Bob Jones University on Biology

30 September 2007

Bob Jones University, well known for banning interracial dating until the year 2000, has a new Biology textbook titled "Biology for Christian Schools." Mike Dunford has looked through the book and found some interesting passages.

On pages 779 and 780, we find this material in a box on "Sexually Transmitted Diseases":

When the AIDS epidemic began, some people said that the disease was God's judgment on the sins of homosexuals and fornicators since they were the primary ones affected by the disease. Many were offended by such an analysis, claiming that it is unreasonably cruel to tell people in pain that they have caused their own disease. Nevertheless, the Bible does teach that diseases that result from sexual impurity are part of God's punishment of sin (Rom. 1:27). Such punishment is in fact evidence of God's grace. It allows the sinner to experience the offensiveness of his sin and points him to the need for a Savior - "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

On page 162 we find this:

Some babies die very soon after birth as a result of genetic disorders. It appears that God designed into the genetic mechanism of humans (and most organisms) a genetic screen that eliminates many greatly deformed individuals, preventing major genetic disorders from continuing.

The authors do not explain why God sometimes does this near birth, and at other times (as in cystic fibrosis) over a period of many painful years.

On page 201, "Thought Question" 3 reads:

Compile a list of modern beliefs, practices, or activities that reflect the philosophy of evolution rather than a biblical philosophy.

The answer is found in the Teacher's Edition:

(1) Communism denies the existence of God. (2) Advances in technology will solve all of man's physical and social problems. (3) The ecumenical movement endorses humanism as the world religion. (4) Environmental control is overemphasized, and man's God-given command to exercise dominion is deemphasized.

There are also some passages that are just flat out wrong. Dunford has more here and here.

John McCain's "Christian Nation" Nonsense

29 September 2007

Beliefnet recently conducted an interview with presidential candidate John McCain (R-AZ), in which he made some rather revealing remarks.

On non-Christian religions:

"I admire the Islam. There's a lot of good principles in it... But I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles, personally, I prefer someone who I know who has a solid grounding in my faith."

On the most important presidential qualifications:
"I think the number one issue people should make [in the] selection of the President of the United States is, 'Will this person carry on in the Judeo Christian principled tradition that has made this nation the greatest experiment in the history of mankind?' "

On the Constitution:
"The Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation. But I say that in the broadest sense. The lady that holds her lamp beside the golden door doesn't say, “I only welcome Christians.” We welcome the poor, the tired, the huddled masses. But when they come here they know that they are in a nation founded on Christian principles."

Oh, well thank you for allowing us heathens into your Christian Nation, Mr. McCain. That's very big of you. But perhaps next time you can be more specific as to what governmental qualifications non-Christians and "the Islam" are lacking.

Anyway, here are a few more quotes:
" religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
- United States Constitution, Article VI, section 3
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
- United States Constitution, First Amendment
"the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion"
-Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11 (1796)

UPDATE: I think that this guy really hits the nail on the head:
Beliefnet columnist David Kuo said McCain was "pandering to what he thinks the Christian conservative community wants to hear" and predicted he "will have a lot of explaining to do about this interview."

Guns, Condoms, and Steel

Catholic Archbishop Francisco Chimoio has an interesting new theory. "Condoms are not sure because I know that there are two countries in Europe, they are making condoms with the virus on purpose." According to Francisco, two European countries have deliberately infected condoms with AIDS "in order to finish quickly the African people."

Does he provide any evidence for this bizarre claim? Nope. He doesn't even name the countries. Rather, he just gives us more of this:

"They want to finish with the African people. This is the programme. They want to colonise until up to now. If we are not careful we will finish in one century's time."

New Meme: Hansen Paid by Soros

28 September 2007

Investor's Business Daily (IBD) has a new hit piece on NASA climate scientist James Hansen, in which they try to paint him as some sort of liberal shill under the control of George Soros.

Hansen was packaged for the media by Soros' flagship "philanthropy," by as much as $720,000, most likely under the OSI's "politicization of science" program.

There's really a whole lot wrong with this. In 2005, college dropout George Deutsch was appointed as a NASA press officer. He did a lot of crazy things, such as altering references to the Big Bang (which he called merely an "opinion"), and trying to prevent NASA scientist James Hansen from speaking to the media about climate change. Hansen rightfully resisted. In the process Hansen accepted pro bono legal representation from the Government Accountability Project, a non-profit and non-partisan whistleblower protection organization. GAP also offered Hansen a Ridenauer award, which included $10,000, but Hansen declined.

Therefore, the IBD editorial is flat out wrong. Hansen received $0 from George Soros (or from anyone else) in this entire exchange.

So where did the $720,000 for the "politicization of science" claim come from? Well, the non-profit GAP accepts donations from many organizations interested in protecting whistleblowers (including the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Family Fund). One group that recently donated was the Open Society Institute (OSI), a part of the Soros Foundation, which donated $100,000 total to GAP for the purpose of protecting whistleblowers in science and engineering. IBD picked the $720,000 figure because that was OSI's total budget for combating the politicization of science. It seems like IBD just picked the biggest figure they could find in their cursory glance at all the budgets that could have possibly been involved.

Of course, this is really nothing new for IBD, which had previously incorrectly asserted that James Hansen predicted an imminent ice age.

Nonetheless, as expected, this meme has already taken off. In a recent Newsbusters article, Jake Gontesky makes the following claims about James Hansen.
Under the so-called "politicization of science" program, George Soros' (the favorite fundraiser of many democrats) has reportedly given as much as $720,000 to Hansen to help package his alarmist claims and get them pushed by the mainstream media...
So he got some big paychecks from Soros - but was there a quid pro quo? The evidence certainly indicates as much

Basically, Gontesky is trying to push the "global warming is a conspiracy by Big Environment" meme. Oh, and Brent Bozell's Media Research Center (of which Newsbusters is an arm) has accepted $202,500 from Exxon-Mobil since 2003. Nice.

College dropout Rush Limbaugh has also picked up on the story, reporting that "Soros Paid Off NASA Scientist".

UPDATE: You can always count on Free Republic to pass a meme like this along. They're now reporting "NASA's Hansen Mentioned in Soros Foundations Annual Report." According to Free Republic, "As is typical, a global warming obsessed media don't find this newsworthy. Think they'd be so disinterested if this smoking gun involved an oil company giving money to a Republican official?"

UPDATE II: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer handles the story appropriately here: "The swift boating of a climate scientist"

UPDATE III: The awful Daily Tech handles the story inappropriately here: "NASA, James Hansen, and the Politicization of Science." According to the factually challenged Daily Tech:
For Hansen to secretly receive a large check from Soros, then begin making unsubstantiated claims about administrative influence on climate science is more than suspicious -- it's a clear conflict of interest.
Never mind the fact that Hansen didn't receive a single penny from Soros.

You might remember that the people at Daily Tech are the ones responsible for spreading the false "Less Than Half of All Published Scientists Endorse Man-Made Warming Theory" meme.

UPDATE IV: FOX News hack John Gibson weighs in:
Remember the name Soros. His Open Society Institute has just released its 2006 report on the way it has spent Soros' millions, $74 million just this year. Did you know that in addition to funding groups to try to kneecap Bill O'Reilly and me, Soros' stooges have also cut a $720,000 check to the so called NASA whistleblower, who claimed the U.S. government was covering up global warming?
How is it that this guy can still have a job? Doesn't anyone in his office do any rudimentary fact-checking before making a claim about some fictional "$720,000 check"?

: If there's ever a rumor that supports his pre-conceived notions, Drudge is sure to report it: "Report: NASA scientist who accused Bush Administration of censorship received $720,000 from George Soros"

UPDATE VI: Human Events has its own shallow commentary, titled "It's All About the Money":
Forget the fact that the whole man-made global warming theory is a gigantic scam with not a shred of genuine scientific evidence to prove it. Instead, follow the money trail to get an idea of what it’s all about. And what it’s all about is money -- the big bucks the disciples of Al Gore will rake in, and the big bucks you’ll have to pay to finance this incredible con game...
Then there’s NASA’s hysterical James Hanson, the media’s favorite climate change alarmist who Williams reveals was financed by ultra lefty George Soros.
Among other factual inaccuracies, Human Events author and former game-show host Michael Reagan spells Hansen's name wrong.

Newt Gingrich Uses Fake Washington Quote

Newt Gingrich, who gave the commencement speech at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University this year, recently attributed this quote to George Washington:

Washington’s personal journal provides more evidence of his deep faith:

It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible. It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe, without the agency of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being.

However, Washington's journal says nothing of the sort. This is simply one of David Barton's phony quotations (he calls them "unconfirmed"), a source of many untrue memes about the Founding Fathers.

Ben Stein's Expelled - Part III

27 September 2007

Ben Stein has a new pro-creationist movie coming out in which he posits that Intelligent Design theory is marginalized, not because it is scientifically vacuous, but rather because of some sort of atheist conspiracy.

On the film's website, you will see newspaper headlines flashing across the upper right -hand corner. One of those newspapers reads:

"The Branding of a Heretic"

Stein appears to be referring to this Wall Street Journal Op-Ed of the same name, which was written by David Klinghoffer, an Intelligent Design advocate and senior fellow at the Discovery Institute. Incidentally, Klinghoffer is the same man who wrote the overwrought story I discussed in Ben Stein's Expelled - Part I.

The article begins:

The question of whether Intelligent Design (ID) may be presented to public-school students alongside neo-Darwinian evolution has roiled parents and teachers in various communities lately. Whether ID may be presented to adult scientific professionals is another question altogether but also controversial. It is now roiling the government-supported Smithsonian Institution, where one scientist has had his career all but ruined over it.

This is the main theme of the article (which also happens to be the theme of Stein's film): scientists are being persecuted and repressed by a bunch of uppity establishment scientists (Stein actually refers to them as "Big Science"). So who is this scientist whose career has been "all but ruined"?

Mr. Sternberg, who isn't himself an advocate of Intelligent Design

Wait. That doesn't seem right. Sternberg (1) joined the editorial board of the young-earth creationist Baraminology Study Group in 2001,* (2) lectured in 2002 on Intelligent Design at the International Society for Complexity, Information and Design (this is an Intelligent Design advocacy group, in case you couldn't tell from the name), and (3) signed the Discovery Institute's Dissent From Darwin petition. He now serves as a fellow for ISCID.

Apparently, Klinghoffer is trying to paint Sternberg as an objective scientist who published a pro-ID paper, not because he was previously involved in the ID movement, but rather because of the paper's scientific persuasiveness. At the very least, this background should be disclosed.

So what did Sternberg do that "all but ruined" his career?

Mr. Sternberg was until recently the managing editor of a nominally independent journal published at the museum [the Smithsonian], Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, where he exercised final editorial authority. The August issue included typical articles on taxonomical topics--e.g., on a new species of hermit crab. It also included an atypical article, "The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories." Here was trouble.

The piece happened to be the first peer-reviewed article to appear in a technical biology journal laying out the evidential case for Intelligent Design. According to ID theory, certain features of living organisms--such as the miniature machines and complex circuits within cells--are better explained by an unspecified designing intelligence than by an undirected natural process like random mutation and natural selection.

Wow, Klinghoffer left a lot of details out here. Perhaps the most significant detail is this, as recounted by the Council of the Biological Society of Washington when they finally repudiated the paper Sternberg let slip through:

Contrary to typical editorial practices, the paper was published without review by any associate editor; Sternberg handled the entire review process.

Some peer editorial review. It's also worth pointing out that Sternberg was a visiting editor of the Proceedings, and this was predetermined to be his last issue before stepping down from that position. In addition to skirting the normal editorial process on that last issue, Sternberg also chose to stray from the journal's normal subject matter. According to the Biological Society of Washington, "The Council, which includes officers, elected councilors, and past presidents, and the associate editors would have deemed the paper inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings because the subject matter represents such a significant departure from the nearly purely systematic content for which this journal has been known throughout its 122-year history.... Accordingly, the Meyer paper does not meet the scientific standards of the Proceedings."

[CORRECTION: Commenter kevinwparker points out: "Sternberg has stated that "three qualified scientists" provided a standard peer review, a statement not disputed by the CBSW, who are complaining about the editorial process, not the peer review process. (Of course, the three "qualified" scientists were probably on the lines of DI fellows Michael Behe, Jonathan Wells, and William Dembski, but that's another issue.)"]

So what kinds of harms has Sternberg suffered for breaking the rules (note: Klinghoffer portrays Sternberg as having suffered for his religious beliefs instead)?

Mr. Sternberg's editorship has since expired, as it was scheduled to anyway, but his future as a researcher is in jeopardy--and that he had not planned on at all. He has been penalized by the museum's Department of Zoology, his religious and political beliefs questioned. He now rests his hope for vindication on his complaint filed with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) that he was subjected to discrimination on the basis of perceived religious beliefs. A museum spokesman confirms that the OSC is investigating. Says Mr. Sternberg: "I'm spending my time trying to figure out how to salvage a scientific career."

The Office of Special Counsel ultimately dismissed his complaint for lack of merit, by the way.
kevinwparker points out that the OSC decision never reached the merits: "The letter explaining the situation is here. The OSC could not deal with the complaint because Sternberg is not employed by the Smithsonian but was just a guest researcher there. Panda's Thumb notes this as well."]

So let's take a look at what happened that put Sternberg's future "in jeopardy," and how exactly he had been "penalized."
In October, as the OSC complaint recounts, Mr. Coddington told Mr. Sternberg to give up his office and turn in his keys to the departmental floor, thus denying him access to the specimen collections he needs.

Although the Discovery Institute's David Klingoffer charged that Sternberg's keys had been taken away and his access revoked, it turns out that this wasn't quite true. His keys were only temporarily taken away while the Smithsonian reorganized the vertebrate and invertebrate zoology departments. His access was never changed.

Nor was Sternberg fired or suspended. Instead, the bulk of the persecution appears to be in the form of angry emails that his colleagues sent to each other (not even to him personally) about how awful they thought it was for Sternberg to step in and publish a substandard paper that goes against the past 200 years of biology, paleontology, etc. Some persecution.
Soon after the article appeared, Hans Sues--the museum's No. 2 senior scientist--denounced it to colleagues and then sent a widely forwarded e-mail calling it "unscientific garbage."

Not all criticism is persecution. Maybe he's just right.

Here's the punchline, which seems to be the theme of Stein's movie as well:

Intelligent Design, in any event, is hardly a made-to-order prop for any particular religion... Darwinism, by contrast, is an essential ingredient in secularism, that aggressive, quasi-religious faith without a deity. The Sternberg case seems, in many ways, an instance of one religion persecuting a rival, demanding loyalty from anyone who enters one of its churches--like the National Museum of Natural History.

It seems like a common tactic of cranks to accuse the mainstream scientific ideas of simply being an intolerant form of dogmatic religious faith.

* Although Sternberg joined the editorial board, he did not subscribe to young-earth creationist beliefs such as the whole young-earth thing.

Ben Stein's Expelled - Part II

In August, I wrote about Ben Stein's new pro-creationist film Expelled, and how the film's website dishonestly portrayed Guillermo Gonzalez as some sort of martyr to "Big Science" (rather than as a University professor who was justifiably denied tenure for failure to produce original research while employed). It turns out that wasn't the only dishonest aspect of the film.

World-famous Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins was invited to appear in a film titled "Crossroads," reportedly produced by Rampant films, which he was told would "examin[e] the intersection of science and religion." Being a famous atheist scientist, Dawkins agreed. It was only after the interview that Dawkins learned that the film's title, producer, and premise were all other than he had been told. Instead of "examining the intersection of science and religion," the film sets out to paint the old, discredited idea of special creation as some sort of bold new idea that is being persecuted and discriminated against. Dawkins says that he never would have appeared in the film if he had known its true premise.

Eugenie Scott, a physical anthropologist, and the executive director of the National Center for Science Education, was similarly approached and deceived.
“I have certainly been taped by people and appeared in productions where people’s views are different than mine, and that’s fine,” Dr. Scott said, adding that she would have appeared in the film anyway. “I just expect people to be honest with me, and they weren’t.”

P.Z. Myers, a biology professor from the University of Minnesota was also approached and offered the chance to appear in "Crossroads." Myers wrote this email to the producer once he learned more about the film:
Hey, I just learned today that the actual film is now called "Expelled", that it features Ben Stein, and that it's really a gung- ho pro-creationism/anti-science film. I would have agreed to be interviewed even if you'd been honest with me about the subject — I'm not reticent about my opinions — so I don't understand why you felt you had to conceal your intent. Care to explain yourself? Was this the movie you planned from the beginning?

None of the questions were answered by the producer, who simply thanked Myers "for sharing your viewpoints."

This line deals with the situation pretty well:
There is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth. And while individual scientists may embrace religious faith, the scientific enterprise looks to nature to answer questions about nature. As scientists at Iowa State University put it last year, supernatural explanations are “not within the scope or abilities of science.”

UPDATE: This is how the film originally presented itself to Dawkins, Scott and Myers.
Crossroads—The Intersection of Science and Religion:
It's been the central question of humanity throughout the ages: how in the world did we get here? In 1859 Charles Darwin provided the answer in his landmark book, "The Origin of Species." In the century and a half since, biologists, geologists, physicists, astronomers and philosophers have contributed a vase amount of research and data in support of Darwin's idea. And yet, millions of Christians, Muslims, Jews and other people of faith believe in a literal interpretation that humans were crafted by the hand of God. This conflict between science and religion has unleashed passions in school board meetings, courtrooms and town halls across America and beyond.

Democratic Debate

Worst question of the night:

"What is your favorite Bible verse?"

What on earth does that have to do with a person's qualifications as a Federal Executive? Questions like these add nothing substantive to the debate, and only seem to invite pandering.

Also, I'd like to compare Clinton's answer with some of her previous statements:

  • "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I think it’s a good rule for politics, too."
  • “When you are attacked you have to deck your opponent.”

Atheists in Foxholes: Part II

In August, I wrote about atheist soldier Jeremy Hall, who attempted to hold a meeting with like-minded soldiers at his Forward Operations Base in Iraq. The flyers for the event were continually torn down, and a rather angry Major disrupted the actual meeting itself. Army Major Freddy Welborne threatened the group that they were "going down," and that he would block Hall's reinlistment if the meetings continued.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has filed suit against the Pentagon on behalf of Hall, and the predictable threats have begun to come in.

"Because of the frequent occurrences of 'fragging' and what happened to Pat Tillman’s and other “friendly fire” occurrences, Hall has every reason to fear for his safety. After word got out that he was a plaintiff in a landmark lawsuit that named Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as a Defendant, alleged postings of messages on military and civilian based blogs, such as, apparently threatened Hall with 'fragging,' a colloquial expression used by the military in which an unpopular soldier could be killed by intentional friendly fire during combat. Weinstein indicated he has not yet been able to verify the authenticity of the blog postings threatening Hall with 'fragging.' "
Hall wrote in a series of e-mails to Weinstein that he feared for his safety after being "hallchecked" -- being shoved against the wall in a hallway -- by fellow soldiers who objected to his lawsuit. Bloggers on the Internet have also referred to "fragging" Hall, or killing him by friendly fire.

"I hope I am not the victim of a hate crime while I sleep tonight. I do not want to die for my country this way," wrote Hall, who said a non-commissioned officer was threatening to beat him. "I'm doing my best right now. But I am still afraid that I might be harmed or worse."

In an apparent response to the lawsuit, Hall just sent an urgent email message to Mikey Weinstein, informing him a fellow soldier is goading him with a variety of threats and slurs, threatening to "beat his ass," calling him an "atheist ass pirate," "a faggot," and gathering a posse of bullies to intimidate Hall because of the allegations Hall made against the military in the landmark lawsuit.

Oh, and it turns out that Army Major Freddy Welborn has a Myspace page. Here's a picture of the Major with his old lady:

Verizon and Content Control

Whenever the issue of network neutrality comes up, the discussion always seems to shift towards whether or not providers would exercise their powers to censor content and step on the free exchange of ideas. According to Lawrence Lessig, who testified before Congress on the issue in 2002:

After my testimony, an economist/lobbyist approached me and asked: "Do you really believe there is any threat that broadband network owners would discriminate in either the content they carry, or the applications they allow? After all, first, none will have enough market power to be able to do this without consequence, and second, even if they did have enough market power, what possible incentive would they have?"

Well, it turns out that AT&T censored certain remarks by the band Pearl Jam from its Lollapalooza webcast earlier this year, when lead singer Eddie Vedder made remarks about how he dislikes the current President.

Now, it turns out that Verizon has attempted to block "controversial and unsavory" NARAL text messages ("End Bush’s global gag rule against birth control for world’s poorest women! Call Congress. (202) 224-3121. Thnx! Naral Text4Choice") from its service. Thankfully, Verizon has backed off, like the economist/lobbyist from Lessig's testimony predicted. However, there won't always be a large public outcry over these attempts at content control, nor will they even necessarily be noticed.

Congressional Climate Bills Compared

Source: World Resources Institute

Green: Bingaman-Specter
Tan: Lieberman-McCain
Purple: Oliver-Gilchrest
Yellow: Liebermann-Warner (draft outline)
Green (broken): Bingaman-Specter (conditional target)
Blue: Kerry-Snowe
Orange: Sanders-Boxer, Waxman

Paul Cameron Finds Someone to Publish His Pseudoscience: Himself

26 September 2007

Evangelical psychologist Paul Cameron has been expelled from the American Psychological Association, reprimanded by the American Sociological Association for "consistent misrepresentation of sociological research," and condemned by the Canadian Psychological Association for "consistently misinterpret[ing] and misrepresent[ing] research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism."

Not to be deterred from his crusade against homosexuality, Cameron is now trying a new tactic to get his views out.

What do you do when you are having trouble getting your junk science published in reputable peer-reviewed journals? Well, one solution would be to improve the quality of your science. Or, if you're Paul Cameron and you're running an outfit called the Family Research Institute (FRI), you try something else:

"FRI is doing something exciting -- we are starting an online scientific journal! It is entitled the Empirical Journal of Same Sexual Behavior (EJSSB)."

This seems like it has become a somewhat standard tactic for those who can't cut it in the real world of science. If you're unhappy that your views can't survive peer-reviewed scrutiny with regards to climate change, then you can start your own non-ISI listed journal (see Energy & Environment). If you're unhappy that creationism doesn't withstand real scrutiny, you can also start your own journal (see Creation Research Society Quarterly).

As Ed Brayton points out, the purpose of this tactic is pretty obvious:
That exciting announcement went out to members of Paul Cameron's mailing list. The brainchild of Paul Cameron and George Rekers, the EJSSB's first articles were slated to appear sometime in September, although the pay-to-publish website (beginning at $500) appears to still be under construction. But even if it does go live, don't look for this journal to appear in your local university library...

Cameron intends to dress this "journal" up as an academic journal, but that doesn't mean it will actually be one. Because there are some 1,700 real social science journals listed in Journal Citation Reports, an article in the most reputable journals may still be read by only a few thousand professionals around the world. But that's not who Cameron is targeting. Instead he wants to draw in thousands of unsuspecting readers on the internet, few of whom will realize that it isn't a reliable journal- or even a real one.

Fred Thompson on the Issues

25 September 2007

On Terri Schiavo:
"That's going back in history. I don't remember the details of it."

On his fellow Republican candidates:
"Well, to tell you the truth, I haven't spent a whole lot of time going into the details of their positions."

On the "Jena 6":
"I don't know anything about it."

On the President's Social Security plan:
"I don't even remember the details of his plan."

On drilling in the Everglades national wildlife refuge:
"Gosh, no one has told me there is any major reserves in the Everglades. Maybe that’s one of the things I have to learn while I’m down here."

On the Tennessee and Kentucky cases ruling the death penalty unconstitutional:
"I hadn't heard that. I didn't know."

David Vitter Funds Creationism

24 September 2007

Prostitute-renter David Vitter (R-LA) has earmarked $100,000 for a Kent Hovind-affiliated group to promote its own brand of "better science education." The Times Picayune has the story here, but the Panda's Thumb has a better headline: Pork-Barrel Antievolution.

The money in the earmark will pay for a report suggesting "improvements" in science education in Louisiana, the development and distribution of educational materials and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Ouachita Parish School Board's 2006 policy that opened the door to biblically inspired teachings in science classes.

"I believe it is an important program," Vitter said.

So what kind of science "improvements" does the Louisiana Family Forum promote?
Mills said his group is not attempting to push the teaching of evolution out of the schools, but wants to supplement it. Yet, some of the material posted on the Louisiana Family Forum's Web site suggests a more radical view.

Among other things, a "Louisiana Family Forum Fact Sheet" at one point included "A Battle Plan -- Practical Steps to Combat Evolution" by Kent Hovind, a controversial evangelist who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for tax offenses and obstruction of justice.

Hovind's paper stated, "Evolution is not a harmless theory but a dangerous religious belief" that underpinned the atrocities committed by Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

It still amazes me that our leaders in Congress believe in and promote this hysterical garbage. Do we really want to spend $100,000 in taxes to fund a PR campaign against modern science?

Ahmadinejad on Homosexuality

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University today, and was asked about his country's poor treatment of homosexuals. This is what he had to say:

"In Iran, we dont have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who’s told you we have it."

Um, maybe that's because your country has executed 4,000 homosexuals since the Ayatollahs took over in 1979.

UPDATE (9/26): Ahmadinejad posted the transcript of this speech on his website, but conveniently removed the part where he was laughed at for denying the existence of homosexuals in Iran.

Schulte Paper: Cancelled

20 September 2007

Remember that paper that purported to show that "Less Than Half of All Published Scientists Endorse Global Warming Theory"? The one that was held up by James Inhofe (R-OK), DaveScot, Brent Bozell, Matt Drudge, FOX News, Free Republic, Michael Savage, and Rush Limbaugh as a sign that there was no scientific agreement on the issue of global warming? Well, it turns out that it's not even going to be published.

Malkin and Inhofe on Global Warming

14 September 2007

Michelle Malkin recently sat down with Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) to discuss global warming. It was really exactly what you would expect.

Step 1: Portray global warming as a religion.

This religion called global warming.
There are a lot of monied interests, um, that have a huge stake in silencing your voice, in silencing the voices of heretical, um, scientists and economists.
Unfortunately, there are some Republicans who are members of the global warming cult.
[Despite the fact that the vast majority of scientific organizations and peer-reviewed literature support it.]

Step 2: Turn it into an issue about Al Gore.
Al Gore put his whole career on the line, thinkin' this is his ticket to the White House.. to be able to say that, you know, that he's the leader of this thing, and so he came out with this science fiction movie and, y'know, the rest of the story..
I had kinda a three-hour confrontation with Al Gore...
the largest tax increase in the recent history, which was the 1993 Clinton-Gore tax increase
[I don't know if Malkin and Inhofe have ever been able to discuss this issue without mentioning Al Gore personally.]

Step 3: Mention an anecdote about the few vocal and active contrarians, then claim that not only are there are plenty of scientists on your side, but that you're winning the debate.
"I showed the scientists, and what they really said about this... and it wasn't until I started naming names of scientists that were his [Al Gore's] leaders - for example, I talked about Claude Allegre in France, well all of a sudden he th- well he was on my side, now he's on Inhofe's side on this thing, and uh, David Bellamy from U.K., and uh, Nir Shaviv from Israel, and that's when I saw little beads of sweat coming down, because he realized that those people who had been on the other side of the issue ten years ago, and even more recent than that, are now are realizing the science just flat isn't there"
"You know, the best thing was the 60 scientists that advised the Prime Minister of Canada. They're the ones that advised the Prime Minister of Canada to get on Kyoto, sign on, ratify it way back in, '97, late '90s sometime. Those same 60 now say, if we had known then what we know now about the science, they would not have ratified it, it wouldn't be necessary. And they're admonishing now, Prime Minister Harper not to get on the new, um, Kyoto treaty. So, we're, um, winning that thing clearly."

[Inhofe's statements do nothing to show that he is "winning that thing clearly." It's just a handful of anecdotes about people's opinions (as opposed to their published scientific findings). On the other hand, pretty much all of the scientific organizations and peer-reviewed journals say the exact opposite. That has certainly not changed over the years, and has only gotten stronger.]

Step 4: If the scientists on your side aren't publishing in the peer-reviewed journals, claim persecution by the Weather Channel.
"You remember when Heidi Cullen, who has that weekly show on the Weather Channel? She came out and she said that - that - and this is a statement that she made - any meteorologist who doesn't agree with, essentially, Heidi Cullen in global warming should, uh, be de-certified by the American Society of Meteorology- uh, Meteorologists"
[First off, that's not what Heidi Cullen said. What she said was this: "If a meteorologist has an AMS Seal of Approval, which is used to confer legitimacy to TV meteorologists, then meteorologists have a responsibility to truly educate themselves on the science of global warming... If a meteorologist can't speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn't give them a Seal of Approval." This is nothing near persecution. It's simply a suggestion that meteorologists be knowledgeable about climate science as part of the certification process. Nowhere does Cullen suggest retroactively stripping a person of their certification due to their beliefs. Yet this meme continues to pop up. Particularly from Senator Inhofe, who has continued to characterize this as some sort of organized persecution:
  • "The Weather Channel’s most prominent climatologist is advocating that broadcast meteorologists be stripped of their scientific certification if they express skepticism about predictions of manmade catastrophic global warming." (source)
  • "The Weather Channel’s (TWC) Heidi Cullen, who hosts the weekly global warming program "The Climate Code," is advocating that the American Meteorological Society (AMS) revoke their "Seal of Approval" for any television weatherman who expresses skepticism that human activity is creating a climate catastrophe." (source)
  • "This latest call to silence skeptics" (source)
  • "Cullen’s call for decertification of TV weathermen who do not agree with her global warming assessment" (source)
  • "Cullen’s call for suppressing scientific dissent" (source)
  • "Cullen’s call for decertification by the AMS can only serve to intimidate skeptics and further chill free speech in the scientific community. Stripping the "Seal of Approval" from broadcast meteorologists could affect their livelihoods, impact their salaries and prestige. TV weathermen are truly the last of the independent scientists and past surveys have shown many of them to be skeptical of manmade global warming claims. Their independence is being threatened now." (source)]

Step 5: Ignore the many scientific organizations and peer-reviewed journals that explain anthropogenic global warming, and instead act as if it's just coming from the United Nations and Hollywood.
"like most bad things that come to America, it all came from the United Nations"
"the IPCC - they're the ones that came out with the idea that man-made gases were causing climate change"
"it started with the United Nations, but then it was picked up by the Hollywood elitists"
[Neither Malkin nor Inhofe acknowledge the overwhelming scientific agreement on this issue throughout their entire interview. They just replace that part with mentions of the U.N. and Hollywood. I don't see how you could call that anything other than "misleading."]

Step 6: Take a statistically insignificant data adjustment, and act like it turns decades of research on its head:
"Most recently, there were a number of bloggers who were involved in climate change - "climate change" [Malkin actually uses verbal scare quotes here] and meteorology - and they discovered that NASA had had a glitch in some of its statistics, that there, that there was a year 2000 bug, and when they re-did, re-did the analysis with the right statistics, it- it pushed most of the highest, um, temperature years to World War II levels. So, clearly, the whole anthropomorphic rationale, or, uh, blaming, for uh, uh, global warming has been undermined - undermined every day"
[Anthropomorphic? Anyway, Malkin is misleading in how she explains this event. First of all, the data adjustment was confined to the continental United States. Not the entire world, as Malkin appears to be saying. Second, this data adjustment wasn't near as earth-shattering as Malkin implies. Here is a picture of the new data overlaid on top of the old data:

Step 7: Call the kettle black.
INHOFE: The guy that I run into in these debates more than anybody else is James Hansen. James Hansen was paid $250,000 in cash [was it really in cash?] by the Heinz Foundation. And I think he'd say almost anything he wanted them to, want to, uh, say anyway. So there's lots of money in this thing
MALKIN: Follow the money.
INHOFE: Yeah, follow the money.
[I followed the money, and this is what I've found. Inhofe has received $847,073 from Oil & Gas industries throughout his career. $286,063 from Electric Utilities. $188,050 from Automotive industries.]

Step 8: Claim that those who do not have the science on their side have to resort to name-calling... then resort to name-calling, yourself.
"if you don't have the truth on your side, you don't have logic on your side, you don't have the science on your side, you resort to name-calling, you resort to - to - to threats and intimidation, like Heidi Cullen did, the meteorologist, and consequently, not many people in public office in the United State Senate or House are willing to stand up against that."
[Here are a few examples of James Inhofe comparing those on the other side to Nazis:
  • "It kind of reminds... I could use the Third Reich, the Big Lie... You say something over and over and over and over again, and people will believe it, and that's their [the environmentalists'] strategy" (source)
  • The E.P.A. is a "gestapo bureaucracy" (source)]

Step 9: Sweeping conclusion. Claim victory.
"Now, clearly, we are winning. People know the truth is out there."

FOX News on Kathy Griffin

Comedian Kathy Griffin recently won an Emmy Award, and then made the following comments:

A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus...
Hell has frozen over. Suck it Jesus, this award is my god now!

It was a joke about how some people use the podium to exploit their religion. Sort of like how boxers will go on and on after a fight about how God and Jesus had helped them to win. I didn't think it was terribly funny, but I saw what she was doing. It wasn't hateful, and it didn't imply that Christians in general are bad people. It was simply an innocuous joke.

Anyway, there were complaints and her comments were ultimately scrubbed from the TV broadcast.

But even this was not enough for the Catholic League's Bill Donohue, who went on the network news circuit to denounce the comments. On CNN, he claimed that Griffin's remarks were "worse than racism." Huh?

FOX News Religion Correspondent Lauren Green, however, had an even more bizarre and convoluted argument:

I want to actually show you that, in fact, Kathy Griffin is wrong. Jesus had everything to do with her winning that award. And here's the reasoning.

Jesus died on a cross 2,000 years ago. His dying words were, "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do." He died and they buried him in a rock cut tomb. Three days later, as the Bible says, he rose from the dead. That day is what Christians celebrate as Easter.

After the resurrection, Christianity began to take off like wildfire, spreading from the Middle East northward to Europe and westward into Ethiopia. In 300 A.D. Emperor Constantine accepted Christianity and it beccame the religion of Europe. Rome soon became the seat of the faith. After several years of human failings, the church went through conflicts and quite a few unbiblical years — the crusades and the inquisition to name just two. Out of that came the Reformation — the reforming of the Church, sort of a back-to-basics Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Out of the Reformation emerged a vision of law by Samuel Rutherford, called Lex is Rex, Law is King. From that, others devised a secular version that is used to help lay the foundation of government for a new land called America. Ninety-four percent of America's founding era documents mention the Bible; 34 percent quote the Bible directly. The idea of bringing unity to the universal is a particularly Biblical concept.

The freedoms we enjoy in this country to speak freely and to live freely are directly related to that man who died on a cross 2,000 years ago.

There are so, so many things wrong here. But as a preliminary matter, let's take a look at what the Bible says about free speech:
anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death.

It's also very curious that Green would use Samuel Rutherford, of all people, to make her point about speaking freely. When Michael Servetus was burnt alive for heresy, Rutherford wholeheartedly endorsed the punishment:
It was justice, not cruelty, yea mercy to the Church of God, to take away the life of Servetus, who used such spirituall and diabolick cruelty to many thousand soules, whom he did pervert, and by his Booke, does yet lead into perdition.

Let's also ignore the silliness and twisted logic of Green's argument ("Jesus died, some people followed his philosophy, some guy said that the law is important, our country values the law, therefore Jesus is responsible for freedoms not found anywhere in the Bible"). What I'd like to focus on instead is Green's percentages claim. It's a meme straight from the pages of David Barton, and has been used by the likes of TV's Chuck Norris (Walker: Texas Ranger) as well. Here is what Chuck Norris said at WorldNetDaily:
94 percent of the period's documents were based on the Bible, with 34 percent of the contents being direct citations from the Bible. The Scripture was the bedrock and blueprint of our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, academic arenas and heritage until the last quarter of a century.

The 34 percent claim comes from a man named Donald Luntz. The 94 percent claim is pure Barton.

But let's look at what Donald Luntz had to say about his own findings:
"...From Table 1 we can see that the biblical tradition is most prominent among the citations. Anyone familiar with the literature will know that most of these citations come from sermons reprinted as pamphlets; hundreds of sermons were reprinted during the era, amounting to at least 10% of all pamphlets published. These reprinted sermons accounted for almost three-fourths of the biblical citations..."

3/4 of the Bible citations are from reprints of sermons. These are not the writings of the Founding Fathers, as Green and Norris would like you to believe, and they really have nothing to do with how our government was established. If you discount the printed sermons, then quotes from the Whigs become more numerous.

Luntz goes on (via Ed Brayton):
The Bible's prominence disappears, which is not surprising since the debate centered upon specific institutions about which the Bible has little to say. The Anti-Federalists do drag it in with respect to basic principles of government, but the Federalists' inclination to Enlightenment rationalism is most evident here in their failure to consider the Bible relevant.
Basically, he took the exact opposite position from Green/Barton/Norris. If anyone in this era cited the Bible (aside from the sermons), it was most likely the Anti-Federalists who very much disliked the absence of God and religion in the new Constitution. One Anti-Federalist wrote that it would be a mistake to ratify a document that makes no mention of God whatsoever, citing the Bible in the process: "Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee"

Chris Rodda at Talk to Action then goes on to explore the second claim:
That explains the 34%, but what about Norris's even more far-fetched claim that 94% of the documents of the period were based on the Bible? Well, that one comes from one of David Barton's videos. I don't have the video here to refer to, but from what I recall, Barton somehow concluded from his own study that 60% of the documents of the period were based on the Bible, and then added the 34% from Lutz's study, or something to that effect, ending up with a total of 94%.

Chris Rodda talks more about this meme here, and how it is being promoted for public school curricula.

Roy Moore on the Constitution

13 September 2007

Ex-Judge Roy Moore (he was fired for refusing a court order to take down a 2.6-ton monument to the ten commandments, which he had erected at his courthouse in Alabama immediately after election) will be participating in an upcoming Republican "Values Voter" debate, presumably as a questioner. In anticipation of that event, Moore has written a horrible op-ed column for WorldNetDaily, claiming that the Constituion (which makes no mention of God whatsoever) is not a secular document.

Moore begins:

Dr. Benjamin Franklin, a prominent leader at the Constitutional Convention, not only called for prayer during the deliberations, but also later stated that he had "so much faith in the general government of the world by Providence, that [he could] hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance [as the Constitution] to pass without being in some degree influenced, guided and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent and beneficent Ruler, in whom all inferior spirits live and move and have their being."

Moore fails to mention that, once Franklin requested an opening prayer, his request was not granted. According to Franklin, "The convention, except three or four persons, thought prayers unnecessary."Also, Franklin was a deist ("I soon became a thorough Deist") who did not believe in free will. It seems that all he is saying here is that Providence (a commonly used deist term) had guided the actions at the Constitutional Convention. In fact, in the very same document Moore cites, Franklin made sure to include this disclaimer: "I beg I may not be understood to infer, that our General Convention was divinely inspired, when it form'd the new federal Constitution."

Moore continues:
John Adams, Washington's successor to the presidency, aptly observed, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Adams recognized that our Constitution would not work unless we retained moral and religious principles. Were Adams with us today he would be among the first to question presidential candidates on their moral and religious views of God's sovereignty over the government.

I don't know that Adams would "be among the first to question presidential candidates on their... religious views," given that the Constitution itself says "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." As far as "God's sovereignty over the government," Adams also signed the following document (the Treaty of Tripoli) into law:
As the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] … it is declared … that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever product an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries. … The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation.

Moore then makes the following claim:
"The recognition of the sovereignty of God is an essential prerequisite for liberty."

No, it's not. This is actually the part that bothered me the most. It's one thing to say, as the Founding Fathers did, that religion generally fosters morality (don't kill, don't steal, etc.). It's quite another to say that only religious people believe these things. Moore seems convinced that belief in God is absolutely necessary in order to value liberty and morality, which is simply not true. Thomas Jefferson acknowledged as much when he wrote:
If we did a good act merely from the love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? It is idle to say, as some do, that no such thing exists. We have the same evidence of the fact as of most of those we act on, to wit: their own affirmations, and their reasonings in support of them. I have observed, indeed, generally, that while in Protestant countries the defections from the Platonic Christianity of the priests is to Deism, in Catholic countries they are to Atheism. Diderot, D'Alembert, D'Holbach, Condorcet, are known to have been among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than love of God.

He also wrote that "our civil rights have no dependance on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry."

Asserting that morality is exclusively religious does nothing but divide people. I expect that this debate (which will include questions from Weyrich and Schlafly) will devolve into a "holier than thou" contest, which ultimately leaves out 15% of the population.

There are a few other things in Moore's column that bother me, but I won't take the time to go through them all. I think that this quote from John Adams is an appropriate place to end:
"Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society"

Fair Use and the U.S. Economy

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) has a new study (pdf) in which they examine the positive effects of Fair Use on the U.S. economy. Of course, Fair Use is also important for simple free speech reasons, but this study seems to cut at the heart of the MPAA's protectionist arguments, which they trot out every time the entertainment industry appears before Congress.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF):

DaveScot on Global Warming

12 September 2007

There is overwhelming agreement in the scientific community that greenhouse gas emissions have a warming effect on the planet, and that most of the observed warming of the past 50 years has been due to this cause (see IPCC 2001, NAS, The Royal Society, pretty much every National Academy of Sciences, IPCC 2007, American Meteorological Society, American Geophysical Union, American Institute of Physics, American Astronomical Society, AAAS, etc.).
None of those organizations deny that there have been warming and cooling cycles in the past (see Milankovich Cycles). They have just found that the recent emissions of greenhouse gases (beginning around the Industrial Revolution) have contributed a warming effect that is now more significant than the previous solar cycles. Indeed, it has still been warming over the past 20 years despite the fact that solar influence has been going down (see Recent oppositely directed trends in solar climate forcings and the global mean surface air temperature).

Now, the perpetually dishonest DaveScot, over at Intelligent-Design activist William Dembski's weblog, has the following headline:
"Hundreds of Scientists Have Published Evidence Countering Man-Made Global Warming Fears".

So how does DaveScot back this up? By citing the following press release from the Hudson Institute, a conservative think-tank:

A new analysis of peer-reviewed literature reveals that more than 500 scientists have published evidence refuting at least one element of current man-made global warming scares.

Okay, let's see what they found.
More than 300 of the scientists found evidence that 1) a natural moderate 1,500-year climate cycle has produced more than a dozen global warmings similar to ours since the last Ice Age and/or that 2) our Modern Warming is linked strongly to variations in the sun’s irradiance. “This data and the list of scientists make a mockery of recent claims that a scientific consensus blames humans as the primary cause of global temperature increases since 1850,” said Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Dennis Avery.

Wow, there's a lot going on here. First off, nobody disputes that there have been warming cycles in the past. So that does nothing to advance your argument, and does absolutely nothing to contradict current scientific thought. Second, scientists have been saying for years that climate forcings from CO2 have been growing in significance since 1850 (CO2 stays in the atmosphere for 50-200 years, so its effect is cumulative), but have only become the primary forcing agent in the past 50 years.

As far as irradiance goes, take a look at this graph from the above-cited Royal Society paper:

Notice how solar irradiance (on the top) is going in the opposite direction from the temperature (on the bottom).

I won't bother going through the entire article, but this bit also grabbed my attention: "corals, trees, birds, mammals, and butterflies are adapting well to the routine reality of changing climate"

Just to pick the first one out, how can they say that corals are "adapting well"? They are now being classified as "critically endangered", and scientists predict that 50% will be gone by 2030. I'd sooner call this "adapting poorly" than "adapting well."

Oh, and one more thing. It turns out that the Hudson Institute is funded in part by Exxon-Mobil.

CSE Uses DMCA to Chill Criticism

From The Panda's Thumb:

From reports that we are getting, starting yesterday a user account on YouTube, called cseministry, began fraudulently claiming that any video which criticized the felon, cheat, liar, fraud, huckster, etc. Kent Hovind violated the copyrights of the Creation Science Evangelism.

Under the draconian DCMA, CSE can use such false claims to silence their critics, with little legal risk to themselves. Once a claim has been filed, YouTube is required by US Law to remove the content immediately and without any review. The real copyright holders then have to jump through hoops to get their content back on YouTube, that is assuming that they haven’t already been falsely banned.

Hovind’s critics have a strong case against CSE’s DCMA claims because CSE’s own website waived copyright: “None of the materials produced by Creation Science Evangelism are copyrighted, so feel free to copy those and distribute them freely.” That waiver appeared in the About Creation Science Evangelism page as recently as yesterday. It looks like they’ve scrubbed their site today, after this waiver was pointed out to them. Apparently, CSE is trying to retroactively remove their productions from the public domain. (They can’t legally do this, but has the Hovind Bunch ever acted within the law?)

But more infuriating to me is that several users have reported that CSE is claiming copyright to homegrown videos that contain no CSE content, and in many cases no content by anyone other than the YouTube user. They are issuing clearly fraudulent DCMA complaints to remove videos critical of their organization and the liar that ran (runs?) it. This type of behavior should land the rest of the Hovind Bunch in jail except that fraudulent infringement notices are not illegal under the DCMA.

They keep calling it the "DCMA," but it's really the "DMCA" (Digital Millenium Copyright Act). Anyway, this highlights a serious problem with the law, insofar as it compels Youtube to take down videos based merely on a bald assertion of copyright violation. Basically, Youtube videos are vulnerable to censorship through baseless copyright claims.

In addition to the copyright waiver, there's also this:
17 U.S.C. § 107
the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

Texas GOP on Homosexuality

The Texas GOP Party platform:

Homosexuality - We believe that the practice of sodomy tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.”

Texas Sodomy Statutes - We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.

Wow. That's pretty anti-gay.

Celebrities Talk Politics: Mos Def

09 September 2007

On the recent Osama Bin Laden video tape:

"I don’t believe that was Bin Laden today. I don’t believe it was never him. I think it’s some dude just standing"

On whether or not Osama Bin Laden contributed to the destruction of the World Trade Center:
Absolutely not!...

Science – highly-educated people in all areas of science have spoken on the fishiness around that whole 9/11 theory. It’s like the magic bullet and all that shit."

On the moon landing:
I don’t believe these motherfuckers been to the moon, neither. But that’s just me...

I don’t believe they went to the moon.

On O.J. Simpson killing his wife:
"I don’t believe that shit neither!"

On Bigfoot:
"I do believe in the Bigfoot, though. I believe."

David Limbaugh on Global Warming

07 September 2007

Rush Limbaugh's little brother David recently posted a column titled "Keep a Sharp Eye on Warming Zealots." It mostly follows the same formula that you'd expect to see.

Step 1: Portray global warming as a religion.

Whether or not blind faith in man-made, catastrophic global warming has become a new religion, many of its adherents, ironically, embrace it with the same type of unquestioning zeal they sloppily attribute to and summarily condemn in Christians.
warming dogma
[Despite the fact that the vast majority of scientific organizations and peer-reviewed literature support it.]

Step 2: Ad hominem. Normally, Step 2 involves turning the issue into one about Al Gore and then spending considerable time talking about how he's an "alarmist" or a liar or something. Limbaugh takes a different angle (though still very much an ad hominem argument), and turns it into an issue about Nancy Pelosi, then spends most of his article attacking her personally:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, after leading a congressional delegation to Greenland, declared that she and her fellow travelers saw "firsthand evidence that climate change is a reality, there is just no denying it." ... Well, that settles it then. Speaker Pelosi sees Greenland's ice expansion, and the world is coming to an end. The debate is even more over; we now have a consensus about the already-declared consensus!
Pelosi, in keeping with her M.O. of lauding our foreign critics and enemies
She made the trip -- consistent with her self-appointed role as shadow commander in chief and foreign policy czar
In the Jimmy Carter spirit of bashing the president and the United States on foreign soil in front of foreign leaders who are emboldened by American self-flagellation, Pelosi subtly criticized President Bush
Once again, she sided with a foreign government over her own.
Pelosi said
Pelosi condemns President Bush
double agent Nancy Pelosi
Again, the facts are not Speaker Pelosi's friends
[Ad hominem arguments add nothing to the debate, and only serve to distract the reader.]

Step 3: Without naming even a single one, claim that there are plenty of scientists on your side.
The debate is even more over; we now have a consensus about the already-declared consensus! Never mind substantial contrary evidence and opinion.
[If there's such substantial evidence and opinion, then maybe these guys should start publishing their evidence and opinions in peer-reviewed journals. As it stands, they're really not.]

Step 4: Call your opponents alarmists, while simultaneously arguing that anyone who wants a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is arguing for some economy-destroying position:
Pelosi said, "We hope that we can all assume our responsibilities with great respect and that our administration will be open to listening to why it is important to go forward perhaps in a different way than we have proceeded in the past." In other words, the president should get off his selfish, imperialistic, unilateralist duff and join European nations in their quest to bankrupt themselves in furtherance of a highly dubious (and debatable -- yes, debatable) cause.
draconian treaties like Kyoto
Those who are willing to give up so much in pursuit of so little can't possibly be accused of an affinity for the glorious uniqueness of America.

The basic formula seems to be the same every time: (1) try to bring the mainstream scientific idea down to your level by calling it some kind of blind religion, (2) use some sort of ad hominem attack, (3) make vague references to the millions of scientists on your side, without acknowledging that there are actually very few, (4) mask the lack of peer-reviewed articles on your side by claiming some sort of organized persecution, and (5) conflate "doing something" with "destroying America."