Pharyngula

Late night weird story dump

Aaargh, grading. I’ve been ripping through student papers and exams all afternoon and evening, so I’m reduced to flinging out quick impressions of stuff people have sent me lately. I’m sure you can find something in this collection to discuss.

  • This is a novel solution to the energy problem…oh, wait. Did I say “novel”? I meant stupid. It’s a group praying at the gas pump for lower prices.

    “Lord, come down in a mighty way and strengthen us so that we can bring down these high gas prices,” Twyman said to a chorus of “amens”.

    “Prayer is the answer to every problem in life… We call on God to intervene in the lives of the selfish, greedy people who are keeping these prices high,” Twyman said on the gas station forecourt in a neighborhood of Washington that, like many of its residents, has seen better days.

    “Lord, the prices at this pump have gone up since last week. We know that you are able, that you have all the power in the world,” he prayed, before former beauty queen Rashida Jolley led the group in a modified version of the spiritual, “We Shall Overcome”.

    “We’ll have lower gas prices, we’ll have lower gas prices…” they sang.

  • Here’s a video of an 18-month old kid “preaching”, with his dumb-as-dirt parents egging him on. Funny thing; the kid is howling gibberish, but he’s got the mannerisms of a pulpit-pounding preacher down cold, and he makes more sense than most Christians.

  • A woman throws a tantrum because the new-found Christianity of her husband means…no sex. It’s all hilarious until someone throws a dog.

  • This is a bit chilling: Active Duty Missionary. It’s a program to recruit soldiers to proselytize, in between shooting people.

  • Jeff Dorchin doesn’t like Ben Stein.

    I mean, the historical ignorance he displays, his dismissal of centuries of European anti-Semitism, his blindness to the role of religion in genocides of peoples long before Darwin was even a twinkle in a lucky zygote’s chromosomes – these all betray the numbskullery of the notion of blaming the Holocaust on Darwin. But it’s the hypocrisy of Ben Stein, like that of his hero Nixon calling the murdered students at Kent State “thugs,” that makes the whole thing so breathtaking, heartbreaking and mind-blowing.

    I think I like Jeff Dorchin.

  • Berlinski and Derbyshire duke it out. Two things really annoy me: 1) Fans of Expelled who berate critics who haven’t seen the movie. I’m sorry, but you lost the privilege to complain when I got thrown out of the theater (and I still haven’t seen the stupid thing). 2) Liars who defend the movie by claiming to read my mind, and getting it all wrong. Berlinski claims I regret my appearance; this is not true. I’m happy to state my opinions, even in a bad flop of a movie. He also claims I “sit before the camera in solemn stupefaction” — which is very peculiar. I have seen the clip where I’m talking, and no stupefaction is evident, nor was it felt at the time of the interview.

    I don’t think a guy whose interview was performed while lying on his back with his knees waving in the camera foreground gets to accuse others of looking stupid on film, I’m afraid.

Time for some sleep. Then I plunge back into the grading pile tomorrow.

Comments

  1. #1 Bride of Shrek
    May 6, 2008

    Read the comments for the You Tube vid for the precocious little kid. They’re almost universally in wonder of him and a couple even wish their kids could be the same. Freakily spooky.

  2. #2 Monado, FCD
    May 6, 2008

    Can you spare a moment after morning coffee tomorrow to find out what happened to Tangled Bank 104? The post has vanished from its hosting blog. Hmmm, I wonder if they should all be copied and archived on TB itself… The ones you hosted on the old Pharyngula.net are gone, you know. I have the links to them all but they’re no good if the host disappears.

  3. #3 Sophist FCD
    May 6, 2008

    “Lord, come down in a mighty way and strengthen us so that we can bring down these high gas prices,” Twyman said to a chorus of “amens”.

    This is what you bug the creator of the universe about? Sheesh, no wonder he stopped taking our calls.

  4. #4 Glen Davidson
    May 6, 2008

    One would think that trailers, movie excerpts, and reviews would actually inform a person about a movie. Now I can believe that all of the people in favor of Expelled are lying with their words and examples, but I have a hard time believing that both sides are.

    Therefore I can’t see any reason why I have to see the movie to criticize it. Were I in Derbyshire’s position I very well might (paying my sin tax to the NCSE for doing so), just so I could tackle it on its specifics, but I wouldn’t tell him that he has to either.

    If Berlinski can actually point to something new, interesting, and not pig-ignorant or loathsomely stupid and vile in the movie, I might even watch it (the damn thing’s still in my town). But I think they owe us an actual reason to see it before demanding that we do. Just because people lied expensively does not oblige anyone to listen to their lies.

    I almost certainly will watch at nearly the earliest opportunity at which I can do so without rewarding Berlinski et al. for their lies, though mostly to satisfy my own curiosity regarding its stylistic characteristics, not because I feel that I lack sufficient grounds to criticize it at present over the crucial points.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  5. #5 JohnnieCanuck, FCD
    May 6, 2008

    Having seen Ben Stein display both his ignorance and his ability to lie on those talk show spots, I have no inclination at all to sit through the movie. Nor do I feel unjustified in concluding that Ben Stein tells lies in the movie. The trailers alone are evidence.

  6. #6 Zeno
    May 6, 2008

    I saw Expelled and can say quite specifically that the movie is merely “more of the same” when you consider its relation to its trailers. Stein says that “Darwinists” are suppressing legitimate research into intelligent design, that evolutionists are basically the same as atheists (and that’s a bad thing, you see), and (finally and most reprehensibly) that Darwin is the direct predecessor of Hitler. There are no surprises, except perhaps how rancid it is, as I detailed in my review.

    Derbyshire had everything he needed for his comments in the trailers and the news coverage.

  7. #7 Etha Williams
    May 6, 2008

    The video of the 18-mo preaching would almost be funny…if it weren’t for the fact that, the way his parents & religious community are egging him on, there’s a good chance that at 18-yr he’ll be acting the same way, but spewing hateful superstitious nonsense instead of just childish gibberish nonsense.

    Videos like these are why I am somewhat depressed by the adage that “the children are our future.”

  8. #8 Nasikabatrachus
    May 6, 2008

    P.Z., there’s a longer video of that 18 month-old preaching here:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=RM9zKNjF7E0

    He does several more ‘sermons’, and apparently with an accompanying choir too.

  9. #9 Brownian, OM
    May 6, 2008

    Fans of Expelled who berate critics who haven’t seen the movie.

    This from the people who insist we critique the possibility of God in the classroom.

    Think about it.

    There you go.

    So ironic, even a Christian can smell the rust.

  10. #10 Ichthyic
    May 6, 2008

    The video of the 18-mo preaching would almost be funny…if it weren’t for the fact that, the way his parents & religious community are egging him on, there’s a good chance that at 18-yr he’ll be acting the same way, but spewing hateful superstitious nonsense instead of just childish gibberish nonsense.

    have you seen: “Jesus Camp”?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RNfL6IVWCE

    that camp was actually shut down after that film was made, btw.

  11. #11 Ichthyic
    May 6, 2008

    So ironic, even a Christian can smell the rust.

    sadly, no.

    even that level of irony is lost on the creobots.

    seriously, I’ve had the discussion several times on different boards, and a notable commonality of creobots appears to be a failure to recognize and comprehend irony.

  12. #12 Sioux Laris
    May 6, 2008

    If Berlinski were pied (Banana-cream? Blueberry? Cow?) in the face on a daily basis, until he feared te approach of ANY strange face with one hand concealed, the world I live in would be a better one (even, after needed therapy, for that current little-shit ignoramus Berlinski himself.)

  13. #13 Slaughter
    May 6, 2008

    Sophist FCD: Reminds me of the American priest who had an audience with the pope along with several other priests and asked him to pray for Notre Dame’s football coach, Jerry Faust. Wiser heads stepped in and said they didn’t think it was an appropriate use of the pope’s time.
    But the current coach, Charlie Weis, now *he* needs praying for!

  14. #14 Who Cares
    May 6, 2008

    Those people praying for mass changes in the world are the worst kind of fatalists I know. Instead of trying to think how they can get to the desired outcome they basically demand that someone else (in this case nonexistent) fix their problem then do nothing (except wail and gnash teeth).

  15. #15 Janine ID
    May 6, 2008

    I think Rocky and friends should skip praying for lower gas prices and come up with cars that run on pure prayer power.

  16. #16 Etha Williams
    May 6, 2008

    @#10 Ichthyic –

    have you seen: “Jesus Camp”?

    Yeah. Fucking depressing movie. I think the worst part is the part where Ted Haggard says:

    Kids are everything. They love the evangelical message: God loves them, the Bible’s the word of God, they are gifts of God. So while the public school’s telling them they’re animals, they’re the product of natral selection, we tell them: “God loves you. God’s created you. You have a purpose in life.” I mean, the kids are — just lovin’ it. And so, umm, so it’s an awful lot of people, and we’re growing. Churches like this, there’s a new church like this every two days in America. It’s got enough growth to essentially sway every election.

    You can’t even say of these people “forgive them, for they no not what they do.” They know exactly what they’re doing — and they’re unashamed. Hypocritical brainwashing pieces of shit only begins to describe it.

  17. #17 Etha Williams
    May 6, 2008

    Oh, re: my #16 — the video of Haggard saying this can be found online here, starting at 00:53.

  18. #18 blf
    May 6, 2008

    Are unanswered prayers a serious pollution problem? Think about it: There must be terrawoos of never answered, ignored, misguided, incorrectly addressed, et al., prayers piled up somewhere, probably causing (besides the obvious serious distortion of reality) severe degradation of the local environment. The prayer-dump must be an extremely toxic place, with all these heartfelt “oh sky fairy, please reduce the price of petrol” and “oh sky fairy, please make my daughter a virgin again” and “oh sky fairy, please tell me the answers so I can get a good grade and impress my parents” and “oh sky fairy, please give me some food to eat” and … I’d imagine there’s some rather nasty reactions going on there, which great clouds of brimstone, sulphur, and angeldust floating about, and a steady drizzle of incoming bombed prayers…

    Should someone give Greenpeace or FoE a call?

  19. #19 Thomas S. Howard
    May 6, 2008

    Read the comments for the You Tube vid for the precocious little kid. They’re almost universally in wonder of him and a couple even wish their kids could be the same. Freakily spooky.

    Posted by: Bride of Shrek

    Fell prey to that temptation myself. Really wish I hadn’t. Exempli gratia:

    JusBleezy:
    this is so funny. Don’t hate on him. He’s emulating on what’s positive. You shouldn’t be happy if he were to emulate music videos that are filled with sensuality.

    Whatever happened to alphabet blocks, or God forbid, playing with other children in non-formal attire? I wonder how much encouragement it took to elicit that little performance. It’s basically the same as teaching your dog to do some improbable trick for the bragging rights. I hate to use the word, as it’s become so pretentious, but that’s just vulgar.

  20. #20 Martin07
    May 6, 2008

    The price of oil is set by speculators on Wall Street. Since God can’t interfere with free will, he can’t change their individual decisions, and therefore can’t change the outcome of their collective decisions (the market price).

    Then again, people stupid enough to pray at gas stations will probably never understand the economics behind oil.

  21. #21 itwasntme
    May 6, 2008
  22. #22 Michael
    May 6, 2008

    Praying for lower gas prices is logical compared to restricting oil production and promoting Biofuels. For example, Alaska’s pipeline has been and will continue to decline. Oil companies are back tracking to see if they missed any oil in the areas of which they have permission to search from the 1970′s.

    Five major oil companies are having a harder time replacing dried up wells. The current replacement rate is 82 percent, and I suspect will go down even further down the road. Now even if we could drill for more oil, there is a refinery shortage for production, because we haven’t built a refinery since 1976. So in other words 1970 oil production is drying up…

    Now biofuels, which was one of the solutions to use less oil and less pollution. Biofuels have contributed to the increase in food prices. Corn is mainly grown in the midwest, since it can’t transferred in a pipeline, it has to be trucked to the conversion plant and then trucked to another location. More pollution and higher costs of production and transportation as a result. Then there is the sugar idea, at first I was in favor of such a concept, but the worldwide demand for oil deemed it to be not a logical choice because the rain forests would disappear even quicker, and it would also help spike the cost of food as it already had done, which would not help poor people needs for food…Why do you think there is a shortage of rice? Because the US is growing more corn where it used to grow more rice which foreign lands would also buy.

    So we have an fundamental atheist who had to notify his blog dwellers about the praying, we have people who are starving more, we are destroying the land quicker, we are rising the cost of living faster which will result in more poor people and hardships on others, and the US production for oil is declining as there has been vast restrictions so much so we are highly depended upon what was allowed by the government back in the 1970′s and they say “praying” is stupid…Bah!!!

  23. #23 Etha Williams
    May 6, 2008

    @#22 Michael –

    and they say “praying” is stupid…Bah!!!

    Even if your bizarre beliefs that biofuels would lead to starvation were true, praying would still be stupid.

    Even if the fuel issue were utterly unsolvable, praying would still be stupid.

    It comes down to one, simple thing: praying is stupid. Period.

  24. #24 Ichthyic
    May 6, 2008

    hey say “praying” is stupid…Bah!!!

    yes, all of what you listed is pretty asinine as well.
    praying is STILL stupid, though.

    in that huge rant, regardless of the accuracy or inaccuracy of what you presented, you actually did absolutely NOTHING to suggest that praying ISN’T stupid.

    will praying fix the shift in crop production due to speculation?

    no.

    will it fix declining oil production?

    no.

    Is it then useless and stupid, and nothing more than a distraction for those who prefer to sit and do nothing?

    yes.

    clearer now?

  25. #25 Ichthyic
    May 6, 2008

    Ted Haggard sez:

    “God loves you. God’s created you
    …for me to poop on!”

    fucking crack whore.

  26. #26 Alcari
    May 6, 2008

    shooting your a gun and preaching at the same time? I am the only one who thinks of Warhammer 40k?

    Holy Emperor, hear my prayer,
    Guide this missle, hold it true
    Let it part their steel and weak armor
    And crack their cowardly skin
    And smite the foe from your sight.

    Truth is in fact, at least as strange as fiction it seems.

    I’m sorry, but you lost the privilege to complain when I got thrown out of the theater (and I still haven’t seen the stupid thing)

    Do what every intelligent skeptic did with this movie, Bittorrent it. I mean, they obviously don’t want you to see in theater.

  27. #27 SEF
    May 6, 2008

    the kid is howling gibberish, but he’s got the mannerisms of a pulpit-pounding preacher down cold

    Young children are very good mimics – it’s how they initially “learn” to survive. Since religion has nothing worthwhile of substance to it anyway, the form or style is everything. Hence religionists are very easily impressed by someone matching the form. Similarly, they can frequently be seen to take most offense at the style of an argument while being completely unable to address its content.

    Conversely, scientists aren’t at all impressed by someone mimicking form but being unable to provide the required content. It’s somewhat amusing that the religionists are often quite unable to recognise why they continually fail at pretending to do science or at coherent argument. They simply don’t grasp that the content is the important part.

  28. #28 AlanWCan
    May 6, 2008

    Martin07:

    Then again, people stupid enough to pray at gas stations will probably never understand the economics behind oil.

    I’d lay you odds though that a goodly percentage of those praying at the gas station voted for the assholes in charge and responsible for the whole mess in the first place. Maybe this is the wakeup call they need to stop voting for whoever BillOReilly and their local medicineman tell them to and start voting their best interests. There’s a glimmer of hope in the idiot woman who says President Bush doesn’t even think we’re in a recession…maybe, just maybe they’ll start to see the lies now that it’s interfering with their SUPPORT THE TROOPS sticker-sporting SUVs???

  29. #29 AJS
    May 6, 2008

    Just for comparison, petrol (gas) in Derby is currently averaging GBP 1.09. That’s about US$2.15 at today’s exchange rate.

  30. #30 Christine
    May 6, 2008

    In the style of the 18 month old preaching, here’s a girl “filled with the holy spirit”. Please note the large bottle of fizzy behind her…

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=J6u3eRM3T3I&feature=related

  31. #31 KenG
    May 6, 2008

    Hey folks, there’s a great read over on Alternet at:
    http://www.alternet.org/rights/84043/

    A piece by Mark Taibbi from his book “The Great Derangement” about his undercover participation in one of Hagee’s weekend retreats.

    Both funny and scary as well as a great insight into the mindset of those we are trying to “convert” to rational thought. The battle will be tough!!

  32. #32 OctoberMermaid
    May 6, 2008

    This ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-UCo7JQm-A ) is my first exposure to Berlinski, but I understand that in Expelled, he’s wearing shorts and sitting on a lounge chair? That just screams “tragically unhip douchebag.”

  33. #33 Winter Toad
    May 6, 2008

    AJS: to make your point more clear, that’s US$2.15 per litre of petrol, not per US gallon. To cast it into units that are more familiar to American readers, that makes it US$8.14 per gallon.

  34. #34 Steinmaster
    May 6, 2008

    Thanks for the warning about how you treat your grading, PZ.

    I like to avoid professors like that.

  35. #35 paragwinn
    May 6, 2008

    Ichthyic: even that level of irony is lost on the creobots.

    I can confirm the prognosis that the lifeblood of their faith is very irony-deficient. I had to have several infusions of irony, rationality and science in order to reverse my condition.

  36. #36 Bride of Shrek
    May 6, 2008

    # 34

    Get your hand off it Steinmaster, PZ was using a figure of speech. You humourless git.

  37. #37 Mike O'Risal
    May 6, 2008

    Meanwhile, it looks like Creationists may be firing up an effort in Maine led by a semi-literate joker named Matthew Linkletter. He’s on a school board there and has Ken Ham’s Darwin’s Plantation on his Amazon wish list. Need I say more?

    Well, yeah, apparently…

  38. #38 mikespeir
    May 6, 2008

    “It’s a group praying at the gas pump for lower prices.”

    If prices actually go down, it’ll really be because I’ve been praying to the birdbath. (Although I know Christians will be giving their god credit)

  39. #39 Knight of L-sama
    May 6, 2008

    Alcari @ 26, does that make those of one the side of reason and logic the Tau? And if so where so I sign up for battlesuit training?

  40. #40 Helblindi
    May 6, 2008

    “But the 28-year-old returned to the apartment and took her husband’s wallet, _military identification card_ and keys.”

    Two of your stories actually tie in very nicely.

  41. #41 Fernando Magyar
    May 6, 2008

    Then there is the sugar idea, at first I was in favor of such a concept, but the worldwide demand for oil deemed it to be not a logical choice because the rain forests would disappear even quicker, and it would also help spike the cost of food as it already had done, which would not help poor people needs for food…

    There is so much ignorance displayed in your comment that it is hard to know how to address it all, so let me at least address the one I blockquoted. You obviously don’t know anything at all about growing sugarcane and producing ethanol from it. While I personally do not endorse production of biofuels as a panacea for global energy problems, rainforests in particular are not suited for sugarcane production. Take a look at this map on page three from this PDF file, Ethanol from Sugar Cane in Brazil to see where sugarcane cane can be grown. http://www.biofuelsnow.com/Ethanol%20From%20Sugar%20Cane.pdf
    BTW I was commuting between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in the 80′s driving a 100% ethanol powered vehicle.
    As for you I suggest you go sit in the corner and pray for knowledge.

  42. #42 Chuck
    May 6, 2008

    Active Duty Missionary: I’ve run across them before. To their credit, they aren’t recruiting active duty troops, (at least their website so alleges), but are looking for military families who have completed their tours of duty. They are, on the other hand, working hard to suck up the GI Bill money of former Soldiers.

    A bigger problem in re military and evangelism is the overwhelming majority of fundievangelicals in the chaplaincy vs the number of members of those sects in uniform.

  43. #43 Michael Kremer
    May 6, 2008

    Ichthyic (#11): So, Christian = creobot? Calling Scott Hatfield, calling Scott Hatfield….

  44. #44 Brandon P.
    May 6, 2008

    I honestly find the whole “raising gas prices” thing to be a bunch of whining, at least in the US. If memory serves, American gas prices are a little more than $3.5-4, which is hardly an ungodly amount of money. Over here in Hong Kong where I currently reside as an expat, the gas price is around US$6, and we don’t complain. And isn’t the real problem with fossil fuels the greenhouse gas thing? That’s much more urgent in my opinion.

  45. #45 Etha Williams
    May 6, 2008

    @#32 October Mermaid –

    This ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-UCo7JQm-A ) is my first exposure to Berlinski, but I understand that in Expelled, he’s wearing shorts and sitting on a lounge chair? That just screams “tragically unhip douchebag.”

    There’s a clip of Berlinski from Expelled up here. He’s fairly disgustingly stupid.

  46. #46 me
    May 6, 2008

    Derbyshire’s critics completely missed his point, like whiffing at a fastball thrown way over their heads.

    Derbyshire simply pointed out how creationism has morphed into this lying sack of shit intelligent design enterprise. He only used the movie as a starting point to drive home a larger message.

  47. #47 Hematite
    May 6, 2008

    PZ: I think I like Jeff Dorchin.

    I also think I like Jeff Dorchin. I almost skipped the article since I already think Stein is… how do you Americans say… a douche. It’s a nicely written piece though, I recommend it.

  48. #48 Cuttlefish, OM
    May 6, 2008

    With thousands dead in Myanmar, and thousands more to pass
    It’s time to bow our heads and say a prayer… for cheaper gas.

  49. #49 mz
    May 6, 2008

    “we call on God to intervene in the lives of the selfish, greedy people who are keeping these prices high”

    You mean, people buying the gasoline … which would be … yourself?

    I don’t understand the thought process here completely. I guess when something is bad, momma’s gotta fix it, and if momma doesn’t do it, we have a fit.

  50. #50 Ex Partiate
    May 6, 2008

    can anyone explain how a nothing like Ben Stein even got a part in a movie or a a TV show,m he must have been on his knee’s for a long time and I don’t mean begging

  51. #51 annagranfors
    May 6, 2008

    Re: I think I like Jeff Dorchin.

    For all of you who are taken by the stylings of our Mr. Dorchen, you can hear his weekly commentary, “The Moment Of Truth” (not to mention some truly enjoyable chitchat with his host, Chuck Mertz) on “This Is Hell”, a largely enjoyable progtalkradio show on WNUR Chicago 89.3 every Saturday from 9am-1pm CST. Stream links aplenty at:

    http://www.thisishell.com/

  52. #52 Michelle
    May 6, 2008

    …How can a 24 years old man give up on sex, booze and swearing? It doesn’t work in my book. This guy obviously has a LOT of mental problems (Thus making him weak to religious fanatism.)

    As for the gas praying nutcases… FUNNY!!!

  53. #53 PZ Myers
    May 6, 2008

    I like to avoid professors like that.

    You like to avoid professors who scramble diligently to return assignments promptly to their students? Why?

  54. #54 Arthur Dent
    May 6, 2008

    On the “Active duty missionaries” front – note that they charge tuition of $12,000 for singles and $17,600 per family. Looks like a “Christian” program to me.

  55. #55 Hank Roberts
    May 6, 2008

    As the joke goes, the Diety put all those things in Creation either for fun, or as jokes, and on seeing people were taking them seriously got p’o’d at our failure to appreciate them and made sins out of them.

  56. #56 Jim A.
    May 6, 2008

    Alarci #26.
    Truth is stranger than fiction
    The Kiss
    To these I turn, in these I trust;
    Brother Lead and Sister Steel.
    To his blind power I make appeal;
    I guard her beauty clean from rust.

    He spins and burns and loves the air,
    And splits a skull to win my praise;
    But up the nobly marching days
    She glitters naked, cold and fair.

    Sweet Sister, grant your soldier this;
    That in good fury he may feel
    The body where he sets his heel
    Quail from your downward darting kiss.

    Sigfried Sasoon 1918.

  57. #57 Reginald Selkirk
    May 6, 2008

    1) Fans of Expelled who berate critics who haven’t seen the movie.

    A necessary accessory to this argument is that you have to be able to produce instances of things they got wrong by not viewing the movie. I couldn’t find anything Derbyshire got wrong.

  58. #58 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    May 6, 2008

    Berlinski sez: “Expelled has nothing to do with creationism.
    Uh huh.

  59. #59 Carlie
    May 6, 2008

    “Lord, come down in a mighty way and strengthen us so that we can bring down these high gas prices,” Twyman said to a chorus of “amens”.

    And then, Lord, please bring back the McRib to the dollar menu at McDonald’s, because we really miss it and these days that’s all we can afford to eat out.

  60. #60 JStein
    May 6, 2008

    Thanks for putting the kid-preacher up there. I sent it in because, honestly, it freaks me the f*ck out.

  61. #61 Kseniya
    May 6, 2008

    There must be terrawoos of never answered, ignored, misguided, incorrectly addressed, et al., prayers piled up somewhere…

    Nice. :-)

    Prices fluctuate. At some point, the prices will drop a little. I can hear it now: “Praise God! Prayer works!” :-D

    I see Michael has blessed us with another ironclad, impeccably logical argument. So, Michael – praying is less stupid than actually trying to do something to address the fossil-fuel problem. I agree that biofuel production presents serious challenges, but how is exploring the idea more stupid than standing around at the side of the road whispering wishes into the ether?

    It’s difficult to muster a lot of sympathy for the poor, beleaguered oil companies when Exxon-Mobil recently posted record profits – not revenues, profits – for the last quarter.

    As did Chevron.

    And BP.

    And Shell.

  62. #62 Hessenroots
    May 6, 2008

    The photo on the pray at the pumps story looks like something thrown together in Photoshop for the Onion.

    Knowing it’s a real picture makes it all the more amusing though.

  63. #63 Benjamin Franklin
    May 6, 2008

    Have I been blocked out from the Expelled blog, or have they just shut it down? It hasn’t had any comments updated in almost a week now.

    Anyone have any info?

  64. #64 PZ Myers
    May 6, 2008

    Maybe they’re depressed because their movie flopped.

    Speaking of failure, where is Keith Eaton? He predicted the movie would make hundreds of millions of dollars, and he disappeared after I pointed out to him that it would be lucky to make 5. Gross.

  65. #65 donnah
    May 6, 2008

    “It’s all hilarious until someone throws a dog.”

    I laughed right out loud at this. Best line of the day.

  66. #66 Extra Bitter Stoat
    May 6, 2008

    $12,000?! To teach you how to close-minded arrogant robot spouting bible verse? I’d think you could learn how to do that for free… It’s even worse if the comment about using GI bill money is true. They take money out of your pay for two years to put toward that. The more I read this blog, the less I like my religion. Sigh.

  67. #67 QrazyQat
    May 6, 2008

    You like to avoid professors who scramble diligently to return assignments promptly to their students? Why?

    People who expect a poor grade always feel that way. :)

  68. #68 JJR
    May 6, 2008

    The prayer solution is laughable, yes.

    But until we as Americans learn to radically re-think our current living arrangements and start re-building cohesive, walkable communities, with adequate public transportation infrastructure that isn’t so utterly car-dependent, try to start re-localizing agricultural production and making it more organic and less industrial/chemical dependent, etc, all rhetoric about “breaking dependence on foreign oil”, “clean coal”, “biofuels”, etc, is all blowing green smoke up our places where the sun don’t shine. Our toxic, anti-social hyper-individualism are the ideology that informs and supports Suburban sprawl, a mode of living that has no future.

    Hands that help are better than lips that pray, as Ingersoll said way back when.

  69. #69 UprightAlice
    May 6, 2008

    Lord, please smite the high cost of my triple caramel macchiato with your big, beefy mitt; or give me the strength to settle for a single-bag hot Tazo. While you’re at it, Lord, please bless the underpaid lackey behind the counter, for he knows not what he does.

  70. #70 orogeny
    May 6, 2008

    Every time I think I’ve found something to like about Derbyshire, he writes something like this:

    And there is science, perhaps the greatest of all our achievements, because nowhere else on earth did it appear. China, India, the Muslim world, all had fine cities and systems of law, architecture and painting, poetry and prose, religion and philosophy. None of them ever accomplished what began in northwest Europe in the later 17th century, though: a scientific revolution. Thoughtful men and women came together in learned societies to compare notes on their observations of the natural world, to test their ideas in experiments, and in reasoned argument against the ideas of others, and to publish their results in learned journals. A body of common knowledge gradually accumulated. Patterns were observed, laws discerned and stated.

    Basically…the Wogs could never accomplish what good white christians have done. Medicine, astronomy, mathematics, etc. are all the product of Caucasian superiority. Jeeze, Derb…

  71. #71 Ferrous Patella
    May 6, 2008

    In case you had any doubts about Active Duty Missionary, from their doctrinal statement:

    1. We believe the Bible is the verbal (every word) and plenary (complete inspired Word of God as contained in the original manuscripts. We employ a literal, grammatical/historical method of interpretation as opposed to an allegorical and mystical interpretation.
    [...]
    8. We believe in the literal biblical account of creation (a grammatical/historical method of interpretation).

  72. #72 Jaycubed
    May 6, 2008

    It seems to me that the unnamed Washington woman is already “more” religious than her husband. She sure has the smiting down.

  73. #73 brokenSoldier
    May 6, 2008

    This is a bit chilling: Active Duty Missionary. It’s a program to recruit soldiers to proselytize, in between shooting people.

    I wonder if Major Freddy J. Welborn is a member? If not, he’s quite the pre-recruiter for such an organization while he’s still in uniform. And the fact that these people are allowed to take GI Bill money is fucking ridiculous. Accreditation from an educational association should be a top requirement for organizations to get their hands on that money.

  74. #74 CrypticLife
    May 6, 2008

    Don’t worry about the 18-month old. He’s emulating now, it just means when he gets older he’ll know exactly how it’s done, and exactly how worthwhile the content is.

    I’d take even odds on him becoming an atheist in his teens or early twenties.

  75. #75 Sili
    May 6, 2008

    #32 October Mermaid,

    That was painful to watch. And I thought I was an arrogant, pretentious git. I don’t even know where to begin arguing against that blather.

    Re petrol prices. They’re almost 11 DKK a litre here (and diesel has been over 10 DKK for weeks now) which comes to around 8.7 USD a gallon according to Google (1.5 ?/l, 1.2 /l).

  76. #76 Epikt
    May 6, 2008

    Michael:

    Now even if we could drill for more oil, there is a refinery shortage for producion, because we haven’t built a refinery since 1976

    Right-o, Mikey. We have such a severe refinery shortage that they’re currently running at 85 percent of capacity.

  77. #77 Joshua Arnold
    May 6, 2008

    loverofchai said:
    at least hes not carrying around an AK47 like the exteme muslim radicals teach their kids. HES IS precious and i pray God will raise him up to teach alll the nations about Christ’s LOve, Grace, and Mercy, and ofcourse salvation.

    From the YouTube video.

    All of these child preacher videos in the past months have convinced me that religion is child abuse. No question.

    This isn’t much different from giving a kid an AK-47. You’re still fucking him/her up royally.

  78. #78 Monado, FCD
    May 6, 2008

    The real problem is that the CEOs of Big Oil are also praying: “O Lord, raise our profits and give our share-holders a good dividend.”

  79. #79 Sili
    May 6, 2008

    For some reason I couldn’t comment on Zeno’s piece (or perhaps I’ve commented five time …):

    “Some terms have acquired through their historical associations a degree of repugnance that persuades sensitive men and women not to use them.”

    I take it “holocaust”, “Hitler”, “Nazi”, “eugenics”, &c &c &c ad nauseam are not yet among those terms.

    Or could it be – mirabile scripsu – that the bloviating, decrepit old fool hasn’t actually seen the film, himself?

  80. #80 Rey Fox
    May 6, 2008

    I think Keith Eaton’s performance art would be more sad than funny at this stage. Perhaps he’s working on a new act.

  81. #81 momo
    May 6, 2008

    can’t wait for reports on anti-american terrorists praying “allah we’ll have higher gas prices, higher gas prices” *lol*

  82. #82 Mac
    May 6, 2008

    Did anyone else get o far as to look at the training program?

    MEN’S TECHNICAL CURRICULUM
    Heavy Construction/Mill Work
    Mechanics
    Community Planning And Management
    Building Construction

    WOMEN’S TECHNICAL CURRICULUM
    Missionary Life
    Home And Family (Including “Emphasis … given to aiding the candidate in learning to set the proper atmosphere for the Christian home amidst the many changes and inconveniences encountered on the mission field.” Wait, even in the Congo dinner has to be on the table by six?!)
    Field Ministries

  83. #83 Mena
    May 6, 2008

    I still think that someone who is supposed to be as smart as Ben Stein would have heard of an English poet named Chaucer and would have at least read a modern English version of The Prioress’ Tale. Could it possibly be that he’s not really that smart? Oh no!

  84. #84 Bride of Shrek
    May 6, 2008

    Hey

    We’re paying about a $1.50 per litre for petrol in Aus. By my calcs thats about US $6 a gallon. So far everyone everyone outside the US on this blog seems to be paying much higher prices than you lot. Puts $3.50 a gallon back into perspective doesn’t it?

  85. #85 Bride of Shrek
    May 6, 2008

    Re the 18 month old.

    I’ve got a photo of my 11 month old pretending to read a copy of Life’s Grandeur by Stephen Jay Gould. My kid’s younger, I win.

  86. #86 OctoberMermaid
    May 6, 2008

    #45

    At least he’s not wearing shorts. Still pretty clearly a douchebag.

  87. #87 Michael Powers
    May 6, 2008

    Thought you might be interested inone more review of “Expelled”.
    From Chemical and Engineering New, the house journalof the AmericanChemical Society.
    April 28, 2008 Volume 86, Number 17 pp. 53
    Reel Science
    ‘Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed’
    Ben Stein’s antiscience ‘documentary’ equates evolution with Nazism
    Melody Voith
    Ben Stein–law professor, actor, game show host, and now a documentary filmmaker–thinks he has uncovered a plot by the scientific establishment to drum good scientists out of academia merely for expressing their personal beliefs. Has big science decided that science and religion are mutually exclusive? An examination of the battle lines and players in such a drama would make a fascinating movie. “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” is not that movie.

    Premise Media

    Instead, it’s a cleverly edited but convoluted and misleading diatribe that tries to lend legitimacy to intelligent design (ID). The film features six people, including a teacher and a journalist, who claim that the mere mention of ID has ruined their careers. Institutions–including the Smithsonian–are accused of orchestrating firings, blacklistings, and lab shutdowns. But then “Expelled” abruptly changes direction to tour every hackneyed argument against evolution.

    Stein takes us to the high-rise offices of the Discovery Institute, a self-described “public policy think tank” that is best known for advocating ID as a valid scientific theory. The organization’s spokesman complains that the media incorrectly defines ID, but he does not take the opportunity to explain it himself.

    In fact, the movie provides a vast buffet of definitions of ID and thus accidently illustrates why scientists are loath to take up the ID versus evolution debate. There is no one theory of ID to discredit or disprove–the film illustrates in damning detail that ID is a fluid disavowal of nonsupernatural explanations of the diversity of life.

    According to the film, some ID supporters believe in “microevolution” but not “macroevolution.” Mutation and natural selection observed in a lab proves only that microevolution occurs, they say.

    Other interviewees in the film discount evolution entirely, saying that Darwin’s work was basically bad science and bad theory from the beginning. At one university, Stein collects another definition of ID, not as a theory but as a practice of scientific inquiry that “studies patterns in nature to detect intelligent creation.”

    Lastly, many ID proponents accept large swaths of the theory of evolution, but they say it is not the only theory that explains life on Earth today. Their reasoning is that everything we see today minus differences likely arising from genetic mutation and proven effects of natural selection equal proof of an intelligent designer.

    Stein finds a few notable scientists willing to engage the evolution debate, but they either seem puzzled by his questions or appear to assume that Stein believes as they do. Stein interviews Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion”; science blogger P. Z. Myers; and Eugenie Scott, head of the National Center for Science Education, among others.

    In contrast to his other subjects, who want to believe that ID is capable of “upsetting the apple cart” or “throwing bombs” at Darwinism, the pro-evolution subjects brush off ID as ignorant fantasy. All the pro-evolution forces are shown to be atheists or likely atheists; Stein anoints avowed atheist Dawkins as their spokesman.

    Scott points out that many scientists do believe in both God and evolution. No scientist in this category appears in the film, nor does Stein find any atheists who back ID, despite talking points that claim ID is not a religious philosophy. If so many scientists are atheists and ID is a legitimate scientific pursuit, where are the atheist ID researchers?

    The film then takes a nauseating detour. If the theory of evolution is true, Stein asserts, then it proves that God does not exist. His leap of logic continues: No God and no life after death means that free will does not exist, and thus humans have no reason to be ethical. Filming from the site of a Nazi death camp, he wants viewers to believe that Darwin led to eugenics and to the Holocaust. That Hitler was a fan of Darwin’s theory is not news. That the science of evolution caused “social Darwinism” is an old and repeatedly discredited idea.

    What about the scientists Stein talks to who claim to have been harassed and ruined? Stein offers no corroborating evidence that any of them suffered the negative effects that they claim. Publications such as the Washington Post, New York Times, and Nature have investigated the stories and found them to be bogus.

    Stein uses patriotic language and imagery to say that the scientific enterprise is a free marketplace of ideas and that all ideas should be treated equally. But underpinning the scientific method is the knowledge that all ideas are not equal, and in fact, the vast majority of ideas are demonstrably wrong. When ideas that are proven wrong do not go away, science does not advance.

    “Expelled” might have been a worthwhile film. It could have examined whether trends or dogma in science squash legitimate lines of inquiry. Instead it is just a messy, illogical, insulting, and poorly researched work of antievolution propaganda.

    Melody Voith is a senior editor in C&EN’s business department. Reel Science is a regular feature of C&EN Online, http://www.cen-online.org/reelscience.

  88. #88 shane
    May 6, 2008

    Why don’t Americans stop complaining about gas prices and catch public transport?

    Oh..

  89. #89 E in MD
    May 6, 2008

    Oh c’mon PZ… Make it easy on yourself… just mark anything that doesn’t say “God did it” as incorrect.

  90. #90 thalarctos
    May 7, 2008

    Speaking of failure, where is Keith Eaton?

    Busy turning in Anne Frank, would be my guess…

  91. #91 Nick Gotts
    May 7, 2008

    The real problem is that the CEOs of Big Oil are also praying: “O Lord, raise our profits and give our share-holders a good dividend.” Monado, FCD

    In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Diamond As Big As The Ritz”, multi-millionaire Braddock Washington unsuccessfully tries to bribe God with the eponymous diamond. Maybe the CEOs of Big Oil were able to make him a more enticing offer?

  92. #92 Andreas Johansson
    May 7, 2008

    According to the Bible, God’s favourite bribe is the smell of burnt meat …

  93. #93 Kseniya
    May 7, 2008

    Busy turning in Anne Frank, would be my guess…

    *snicker*

  94. #94 JayneK
    May 9, 2008

    While I have been able to determine to my own satisfaction that I do not want to see “Expelled”, I would be reluctant to review or criticize it (or any film) without having seen it. In general, I find comments on a movie by those who have not seen the movie, lacking in credibility. When you, PZ, speak of your first hand experiences, that is obviously relevant (in spite of your not having seen the film). But I find Derbyshire’s comments uncompelling.

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!