They’ll subscribe you to their newsletter list. But it’s a nice newsletter for smart and happy people who like to read (you, that is). Plus, you may always unsubscribe, later. If you use that link, I get an entry in the contest, too. Selfish of me, no doubt.
Cover of The Happy Atheist; click image to go to Amazon.com and read a few pages. (I’m sure they’ll let you buy the book there, too.)
Oh, the book?
In this funny and fearless book, PZ Myers takes on the religious fanaticism of our times with all the gleeful disrespect it deserves, skewering the apocalyptic fantasies, magical thinking, hypocrisies, and pseudoscientific theories advanced by religious fundamentalists of all stripes. Forceful and articulate, scathing and funny, The Happy Atheist is finally a reaffirmation of the revelatory power of humor, and the truth-revealing powers of science and reason.
Myers strongly supports good science education — heck, he teaches biology at a state university. You know him as the poobah at Pharyngula and one of the cofounders of Panda’s Thumb. He probably gets a small smackeral of income off of each sale. It’s probably a great read (I haven’t read it yet).
Politically, he’s rarely right, and he’s definitely afflicted with that virus that strikes conservatives and makes them feel that if they can cover a topic with enough words, and if there is enough snark in those words, they must be right, and everyone else is a fool for not seeing that and making them king. Or at least a local lord. You can see this on display at his blog, The House of Eratosthenes.
Morgan waded into the discussion on some of our less thoughtful U.S. Senators, who think a good reason to filibuster a bill is they can’t find their own ass with both hands a copy of the bill they just know they will oppose, before they know what’s in the bill (no bias here).
Alright. First, if you’re trying to make this look like “reasonable” or “common sense” gun “safety” legislation as they call it, it’s a good idea to stay away from this capacity-limitation stuff. To swap out a magazine — not clip — I don’t need eleven seconds, I don’t need half that. I’m not anywhere close to James Bond, or Barney in The Expendables…I merely maintain familiarity and confidence/competence with my sidearm. If I can do it in two seconds, a lot of other people can as well. So you’re counting on a payoff there that you’re not getting. The whole magazine-capacity thing is not only a distraction, it actually highlights for the benefit of the knowledgeable public which loudmouth legislators ought not to have anything to do with gun legislation, or guns either.
Pennsylvania U.S. Senate Candidate Pat Toomey addresses protestors at the Philadelphia Tea Party on April 18, 2009. (He won) Wikipedia image
Maybe we’re being sneaky. Maybe we’re getting you all worked up over something not in the bill so you’ll have a heart attack and be unable to lobby your senators to go easy on baby killers.
Or maybe you guys can’t read. Can’t, won’t, doesn’t make much difference — you’re so sure of your position you not only damn the facts, you damn the existence of the facts and the non-existence of the hoodoos you fear.
It comes down to this: A gun has a certain number of bullets with which it can be loaded, before it becomes an instrument of death — that number is one. Whoever isn’t familiar with that, should be escorted off the range.
Think of all the gun ranges put out of business if we did that!
Of course, that is a comment on the mechanics; as far as process goes, the number is zero, since one of the basic rules of guns safety is “the gun is always loaded.”
I don’t think a crazy guy should be allowed to pump out 150 soldier-killer bullets in 5 minutes, with most of them going into the heads and faces of more than a score of 6-year-old kids. You seem to think that is such a sacred right that we . . . well, I don’t know what you propose.
You seem to think that forcing crazy men to reload is unfair. I think you’re not being fair to those six-year-old kids.
The evidence in Newtown is that the one reload he did took 11 seconds, and a teacher got 11 kids out of the school, to safety, in that time.
It took him five shots to blast through the safety lock on the door — had he been limited to five-round clips, he’d have been out of ammo in one gun just getting through the door.
I cannot imagine why you think we can’t be fair to six year old kids, but we must give crazy men more than a sporting chance to murder 20 unarmed people. I think my rights would be safer if I didn’t go with your defense of the crazy man’s rights.
Now, is it technically impossible to limit the rounds and reduce the carnage? Not according to the record.
Facts are stubborn things. That old John Adams sure got that right.
If I were Sen. Rubio, considering for the moment supporting this gun “safety” bill, and decided to read it all the way through, I’d change my mind and oppose it the first time I saw something about magazine capacity limits, because that would tell me someone wrote it without knowing anything about how guns are supposed to be treated around a public that we don’t want to be hurt by them. Which is the subject of the bill.
We know you’re not going to read the bill, just like Rubio hasn’t. He has a sort of duty to read it — but you’re so cock sure that you’re smarter than every other guy in the country and that you can see the future before God, you can’t be bothered to read even the quick summary of the bill.
It pains me when you reinforce all the stereotypes of the right-wing, can’t-tell-me-nuthin’ nuts, Morgan. If you’re going to pretend to be thoughtful, at least read the stuff, will you?
Gustave Doré drawing: Don Quijote de La Mancha and Sancho Panza, 1863 Wikipedia image
You’re so cock-sure that there would be a crazy proposal of the type you fear that you can’t be bothered to read the bill and see that there’s nothing at all like it. Worse than Don Quixote tilting at windmills, you’re shooting at windmills that are not dragons, but behind which children were playing a few minutes ago. See, Quixote was harmless with his lance. Facts again: Guns are not lances.
Second. The Constitution guarantees me certain God-given rights, which supposedly nobody can take away from me, and I wouldn’t be able to discard even if I wanted to. Conservatives and liberals would agree — with different examples in mind — that We The People have lately encountered considerable difficulty electing representatives who will truly protect these rights.
Quite to the contrary, we’ve succeeded in electing nuts who are so dedicated to protecting those rights, they’ll go overboard to be sure that anything even close to resembling a right of a white male with a gun cannot be regulated rationally. Rex Tillerson‘s right to pour oil in every backyard in Arkansas is defended, Rep. Joe Barton apologizes to the white guys who run BP for all those Cajuns’ having put their Gulf of Mexico where BP could pollute the hell out of it. A white guy wants sex, well, some women “rape easy,” “they’re just good-time-lovin’ football players and football is an American game,” and if he’s an Army or Air Force officer, his superior will dismiss the rape charges. Jeremy Dimon gets to keep his freedom, and all the money banks stole from black families put out of their homes in New Orleans, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles because his bank and his cronies’ banks screwed up the mortgages.
And if you want to shoot up a theater, or a school, and kill a bunch of unarmed people — well, you know, that’s a right, right?
I cannot imagine what rights you think are not defended, for white males.
Right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? Right to quiet enjoyment? Right to be free from assault and battery? Right not get life-saving and cheap medical care for your kid? Right not to have to bury your kid as child? Not all rights are enumerated rights. You seem to miss some of the more important ones, when we get right down to it.
Now, if one worries about rights for anyone of color, or rights of children to health care or education, or rights of women to fair pay — well, none of those people are mentioned in the Constitution, are they? They all look like Dred Scott, to a Congress of white males.
In view of that, I like the idea of a Senator who made up his mind to oppose a gun bill before reading all of it (your headline would imply that he hasn’t read any of it, which is not substantiated by your story).
I see no evidence Rubio wasn’t telling the truth — and Cruz is probably too stupid to understand it, so I believe him when he says he can’t even find the bill that was placed in the middle of his desk on March 22. I swear that guy puts an icepick over his left eyeball every night he can.
This would be in keeping with his oath to uphold the Constitution: If the bill has something that cannot be reconciled with the Constitution, out it goes.
There is nothing in the Constitution which says anyone has to be an inadequate anal orifice. You’re reading it wrong.
Or have you even read it? You haven’t read the gun control bill. Why should you read the Constitution?
In reality, there is nothing in the Constitution that says any Member of Congress must be a roadblock, or should be a roadblock, nor that there should be any roadblocks at all. Filibustering is not a Constitutional right — not mentioned in any way.
After all, there is a period-end-of-sentence after the word “infringed.” It doesn’t say “shall not be infringed, unless something really spiffy is written that makes the infringing seem like a swell idea.”
But, you don’t read. I forgot. As with most conservatives, you think you know what is in a text without reading it, predudging it from . . . well, prejudging it, anyway.
“Prejudge” isn’t related to “prejudice” in the conservative dictionary, anyway.
This is the way I want ALL guarantees to me, or to anybody else, to be enforced. I want my renter’s insurance to be enforced this way. I want my employment contracts to be enforced this way. It’s only fair.
Can you do what no other gun rights advocate has done, Morgan?
Tell us what infringement there would be if you had to limit your automatics, semi-automatics, or single shots, to a five-bullet magazine. How would that, in any way, infringe on your right to keep arms, or bear them?
After you stumble over that one, tell us how it affects your right at all to fill out a form that lets a gun seller figure out whether you’re being straight about not being a felon, and not being a crazy shooter, and not fronting for a crazy shooter or felon.
How does filling out a form to make sure you’re legal, infringe on your right to keep and bear arms? There’s nothing in that amendment that says you can keep your gun ownership or bearing secret — in fact, in many states, keeping a gun concealed is a crime (without a permit).
Tell us how anyone’s rights are infringed by those common sense proposals, one of which isn’t even being proposed.
If I submit a form to the Social Security Administration, or to the IRS, or to some state agency like the DMV, and the form has 88 blocks in it and I botched something somewhere around the 8th or 9th block, it would be patently absurd for me to stand there and berate the DMV clerk who rejected it with “Why didn’t you read blocks ten through eighty-eight?? What am I paying you to do with your time??”
So you won’t do that anymore? That’s good news. I hope it’s a movement, and it catches on.
Aggravating as the situation would be, such a reaction would be very silly…because once the 8th or 9th block is screwed up, it’s an invalid form, and even though blocks 10 through 88 may be loaded with wonderfully accurate information, in context it’s still a bunch of nonsense until they’re copied on to another form that has been filled out PROPERLY. So reading them would actually be an inappropriate use of that time that I bought through my tax money by paying the clerk’s salary. Well, if that’s true of clerks, it’s certainly true of Senators, who swear an oath to uphold the Constitution.
I don’t think that’s a good analogy. Your paying your taxes is not similar in any way your elected representatives’ lying to you about whether they read bills or not, and using the pretense that they’ve not seen what they know is in the bill, to block the majority from even debating what is the best thing for the nation.
In their constitutional duty to represent you, they don’t have the right to boldly lie about what they’re doing for demagogue points.
It’s not illegal, but it’s dishonest, disgusting, and unpatriotic. It doesn’t represent you well — at least, I don’t think that you’re so corrupt that you can only get by by lying through your teeth and making phony excuses.
Sorta like enforcement of a lease — lying through your teeth about the rent isn’t a good idea, regardless you’re the tenant or the landlord.
Why am I having to explain the above?
Because you’re trying to defend ugly skullduggery on a bill you don’t know much about?
Because you sank all of your retirement funds into a gun manufacturer, and you just realized that rational gun laws might take that gold mine away? Because you’re a conservative, and these days that means “so congenitally unable to tell the truth that, when a conservative shoots a hole-in-one on the golf course, he writes ‘0’ on the score card?”
I don’t know.
You’re doing a great job of supporting one of my pet theories, that liberals are people who haven’t actually had to deal with the bureaucracies their ideas create.
And you’re providing ample support for a couple of hypotheses I’ve wished didn’t need to be tested: One, that conservatives really DON’T know what a theory is, especially contrasted to hypotheses; two, that conservatives can’t be bothered to read the book, or the law, or the proposal, or anything else that might inform their arguments, probably out of fear they’ll realize their prejudices are wrong; three, that conservatives really like rules, out of their defense of “traditional” life and “order” — but they think the rules never apply to themselves or their supporters; and four, that the fact that the conservative position is correct should be so self-evident, no matter how half-wit or knuckleheaded the idea, that conservatives will never stoop to actually arguing the issues — keep John Walsh and Candy Lightner far away from conservatives, because they have no real defense for why we treat automobiles as more valuable than children or why we never stick to our guns about criminalizing drunk drivers who kill, especially repeatedly — and so, keep the parents of the Newtown victims far away from Washington, and demonize them as soft-on-crime, anti-patriotic, anti-Constitution liberal fuzzy heads, so we don’t have to look them in the eye and explain why we’re voting to defend the right of the idiot to shoot their children without cause, justification, warning, remorse or chance for retribution.
What’s more important, overarming people (the better to reduce the population), or keeping kids alive? (“We secretly hate children, which is why everyone of our policies is designed to make childhood difficult, cripple children educationally, mentally or physically, or kill them.”)
I do have to say though, I can see an upside to having it work the way you want…it would give me great pleasure, when I fill out a form wrong, to throw a hissy fit about “why didn’t you read the rest of my form?” But realistically, of course there’s no way it can work like that.
I thought you just had a mental burp — but now I see you’re on some tear about filling in forms incorrectly.
What difference could that possibly make?
Apparently there’s another trait of conservatives: The tendency to dissolve into irrelevant rants, instead of facing up to real problems, and making hard decisions about real solutions.
Bust of Jefferson in the Great Hall, Library of Congress (Jefferson Building) – photo by Carol Highsmith. The plaster bust of Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) is a copy of a work by the French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741–1828).
In a republican nation, whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion, and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance.
Thomas Jefferson in a letter to David Harding, from Monticello, April 20, 1824; found in The Quotable Jefferson, collected and edited by John P. Kaminski, Princeton University Press 2006, p. 162.
I worry that perhaps we have as a people, abandoned the ideal of being ruled by reason and persuasion.
What’s your mileage?
Great Hall of the Library of Congress viewed from the second floor, Thomas Jefferson Building – Carol Highsmith photo. Note bust of Jefferson, opposite
Spread the word; friends don't allow friends to repeat history.
I get e-mail from a friend on the high desert plains of the Mountain West:
On the other hand, maybe if we hadn’t been so polite for so long, they wouldn’t have had reason to think they could get away with this sort of thing: holding the country hostage to their latest demands.
Fruitcake isn't all that's illogical, Robot Spock!
It’s been a long time coming, no doubt about it. You could say it started decades ago, with that famously loopy math: “Let’s balance the budget by cutting everyone’s taxes and spending more on the military! That’ll work!”
Was it ridiculous on its face? Of course it was ridiculous on its face. And here’s the scariest part: Things have gotten much worse since then! The fringe thinking that gave us the Age of Reagan couldn’t even get a hearing now from those who claim to worship him! Too “moderate.” Not “pure” enough.
They’ve got their own loopy math. Twenty-first-century loopy math. And their own economic theories, too — except that they’re not theories, they’re certainties. Matters of unshakeable faith. And since they’re certainties, why waste time listening to anyone else’s views on the subject? Expertise is overrated.
So they’ve got their own economics. They’ve got their own climate science, of course. They’ve got their own history. (Paul Revere, anyone? Slavery and the Civil War?) They’ve even got their own electoral history. (2008 was a glitch. Barack Obama isn’t really president.) What’s next? Their own geography? Their own gravity?
And we’ve let them get away with it.
Spread the word; friends don't allow friends to repeat history.
The honey-drenched, colloquial definition that the majority of her competitors clung to was, yes, diplomatic. Miss California, now Miss USA, however, did not aim to please or to appease the 60% of Americans that a 2009 Gallup Poll concluded do not believe in Evolution. Rather than aiming to please or appease an ignorant majority, The future Miss USA delivered a response that supported an empirical evidence based definition of specified phenomena: the scientific definition of the word, “theory.”
Brains is beauty, it seems to me. We should certainly run our schools as if intelligence and learning are great virtues in themselves.
Spread the word; friends don't allow friends to repeat history.
Some of the more astute students in our high school classes ask questions about everything. For example, they ask: “What does the Pledge of Allegiance mean, when it says, ‘ . . . and to the Republic for which it stands?'”
Is the Pledge all that important? Is the flag all that important?
Maybe. How would you answer that question, really?
Penn and Teller offer a demonstration:
What do you think? Did they burn a flag? Should that sort of performance be legal?
What if Penn and Teller burned a flag in the White House?
An exercise in ambiguity: A fictional drama about a sleight of hand, illusionary performance. (Best line: The answer to the question, “Did you go to law school?” For the record, yes, I did go to law school. I’m an amateur clown.)
Some believers expressed bewilderment or said it was a test from God of their faith, after the day passed without event.
Meanwhile, the evangelist at the centre of the claim, Harold Camping, has not been seen since before the deadline.
Maybe Camping has gone to his reward. We don’t know — but we do know one thing: This will probably our last Rapture thread for a while.
If only we could get the creationists to make some kind of spectacular, easily verifiable, utterly goofball predictions like the end-of-the-world folks do. But it wouldn’t matter; they’ll continue to be creationists. If 21 May has taught us anything, it’s that true believers never stop believing.
Evidence prevents the need to believe; we should stick to the evidence. Camping started with a calculation that the flood of Noah, which never occurred as Camping thought, occurred 7,000 years ago, some 2,000 to 3,000 years different from the calculations made from the Bible by most young Earth creationists (but not Ken Ham), and way off the smoke-ring calculations of intelligent design whimsies, who can’t be pinned down to any number at all.
But they never stop believing contrary to the evidence.
Keep them off of juries, if you wish for justice.
Spread the word; friends don't allow friends to repeat history.
When evolutionists study these worldwide resistance movements, they see four classes of adaptations arising, because an insect under attack has four possible routes to survival.
Jonathan Weiner, author of The Beak of the Finch, a story of evolution in our time
First, it can simply dodge. Strains of malarial mosquitoes in Africa used to fly into a hut, sting someone, and then land on the hut wall to digest their meals. In the 1950s and 1960s health workers began spraying hut walls with DDT. Unfortunately in every village there were always a few mosquitoes that would fly in through the window, bite, and fly right back out. Millions of mosquitoes died, but these few survived and multiplied. Within a short time almost all of the mosquitoes in the villages were hit-and-run mosquitoes.
Second, if an insect cannot dodge, it can evolve a way to keep the poison from getting under its cuticle. Some diamondback moths, if they land on a leaf that is tainted with pyrethroids, will fly off and leave their poisoned legs behind, an adaptive trick known as “legdrop.”
Third, if the insect can’t keep the poison out, it may evolve an antidote. A mosquito species called Culex pipiens can now survive massive doses of organophosphate insecticides. The mosquitoes actually digest the poison, using a suite of enzymes known as esterases. The genes that make these esterases are known as alleles B1 and B2. Many strains of Culex pipiens now carry as many as 250 copies of the B1 allele and 60 copies of the B2.
Because these genes are virtually identical, letter by letter, from continent to continent, it seems likely that they came from a single lucky mosquito. The mutant, the founder of this particular resistance movement, is thought to have lived in the 1960s, somewhere in Africa or Asia. The genes first appeared in Californian mosquitoes in 1984, in Italian mosquitoes in 1985, and in French mosquitoes in 1986.
Finally, if the insect can’t evolve an antidote,it can sometimes find an internal dodge. The poison has a target somewhere inside the insect’s body. The insect can shrink this target, or move it, or lose it. Of the four types of adaptations, the four survival strategies, this is the hardest for evolution to bring off — but [entomologist Martin] Taylor thinks this is how Heliothis [virescens, a cotton boll-eating moth] is evolving now.
“It always seems amazing to me that evolutionists pay so little attention to this kind of thing,” says Taylor. “And that cotton growers are having to deal with these pests in the very states whose legislatures are so hostile to the theory of evolution. Because it is evolution itself they are struggling against in their fields each season. These people are trying to ban the teaching of evolution while their own cotton crops are failing because of evolution. How can you be a creationist farmer any more?”
Watching tonight on television the charlatans who infest Pennsylvania Avenue gaudily pronounce their saintly motives and their deity-like powers to “guarantee world-class health care for every American” (as one creep put it to a NewsChannel 8 reporter here in DC) makes me want to vomit.
These people look like serious adults; the timber of their voices make them sound like serious adults; and their titles are ones that are assumed to be reserved for serious adults. But, in fact, these people – from Obama to Pelosi to Hoyer to Reid – are nothing of the sort.
If they really believe even a quarter of the things they say, they’re imbeciles. If they aren’t imbeciles, they’re scoundrels. No third alternative is conceivable.
Either way, they’re an utterly detestable bunch.
He’s talking about elected officials. He’s talking about the president of the United States. He calls them “utterly detestable.”
Dialogue and thought lie broken down this much? This is a rant one expects of certified lunatics like Orly Taitz.
Boudreaux, of course, comes from that class of the bourgeois where intellect is so congenital that it’s not even necessary to make a case for why one finds honorable people on the other side of an issue to be in error. To Boudreaux, they’ve gone beyond error. They are “detestable” people. You know, abominable. They are people worthy of hatred.
Demonization. Dehumanization. Objects worthy of hatred (a definition of “detestable) are not people who deserve respect. We don’t need to offer them health care, we don’t need to listen to their views, we don’t need to honor their civil rights.
It’s conduct unbecoming. Is Boudreaux so full of hubris that he cannot even entertain the idea that the bill is a good idea, the idea that Boudreaux may be a little bit in error?
We might also imagine that Don Boudreaux might get a good night’s sleep, wake up on Monday morning and rethink.
Somebody throw them a lifeline. Maybe they can figure it out. Churchill maybe put it best: Democracy is the worst form of government conceived by the mind of man, except for all the others. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes you should lose. Sometimes the people’s wisdom is greater than our own.
Spread the word; friends don't allow friends to repeat history.
I don’t know about you but I’ve been absolutely riveted by the recent release of records from a break-in at the White Star line. No really, it’s not just a stream of bilge from people who may not be experts but reckon something. Frankly I can’t get enough of hearing about the same claim that one memo by one of the workers on the Titanic project clearly confirms the ship was ‘unsinkable’. This should finally put to rest the biggest hoax of the 20th century, that the Titanic sunk in the North Atlantic. Still there’s always someone who isn’t going to find a bit of a memo quoted out-of-context convincing so it’s worth recapping the clear evidence that the ’sinking’ of the Titanic is a scam.
The hard core uneducables who make of the hard knot at the center of the anti-science and anti-environmental movement just refuses to jettison their adored myths about science, regardless how many times those myths are shown to be false.
It’s a religious exercise with them, and their faith in error and bad applications of science won’t be shaken.
Sirkin’s latest screed is “Myths for Fun and Profit,” and includes as one of the myths DDT’s ban in the U.S. Her complaint is badly worded, but from the brief and grossly wrong explanation, we can see she thinks that DDT shouldn’t have been banned, and that map and calendar challenged, she thinks the ban on using DDT on cotton in the U.S. in 1972 somehow led to a rise in malaria in Africa in the 1980s. (Mosquitoes don’t travel that far, generally, either across the ocean from the U.S. to Africa, nor in time, from 1972 to 1980, nor the other way around.)
8….DDT, the most wonderful chemical ever. “It is estimated that in little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million deaths that would otherwise have been inevitable,” concluded the National Academy of Sciences in 1971, the year before EPA head William Ruckelshaus banned it. Thanks to Ruckelshaus, Rachel Carson, environmentalist extremists, and the WHO, millions of Africans including children are dying or disabled today.
Why, these irrational policy errors?
So I responded:
Banning DDT from agricultural use was an extremely rational act, as vouched for by the summary judgment against the DDT manufacturers in both of the cases brought against EPA for the ban, and as vouched for by the removal of the bald eagle and brown pelican from the Endangered Species List.
Sirkin wrote: “DDT, the most wonderful chemical ever. ‘It is estimated that in little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million deaths that would otherwise have been inevitable,’ concluded the National Academy of Sciences in 1971, the year before EPA head William Ruckelshaus banned it.”
EPA relabeled DDT in 1972, not 1971, effectively banning the use of DDT on cotton. Under that rule, DDT could be available to fight malaria in the U.S., and DDT was manufactured in the U.S. for export to anyone who wished to use it. There has never been a ban on using DDT to fight malaria.
But DDT ceased to work well against malaria-carrying mosquitoes in the 1960s. Africans are not stupid. Had DDT been a panacea, I’m sure they would have used it.
But while I worry about your implicit denigration of Africans and Asians in suggesting they are somehow incapable of deciding for themselves to use an effective weapon against disease, I am more concerned at your erroneous characterization of DDT’s value. The National Academy of Sciences made an editing error, so part of your error is understandable. DDT was never credited with saving 500 million lives. During the entire time DDT has been available to fight malaria, from 1946 to today, the death rate worldwide from malaria has never exceeded 4 million a year, and since the 1960s the death rate has been about a million year. At 4 million deaths per year, to save 500 million lives, DDT would have had to have been used for 125 years prior to now. Insecticidal properties of the stuff were discovered only in 1939, 70 years ago.
At about a million deaths per year, to save 500 million lives, DDT would have had to have been used for 500 years.
Clearly there was an error in math, or confusion in citations. About 500 million people are afflicted with malaria annually, noted earlier in that NAS book, which is where I think the 500 million figure came from.
But let’s leave that aside for a moment. That 1970 publication by the National Academy of Sciences was an evaluation of chemicals in the environment. That sentence crediting DDT with saving so many lives, erroneous as it was, was in a call to ban DDT as quickly as possible, and to increase research to find alternatives to DDT in order to get DDT use completely stopped.
NAS recognized the value of DDT, but said it was too dangerous to keep using.
Don’t cite NAS’s credit to DDT without noting they said we must stop using it, because its dangers outweigh the benefits.
Sirkin wrote: “Thanks to Ruckelshaus, Rachel Carson, environmentalist extremists, and the WHO, millions of Africans including children are dying or disabled today.”
With the great assistance of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and continued efforts of the World Health Organization, several African nations have cut malaria rates by 50% to 85% with the use of bednets and “integrated vector management” (IVM), usually known as integrated pest management (IPM) in the U.S.
Anyone who reads Carson’s astoundingly accurate book knows that she did not call for a ban on DDT, but instead called for the use of an integrated program of pest management. Had we listened to Rachel Carson in 1962, we could have saved several million children from death, in Africa, from malaria alone. It is scurrilous, calumnous, and inaccurate to the point of sin to blame Rachel Carson for deaths caused by failure to listen to her and heed her words.
Ruckelshaus acted with full knowledge of the National Academy of Science’s calling for an end to DDT use due to its harms, known and then unknown. It is foolish to blame people for acting with hard evidence and careful, rational thought. It’s particularly ungraceful to then accuse them of acting irrationally.
I doubt that either Pesci or Sirkin will ever change their tune. They’d have to concede that science works, that scientists are not all evil, and that sometimes environmentalists, and even liberals, get things right. More importantly, they’d have to concede they erred — and that would be like Baum’s Wicked Witch of the West taking a shower.
Spread the word; friends don't allow friends to repeat history.
I’m cutting the monster a lot of slack with the headline.
P. Z. Myers publicized the e-mail exchange involving Bodie Hodge, a minor deity at the anti-science, creationist organization Answers in Genesis (AiG). Myers was nice to the guy, contrary to the usual creationist cartoon of Myers as somehow immoral for being a non-worshipper of gods. Well, he was nicer than I would have been. But Myers expects Christians to exhibit no sense of shame, no common sense, and twisted morality. I expect bettter of them.
A reader posed that age-old question to Hodge: Is the Christian rule against lying so strong that a Christian should tell Nazi troops where Jewish families are hiding? Hodge weasels later by saying he hopes he never has to make such a choice, and that he really doesn’t know how he’d act in that situation. But this comes only after he says that telling a lie to Nazis to save Jews will get one burned in hell. And then he goes on to note it’s better to be in good with God than to act morally.
In other words, better to become an accomplice in the murder of Jews than to stand up against murderers.
I don’t get how these charlatans of religion, reason to such a point.
What would Jesus do? We know. When the crowd was threatening to stone to death a woman guilty of adultery and she sought refuge with Jesus, Jesus stood up to the mob and saved her life. Just execution of Biblical law or shelter the accused, Jesus stood against the murder, even murder sanctioned by the religious rules of the community.
We also know that scripture endorses deception from time to time. You know these AiG clowns are charlatans when they say stupid stuff like this. Hodge tries to explain away another case of deception by inventing a scenario not found in scripture in which the lie doesn’t get told.
He’s forgotten the story of Jacob and Esau, and how Jacob and his mother conpsired to deceive Isaac in order to steal away Esau’s birthright (Esau and Jacob were twins, by the way). Jacob got away with the deed, was then blessed by God. He took a new name: Israel. He lived on to be the seed of Judaism, the religion Jesus followed and the foundation of Christianity.
To AiG, it appears that scripture is just a dusty old book, except when they can twist it to support their bigotry. Here’s irony for you: The story of Jacob is in Genesis. You know, as in “Answers in Genesis.” They don’t even know their own namesake book!
Here in America, as a nation we overcame that morality-or-religion problem with Huck Finn. The ill-educated young teen, an absentee to grammar, faces the moral decision as he floats down the Mississippi with Jim, an escaped slave who has saved Huck’s life and is in other ways a very good friend. Huck notes that the preachers are all agreed that Huck’s moral duty is to turn Jim in as an escaped slave, to condemn Jim to a continued life of slavery, should Jim survive the lashing. Huck Finn puts the dilemma squarely: Whether to obey God and turn in Jim to the authorities, or to burn in hell and let Jim live the life of a free man. Huck agonizes, but decides: He’ll burn in hell rather than give away his friend.
As a non-Bible believing amoral godless atheist, my first thought was that this is trivial: you lie your pants off. The ‘crime’ of telling a lie pales into insignificance against the crime of enabling the death of fellow human beings.
According to Bodie Hodge of AiG, though, I’m wrong. The good Christian should reject lies, Satan’s tools, in all circumstances, and should immediately ‘fess up the location of the Jews. He backs it up with Bible quotes, too.
If we love God, we should obey Him (John 14:15). To love God first means to obey Him first–before looking at our neighbor. So, is the greater good trusting God when He says not to lie or trusting in our fallible, sinful minds about the uncertain future?
Consider this carefully. In the situation of a Nazi beating on the door, we have assumed a lie would save a life, but really we don’t know. So, one would be opting to lie and disobey God without the certainty of saving a life–keeping in mind that all are ultimately condemned to die physically. Besides, whether one lied or not may not have stopped the Nazi solders from searching the house anyway.
As Christians, we need to keep in mind that Jesus Christ reigns. All authority has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18), and He sits on the throne of God at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33; Hebrews 8:1). Nothing can happen without His say. Even Satan could not touch Peter without Christ’s approval (Luke 22:31). Regardless, if one were to lie or not, Jesus Christ is in control of timing every person’s life and able to discern our motives. It is not for us to worry over what might become, but rather to place our faith and obedience in Christ and to let Him do the reigning. For we do not know the future, whereas God has been telling the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10).
Gosh. I never thought of it that way. So…all those Christians who sheltered Jews during WWII are actually burning in hell right now for their sinful wickedness? That is so counterintuitive, it must be true!
One more time we should side with morality, and against creationist distortions of Christianity and morality.
With all the learning they get at that reeking cesspool the creationism museum, you’d think they could demonstrate the moral fiber of a tobacco-chewing, food-stealing, school-cutting runaway teen, Huckleberry Finn.
Full AiG post below the fold (I expect them to strike it down when they rethink; let all Christians pray to God they do rethink).
Why is this relevant? Oh, the tantrum was rude, but if you’re a hack film producer with a political screed whose film looks like a flop, you’ll do anything to get publicity for the film. Perhaps we should not be too critical of publicity whores.
It’s not relevant because of that.
It’s relevant because one of the charges against Gore by the fruit-and-nut brigade is that Gore refuses to talk to the press. How can they complain about Gore’s treatment of them when any mention of this event makes the Gore critics appear untruthful?
Spread the word; friends don't allow friends to repeat history.
At the post where I debunked the claim that WHO is planning to take over the world with inoculations at the point of a gun, instead of with Auric Goldfinger, SMERSH, KAOS, or Lex Luther, a guy named Simon McDermott complains I don’t give him enough credence. His letter doesn’t help.
Look: The World Health Organization is a group of distinguished medical care specialists, public health specialists, and policy wonks, most of whom are too nerdy to want to hold great power — heading up WHO is a stepping stone to no great governmental power position anyone has ever found, least of all at the United Nations, which has no army, no troops of its own of any sort, and advises nations on bettering health care.
The claim that WHO is plotting to take over the world is not just moonbat-shagging silly, it’s completely insane. It makes no sense on any level, nor is there any evidence to corroborate the claims. Jane Burgermeister’s website notwithstanding, I have my doubts that she could demonstrate mental competence to enlist as a private in the Russian armed forces.
Moreover, the world faces a crisis in influenza. With luck and a lot of hard work, we can avoid a spread of a killer flu virus that might make Zero Population Growth look optimistic. We don’t need hoaxsters, pranksters and fools claiming that influenza is all a great hoax.
I am a freelance writer and have heavily researched the ‘well known’ and ‘established facts’ written in my article that I posted in my previous comment.
The facts are that the H1N1 vaccine has not been safely tested. It takes years to accurately test and research the effects of a new vaccine.
I have posted a link above to the Mail Online a highly respected national newspaper here in Britain.
The article says that health officials say the vaccine has been thoroughly tested. No one in the article offers any credible denial of that fact. The headlines feature an earlier poll of general practitioners alleging that they said the vaccine had not been tested well enough.
Simon: An out-of-date, nonscientific poll of GPs in Britain who were underinformed, is not science.
Nor is your reading that story doing “heavy research.” Googling is not generally considered serious research.
‘First, you exaggerate. Second, that outbreak and the aftereffects are very much on the minds of health officials. Guillan Barre was never linked to the vaccine, by the way. Get some facts, will you?’
This is established fact; although experts now believe that it will be more like one in one million that will contract GBS rather than one in ten thousand.
No, a badly researched, poorly produced story on a local CBS affiliate, migrated to YouTube, does not make something “established fact.”
GBS is rare, but occurs all the time. We don’t know the cause, and no one has been able to pin any vaccine as a cause of GBS. After several million people were vaccinated, a few fell ill from GBS. No research has ever been able to establish any vaccine as a cause of GBS, however — it may be that those people would have fallen ill with GBS whether they got any vaccine or not. See the CDC’s information page on GBS:
What causes GBS?
It is thought that GBS may be triggered by an infection. The infection that most commonly precedes GBS is caused by a bacterium called Campylobacter jejuni. Other respiratory or intestinal illnesses and other triggers may also precede an episode of GBS. In 1976, vaccination with the swine flu vaccine was associated with getting GBS. Several studies have been done to evaluate if other flu vaccines since 1976 were associated with GBS. Only one of the studies showed an association. That study suggested that one person out of 1 million vaccinated persons may be at risk of GBS associated with the vaccine.
We’ve had that many kids die of swine flu already this year, in Dallas and Tarrant counties in Texas. Right now, GBS from all causes is less prevalent than deaths from swine flu.
Also here is a list of dangerous substances that are in other vaccines; we can also expect similar material to be in the swine flu vaccine.
Did you know that potatoes contain carcinogens? Are you aware that the essential nutrient, selenium, is also carcinogenic? Did you know that an excess of salt can kill a person? Are you aware that plain old tap water can be deadly, in several ways?
Gosh, a list of “dangerous substances.” Did you look at the list? Did you see that the “dangerous substances” include eggs and yeast? Are you aware that almost every loaf of bread in America contains more eggs and yeast than three years’ worth of all vaccines for a person?
You’re being irresponsible to the point of recklessness. Yes, people with allergies to eggs should avoid flu vaccines. No, that doesn’t mean the vaccines are inherently dangerous, that they vaccines don’t work, nor does it mean eggs are inherently dangerous.
It means people who are allergic to eggs should avoid flu vaccines (vaccines are grown in eggs, and some egg proteins remain in influenza vaccines).
Almost all substances are dangerous, when out of place, or in the wrong quantities. You could note that fact without alarmism and without hysterics. Dangerous things are all around us. Flu vaccines fall near the bottom of the danger scales, but near the top of the life-saving scale.
You’re aware that we annually lose around 30,000 people to the pedestrian, seasonal flu? How many thousands of times greater is the risk of death to flu than death by vaccine?
Research has shown that there are plenty of natural preventative actions that can be taken to protect against catching flu viruses. These are a healthy organic diet, vitamins; such as vitamin D3, regular exercise and certain herbs – all of these are known to boost and strengthen the immune system.
Staying healthy is always a good idea. H1N1, however, attacks healthy kids. It’s not a question of natural prevention. Some people have never been exposed to this particular strain or its cousins, and they have no natural immunity to it. When it strikes, it strikes quickly. Most of the deaths in the U.S. from H1N1 are to young people who have taken your natural preventive actions. Vitamins and organic diets don’t work.
In fact, that’s dangerous advice right there. A medical professional could be subject to malpractice for the advice you just issued. Kids, Simon is an amateur — don’t try that at home.
I used to regularly take the seasonal flu vaccine before finding out the dangers of vaccines in general; on the two occasions that I did take it I ended up getting flu shortly after taking the vaccine. Since then I have not taken it and decided to go down the alternative route, which has served me very well as I have not had so much as a cold in over three years.
As people grow older they have fewer colds — you never get the same cold virus twice. When you’re over 30 or 40, you’ve been exposed to most of the variations on cold viruses. Your reduction in colds is because you’re older, not because you’re healthier.
Ironically, that’s exactly what you argue against. You’re more resistant to colds because you’ve been “vaccinated” against them. The vaccination was natural, by catching the viruses and developing immunity. For flu, we have to have flu shots for the greatest safety.
Don’t argue against flu vaccines by telling us how effectively the natural method of vaccination has protected you from colds, okay? You look like an idiot when you do that, suggesting you really don’t understand viruses, how they are passed, nor how human immunity occurs.
Since you seem so eager to poison your body with a substance which is clearly more dangerous than swine flu itself, then who am I to stand in your way.
That’s just a crass, cold and craven lie. There is not even an insane argument to be made that flu vaccines this year are more dangerous than the flu itself. That’s crazy talk, terrorist talk. What do you have against old people that you want to see thousands of them die from the flu? Since the “death panels” claim turned out to be bogus, you decided to go on a one-man campaign to encourage death among the elderly and ill?
Since you are so eager to poison minds with completely bogus attacks on science, let me urge you to volunteer to forego all flu vaccines, but be exposed to the viruses, for the sake of research. That way the rest of us could benefit from your bizarre animus to life.
I am sorry to hear that there have been a couple of deaths where you live due to swine flu, but there are much safer alternative and natural preventative actions that can be taken. A healthy nutritionally rich diet should be first on the list before we even consider vaccines, of which there is a huge amount of evidence calling into question, their overall safety and effectiveness when fighting disease.
Call the CDC. Volunteer for flu exposure now, before the rush. You’re not sure that the vaccines are safe, but you argue that the flu IS safe? Let’s see you put your life where your mouth is.
I don’t think you’re that big a fool. Your that whopping dishonest, but not so big a fool.
The problem is that the majority of western doctors are taught absolute fallacies at medical school and in some cases have been brought up to become nothing more than glorified pill prescribers.
The human immune is an extremely powerful and efficient tool when it comes to fighting disease. The reason that it is susceptible to diseases like swine flu at all is because our diets are so nutritionally poor. In many cases this is due to processed foods (filled with additives and preservatives) and poisons such as aspartame in many of our soft drinks.
I have posted a link above to a site that lists natural preventives and explains that viruses such as swine flu cannot be contracted by a healthy well maintained immune system.
Don’t look now, but you’re obviously suffering a dementia produced by lack of immunity.
In your case, that dementia could be cured with a trip to a library.
What you wrote in that last excerpt is pure, unadulterated bullshit.
Thank you, but we’ve already heard the “smart pills” joke.
I am not a ‘crack pot’ and neither are others who show a distinct lack of trust in bodies like the WHO and companies such as Baxter, because history has taught us that they have seriously let us down in the past.
You mean, you advocate crackpot ideas for noble reasons? Alas, that leaves you in the category of crackpot. Anyone who thinks killer flu is safer than vaccines is a crackpot, or an idiot, or an agent of evil. I’m assuming you’re not an idiot, and not an agent of evil. Can you convince me otherwise?
If after examining the evidence that I have provided you still believe that the vaccine is safe, then be my guest, take it, it is your right to choose, but please do not belittle with your derogatory use of humour those who do not!
The reason I talk about this information is because I want people to be safe, and nobody wants a repeat of the 1976 debacle.
Better to keep quiet and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
Shut up. Nobody wants a repeat of the 1918 debacle, either — and you should be ashamed of campaigning for it as you are.
If we all lived clean and healthy natural lives then there would be no need for vaccines at all.
There you go with that crackpot stuff again. If you think that chicken pox and shingles would disappear without vaccines, you’re a fool. If you fail to understand that polio can’t be beaten without vaccines, you’re a greater fool.
If you claim that people could beat chicken pox, smallpox, measles and polio without vaccines, you’re a dangerous tool of crackpot evil.
Maybe it is our social system that needs a rethink, because if you examine Amazonian tribal communities, who have had little to no contact with the outside world, you find a distinct lack of disease in these societies.
There’s a whopper I’d like to see some serious studies on.
That testifies to a lack of virus transmission, but you will also find a distinct surplus of diseases that diet can’t cure. Someday spend some time studying Huntington’s Disease, Huntington’s Chorea, and how the prevalence of the disease in one of those isolated Amazonian tribes contributed to the search for a cause. Of course, almost every member of that tribe had the disease. (It’s genetic, and no vaccine can prevent or cure — yet.) You’ll also find they die of bacterial diseases that modern medicine can treat — those physicians you mock.
Dirty living equals disease; an unclean polluted environment equals disease; the addition of chemicals to our food, drink and drinking water equals disease; when are we going to wake up and realise that the cause of disease is not some unknown, unfortunate ‘random factor’, but the way we live our lives.
Of course, clean living increases asthma. A lack of pollution tends to correlate with lack of civilization. The absence of chlorine in our drinking water contributes to cholera epidemics and typhoid, the lack of fluorine in our water means more dental caries and brain infections. Trace amounts of iodine in salt have all but eliminated goiter. When are you going to wake up and realize that some disease causes are well known, some diseases easily preventable, and life is complex and cannot be made perfectly safe with today’s technology, but was a minefield of deadly infections without today’s technology?
If we live our lives soaked in superstition and crank science, we haven’t even a prayer (full irony intended). You’re not advocating for better health. You’re ranting about stuff you don’t know about.
Although in the case of Baxter the cause of the so called ’swine flu virus’ may well have been them!
I think there’s a better case that you are the cause of swine flu than there is a case that any drug company manufactured the stuff. Among other clues you should look at is the prevalence of swine flu in swine populations around the world — today and historically. Influenza viruses tend to be species specific, and it’s actually quite rare for them to jump species. That’s why, when they jump, they can be so deadly.
But then, that’s what you’re campaigning for, right? You’d love to see a virus wipe out most people, especially those with scientific knowledge — right, Simon?
We've been soaking in the Bathtub for several months, long enough that some of the links we've used have gone to the Great Internet in the Sky.
If you find a dead link, please leave a comment to that post, and tell us what link has expired.
Retired teacher of law, economics, history, AP government, psychology and science. Former speechwriter, press guy and legislative aide in U.S. Senate. Former Department of Education. Former airline real estate, telecom towers, Big 6 (that old!) consultant. Lab and field research in air pollution control.
My blog, Millard Fillmore's Bathtub, is a continuing experiment to test how to use blogs to improve and speed up learning processes for students, perhaps by making some of the courses actually interesting. It is a blog for teachers, to see if we can use blogs. It is for people interested in social studies and social studies education, to see if we can learn to get it right. It's a blog for science fans, to promote good science and good science policy. It's a blog for people interested in good government and how to achieve it.
BS in Mass Communication, University of Utah
Graduate study in Rhetoric and Speech Communication, University of Arizona
JD from the National Law Center, George Washington University