Respectful Insolence

Let’s ask the idiots about science

I’m beginning to wonder if maybe, just maybe, the tide is starting to turn when it comes to the public zeitgeist regarding the anti-vaccine movement. Not only have there been a lot of stories lately that eschew the false “balance” that used to be so common in news stories about vaccines, but even comedy magazines are dumping on the anti-vaccine movement. For instance, Cracked.com has an article entitled 5 Things The Media Loves Pretending Are News. What’s #5?

Let’s ask the idiots about science:

When it comes to matters of opinion or personal beliefs, it is absolutely the duty of the news media to report both sides (and any extra sides there may be, on those rare odd occasions when there are somehow more than two). It doesn’t matter which one they agree with, they need to acknowledge the fact that some people think gay marriage is a right and others think the gays are forming a unicorn army that will kill us all.

When it comes to matters of fact, however, they absolutely do not have that duty. Particularly when it comes to technical or scientific matters where it takes somebody with training to speak knowledgably on the subject.

If we’re talking about if, say, vaccines cause autism, we need to hear from scientists. That’s a scientific issue. We do not need to hear from Jenny McCarthy or Jim fucking Carrey, in the name of giving “both sides.” Jim and Jenny don’t get a side. They have no background in the subject, and it’s one that requires fucking background.

Sure, they can talk about poisonous vaccines to Oprah or whoever is sitting next to them at the Lakers game all they want. They have freedom of speech. That freedom does not guarantee them a seat on a panel of experts.

Exactly. Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey are not experts. Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey are so incredibly ignorant of science and medicine that one can safely discount virtually anything they have to say about the topics. Fortunately, the mainstream media and comedians are starting to notice.

Comments

  1. #1 Johnson B. Long
    February 22, 2010

    “Exactly. Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey are not experts. Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey are so incredibly ignorant of science and medicine that one can safely discount virtually anything they have to say about the topics”

    Just think. This statement about “science” comes from a person who still thinks we all came from monkeys through a process called evolution. Now, that is truly a funny story.

    Just think all this matter was floating around somewhere, it exploded, life accidentally started when water molecules collided with other molecules and then something alive came from it. it kept on changing until one day …. POOOF a monkey gives brith to a humanoid who continues to develop more sophistication with each passing genration.

    If you read this analysis with common sense rather than ‘scientific” endeavor, then you realize not only is it physically and mathematically improbable and impossible, but is hilarious. It sounds like a new Marvel superhero being created . GALACTIC GOO MAN – The man who evolved from nothing with brain powers that rival a chimpanzee here to save the earth from his own farts (global warming).

    Conservatives do not take you libs seriously becuase you ask the impossible. Global warming is a hoax. Evolution is a hoax and a damned satanic lie at best. Vaccines are okay if used properly and within context of their purpose, but some are not properly tested and are dangerous. Get over it already.

  2. #2 Primordial Soup Sorcerer
    February 22, 2010

    More on Galactic Goo Man, aka PRIMORDIAL SOUP SORCERER, my new screen name. Thanks for making it intersting guys.

    “Primordial Soup” down the drain after 80 years
    http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/240319

  3. #3 Johnson B. Long
    February 22, 2010

    Seriously. Evolution? HAAAAAA HAA HAAAAAAAA HAAAA!

    So Chris explain to the audience how something came from nothing all by sheer accident and something living came from something non-living all by accident. Go ahead. I’m waiting for your “scientific” expertise to inform us all.

    Can you create life in a laboratory? I doubt it. You can probably take something and copy it, but that is not creation.

    Johnson B. Long is just too big to fail.

  4. #4 Dave
    February 22, 2010

    When you get right down to it, it’s probably far more important that the comedians get it than the mainstream media. The MM are going to be resistant to leaving their beloved “tell both sides” paradigm anyway. Comedians, however, need not be “fair and balanced” and do not need to act as though idiots deserve the same credibility as experts.

  5. #5 Johnson B. Long
    February 22, 2010

    Who exactly are “you libs”? I didn’t realize this was a political blog. Science and reason do not fall only on some particular range along a political spectrum”

    ——————

    “science” and “reason” according to your definition does indeed fall under a liberal poltical spectrum.

    Science like the liberal concept of man made global warming falls under socialism or social justice /population control prorams. Global warming is a hoax. it makes you alot of money to spead around while it tortures and hurts businesses.

    Science like evolution is another example. Evolution is not 100 % infallibale fact. It is a theory of how life on earth changes. The definition of evolution as change over time is accurate. Living things adapt, or change over time. However, a horse is a horse. A lizard is a lizard. A bird is a bird. A fish is a fish. Time will never turn a fish into a reptile or a reptile into a mammal or likewise. That is your evolution model. One cold blooded reptile (dinosaur)gradually shrinks down several thousand sizes and becomes a warm blooded bird. That is impossible. It is not scienc, it is science fiction. Of course animals do change. That is adaptation, not evolution. It remains the same animal, not changes into something entirely different.

    Reason? What reason? I call it common sense. You should lend some of that reason to the white house and get us out of this mess we are in. Don;t blame Bush either. He may have had a part in it, but prez Obama the magnificant has had over a year to make a difference and he has – it’s worse and will continue to get worse until he learns economics and puts aside his childish social justice ideals that is killing this economy and the nation. Now, that’s reason.

  6. #6 CanonicalKoi
    February 22, 2010

    When did this “fair and balanced” BS start? Could you imagine Woodward and Bernstein getting the “other side of the story”–”Well, Dick’s been under a lot of pressure, you know, what with Checkers refusing to be house-broken and then there was that incident in Meeting one Sabbath….”? Lauri Lebo really hit on this in her book, “The Devil in Dover”. Her editor wanted her to come up with something in favor of the school board in order to be “fair and balanced”. She refused stating that there wasn’t anything she could say in their favor. Too bad more journalists don’t follow her example.

  7. #7 Glaxo PharmaBase 7
    February 22, 2010

    MESSAGE BEGINS

    That does it! Who spilled the beans about the Gay Unicorn Army?

    Anyone?

    I didn’t think so.

    Looks like it’s time for some purges up here at Orbital HQ.

    Cindy, get me my Thranzor . . .

    MESSAGE ENDS

    Lord Draconis Zeneca, VC, iH7L
    PharmaCOM Orbital HQ
    0010101101001

  8. #8 Bob O'H
    February 22, 2010

    You should check gimpy and the quackometer today – much joy at the House of Commons select report on homeopathy.

  9. #9 James Sweet
    February 22, 2010

    Of course, gay marriage is an issue where the MSM could do a little better job of debunking some of the lies on one of the sides, too… It is not “balanced” to act like there is any chance whatsoever of, say, clergy being forced to perform marriages they disapprove of!

  10. #10 Free Lunch
    February 22, 2010

    Yeah, the House of Commons Report was very hard on woomeisters.

    The one-line takeaway: “Don’t sell sugar pills as medicine.”

  11. #11 Johnson B. Long
    February 22, 2010

    “Also, how do you know dinosaurs were cold blooded? Have you met one? ”

    Well the dinosaurs that were reptiles were cold blooded. have you ever seen a warm blooded reptile? Triceratops does not exactly fit the category of dinosaur as we may think. Look at its hoofs. It has hoofs – its feet is more like an elephant or rhino than an actual lizard. Personally jusdjing from it’s appearance it probably was warm blooded and was more related to a rhino. I suppose we could summons marco polo since he witnessed one in China.

    Velociraptor is a joke. Of course they might have been fierce little things but Jurrasic Park just Hollwoodized them. I am quite sure they were smart and effective hunters, but apparently not smart enough to avoid the human spear and tribesmen of that day. The ones that were left after the flood were eventually hunted into extiction except for a few whcih still remain today – allgators, komodo dragons, crocs, etc.

    Before the flood animals did not fear humans as they do today. it was a totally different world. Humans and dinos could have easily cohabitated. Why not. We tame Lions, tigers, and bears. Oh my! We tame rhinos, hippos, and other dangerous game. Why not raptors, triceratops, and mastadon?

    PZ Myers riding a triceratops does not count as taming one though. I am quite sure a living dino would still be more tame than that poll fornicator ever will be.

  12. #12 Jeff Read
    February 22, 2010

    But Jenny McCarthy is a mom, an Autism Warrior Mom at that. That makes her far more qualified than any scientist who hasn’t had to deal with the agony of bringing up a child with no soul.

  13. #13 Johnson B. Long
    February 22, 2010

    ” bet you think High Fructose Corn Syrup is good for you, too.”

    Yeah it’s good for you. Just like:

    Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
    Sodium Flouride
    Yellow #6
    Aspartame
    Aluminum
    Mercury
    Hydrogenated oil …

    and the list goes on.

  14. #14 LovleAnjel
    February 22, 2010

    I’m pretty sure her kid is soulless because the vacuum created by Jenny’s own lack of soul sucked it out of him in utero.

  15. #15 Johnson B. Long
    February 22, 2010

    Looks like Chris may have been eating food cooked in hydrogenated oil from an aluminum pan and afterwards ingested too much sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium flouride, and topped it off with a mercury laced vaccine. In others words, you are a retard. Not naturally, but as a byproduct of FDA approved food products. You can thank me, the taxpayer, now.

  16. #16 Johnson B. Long
    February 22, 2010

    If it were up to me I would ban Sodium flouride, sodim lauryl sulfate, aluminum, and yellow # 6 from all products made in or imported into the USA. Of course we could just put the sodium flouride into the water of liberals and maybe eventually coax them into being our willing subjects for scientific experiments – like sending monkeys to Mars.

  17. #17 John Danley
    February 22, 2010

    ;^) (aka Carrey) might send you a bad tweet for this…

  18. #18 Johnson B. Long
    February 22, 2010

    No I don’t like soap. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I stay away from ingesting sodium lauryl sulfate and especially sodium flouride. Maybe we should just get our own well and forget city water.

  19. #19 peedoff
    February 22, 2010

    Oh so the scientists are the only ones that can say anything legitimate??? Like the scientists that first said smoking doesn’t cause cancer, HRT is okay, thalidomide etc. I bet you think High Fructose Corn Syrup is good for you, too.

    Oh and we should listen to the companies that have a captive market every time they come up with a new jab, can make billions of dollars, and have the protection of vaccine court. I’d love to have a product everyone HAD to have to attend school and the laws to protect me from being sued if it goes awry, woohoo!! Yeah I’d really protect that money making machine!

    Yeah, those mommies don’t know anything, just coincidence – or a ‘anecdotal’ evidence, if their child perfect one day becomes autistic after a shot. Yeah if you’re not a scientist you just have no right to talk about it!

  20. #20 Ian
    February 22, 2010

    @peedoff

    The following is predicated on the assumption that you are not a troll, which is somewhat doubtful when you consider the number of tired, debunked arguments (and straw men) you crammed into 3 paragraphs.

    First, you are confusing “science” and “scientists”. Scientists are subject to the same flaws, biases, and mistakes that any other human person is. I personally know a bunch of scientists, and most of them are about as infallible as the “pulling out” method of birth control. When a scientist says something, it’s appropriate to assume that they could be wrong.

    SCIENCE, however, is simply the objective description of facts. It is the observation and reporting of what happens in the world. When science says something is a certain way, it means that it has been observed to be so, with all other plausible explanations accounted for. Science allows large margins of error before drawing a conclusion. Science is dependent on the idea that a number of different people can make the same observations in the same way and find similar outcomes.

    So when one scientist, or one mommy, or one former actress say something and provide no evidence of its truth, you are absolutely right to question. However, when a number of different people make the same observations, AND CONTROL FOR OTHER EXPLANATIONS (where the anti-vaccine movement falls short), then it’s not a belief statement or a maxim – it’s a fact.

    Case in point – your own examples of smoking, HRT, thalidomide. It wasn’t mommies who announced those things weren’t safe. It wasn’t HRT patients who blamed their cancer on hormones, or smokers who blamed cigarettes for their COPD. It was science. The independent observations of a number of observers found the truth and turned around the present understanding of these issues. You seem to be comfortable with that process until it comes to something you don’t agree with. When a number of independent observers find, over several years in many different countries, no support for the conjecture that vaccines cause autism, you balk and make wild, unproven (and fundamentally unprovable) statements of collusion and protectionism.

    Your argument that scientists are the only ones who can speak intelligently about issues is unfounded. It is simply a coincidence that when scientists speak they use science to support their statements. Jenny McCarthy could be right too if she simply used science. She chooses not to, which makes her opinion essentially worthless.

    This next comment is predicated on the fact that you ARE, in fact, a forum troll: please die in a fire.

  21. #21 Chris
    February 22, 2010

    peeoff, you are probably right about mommies. It might have been a mommy who kept insisting that the company trying to market thalidomide in the USA actually provide data. Though I don’t know if Dr. Kelsey had any children by then, though she did get a presidential award for preventing the tragedies that occurred elsewhere from happening in the USA.

    Oh, wait… didn’t you know that some mommies are also doctors and scientists?

  22. #22 mandas
    February 22, 2010

    No wonder we have problems with science given the patent ignorance of people like peedoff.

    Firstly, there is no such thing as ‘anecdotal evidence’. There are ‘anecdotes’, which are stories based on nothing other than hearsay and gossip. Then there is ‘evidence’, which has data and facts to support it.

    Secondly, just because you think your child is perfect one day and then you think they are autistic the day after a ‘shot’ does not mean the ‘shot’ caused it. There is such a thing as causality, and you need to be able to demonstrate it if you are to make claims on issues such as this. Are these people so stupid that they think that if one thing follows another, then the first event must have caused the second? In any case, there is no evidence to show that the autism suddenly arose after the vaccination, with no preceding signs or symptoms at all. Where the children tested before and after the shot? Of course not.

    But of course, what would scientists know about such matters? All they do is conduct trials, examine evidence, exclude outside factors and biases, and analyse the results. Jenny McCarthy is obviously much more qualified to comment because she has appeared naked on the internet and had children.

  23. #23 Ian
    February 22, 2010

    To forestall an argument over a hole in my analogy in #11:

    Yes I realize that HRT and thalidomide (and sure, let’s say smoking too) was researched because of patient concerns and advocacy, and that women had to push hard for their concerns to be heard. However, even in these cases, while scientists may have been wrong, the SCIENCE ultimately stood behind the truth.

    The autism/vaccine has been subjected to this exact same process. If you think companies didn’t make big money off of thalidomide, smoking and hormone replacement, you’re nuts. And yet, despite the apparently ubiquitous and impenetrable conspiracy by Big Pharma, the science still came through for these medicines. However, the science has resoundingly found that vaccines aren’t responsible for anything close to the precipitous rise in the number of reported cases. Even the rosiest picture one could paint is that there’s a vanishingly small number of kids (well below the oft-quoted 1/150) who are predisposed to have some kind of neurological reaction to some kinds of vaccines. Hardly the smoking gun.

  24. #24 Maryn
    February 22, 2010

    Galileo was right and smoking causes cancer and surgeons should was their hands ergo vaccines cause autism because it hasn’t been proven.

  25. #25 Uncle Dave
    February 22, 2010

    Lord Draconis Zeneca, VC, iH7L
    PharmaCOM Orbital HQ
    0010101101001

    It was not I lord. I was with Cindy at the orgasm station from 2002 A.D. thru 2009 A.D. earth time.

    Bell Crank Blasphrom, VA, iH5L
    PharmCOM Orbital substation

  26. #26 Uncle Dave
    February 22, 2010

    I believe Holiday Inn addressed this issue in a few national commercials.
    Did you do any university research in graduate school, go to Med school, take biology or microbiology or even go to college?

    No, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn last night…

  27. #27 viverravid
    February 22, 2010

    one minor point: Cracked.com isn’t really mainstream media. They consistently show a sceptical and scientific bent to their humour – this is not really news.

  28. #28 Chris
    February 22, 2010

    Johnson B. Long (one very wishful ‘nym!):

    Just think. This statement about “science” comes from a person who still thinks we all came from monkeys through a process called evolution. Now, that is truly a funny story.

    Not even wrong. And the idiocy gets worse in the following paragraphs.

    Seriously, dude, you should stop when you are ahead. Unless that was a Poe.

  29. #29 Ian
    February 22, 2010

    Johnny B. Long is absolutely right! There’s a bunch of scientific nonsense that doesn’t stand up to common sense. Oh yeah I’m soooo sure that the world is made up to really really little tiny particles that just somehow magically stick together and make up all of matter. Suuuuure!

    Or the Big Newton conspiracy about so-called “gravity”. The Earth pulls me down to the ground because it’s flat and I’m heavy, not because of some irresistible “force” pulling all objects in the universe toward each other. Baloney!

    And don’t even get me STARTED on all the so-called “science” that makes it possible for me to have a computer and the internet so that I can write about my half-baked assertions about what constitutes good science! That’s all a bunch of BS too!

  30. #30 Fuzzzone
    February 22, 2010

    Who exactly are “you libs”? I didn’t realize this was a political blog. Science and reason do not fall only on some particular range along a political spectrum. I imagine there are clear thinkers, who recognize the primacy of logic and thought over pure gut instinct and whose knowledge of human history leads them to the correct conclusion that “common sense” is often wrong, of all political stripes here.

    What type of “conservative” are you? Something tells me anyone who picks the handle “Johnson B. Long” while claiming social conservative status is probably dealing with a number of internal contradictions and hypocrisies.

    Maybe Chris is right: Poe?

  31. #31 Chris
    February 22, 2010

    Hmmm… you actually posted something from Apologetics Press as evidence.

    News flash: religion != science. Plus the first sentence in that article is also “not even wrong.” Abiogenesis != evolution. Just so you know.

    (note: != means does not equal)

  32. #32 Chris
    February 22, 2010

    Either Poe or troll.

  33. #33 jen
    February 22, 2010

    yeah, people like Julie fucking Gerberding and Paul fucking prOffit should BE the panel because they are sooooo unbiased.$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  34. #34 Chris
    February 22, 2010

    More intelligent discussion of the “primordial soup” bit at ‘Primordial Soup’ Ousted from the Origin of Life?!?. Um, the Apologetics Press is still way off base.

  35. #35 Agent Smith
    February 22, 2010

    jen – To quote Cuba Gooding Jr., show me the money.

  36. #36 Glaxo PharmaBase 7
    February 22, 2010

    MESSAGE BEGINS

    I have had enough of this insubordination! First the Unicorn leak (and yes, you’re off the hook Blasphrom), but now it appears that the techs in the lab have clearly been nipping at the vat froth. Really, Johnson B. Long? What, Biggus Dickus wasn’t available? The idiots didn’t think you’d catch on instantly? And using the prideful stupidity program? Really, my minions need subtlety and at least a semblance of intelligence in their Countermeasure drones.

    Heads will continue to roll. Looks like this Galactic Pharma Despot picked the wrong week to stop slithing Xha’atarthneq. Do I have to do everything around here . . .

    MESSAGE ENDS

    Lord Draconis Zeneca, VC, iH7L
    PharmaCOM Orbital HQ
    0010101101001

  37. #37 Bruce
    February 22, 2010

    To the contrary, I think awareness about vaccines and associated risks is on the rise. Bill Mayer, Robert Kennedy and a lot of others are out there informing the public. Also you have new outlets, like Huffington Post which is working to spread awareness. The grip of the one sided media is faltering.

  38. #38 Chris
    February 22, 2010

    Johnny B. Wrong, did you know that tuna are warm blooded? Also, how do you know dinosaurs were cold blooded? Have you met one? Did you just decide that they are cold blooded, even though real scientists are still discussing the possibilities?

  39. #39 Jacksonskepticalsociety
    February 22, 2010

    My vote is Poe.

    When challenged in life I often fall back upon the greatest teacher of life lessons I have yet to encounter: Tabletop RPGs, especially Dungeons and Dragons.

    So an infestation of trolls, eh? Only two things kill trolls – fire OR acid! But these are flaming trolls, fire trolls, one of the rare and dangerous subtypes of these ubiquitous menaces.

    Acid is the only way to make certain that they stay dead.

    Cracked dot com dishes out the acid, this is true. One of my old-time favorites was “shit you wouldn’t believe is an actual lame conspiracy.”

    But you trolls are of a particularly weak stock. “evolution is a… satanic lie AT BEST!” What’s worse, really?

    Confusing evolution with abiogenesis and the big bang – classic Ray Comfort level bulshytt there. (Apologies to Neil Stephenson) it’s amazing that someone like johnson B long (not too big to fail) still gets out ye olde arguments about “oh a fish can never be a mammal!”

    Well no shit. Masterful job debating a point only you yourself made. Self debate. Creationists are great at it. Masters. Of self-debate.

    Perhaps a bit of reading would help?

    You guys GOT NOTHIN’ – “oh it’s a conspiracy, the proof is that there is no evidence!” “Oh it’s a plot by the debil!” “OMG I saw a thing it has to be a chupacabra!”

    Congratulations for shouting at yourself, telling yourself you are correct. Keep it up, this shit is comedy gold for people like cracked. Comedy. Gold.

    You can tell that people don’t quite get the whole “let’s not ask the idiots” idea: Of course it’s only evolution is true vs. not true. AGW or NOT. Vaccines (right up there with anesthesia and sterile operating theaters) vs. PLAGUE. No room for nuance, no room for discerning, detailed viewpoints. Yes or no. Idiots or not. Makes for a great 12 second TV spot. Fails at information.

    That shit is comedy in a can. Keep up the good work.

  40. #40 Chris
    February 22, 2010

    Bruce:

    Bill Mayer, Robert Kennedy and a lot of others are out there informing the public.

    Fail. Or sarcasm. But I vote for fail, since he did he misspelled “Maher.”

    Are we really supposed to get science from a comic?

    And if you need medical information do you actually go to a lawyer?

  41. #41 Ian Musgrave
    February 22, 2010

    #10 Peedoff wrote:

    Oh so the scientists are the only ones that can say anything legitimate??? Like the scientists that first said smoking doesn’t cause cancer, HRT is okay, thalidomide etc. I bet you think High Fructose Corn Syrup is good for you, too.

    #16 Ian wrote:

    Yes I realize that HRT and thalidomide (and sure, let’s say smoking too) was researched because of patient concerns and advocacy, and that women had to push hard for their concerns to be heard.

    Actually, NONE of the above were researched due to patient concerns and advocacy. The correlation between smoking and cancer was discovered by clinicians when the general public had no idea it was harmful (excluding the wowsers who jumped at any chance to get rid of smoking, but they didn’t identify cancer as a risk). Going from the correlation to robust proof of the link was complicated (and engendered several of our modern approaches to statistics, as correlation does not equal causation), but the research showed that smoking caused (a proportion) of cancers, especially lung cancer. The tobacco companies fought back, trying to obscure the link but the main point is that research on tobacco smoking and cancer was started by clinical researchers and carried on by other scientists, rather than patient advocates lobbying in the teeth of scientific resistance.

    To give a feel how much public opinion on smoking has changed, in one of the debates over eugenics, it was claimed that it would be a bad idea to give government the ability to regulate the number of children one had, otherwise the government could start telling you not to smoke!

    Thalidomide toxicity to foetuses was also found by clinicians, not by patient advocates. Thalidomide toxicity only occurred if it was taken during a limited time in pregnancy (which is why it wasn’t picked up in routine toxicity tests, where it was very safe), and it only picked up by acute clinical observers. Thalidomide was withdrawn almost immediately the study results were published (patient advocates were important in getting compensation though).

    HRT is more complicated because there are a number of different protocols called “HRT” and the involvement of advocacy groups multifaceted.

    HRT in its various forms was in fact supported by many feminists and female physicians, although another group objected to the medicalization of menopause. The surprising finding that long term HRT increased, rather than decreased cardiovascular risk led to wide spread abandonment of HRT, but again, the research on HRT and cardiovascular events was not initiated by patient advocates claiming that HRT increased heart attacks.

    Oh yes, high fructose corn syrup is no more dangerous than any other sugar.

  42. #42 Chris
    February 22, 2010

    Definite troll.

  43. #43 bob
    February 22, 2010

    Sodium lauryl sulfate? You don’t like soap? Boy, I’m glad this is an online, rather than in-person, conversation.

    Go away. Adults are talking.

  44. #44 DJ
    February 22, 2010

    I think the title of this blog post actually drew some idiots here, if Mr. Long is for real.

  45. #45 Antaeus Feldspar
    February 22, 2010

    Thanks to Johnson B. Long for demonstrating so vividly why it’s pointless to ask idiots about science.

  46. #46 Johnny
    February 22, 2010

    Triceratops does not exactly fit the category of dinosaur as we may think. Look at its hoofs. It has hoofs – its feet is more like an elephant or rhino than an actual lizard.

    Elephants have hoofs?

    Hasn’t anyone ever told you “don’t drink the bong water”?

    Or are you a graduate of Jack Chick University?

    http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/5001/5001_01.asp
    http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/1038/1038_01.asp

  47. #47 Luna_the_cat
    February 22, 2010

    Johnson B. Long: GOT to be Poe.

  48. #48 Chris
    February 22, 2010

    Johnny B. Wrong, sodium fluoride occurs naturally in much of the western USA ground water (“A 2008 U.S. Geological Survey study found that 4% of sampled wells had natural fluoride levels above the EPA Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL) of 2 mg/L.”). Some cities actually remove some of it to get it down to levels that do not cause Colorado Brown Stain.

    You seem to lack lots of basic knowledge. You obviously never graduated from high school. Perhaps you should consider taking some Adult Basic Education classes at your local community college. Those are the ones that are suggested for those who cannot pass the community college placement tests.

  49. #49 Calli Arcale
    February 22, 2010

    Johnson B Long @ 37:

    Well the dinosaurs that were reptiles were cold blooded. have you ever seen a warm blooded reptile?

    Loggerhead sea turtles, which are actually from a much more ancient line than lizards, dinosaurs, crocodiles and birds, produce a significant amount of internal heat, which facilitates their deep sea pelagic lifestyle.

    Triceratops does not exactly fit the category of dinosaur as we may think. Look at its hoofs. It has hoofs – its feet is more like an elephant or rhino than an actual lizard.

    Triceratops did not have hooves. For that matter, neither do elephants. (Rhinos do, though, like most ungulates.)

    Velociraptor is a joke. Of course they might have been fierce little things but Jurrasic Park just Hollwoodized them.

    You can say that again! Jurassic Park was ridiculous. It made Velociraptor huge (bigger than even Deinonychus, a larger dromaeosaurid) and Dilophosaurus tiny (they were actually quite large apex predators, not dinky little venom spitters).

    I am quite sure they were smart and effective hunters, but apparently not smart enough to avoid the human spear and tribesmen of that day. The ones that were left after the flood were eventually hunted into extiction except for a few whcih still remain today – allgators, komodo dragons, crocs, etc.

    Uh . . . no. Humans never hunted Velociraptor; Velociraptor was long gone by the time of Noah. (Or Utnapishtim. Take your pick.) Even most crocodilians were gone by the time of Man. (You wouldn’t believe how diverse the crocodilians once were!) Alligators and crocodiles are not descended from dinosaurs; they evolved on a parallel branch, another line of archosaurs, emerging from the crurotarsans in the late Cretaceous. Komodo dragons, however, come from an older line — squamates (lizards and snakes), which emerged in the Triassic.

    I do note that you have entirely disregarded the most ancient surviving reptile family of all: the chelonians. They are the only surviving anapsid reptiles, and they are the turtles and the tortoises.

    Before the flood animals did not fear humans as they do today. it was a totally different world. Humans and dinos could have easily cohabitated. Why not. We tame Lions, tigers, and bears. Oh my! We tame rhinos, hippos, and other dangerous game. Why not raptors, triceratops, and mastadon?

    Really? Humans and animals lived in harmony before the Flood? Forget science — where’s your Scriptural basis for that? You may be confusing the story of the explusion from Eden. Maybe your attention span is so short that you lose track between chapters 3 and 6. In chapter 5, Noah’s father talks about how great this boy will be because he’ll give them joy while working the land that God has cursed. Harmony? Nah. And then there’s this in chatper 6: 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.

    I really don’t think that humans would be killing each other and also living in perfect harmony with Nature. Also, God is apparently okay with people killing animals for food and clothing, as He gave Adam and Eve clothes made of animal skins.

    I’m sorry, Johnson B Long, but your views do not even make sense within the framework of Christianity. Truthfully, I can accept a person choosing to believe that the Bible is literally true, as long as they show they’ve actually read the thing. Me? I think God gave us brains for a reason. Look at the first three chapters of Genesis. Where did we go wrong? When we ate the fruit of knowledge of good and evil — that’s a metaphor for our dogged belief that we *know* things absolutely. We make judgments. “This is true. This is not.” We get in serious trouble then, because that’s when we deceive ourselves. That’s when Satan is at work. Only God has the perspective to truly know these things. When we start thinking we can do it ourselves, that is when we start to do evil. The ultimate sin is not murder. It’s pride. Everything else comes from that, including murder. (Which is why Jesus said you could boil the whole of the Law down to two things: love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. Do those two things, really do them, and you have set aside your pride.)

    That’s where science comes in. Science isn’t about refuting God or other nonsense. It’s about asking questions and not trusting ourselves with the answers. When done right, it is the best defense we have against our own pride. When our pride takes over, that is when we are most likely to forget God, and ironically, that is also when we fear science the most.

    I’m a Christian. I believe passionately in Christ. That’s why I get so sad when I see someone advocating willful ignorance in His name.

  50. #50 squirrelelite
    February 22, 2010

    Actually, JBL, I like a little bit of sodium with my flour, especially in a good pie crust, but I never thought of calling it sodium flour-ide?!?!

    As I recall from my brief research on fluoridation a month or so ago, the level of fluoride in the soil and, presumably, the ground water as well is higher in California and most of the southwest. So, as someone who thinks deeply about these things, do you get your ground water from the “liberal northeast”? Or do you just drink distilled water to preserve the purity of your bodily fluids?

    Anyway, please forgive me for amusing myself by throwing in a little personal anecdote, but it does sort of go along with the general tone of this comment thread.

    Many years ago I worked during the summer to earn money to help pay for college by working in an oil refinery doing cleanup/maintenance on various processing units in the refinery. One unit used fluorine gas for some reaction as part of the process and occasionally it would release extra pressure and vent some of the fluorine into the atmosphere. (I would be surprised if the EPA lets them get away with that now, but this was a while ago.) Occasionally, we would detect a whiff of the gas. I still remember the smell. It was a little bit like chlorine, but even more acrid. Anyway…

    “I love the smell of fluorine in the morning. It smells like… It smells like… Earning money to go to college!”

  51. #51 mandas
    February 22, 2010

    Johnny

    Not sure if you are still around, but if so could you help me out with a couple of things about the flood.

    Firstly, I was wondering what Noah built all the fish tanks out of so the fish didn’t die in the flood.

    Secondly, as I am Australian, I have always wanted to know how the koalas managed to get back to Australia after they got off the ark.

    Could you help?

  52. #52 squirrelelite
    February 22, 2010

    Thanks for the link, Chris.

    I am pretty sure there is a map hiding somewhere in the references on the CDC website, but I couldn’t find it earlier and my browser is being uncooperative tonight.

  53. #53 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    February 22, 2010

    Calli,

    I sometimes forget that one can be a believer AND accept the uncomfortable truths science brings to light. Perhaps it is because in this day and age truth and loudness seem inversely related and that loud sells better. Thank you for your posts.

    TGM

  54. #54 Chris
    February 22, 2010

    I found a map some where else, but it was kind of spotty. I think there is some fluoride info at the EPA. But there are definitely high levels throughout the west, usually in the dryer parts.

    One link I found was about high levels in the interior of British Columbia, with some other areas of high content on Vancouver Island.

    Well water often has funky stuff in it. Many, many, many years ago we visited the Napa Valley in California. We stayed in Calistoga, which is famous for its hot springs. The swimming pool and jacuzzi used the naturally hot water from those springs. Only one problem, they smelled of sulfur!

    Well, okay. It was natural spring water, we could always wash it off in the shower. Until we found out that all the water came from the same source, and the shower spraying small droplets made the smell even more intense!

    Also, I think with amusement at the libertarian outcry against fluoride which is very common in Colorado water. I remember that in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged the heroes’ self contained place to get away from the lower functioning folk was Colorado. (I read it over twenty-five years ago, and I mostly remember lots of silly stuff like the female protagonist becoming enamored with the guy who rapes her in the first chapter. Gag! I doubt Johnny B. Wrong has read anything that long, nor even anything that did not have more pictures than words.)

  55. #55 JimC
    February 22, 2010

    I think God gave us brains for a reason. Look at the first three chapters of Genesis. Where did we go wrong? When we ate the fruit of knowledge of good and evil — that’s a metaphor for our dogged belief that we *know* things absolutely

    So since it’s a metaphor there is no original sin- awesome.

    Me? I think God gave us brains for a reason.

    Then you say the following:

    1. He gave Adam and Eve clothes made of animal skins.(In the metaphor)

    2. We make judgments. “This is true. This is not.” We get in serious trouble then, because that’s when we deceive ourselves. That’s when Satan is at work.

    3.It’s about asking questions and not trusting ourselves with the answers.

    Bullshit- science is about finding answers to real problems in the real world. Not make believe. It is done by people who find real answers. For someone who says God gave you a brain you are not using it much.

  56. #56 Mandrellian
    February 22, 2010

    JBL makes me laugh and baby Jesus cry.

    Troll or Poe? I’m betting on Poe. He’s smacktarded, for sure, but too facking funny to be the real deal. Also he employs decent grammar & spelling and hasn’t yet unleashed the fury of CAPS LOCK.

    He also argues like, well, every creationist caricature I’ve ever seen which leads me to believe he’s read a few science blogs – which would therefore make him a non-creationist. Creationists don’t actually read science blogs: they certainly hurl comments at science blogs like so much chimpanzee faeces but they only actually *read* posts on Answers In Genesis.

    Plus, I mean, come on: he called PZ Myers a “poll fornicator”! ROFL! Any Pharynguloid would know PZ would love being called that.

    Well played JBL, you can come out now.

  57. #57 Science Mom
    February 23, 2010

    Bullshit- science is about finding answers to real problems in the real world. Not make believe. It is done by people who find real answers. For someone who says God gave you a brain you are not using it much.

    JimC, totally uncalled for. Calli is a frequent poster here and makes excellent contributions. It’s too bad your atheist rage precluded you from understanding her point. And I’m an atheist.

  58. #58 bob
    February 23, 2010

    I still don’t know if Johnson is a Poe. All this talk of fluoridation, but no overt references to Dr Strangelove yet? I would have dropped a “precious bodily fluids” hours ago. At the very least, he’s a strong-willed Poe.

    Also, how have we not coined a term for alt-med Poe-ing? I still maintain that it deserves its own term.

  59. #59 Chris
    February 23, 2010

    Whatever, Calli is still scary smart. I may have strayed into lapsed Catholic land, but there are still several who believe in both the theology and the science.

    In big example is Ken Miller. Perhaps you have heard of him, he gave some very interesting testimony at the Dover trial while wearing a neck tie made from a mouse trap with parts removed. What makes it more important is that he is a faithful Christian.

    What Calli Arcale writes is always worth reading. You may not agree with it, but you cannot dismiss it out of hand.

    The irony is that I have heard some say that in order to guarantee their children are taught evolution and proper biology they needed to send their children to a Catholic parochial school. That is because they could not be assured of a good biology background in their local public high school (which can depend on the teacher, while my oldest son got a good class from a teacher who used Ken Miller’s book, my younger son opted to take his biology class at the community college because that teacher had left and the remaining teachers were worthless… fortunately that has changed and my daughter has a very good biology teacher).

  60. #60 Rincewind'smuse
    February 23, 2010

    Thank you for your post,Calli; whether or not I agree with the theological aspects I always find something I wished I said or something worth serious consideration.

  61. #61 mandas
    February 23, 2010

    “…What Calli Arcale writes is always worth reading. You may not agree with it, but you cannot dismiss it out of hand….”

    Yeah I can. Anyone who talks about the possibility of accepting that the bible may be literally true, or that god gave us brains, or ‘satan’s work’, or ‘only god has the perspective to truly know these things’, thoroughly deserves to be dismissed out of hand.

    Such comments have no place on a science blog, and are truly, scarily, delusional.

  62. #62 Azkyroth
    February 23, 2010

    How is the research into the causes of stupidity going? Any possible treatment avenues? Is there hope for idiots like Johnson B. Long and Peedoff?

  63. #63 RobertL
    February 23, 2010

    I’m still a bit of a n00b at these blog thingies.

    Can someone please tell me what a “poe” is?

  64. #64 Jarred C
    February 23, 2010

    @#63 Robert:

    It’s Poe’s Law. The idea that a parody of a fundamentalist argument is often difficult to distinguish from the real thing.

    http://rationalwiki.com/wiki/Poe%27s_Law

  65. #65 Matthew Cline
    February 23, 2010

    If you think companies didn’t make big money off of thalidomide, smoking and hormone replacement, you’re nuts. And yet, despite the apparently ubiquitous and impenetrable conspiracy by Big Pharma, the science still came through for these medicines.

    The tobacco industry execs were incompetents who didn’t know how to successfully run a conspiracy. And Big Pharma let the dangers of thalidomide and hormone replacement come to light, to make it look like they couldn’t cover things up.

  66. #66 RobertL
    February 23, 2010

    @#64 Jarred C

    Thanks for that. I did have a quick look around the interweb, but I thought “poe” was an acronym and didn’t get far. Well, that and all the side-tracking into Edgar Allen…

  67. #67 Johnson B. Long
    February 23, 2010

    “Not sure if you are still around, but if so could you help me out with a couple of things about the flood.

    Firstly, I was wondering what Noah built all the fish tanks out of so the fish didn’t die in the flood.

    Secondly, as I am Australian, I have always wanted to know how the koalas managed to get back to Australia after they got off the ark.

    Could you help?”

    —————-

    Absolutely.

    1) Why would fish need tanks with the whole world covered in water?

    2) After the flood the world climate changed dramatically. There was an ice age that followed. I assume that Koalas got stranded in Austrailia after the ice melted away. Also, at this time All continents would have been closer together since the flood is the cause of them seperating to start with. After the anials exited the ark and went their own way, some got trapped on land masses that became islands and continents after the ice age ended and the continents slowed their drift.

    Anything else I can do for you?

  68. #68 Johnson B. Long
    February 23, 2010

    “Really? Humans and animals lived in harmony before the Flood? Forget science — where’s your Scriptural basis for that?”

    ————–

    2 The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

    Genesis 9:2-3

    Animals did not fear man before this and also man did not eat the flesh of animals before. In the beginning before sin entered into the world, all animals were plant eaters. there was no death. Read Genesis 1-9 for a more accurate account. Read it as it is written, not figuratively.

  69. #69 Tony Bateson
    February 23, 2010

    If you had asked any tobacco company executive in 1965 whether smoking really caused cancer they would have laughed at you. He (in 1965 they were all he’s) would have said I’ve smoked for twenty five years, hasn’t done me any harm. Would he or she laugh at you today?

    Didn’t thalidomide wake you up? How about Thiomersal? Move on a few years and think about Omniscan! How about DDT? Has anyone explained why it was completely and silently withdrawn from garden stores? Blue asbestos? Would industry volunteer for the guardroom over any of these things? Of course not, the pharmaceutical industry will pull any trick in the book including dud science, phoney statistics, hired hands with MDs after their names and even venerable science publications to protect themselves from multi billion dollars worth of lawsuits.
    Tony Bateson, Oxford, UK.

  70. #70 squirrelelite
    February 23, 2010

    Bob (12:04)

    I tried at 11:14, but JBL hasn’t been back. Maybe he lives on the other side of the world and the sun came up.

    As for Poe vs troll, he would have to be a really dedicated parodist to keep coming back that much. However, trolls seem to live for that, so that is my guess.

    As for religious references, I think it can be useful to try to understand the basis for someone else’s point of view and use that to explain things to them. Unlike P.Z. Myers and others of similar bent, I prefer to concentrate on the science, pro and con, and leave the religious disagreements to Sunday School class and the conscience of the believer. I decided long ago that I didn’t believe that God created the universe as a cosmic lie and until someone can reasonably suggest an experiment to measure how many seconds ago the universe burst into existence looking exactly as if it had been around for 13 or 14 billion years or so, that is the way I choose to bet.

  71. #71 Ian
    February 23, 2010

    @Tony Bateson

    Not a big fan of reading, are we?

    All of your faux-knowledge there just goes to further underscore the whole point – that assertions made by individuals are essentially worthless. No, you can’t trust a tobacco executive (and be careful when you’re smoking not to burn down that enormous straw man you’ve put up there), or a scientist or journal with the company in their pocket. That’s what’s known as an appeal to authority, and any skeptic worth his/her salt learns that’s fallacious reasoning on day… I dunno, let’s say 4. That’s why reproducibility is a central plank of science. It’s also why you need to have some basic understanding about what you’re talking about before vomiting out a half-formed opinion if you want people to take you seriously.

  72. #72 Pablo
    February 23, 2010

    What Calli Arcale writes is always worth reading.

    Absolutely NOT.

    While I appreciate and enjoy Calli’s comments here about science matters, but she has in the past jumped in with completely baseless religious comments that are ascientific. When that has happens, she has been criticized.

    No one is sacred.

    And your complaint about letting atheism cloud the discussion, when it comes down to it, science right now is absolutely atheistic. While there is room for god/gods in science, there is no basis for them (despite IDist claims). So I find it very funny that you would use “atheist” as a grounds for complaint. That’s science.

  73. #73 mikerattlesnake
    February 23, 2010

    I can never understand how people who have absolutely no knowledge of evolution beyond “they said we come from monkeys” thinks they have any basis on which to criticize it. Evolution is beautiful in it’s complexity, but also amazing in the simplicity of the forces that drive it and it can take a lot of brain wrangling to really “get it” (though the basic concepts make perfectly good sense to a lot of people, mostly those not brainwashed from birth to reject it). I have studied creationism in depth and found it wanting. Most of literature is dishonest, ignorant of the basic science which it claims supports it, and dismissive of the mountains of evidence which contradict it while focussing on small inconsistencies (which scientists are also focussed on, only as a source of inquiry instead of dismissal). They also demand impossible testing (show something evolving in the lab) while dismissing the kind of testing they don’t like (if we see structure X in time period 1 and structure Z in time period 3, we should see structure Y in time period 2) and continue to trot out long-debunked ‘evidence’ to support their points. It does not resemble science in the least, and has much more in common with propaganda.

    Creationists:

    Explain the fossil record. Any part of it. The fantastically ordered fossils that occur in a logical, structural continuum throughout the strata of the earth. How about the fact that it correlates beautifully with radioactive dating, physiological developments, genetic markers, geologic history, etc? To think that WE are the ones being accused of beliving in impossible coincidences and random chance… feh!

    Don’t ask us to explain evolution because plenty of more competent people already have, and you’ve chosen to ignore them for an oversimplified view that fits your belief system. Why should we believe that we could penetrate the fog of ignorance that surrounds you?

  74. #74 Natalie
    February 23, 2010

    While I appreciate and enjoy Calli’s comments here about science matters, but she has in the past jumped in with completely baseless religious comments that are ascientific. When that has happens, she has been criticized.

    Regardless, this is not one of those times. Calli is criticizing JBL’s pronouncements within a framework he claims to ascribe to – Christianity. Her criticisms of his claims are valid from that standpoint.

    Whether or not her religious beliefs are scientifically valid is another subject entirely. There is some value in showing JBL is wrong even within his own belief system, considering he is so much more wrong within realityville.

  75. #75 Dangerous Bacon
    February 23, 2010

    Tony Bateson: “If you had asked any tobacco company executive in 1965 whether smoking really caused cancer they would have laughed at you.

    Probably not, since the first Surgeon General’s warning on smoking came out in 1964. Whatever the tobacco company execs were doing, it certainly wasn’t laughing.

    Didn’t thalidomide wake you up?

    How exactly? Our FDA refused to license it as a drug. The decision was based on good science – or more precisely, the lack of good studies demonstrating safety.

    How about Thiomersal?

    What about thimerosal? No health problems as a result of its use as a preservative have been demonstrated.

    If your point in parading these strawmen is to show that on any given subject we should avoid science in favor of the caterwauling of idiots, then you’re less than convincing.

  76. #76 Chris
    February 23, 2010

    Tony Bateson:

    Didn’t thalidomide wake you up?

    Yeah, it told us that the FDA rules created in 1939 were a good thing. Oh, wait, are you unaware that thalidomide was not approved for sale in the USA?

    Johnny B. Wrong, the Bible is not science. Do try to keep up, and attempt somehow to drag yourself into the modern age.

  77. #77 Dan Weber
    February 23, 2010

    Or are you a graduate of Jack Chick University?

    http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/5001/5001_01.asp
    http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/1038/1038_01.asp

    Why does Chick draw so many of the people he wants to be sympathetic with the child-molester moustache ?

    But you left out Big Daddy! It has to be my favorite.

  78. #78 Scientizzle
    February 23, 2010

    I love that this post is titled “Let’s ask the idiots about science”…and that so many obliged!

    There’s still plenty of ground to cover, though…Did we really land on the moon? How on Earth did Nostradamus predict the government conspiracy that manufactured the 9/11 attacks? Haven’t they developed an effective homeopathic remedy for the liver flukes that are causing my Morgellons or is the lizard-people-controlled government suppressing this cure? Did the Masons really shoot JFK in order to hide the discovery of the location of Atlantis off the shore of Cuba? Is the Holocaust just a conspiracy to sell more cancer-causing aspartame?

    There’s just so much more to learn!

  79. #79 Calli Arcale
    February 23, 2010

    Thank you for the very kind words, Chris, Science Mom, and the Gregarious Misanthrope.

    JimC @ 55:
    So since it’s a metaphor there is no original sin- awesome.

    I’m actually inclined to agree. I do not care for the doctrine of original sin. The logical conclusion of such doctrines has historically been to conclude that all flesh is evil — and then you get the Cathares, for instance.

    Then you say the following:

    1. He gave Adam and Eve clothes made of animal skins.(In the metaphor)

    2. We make judgments. “This is true. This is not.” We get in serious trouble then, because that’s when we deceive ourselves. That’s when Satan is at work.

    3.It’s about asking questions and not trusting ourselves with the answers.

    Bullshit- science is about finding answers to real problems in the real world. Not make believe. It is done by people who find real answers. For someone who says God gave you a brain you are not using it much.

    #1 was meant to be refutation of Johnson B Long’s claim that humans and animals lived in perfect harmony before the Flood. I didn’t have a lot of time to dig up Scripture to contradict him, but this one was easy. It can be argued against on other bases than simply “religion is hooey”, BTW. It was actually a weak example. But I won’t say why, because I’m interested to see whether Johnson B Long will pick up on it.

    As far as science being about finding answers to real problems in the real world — wrong. Engineering does that, and often gets itself in trouble because of it. (“I know the answer, and I found it with science! I know that O-ring can’t possibly leak in this weather! Um . . . it did? Oh.”) Science is, at its heart, a process of coming up with models and then ruthlessly attacking them to try to figure out where they’re wrong. If we thought we had the right answers when Newton formulated his laws of motion, we’d still be baffled by Mercury. And we’d probably be pretty confused by the way the GPS system didn’t work. If you’re practicing science honestly, you must NEVER believe that you have the answers. You’ve got good models, yes, but they are not perfect, and probably cannot be.

    Religion, on the other hand, *is* about finding answers. That’s most of its problem. “Do these rituals, and the gods will smile upon you. The rain will fall on your crops, and you’ll get to go to Valhalla if you die gloriously. We know this. What? You doubt us? You offend the gods! And I know that, because I know it’s true!”

    mandas @ 61:

    Yeah I can. Anyone who talks about the possibility of accepting that the bible may be literally true, or that god gave us brains, or ‘satan’s work’, or ‘only god has the perspective to truly know these things’, thoroughly deserves to be dismissed out of hand.

    Such comments have no place on a science blog, and are truly, scarily, delusional.

    I’m trying to speak in language that Johnson B Long will understand. I’ll elaborate now for your benefit.

    I believe that it is incredibly foolish to take the Bible literally. I can accept that people do, but I think they are going down the wrong path. (I also think that some of them have reached the point of idol worship — they do not worship God, they worship the Bible. That sort of thing happens a lot in religions. The religious structure becomes of utmost importance, often ironically displacing the actual gods in question. I think the best book about this sort of thing is actually the Discworld book “Small Gods”, which I think probably ought to be required reading for pretty much everybody.) I can respect that attitude as long as they can show they actually know what it is they’re taking literally. I can respect disagreement. But I have a very hard time respecting willful ignorance, which is what I see Johnson B Long doing. (Unless he’s a Poe, of course. But even Poes can make a good jumping-off point for interesting discussion.)

    Satan — I don’t believe in Satan as an actual entity. Johnson B Long probably does; a literalist pretty much has to. Instead, I see Satan as our own tendency towards self-deception. Prideful arrogance. (And hoo boy, do you see a lot of that in a church.) Pride can be okay; be proud of your children, for you love them! But do not let that pride blind you. It deceives you. Having your child’s artwork framed is healthy pride. Assaulting the soccer coach because he benched your kid, whom you believe to be the best on Earth, is very definitely unhealthy pride. This goes right along with science. Be passionate about your opinions! Fight for them! Defend them when your colleagues attack! But do not be so proud that you cannot accept contradictory evidence. Even the best scientists will do this sometimes. (Newton was a great example; he wasted a lot of years on wildly unscientific alchemy because he just really felt it *should* be right and didn’t want to see the evidence that it was not.) It’s human nature.

    Only God has the perspective to know the truth about the universe — this is fairly straightforward. You can safely replace the word “God” with “an omniscient external observer”, and for the purposes of what I’m trying to say, it doesn’t even really matter whether or not there really is such an entity. In order to really be both certain and right about *everything*, you’d have to be able to see the entire universe. We obviously can’t. Ergo, it is extremely dangerous for us to assume absolute certainty on anything. Go ahead and operate under certain assumptions. For instance, Newton’s Laws can safely be used as if they were absolute truth for a lot of situations, such as making sure your spacecraft lands on Mars in working order. But if something comes up which contradicts them (e.g. Mercury), then you must accept that there are certain deficiencies in them.

    I do not consider this a bad thing. On the contrary, I think it is perhaps the most exciting thing about the universe that we cannot know it all — it means we will always have more to explore!

    Pablo @ 70:
    While I appreciate and enjoy Calli’s comments here about science matters, but she has in the past jumped in with completely baseless religious comments that are ascientific. When that has happens, she has been criticized.

    No one is sacred.

    Absolutely, and I trust that people will continue to criticize me when they disagree. That’s how this is all supposed to work. I would not comment if I thought everybody would just nod their heads.

    When I do mention religion, it’s usually because I’m trying to raise the profile of critical thinking within the framework of religion. I do it in religious contexts too. People like me (who believe in God yet are skeptics) are more common than we look, because we tend to be quiet. We don’t rock the boat, mainly because we don’t feel we have enough justification to do so. I think that needs to change, for the sake of us all, as I see more and more religious folks trying to push it all the other way. Back to superstition and dogma.

    So my intent is not to convert any atheists to Christianity. I’m actually speaking more for the benefit of any Christians reading this, because I want them to understand that critical thinking is not something they should fear.

    And your complaint about letting atheism cloud the discussion, when it comes down to it, science right now is absolutely atheistic. While there is room for god/gods in science, there is no basis for them (despite IDist claims). So I find it very funny that you would use “atheist” as a grounds for complaint. That’s science.

    That wasn’t Science Mom’s point. She wasn’t saying that religion should be in science. (Neither was I, actually. I agree that religion has no place whatsoever in science. Religious people are a different matter. But they must set aside their religion in order to practice science. I would argue they must also side aside their religion in order to worship God, but that’s another discussion and certainly most religions would disagree with me on that.)

    Science isn’t exactly atheistic. It’s certainly not religious (at least, not if it’s being done right), and it can be used to determine whether or not various religious doctrines are reasonable. Not all, of course; there are doctrines which are not empirically testable, and these are basically irrelevant to scientific pursuits. Is there an ineffable God who never interferes in the Universe? Maybe. If this is the case, though, it’s not important from a scientific standpoint. It may mean the world to individual people, but it can’t tell us anything that will help us in any scientific investigations. What’s more, the only real way we’d have to decide whether or not to believe in such a God would be, essentially, personal whim.

    I have noticed that many Christians (and other theists) are offended by atheism, and many atheists are offended by Christianity (and other theistic religions). This saddens me, because I think we could accomplish a great deal more together than we could apart. But I do understand it. It’s very very human.

  80. #80 CA
    February 23, 2010

    JBL:

    @73: Evidence please on the post-Flood ice age. Either some peer-reviewed science (not that you’re likely to find any) or, since you accept Scriptural inerrancy, a citation therefrom.

    As far as the fishtanks go, it seems pretty clear to me that the mixture of fresh- and salt-water would have resulted in the extinction of several species of marine animals who are currently alive.

    Oh, and for reading Genesis as written: what version? The translation you are using? Any one of the numerous other translations in English or other languages? The Vulgate? The oldest extant Hebrew text? Oh, and since the Flood story was almost certainly passed down orally for some generations, can you be sure that the version you recommend is close enough to the original story to qualify for inerrancy?

  81. #81 Todd W.
    February 23, 2010

    So this is rich. I just tried to visit Age of Autism blog to see if there are any posts to be censored on, and what do I get? The following message from my employer:

    This web site (http://www.ageofautism.com/ ) has been blocked because it has been determined to contain malware and is a security threat to your computer or the (employer redacted) enterprise network.

  82. #82 Calli Arcale
    February 23, 2010

    Pablo — As I think about your assertion that science is atheistic, perhaps the better phrase would be “science is nonreligious”. It’s not that science rejects God. It’s that it rejects the religious approach to determining truth. (The religious approach is “we know how to get the truth; if it contradicts us, that only means it’s wrong” wheras the scientific approach is “we know how to see”).

    mikerattlesnake @ 71: Explain the fossil record. Any part of it. I think the only explanation from a Creationist would have to be that some massive hoax has been perpetuated upon humanity. They have to either reject the evidence (a nonscientific approach) or assume that either God is tricking them (a difficult proposition, theologically) or attribute it to the Devil. I’ve seen Creationists take all three tacks. The fourth option, displayed by Johnson B Long, is not actually look at the evidence.

    Johnson B Long @ 75:
    2 The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

    Animals did not fear man before this and also man did not eat the flesh of animals before. In the beginning before sin entered into the world, all animals were plant eaters. there was no death. Read Genesis 1-9 for a more accurate account. Read it as it is written, not figuratively.

    Of course you should read it as it was written. That doesn’t mean you need to read it mindlessly. You have to read it from the perspective of the people of the time. You aren’t doing that. You are reading it not as it was written but as a technical document. Parts are clearly meant figuratively. Are you a Christian? (I imagine so, as Jews tend not have major problems with evolution, even though you’d expect they’d be even more protective of the Genesis story.) Surely, then, you’ve read the Gospels. Jesus was famous for using metaphor and poetic language to express things in a way his audience would understand. I see no reason to take the parables metaphorically and then assume everything else was a dispassionate historical record. The reason these stories were kept alive, even after people knew they were not exact records, was because they told valuable lessons about the relationship of God and Man. Maybe to you, the only important part about that is the technical details, but I think the relationship is more important than those details. You, I think, have lost the forest for the trees.

    I note you have not disputed my quote showing that humans wore animal skins (which God effectively indicated were superior to grass skirts). You may call that living in harmony, but I suspect the original owners of those skins would disagree. I am also curious how you believe that Velociraptors existed before the flood, yet apparently were vegetarians. (Also, what do you have against plants, that you think it’s living in harmony for all animals to be vegetarian?)

    To me, it seems more logical to take that text as saying that the animals who came along in the Ark, tamed by God so they’d come of their own volition and in an orderly manner, would not retain their tameness afterwards; they’d revert to being wild.

    One thing that’s rather interesting is that there are some contradictory details given in the space of two chapters, and some bits are much more detailed than others. For instance, the earliest Biblical basis for Jewish food taboos, specifically the prohibition against eating blood. (I wonder: do you get your meat from a kosher butcher?) This strongly suggests that what is recorded in the modern text is cobbled together from several older lines. Also interestingly, though the text you quoted suggests that all animals were wild prior to Noah, Noah was told to bring along both wild animals and livestock. So which is it? Did humans domesticate animals before or after the flood?

  83. #83 triskelecat (MI Dawn)
    February 23, 2010

    I enjoy reading Calli’s comments. Even though I am an atheist, I can respect other people’s choices. And, she never places religion on the same level as science.

    @Todd W.: I could never even access AOA from work. It comes up as an “Unauthorized Site” (I could get my manager to request an override if it was found to be work related). Of course, I have had others access AOA from work when they were looking for illegal billing…

  84. #84 Erika
    February 23, 2010

    More evidence of this trend, from “mommy bloggers.” http://www.finslippy.com/finslippy/2010/02/i-trust-parents-of-doctors-personally-.html

    The comments are, on the whole, pretty good, too!

  85. #85 Erika
    February 23, 2010

    Whoops, well the mommy blogger *I* read was on the right track. Not so much Maggie (the first one to speak). But I still think it’s a good trend…

  86. #86 mikerattlesnake
    February 23, 2010

    so….. if all animals were vegetarians before the flood and the flood caused the majority of fossils, we should expect to see a lot of fossils of animals analogous to today’s carnivores, but with physiological structures for consuming and digesting vegetable matter, no? Also, we should see no evidence of meat eating (like one animal inside the digestive tract of another, physiological structures designed for meat-eating, etc.), right?

    That seems pretty easy to disprove.

  87. #87 gpmtrixie
    February 23, 2010

    Calli A., thank you for your comments. You are not the only Christian that comes here that also happens to like science quite a bit. I mostly just read and I have to admit that some of the holier-than-thou “atheists are the best” comments are a turn-off. But I get over it because as far as I can tell, this is a science blog, not an anti-religion blog (why would I ever go to one of them?).

    I’m not a scientist myself, so I’d get run over in a scientific conversation, but I am someone who appreciates what science does for me and my family every day. More than some others, I can say that my kids have been saved by medical science and I’m not just talking about vaccines. The crazy anti-vaxxers are what brought me here in the first place. If I had first happened upon this blog in the middle of people laying into Calli, I might have never come back, thinking you had to be an atheist to hang here.

  88. #88 mikerattlesnake
    February 23, 2010

    some of the smartest, most compassionate, funny, interesting people I have met have been deeply religious. Don’t confuse ‘religious’ with ‘fundamentalist’ or you’ll likely dismiss some very worthwhile people. It’s not their fault they have normal human brains equiped with automatic religious thought generators.

  89. #89 gpmtrixie
    February 23, 2010

    Mikerattlesnake: “It’s not their fault they have normal human brains equiped with automatic religious thought generators.”

    You’re right, I believe it’s genetic, not caused by vaccines.

  90. #90 bones
    February 23, 2010

    @ Calli Arcale

    Uh….that was pretty damn impressive. Seriously.

  91. #91 Michelle
    February 23, 2010

    Calli…

    Thank you. Like gpmtrixie, I’m not a scientist and the anti-vaccine nonsense brought me here a couple of years ago. I have 2 daughters with autism. Like Calli, I’m Catholic and for the most part I don’t have any problems reconciling my religious beliefs with science. I’ve never questioned evolution (since I’ve known what it was) and to my knowlege the Catholic church (especially JPII) is supportive. I couldn’t be a fundamentalist Christian because I do not believe the bible is the literal word of God.

    My oldest daughter with ASD wants to be a scientist or an MD, and we have lots of discussions about the intersection of religion and science. In my view they do not have to be incompatible–they can be, but they don’t have to be.

  92. #92 Johnny
    February 23, 2010

    mandas @51 –

    I think either I wasn’t clear, or you were confused.. But to be clear, I think JBL is almost as big an idiot as Jack Chick… or a bigger idiot…. but they are both idiots… or Jack is an idiot and JBL is a Poe… or… OK, something involving idiots and maybe a Poe… because Jack Chick isn’t a Poe, so that’s one idiot for sure…

    But, no, I don’t believe a word Jack Chick has to say, nor JBL and his many socks, and I can’t explain it or even understand it. I do accept some things on faith, but not a single thing Jack Chick has ever written or published. That being said, I do love to read his tracts for the lulz.

    If you read the tracts linked in my earlier post, and you only ask about fish tanks, you just aren’t trying. For example, if God saved the dinos from the flood, just so they would die later because of the results of the flood, does that mean God planned for them to die? But why, if he intended for them to die, didn’t he kill them in the flood? Jack seems to think the dinos could think, or at least a hatchling would recognize it’s mother, so saving then just to kill them seems… mean. But if the dinos dying off was unintended, does that mean He *can’t* think ahead? What does that do to the idea of preordainment?

    Now that my position on Jack Chick and JBL is clear, I hope, about Calli…

    Calli, as far as I’m concerned, you, and a half a dozen others on this forum (including Orac), are must reads. As bones says @90, your post are impressive. Seriously. But, this isn’t an echo chamber. I *do* disagree on the sky pixie stuff. I have my own faith (pack a lunch, and click my name), and one thing ‘Bob’ teaches us is “You don’t use your mind to think about your religion”. My religion doesn’t have magic. We have real things, like aliens, and UFOs. But that doesn’t make my religion (or yours, or anyone else’s) any more, or less, valid. Faith is faith, science is science, you understand that, and anyone who thinks otherwise is as big an idiot as Jack Chick, and maybe JBL, if he (or she) isn’t a Poe.

    And that brings us back to the start.

  93. #93 J. J. Ramsey
    February 23, 2010

    Johnny (but not that Johnny): “But to be clear, I think JBL is almost as big an idiot as Jack Chick… or a bigger idiot…. but they are both idiots… or Jack is an idiot and JBL is a Poe… or… OK, something involving idiots and maybe a Poe… because Jack Chick isn’t a Poe, so that’s one idiot for sure…”

    Considering that JBL’s name is a double entendre, I vote Poe. Come on, I’m not that well-versed in dirty colloquialisms, and even I know what “johnson” is slang for.

  94. #94 Donna B.
    February 23, 2010

    This turned out to be an interesting thread after all… I’m glad I kept reading.

    I’m not a believer, but I’m not anti-religion either. I do wish religious people would do less spouting off about it… wearing it on their sleeves, so to speak. I tire of the “please put so and so on your prayer list” stuff I get from so many of my relatives.

  95. #95 Kristen
    February 24, 2010

    @92,93

    Johnson B. Long is a sock puppet. He has other names such as Medician Man and Dr. I M Smart among others. He is so predictable in the things that he writes (and his misspellings) it is easy to pick him out.

    I would be ridiculously happy if he turned out to be a poe. But I am not going to hold my breath.

  96. #96 Calli Arcale
    February 24, 2010

    I don’t recall seeing Medicine Man (et al) getting into Creationism, but I could see MM go Poe on us for fun. Doesn’t matter; my attitude towards trolls is generally that if they spark a useful conversation, their original motives aren’t important. (And if they don’t spark a useful conversation, or they become repetitive, they can generally be ignored.)

    Thank you for all the kinds words, folks. I’m seriously blushing here. ;-)

    Like Calli, I’m Catholic and for the most part I don’t have any problems reconciling my religious beliefs with science.

    One clarification: I’m Christian, but not Catholic. I’m a midwestern Lutheran. So during Lent, I should stereotypically be eating hot dish in a church basement before Lenten services. :-D

  97. #97 Kristen
    February 24, 2010

    mikerattlesnake @ 71:

    Explain the fossil record. Any part of it. I think the only explanation from a Creationist would have to be that some massive hoax has been perpetuated upon humanity. They have to either reject the evidence (a nonscientific approach) or assume that either God is tricking them (a difficult proposition, theologically) or attribute it to the Devil.

    That is only if you believe the creative “days” were literally 24 hours long. Once again you are confusing fundamentalists with Christians. I don’t consider myself a ‘creationist’ in the sense the word is used by atheists. I do believe life was designed, but that it has evolved into it’s myriad forms over time by way of Natural Selection.

    I appreciate Callie’s comments, she makes me feel like I can have my beliefs, but I need to keep them in their place. Truth will not bend to my personal beliefs, my beliefs must fit into science. Since no one can disprove a designer, it is unscientific to assert matter of factly that their is none.

    I don’t think my religious beliefs, or anyone else’s belong on this blog. But when someone makes the assertion that everyone who believes in God is delusional, I will take umbrage.

  98. #98 Calli Arcale
    February 24, 2010

    Ironically, you were actually quoting my response to mikerattlesnake. ;-) And I think he specifically meant Creationists, not Christians in general.

    Truthfully, most of the Creationists I’ve seen attempting to explain fossil evidence display a profound ignorance of the evidence. They just aren’t interested in examining it any real detail. What they suffer from, more than anything else, is not superstition or religious brainwashing. What they suffer from is a lack of curiosity. They “know” that God created the world in 7 days. They “know” that God created all the creatures exactly as they are. So when they see fossils, they interpret what they see on the basis of what they know. They aren’t curious about where they came from, or even very curious about what they are. They just think, “Oh, a bone, how interesting; it doesn’t look like anything alive today; must mean it’s something that died in the Flood. Let’s move on.”

    Some have more interesting explanations, though. There are conspiracy theorists, of course, who think scientists in league with the Devil created this evidence for no better reason than to make the Bible look wrong, all part of a grand scheme to turn people away from God. These people share the lack of curiosity of the mainstream Creationist, but on top of that have an excess of imagination. They don’t look very closely at things, but it takes very little to get their minds going. They have a lot in common with Richard Hoagland, who asserts that NASA evidence is all entirely correct when it supports him, and entirely faked when it doesn’t.

    And then there are the true Fundamentalists. Here I mean the actual movement of Fundamentalism, not the colloquial usage that has grown up and confused fundamentalism with evangelism. They feel that it’s all part of a big test of their faith. What ultimately matters for salvation is faith in God, and they believe that this means trusting the Bible absolutely — that, to them, is fundamental, hence the name of the movement. Never mind the evidence; if someone shows you something that contradicts the Bible, you *must* reject it, no matter how convincing, or you have demonstrated that you did not trust the Bible and therefore do not really trust God. As in the story of Job, they further believe that God will deliberately test their faith. That could mean placing fossils embedded in striated rocks. Scientific evidence is clear — that shell has to be 200 million years old. But the Bible indicates the Earth is much younger than that. If led by reason, you would agree with the “evolutionists”, but you aren’t supposed to let your reason lead you. You’re supposed to let Jesus lead you, and in their opinion, that means the Bible. Don’t give in to the temptation of thinking you know better than the Bible; that would be fatal! (This also explains why this group of Creationist is so passionate about removing evolution from science classrooms. They seriously believe it is threatening children’s souls. This is the same mentality that created the medieval inquisitions, and it is dangerous.) It’s a rather sinister world-view, frankly, and in my opinion reduces God to some sort of childish prankster.

    Side note: I highly recommend folks read “Small Gods” by Terry Pratchett for the most profound insights I’ve ever seen into the evils of religion — and why good people do terrible things in the name of their god.

  99. #99 Kristen
    February 24, 2010

    Oops! That is quite ironic, indeed.

    Never mind the evidence; if someone shows you something that contradicts the Bible, you *must* reject it, no matter how convincing, or you have demonstrated that you did not trust the Bible and therefore do not really trust God.

    Or if someone shows you something that you think contradicts the Bible. It goes back to the original JBL comments, it is only what they have been told is in the Bible, and what it means. Most of these people have never even opened the book to anything but Psalm 23 or John 3:16.

    This is the whole problem with the argument of creation/evolution, nobody really knows what the other is saying, because they have put their fingers in their ears and started yelling LALALALALALA. Just because one believes in God (creator) doesn’t make them are unreasonable. Just because one has no belief in God, this doesn’t make them unprincipled and soulless (as a religious fanatic may say).

  100. #100 Vicki
    February 24, 2010

    It can be fun, and maybe even enlightening, to quote the Bible to some of these people. I’m not even talking about the obscure passages: back in high school, I got into an argument with someone who was taking some kind of selfishness-as-virtue position, and who I knew from previous discussion was a biblical literalist. I happened to have a bible in my locker, so I got it out, and read him the Sermon on the Mount.

    His response? “What’s that?” I told him that it was the bible, that this was what Jesus had said, and if he thought the bible was literally god’s word, it would be a good idea for him to read it.

  101. #101 Michelle
    February 24, 2010

    @Calli

    Oops! I knew I should have double-checked whether you were Catholic. Sorry about that.

    I was telling my mom about this thread last night and she reminded me that when I was in elementary school and first learned of evolution (early 70s) I came home and announced the big news that “Adam and Eve were monkeys!” I was a little upset, and she told me it was okay and assured me that our priest didn’t need to be told this shocking news because he knew it too. Fortunately, my understanding of evolution (and theology) has evolved since then…

    In a related note, there was an interesting discussion on NPR last night about cultural cognition and why it’s so easy for people to stick to their core beliefs (political, religious, whatever)in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence. I’d recommend the podcast from All Things Considered if you’re interested.

  102. #102 Calli Arcale
    February 24, 2010

    Michelle — that’s actually kind of cute, the “Adam and Eve were monkeys!” thing. ;-)

    Vicki — that’s hilarious! Along those lines, i just thought of what might be a good response when encountering an advocate of prayer in schools:

    Matthew 6:4-6:
    5″And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

  103. #103 a-non
    February 24, 2010

    Not to get overly trivial, but that verse Calli mentions from Matthew really refers to good works and prayers whose sole intent is to make them look good in the eyes of the others.

    From Matthew 6:2:
    So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

    I’m not sure how that relates to allowing, or not allowing, prayer in school.

  104. #104 Ray C.
    February 28, 2010

    Just think. This statement about “science” comes from a person who still thinks we all came from monkeys through a process called evolution. Now, that is truly a funny story.

    CREATIONISM

    Because primates descending from other primates is “truly a funny story.” But a talking snake and a global flood make perfect sense.

  105. #105 Calli Arcale
    February 28, 2010

    a-non, you are correct about the larger context, but the point is clear — we must be cautious about public prayer, lest we begin praying only to be seen doing so. Arguably, praying only to be seen praying is worse than not praying at all.

    So why is the text specifically useful as a counterargument to prayer in school? Because it’s senseless to fear a loss of one’s faith just because one isn’t allowed to have a prayer read over the loudspeaker before an athletic game, or because the team captain isn’t allowed to bring his team together in prayer. We should be cautious of our own true motives when we seem to think it’s needed for people to *see* us praying. That part isn’t important to anyone but ourselves. It doesn’t matter to God. If the school doesn’t let anyone pray in its name, that doesn’t hurt the students’ faith in God — or at least, it shouldn’t.

    Prayer cannot be banned in schools; it’s a free speech thing, and also a “freedom to practice religion” thing. (Muslims are obliged to pay at regular intervals, for instance, and schools should accommodate that lest they feel they cannot get an education without betraying God. Jews should not be required to attend events on the Sabbath. Catholics should have a non-meat option on the menu during Lent. That sort of thing, as long as the school isn’t bending over backwards to please everybody.) I am firmly of the opinion that public schools must not organize prayer events, and should take pains to ensure they are neutral on the topic of religion.

  106. #106 Pareidolius
    March 13, 2010

    Calli @ . . . almost everwhere

    Your outstanding brain never ceases to impress and confound me.

    I am fully open to admitting my prejudice when it comes to the automatic assumption that theists are not, nay, cannont be smart. I started out as an atheist because I was raised that way. Then I veered in my teens to become a pseudoscientific, New Ager and believed in higher powers and channeling and quantum universal minds etc. I was smart, but a crap critical thinker.

    Having recovered from that side trip I’m now an atheist (Dawkins 6.99 to be technical) out of my own choice rather than blindly following the lead of my parents. I’m trying so fucking hard to not think that people who believe in magic are deluded. I know it’s prejudice, but my own experience shows me that my own magical-thinking was driven purely by existential fears, wishful thinking, fantasy and total suppression of my innate skepticism.

    I’m really not trying to be a total dick when I ask this: How can you comprehend the size and age of the universe and still think that an entity capable of creating that vastness, would reveal itself to us through cheap parlor tricks and monsterous, passive/agressive behavior? How do you reconcile this stuff? It was my inability to do so that eventually liberated me from magical-thinking.

    Is it simply that you like the idea that something cares for you/us? I used to until I looked at the world and realized that if there was a god, I’d better be afraid (very afraid), because it was clearly either ineffective, mad, or a sadist.

    It was when I realized that a meaningless universe didn’t mean that my own cherished meanings (love, awe, creativity, etc.) were invalid or wrong. It meant that they were my own, inviolate, and protected by their very setting of meaninglessness. No god was going to condemn me and I had nobody to answer to but my fellow humans and myself. What a relief. What a sobering, thrilling, saddening and ultimately calming understanding it was to admit that I was mortal. That I was, in fact, a product of my brain. That I would cease to exist with everything else in this mysterious, amazing, nearly endless puzzle of radiation, gasses, and random bits of hard stuff forged in the fiery hearts of dying stars.

    I certainly understand that you are an outstanding thinker and writer. Part of me becoming the critical thinker I want to be (at fifty) is listening to others and not being a knee-jerk reactionary. I see that I put the template of my own experience over everyone else and assume that my experience was universal (the true definition of pre-jugement).

    I guess I’m just asking how you reconcile what I see as irreconcilable.

    Thanks for your invaluable contribution to these threads.