Pharyngula

Come on, New Scientist

This is ridiculous. New Scientist abruptly yanked an article from their web site because they “received a complaint about the contents of the story.” Hmmm. Makes a fellow really want to see what horror was wreaked in the censored item: Pornography? Personal defamation? Embarrassing revelation? Alas, it’s nothing quite so juicy. You can find a copy of the pulled article (isn’t it sweet how the web makes it almost impossible to actually make history disappear?): it’s all about how to spot a religious agenda in so-called science books that the creationists like to peddle — basic stuff like code words, such as “Darwinist” or “materialism”, or the usual spacey interpretations of quantum physics, or the habit of believing that an argument from consequences has any relevance to the truth of a matter.

It mentions some specific examples, such as James Le Fanu, Denyse O’Leary, and Expelled, but these are all perfectly good and accurate instances of religiously-motivated products. Did one of them complain?

I am troubled by the apparent knee-jerk retraction of a legitimate article that is critical of creationism simply because there was a “complaint” (I’d also be concerned if a creationist article was yanked with such ease—more speech, not less speech, is the answer to the idiocy of these yahoos). I hope New Scientist isn’t going to be catering to the whims of popular, uninformed nervous nellies. That kind of timidity is not appropriate to a journal that has “Scientist” in its title.

Comments

  1. #1 andrew
    March 15, 2009

    wtf…scientists need to wake up and take the hard line on creationism.

  2. #2 SuziQ
    March 15, 2009

    The link doesn’t work for me! Is it because I’m in Canada?

  3. #3 sdrDusty
    March 15, 2009

    Yes, linky brok

  4. #4 WTFinterrobang
    March 15, 2009

    I second scientists needing to take the hard line on creationism! While our constitution guarantees freedom of religion, I propose that the wackjobs need to keep their religion in their house/bedroom and stay out of mine!

    Shame on “New (Creation) Scientist”

  5. #5 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 15, 2009

    Both Firefox and Safari gave “do not trust” error messages for the pulled article link.

  6. #6 Stacy L Mason
    March 15, 2009

    Firefox gave some guff about a lack of certificate but allowed me to make an exception and see the site.

  7. #7 Richard Harris
    March 15, 2009

    I remember reading that article in the mag, (by Amanda Gefter I think), & it seemed innocuous. If NS really has caved in to a complaint, then I would like to find out more behind this decision.

    The law on libel is very different in the UK compared to the USA. Maybe there was something actionable?

  8. #8 Nix
    March 15, 2009

    It’s doubly ridiculous because the article is in the printed copy! What are they going to do, hire people to go round to their subscribers’ houses and rip it out?

  9. #9 Zeno
    March 15, 2009

    A science magazine run by wimps. Not good.

  10. #10 TigerHunter
    March 15, 2009

    I’m currently reading The Ancestor’s Tale and Dawkins is fairly regularly using the terms Darwinism and Darwinist.

    And yes, stand up and take a hard line. Expose creationism for the idiocy that it is. (And global warming denailism while you’re at it.)

  11. #11 Jimmy Groove
    March 15, 2009

    New Scientist’s staff have been making some ridiculously poor choices. First the “Darwin Was Wrong” cover (which I have already seen squawked out by creationists), and now this?

    I wish I had subscribed to it, so I could cancel my subscription in protest. Oh well, I’ll just complain on the internet.

  12. #12 'Tis Himself
    March 15, 2009

    Both Firefox and Safari gave “do not trust” error messages for the pulled article link.

    I ran McAfee, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, Spybot Search & Destroy, and SpywareBlaster over the site. None of them detected any malware.

  13. #13 jpf
    March 15, 2009

    OT, but what’s the deal with Examiner.com? I never heard of it before and all of sudden it seems like every other article I see being linked to is from them. I’m not complaining, since they’re better then those dreadful About.com articles that used to clutter up Google results, but it just seems like they came out of no where.

  14. #14 Tom
    March 15, 2009

    This kind of goes back to respecting others because of their religious beliefs. They don’t deserve it. Science really needs to take a hard line against these sorts of complaints.

  15. #15 sdrDusty
    March 15, 2009

    Thanks, I did not click through before.

  16. #16 TechSkeptic
    March 15, 2009

    I bailed on New scientist months ago. They have become the National Enquirer of the science industry.

  17. #17 CalGeorge
    March 15, 2009

    No, no, no. They did the right thing.

    Pulling the piece means PZ and others will make a stink and more people will hear about the advice that the book reviewer has to offer.

    Victory!

  18. #18 YourHeadASplode
    March 15, 2009

    Can’t blame the creationists for not wanting their deceitful tactics/agenda exposed.

  19. #19 sdrDusty
    March 15, 2009

    NS seems to be sh!tting itself a lot lately.

  20. #20 Facehammer
    March 15, 2009

    New Scientist appear to have secondarily lost their spines.

  21. #21 jpf
    March 15, 2009

    I bailed on New scientist months ago. They have become the National Enquirer of the science industry.

    No, more like the Weekly World News.

  22. #22 Doug S.
    March 15, 2009

    To think that they pulled this and not the article on the EMDrive – a reactionless drive that violates conservation of momentum.

    NewScientist has no more credibility than the National Enquirer. Possibly less.

  23. #23 David Wiener
    March 15, 2009

    I sent them an email to make a choice: fundi creationist xians or people who want to read about science. They need to make up their damn mind.

    Like the ‘New Atheist’, we need a ‘New Scientist’ who, maybe somewhat more politely, will stand up and say what science is and what it is not. If views are ‘respected’ out of politeness, then others will think that these silly ideas have credence.

    We need a little more Pharyngula, and a little less PC.

  24. #24 WTFinterrobang
    March 15, 2009

    @jpf #21:

    You are awarded the No-Bull Cover Prize for today! Batboy totally rocks the non-existent foundations upon which the fucktards build their religions!

  25. #25 Chris P
    March 15, 2009

    “NewScientist has no more credibility than the National Enquirer.”

    Bullshit. They have been the leading supplier of information regarding science for decades. There is no comparable source. American magazines have never provided as much information about global warming as New Scientist.

    Many American engineering institutions like the ASME are still in denial on global warming.

  26. #26 David Jay
    March 15, 2009

    For shame! I really liked that article, it was bang-on.

    However, New Scientist has always been fairly hit and miss. I’ve never really trusted them 100% – putting “new” in front of “scientist” sounds suspicious to me… almost like they have an ulterior motive themselves! I mean, science is science, isn’t it? It sounds hinky to qualify it as “new”. Am I right, does anyone agree/disagree or can anyone add more to this sentiment?

  27. #27 David Wiener
    March 15, 2009

    Linky is not broken. It has an unsigned security cert. If you are using FF then it should be telling you to click the link at the bottom of the error message screen, which will let you accept the site’s unsigned cert.

    (Security certs are verified by large organizations, i.e., ‘signed’. If one does not use one of these large organizations, then their cert is ‘unsigned’. This is problematic because it is possible for bad people to pose as a legit site using an unsigned cert. However, if you are running Linux then you have nothing to worry about :-) )

  28. #28 foolfodder
    March 15, 2009

    Remove the s from https:// and it won’t give you the error.

  29. #29 Jadehawk
    March 15, 2009

    how bloody pathetic. that’s a good article and should be required reading, not censored by the guilty.
    I’d say that was spineless, but that would be insulting to our Cephalopod Overlords

  30. #30 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 15, 2009

    Thanks for the info on the site ‘Tis. The article itself appears pretty innocuous, and I can see no particular reason for it to be pulled. A lot of it is the same information one would find in skeptic magazines, or here for that matter.

  31. #31 Kris
    March 15, 2009

    Link to article does not seem to be working for me. Any suggestions?

  32. #32 Tony Sidaway
    March 15, 2009

    I had a look at the article and it seems quite harmless, and very useful.

    Since the other website is a little dodgy, I copied it onto my own blog.

    http://lambdadelta.wordpress.com/2009/03/15/how-to-spot-a-hidden-religious-agenda/

  33. #33 Bueller_007
    March 15, 2009

    I’ve been saying this for a very long time.

    New Scientist is a fucking rag. They know even less about good journalism than they do about science.

  34. #34 Amesthe149
    March 15, 2009

    When I scientific article is retracted, the journal usually indicates who requested the retraction and sometimes indicates the reason for the retraction. I think a similar explanation is appropriate here. If someone complained about the whole article, they should tell us WHO and WHY. Alternatively, they could have printed an erratum if there was only a problem with one part of the article. This is VERY suspicious…

  35. #35 hje
    March 15, 2009

    If you are a subscriber–as I am–complain to their editors. I like New Scientist because I find things I don’t always see in Science and Nature. But I do wonder if there is an editor sympathetic to creationism given some of the things that have gone on in the last year.

  36. #36 Amesthe149
    March 15, 2009

    I just went to the New Scientist website and searched for the article. The message I got indicates that they have temporarily removed the article while they investigate the complaint. Maybe that is a valid response to the complaint. I’ll be interested to see if the article gets re-posted or altered or if readers will get some sort of explanation.

  37. #37 Ron Broberg
    March 15, 2009

    PZ: change your link to the article from HTTPS to HTTP. That will get rid of the invalid cert error secure browsers are throwing.

  38. #39 Jeffrey Shallit
    March 15, 2009

    I’ll bet anything it was LeFanu who complained. He wrote some utter nonsense about naturally-occurring antibiotics in his last book, and I called him on it. All he could do in response was bluster that his book had received good reviews.

  39. #40 SEF
    March 15, 2009

    New Scientist abruptly yanked an article from their web site … about how to spot a religious agenda

    I saw that one while it was still available. I may even have linked to it …

  40. #41 aporeticus
    March 15, 2009

    New Scientist has long had a soft spot for credulity. I never took them seriously after their 2002 article on a company that claimed they had a secret way to compress random data by 100x without loss of information. (Compression relies on repeating patterns.) Was the article about how investors were getting duped? Of course not. New Scientist took them seriously!

  41. #42 bobxxxx
    March 15, 2009

    Wow, a science magazine censoring itself to suck up to a Christian idiot. I wish I had a subscription so I could cancel it right now.

  42. #43 moopet
    March 15, 2009

    Why does anyone read New Scientist?
    It’s awful. Even Scientific American is better.

  43. #44 Aero
    March 15, 2009

    Or maybe the article was plagiarized.

  44. #45 psykhos
    March 15, 2009

    I have a complaint about the bible. Can we please pull that?

  45. #46 Susan
    March 15, 2009

    I hope they eventually explain themselves but, either way, if the intent was to prevent more people from reading it, this is a clear fail. If the intended result was for many more people to read it, just not at their website, it was obviously a great success. Thanks, PZ!

  46. #47 Ced
    March 15, 2009

    After the “darwin is dead” debacle and now this bullshit, I’m seriously considering stopping my subscription of the magazine.

  47. #48 hje
    March 15, 2009

    Re: Why does anyone read New Scientist?

    Like I said , they sometimes have interesting items–e.g., a short article that told how Viagra was first tested on tissues derived from a frozen donated penis. No information about the hapless donor though.

  48. #49 eli goodwin
    March 15, 2009

    here is the text for people actually interested:

    As a book reviews editor at New Scientist, I often come across so-called science books which after a few pages reveal themselves to be harbouring ulterior motives. I have learned to recognise clues that the author is pushing a religious agenda. As creationists in the US continue to lose court battles over attempts to have intelligent design taught as science in federally funded schools, their strategy has been forced to… well, evolve. That means ensuring that references to pseudoscientific concepts like ID are more heavily veiled. So I thought I’d share a few tips for spotting what may be religion in science’s clothing.

    Red flag number one: the term “scientific materialism”. “Materialism” is most often used in contrast to something else – something non-material, or supernatural. Proponents of ID frequently lament the scientific claim that humans are the product of purely material forces. At the same time, they never define how non-material forces might work. I have yet to find a definition that characterises non-materialism by what it is, rather than by what it is not.

    The invocation of Cartesian dualism – where the brain and mind are viewed as two distinct entities, one material and the other immaterial – is also a red flag. And if an author describes the mind, or any biological system for that matter, as “irreducibly complex”, let the alarm bells ring.

    Misguided interpretations of quantum physics are a classic hallmark of pseudoscience, usually of the New Age variety, but some religious groups are now appealing to aspects of quantum weirdness to account for free will. Beware: this is nonsense.

    When you come across the terms “Darwinism” or “Darwinists”, take heed. True scientists rarely use these terms, and instead opt for “evolution” and “biologists”, respectively. When evolution is described as a “blind, random, undirected process”, be warned. While genetic mutations may be random, natural selection is not. When cells are described as “astonishingly complex molecular machines”, it is generally by breathless supporters of ID who take the metaphor literally and assume that such a “machine” requires an “engineer”. If an author wishes for “academic freedom”, it is usually ID code for “the acceptance of creationism”.

    Some general sentiments are also red flags. Authors with religious motives make shameless appeals to common sense, from the staid – “There is nothing we can be more certain of than the reality of our sense of self” (James Le Fanu in Why Us?) – to the silly – “Yer granny was an ape!” (creationist blogger Denyse O’Leary). If common sense were a reliable guide, we wouldn’t need science in the first place.

    Religiously motivated authors also have a bad habit of linking the cultural implications of a theory to the truth-value of that theory. The ID crowd, for instance, loves to draw a line from Darwin to the Holocaust, as they did in the “documentary” film Expelled: No intelligence allowed. Even if such an absurd link were justified, it would have zero relevance to the question of whether or not the theory of evolution is correct. Similarly, when Le Fanu writes that Darwin’s On the Origin of Species “articulated the desire of many scientists for an exclusively materialist explanation of natural history that would liberate it from the sticky fingers of the theological inference that the beauty and wonder of the natural world was direct evidence for ‘A Designer’”, his statement has no bearing on the scientific merits of evolution.

    It is crucial to the public’s intellectual health to know when science really is science. Those with a religious agenda will continue to disguise their true views in their effort to win supporters, so please read between the lines.

  49. #50 Lynn
    March 15, 2009

    fwiw,
    I posted the link to the article and the following excerpts to a board (for secular homeschoolers):

    Red flag number one: the term “scientific materialism”…

    The invocation of Cartesian dualism – where the brain and mind are viewed as two distinct entities, one material and the other immaterial – is also a red flag…

    Misguided interpretations of quantum physics are a classic hallmark of pseudoscience…

    When you come across the terms “Darwinism” or “Darwinists”, take heed. True scientists rarely use these terms…

    When evolution is described as a “blind, random, undirected process”, be warned. While genetic mutations may be random, natural selection is not…

    When cells are described as “astonishingly complex molecular machines”, it is generally by breathless supporters of ID who take the metaphor literally and assume that such a “machine” requires an “engineer”.

    If an author wishes for “academic freedom”, it is usually ID code for “the acceptance of creationism”…

  50. #51 Strangebrew
    March 15, 2009

    How come the ‘Darwin is dead’ article have no problems remaining on board after a significant amount of complaints were received and this innocuous and far more enlightening article was not?

    When I sent NS a howler of an e-mail about the Darwin hatchet job it came back three times citing ‘receivers in-box full’
    I am not sure if the box was full because so many folks were commenting on that lamentable lack of propriety…or indeed taste…but it is looking as if someone in charge of the editorial policy might well be a signed up member of the IDiots-R-us fan club!

  51. #52 astrounit
    March 15, 2009

    New Scientist does okay in a junk-food snack-candy-like way. But sometimes I wonder if Polemos sits on their board of advisors.

  52. #53 Aquaria
    March 15, 2009

    I’m withholding judgment, for the time being. If it’s about the science, well, fuck ‘em and their little dog, too. If it’s because the author plagiarized or outright stole it, then they were right to pull it.

  53. #54 JPS, FCD
    March 15, 2009

    Lynn @ 50: Could you post a link, on your blog if not here, to the board for secular homeschoolers you referred to? I’ve taken a peek at your blog & am glad to have learned of it.

    Tx, JPS

  54. #55 'Tis Himself
    March 15, 2009

    Viagra was first tested on tissues derived from a frozen donated penis. No information about the hapless donor though.

    He was probably done using the penis or any other part of his body.

  55. #56 Pareidolius
    March 15, 2009

    Ahh, the Streisand effect in full bloom. I never would have read that nice little article. Oh, and Lynn, thanks for distilling it down to its essence. My cousin is teetering on the edge of woo and seemed impressed by the points in the distilled version. Too bad homeopathy isn’t real, then you’d only have to send one distilled, succsussed (just shake your laptop after distilling) letter of a powerful argument to idiots and they would be instantaneously convinced by it. Just delete it totally and forward the file, and dog only knows what would happen.

  56. #57 Hank Roberts
    March 15, 2009

    Years ago, one of the times I tried asking the NS editors to correct something, one of them told me straight out that New Scientist is an entertainment magazine, not a science magazine.

    I don’t think that’s changed.

  57. #58 guthrie
    March 15, 2009

    Oh well, another reason not to regularly buy New Scientist.
    Having read the article in question, I do not see anything wrong with it.

  58. #59 Nathan
    March 15, 2009

    I was able to find the original on Factiva (an electronic archive of print sources). Go grab a copy there, if your .edu has a subscription.

  59. #60 Interrobang, est. 1997
    March 15, 2009

    What a shame. I read that article while it was still up at NewScientist, and I thought it was fairly good. In my quasi-professional opinion as someone with a background in rhetoric and a sideline in the rhetoric of denialists, cranks, and quacks, I thought it was a good beginning primer on crank-watching in the field.

    For what it’s worth, I am not the person posting as “WTFinterrobang,” although I have been known to utter “WTF” from time to time.

  60. #61 Sheridan
    March 15, 2009

    I agree with Susan. Pulling the article has just made more people read it. The only reason I read it is because the information was posted on Pharyngula.

  61. #62 Luna_the_cat
    March 15, 2009

    It is entirely shameful that they immediately pull an article criticising religion masquerading as science (a legitimate review) because of a complaint, so shortly after complaints about their truly awful “Darwin Was Wrong” article were blown off with a handwave or two and a bunch of obnoxious, shirty comments from Lawton. Are they seriously trying to permanently alienate all of their scientific audience? Go for the ignoramuses, they’re more profitable?

  62. #63 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 15, 2009

    I believe her name is spelled Denyse buymybook O’Leary

  63. #64 WTFinterrobang
    March 15, 2009

    @Interrobang, est. 1997 #60

    Indeed, you are not me. I hope I have not offended you by my incorporation of my favorite punctuation mark into my moniker. Seems it’s much more fitting to my personality than zzqy7le0s926h, which is what seems to be suggested when registering for typekey.

    I expect that most readers of this blog will be able to discern the difference between us. However, I question this ability in the brainless godbots. Of course, to them, we’re all the same anyway.

  64. #65 Eric Paulsen
    March 15, 2009

    If one does not use one of these large organizations, then their cert is ‘unsigned’. This is problematic because it is possible for bad people to pose as a legit site using an unsigned cert. However, if you are running Linux then you have nothing to worry about

    Or someone, like me for instance, wants to allow encryption on my home HTTPs/FTPs/POP3s/Davs server but do not want or can not afford to pay for a certificate. Just so you know we are not all bad guys I promise I will be getting a legit cert once all of my testing is completed. I just can’t see paying for something until I actually NEED it.

  65. #66 Leigh Williams
    March 15, 2009

    And here I though New Scientist was trying to redeem itself after the Darwin cover debacle. Stupid fuckwits, don’t they realize that half the planet saved a copy of that article? I archived it myself because I know it will be useful in the future.

  66. #67 jimvj
    March 15, 2009

    They may have yanked the article, but the discussion thread is still there:
    http://tinyurl.com/byb5oe

  67. #68 CanadaGoose
    March 15, 2009

    If this is typical of the New Scientist, bring back the Old ones.

  68. #69 Tony P
    March 15, 2009

    SuziQ: It’s because the site has an expired security certificate. I just added an exception for it in Firefox and it works fine for me.

  69. #70 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 15, 2009

    Judging from comment 49, the article isn’t good. It just lists the cretinist vocabulary and says it’s wrong, but mostly fails to explain why it’s wrong.

  70. #71 Cyberguy
    March 15, 2009

    My email to the editor of New Scientist:

    I was deeply shocked that you pulled the online article “How to spot a hidden religious agenda” by Amanda Gefter (28 February 2009) due to a “complaint”.

    New Scientist has been making a few serious mistakes recently with respect to the ongoing culture war between the torch-bearers of the enlightenment and those who would return us to the dark ages.

    Regular readers expect a hard-line stance from New Scientist against creationist ploys, not the white flag of surrender!

  71. #72 cyan
    March 15, 2009

    New Scientist articles on evolution that I’ve scanned in the last five years have had a slight “off” smell to them, such that I’ve never recommended to students the reading of any article in this mag.

    Combine that with the “D was wrong” attention-grabber and now this article-pulling so that no-one’s feelings get hurt, its targeted demographic can be construed to be not people interested in good science but fundies interested in topics that have the word “science” attached to it.

  72. #73 AdjacentOrigin
    March 15, 2009

    I read this article about a week ago before they pulled it off the website. First the Darwin was Wrong front page and now this. NewScientist is really losing their reputation.

  73. #74 thaumos
    March 15, 2009

    Given England’s plaintiff-friendly libel laws, if someone has alleged that the article is libels them, then New Scientist have little choice but to temporarily withdraw the article until their lawyers can review it. Failure to do so would risk increased damages should the case be lost in court.
    Hopefully the lawyers will have the courage to stand firm against any intimidation, and the article will be re-posted.
    Meanwhile, its good publicity for the piece.

  74. #75 Chris P
    March 15, 2009

    All the American magazines aren’t timely and don’t report much on contentious issues at all. Plus they don’t cover engineering much.

    They are all way too parochial. I tried them – plus they don’t have the two sections on the back pages.

    Scientific American would never dream up “nominative determinism” or am I the only one that likes British humor.

  75. #76 Notagod
    March 15, 2009

    David Marjanovi?, OM@70

    It just lists the cretinist vocabulary and says it’s wrong, but mostly fails to explain why it’s wrong.

    That must be why each phrase has a paragraph explaining why it is wrong. Ya think?

    The christian war on science and to a large extent our way of life prior to the start of that war, is very real and you need to know that if you plan to be helpful.

    I’ve spent the morning looking at the writing of Amanda Gefter (the author of the removed article). She seems to be doing a very good job to me. Here’s a link to one of her articles: “Home-schooling special: Preach your children well”
    http://www.richarddawkins.net/article,297,Home-schooling-special-Preach-your-children-well,Amanda-Gefter–NewScientistcom

    She is exposing a very real problem that we face in the United States and indeed in the world today. She is doing very very good.

  76. #77 Mike
    March 15, 2009

    At least the comments on the removed article are amusing.

    http://www.newscientist.com/commenting/browse?id=mg20126975.800

  77. #78 astrounit
    March 15, 2009

    Aquaria #53: “If it’s because the author plagiarized or outright stole it, then they were right to pull it.”

    What the HECK are you talking about? That a general topic which many people have been generally discussing for a long time, and which happens to be addressed as well by this relatively short article, constitutes “plagiarism”?

    By that reckoning I hereby acuse you of 37 counts of plagiarism on the use of words that others have previously used.

  78. #79 Africangenesis
    March 15, 2009

    The article is a rather broad attack on the honesty and intelligence and tactics of the religiously motivated. Perhaps the “New Scientist” views itself as having a different purpose than pursuing such an agenda. If the author just had to comment on this topic for some reason, she could have focused more specifically on the creation science and intelligent design proponents.

  79. #80 Ichthyic
    March 15, 2009

    Perhaps the “New Scientist” views itself as having a different purpose than pursuing such an agenda.

    then they never would have published it to begin with, since she is their regular book reviewer.

    she could have focused more specifically on the creation science and intelligent design proponents.

    you must not have read it very clearly, because that’s exactly what she did.

    she even used two of them as specific examples, including Denyse “buymybook” Oleary

    backatya: If you felt you just HAD to comment on this for some reason, you might want to check yourself first.

    ——

    there are only two reasonable competing ideas for why this article was pulled:

    libel
    editorial content decision by NS staff

    since there are only two names being attacked in the article, and a filing of libel by either one wouldn’t surprise me given their history, I rather lean towards this being the reason the article was pulled (also fits better with “investigating complaint”).

    if this was an editorial decision, I would have expected many, many more articles critical of the same subject matter to also have been pulled over recent months, and they have not.

  80. #81 Cujo359
    March 15, 2009

    thaumos @ 74 – Even in America, I suspect caution would be in order if there were a serious libel charge. I don’t see anything that could be libelous in that article, but maybe in England that’s not so hard to prove.

    Yes, hopefully the lawyers will sort this out and get the article back online at its home.

  81. #82 Stanton
    March 15, 2009

    The article is a rather broad attack on the honesty and intelligence and tactics of the religiously motivated.

    So please explain the honesty and intelligence used in “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” or the activities of the Discovery Institute.

  82. #83 Africangenesis
    March 15, 2009

    Ichthyic,

    “then they never would have published it to begin with, since she is their regular book reviewer.”

    It wouldn’t be the first time that a publisher’s “sensitivity” was increased in response to complaints.

    I agree that she does use ID and creationism advocates as specific examples, but her attack on the religious is rather broad brush even including “new age” even though mostly illustrated by ID and creationism. They have “ulterior motives” and are “shameless” and “misguided”.

    I’m not familiar with New Scientist, so I defer to you on your point about much similar subject matter passing editorial muster in the past.

  83. #84 Ichthyic
    March 15, 2009

    It wouldn’t be the first time that a publisher’s “sensitivity” was increased in response to complaints.

    I realize you probably don’t read the mag, but in this case, if you knew the reviewer’s work, you would see how that doesn’t apply.

    she regularly trashes creationist literature there, and none of those reviews were pulled.

    no, I’m really thinking that since this wasn’t a specific “review” libel issues might become more relevant to named parties.

    could be wrong, but that’s the way I’m still leaning.

  84. #85 Africangenesis
    March 15, 2009

    Stanton,

    “So please explain the honesty and intelligence used in “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” or the activities of the Discovery Institute.”

    Why broadly paint all religiously motivated people with that brush?

  85. #86 Stanton
    March 15, 2009
    So please explain the honesty and intelligence used in “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” or the activities of the Discovery Institute.

    Why broadly paint all religiously motivated people with that brush?

    If we are not allowed to use the term “religiously motivated” to describe the fact that there are some people who are genuinely motivated by their religious beliefs to turn everyone into pious, unthinking sheep-people, such as Phillip E. Johnson of the Discovery Institute, or Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, for the grave fear of offending those people who are genuinely motivated by their religious beliefs to help people, then, please tell us what term we should use in its place?

  86. #87 Ichthyic
    March 15, 2009

    Why broadly paint all religiously motivated people with that brush?

    here’s a question for you:

    find me a religion whose dogma is based on sound, reality based, reasoning.

    If not, then can we not conclude that at some level, all religious dogma is inherently dishonest in nature, if not intent?

    I believe I could make a much better argument for using the broad brush than the narrow.

    for example, I recall having argued yesterday(different thread) about the broader definition of the term “creationist”.

    If any theist believes any part of physical reality is due to the actions of a specific deity(ies), then in essence, that person is a creationist.

    since every theistic religion I can think of essential has some form of creation myth, I thus label them ALL creationist by nature.

    individuals may pick and choose to identify with selected aspects of their professed religion (and thus reject the creationist aspects of them), but painting religion itself, especially theistic ones, with the broad brush is more than justified, imo.

    Moreover, it is exceeding common for religious ideologues of any stripe to utilize deceitful practices to foment their own dogmatic visions. We’ve seen it time and time again throughout history.

    nope, while i actually even disagree that a broad brush is being used here, even if it was, it would still be justifiable.

  87. #88 Margaret Morgan
    March 15, 2009

    I’ve been subscribing to New Scientist for the last decade or so, and have been a regular reader since I was in high school in the 1970s, so I have been in a good position to watch its evolution.

    In recent months, there has been a distinct change in its presentation. Headlines and covers seem increasingly to be tabloid in their emotiveness and lack of relevance to the articles. Recently, I commented to my husband about a cover that seemed closer in tone to News of the World than to a science magazine. There definitely appears to have been an editorial shift, possibly based on a desire to reach a broader readership. The “Darwin was wrong” debacle, now followed by this, have me seriously considering cancelling my subscription.

    Before I do, however, I’ll write a letter to the editor voicing these concerns, and see what, if any, response I get.

  88. #89 Blake Stacey
    March 15, 2009

    The possibility of plagiarism seemed remote to me but worth checking, so I did a quick Google spot-check on several distinctive-looking phrases, and the only results were copies or quotations of the article put online after its publication in New Scientist. In the past, cases of plagiarism have been more obvious than that.

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and all, but still.

  89. #90 Religion? Brand Brain Staples
    March 15, 2009

    Where do I go to complain that they pulled an article because someone complained?

  90. #91 guthrie
    March 15, 2009

    Well, the 14th March edition of New Scientist has on the front cover:

    “Second genesis- a new start for life on earth”
    as the main centrepiece. Ok, fairly descriptive, not immediately overstating anything.

    At the top above the magazine title, we have:
    “Hidden dimensions – gravity leaks show the way”
    “Red list flaws- Conservation blunders could hasten extinction”
    “Edison was right!- Direct current rises from the grave”

    The first 2 are descriptive and suggestive (not that I’m a journalist or communications expert or anything) but the third one is downright bonkers. Anyone who has been reading anything about renewable energy will have heard about the use of DC for transmission of power over long distances; I heard about it first from George Monbiot 2 years ago, and the article inside the magazine talks about one of the earliest DC projects being a cable between the 2 main islands of New Zealand. Back in 1965…

    The article itself is not combative or anything, and seems a good piece of journalism to me, but yet the tease line on the front cover is agressive and to my mind completely wrong, setting up a completely false idea in the readers mind.

  91. #92 Marc Buhler
    March 15, 2009

    Africangenesis @85 ….

    That was not a “broadly painting” of reliious people – it was a specific question about a horrible movie that used lies, out-of-contex editing and other such tricks to promote a nefarious agenda. Stop the spin-meistering and answer the bloody question!

  92. #93 'Tis Himself
    March 15, 2009

    Margaret Morgan #88

    Recently, I commented to my husband about a cover that seemed closer in tone to News of the World than to a science magazine. There definitely appears to have been an editorial shift, possibly based on a desire to reach a broader readership.

    Like many print publications New Scientist is losing readers. I believe that the publishers made a decision to dumb down their magazine to make it more attractive to potential readers. This may be a mistake on their part because people like us, intelligent, science-oriented types, could be turned off. I never subscribed to Discover because it seemed to be “10 things you didn’t know about X” trivia and the occasional intelligent article didn’t make up for all the drek. New Scientist appears to be becoming the British Discover.

    Especially after the “Darwin Was Wrong” fiasco, I am seriously considering letting my subscription to New Scientist lapse.

  93. #94 Barry
    March 15, 2009

    Hi Amanda! (I know you?ll be reading these posts). I loved your article and wouldn?t change a thing. My only comment is that the title automatically suggests a follow up: Hidden scientific agendas and how to spot them. Here?s a quote to get you started: ?Probably no area of scientific research is driven by more hidden agendas than evolutionary theory.? It?s from Dennett, Darwin?s Dangerous Idea, p. 190.

  94. #95 SEF
    March 15, 2009

    In recent months, there has been a distinct change in its presentation. … There definitely appears to have been an editorial shift

    If you have back issues at all for comparison, has there been a change in editorial personnel?

    NB Late 70s to very early 80s was the last time issues were regularly coming to my vicinity – and N.S. was really only a belatedly-reporting-stuff science-fanzine sort of a thing even back then. Anyone actually in a scientific subject area had better ways of knowing what was really new.

  95. #96 tokenadult
    March 15, 2009

    Richard Dawkins referred to “Darwinism” more than once in his Q and A after his talk here in Minnesota, so I hardly think the term “Darwinism” is a sure sign of a Creationist author.

  96. #97 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 15, 2009

    Hi Amanda! (I know you?ll be reading these posts). I loved your article and wouldn?t change a thing. My only comment is that the title automatically suggests a follow up: Hidden scientific agendas and how to spot them. Here?s a quote to get you started: ?Probably no area of scientific research is driven by more hidden agendas than evolutionary theory.? It?s from Dennett, Darwin?s Dangerous Idea, p. 190.

    Which quote mined like that may sound sinister but the entire book is very supportive of the theory itself.

    As well as the fact that he was referring to some people on both sides of the issue having hidden agendas.

  97. #98 Ichthyic
    March 15, 2009

    I hardly think the term “Darwinism” is a sure sign of a Creationist author.

    Dawkins usage is CLEARLY a case of “exception proves the rule”, especially if you’ve ever heard his argument about why he continues to do so.

    fail.

  98. #99 Stanton
    March 15, 2009

    Richard Dawkins referred to “Darwinism” more than once in his Q and A after his talk here in Minnesota, so I hardly think the term “Darwinism” is a sure sign of a Creationist author.

    Does Professor Dawkins use “Darwinism” as a synonym for “Evolution” and “Evolutionary Biology?” Does Professor Dawkins speak of “Darwinism” as though it were supposed to be the hated rival religion of Christianity, too?

  99. #100 Cyberguy
    March 15, 2009

    FYI – If you want to email New Scientist, use the following link:

    http://www.newscientist.com/contact/us

    The original article that was removed used to be here:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126975.800-how-to-spot-a-hidden-religious-agenda.html

  100. #101 Larry
    March 15, 2009

    ” Sheridan #61

    I agree with Susan. Pulling the article has just made more people read it. The only reason I read it is because the information was posted on Pharyngula.”

    Same here for me. Thanks, guys, especially PZ.

  101. #102 naught101
    March 15, 2009

    The article isn’t critical of creationism – it’s just critical of the seedy dealers who push it.

  102. #103 Blind Squirrel FCD
    March 15, 2009

    it’s just critical of the seedy dealers who push it.

    If the dealers didn’t leave the seeds in, how would we ever be able to grow our own?

    Whoops, wrong thread.

    Never mind.

  103. #104 Weaves
    March 15, 2009

    why bother yanking it? It’s been published. I recall reading it and having a good chuckle a couple of weeks ago.

    It’s no different than the ?snide? comments about creationists is the “Darwin was wrong” article

  104. #105 Aquaria
    March 15, 2009

    Hey, astrofucktard, I was positing a possibility for why it was pulled. Just because we know the information is generic doesn’t mean that a publisher won’t pause when someone makes a claim that the content of the article was borrowed too heavily from one source.

    I’ve worked in publishing, so I know how nervous some of them can be about these things. I’ve pulled information from a website after such an accusation has been made, until I could investigate more thoroughly.

    You fucking moron.

    Who the fuck are you, anyway?

    Piss off.

  105. #106 Notagod
    March 15, 2009

    To those suggesting that the article might be plagiarized:

    Could you point out the parts that you think could be plagiarized?

    It doesn’t seem to me to be of a form that would be plagiarized. She is writing about things that send red flags to her when she is doing a review, it is clearly her experience that she is referring to. Where would she plagiarize that information from?

    Perhaps you can enlighten me, I’m just not seeing it.

  106. #107 ema
    March 15, 2009

    OT, but what’s the deal with Examiner.com?

    Examiner.com, is a division of the Clarity Media Group, owned by the Anschutz Company, as in Philip Frederick Anschutz, a Christian militant and Discovery Institute founder.

  107. #108 Monado, FCD
    March 15, 2009

    Slightly off-topic but I thought this was encouraging: The Philadelphia online news Philly.com has an opinion piece, “Stemming the infusion of religion in[to] science,” from last Wednesday.

    It may not matter to those who oppose the research on religious grounds, but there is a difference between an embryo created in the traditional way and its petri dish counterpart, a six-day-old blastocyst created in a laboratory.

    An embryo might, if undisturbed, grow into a baby (that’s not a certainty: scientists say only about a third of fertilized eggs actually implant in the womb and result in a pregnancy). Left undisturbed, a blastocyst stored in a refrigerator will not grow into anything. In fact, most unused blastocysts are thrown away.

    If I recall correctly, research standards call for never letting an embryo get beyond the 14-cell stage. (16-cell?)

  108. #109 Areocam
    March 16, 2009

    I no longer read New Scientist. Good work guys.

  109. #110 echidna
    March 16, 2009

    Africangenesis,
    You are dodging the questions you are asked. The author is not painting a broad brush against religion. It is the intersection of science and religion which the author is specifically referring to.

    Religion as a whole has a pretty dismal record when it comes to honesty and integrity where reality (whether historical reality or scientific reality) and religion are at odds. The DI is simply the latest political arm of the anti-science religion movement.

  110. #111 efrique
    March 16, 2009

    I bought New Scientist regularly for more than 15 years. I have boxes and boxes of the things. But I stopped a few years ago, because at the same time as the standard was dropping (far more uncritical “gee whiz” and far less actual information), the price kept climbing dramatically.

    I realized that I was no longer getting my new information there (since I was getting it online a week or more earlier – there are more efficient ways to get re-hashed press releases!), so all that was left was in-depth articles – and with the drop in the quality of the science those were no longer worth the cover price. I’ve never regretted dropping it.

    [If I'm going on an extended plane flight, I'll sometimes buy one (and also a few other science magazines). But I usually end up reading one of the books instead.]

  111. #112 bobxxxx
    March 16, 2009

    Another science magazine censors itself in Turkey: Turkish scientific council draws criticism for censoring Darwin

  112. #113 Owlmirror
    March 16, 2009

    I have been reading Dennett’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. I have not yet reached p. 190, but skipping forward and reading the page and paragraph more fully, the bit about “hidden agendas” looks to be, in context, about the science of evolutionary biology being valid regardless of whatever agendas the scientists doing the research may or may not have had.

    Dennett also uses the term “Darwinism”, which as I understand his usage covers the entire collection of ideas behind common descent, and reproductive variation and selection. He no doubt picked the term up from Dawkins and other biologists.

    The book was originally written in 1995, and it was no doubt less clear then (especially in England) that creationists were hijacking the term to mean everything they opposed about evolution and/or evolution exactly as proposed by Charles Darwin (including the wrong bits) and/or whatever else they didn’t like about modern evolutionary biology.

    (Something Dennett gets wrong earlier in the book, because he was unaware of the (future) research clarifying the issue, is that the herring gull complex is not a ring species.)

    (If you want to discuss ring species, Naish notes that Californian Ensatina salamanders are a perfectly good example species)

  113. #114 Ian O'Neill
    March 16, 2009

    Troubling indeed. Since when has New Scientist been worried about upsetting people? Ah yes, now I see. New Scientist had no business criticising religion or creationism when it is a science publication? Is that it? Actually, this is the very publication that should be shedding light on science abuse and the cretins that profit from misinformation.

    I am annoyed for the author of the article, although I can’t access the saved version, I am sure it was written accurately and with utmost care and consideration.

    A real shame.

  114. #115 Africangenesis
    March 16, 2009

    Mark Buhler#92,

    “That was not a “broadly painting” of reliious people – it was a specific question about a horrible movie that used lies, out-of-contex editing and other such tricks to promote a nefarious agenda. Stop the spin-meistering and answer the bloody question!”

    The question was a strawman, because the tone of the article was a more general attack upon the religiously motivated. Like it or not, modern humans are so religious that there is a significant percentage even among real practicing scientists. There is no point in going out of the magazines way to offend them them with a broad brush. Her article was rather pointless mocking. It isn’t like there was anything in it that wasn’t generally known.

    Yes, it was targeting those who were mixing science and religion with specific things in mind, but it is was critical of religious motivation in general as applied to science. That religious motivation could easily be one of service and integrity in fields unrelated to evolution.

  115. #116 Andy Holroyd
    March 16, 2009

    I linked to this article when it was new and didn’t know it had been pulled. Thanks to those who have re-posted it, I’ll write an update.

  116. #117 Dancaban
    March 16, 2009

    Read this myself when still available and thought it was a reasonable toolkit for spotting the afflicted ones.

  117. #118 AndyD
    March 16, 2009

    Catholic Culture blogged the article last month, with excerpts.

    A Google of the phrase “The invocation of Cartesian dualism” points to other sources of discussion on the article.

  118. #119 Eidolon
    March 16, 2009

    AG:
    No broad brush there. The article simply pointed out that godbots tend to use certain terms as an intro for their religion based perspective. As for pointing out what is already known, if that ceases then that’s it for the bookstores.

    What significant percentage??I take it you are refering to actual scientists, not engineers, doctors and the like.

  119. #120 Africangenesis
    March 16, 2009

    Eidolon,

    From a 1996 survey reported in Nature which found very little change since 1916:

    “about 40% of scientists still believe in a personal God and an afterlife”

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v386/n6624/pdf/386435a0.pdf

    Ichthyic may well be correct that the withdrawal may be related to libel or some of other legal matter rather than the unprofessional tone and inappropriate subject matter.

    “The article simply pointed out that godbots tend to use certain terms as an intro for their religion based perspective”

    You and I both know that she only meant to warn the oblivious irreligious about those who are intent on inserting religion into their science. But she ended up attacking the religiously motivated instead and only using the creators of “Expelled…” and other examples as an “instance”. Should all the religiously motivated really be lumped together? Isn’t her article more appropriate for a blog than a science news magazine?

  120. #122 eljay
    March 16, 2009

    I have watched New Scientist go downhill for about 4 years now. Subscribed for ten but let it lapse this year. Just too much pandering to the fringes of reality, right down to perpetual motion machines being published as a ‘breakthrough’ on the horizon.
    I do wish the ‘old’ NS was still around it was a great mix of various disciplines.

  121. #123 danieldrehmer@gmail.com
    March 16, 2009

    What happened to “Science is interesting and if you don’t agree you can f*ck off”, New Scientist?

  122. #124 X
    March 16, 2009

    LIBEL LAWS

    In the UK, if there is a complaint of libel, the article HAS to be taken down UNTIL a court case resolves the matter. Sucks, but that’s the law of the land.

  123. #125 anataboga
    March 16, 2009

    I decided to contact the editor and have received the following:

    ————
    New Scientist has received a legal complaint about the contents of the story “How to spot a hidden religious agenda”. At the advice of our lawyer it has temporarily been removed while we investigate. Apologies for any inconvenience.

    Please note that we are unable to discuss this matter further.
    ————

    So it has been pulled because of a formal legal complaint. I suspect it’ll come back once sorted but it could be some time. They haven’t simply caved in to the complaint.

  124. #126 Paul Crowley
    March 16, 2009

    @X: That’s not the law of the land. However, UK libel law is terrifyingly plaintive-friendly, and among the most severe and destructive forms of censorship in any Western democracy, and if they don’t yank it right away, and any part is later found to be actionable, the penalties they face would be even more ludicrously severe.

    We desperately need libel law reform, but no-one seems interested…

  125. #127 Alec
    March 16, 2009

    I assumed at first that the complaint was about NS defaming O’Leary by putting childish and ridiculous words into her mouth, as implied by the direct quote marks around “yer granny was an ape!”.

    But no, they are her actual words (Uncommon Descent on February 13 2009). Can you defame someone by quoting their actual words …?

    So much for that theory.

  126. #128 Medusa
    March 16, 2009

    Got some warning about trying to access the article. The hell with it; I went ahead and read it, then added it to Digg. WTF ever happemed to freedom of speech?

  127. #129 Africangenesis
    March 16, 2009

    “Can you defame someone by quoting their actual words …?So much for that theory.”

    Hmmm, she went beyond quoting O’Leary, she called him a “creationist blogger”, ID folks can be sensitive about that.

    Perhaps this will lead to reform of the UK’s libel law?

  128. #130 Mary Mactavish
    March 16, 2009

    I’m glad I read it before it was pulled, but wish I’d saved it.

  129. #131 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 16, 2009

    I’m glad I read it before it was pulled, but wish I’d saved it.

    Check back upthread. It is available from alternate sources.

  130. #132 Mary Mactavish
    March 16, 2009

    I’m glad I read it before it was pulled, but wish I’d saved it.

  131. #133 Thuktun
    March 16, 2009

    Get around the website cert and visit the page without HTTPS encryption:

    http://www.sott.net/articles/show/177635-How-to-spot-a-hidden-religious-agenda

  132. #134 james mylne
    March 16, 2009

    I don’t think this is a case of NS caving in to the demands of the religious right agenda. I think they realize the benefits of creating a bit of controversy to spread this article around. Unless you?re a regular reading of NS online you’re probably never going to run into this. This is clearly aimed at people outside of the scientific community, as those inside have probably come across these “red Flags” many times before. The religious right my be very manipulating and cunning, but I would put my money on scientist to outsmart them 9 times out of 10.

  133. #135 tbell1
    March 16, 2009

    There is an article in New Scientist about a French Physicist/Philosopher who has won the Templeton prize this year. Guess what? He’s been getting quantum peanut-butter in his god chocolate… The article that they just pulled might have made the current article a bit more absurd than it already does. To be fair, he’s not actually making positive claims, just a pretty dull caveat as far as i can tell.

  134. #136 Notagod
    March 16, 2009

    Africangenesis,

    Should all the religiously motivated really be lumped together?

    Absolutely. There are many things that shouldn’t be intermingled, science and religion are not compatible at the foundational level. It is possible (though suspect) for one person to practice each but not at the same time. It is the responsibility of that person to ensure the separation of the incompatible practices. If that person is performing their dual roles adequately they shouldn’t be offended by those that want to keep religious thought out of scientific practices. Indeed, any scientist that chooses to practice mythology should be on the front line of keeping religion out if not, they are failing in their role as scientist.

  135. #137 AJS
    March 16, 2009

    “Edison was right!- Direct current rises from the grave”

    Except for the fact that if we had stuck with DC for power distribution from day one, there would have been no electric motors except the series-wound kind, and indeed no electronics industry. Filament bulbs, vacuum cleaners, drills, sewing machines and washing machines with clockwork timers would be all there was. No radio, no TV, no computers. All these things depended on incremental improvements which only came about because of the use of AC power (especially the transformer, which is unlikely to lose its reputation as the most efficient machine ever invented). The only reason DC is being used now for power transmission is because it’s now almost as easy to convert it back to AC at the far end as it is to convert AC to DC at the input end.

    But hey, why let the facts get in the way of a good headline, eh?

  136. #138 Midnight Rambler
    March 16, 2009

    The worst thing about the UK libel law (and the crucial difference between it and laws everywhere else) is that it allows for damages for anything that “injures the reputation”, even if it’s true. So the plaintiff pretty much only has to claim that it was really mean for the defendant to say it.

  137. #139 fatherdaddy
    March 16, 2009

    I was listening to The Atheist Experience podcast this morning and they were talking about this article. Now I hear it’s been pulled. I will withhold my judgement on New Scientist until more facts come out, but, this is the second unfortunate incident surrounding these people. It doesn’t look good.

  138. #140 Steve
    March 16, 2009

    Why the touchy-feely, people?

    If TOE is such a slam-dunk, why the PR blues? Is it maybe because TOE is now swiss-cheese and Mickey Mouse’s waistline is busting at the seams?

    At least with gravity, we’ve got.. you know….equations.

    I’d give my left()to see some evolutionary equations / formulas / laws / whatever? I mean just something you could sink your teeth in.

    So far its just narrative, narrative, narrative.

  139. #141 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 16, 2009

    Steve, please cite ten papers from the last five years in the peer reviewed primary scientific literature that support another scientific theory than evolution to explain the diversity in biology. We are eagerly awaiting the true evidence.

  140. #142 Notagod
    March 16, 2009

    Steve, state anything that you can prove regarding the actual existence of your god idea beyond the confines of your mind.

    You are the only one sustaining your lack of knowledge regarding evolution. If you do change your mind and decide to expand your knowledge, might I suggest you go to the early readers section of your library, select a beginners book on evolution and work your way up from your low level. Warning: Some of the books written by christians will scramble the information and might even set you further behind. Do be careful won’t you?

  141. #143 Gallstones
    March 17, 2009

    I tried to post a comment on the pulled article but it didn’t show up. I found many place holders with only the words (paraphrased) “comment removed for violating policy”. Mine might have been one of those. This is all I said.

    How To Spot A Selling Out Due To Blatant Religious Agenda
    by Gallstones

    Prior to the pandering Darwin was Wrong cover I was thinking of subscribing. After that I decided–nah. As of today, that decision is vindicated. New Scientist will be changing their name soon to Pseudo New Science for Cdesign Proponentsists.

    Your magazine is becoming a joke.

  142. #144 Africangenesis
    March 17, 2009

    Steve#140,

    “At least with gravity, we’ve got.. you know….equations.”

    Equations might be overrated. Newton had some pretty ones with elegant derivations, but they became chaotic at 3 bodies. Einstein’s gave us some more accurate ones that few can actually manipulate and that have singularities at event horizons and are having difficulties at galactic and cosmological scales.

    With the theory of evolution, we have some algorithms. They aren’t quite as pretty as Newton’s equations, but they far more intelligible to most than Einstein’s, and simulations have shown the algorithms’ explanatory power for many observed but previously poorly explained phenomena. So there is some of the mathmatical clarity you seek. Current games of “life” and “genetic algorithms”, don’t quite capture the complexity and evolvability that natural selection had at its disposal a few hundred million years ago, but even these simple simulations have a mathmatical beauty and explanatory power.

  143. #145 -Frank.
    March 17, 2009

    Via the first link in the article above I stumbled around a bit on the “examiner.com” site only to find some very interesting articles concerning a sharp critique of atheism, “Simple arguments against Atheism”, part 1 & 2 by Yusuf Khan.

    Brillant reasoning on his part, it leaves my worldview totally shattered, here?s the link to part 1 of his analysis:
    http://www.examiner.com/x-2721-Islamic-Examiner~y2009m3d15-Simple-arguments-against-Atheism–Part-1
    Part two was published just today, I?m really in doubt if I dare to read that one ?

    ?F.

  144. #146 Notagod
    March 17, 2009

    -F..rank, if you were swayed by that horseshit you weren’t an atheist to begin with. It isn’t so important what the definition is, we all know that language as a tool for precise communication is lacking. The thing that is common among atheists isn’t a shared religious belief but the fact, that any intelligent person can verify, – there is no evidence that any of the god ideas are real.

    For me and I suspect others as well it isn’t simply the lack of evidence shown by christians and others. There is much evidence that there is no super-magic thingy at all, everything works quite nicely and naturally without the injection of supposed magical workings.

    -F..rank please try to do better in the future, won’t you?

  145. #147 guthrie
    March 17, 2009

    African genesis #129- as far as anyone knows, Denyse O’Leary is a woman. An ID blogger, but also a woman.

    And I’d love to know where X got the idea that you had to pull something offline if someone objected. Its completely wrong of course.

  146. #149 Africangenesis
    March 17, 2009

    Guthrie,

    “And I’d love to know where X got the idea that you had to pull something offline if someone objected. Its completely wrong of course. ”

    It’s not wrong if the editors decided they should never have published it in the first place. This is moot anyway, because it appears that they were required to pull it by UK law.

  147. #150 Notagod
    March 17, 2009

    You never know when someone will get slap happy and file a frivolous lawsuit. That could happen to any other quality author as well.

  148. #151 ?Frank.
    March 18, 2009

    @ Notagod (#146) ?

    ah, I was under the wrong impression that my little comment could be read as something related to the latin expression “ferrum” ? my mistake.

    Have you read any of Yusuf Khan?s further articles at “examiner.com”?
    These contain the worst BS I have come across for a long time.

    -F.
    (pronounced atheist since 1976, still going strong)

  149. #152 John Morales
    March 18, 2009

    ?Frank., in this blog, if you don’t provide an indication that you’re being sarcastic/satiric/ironic, we can’t tell; we can’t hear tone or see non-verbal cues, so unless your style is known, we can only take your comments at face value.

    It would not be unusual for someone to post such a comment in all seriousness.

  150. #153 ?Frank.
    March 18, 2009

    @ John Morales ?

    John, you?re right, of course. I assumed that someone reading the ?very short? text of the linked site could see what I was aiming at.

    My fault entirely.

    ?F.

  151. #154 Notagod
    March 18, 2009

    -Frank,

    Oh, sure, now that you put it that way I’m a dumba..(christian thinking part) for not seeing it. Now, if I were a christian caught in a similar but basically opposite position, my response would be “yeah, I was just kidding ‘ya. Did ‘ya know I can see Russia from my house?”

    But, alas, I plead to you with my actual thought; that you were likely a christian instructed by its god idea to act as a reformed atheist and lure “them” to the trewfulness of thy lard.

    Thanks for explaining!

  152. #155 ?Frank.
    March 18, 2009

    @ Notagod ?

    What more can I say: I really am sorry.
    Maybe the origin for the confusion I caused lies in the fact that English is not my native tongue; maybe it is because I do live in northern europe, where most people are atheists or at least apatheists and the weather?s as wet as the wit is dry.

    ?F.

  153. #156 Bob
    March 18, 2009

    Yeah; speaking of “knee-jerk” reactions: perhaps finding out why they pulled it before jerking would be a good idea.

  154. #157 Bob
    March 18, 2009

    Yeah; speaking of “knee-jerk” reactions: perhaps finding out why they pulled it before jerking would be a good idea.

  155. #158 Notagod
    March 18, 2009

    ?Frank,

    Well, it looks like we are both missing each others intended meanings, by a little bit.

    I’ll just add that I really do like your original comment, now that you have explained it to me. I appreciate your patience. Thank you. :-)

    ..where most people are atheists or at least apatheist..

    Ah, you’re just saying that to make me jealous ;)

    As for me in the real world, I’m surrounded by christians, with only two closet atheists and they refuse to even talk about it let alone actually confronting the christians. Very frustrating. When I met the atheists I was so happy to know someone reasonable but, as it turns out they might as well be christians. They don’t believe that any god idea is real but, they are happy to be led around as if the christians had them on leashes attached to nose rings.

  156. #159 -Frank.
    March 19, 2009

    # Notagod -

    My goodness, your description sounds terrible, Notagod.
    I do not know how many of my acquaintances or people aound me (or even friends) here in Northern Germany are christian as no one talks about these things (the sunday services at churches, however, are nearly empty, so that one can deduct that even those registered as christians ?usually as infants? consider it a very private affair).

    Churches are losing ground on a daily basis as money for the churches is collected not via donations but as a tax in Germany, which most people started to resent and which lead to a continuing mass exit from the official churches in recent times.

    However, not occupying with “spiritual” things leads to a certain susceptibility or gullibility concerning statements in matters of faith (any faith, by the way), so that heralds of esoteric claims are having a heyday nowaday.

    So it seems that every upside seems to have a downside, Notagod.

    ?F.

  157. #160 Guy Leonard
    May 1, 2009

    Today’s issue has a massive full page advert from the Templeton Foundation!!!

    “Does evolution explain human nature”

    Sigh.

  158. #161 Guy Leonard
    May 1, 2009

    Ugh, and an article called “intelligent design of domestic breeds”.

    FFS.

  159. #162 baldfatgit
    February 5, 2010

    This is just a follow-up to advise that Amanda’s article was put back up, but with a comment from Le Fanu tacked on.

    I think that part of the reason the article was yanked was that NS had been hit by him before, back in 1989, and they’d had to publish an apology then:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg12416870.600-james-le-fanu-an-apology.html

    Amanda’s article can be read here:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126975.800-how-to-spot-a-hidden-religious-agenda.html?full=true

    … along with 704 comments (ouch).