Monthly Archives: February 2011

Noah’s Ark Searcher Murdered on Mt. Ararat?

The search for Noah’s Ark may have resulted in tragedy according to a disturbing report from WorldNetDaily (WND), the creationist publication. It’s titled: Christian man vanishes in hunt for Noah’s Ark, and sub-titled: “All evidence of missionary disappears without a trace.”

Well! This is most intriguing. The last time we discussed one of WND’s articles about an Ark hunt was Dispute about Noah’s Ark Discovery, and today’s article involves some of the same players. As you may recall, there was a big controversy about whether the latest Ark find was real or fake. Now, alas, things may have taken a tragic turn. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

[Jeremy Wiles, the] Jupiter, Fla., filmmaker can be described as a man of obsession – obsessed with Noah’s Ark since his childhood, and today obsessed with locating his friend and fellow ark hunter who mysteriously vanished on Turkey’s Mount Ararat in September, sparking the worst kind of speculation.

His friend “mysteriously vanished” on Mt. Ararat while searching for the Ark? We’re interested, so let’s read on:

It’s feared there was an accident or he was murdered,” Wiles told WND. “I helped organize an expedition to find him, but he wasn’t discovered.”

Murder? Egad! We continue:

The missing man is 48-year-old Donald Mackenzie, a missionary from the small town of Stornoway, Scotland, nestled on the isle of Lewis in the country’s Outer Hebrides. He was said to be passing out Bibles in a small, Turkish village in the final days before his disappearance. “He was a devoted Christian who began searching for Noah’s Ark in 2004, the same year I started my search,” Wiles said.

What could have happened? Here’s more:

The lure of the most famous vessel in history was far stronger than any deterrent of fierce weather, and Mackenezie returned to the mountain last year, only to disappear without a trace, as no evidence of Donald, his tent or belongings were discovered. His last communication was from 14,700 feet on Sept. 28, as Wiles indicates “cell phones work on Ararat.”

Disappeared without a trace? How is that possible? Moving along:

What makes this more than just a typical “man lost on a mountain” story is the fact that Mackenzie was looking to verify April 2009 claims by Hong Kong evangelists that they had found the remains of Noah’s Ark on the mountain. … “He heard the Chinese had found the ark,” his mother said. “And you couldn’t keep him back. He was determined to go.”

We wrote about that reported Ark find. See WorldNetDaily: Noah’s Ark Found! But it was controversial. Another excerpt:

Wiles agrees with Donald’s mother about the bogus nature of the Hong Kong group’s discovery, telling WND: “There has never been any solid evidence provided by an independent group of scientists to substantiate their claims.

So why did Donald go to Mt. Ararat? And what became of him? On with the article:

[Donald Mackenzie’s brother,] Derick Mackenzie, worries about something more sinister. “It would not surprise me if some undesirable types, such as Muslim fanatics, deliberately targeted him,” Derick told Britain’s Daily Mail. “We do know that some locals suspect foul play. The motive may have been religion or robbery. None of Donald’s equipment has been found. We know he may have been murdered or kidnapped, although it has been a while now and no one has come forward with a ransom demand.”

It would be indeed tragic if a noble Ark quest should have ended in Donald’s demise. One last excerpt:

Derick [the missing man’s brother] noted that although this situation is very unpleasant, and does bring him down emotionally, there is one thing which always stops him from sinking into depression, and that’s his Christian faith. “Some people in this kind of situation become obsessed about finding the person, and it seems to consume their whole world, going into a state of denial. But I can say, that although I desire that Donald turn up, I can also say, that if it be God’s will that he is found dead, or even never found, I can accept that, and say, Amen. Only by God’s grace.”

Good attitude! There’s much more to the WND article, so click over there to read it all. As for Noah’s Ark, it remains elusive. Your Curmudgeon predicts that despite the current mystery, the great quest will continue.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Lauri Lebo on Tennessee in “Scientific American”

We often write about Lauri Lebo. If you don’t yet know who she is, the next two indented paragraphs will fill you in:

During the forty-day trial that led to the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, Lauri was a reporter for the York Daily Record, the local paper for the site of the trial. Lauri’s byline was the brand name for superbly written, in-depth news stories from the courthouse.

Lauri and her work were prominently mentioned in the NOVA documentary, Judgment Day. She is also the author of: The Devil in Dover: An Insider’s Story of Dogma v. Darwin in Small-town America.

Lauri has an article in Scientific American titled The Scopes Strategy: Creationists Try New Tactics to Promote Anti-Evolutionary Teaching in Public Schools. It’s a long article and it’s very good. You’ll want to read it all, so we’ll give you only a few excerpts.

Lauri begins with an overview of the recent legislative campaigns to slip creationism into the public schools, mentioning Louisiana and Texas in particular. Then she focuses on the situation in Tennessee.

Lauri points out that “David Fowler, head of the Family Action Council of Tennessee and chief lobbyist behind Tennessee’s proposed anti-evolution bill, wrote recently in an op–ed in the Chattanoogan.” We wrote about Fowler’s support of the bill, which is one of the reasons we predicted that Tennessee’s Creationism Bill Will Become Law. Then Lauri says, with bold font added by us:

Sponsor Rep. Bill Dunn (R–Knoxville) said Fowler submitted the legislation to him in early February. The latter’s organization is associated with James Dobson’s conservative Christian Focus on the Family and advocates for “biblical values” and “godly officials”.

Aha! It’s good to know the provenance of these sneaky bills. Let’s read on:

Dunn could not explain why a Christian organization would be pushing legislation that supposedly has nothing to do with inserting religion into science class. He referred the question to Fowler.

Fowler, who would not say whether he is a young earth creationist (“I think that’s irrelevant,” he noted), said he is trying to correct the “dogmatic” presentation of science in the classroom. “This is about open discourse,” he said, adding, “Good education requires critical thinking.”

Fowler has spoken with members of the Discovery Institute — he would not say specifically whom — and said he drafted the Tennesee bill based on sample legislation the Institute created.

So there it is, dear reader. The theocratic anti-science axis is fully revealed.

Is this merely laughable, or is it tragic? We suppose it depends on the ultimate fate of Dunn’s bill. There’s much more to Lauri’s article. Click over there and read it all. You won’t be disappointed.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Tennessee ACLU Opposes Creationism Bill

When we first reported about this year’s creationism bill in Tennessee, we treated it as we did the others that are routinely introduced into state legislatures each year. But later we predicted that Tennessee’s Creationism Bill Will Become Law. Now the ACLU seems to be getting involved.

In the Knoxville News Sentinel of Knoxville, Tennessee we read Dunn-backed bill slammed by ACLU leader. The “Dunn” in the headline refers to Bill Dunn, the Tennessee tree surgeon who sponsored this silly bill. While we’re repeating old information, here’s a link for tracking the progress and status of HB 368 as Dunn’s bill works its way through the legislative process.

But let’s get to the story in the Knoxville News Sentinel. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

An American Civil Liberties Union leader says a bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, is a backdoor means of promoting the teaching of creationism and the debunking of evolution in Tennessee schools.

In a House Education Subcommittee meeting, the measure was also criticized by Jerry Winters, lobbyist for the Tennessee Education Association, as a ‘lawyer’s dream’ containing ‘some of the most convoluted language I’ve ever seen in a bill.’

It’s not all that convoluted, but perhaps your Curmudgeon has become jaded by his continuous exposure to creationist argumentation. Dunn’s bill is a typical anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism bill authorizing teachers to present the “strengths and [alleged] weakness” of certain “controversial” subjects, with the usual (and nonsensical) directions to the courts to construe it in a manner contrary to its manifest purpose of permitting creationism to be taught in science classes. Let’s read on:

Dunn said the measure — HB368 — is simply a move to help students become ‘critical thinkers’ on scientific subjects and that opponents are trying to ‘get off on some tangent’ by wrongfully saying ‘we think there may be something hidden in there.’

Ever since we’ve been blogging about The Controversy between evolution and creationism, we’ve found that every creationist politician who supports legislation like Dunn’s says almost exactly the same thing. Some may be honestly brain dead, and are therefore without guilt when they babble incoherently, but we think most of them know they’re lying. Creationist politicians have no honor, no integrity, and can’t be trusted in anything. We continue in the Knoxville News Sentinel:

Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU in Tennessee, said the bill was reminiscent of the 1925 ‘Monkey Trial’ of a Dayton, Tenn., teacher charged with violating the state’s law of the time prohibiting the teaching of evolution.

Hedy wasn’t well-briefed for this press conference, because she’s quite wrong about that. In the Scopes trial to which she refers, Tennessee had a much more honest law that flatly prohibited the teaching of evolution. Dunn’s bill is a stealth attack on evolution; it allows creationism to be deceptively slipped into science class in the guise of presenting the (non-existent) weaknesses of evolution. Here’s more:

[Still quoting Hedy of the ACLU:] ‘This legislation, we believe, is the latest line of attack against evolution in a long-standing campaign,’ she said, declaring the bill ‘riddled with various euphemisms’ used by promoters of creationism or intelligent design who ‘seek to subvert scientific principle to religious ideology.’

At least she got that much right. Maybe the ACLU will figure it all out before the trial. Oh — this part of the news story is really good:

Robin Zimmer of Knoxville spoke to the subcommittee in support of the bill, citing a report that said only 28 percent of science students nationwide are proficient in the subject at grade level and that the United States ranks ’31st in the world in scientific education.’ He declared that promotion of critical thinking would ‘start turning those statistics around.’

Brilliant! US schools are flunking in science education, so the way to fix that is by teaching creationism. But who is this Zimmer guy? The story gets into that:

Zimmer identified himself as a scientist who previously headed a research company on genetics and has learned that many scientific theories are refuted by more research triggered by critical thinking. He did not give his current affiliation in testimony to the subcommittee.

A scientist? Is that possible? But the newspaper swiftly clears things up:

The website of Center for Faith and Science International, which states a belief in God as creator of the universe as a core principle, refers to Zimmer as director.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Zimmer’s testimony is a metaphor for this kind of legislation. It presents itself as being entirely about science; but upon examination, it becomes obvious that something else is going on.

We’ve learned something today, dear reader. Creationism may be crazy science, but it’s very reliable as a social marker: Its supporters are almost inevitably disingenuous and untrustworthy.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Biology, Beauty, and Political Ideology

We found the ideal topic for a weekend when there’s no real news of The Controversy between evolution and creationism. This should unleash some of the latent tensions that all of you have been suppressing.

At the terribly-named but otherwise excellent website, PhysOrg, we read Rightwing candidates are better looking, study shows. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Rightwing candidates are better looking than their leftwing counterparts, something they benefit from during elections, according to a study conducted by Swedish and Finnish economists.

This is an outrage! Dennis Kucinich is a fine-looking man. Let’s read on:

One possible explanation is that people who are seen or consider themselves beautiful tend to be more anti-egalitarian and rightwing,” Niclas Berggren, one of the three co-authors of the study, told AFP Wednesday.

Well now, there’s an unbiased remark. We continue:

The study compared election results from parliamentary and municipal elections held in Finland in 2003 and 2004 respectively with an online poll of non-Finns to determine how the 1,357 participating Finnish candidates ranked in terms of beauty.

Beautiful Finns? Harrumph! Here’s more:

“We establish two main results. First, we find that the candidates on the right look better than the candidates on the left. Second, we find a greater effect of good looks, in terms of more votes for candidates on the right,” the report states.

Berggren pointed out that “several studies have shown that good looks bring more votes, but we believe we’re the first to analyse this in terms of political sides.”

So this is what social scientists do with their time. We Googled around for the guy and found what seems to be his home page: Niclas Berggren. Moving along:

Explaining the findings, he said that globally, “the left perhaps traditionally has used a more rational approach.”

Yeah, okay, Niclas. Whatever you say. Another excerpt:

The right meanwhile, “has been more conscious of the importance of looks,” he said, pointing to the examples of Ronald Reagan and Sarah Palin in the United States.

There’s a bit more to the PhysOrg article, but you get the general idea. Now go ahead, dear reader, and tell us what you make of this “research.” Your Curmudgeon will be indulgent of those who may not agree with with his own superbly correct principles, but you still have to be well behaved.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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