Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

Is it political if I tell you that if we burn coal, you’re going to warm the atmosphere? Or is that a statement of fact that you’ve made political? It’s a scientific statement. The fact that there are elements of society that have made it political, that’s a whole other thing.

Neil deGrasse Tyson (via socio-logic)

(Source: alwaysmoneyinthebnanastand)

Five Stupid Things - About Ken Ham (and young earth creationism in general)

Sacred Geometry, infinite free energy, chi healing: Why new age “spirit science” is simply nonsense.

The bias against science is part of being a pioneer society. You somehow feel the city life is decadent. American history is full of fables of the noble virtuous farmer and the vicious city slicker. The city slicker is an automatic villain. Unfortunately, such stereotypes can do damage. A noble ignoramus is not necessarily what the country needs.

Your Inner Fish

Have you ever wondered why our bodies look the way they do? Paleobiologist Neil Shubin sets out in this three-part series to find the answers in a surprising place: the ancient animal ancestors that shaped our anatomy.

In the first episode, “Your Inner Fish,” he journeys back to a time, some 375 million years ago, when the first fish crawled up onto land. Shubin’s quest for the fossil record of this primeval predecessor takes viewers from highway cuts in rural Pennsylvania to the remote Arctic. After years of searching, he and his colleagues finally found a fossilized fish, known as Tiktaalik, that had enough strength in its front fins to do pushups and heave itself out of the water. Remarkably, we can trace the ancestry of our own hands and arms all the way back to these fins. Viewers also meet the scientists who discovered the DNA recipe for constructing the human hand — an essential set of instructions passed down from fish like Tiktaalik and shared today with a surprising number of other animals, from chickens to chimpanzees. Along the way, Shubin makes it clear that we can also thank our fishy past for many of our body’s quirks, such as hernias.

In the second episode, “Your Inner Reptile,” Shubin exposes our reptilian roots. He searches for our ancient ancestors at fossil sites in the Karoo Desert of South Africa and on the tidal flats of Nova Scotia. He also reveals modern-day links to the past through visits to a fertility clinic in Chicago and a biology lab in London. Along the way, he explains how major transitions in the history of life paved the way for our ancestors’ evolution into mammals. Shubin identifies some amazing connections: the amniotic sac was an innovation to keep our reptile ancestors’ eggs from drying out; our complex teeth can be traced to ferocious beasts that lived millions of years before dinosaurs; and our hair is linked to the whiskers of reptile-like mammals that lived much of their lives in the dark. Our reptilian ancestors — from fearsome predators to creatures as small as a paper clip — are responsible for more than a few features of modern humans.

In the final episode of the series, “Your Inner Monkey,” Shubin delves into our primate past. He travels from the badlands of Ethiopia, where the famous hominid skeletons “Lucy” and “Ardi” were found, to a forest canopy in Florida, home to modern primates. En route, he explains how many aspects of our form and function evolved. We learn that a genetic mutation in our primate ancestors conferred humans’ ability to see in color — but it was an advantage that led to a decline in our sense of smell. The shape of our hands came from tree-dwelling ancestors for whom long fingers made it easier to reach fruit at the tips of fine branches. Shubin concludes by tracing the evolution of the human brain — from a tiny swelling on the nerve cord of a wormlike creature, to the three-part architecture of a shark’s brain and the complex brain of primates. As Shubin observes, “Inside every organ, gene and cell in our body lie deep connections with the rest of life on our planet.”

confrontingbabble-on:

Whenever religion manages to maneuver into a position of absolute power…the world does not become a better place…it becomes a very evil…dark…insane…place…!
Full of torture…slavery…rampant intimidation and fear…controlled information…curtailed freedoms…subjugated women…abused children…oppressed minorities…stoning to death for the most subjective infractions…instructions for genocide…dashing babies against walls…burning the frivolously accused, alive at the stake…and an almost endless list of immoral debauchery…by religious leaders…
See…
http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/vatican/esp_vatican29.htm
http://readingshouts.wordpress.com/2008/05/12/most-painful-20-torture-devices-in-the-history/
http://history.howstuffworks.com/history-vs-myth/10-medieval-torture-devices.htm

confrontingbabble-on:

Whenever religion manages to maneuver into a position of absolute power…the world does not become a better place…it becomes a very evil…dark…insane…place…!

Full of torture…slavery…rampant intimidation and fear…controlled information…curtailed freedoms…subjugated women…abused children…oppressed minorities…stoning to death for the most subjective infractions…instructions for genocide…dashing babies against walls…burning the frivolously accused, alive at the stake…and an almost endless list of immoral debauchery…by religious leaders…

See…

http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/vatican/esp_vatican29.htm

http://readingshouts.wordpress.com/2008/05/12/most-painful-20-torture-devices-in-the-history/

http://history.howstuffworks.com/history-vs-myth/10-medieval-torture-devices.htm

The Way of The Mister: Skepticism & Atheism

Can you be a good Skeptic and believe in God?

Jews ordered to register in east Ukraine

Jews in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk where pro-Russian militants have taken over government buildings were told they have to “register” with the Ukrainians who are trying to make the city become part of Russia, according to Israeli media.

Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city’s Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated,” reported Ynet News, Israel’s largest news website….

Anonymous asked
"Cosmos" is great and all that, but why no mention of PBS's "Your Inner Fish"?

Omg! I’m so woefully ignorant! Had no idea this existed. Thank you! I have some catching up to do.

http://www.pbs.org/your-inner-fish/watch/

A study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, “Who governs? Who really rules?” in this country, is:
 
“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, …” and then they go on to say, it’s not true, and that, “America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened” by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
 
To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy.

US Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy, says Scientific Study | Common Dreams

If we had a truly independent and adversarial press in my country, this would be a big news story, but they still haven’t found that plane, so … whaddayagonnado right?

(via wilwheaton)

Islamic Fallacies

iranianatheist:

For those of us who have lived and grown up in Muslim countries, we are told over and over again that Islam is great in every way. They claim just because there were certain scientists many centuries ago who made contributions to the advancement of science by translating the works of other people…