Archive for the ‘Links’ Category


oprah drinks the antivax kool aid, from Bad Astronomy

May 4, 2009

Dr. Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, posted this earlier today on his blog, Bad Astronomy.

I knew that Oprah Winfrey was prone to antiscience; she has all sorts of New Age nonsense on her show, and the one time Randi was on in recent years he found the experience frustrating; Oprah unabashedly promotes all kinds of superstitious garbage.

But now she’s gone way, way too far: she’s signed Jenny McCarthy — notorious for her misleading statements about vaccines and autism — on for a multi-platform deal.

McCarthy has advocated a link between autism and vaccinations for years. She has written and spoken about it at length in very large venues like Oprah’s and Larry King’s shows, but her claims are wrong. Worse, they’re dangerous: by claiming vaccines are dangerous, she is scaring parents into delaying or even preventing their children from being vaccinated.

I don’t think this threat to the health of our children can be overstated: we have already seen a dramatic rise in outbreaks in preventable diseases due to the rise in media presence of antivax claptrap, and there have been deaths of children, deaths of babies, because of it.

And now Oprah is giving the premier mouthpiece for this movement a huge loudspeaker.

The timing of this couldn’t be more ironic, with Australian TV slamming the antivax movement due to the death of a four-week-old infant girl from whooping cough — a death directly related to the antivaxxers in Australia — with a growing response online to the distortions and outright lies of the antivaxxers here in the U.S, and with antiscience knee-jerking exacerbating the global reaction to swine flu.

Oprah: you have screwed up on this one, and in a huge, huge way. Jenny McCarthy has loudly and publicly increased fears over vaccinations based on nonsense and bad science. By giving her a platform, you are virtually guaranteeing that vaccination rates will decline further, there will be more outbreaks of easily preventable diseases, and therefore we’ll see an increase in deaths of children all around the world. You have claimed to want to make the world a better place — and you have actually done so in many ways — but this one act will completely negate any good you’ve done in the past.

Antivaccination rhetoric kills. It is that simple.


iowans can get gay-married

April 3, 2009

Okay, so the title is a farce, but the truth of it is, Iowa has decided to lift the ban on gay marriage. What a wonderful day! I might just celebrate it by getting married myself…

What I want to point out is this makes Iowans of most configurations now able to have a family. I’ve not always been one to want kids, but I know plenty of people who do and happiness is a good thing.

Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy tells it like it is on the issue of what a family is and why the law should not get in the way of that. I agree with him whole-heartedly.

Congratulations, Iowa. You just took two steps forward. You may now pass GO.


state board of edu-ignorance

March 27, 2009


Science Takes a Hit in Texas
March 27th, 2009 by Sam Ogden

Well, it finally came to an end today. This afternoon, the Texas State Board of Education adopted new science standards for the public schools in Texas. The new guidelines include language that leaves the door open for creationists to wedge religious myths into the science curriculum. The vote on the overall standard was 13-2 to adopt.

The debate was heated at times, and confusing at other times, but there was a lot at stake for students all over the U.S. And ultimately, they are the ones who will suffer the sins of the board.

I’ve personally followed and blogged about this story for two years now, and was disappointed that, despite the hard work and spot on recommendations by the teachers, review committees, and outside parties, like the Texas Freedom Network and the National Center for Science Education, board members let politics and, worse, religious beliefs guide their decisions.

It remains to be seen just how deeply today’s vote will impact students, but you can bet we’ll be talking about this unfavorable outcome for a long time to come.

See the press release from the Texas Freedom Network after the fold.

The Texas Freedom Network has released the following statement on the final adoption of science curriculum standards by the Texas State Board of Education today:


March 27, 2009

TFN President Kathy Miller: Texas State Board of Education Adopts Flawed Science Standards

The word “weaknesses” no longer appears in the science standards. But the document still has plenty of potential footholds for creationist attacks on evolution to make their way into Texas classrooms.

Through a series of contradictory and convoluted amendments, the board crafted a road map that creationists will use to pressure publishers into putting phony arguments attacking established science into textbooks.

We appreciate that the politicians on the board seek compromise, but don’t agree that compromises can be made on established mainstream science or on honest education policy.

What’s truly unfortunate is that we now have to revisit this entire debate in two years when new science textbooks are adopted. Perhaps the Texas legislature can do something to prevent that.


more video love

March 27, 2009

Found this over at It’s a beautiful video. Please watch it.


IDDFOS: UFOs with the Curio

September 10, 2008

Anim5 posts another episode, though this one isn’t a normal episode. Since he started his query into UFOs a few episodes back, he’s been working on speaking with podcasters and other significant people regarding the topic and their opinion. This time, he has Simon from The Curio.

They treat the topic with some mild skepticism. Actually, I suppose that’s not quite accurate. They definitely have skepticism about it, offering up that until there is some physical proof, the conspiracy theories are just wisps in the wind with not legs to stand on. However, Anim posits that there must be something to some of it. Conspiracy theories have a kernal of truth about them, he says. Simon agrees with this. I suppose I do too. There has to be a reason behind the suspicion in the first place. However, in the light of day, things look a bit different.

They touch on how it seems that a lot of people just want to have UFOs to believe in. This makes sense, considering some other links that people go to in their lives to find the things they think they need. Its not far fetched to want to believe something so bad (or to actually believe something so hard) that you start to see physical manifestations of it. Granted, the physical evidence is lacking and all other support is in the other direction, but that doesn’t mean that the people involved aren’t seeing something. It just seems that they might be seeing what they want to see. Pareidolia.

The eventually drifted over to conspiracy theories in general, where Anim expressed that he thinks there must be something going on behind the scenes, the Smoking Man as in the X-Files. I suppose I agree with this, but only in the since that there must be something going on that nobody see. No one. Not even the people involved. I think its possible for government and bureaucracy to have evolved into a greased system that allows one to draw connections between different offices and industries, but any real connection is purely by accidental design or exploited after the fact. I’m going with Occam’s Razor on this one.

Anyway, if you aren’t listening to IDDFOS, you should be. It’s smart stuff.


happy large hadron collider day!

September 10, 2008

Today is the day that the Large Hadron Collider is kicked up to half power. They are firing protons into the tubes as we speak. And guess what? The world didn’t end! Imagine that!

Rebecca Watson over at tells us of the secrets living deep in the basement at CERN, and xkcd is partying hard over the big event.

For those unfamiliar or confused on the topic, here is a short video from CERN about itself and the LHC.


IDDFOS episode #66

September 4, 2008

Lately, at <a href=””>International Detective Dragons from Outer Space</a> Anim5 has been touching on more of the same stuff he’s lightly touched on for a whle. Every now and again, conspiracy theories and the secrets behind the “all” seem to crop up, and it always leads to really in depth conversation. Actually, it would be fair to say that the whole show has been one giant conversation from one episode to the next for the last two years or so. I’m a big fan of long conversation anyway…

So, he’s talking about UFOs and other phenomena that have yet to be explained but sometimes seem to hold a kernel of truth (ahem). In the last episode, he’s asking people tell him what sorts of senses and experiences inform their perception of reality. One of his listeners writes back with this answer: time.

Once upon a time, I talked about how time flows differently in <a href=””>transit</a&gt;, and I still think its true. What sorts of things inform my view of reality: time definitely fits. I often think of things in terms of second or minutes, or how long or how much time left. I’m a temporal-spacial thinker, seeing things in chunks and durations.

I suppose that also adds in the concept of space into that informing. I try hard to make myself move in a flow, keeping myself as efficient and graceful as possible. That seems odd to think about, but I like it that way. Consider it part of my musician’s mind: doing the most simple thing is often the best, and making the least amount of effort adds to the greater result.