is a selective distortion of reality, and with the deliberate changes made, it bears the unmistakable handwriting of XVIVO.

Expelled took the easy way: It took the Harvard video and made it's own version of it: crappier, recolored, but definitely using the Harvard version as their template. It's actually so much of a bad copy, they have a lawyer, Peter Irons, onto them for plagiarism. The reason this makes me rather angry, because Harvard took lots of time and effort and editing to complete this video - lots of research, paper reading, rendering, designing, etc. ... Being familiar with scientific literature and some computer things, I can barely begin to understand how much work this must have been. So then, some lazy creationists who are already known for not working much (ever saw Intelligent Design proponents who claim they're so scientific creationists do actual research, experiments, etc.? Didn't think you did!), to come along and steal scientific work for a movie that claims that the scientific community consists of censoring, immoral, undermining people who caused the Holocaust (and without even asking permission, which they certainly would not have gotten).

But you know what now REALLY makes me angry?

There are scientists, a good bunch of them, who can reconcile their faith with science, including evolution. Kenneth Miller of Brown University (author of "Finding Darwin's God") is a devoted Roman Catholic, and there are scientists who are preaching at churches in their free time. Even the pope can reconcile his faith with evolution - and when asked where these people are in their 'documentary', not only does producer Mark Mathis say they're not really catholics, as if it was up to him (and not the pope) to decide that, no, he also says they would have "confused the film unnecessarily". The only thing that would have done is destroy the blatant creationist propaganda that scientists necessarily are atheists, nazis, holocaust-causers and immoral killers of freedom of speech. Where in the world would you put religious scientists (the majority of scientists, by the way) when trying to impose this belief onto people?

The Insult

Blatantly: I've had it. I am (almost) a scientists and I am German. I do feel somewhat insulted by this outrageous propaganda of falsely narrowing the nazi regime down to something that has absolutely nothing to do with it.

You don't believe me? Evolution "sort of" has something to do with it? No, it doesn't. Read PZ Myers' account on that: It can't, for the simple reason that evolution merely states that nature does the same thing that men have done for centuries: Breeding. All Darwin said is that nature does it, too, but in a different way. The crucial point is that evolution is a purely. natural. process.

The holocaust has absolutely nothing to do with any natural process. And if you think that the idea that drove Hitler was wiping the earth clean from 'inferior' folk - he didn't need to know a thing about evolution: Every good farmer has, at some point, 'wiped the soil clean' of inferior plants and used the seed of the better ones for next year. It doesn't need Darwin or any sort of evolution or knowledge on evolution to draw sick, immoral conclusions from breeding. In fact, evolution would be a reason against such actions - if you really and honestly thought 'Jews' were inferior, you could lean back and wait for evolution to naturally wipe them off the face of the planet.

Expelled claims pretty much everything about science it is not

Such things as censoring, distorting reality, conspiracies, unwillingness to look into new ideas, immorality, insincerity, uncooperative behavior, irrationality, illogic, etc. etc.... seem to all be things Expelled claims, subtly or not, are widespread among science, despite the fact that science, at the very core, can only function on the very opposite of these things... and are part of the reasons why I love it so much.

Science is transparent, dependent on criticism and on accepting such criticism, and the point is to find out how the real world runs, how things are, and how we can interfere with them for such benefits as curing illnesses and preventing natural disasters - or what we can do to stop ourselves from destroying what we have. Any form of conspiracy, of accepting falsehoods, of allowing lies, etc. would completely undermine the very point of science. In science, liars are exposed, mistakes are pointed out and (hopefully) corrected, through the very way in which science works. Granted, a good cheater might not easily be exposed, but a cheater in science has obviously not understood the point of it.

Science is something I love, for these things among others. And denouncing it to the opposite of everything I love it for is an insult to that love - equally painful to the idea of someone really hurting my loving partner, who has to share my love with science (and willingly does so).

"When you’re in love, you want to tell the world. This book is a personal statement, reflecting my lifelong love affair with science." - Carl Sagan.

That aside: I am a German and a decendent of holocaust-sufferers. My grandfather could barely hear, walk, see and kept spitting up blood because of various bombs exploding around him... he also lost his wife and two children who ran away while he was at war - and his wife married someone else and never contacted him ever again. Yes, my grandfather contributed at the very front to Hitler's advance at the borders - my grandpa who was a loving, good-hearted being who didn't stand against the flow, who didn't cause trouble, and who simply was glad to have a job, given the lack of education that had been granted to him. Even such people share their guilt in Hitler's doings, but even such people have suffered the horrors of war, and even such people had their lives destroyed by it. My grandparents were simple people who wanted their own piece, freedom and happiness. It doesn't excuse their contribution, but at least makes it somewhat understandable - and understandable that asides from very global, humane, moral reasons, I am horrified by this on a personal level.

My grandmother dreamed of being a professional householder, but instead had to work from morning to midnight as a seemstress, always sewing the same damn patterns together to the point where, when passing into old age, she could not unbend her fingers anymore. The reason she ended up where she was is because she had to flee from her home (these days located in Poland), leaving everything behind, fleeing from being in the crossfire of war.

My grandfather eventually became an atheist because of the damn war, saying 'If there was a god, he would not allow such cruelty'...and after seeing that much of this horror was done with the support of religion. My grandmother kept a strong belief, though outside of the church that had taken part in bringing such cruelties to her life.

My point is: I've witnessed just a fraction of the horrors of that war, and I am a scientist... and when Expelled is pointing at my fellow colleagues who've already made their way up the ladder of research, it's pointing at me, too. It's honestly suggesting that I'd willingly and passionately contribute to the very thing that wrecked my grandparents' health and lives and stole my mother's childhood and - involuntarily - her virginity when her grandfather, like many people who had witnessed the war's cruelty and couldn't cope with it - raped her before she could even read.

These things are claimed by creationists, who are the ones who willingly follow the cult that brought us countless more cruelties than Hitler - the most disgusting methods of torture, wars, pogroms and crusades. Surely, it isn't their fault that it was done in the name of religion, but nevertheless, they're still capable of justifying unspeakable cruelties through their faith, even today. Such things should make you think about the dangers of faith.

I don't know about you, but this is making me nauseaus, despite knowing what a bunch of BS it is - that no sane person would buy.

How much shame, moral and decency must a person lack, or how little thinking must they apply, to make such claims - and even top it off with saying they are the most moral beings among us.

I can't even get this into my mind. I can't get into my mind how any human being can be that devoid of a working conscience.

More and more reviews of Expelled turn up - including in places such as BBC, the New York Times, etc. ... as well as interviews with Ben Stein, the producer Mark Mathis... etc.

And of course with every review, either more distorted propaganda of the contents are revealed - or more criminal, immoral actions by the producers. There are people with deliberate criminal intentions pointing at us (who sure are not saints, but most certainly not that low), calling us liars and cheaters, and many people buy it without seeing who is behind such claims. I surf the internet, my usual sites such as scienceblogs.com, some news channels, The Richard Dawkins Foundation, my livejournal, German news sites, Nature and Science and other journals - and I always seem to run into another piece of lie and propaganda by Expelled and its followers, interspersed with scientific advances, break throughs, discoveries and accomplishments.

This is not an ad hominem attack, by the way - these people are on the absolute low-grounds of morality, not outside of this subject, but at the very center of it. For many of them (people such as Dembski and Sternberg excluded) I don't have any idea whether they're on the low-grounds of morality outside of their work with Expelled - but within them, they most certainly are.

While I originally thought that maybe these people are genuinely confused again, I'm now convinced this is deliberate, immoral and shameful action to scam believers, discredit science and glorify themselves (obviously Dembski is looking forward to publicity gained through their plagiarism).

In conclusion, I simply came to think about what exactly these people are accusing science of. And while everyone laughs and points and easily brings down the facts on science and the holocaust, the scam, the lies, the illegal activity, the fact that they're shamefully insulting people seems somewhat drowned under all these things. In other words, I merely looked beyond the scam and realized what they're saying:

They're insulting every German and international scientist, including myself, including every doctor, pharmacist, nurse, all the biologists that work on improving our agriculture, food, hygiene, etc., people who risk their health by working with the HIV viruses and other infectious or harzardous substances to find a cure for something, or the basics for finding a cure; they're insulting professors, teachers, researchers, lab assistants, universities, Max-Planck institutes, everyone who puts money into funding research, etc. etc. etc.

And why do they do that? Do they do it like many creationists, because after long indoctrination, they genuinely believe they must speak up for the existence of god truth of the bible, no matter what the cost?

I don't think so. I think the producers of Expelled are doing this for scam in the same way televangelists do, for money, for fame, for power. They're dragging some people with them, certainly - it might be that Ben Stein really thinks he's fighting for a genuine cause... but I see no genuine Christian power at the heart of Expelled.

I see scam.

In science, emotions are bad, for they distort results. Maybe that's why nobody ever stands up and points out that the creationists have gotten to the point of really, really insulting people with their lies. Stupidity, lies, insults, are best met in a mature, non-emotional way... but it is tough to stay cool in the face of such propaganda.

Please visit www.expelledexposed.com to get the facts.
Here you only get the emotions.

PS: One comment was deleted, not because it was an uninformed creationist comment, but because it was c&p-spammed all over the blogsphere. I delete spam, it's as simple as that.