Our Common Good
A message from a friend of mine


“These systems are grinding people to powder, yet they clamor for more. They only want what is familiar no matter what it does to them. They desire to be animals in a zoo, because they know of no other way, nor do they want to seek other ways. They want cash for clunkers, 30 year mortgages, debt, debt, debt. They only know what they’ve been told. The unknown scares the hell out of them, but the only way to survive, thrive and be alive is to jump feet first into the unknown.”

“All systems and institutions must be allowed to evolve and change or they become destructive. People want to live in a finite world and as far as I know that can’t be done. Humanity should never attempt to return to where it has come from. We have infinite possibilities and need to move in every conceivable direction. We need to move, think, live, experience, hurt, love, fail and succeed.  I agree with you, we desperately need a philosophy of continual evolution.”

Love this!

Doonesbury On Evolution
Y’know what’s worse than Republicans denying evolution? Republicans trying to make arguments based on evolution


It is a curious scientific fact (explained in evolutionary biology by the Trivers-Willard hypothesis — Willard, notice) that high-status animals tend to have more male offspring than female offspring, which holds true across many species, from red deer to mink to Homo sap. The offspring of rich families are statistically biased in favor of sons — the children of the general population are 51 percent male and 49 percent female, but the children of the Forbes billionaire list are 60 percent male.

Have a gander at that Romney family picture: five sons, zero daughters. Romney has 18 grandchildren, and they exceed a 2:1 ratio of grandsons to granddaughters (13:5). When they go to church at their summer-vacation home, the Romney clan makes up a third of the congregation. He is basically a tribal chieftain.

Professor Obama? Two daughters. May as well give the guy a cardigan. And fallopian tubes.

From an evolutionary point of view, Mitt Romney should get 100 percent of the female vote. All of it. He should get Michelle Obama’s vote.

This argument — which is curiously reminiscent of the early-twentieth-century eugenics movement — appeared in the National Review. A little learning is a dangerous thing, wouldn’t you say? Maybe it was meant as satire, and yet… it has the odd ring of smugness, of the jester who thinks he is speaking a sort of truth.

The complete article by Kevin Williamson can be found here if you can stand it.

Afterwards, I would recommend your reading “National Review’s Kevin Williamson Comes Out Against Daughters, Misunderstands Science" by Jonathan Marks and Sarah Morice-Brubaker


Creationists vs. Evolutionists: An American Story

We are devolving…

Gauchat theorized that because educated conservatives are more politically engaged than other voting blocs, they are more likely to seek information that conforms to their ideology. As the Los Angeles Times, writing about Gauchat’s work, pointed out, some of them have big money to spend spreading their ideas.

"Right-wing think tanks, funded by corporate interests to undermine the scientific consensus on such expensive-to-fix phenomena as climate change, have proliferated, as have conservative cable-TV networks, blogs and radio talk shows," the Times noted. "These outlets are talking to a well-educated audience. And they’re presenting a very one-sided view of scientific issues."

Gauchat also wrote about the influence of the religious right, “which rejects scientific contradictions of religious teachings on such issues as evolution and stem-cell research, and the growing use of science to inform public policy in such areas as environmental protection.”

"Conservatives, ever wary of government interference with the free market, started to resent the scientists. … Rather than debate remedies, they have turned on science itself. … (They) really have their own subculture, complete with ontological claims about what the world is about."


Dinosaurs put eggs in wrong evolutionary basket, scientists sayThe fact that land-bound dinosaurs laid eggs is what sealed their fate of mass extinction while live birthing mammals went on to thrive.


Dinosaurs put eggs in wrong evolutionary basket, scientists say
The fact that land-bound dinosaurs laid eggs is what sealed their fate of mass extinction while live birthing mammals went on to thrive.


On Monday, the Republican dominated Tennessee Senate passed an anti-evolution bill by a vote of 24-8. The bill, known as HB 368, is sponsored by Republican Senator Bo Watson and “provides guidelines for teachers answering students’ questions about evolution, global warming and other scientific subjects,” according to Knox News,  ”The measure also guarantees that teachers will not be subject to discipline for engaging students in discussion of questions they raise, though Watson said the idea is to provide guidelines so that teachers will bring the discussion back to the subjects authorized for teaching in the curriculum approved by the state Board of Education.” The bill basically encourages teachers to present scientific weaknesses of “controversial” topics.

In the case of evolution and climate change, both have been scientifically proven and the only weaknesses that have been presented by the right-wing are based on unscientific biblical verses. In other words, Republicans want teachers to use religion to destroy accepted science.

This bill is yet another attempt by Republicans to inject creationism pseudo-science into science classrooms. It gives students the ability to interrupt the teaching of real evidence based science with religious nonsense that belongs in church. So basically, as long as students bring up creationist theories, teachers can discuss them. This opens up the classroom to conflict between students of different religions or none at all, who all have different doctrines and points of view. Such conflict only serves to bury actual science under religious myth and superstition and is a distraction to learning real facts.

According to the National Center for Science Education,

“Among those expressing opposition to the bill are the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Nashville Tennessean, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the National Earth Science Teachers Association, and the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, whose president Becky Ashe described the legislation as “unnecessary, anti-scientific, and very likely unconstitutional.”

The bill now heads to the House, which just passed a Ten Commandments bill, so we should expect them to pass this bill as well as part of the GOP war against freedom of religion and separation of church and state.


This kind of shit makes me so angry. Basically what it comes down to is these fundamentalist feel so entitled that they think they can have their creation myth pushed on everyone as “science”.

Intelligent design and creationism are not science, they do not follow scientific method and are not based in any kind of evidence.

It is religion posing as science. 


Well, turns out just yesterday that the Senate revived and passed SB 893, its version of the “Monkey Bill” that passed the House last year.

… if enacted, would encourage teachers to present the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of “controversial” topics such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

Among those expressing opposition to the bill are the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Nashville Tennessean, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the National Earth Science Teachers Association, and the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, whose president Becky Ashe described (PDF) the legislation as “unnecessary, anti-scientific, and very likely unconstitutional.”

The bill now has to undergo reconciliation in the House before it heads to Gov. Pontius Pilot (Corp.) (or Bill Haslam for you politically correct). So no extra points to Tennessee just yet. Still, this is something to keep an eye on, as it will be quite embarrassing if, in fact, it does come to fruition. (Like Tennessee needs any more of that, right?)

And what is Pontius Pilot going to do if it hits his desk? Why, wash his hands of it, of course:

 Tennessee’s governor Bill Haslam previously indicated that he would discuss the bill with the state board of education, telling the Tennesseean (March 19, 2012), “It is a fair question what the General Assembly’s role is … That’s why we have a state board of education.”


Pastor Bill Ledbetter preaching a crazed sermon to the Oklahoma House of Representatives (by TheLostOgle)

5. Santorum: “I’m for income inequality.” College could have taught him that too much income inequality has negative effects on a country, as is held by Fed chief Ben Bernanke, who has a college degree in … economics. In nations with high levels of inequality, periods of economic expansion are shortened to a third as long. And, persistent inequality that is felt to be unfair contributes to high degrees of social conflict.

4. Evolution isn’t “just a theory,” as Santorum has put it in his quest to have the pseudo-science of Creationism taught in biology classes. In science, a “theory” is a robust explanation for observed phenomena that accounts for all the known facts about them. So, physicists speak of the theory of gravity. It isn’t that they think gravity isn’t a fact, or that they entertain other explanations of why books always fall if you let them go in mid-air (for instance, that each book has an invisible elf on it who likes a giddy ride down to the floor and guides it that way). Likewise, biological evolution is one of the more solidly proved things in science, and has been repeatedly observed in nature. Whether a divine power has set the universe up in this way, so that evolution occurs, is a theological question for seminaries, not a question for high school biology classes. Only someone insecure in their faith would need to bolster it by attempting to insert it into non-theological realms like science.

3. Santorum, when asked about welfare in Iowa, said that he doesn’t want to make the lives of blacks better by giving them other people’s money. Some 84% of food stamp recipients in Iowa are white. A social historian of the United States with a college degree in history could have told him that welfare programs were created for whites and for a long time African Americans were not even eligible for them. They aren’t about race, but about providing a social safety net so that the needy don’t starve to death on our doorsteps. Moreover, most of the “needy” are only temporarily so, with people falling into the category (especially when they are young) and climbing back out.

2. Santorum maintains that Usamah Ben Laden was tracked because the US tortured al-Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. Actually, Usamah was found by tracking his courier. But torture or “enhanced interrogation” is notoriously unreliable. Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi under torture told the US government that Saddam Hussein of Iraq had trained al-Qaeda agents in chemical weaponry– a complete falsehood, which Dick Cheney and Condi Rice quoted in support of going to war with Iraq. Someone educated in a Security Studies Program could have given Santorum better information than his own little brain has been able to come up with. Santorum, notoriously, tried to instruct Senator John McCain in how torture works; McCain was tortured by the North Vietnamese while in custody there.

1. Santorum maintains that there is no such thing as a genuine liberal Christian because, he says, the plain text of the Bible is contrary to the principles of liberalism. He goes on to conflate liberalism with “liberation theology” (they are not the same thing). But the American Roman Catholic bishops of Santorum’s own church often take social positions that are recognizably liberal, basing them in scripture and in papal encyclicals. When it comes to feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, visiting prisoners, and doing to others as you would have them do to you, it is actually Ayn Rand style conservatism that is incompatible with Christianity. Santorum’s Bible appears to be missing the Beatitudes, and his Catholic education seems so defective that he is unaware of “Evangelium Vitae” (1995), which forbids the capital punishment that Santorum favors, or “Laborum exercens” (1981), which recognizes the right of workers to unionize, or “Caritas in Veritatae” (2009), in which Pope Benedict says, “Therefore, it must be borne in mind that grave imbalances are produced when economic action, conceived merely as an engine for wealth creation, is detached from political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution.” Sounds like welfare to me. Someone who studied religion in college might have been able to help Santorum avoid all these errors.

Later today the Indiana Senate is expected to vote on a Senate Bill 89, which would allow schools to permit the teaching of “creation science” — religious-based stories for the origin of life — alongside the scientific theory of evolution. It would be a school’s choice whether or not to include religious creation discussions in science class.

Even the use of the term “creation science” is provocative, as the U.S. Supreme Court specifically outlawed it in the 1987 court decision Edwards vs. Aguillard. Since then, advocates for creation science generally have been careful not to use that term, instead pushing for schools to teach “weaknesses” in evolutionary theory and present “alternative” ideas about the origins of life.

Indiana State Sen. Dennis Kruse, the bill’s author, knows a creation science bill violates the principles of the Edwards vs. Aguillard decision. He knows it could bring a court challenge.

“This is a different Supreme Court,” he told me this afternoon. “This Supreme Court could rule differently.”


Kruse is not shying away from the potential impact of the law — that religious beliefs could become the subject of discussion in science class. In fact, he touted an amendment to his bill that specifically allows the creation beliefs of many religions — among them traditional major religions like Christianity, Islam and Judaism as well as newer religions like Scientology — to be part of the discussion.


Let’s Talk About Evolution

This video was produced to allow scientists to explain, in their own words, the importance of evolution to science — and the related importance of teaching evolution in schools. Our goal is to convey the fact that evolution is an amazing, uplifting discovery that has served as the genesis of countless advances in many fields of science. We also wanted to highlight female role models in the science community.

For information on what you can do to support evolution in education, please visit these sites. These organizations are not associated with this video in any way, but we think they do great work: National Center For Science Education: http://ncse.com/ and American Association For The Advancement Of Science: http://www.aaas.org/.


“Project Steve is a list of scientists with the given name Steven or a variation thereof (e.g., Stephanie, Stefan, Esteban, etc.) who “support evolution”. It was originally created by the National Center for Science Education as a “tongue-in-cheek parody” of creationist attempts to collect a list of scientists who “doubt evolution,” such as the Answers in Genesis’ list of scientists who accept the biblical account of the Genesis creation narrative or the Discovery Institute’s A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism. The list pokes fun at such endeavors to make it clear that, “We did not wish to mislead the public into thinking that scientific issues are decided by who has the longer list of scientists!” It also honors Stephen Jay Gould.

However, at the same time the project is a genuine collection of scientists. Despite the list’s restriction to only scientists with names like “Steve”, which in the United States limits the list to roughly 1 percent of the total population, Project Steve is longer and contains many more eminent scientists than any creationist list. In particular, Project Steve contains many more biologists than the creationist lists, since about 51% of the listed Steves are biologists.”

Hahahahahaha, this rules.