Category Archives: Science

WorldNetDaily: Beware Another Supermoon!

Buffoon Award

Again and again you’ve been warned. As recently as last month we posted: WorldNetDaily: Beware Saturday’s Supermoon! Before that we posted Prepare To Meet Thy Doom, Part 4, and there were warnings before that.

But you continue to ignore the clear signs, foretold by ancient seers who had the divine gift of prophecy. You blind fools! Very well then. In what is probably a hopeless endeavor, we shall warn you this one last time.

This final effort is due to the Drool-o-tron™, which signaled us with its blaring sirens and flashing lights. The blinking letters of the wall display said WorldNetDaily (WND). As you know, WND was an early winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award, thus the jolly logo displayed above this post.

WND’s headline is Summer’s 2nd supermoon looming. Now please, dear reader, pay attention! We don’t know how many more warnings there will be. When The End comes, it will be too late to mend your evil ways. WND begins by quoting one of those foolish scientists at the U.S. Naval Observatory:

There’s a part of me that wishes that this ‘Supermoon’ moniker would just dry up and blow away, like the ‘Blood Moon’ that accompanied the most recent lunar eclipse, because it tends to promulgate a lot of misinformation.

There are always unbelievers. Then WND says, with bold font supplied by us for emphasis:

On the other hand, Pastor Mark Biltz, author of “Blood Moons” and the inspiration for a documentary movie of the same name, sees the names as significant. He wants people to pay attention to the “signs in the sun, moon and stars” promised in the Bible and try to understand what they mean.

Verily, the rev is a man who knows things! Let’s read on:

“As calamities around the globe mount and things seem to be unsettled on every front, I hope we will remember that it is a God of grace who warns and signals and is calling people to His nail pierced hand that is stretched out still,” he explained in a newsletter. “The Lord is surely speaking. Are we rejoicing that God warns us in these amazing signs in the heavens? Are we listening and watching and praying and warning and teaching others the things we have been taught? It is time,” he said.

Well, dear reader, are you finally paying heed? WND continues:

Sunday’s event is the second of three such supermoons this summer – in July, August and September. Biltz and his team at El Shaddai Ministries want believers to take these signs in the heavens to heart.

Aaaargh!! The Supermoon will be visible on Sunday! Here’s another quote from the rev:

“All these signs, coming together at one time, are potentially the culminating signals that God is closing this chapter of human history,” Biltz said. “This could be the final curtain call before the Great Tribulation mentioned in the Bible. God has always wanted to warn His people, and the rest of the world, before He intervenes. What better way to communicate to us than through the universal language of heavenly signs that speak to every tribe, tongue, and nation?”

Aaaargh!! This could be the final curtain call! In case it is, we bid you farewell and close with this:

Thats all folks

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Discoveroids: SETI and Intelligent Design

In their ongoing effort to show that their “theory” can detect the existence of a transcendent designer of the universe by using William Dembski’s Design Inference, the Discovery Institute has posted a sad series of articles claiming that other sciences are already using their brilliant methods, so their “theory” is actually confirmed and widely accepted. A few of their attempts are: Chapman: Computers Are Designed, Therefore …?, and also Rock Mounds Are Designed, Therefore …, and also Mt. Rushmore Is Designed, Therefore …, and also Discoveroids: SETI Uses Intelligent Design Theory, and also Intelligent Design Is Science: Cryptology Uses It. That’s enough. You get the idea.

Their latest involves SETI (the Search for extraterrestrial intelligence), a topic they despise because they fear that one day it will be their undoing, but which they nevertheless claim is using their methods. You can read all about it at their creationist blog: Intelligent Design in Action: We Could Detect an Alien Civilization by Their Pollution, Astrobiologists Say.

Oooooooooh! What a title — intelligent design in action! In truth, ID “in action” is nothing more than the Discoveroids flinging poo at science, but let’s be open-minded long enough to see what they have to say. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Methane is produced naturally in a number of ways. For years, astrobiologists have thought that spectra indicating methane on alien planets might provide a biosignature of microbial life. According to NASA’s Astrobiology Magazine, however, SETI researchers might be able to use methane as a sign of intelligent life, by differentiating between natural and fabricated methane signatures on distant planets: [quote omitted].

Okay, that seems reasonable. What has the Discoveroids all excited? They say:

What does “fabricating” imply? Intelligent design, clearly.

Ooooooooooh! Intelligent design! Wowie! Anything else? Yeah, there is:

It takes machinery to produce certain atmospheric signatures, and machines are fabricated by minds for a purpose. Natural causes cannot burn methane to make smog. Nor do they generate the CFCs that damage our ozone layer. So here’s an indirect way to make a design inference, without having to scan the stellar radio dial for intentional broadcast messages.

Ooooooooooh! A design inference! The Discoveroids were right all along! What are CFCs? They sloppily didn’t bother defining those initials, but they refer to chlorofluorocarbons. Let’s read on:

Unless [the] astrobiologists contend that our civilization is the result of unguided natural processes sans intelligence, they are implying that intelligent causes can be inferred from, of all things, pollution! It’s actually very instructive for ID theory. Who would have thought a blonde’s hairspray is a sign of intelligence?

Ooooooooooh! Hey, we’re getting the hang of it. If we see: (a) a rotting tree lying on the ground in the forest; and (b) a log cabin, we can actually imply an intelligent cause for the cabin. Yes — it’s all starting to make sense! Those Discoveroids really do have a valuable scientific tool we can use. We’ll overlook their remark about blondes — a rare lapse in their customary good taste. They continue:

If we could detect these particular CFCs someday, the point is, an inference to intelligent life would be inescapable. Intelligent-design theory never claims that phenomena worthy of a design inference are wise! They just need to go beyond the capabilities of chance and natural law.

Quite so. No one disagrees. But the problem the Discoveroids have is in persuading anyone with a brain that life, the Earth, and the whole universe are also “beyond the capabilities of chance and natural law.” They may get around to that some day, but this obviously isn’t that day.

There’s more to the Discoveroids’ article, but we’ve already hit the fun parts — except for their last line. Here it comes:

What was that about intelligent-design theory being a cover for creationism?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Yes, it’s a cover. A cheap, flimsy, totally transparent cover.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Discoveroids: Scientists, Cast Off Your Chains!

We are accustomed to the creationists’ claim that they and the “evolutionists” work with the same evidence, but we start with different presuppositions. Creationists begin all their thinking by presupposing the existence of God and The Truth of the bible.

The creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG) write about this often. They call it presuppositional apologetics. AIG says:

If we start off believing the Bible is the Word of God [scripture omitted], then we use it as our axiom. An axiom (often used in logic) is a proposition that is not susceptible to proof or disproof; its truth is assumed. … The battle is not over evidence but over philosophical starting points: presuppositions.

It’s true, of course, that science uses axioms. They’re imbedded in the scientific method. One is logic. We must accept the validity of Aristotelian logic as an axiom, because logic underlies all our intellectual efforts. Without it, for example, contradictions would be acceptable and experiments would be pointless. If logic is out … then it’s in! Life without logic is great. Well, illogically speaking, it is and it isn’t.

Axioms can’t be proved, but something that is truly axiomatic must be accepted. Without logic we’d be unable to recognize false conclusions, and without free will (another axiom), we couldn’t reject false conclusions. Anther fundamental axiom of science is the validity of sensory evidence (augmented by the evidence of our instruments), without which we have no verifiable information. There’s also the existence of objective reality, which is the source of the information we obtain from our senses.

The so-called axioms of religion, on the other hand, are different. They’re essential for a specific religion, of course, but they’re totally arbitrary. The Greeks, for example, accepted the existence of the Olympian gods as being axiomatic. But other religions have their own beliefs, and each of them functions independently of the others. People can and do switch from one religion to another. Atheists manage to function with no religious axioms. Therefore, no religion’s dogma is truly axiomatic, in the way that scientific axioms are.

AIG isn’t the only creationist outfit to claim that science is just an arbitrary presupposition. The Discovery Institute does it too. A good example is the latest post at their creationist blog: National Academy of Sciences: Dobzhansky’s “In the Light of Evolution” Mantra Is Not a Deduction, but a Premise. We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis.

They begin by mentioning Theodosius Dobzhansky’s 1973 statement, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” We all know that’s true, but watch how the Discoveroids misuse words and concepts as they attempt to create doubts. They tell us that:

[T]he National Academy of Sciences has presented an ongoing series of colloquia, “In the Light of Evolution.” … In the introduction to the series in PNAS [the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences], Francisco Ayala, Brian Skyrms and John Avise make it clear that evolution is to be viewed as a paradigm, not a conclusion from evidence.

[*Sigh*] That’s not what they say, because it’s totally wrong. A scientific theory doesn’t begin as an arbitrary paradigm, the way religions do, but as a conclusion from verifiable evidence. Once it’s well-established, a theory can be used a framework for understanding additional evidence. That’s the function of a theory. But a theory’s ability to function that way is not based on a presupposition of the theory’s truth. It’s the hard-earned — and always tentative — result of a great deal of evidence and tests that have established the usefulness of the theory — and the absence of evidence that casts doubt on the theory.

If there were evidence that contradicted the theory of evolution — the classic example is the ever-elusive Precambrian rabbit — the theory would be in doubt. But if a theory continues to predict verifiable results (as in The Lessons of Tiktaalik), its acceptance grows — as does its usefulness as a paradigm.

Then the Discoveroids quote from In the light of evolution VIII: Darwinian thinking in the social sciences. A portion of their quote is as follows:

Most scientists agree that evolution provides the unifying framework for interpreting biological phenomena that otherwise can often seem unrelated and perhaps unintelligible. Given the central position of evolutionary thought in biology, it is sadly ironic that evolutionary perspectives outside the sciences have often been neglected, misunderstood, or purposefully misrepresented. … The central goal of the “In the Light of Evolution” (ILE) series is to promote the evolutionary sciences through state-of-the-art colloquia and their published proceedings.

Note that the series, “In the Light of Evolution,” is referred to as ILE. The Discoveroids, being oh-so-clever, twist that around and say this:

For short, let’s refer to Dobzhansky’s remark as the “Light in Evolution” principle, or LIE.

Isn’t that precious? That’s why we love the Discoveroids. They go on:

Is the LIE a flashlight or a filter? Does it objectively illuminate facts to a candid observer, or does it determine what the observer is permitted to see? In other words, does the LIE shed light, or process it? The passage cited above makes it clear how the NAS views it: it’s a filter. It’s a framework, or paradigm, for interpreting all observations. Nothing makes sense except within the LIE.

Yes, yes! We see it now. We must cast off the straitjacket of evolution and free our minds to accept the wonders of Oogity Boogity! The Discoveroids continue:

Since the LIE is an axiom — a given, a premise — several conclusions deductively follow: [Brace yourself, dear reader, you're about to see an ark-load of Discoveroid conclusions.]

• All objections to the LIE are nonsense by definition.
• Outside the LIE framework, biological phenomena “can often seem unrelated and perhaps unintelligible” because the LIE stipulates what relatedness and intelligibility are.
• Of course “Most scientists agree that evolution provides the unifying framework for interpreting biological phenomena” because the LIE determines who is a true scientist.
• Since the LIE is assumed prior to religion and philosophy, those realms will also only make sense in the LIE framework.
• Any research that doesn’t explain things with the LIE is unscientific.
• Any activity that fails to promote the LIE is evil.
• Any interpretation that fails to pass the LIE detector will be impermissible in science.

Isn’t that great? But they’ve only begun. Here’s more:

It’s like Stalinism: anything that failed to advance the regime was a crime against the state. Researchers in the Soviet system became very adept, therefore, at interpreting every observation in light of Marxism-Leninism, economic determinism, and dialectical materialism. It made perfect sense (if you wanted to stay alive). So too, the editors at the NAS see to it that every paper published submits to the LIE and has the Darwinian imprimatur.

The Darwinian system seeks not just to control the message, but the very thought processes of the people. This has given rise to an Orwellian language called “Darwinian thinking.”

The Discoveroid essay is a long one. We have to skip most of it. Oh, we can’t omit this. It’ll be our last excerpt:

Advocates of intelligent design have an ace card, however. Since we do not believe that the human mind is an epiphenomenon of matter, but has an intelligent cause, we view our Darwinian thinkers as rational agents, too — but captives to self-deception. Deep down, they share our common rationality. This gives cause for hope that their minds can be awakened from dogmatic slumber.

There is hope for you, dear reader. But first you must become aware of the chains that bind you and cast them off. Only then you can you emerge from the Darwinian darkness into the bright sunlight to become an enlightened thinker — like the Discoveroids.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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A Tale of Moose Drool and Fungus

The Drool-o-tron™ seems to be developing a personality. It signaled us with its blaring sirens and flashing lights. The blinking letters of the wall display said York University .

What? York University in Toronto, Canada’s third-largest university? So it seems. Our computer was locked onto this news release at the university’s website: Moose drool inhibits growth of toxic fungus: York U research. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Some sticky research out of York University shows a surprisingly effective way to fight against a certain species of toxic grass fungus: moose saliva (yes… moose saliva).

People have been battling toxic fungus for millennia, but until now, no one ever thought of using moose drool. Those Canadians are smart! We’re told:

Published in this month’s Biology Letters, “Ungulate saliva inhibits a grass–endophyte mutualism” shows that moose and reindeer saliva, when applied to red fescue grass (which hosts a fungus called epichloë festucae that produces the toxin ergovaline) results in slower fungus growth and less toxicity.

Here’s a link to the published paper: Ungulate saliva inhibits a grass–endophyte mutualism. You can read it online without a subscription. Let’s stay with the news release:

Inspired by an earlier study that showed that moose grazing and saliva distribution can have a positive effect on plant growth, the research team set out to test an interesting hypothesis – whether moose saliva may, in fact, “detoxify” the grass before it is eaten.

This ranks with the apple that fell on Isaac Newton’s head and inspired his theory of gravity. Get ready now, because here comes a description of scientists at work:

Working in partnership with the Toronto Zoo, the team collected saliva samples from moose and reindeer, which they then smeared onto clipped samples of red fescue grass carrying the toxic fungus, simulating the effect of grazing. They found that the application of saliva produced rapid results, inhibiting fungus growth within 12-36 hours.

We can see it now — a Canadian biologist comes home from a hard day’s work and his wife asks: “What did you do today, dear?”

Okay, that’s enough excerpts, and it’s also enough Curmudgeonly remarks. You’ve got some reading to do if you want to be up-to-date on this topic. But we can’t leave it there. This has inspired us to challenge you, dear reader.

Our challenge is this: What might be a beneficial use of creationists’ drool? There’s so much of the stuff, there must be a purpose for it. Surely you can think of something.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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