Thursday, 29 January 2015

Genghis Khan And Gene-Meme Co-Evolution

Genghis Khan. Unknown artist.
Genghis Khan's genetic legacy has competition : Nature News & Comment.

A technical paper published a few days ago in the European Journal of Human Genetics shows how, at least in humans, genes can increase in frequency in a population not necessarily because they represent an adaptive advantage in their own right but because they are bound to other replicators, such as cultural memes, which give them an advantage. This linkage may be entirely due to chance.

For example, a culture which is hierarchical and expansionist, and especially where sons inherit the power, authority and privilege of their fathers, may facilitate the spread of genes carried by powerful men, especially where power gives access to females and comes with a higher standard of living so children are more likely to survive. The actual genes benefitting from this may be completely unremarkable.

This paper found that it was possible to identify a number of clusters of particular haplotype of the Y-chromosome (only carried by males and so indicating the male inheritance line). By counting the number of mutations in a given region of the Y-chromosome and

Rites and Reason in Tribal Religion

E. O. Wilson: Religious faith is dragging us down - opinion - 27 January 2015 - New Scientist.

Rite reasons: Why your brain loves pointless rituals - life - 19 January 2015 - New Scientist.

A couple of articles in New Scientist this week help explain the attraction of organised religion and why so many people are seduced by them despite the absence of any evidence that any religion is based on anything more than myth and superstition, so no objective basis for choosing one over another or indeed for following any of them.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Earth-Sized Planets May Be Commonplace.

Ancient planets are almost as old as the universe - space - 27 January 2015 - New Scientist

It's been another dreadful day for creationism.

Not only have we had news of another of those 'non-existent' fossils showing intermediate characteristics not just between species but between orders, with four fossil early snakes with lizard-like features and possibly even legs in one case, but now we learn that Earth-sized planets may well be common in the Universe and at least the Milky Way galaxy in which we live has been making them for 11.2 of the 13.8 billion years that the Universe has been around.

Oh Creation! Now It's Transitional Snake Fossils!

Source: Nature Communications
Fossils of oldest known snakes unearthed | Science/AAAS | News: "DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa6402"

Thanks to Science Magazine's excellent content sharing initiative, I'm able to embarrass creationists with another piece of science for them to ignore or lie about. This time it's news of the discovery of four very early snakes which push the known evolution of snakes back by almost 70 million years and they show unmistakable signs of transition from lizards with whom they are known to share a common ancestor.

So that's transitional snakes living between 143 and 167 million years ago, and already showing considerable diversification, suggesting an origin many millions of years earlier. It must be embarrassing having to try to force-fit facts like that into a superstition which claims Earth is only a few thousand years old

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Haeckel's Embryos and Creationist Hypocrites

1874 illustration from Anthropogenie showing "very early", "somewhat later" and "still later" stages of embryos of fish (F), salamander (A), turtle (T), chick (H), pig (S), cow (R), rabbit (K), and human (M)
How fudged embryo illustrations led to drawn-out lies - life - 20 January 2015 - New Scientist

Haeckel's embryo drawings are something of embarrassment for biology, but how they have been used to mislead their dupes should be an even bigger embarrassment for creationist pseudoscientists, if it were even remotely possible to embarrass them with evidence of false claims, that is.

Haeckel produced his set of drawings intending to show how vertebrate embryology supported Darwinian evolution by pointing to a common ancestor and because the stages of development represented a replay of the evolution which led to their final adult forms. Unfortunately, he not only 'enhanced' his drawings to support this 'Recapitulation theory' but then

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Unintelligently Designed Reproduction

Petunia (P. × atkinsiana)
Credit: Hiroyuki Kakui
Sophisticated system prevents self-fertilization in petunias | EurekAlert! Science News

Why would an intelligent designer design a system which is prone to errors then design a mechanism for avoiding those errors, and then, in different circumstances, have to break that avoidance mechanism because the solution is worse that the problem it was intended to solve?

I don't expect any self-respecting intelligent design creationists to answer that question because the default, "It's all a mystery which humans can't be expected to understand", or the easier, "I'm ignoring that question because it can't be true", response should have cut in by now.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Gender Gap in UK Religious Belief

Religious faith in Britain today
Women much more likely than men to say 'I'm a believer', study finds:

A survey out today has shown that 54% of British men born in 1970 now identify as non-believers but the same survey also showed that only 33% of women in the same cohort share this non-belief. The survey is the latest report from a longitudinal cohort study tracking the lives of 9,000 people born in a single week in 1970 being carried out by the UCL Institute for Education (IOE).

This gender gap is perhaps rather surprising but so is the wide range of different religious beliefs

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

How Creationist Lie To Us - Jehovah's Witnesses

Professor Rama Singh "I fully support the theory of evolution."
The Freethinker - The voice of atheism since 1881 » Prof’s words twisted to attack evolution

What the Jehovah's Witness on-line magazine, "Awake!", claims:

How would you complete the following sentence?

LIFE IS THE RESULT OF _______________________________________.

SOME might assume that a scientifically-minded person would pick "evolution" and that a religious person would pick "creation."

Is Pope Francis Fit For Purpose?

Pope Francis insists Catholics do not need to breed 'like rabbits' and criticises woman for 'tempting God' with eighth pregnancy - People - News - The Independent

Is Pope Francis up to the job? Does he even understand what the job is?

It's beginning to look like his ever-present public smile is not the smile of an affable, avuncular and kindly old man full of the joy of living, but the stupid grin of a confused and muddled misfit not quite sure what he should be doing. His spontaneous little 'pearls of wisdom' as often as not seem like the thoughtless blurtings of someone who can't keep his silly mouth shut as he lurches about like a theological loose cannon.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Why Christians Are So Easy to Fleece

Alex Malarkey (The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven)
"I did not die. I did not go to Heaven. I said it to get attention"
The Freethinker - The voice of atheism since 1881 » Boy’s visit to heaven is now pulped fiction

This week we have yet another example of just how easy it is to fleece credulous and gullible Christians as a Christian book, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, by Kevin & Alex Malarkey, a 2010 New York Times Bestseller, is being withdrawn and pulped because the boy in question has admitted it was a lie.

The reasons for this vulnerability to frauds is probably all too obvious to people who have decided to be led by the evidence, wherever it may lead, and who base their conclusions on evidence, reserve judgement when the evidence is lacking and change their minds

12 Questions for Punching Pope Francis

"If my good friend Dr Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others."
An open letter to Pope Francis in view of his proclamation that people who insult religion can expect to be punched.

Dear Pope Francis

I saw your recent statement in Manilla in response the the Charlie Hebdo atrocities in Paris, that people who insult religion can expect to be punched. I am surprised that you seem to be excusing Islamic violence, presumably because you feel solidarity with other religions in the face of growing secularism in Europe, and find it confusing in view of official Christian teaching.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

"Jesus Was Wrong. Punch Your Enemies" - Pope

BBC News - Pope Francis: 'Curse my mother, expect a punch'

In a quite astonishing response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, the Pope not only defended those who use violence to deny others the right to criticise religion but reversed centuries of Christian official teaching, and said that people who insult religion should expect to be punched, just as someone should expect to be punched for insulting someone's mother.

In all matters of morality and theology the Pope is considered by Catholics to be infallible and to speak the words of God to humanity, so we can assume that, according to Catholic dogma, God has changed his mind and now thinks Jesus was wrong when he said:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Matthew 5:38-39

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Look! No Women for Charlie!

Thanks to Why Evolution Is True for this little snippet:

Did you see that fantastic rally in Paris to reaffirm France's (and Europe's) secularism and determination to not be swayed from the basic principles of the European enlightenment and modern secular democracy - the principles of Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité - in the face of a cowardly and frightened little creed too insecure in its faith to be able to tolerate questions, criticism and doubt?

I'm talking of course of the mega crowd which

Friday, 9 January 2015

Martyrdom And Mind Viruses

Martyrdom of St Stephen
One man's heroic martyr is another man's deluded fool or misguided idiot who probably deserved what he got.

I wrote yesterday about how the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris were the effects of mind control by viral memeplexes we call religion, which take control of human minds and convert them into machines for replicating not humans or human cultural ideas, but of the religion virus, just as a genetic virus can take control of a cell's DNA replicating mechanism and convert it to a machine for making viruses.

The characteristic of these viruses, memetic or genetic, is that the host has only a utilitarian value to the parasite and so is disposable once its usefulness has passed.

An especially powerful mechanism often used by the religion virus is to kill the host in such a manner as to impress the minds of its other carriers, or at least render them less susceptible to resistance. This is of course to turn the victim into a 'martyr' where their disposal can be presented as some great act of heroism rather than the act of an automaton being controlled by a mind virus. The notion of martyrdom is of course already present in the human meme pool in the form of

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Religion Kills People

A particularly malignant form of the religion virus hit Paris yesterday when three infected individuals, directed by the virus, tried to suppress criticism of it by killing people who made fun of it. This especially virulent strain of the Islam memetic virus, which can control the mind and actions of its victims, making them do things which no sane person would normally do, is reaching epidemic proportions in parts of the world, especially in the Middle East where the population has suffered from various form of it for centuries.

Like other forms of the religion family of memetic viruses, Islam is normally passed on to children when they are at their most susceptible to infection so in many parts of the world, infection rates can reach almost 100% of the population.

The human infant is almost unique in nature being sentient, keen to learn and understand the world around him or her, having good memory recall and having a long childhood. To avoid the danger of overly-curious and sceptical but naive children being easy prey for predators, humans evolved childhood gullibility so parents could teach children almost anything quickly and without the children doubting them. So, for example, children told by their parents to keep away from the water hole where there were crocodiles didn't go to check for themselves.

OUI! OUI! OUI!

En solidarité avec le peuple français que je reproduis cet article par Ayaan Hirsi Ali sur son déconversion de l'Islam, traduit en français par Google Translate, afin excuses pour mauvaise grammaire et l'orthographe. L'original peut être lue ici.

D'abord un peu de fond sur Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

Né en Somalie, elle a pu constater les mutilations génitales féminines à la main, la cruauté cléricale, et la barbarie de la religion d'inspiration. Après avoir échappé à la Hollande, elle regarda son collègue Theo Van Gogh a été assassiné par des extrémistes islamiques pour la satire de la répression islamique de la femme et a dit qu'elle devait être leur prochaine victime. Elle avait d'abord cru que l'islam pouvait être réformé, mais vite rendu compte que ce est la «foi» lui-même qui est le problème.

Quand j'ai finalement admis à moi-même que je étais un incroyant, ce était parce que je ne pouvais tout

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The God Of Low Standards - It's Official!

David Noel Freedman. Lowering the Standards.
I've just started on Raphael Lataster's There Was No Jesus, There Is No God and, while I'm not going to write a blog on every little gem I find in it, this one justifies a brief note, I think.

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog on The God of Low Standards in which I argued that belief in gods always involves people lowering their standards of evidence way below that required to believe in fairies, to believe in other gods and even to believe that an empty road is safe to cross. In other words that religion in general and their god in particular requires a much lower standard of evidence, logic and reasoning than is used for normal, everyday life. (See for example, The Milk Bottle Delusion - Why Prayers Always Work, for the standard Christian 'proof' that God always answers prayers.)

So it's good to see a leading Christian apologist and Bible scholar, the late David Noel Freedman, as quoted by Raphael Lataster, confirming that Bible scholars need to lower their standards way below that normally required to substantiate a claim with:

We have to accept somewhat looser standards. In the legal profession, to convict the defendant of a crime , you need proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil cases, a preponderance of the evidence is sufficient. When dealing with the Bible or any ancient source, we have to loosen up a little; otherwise, we can't really say anything.

Monday, 5 January 2015

The Bottle of Milk Delusion - Why Prayers Always Work.

I don't claim original authorship of the argument here, but I think it's worth a little elaboration. I'm assuming, by the way, that an Islamic argument to prove Allah always answers prayer would be very similar if not identical. Indeed, there doesn't appear to be any other possibility for what could happen as a result of prayer.

No doubt some Christians will argue that there are more ways that their god answers prayers, such as the five here, where there are three yesses (somethining else happens; something happens and them something else happens; the thing happens) or the four here ("I can't hear you!" although how that differs from "No", and how the faithful tell the difference is beyond me). I wish they would make their mind up. Perhaps they are talking about different gods.

But in any case, all of these can be arbitrarily ascribed to a bottle of milk too, or any other object, animate or inanimate, animal vegetable or mineral or any combination of those for that matter.

Now, I daresay every Christian and Moslem will see the good sense of all this when ascribed to their particular god as its response to their particular prayers, so what's wrong with the logic when we ascribe it to a bottle of milk, when the outcome is identical and indistinguishable?

Friday, 2 January 2015

Intelligent Designers Unmasked

Illustration: P. Huey/Science
Persisters unmasked

Have you ever noticed how religious people, when asked for evidence that their magic friend actually exists, will point to something attractive or good or otherwise worthy of awe and arbitrarily ascribe it to their favourite god, then claim it as evidence? Strangely, they never point to things obviously bad or ugly or otherwise worthy of revulsion and disgust, such as childhood cancer, eye-worms, famine, malaria or natural disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes, and claim them as evidence.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Time To Remove The Bishops From The House Of Lords

What on Earth are 26 Anglican bishops and archbishops still doing in the UK House of Lords, or upper chamber of our legislature?

I suspect most people brought up in proper democracies, where membership of legislative assemblies is with the permission of, and consent of, the people as expressed in free and fair elections, will be astonished to know that we even have unelected people in our upper house, let alone people who can have a say in our laws who are unaccountable to anyone and who acquired that right simply by being senior wizards in one particular Christian sect - Anglicanism.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

How Creationists Lie To Us Some More

Following on from my blog a couple of days ago about Ray Comfort's idiotic claim about the absence of gravity in space (sic) and his clear implication that the only explanation for how the people who wrote the Bible 3000 years ago knew this is that his locally popular god inspired them, I thought I would look more closely at this familiar religious false dichotomy fallacy and it's close similarity to the tactics of the snakeoil seller, con artist and shyster.

His fallacy has actually made me quite angry because of the contempt Comfort shows for his dupes, confident that their scientific illiteracy, eagerness for confirmation of their pre-existing bias, and difficulty with basic joined up thinking, would do most of the work for him.

Comfort is also playing to the schizophrenic attitude towards science of the average fundamentalist creationist: on the one hand, when it destroys and renders ridiculous their preferred mythical view of the Universe, it can be waved away as wrong, Satanic, the work of evil/mad/stupid/elitist scientists as appropriate; when there is the slightest hint that it might support them, suddenly brilliant scientists have proved the locally popular god is real.

Friday, 26 December 2014

How Creationists Lie To Us - Ray Comfort

Unbelievably, not only did Ray Comfort actually post this publicly on Facebook, but his adoring fans seem to believe he's proved the locally popular god inspires the Bible with it.

But this blog isn't so much about Comfort's scientific ignorance and the credulous gullibility of his equally ignorant followers, but about what his Facebook post tells us about the dishonest tactics used by creationists who deliberately play on and exploit the scientific illiteracy of their dupes.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Fossil Fish Refutes Another Creationist Lie


Acanthodes bridgei
Image: Tanaka et al., Nature Communications
Three-hundred-million-year-old fossil fish still has traces of eye tissue | Science/AAAS | News

An amazingly well preserved fossil fish from 300 million years ago has its eyes so well preserved that it can be seen to have had both rods and cones in its retina, showing that it had colour vision. This is the first time a fossilized vertebrate eye has been found with that degree of detail and probably results from the fish becoming quickly submerged in anoxic sediment so protecting it from bacterial action.

It has also been shown to have melanin in its eyes - a pigment normally associated with good daylight and twilight vision when it's present in eyes, which would have been useful in the shallow, brackish, estuarine conditions in which it probably lived. It was found in ancient estuarine deposits near Hamilton, Kansas, USA.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Not A Happy Christmas For Pope Frankie

Pope Francis warns Vatican officials of 'spiritual Alzheimer's,' other ills - The Arlington Catholic Herald:

In a remarkably frank Christmas address to the Vatican Curia - the cabal of cardinals and Vatican bureaucrats who cluster around the Pope and generally run and live off the vast money-making and power-wielding organization that the Catholic Church has become - Pope Francis showed his frustration with them.

He bluntly accused them of suffering from fifteen 'spiritual diseases' including 'spiritual Alzheimers' and

Stem Cell Mistake Shows Why Science Beats Religion

Haruko Obokata anouncing the discovery
Image: Kyodo/Reuters
Acid bath stem-cell scientist can't reproduce results - health - 19 December 2014 - New Scientist

Unlike religion, science is a self-correcting process designed to minimise the opportunities for mistakes, statistical anomalies and downright fraud to pass unnoticed into the general body of science, and so ensure that the answers scientists believe they have found are at least a close approximation to the truth, and that our understanding of the world moves ever closer to the truth.

This example concerns an exciting and, if true, revolutionary 2012 'discovery' by a Charles Vacanti of Harvard Medical School working with Haruko Obokata and others at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Catholic Outrage - The Law Applies To Them Too!

Bernadette Smyth. "I'm no witch, I'm a Christian".
BBC News - Bernadette Smyth: Anti-abortion protester given community service

Catholics in Northern Ireland expressed shock and disappointment that a judge at Belfast's Magistrates Court had imposed a community service and issued a restraining order on Catholic anti-abortionist campaigner, Bernadette Smyth, preventing her from harassing Dawn Purvis of a Marie Stopes clinic and going within 20 yards of the clinic.

She was also sentenced to 100 hours community service and given a five-year restraining order

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Mad Manny Gets Another Warning

It's not often that I have something positive to say about the people at Twitter Support these days, as it was beginning to look like they had given up even pretending to be taking abuse and harassment seriously and seemed to be selecting random responses to complaints or ignoring them altogether.

But I see they've at last taken notice of all the complaints they've been getting about the behaviour of Manuel de Dios Agosto, the expelled seminarian and notorious Internet stalker and abusive blogger. Manuel is currently using his @CatholicGadfly, @SCDTVS, @SacerdotusRadio and @StudiousAtheist accounts to abuse, defame and denigrate anyone who responds to his phoney piety and infantile challenges to debate (usually first made in secret without informing the victim so he can claim victory by default).

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Bob Jones Uni Abusers - It's Not Just The Catholics!

Boz Tchividjian
Sex abuse report: Bob Jones University fosters culture of victim-blaming | Guardian 11 December, 2014

According to a report by GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), an non-profit Christian organization headed by Billy Graham's grandson and Liberty University Law Professor, Boz Tchividjian, the Protestant Evangelical Bob Jones University was even worse than the Catholics when it came to sexual abuse of students.

Bob Jones University has seen a spectacular decline in admissions in recent years as disbelief gains ground in the USA. This may not be disconnected with their desire to clean up their act, hence the commissioning of this report, albeit the moment of panic when they sacked GRACE only to reinstate them last January.

The report catalogues systematic sexual abuse of students, actively facilitated by a policy of blaming the victims, piling guilt and shame on them and discouraging them from reporting it to the police whilst abusers were left to carry on their abuse.

It states:

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Malaria Is Down - But Not Yet Out

Scale-up in effective malaria control dramatically reduces deaths | WHO 9 December 2014:

Brilliant news that the infection and death rate from malaria has fallen worldwide and especially sharply in Africa where 90% of malaria deaths occur - and it's all down to science again.

The number of people dying from malaria has fallen dramatically since 2000 and malaria cases are also steadily declining, according to the World malaria report 2014. Between 2000 and 2013, the malaria mortality rate decreased by 47% worldwide and by 54% in the WHO African Region - where about 90% of malaria deaths occur.

New analysis across sub-Saharan Africa reveals that despite a 43% population increase, fewer people are infected or carry asymptomatic malaria infections every year: the number of people infected

Friday, 12 December 2014

Pope Francis Just Can't Hide His Misogyny

Lost in translation? 7 reasons some women wince when Pope Francis starts talking - Religion News Service

Poor old Pope Francis just can't hide his misogyny no matter how hard he tries to look like a modern liberal reformer. These seven examples of where his prejudices are showing comes from religionnews.com a site not normally associated with religious criticism.

The former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, the son of Italian immigrants, comes from a background and a clerical tradition not normally associated with its liberal progressiveness and

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Ken's Ham-Fisted Plan Scuppered

The Lost Ark: Kentucky will not grant tax incentives to Ark Encounter - Insider Louisville

Thanks to their own arrogant stupidity, the plan by the money-making loons at Answers in Genesis to subvert the US Constitution and con the State of Kentucky into using taxpayers money to help them promote their fundamentalist Christian bigotry and Bronze Age superstition, despite the 'Establishment Clause', has failed.

AiG had been planning to create an 'Ark Encounter' theme park to promote its infantile belief that the story of Noah's Ark in the Bible is a literal account of an

Sunday, 7 December 2014

How Creationists Lie To Us - Michael J. Behe

Keneth R. Miller
Edging towards Irrelevance - part 1

Professor Kenneth R Miller is an evolutionary biologist and expert in molecular biology and cell membranes. He is also a Roman Catholic who has written boks such as Finding Darwin's God trying to show that evolution is compatible with belief in the Christian god. He also profoundly disagrees with the notion of 'Intelligent Design' as promulgated by fellow Roman Catholic, Michael J. Behe and the Discovery Institute.

The Discovery Institute was set up with the aim of using the Theory of Evolution, which many Americans find distasteful because it doesn't make them feel important enough, to undermine science as a prelude to subverting the secular US Constitution and installing a fundamentalist Christian, Taliban-style Levitican theocracy in America and elsewhere. Behe is a leading light in this disinformation campaign and concentrates particularly on misrepresenting evolutionary biology.

Miller's oposition to Behe and the Discovery Institute has made him a particular target of the antisciencers who are continually demanding he apologise for disagreeing with Behe and pointing out

Saturday, 6 December 2014

A Message From Homo Erectus

Homo erectus made world's oldest doodle 500,000 years ago : Nature News & Comment

A fossilised etched river mussel shell, dated to between 430,000 and 540,000 years old, from Java in Indonesia is being attributed to one of our immediate ancestors, Homo erectus and so becomes the oldest known engraving, beating the previous earliest by some 300,000 years and the first to be unequivocably pre-modern. This early artist from our remote ancestry unwittingly left an important message for those with the scientific literacy to read it.

This find is highly significant, if it turns out to be what it's claimed to be, because it's the first real evidence

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Catholic Deception - Pope To Venerate The Fake of Turin

A typical ‘souvenir’ of an exposition with presiding clergy (1608), one of several made between 1578 and 1750. The Trustees of the British Museum.
The Origins of the Shroud of Turin | History Today

News that Pope Francis is to make a pilgrimage to Turin Cathedral to venerate the Shroud of Turin, despite it now being regarded only by the most die-hard supporters as anything other than a fairly crude 14th Century painting on linen made from flax which grew in the 14th Century, shows that the 'reforming' Pope, whom many people thought was going to modernise the Catholic Church and introduce a modicum of honesty into its teachings and dealings with people, is still happy to follow his predecessors and mislead the credulous and gullible with forgeries and deliberate deceptions.

The Pope's announcement came only a few days after

Monday, 1 December 2014

Look Where Manny Is Accessing The Internet From!

Manuel de Dios Agosto, the Bronx expelled seminarian, Internet stalker and habitual liar has boobed again and revealed something interesting about himself. He has shown us exactly where his emails are coming from and it's all available online from public sources so you don't even have to take my word for it; you can check for yourselves.

Twitter users will have watched in stunned amusement as Manny, with his usual Dunning-Kruger cock-sure self-confidence, via his sock puppet account @CatholicGadfly, challenged Twitter user Ellif D'Wulf to post evidence that he knew his IP address. Ellif had been pointing out that at least two of Manny's sock puppet accounts have the same IP address. Didn't he realise that Ellif doesn't make evidence-free claims? Not everyone does, Manuel! It's not normal!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Victims of Religion in Poland

30–39 year old female with a sickle placed across her neck.
PLOS ONE: Apotropaic Practices and the Undead: A Biogeochemical Assessment of Deviant Burials in Post-Medieval Poland

Ignorant superstitions are often a cause as well as an effect of religious bigotry. These can and often do provide an excuse for human rights abuses and victimisation of people who are a little bit different to the cultural norm, whether in personality, physical or mental disability or even race, skin colour or ethnic origin.

Eastern Europe, and Poland in particular, has a long history of superstitious belief in 'unclean' spirits re-entering a dead body and reanimating it. This superstition, underpinned by the religious idea of a soul or some form of magical other being who lives in our bodies and gives it 'life' is not, as some might think, a biblical or Quranic idea but one which was known to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Environment, Evolution and Polar Bear Extinction

PLOS ONE: Projected Polar Bear Sea Ice Habitat in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

The prospect of polar bears becoming extinct by 2075 because of the loss of the North Polar icecap is a stark warning of what we are doing to the life-support system we call Earth as we pump out more and more of our toxic waste, like bacteria polluting our culture medium. It also serves to illustrate a couple of things about how life evolves and changes over time, pushed as often as not by environmental change, not genetic change.

Chamber of Secrets Has Creationists in Denial Again

Phote credit: John Hawks
Bone bonanza: Chamber of secrets yields human remains - life - 28 November 2014 - New Scientist

One of the things which illustrates the difference between religion and science is how science continually looks for new information and adjusts its thinking accordingly, whereas religion constantly looks for excuses not to change in any way, and this includes actively ignoring, or finding ways to dismiss, new information.

Take for example the buzz of excitement in the field of palaeoanthropology at the moment at news that a team of archaeologists working in a cave system in South Africa have discovered and excavated the

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Christian Fundamentalist - No Cake for Gays!


© UTV
Equality law 'conscience clause' bid - UTV Live News

You have to hand it to Christians, they are relentless in their determination to get their special privileges back and to be permitted to carry on victimising and bullying minorities. Even though they've been knocked down and defeated in every court in the UK and Europe, still they whinge and grizzle and demand changes to the law when they are found yet again to have been bullying gays and denying them the same basic human rights that they enjoy.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Rapid Darwinian Evolution In Agricultural Weeds

Wheat Field; Vincent van Gogh, 1888. Weeds and all.
Dawn of farming sparked speed-evolution in weeds - life - 19 November 2014 - New Scientist

One of my recurrent themes in my blogs about evolution is the difference between information held in the DNA and the meaning of that information as interpreted by the environment. This is something that creationist frauds traditionally ignore of course, especially when they try to fool their credulous victims with the claim that no new information can arise because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (sic), so evolution is impossible.

Not only is that nonsensical claim refuted by simple observation but evolution often doesn't need new information anyway; evolution often comes about because a change in the environment give new meaning to existing information.

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