Commentary on the so-called Creation/Evolution/Intelligent Design Debate and Right-Wing nuttery in general - and please ignore the typos (I make lots!)

Friday, August 31, 2007

HILARIOUS creationist projection

Over at ARN, I read with curiosity a thread started by Albert deRoos. The thread title - so typical of the hyperbolic nonsense that one finds in creationist/IDist rantings sets the tone and gives those of us who have followed the IDcreationism public relations scam for any length of time a preview of the tone one can expect upon reading it:

The endosymbiotic origin for mitochondria a hoax?

A hoax. A hoax is an attempt to trick an audience into believing that something false is real. A hoax? It is certaily possible that the endosymbiotic hypothesis is wrong, but a hoax? This is the usual creationist/IDist loaded word usage that they are so fond of employing. I will not recount all of deRoos silly line of argumentation here, but to sum up, it goes like this:

-mitochondria don't look exactly like bacteria (and he provides some pictures to prove it!)
- using some types of visualization techniques, mitochondria look like they are part of the reticular system of cells
- therefore, he thinks they ARE just specializations of the reticular system, and that they are not endosymbionts, and those promoting ther notion they are are perpetrating, well, a hoax

To bolster his claim, he links to some typical graphical representations of mitochondria in textbooks and the like (that is, drawings) , then links to some electron micrographs and immunofluorescent photos and such and essentially says'Gee - the real pictures don't look like the drawings, and neither really looks like present day bacteria, so they must have derived in another way.'

It is pointed out by some commenters there that his 'theory' does not explain the presence of bacteria-like DNA in mitochondria, does not address the fact that mitochondria can divide and make their own ribosomes and proteins, etc. It is also pointed out that some of the photographs he links to are computer graphics images*, that some appear to be immunofluorescence pictures which targeted protein fibers and such, etc.

And de Roos response to these and other criticisms?

...The proponents of the endosymbiotic theory have not even started to make mechanistic scenarios because every high school student understands that it will take 100s of mutations in complex systems before that will happen. Natural selection of those intermediate forms will be difficult because tinkering with them generally decreases fitness. Failure to address these things before declaring the theory to be true means bad science. I would be happy if consensus would be 'we can't rule out other scenario's and we don't have much evidence, we still believe that mitochondria were endosymbionts but we're open to alternatives.

Now, they don;t have a coherent theory, but are not open to
alternatives. Bad, bad science.

Note what I bolded... Recall, he labelled endosymbiotic theory 'a hoax'...
The hubris and arrogance these people exude is beyond reason.

*If such things are not explicitly pointed out in the threrad, they are alluded to, and they are certainly very good points that de Roos ignores

Thursday, August 30, 2007

And on it goes - an underinformed yet overconfident computer technician and a retired actuary use insult and diversion to try to 'win' a non-argument

Ilion and LifeEngineer - what a wonderful pair, what a pair of wonderful ambassadors for Intelligent Design... what a couple of cranks...

Make an argument that you just "know" is right but actual evidence shows is wrong? Why, just insult those explaining your error! Make up silly monikers to use when referring to them! Write the same things over and over, because there is no need to modify a claim you KNOW is right!

That is what a combination of supreme arrogance and monumental incompetence - sprinkled with a dose of religious fervor - does to people...

Pseudo-mathematician David Berlinski on whale evolution

In 1999, Justin Kruger and David Dunning published a paper titled "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments" (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1999, Vol. 77, No. 6. ] 121-1134). Among their interesting conclusions was this:

We propose that those with limited knowledge in a domain suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach mistaken conclusions and make regrettable errors, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it.

David Berlinski is a Philosopher specializing in mathematics (at least this is concluded by judging his actual published work - I am unable to find any actual peer-reviewed mathematical contributuions - or any other for that matter) and bashing science, who probably became best known for writing verbose, pompous articles for conservative magazines. One of his targets is evolution, which, of course, he calls "Darwinism," and as a 'senior fellow' with the anti-evolution Discovery Institute, he occasionally takes the time to bloviate about how evolution cannot be.

Of late, he has beein in a video in which he 'concludes' that whales could not have evolved from cows, and his primary argument is that he counted - yes, counted - the supposed differences between whales and cows and they are, darn it, just too many! He claims to have stopped at 50,000. As was pointed out by a commenter at Pharygula, counting 1 characteristic per second would have required 14 hours, and it is unlikely that Berlinski actually sat around contemplating the supposed differences between cows and whales for 14 hours. And I don't think it is necessary to actually point out that nobody actually claims that whales evolved from cows. Nor that Berlinski doesn't actually provide a list of his 50,000 differences, but he does display his ignroance of basic biology (expressing disbelief due to the fact that many of these changes would have to be "coordinated" with other changes and so on) and his ability to set up silly and dishonest strawman arguments to prop up his fantasies (among which seems to be his importance in world affairs).

But, that 'truth-seeking' organization, the Discovery Institute, saw no problem hosting such a ludicrous, supercilious, deceptive/dishonest video. And why would they? It is anti-evolution, and none of its target audience will bother to see if any of the implicict claims are accurate or menaingful.

A philosopher prattling on about evolution.

Kruger-Dunning data point.

And if Berlinski actually took a whole 10 seconds to ponder and write down the 50,000 differences he dreamed up, it would have taken him 5 days... nonstop.... 24 hours each day...
What a liar...
Biochemist Larry Moran takes Berlinski to task also...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Response to Aaron

Over on Operation Yellow Elephant - a blog established to point out the hypcritical positions of many Iraq-war supporting Republicans who themselves refuse to enlist for various (usually lame) reasons, I posted a few innocuous comments here, and became the target of a hysterical 'radical libertarian', Aaron, who seemed unable but to engage in the antics he accuses me of engaging in. As I did not want to take up too much space at OYE, I thought I would reply to Aaron here. To save space and for readability, I have edited some of Aaron's statements (e.g., removed multiple examples supporting a claim).


Aaron said...
Oh, Doppelganger, I’m going to have a field day with this response. Ant it'll be loooong, so set some time away from your otherwise pressing World of Warcraft tournament to read this, because I am interested to read your response:

Isn't that clever? A little personal dig there. Not that I mind - I often employ self-deprecating humor and don't mind taking a hit as long as it is actually funny. That one wasn't too bad. A little trite perhaps, but not bad. What is ironic, however, is the fact that Aaron takes me to task for getting 'personal'. More on that later.

“What is your opinion on, say, Ann Coulter’s writings and statements, Aaron?Just curious”…” ... Unless you find the opinions of these people repulsive and you are willing to condemn them for the inflammatory nature of the lies and msrepresentations they spew, again, your implicit claims to the ‘high ground’ are without merit.”

First, my friend, you guess wrong about me.
Fair enough. Considering the rush to defend the president of the Orange County Young Republicans in question, I suppose I could have jumped to a sensible, albeit incorrect, conclusion. But let's see where Aaron goes with this, long-winded fellow he is...

My opinion of Ann Coulter, “Hannity, Limbaugh, Savage, Ingraham, etc.” is this: I think they are polarizing, deconstructive, pompous and sometimes downright wrong... Angry, loud people are present on all political sides. But it does not give you or “The General” a speck of permission to spread the fight to all Republicans and moderate Democrats.
That is all well and good, but this is Aaron's extrapolation, not my intention. I was not 'justifying' what he erroneously perceives as an 'attack' on all Republicans and Moderate Democrats (I can scarcely understand where that one came from). It has been my experience that "mainstream Republicans" find the inflammatory gibberish of the Coulters and Hannity's of the country to be 'funny' and meant as 'humor' and they will often say that if one is offended, then they just don't get the jokes. Yet actual 'liberal' comedians are villified and labeled 'traitors' and the like. To fend off the predicted 'response', no, I don't have statistical data for this, as I stated, it has been my experience, and that comes from reading blogs, letters to the editor of several newspapers (both local and national), television and radio interviews, book reviews, etc.

You are only fanning the flames of ignorance and factionalism.
For asking your opinion? I had no idea that I wielded such power!

And for that you should be ashamed.The long and short of it: do not use thea ctions of one, two or ten idiots to justify your own idiotic actions.
Now I - one who has but a low-traffic, seldom updated blog - on occasion posts comments on blogs like OYE - am being equated in influence to people like O'Reilly, Coulter, etc. And 'idiotic actions'? Making offhand comments in a blog comments section is an 'idiotic action'? Well, then I guess Aaron engages in idiotic actions, too!

You, and you alone, are responsible for your motives and doings, not Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly or anyone else with whom you disagree.
I will ask the point what the top of your head looks like...

“Fago’s associations were merely pointed out, his own self-assessment was indicated, and it was openly questioned when he would be enlisting to serve as he appears to support the militaristic goals of the administration.”

Why? What is “The General’s” point/goal/motive?
I think his motivation is made clear by the subtitle of his blog: "It's their war. Why aren't they fighting it?" I think there are many, many more people out there that feel this way than you seem willing to admit.

Why Shawn? Why Hager? And what gives our high-ranking friend the credibility to do such random call-outs?
Well, as is pretty obvious by now, Shawn is the PRESIDENT of the Orange County Young Republians. Orange County is not exactly some rural backwater, and the OCYRs is not exactly some two-bit collection of yahoos who get together a couple time a year to drink beer and complain about city council. As such, he represents an organization that ostensibly supports the present administration's status quo, which seems to be little more than '9/11 gives us the right to ignore the Constitution' and 'war is good because a couple of Big Corporations that donate to us get lots of tax payer money becasue of it'. I don't know who Hager is. As far as 'credibility' for these 'call outs', I suspect it is the same 'credibility' that you have for writing your nearly hysterical response, or the just-as-anonymous-as-me 'Media Lizzy' from making her webcasts and the like. I assume that 'The General' is against the war, and if so, then his not enlisting to fight is at least consistent.

All you two seem to be are liberal computer nerds who want to bully those with whom you disagree, regardless of their desire (or obvious lack thereof) to confront you.

I wish I was a computer nerd - I could probably make a lot more money than I do. But I am not sure how anything that is done here (more precisely, at OYE)- certainly nothing that I have done - can be considered 'bullying.' Posting my opinion on the issue and replying to comments made by people like you is not bullying. If anything, the hysteria being exhibited by you and Media Lizzy in your steadfast defense of Yellow Elephants, by attempting to make us stop pointing out their hypocrisy via insults and laughable attempts at intimidation, is bullying.

Perusing a few of the posts on OYE, I noticed that those that are called out are in some way 'public' individuals. I exhanged a few comments last year in the thread on Antony Mantova, who had written Op-Ed pieces for a newspaper advocating for the invasion of Iran, as I recall. He, of course, had no intention of serving, either. Your friend Shawn, as I reiterated, is the President of a large, politically active, young republican group. Another guy is a former editor of the New Republic, a liberal, who supports the war. And so on. These folks are not "private citizens" just minding their own business. These are people in the business of trying to sway public policy (the Orange County Young Republicans website, for example, states that one of its goals is to get Republicans elected, from local school boards on up).

Also, I don't really consider myself a liberal, at least not in the 'usual' sense. I'm more of a moderate, but I do certainly havemany liberal values.

“The propensity to serve in the armed forces these days seems to be related to the following: one’s family or personal wealth, regardless of one’s position on the war – relationship: inversely proportional; one’s degree of advocacy for not just invading Iraq, but Iran and Syria and anywhere else: inversely proportional. There are other factors, of course, but those seem to be big ones these days.”

Where do you get that information? Is there statistical proof to back up your statements, especially with your reference to “these days”? Unless you can provide some compelling proof using statistically sound and politically unbiased research I can only reason to add Bullshitter to the list of negative terms you represent.

My, so personal! And what terms do you represent to me? Say - I like that little game there - a clever little way of claiming that you are not getting personal by merely associating 'negative terms' with me. Sleazy and pathetic... are the terms you represent to me, but clever, nonetheless.

Anyway, those are merely my impressions. Statistical proof? No. The comment was left on a blog, you might recall. A place for opinion. It is not a peer reviewed publication. It is not a legal affidavit. So please do not treat it like one as a means of gaining rhetorical points. It makes you represent terms like 'cheap' and 'childish' to me.

“Pointing out hypocrisy in Republicans is exceptionally easy. Hypocrisy is not a very admirable quality. Those lacking admirable qualities have a harder time convincing people to vote their way. At least among the rational.”

That’s just insulting. You do not know any of the people you attack personally.

Who am I attacking? It is amazing how you folks can so rapidly elevate a situation beyond any measure of rationality. I - and many, many others - find it hyporitical to support a war but refuse to fight in it. These Yellow Elephants may very well be nice, well meaning folk. But calling out those that do this (advocate war but will not fight in it)- in particular those who are 'public' figures' - can hardly be considered a 'personal attack.' But many on the right seem to use this victim/martyr issue at the drop of a hat. A great exhibit of character, I suppose.

You do not know Shawn. You do not know Mr. Hager. You do not know me. It is appalling that you would so immaturely define a person simply by the political party with which they register
You do not know me, either, but that has not stopped you from attacking me. Oh, wait, I mean posting negative terms that you think I represent...

I am so terribly sorry, Aaron, that you are so appalled by something I did not do. It would make your case a bit stronger if perhaps you could stop engaging in what is known as the strawman fallacy. I'm sure you are familiar with the term, but basically it is 'making up' an opponant's position in such a way as to make it easier to attack. A reasonable person can see that any "attacks" were done as a result of the perceived hypocrisy exhibited by the folks in question (again, I see no reason that Hager was brought up as I have not made any comments about him). Additionally, it should not need to be pointed out that Shawn has both a Myspace site and is the president of the Orange County Young Republicans wich also has a website and upon both of which one can find out more than just what one's political affiliation and position is.

and further stereotype them based on a dumb, statistically anecdotal online survey they took about their political leanings. You just exemplified the epitome of ignorance with that series of statements. Rational my ass.
I am sure that your ass is rational, perhaps more so than your head, but that is another story. What series of statements do you refer to? You mean the ones in which I indicated where and why whoever it was that made the original post (the General) might have gotten their information that they used to formulate their opinion from?

“All true, but then again, the focus of this blog is the War and its supporters that will not serve. Support for one’s country though political activism is not the same thing as volunteering to fight in a war that one advocates. I should think such a distinction would be obvious.”
Your “All true” statement is all I need. Thank you. But in order to dignify the time you must have poured into devising some way to save yourself the embarrassment of actually conceding an argument to me, I will respond further.
I am forever amazed at how arrogant and condesending yet totally clueless some people can be. Let us re-examine what I considered 'all true'. Aaron had written:

In reference to your blog’s overall mission, there are multiple ways to serve your country. The armed services are a few options, but political activism, within administrations, organizations and campaigns, are also equally effective methods of showing support for policy and one’s country.

Those things are all true, but they do not negate the hyporisy of those that advoacte war yet will not fight. I fail to see how agreeing that those things are true is a concession, since those things do not nullify the position that I, the OYE blog, and many, many folks like me, hold. But apparently, Aaron is always right about these things. One often runs into the 'always right' types on the Internet.
As a person who, I’m assuming, advocates the power of diplomacy over violence (let me know if I’m wrong), you should look highly upon those who use the power of words to encourage political policy. Isn’t that the path your ideal administration should take?
I do, and yes. As any rational person can see, the present administration is likely paying lip servoce top those ideals. One can only cringe upion hearing W's latest saber-rattling regarding Iran. I suspect that if a Democrat wins the presidential election in '08 (likely at this opoint), a lme duck W will send troops into Iran or Syria as a parting gift, just like Daddy did when he lost to Bill Clinton.

And I will concede that you are right that activism and fighting in a war are not the same things. They are completely different. Just like multivitamins are completely different from oranges, but they both still give you your daily dose of Vitamin C. Hence, they are just as effective. I think you get where this analogy is going.
Yes, it is going south. It is irrelevant and shallow. Being a political activist is fine. But mere political activism does not necessarily entail war advocacy. And being a war advocate - even if implicitly (e.g., Shawn supports Giuliani in 2008, and Giuliani thinks the war is great!) - should entail a modicum of integrity which includes things like the willingness to serve for what one advocates. Again, there is a real and fairly obvious difference between being patriotic and doing things like volunteering in political campaigns and advocating war but refusing to enlist. To me, these folks are more like the losers in the stands that yell "You suck!" to an NFL player when they drop a pass in the Superbowl than they are like an orange giving you vitamin C. Because, afterall, this Republican administration has also done things like fought against pay raises for troops, cut veterans' benefits, etc., so it appears that their love for the troops ends where their wannabeism begins.
Additionally, you assume incorrectly that all of your targets and respondents “will not” serve in the military, as if it is not an option in their wildest dreams. Personally, I simply have not served. I may never, but it is not an option to be ruled out. And I feel confident in saying that others you so vehemently oppose feel similarly.

Silly me - I guess the fact that they are not serving even though recruitment levels are down, troop deployments are on their second (or is it third? I've lost count) mandatory extension, more National Guard units have been activated and deployed for longer periods of time than they were in WWII, etc., doesn't mean they never will. And I was unaware that I 'vehemently opposed' anyone. Oh, I forgot - if one is not in lock-step with this Aaron guy on the Internet, then you must 'vehemently oppose' what he stands for....

"Do you watch Fox News? ... Is that an attempt to harmonize the nation? When Ann Coulter says when you talk to a liberal you should use a baseball bat, what is that? ... You might want to engage the services of a mirror.”

Hmmm…looks like we’re getting personal now. I love it when a political opponent stops debating policy and starts attacking the person. It really shows the true you. And that I mean in a bad way.

I love it when some dude on the Internet tries to play this holier-than-thou schtick. It usually means that they are covering their own tracks. I 'defend' myself against implicict charges that I am divisive and the like, and I am accused of getting 'personal.' Funny.... Of course, an intelligent person could peruse this blog and see that nobody is really discussing policy, unless you consider the hypocrisy of so many young neocons top be policy... Another red herring from Aaron.

... And again, I’ll reiterate what I said in my first paragraph: the actions of others, especially if they are not done directly towards you, are not legitimate justifications for what you are doing now. You are responsible for the inflammatory crap you write.

So, now it is inflammatory to call out neocon hypocrisy? Is it inflammatory to point out that Larry Craig is either a closeted gay man or perjured himself in a court of law? I guess so, in the world of the always-right Internet dude.

If you are so threatened by them, start directing your blogs at Ann Coulter et al., not
unsuspecting individuals like Shawn Fago.

I am not threatened by them. I find them divisive, inflammatory, dishonest hacks. And again with poor Shawn - he is only the president of one of the largest 'young republican' groups in the scond largest and one of the 'richest' counties in the country.

In reference to your “Is it harmonizing and visionary” rant, you seem to be directing the focus of your frustration on those who do not deserve it, nor want it. Shawn did not shut the other major political party completely out of policy discussions and briefings. Shawn did not hire the administrators. Shawn did not force protestors to stay behind chain-link fences a mile away from political events.

True. He is just the president of the Orange County Young Republicans who supports a candidate for president who supports the war in Iraq but will not enlist, and who - we can only assume - supports the present administration and its policies (for there are certainly no disclaimers on theier various websites). Excuse me - has not enlisted despite the military's obvious need for young healthy heterosexual males.

Nor did I; nor did Mr. Hager. There is no need for mirrors or introspection because we are not responsible for the actions of others, nor did you stay on topic in the least
bit from “The General’s” unprovoked attack on Shawn Fago.

I strayed a bit from the major topic because I was induced to do so. By YOU. You had written:

Shawn, I and the other individuals who commented have chosen that route. We choose to fight you (so to speak)—individuals who try to push our country into unwise, shortsighted policies by polarizing our population, picking fights with those who do not desire a confrontation, and calling your opponents cowards, hypcrites or other heinous names rather than discussing policy like an intelligent human being would.

Remember? Not only did YOU get personal, YOU are the one that brought up policy! YOU are the one that indicated that 'individuals like me' are polarizing the nation by not discussing policy! No wonder you decided to omit that from your reply - keeping it readily available to a reader would have dimiished your attack. Best nix it for rhetorical points! Cheap and sleazy, those are terms that you represent to me.

“Then they should strive to be a little more proactive and visionary, rather than looking to see what they think will win them the next election at any expense – especially if that expense is the blood of real patriotic Americans. And why, I wonder, do war-advocates always seem to think that those that are not pro-war for some reason want weak security?”
Proactive and visionary? What better way to be proactive and visionary than to actively pursue a cause that would guarantee a representative who advocates they same policy as they?

Here is a better way - realize that the status quo is a failure and advocate for real positive change.

Your definition of “patriot” also seems to be a little warped. Patriotism is an ideology—a belief system. It is not an earned badge. “Patriot” and “Nationalist”are synonymous, and do not require military service as a condition to be considered one.

pa·tri·ot /ˈpeɪtriət, -ˌɒt or, especially Brit., ˈpætriət/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[pey-tree-uht, -ot or, especially Brit., pa-tree-uht]

Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
1. a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.
2. a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, esp. of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government.

Of course one not need have served in the military to be a Patriot, but that is just your latest attempt at redirection. AGAIN, since many seem to have a hard time understanding this, the issue is the advocacy - either explicit or implicit - of military action for purely political or reasons (let's be honest - the Iraq invasion had nothing to do with 'freeing' Iraqis or 9/11 - any rational person who follows politics at all knows that an invasion of Iraq was in the works before 9/11) despite an unwillingness to actually fight. I think this attitude is in part responsible for the cavalier attitde so many neocons have toward war - they are not going to have to fight, their kids will not have to fight, so let's go invade anyone that we don't like! Or has oil!

And why do you clump us into the overall “war-advocate” mold?

Why did you write that I and those like me are liberal computer nerds?

Are you assuming that we just love to send our troops to any old place and kill darker skinned folks? Honestly, my friend, have we become so demonized in your twisted little mind that you cannot fathom a more dynamic though process is going on in our minds?

So, so personal... MY twisted little mind? Ah, the bravado of distance...

Although I cannot answer directly for Shawn, I am pretty sure he shares a similar opinion to my own with the following remainder of this paragraph: I do not advocate war in its general sense. I advocate the use of alternatives as a first resort. When there are none left—that is, when the government in power chooses to remain non-transparent, saber-rattles to the point of suspicion, lends financial support to known terrorist organizations (families of suicide bombers from the Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations in Israel), and has a history of prior megalomania—it is appropriate to consider military action as a viable option.

This is funny. It seems that the policy chiefs in Washington should have actually understood the Arab culture a little better. Maybe actually been experts, instead of just claiming to be. For if they actually understood, they would have known about the importance of saving face and all that for them, and known that brazen public confrontation and threats only makes matters worse. And should we have not been able to understand that Iraq did not actually pose a threat to us? They had no long-range ICBMs. They had no nukes. They had no long range bombers. They did not support Al Qaeda. The saber rattling was primarily ours. ALL of the major predictions by the supposed 'experts' ended up being totally wrong. No statues to Bush (and that one statue of a soldier supposedly made by an Iraqi craftsman, thankful for our 'freeing' them - turned out to have been commissioned by the DoD), no parades, no end after a few weeks, no Iraq paying its own debts, etc. And let us not forget - Hussein was a big pal of ours under Reagan.

The Iraq war was obviously mismanaged during it beginning phases. Our military leaders did not take into account the power vacuum that emerged from the fall of the only political powerhouse there (He killed off any possible opponents).

Let's not blame the military for this. The military did what it was told to do, and did it well. It was the planning and prosecution that was flubbed - those in the military that did not 'fall in line' with the fantasy plans of the Rumsfeld cabal suddenly retired. Remember all that? Shinseki says that it would take 500,000 troops and many years - gone. So much for listening to the commanders. It takes more than bumper stickers and voting republican to actuallu support the troops.

There are very few rational Americans who believe that the tactics used immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein were the most efficient. However, that does not mean we leave. There is still a power vacuum present in one of the most resource rich, regionally central and religiously active states in the Middle East. Republicans do not want to stay indefinitely; they want to stay until Iraq is stabilized. Only then do we withdraw troops and bring them home for good. So when I say mention weak security or shortsightedness, I do not mean that you want it. ...We are in a power struggle with entities that wish to become more powerful than we. It is in our best interests to subvert these opponents in order to preserve our international dominance, and, hence, guarantee our security.

And what better way to accomplish all this than to encourage young, fit, heterosexual patriots to enlist so we can do it expeditiously! I find the whole 'well, we're there, so let's stay and finish it' argument crude and shallow. But it seems to be the best the neocon element and its sympathizers have. We can never guarantee our security. That is a fantasy. We can help to ensure it, and act to do so, but there are no guarantees in life. Iraq was much stabler before the invasion than it is now. Intelligence agencies cite the invasion as a major recruitment tool for terrorist groups. And as for preserving our 'internatinal dominance' - wel, I will only say that we are not an empire and should not strive to be one (though those in 'power' now certainly seem to think otherwise).

You have every right to disagree or even call me heartless, uncaring or the other plethora of words I have already heard. It’s old news. And I don’t think we’re going to convince each other to bend on our ideals, especially in this forum.

Sometimes, heartless acts have to be undertaken in order to preserve a way of life/to protect oneself. I do not think that this is one of those times.

“Ah, the College Republican ‘tough guy’ act. Yes, I am sure that works with the frat boys and freshman, but this former-paratrooper finds it pathetic and it is just as hypocritical as the refusal of pro-war right-wingers to serve. ...What’s nex – you can like the Yankees but not be a baseball player? You can be for tougher laws but not be a policeman?”

Wow, another personal attack.

Funny... A 'personal attack' in response to... a personal attack. It is very common for those making sucvh accusations to be unable to see their own words for what they are or can be interpreted as being. Here is what Aaron did not include or allude to in his quote of me, to which I was responding:

Now that you have our attention, come out of hiding. Let us meet you and discuss your actions face to face—that is, if you’re not "yellow" (or an ass).

In the world of the Internet always-right guy, the above is just words and carries no meaning or connotation.

*snip gibberish about not being rich*

Stop basing your entire arguments on half-assed assumptions. So far you’re doing a great job of providing further proof for the “ass out of you and me” saying. Try asking questions and getting to know your opposition before you make sweeping, ignorant generalizations about them.

All very funny stuff, considering the things Aaron has written about me and others at OYE...

Remember? I'm just some liberal computer nerd, hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet... But, in terms of explanation, I am not basing my comments on assumptions so much as genealizations form experience - and that is what we ll have, right? In my experience, chickenhawks are nearly universally conservative (with a few notable exceptions), and those who defend the same are susually, well, the same (also with a few notable exceptions). I - and everyone else -am clearly not always correct or justified in the use of such genralizations, but speaking for myself, I have a pretty good track record. Of course, the comments section on a blog is hardly the place one goes to 'get to know' one's apparent opponant on any given issue, and I notice that you and the other defenders fo YEs did not ask many questions of us, merely hurled epithets and accusations and defended a fellow YE at all costs.

And, yes, I understand very well now after the 10-20 times you wrote it that you served bravely in our military—and jumped out of planes to do so no less.

Actually, I believe that I have mentioned it only 3-4 times, and only to make it clear that I am also not a hypocrite and am talking from experience. I guess in the world of the neocon and their allies, that is a bad thing.

Lastly, yes to both of your last questions. You do not have to be a baseball player to like the Yankees, and you do not have to be a police officer to want tougher laws. End of story.

Yes of course one need not be a baseball player to like the Yankees. But many YEs have claimed that being a Yankees fan but not being a baseball player is akin to if not identical to advocating for war but not enlisting.

That might have some merit if professional baseball players were tools of the implementation of a president's foreign policy. It might have some meaning if baseball players were required to kill opposing players and/or be prepared to be killed themselves during games. But I don't think even the shallowest neocon or their allies would dare to make such an argument.

The real end of story:

One need not have served in the military to be patriotic. A president need not have served to command the military. But the military should not be seen as a group of expendable pawns through whom incompetent and ideologically driven politicians can implement their fantasy policies. To compare the advocacy of sending troops off to fight and die in wars but being unwilling to enlist and fight to rooting for a baseball team is insulting to those who actually enlisted and do the dirty work of this nation.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another arrogant egomaniac - "island"

I came across a couple of arrogant, condescending comments by someone calling itself "island" at the Dispatches.. blog, and I decided to see what this person had to say on his own blog.

As is almost always the case, this hypersensitive, pompous blowhard seems to rely on name calling and assertions and appears to be among 'island's' primary means of discussion. It is laughable to see 'island' declare himself an "honest scientist" when he relies on what I consider philosophical musings as a basis for his 'scientific' claims.

Before I get to the comical pomposity of 'island's' rant here, I would like to explore one example of this self-proclaimed "honest scientist's" method of 'science'. In a comment left on the Dispatches... blog (same one linked above), in response to island's asserting "Engineers and some very reputable physicists *commonly* say that design in nature recognizably exists," a commenter writes:

"there is no scientific evidence for "design."
To which the "honest scientist" island replies:

LOL... um you clowns wilfully denied every point that I made without directly
addressing it:

island: there is no scientific evidence for "designTranslation...
island... we refuse to recogize that a tree is a functional pump

What this exchange displays is not the refusal to recognize design in nature, but, in addition to island's arrogant self-importance, an insistence by island that analogies are really equivalencies. Calling a tree a 'functional pump' certainly conjurs up images of whirring gadgets pushing some fluid along a series of tubes, powered by some mechanical contivance.

But is a tree a 'pump' in that way? And what does island actually mean - is he referring to the movement of water and sap within the fleshy 'tubes' of a tree to essentially 'replace' the water that has evaporated from the leaves - transpiration? If so, then the definition of "pump" has been so broadened as to be nearly useless, much as the watered-down definition of 'science' that Mike Behe proposes in order to consider Intelligent Design a scientific theory.

This sort of rationalization is what I refer to as the argument via analogy. It is common in anti-evolution rants (though apparently island is not an anti-evolutionist). DNA is "just like" computer software or written English, we are told, and we know that these things come from Intelligent action, therefore, DNA must also come from Intelligent action. Exceptionally shallow and naive, but it works well with 'the masses.'
Thus is island's "argument."

Island then writes:

[quote from a google group]In following, this and a few other Newsgroups, I noticed that Biologist, almost without exception, are adamant in their denial of the presence of design in nature.

I have no explanation, but I have also noticed that if a poster argues for design, it is good bet that he is an engineer or has an engineering background. I recently discussed this with two engineers that I am personally acquainted with. Both are convinced that design in nature is real and one man, Wm. Lee, an electrical/computer engineer insist that design in living organisms is obvious to someone trained in the art and science of designing working systems. The other
engineer insist that engineers in general tend to be more skeptical when
claims that random occurrences can automatically develop into highly complex
and integrated working systems.
[end quote]

So, admit that my statement is correct... or crawl in a hole with the rest of them.

Get that? Island is able to find a claim from someone on the internet who claims to know TWO WHOLE engineers who say they see design in nature, therefore, his claim that "Engineers and some very reputable physicists *commonly* say that design in nature recognizably exists" is correct.

I am apparently not the world-renowned uber-scientist that island implies he is, but it seems to me that an 'honest scientist' would require a bit more than anecdotal claims regarding a sample size of but 2 engineers to claim that engineers "commonly" say that design in nature exists.
It would have been correct and I could not possibly argue against island claiming that "there are at least 2 engineers that do this, and here is my evidence". But this is not what he did. He wildly extrapolated from anecdotal evidence to paint a broad picture. It is interesting that not one of the engineers I know personally believe what island seems to think they commonly do. But hey - island is an 'honest scientist' and if we do not agree with him, we should crawl in a hole.

But wait - Mr.Precision adds to the confusion, Behe-style:

Before somebody REALLY stick their foot in their mouth by saying that the human construct of design isn't a part of nature:
there is no scientific evidence for "design." The assertion that there is "design in nature" is unprovable, and undisprovable, in and of itself.
I see... so what is it that design engineers do if there is no evidence that these
creatures of nature do anything. The capability for "design" doesn't just pop-out of humans if the potential for its emergence doesn't pre-exist within physics that constrains the force constants of nature, so only sheer unadulterated human arrogance gives one the unmitigated audacity to "believe" that design can ever reflect anything greater or less than the sum of expressed bias toward satisfying a pre-existing physical need.

Ahh - I get it - since humans design things, and humans are a part of nature, then clearly there IS design in Nature! How obvious! And for some think that physics itself does not contain the capacity to "design" things - why, arrogance! Human arrogance! Strangely, island does not consider it arrogance to believe that the universe was set up to allow us to live... I know, I know... I don't get the dichotomy either...

And wait - after being asked for clarification on what island means by 'design', he puts the requester in his place:

No, my point is that there is no difference between what humans and the rest of nature does when it comes to "design"... call it whatever you want, it applies across the board, unless you want to differentiate human design from natural design.
And there we have it. "Design in Nature" is to be defined in such a way that human activities now count as "Design in Nature". And astrology is a science... Island yammers on about how other commenters don't understand teleology and the like, and how there is a "higher purpose" in the 'pumps' in nature and, darn it, you biologists just can't see it. The blogger, Ed Brayton, sums it up:

Frankly, I think this is all a bunch of ill-defined gobbledygook. Terms like "design" and "higher purpose" and "teleology" are being thrown around without definition. Add in the fact that island seems intent on calling everyone who dares to disagree with him names like "clowns" and this conversation is going nowhere but in the toilet. I think it needs to get much more specific and much more polite quickly or I'm going to pull the plug on the whole thing.

Of course, island, as do all cranks, believes he is justified in dismissing criticisms and questions:

My attitude changes drastically when people try to take a position of authority when they have demonstrated zero right to it.

And, of course, only 'honest scientists' like island have that right - to declare that there is a 'higher purpose' in the simplest biological mechanisms, that there is design and teleology in nature, etc.
Well, that particular discussion took place in 2005. The entire exchange is rather insightful regarding island's position and attitude, again summed up by Brayton:

But what I do see is someone acting very much like a crank - declaring that he alone has the truth, that no one else is capable of understanding it much less critique it, and lashing out at people who disagree even when they do so politely. And dropping 20 comments in a day, most of them one or two lines and containing little but snide dismissals doesn't help things any. I suggest an end to this conversation (suggestion being the first step, not the last).

And one last bit of island superior wisdom:

If the anthropic cosmological principle constrains the forces of the *finite* *observed* universe, then humans where brought into existence... "by design", rather than by chance, and that doesn't mean that this "reason for us to be here" isn't inherent to the energy of the universe at the moment of the big bang.

[ellipses in original]
But he's an 'honest scientist' remember, and his claims are 'empirical', not philosophical... Yup...

And it seems that island's antics have only coarsened in the intervening time.
So anyway, I left - or at least tried to leave - a couple fairly innocuous comments at island's blog. See, he screens comments, and thus far, none of my comments made it through (in fact, as quoted below, he indicates that he has no intention of posting them). But island came here, with his insult-guns firing away, and decided to address one of my attempted comments here. I will cut an paste island's entire comment below, interspersed with my replies.

Here's my first example of the junk that constitutes doppelganger's idea of "science":
On, my blog, "i" said: The Anthropic Principle is a cosmological principle
And duhppelganger

How clever! Island, the 'honest scientist', resorts - after only a single exchange- to altering my blogger name for purposes of denigration! What a way to establish one's intellectual superiority!

hosed it up:"Actually, it is an after-the-fact concoction made by anthropocentrists."

No, Dr. Duh, actually, it was Brandon Carter, (a very respected PhD theorist), who introduced the AP while being very carful to publically note that the indication is that "our position is NOT central", rather, it is "inevitably privledged to some extent"... so you don't have a clue what you're saying. Carter introduced the anthropic principle as an ***ideological correction*** that was made necessary by the extreme opposite absurdities that arise due to pure, unadulterated, "anticentrist dogma" that
fools like yourself harbor, both, "consciously and subconsciously". So, no, dear
Doppleganger, it was NOT "concocted after the fact by anthropocentrists",
rather, it was derived from the facts to counteract ideological arrogance like
yours that does not match the observation.

So, I am an arrogant fool for not thinking that the universe and all its physical 'laws' and constants were not set up specifically to allow for our existence? Dear me.
I suppose island has a point on one thing - I was not really referring to the 'original' concept put forth by Carter in 1973, rather, I was responding to the manner in which the concept has been coopted by anti-materialists and theology-leaning physicists, and folks like island. Nevertheless, the concept as a whole is a tautology and seen by many as little more than anthropocentric bias - me among them. Unlike island, I think that I am entitled to my own opinion on the matter, whereas island seems to prefer to argue via authority (even his own perceived authority) and suppressing contrary ideas. While I suspect that island is a disturbed malcontent, middle-aged, balding, probably never married and living at home with his mom, a professor of physics says this about the anthropic principle:

The WAP [weak anthropic principle, see* at the bottom] is considered by most physicists and cosmologists to be a simple tautology. Of course the constants of nature are suitable for our form of life. If they were not, we would not be here to talk about it.

But what does he know - he is just a professor of physics. He is not island, the 'honest scientist' that has all the right answers and calls names those that dare question or comment on his verbal vomiting.

Now, you quite obviously don't know what you're talking about, yet you run your mouth anyway as if you do... (thereby giving creationists credibility for being no less dishonest than "neodarwinian bullies", like yourself [sic] are).
Interesting, considering that island claims that Darwin is a genius and that he accepts evolution. So why mention creationism? Who knows. And how, exactly, am I a 'neodarwinian bully'? Unlike island, I do not merely mock and insult those that I disagree with. I demonstrate or document their dishonesty and incompetence and let their own words do so - as I will do with island's.
Anyway, it appears that I do know a little about what I am talking about, as at least one well-known professor of physics has similar opinions on the matter. Allow me to reiterate:

The WAP is considered by most physicists and cosmologists to be a simple tautology. Of course the constants of nature are suitable for our form of life. If they were not, we would not be here to talk about it

Allow me to expand.
Carter's so-called strong anthropic principle, according to Stenger (as already linked), states:

The Universe (and hence the fundamental parameters on which it depends) must
be such as to admit the creation of observers within it at some stage.
Why? And just who are these 'observers'? Why, they are US! What a grand coincidence. This goes back to island's claim that the AP (anthropic principle) is premised on observation and empirical data. And what are these observations and data? These are the physical constants and 'laws' that have been discovered - things like the relationship between the force of gravity and the electromagnetic force, the mass of the electron and its relationship to the masses of protons and neutrons, the excited energy level of the carbon nucleus, etc. (culled from Stenger's paper). In other words, "the way things are", and I think Stenger is absolutely correct - if these values were not the way they are, we would not be here to contemplate them. And we are humans. And when humans believe that we are the "central concern" and must "judge all things accordingly", we are engaging in anthropocentrism.
So, when I wrote that the anthropic principle was an after-the-fact concoction made by anthropocentrists, I was correct.

And you want me to publish crap like this on my science-based blog???... lol... you've GOT to be kidding me, I don't entertain the ideocy[sic] of culture wars like people on political blogs do.

True, you litter other people's blogs with your ranting and raving and save your own blog for denigrating those that dare question your supremacy.

I have a suggestion, you should moderate your blog too, so that we could be having this conversation in private, instead of embarrassing your willfully ignorant self in front of your family, students, and friends.

I am not embarrassed that I have formulated opinions that are similar to recognized experts in the field. Why should I be? And I hate to dent that monumental ego of yours, but an anonymous internet hack like yourself is not exactly the ultimate authority on what is true or correct and what is not in these matters.

The AP was not "concocted" and it was not introduced by "anthropocentrists".

Concocted: To devise, using skill and intelligence; contrive

There is a bit of a negative connotation in the use of the word 'concoct', and that is my purpose. Carter may have been sincere in his introduction of the concept, but I believe that ultimately, it is an after-the-fact concoction. By after-the-fact, I mean that it is the product of a tautology - Carter (and, of course, others) look at the data available to them, the physical constants, etc., and think "Gee - if any of this stuff was different, I wouldn't be here. Thus, these things are the way they are SUCH THAT I could be here!" Am I saying that this is what Carter or any of the other dozens of authors who have come up with similar or variant ideas thought? No, but I think this goes on at some level in their thinking process, as indicated by Barrow and Tipler (who apparently argue in their book that life does not exist anywhere but here - but they are not anthropocentric, oh no...) :

[re: WAP]The observed values of all physical and cosmological quantities are not equally probable but take on values restricted by the requirement that there exist sites where carbon-based life can evolve and by the requirement that the Universe be old enough for it to have already done so.

and even more obvious, their SAP [strong anthropic principle]:

The Universe must have those properties which allow life to develop within it at
some stage in its history.

And why must it have those properties? Because it does. And what life are we talking about? Us. Tautology. Anthropocentric. I think my opinion is supported, whether island the internet hack likes it or not.

Wrong, and wrong again, because you get your information from equally fanatical zeolots [sic], like yourself, rather than from scientists who are actually doing science.

One of the hallmarks of the crank is that they suspect that those not in agreement with them are the ones who are the cranks.

What an absurd fool you categorically prove yourself to be... but nothing that the delete button can't handle, right, Dope?

Ironic, as island wrote this to a commenter on his blog:

You haven't refuted or corrected anything, and you have clearly demonstrated that you can't even follow instructions, so you are rightfully identified to be a crank, and will not be allowed to further comment, unless you can do something better than nothing.

Island can project with the best of his ilk, it seems.
Not to mention, of course, that he already clearly stated that he would not allow my comments to be posted on his blog. Cranks and fanatics are like that. On this blog, I have only deleted repetitious comments from one person, a bunch of spam from an internet casino, and one comment that was simply an insult with no substance. Which is basically what island's posts have been thus far. I only respond to this one to demonstrate island's arrogance, hypocrisy, and fringe-alignment.

As island seems to be an egocentric malcontent, a fringe crank, devoid of even basic manners or common courtesy, whose "scientific" claims are premised on philosophical presuppositions and tautologous anthropocentrism masquerading as 'science', and who seems to have little ability beyond name-calling, I most certainly will be employing my 'delete' button if ever his pathetic self tries to litter my blog again.

*From the linked-to document from Victor Stenger:

His [Carter's] weak anthropic principle (WAP) states that:

We must be prepared to take into account the fact that our location in the universe is necessarily privileged to the extent of being compatible with our existence as observers.

Carter’s strong anthropic principle (SAP) says that:

The Universe (and hence the fundamental parameters on which it depends) must
be such as to admit the creation of observers within it at some stage.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Henry Rollins interview

I was never really into the Punk scene, and I never really cared for even 'mainstream' punk, but the more I read about Henry Rollins, the more I like him.

An interesting interview with Henry in Mother Jones.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Creationist Engineers just know EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING!

It is just so amazing...

Why this fella - Kevin Clark [aka KBC1963]- a mechanical engineer from Georgia, just KNOWS that similar genes cannot possibly 'encode' similar structures in organisms (e.g., limb bones in humans and chimps, or the upper and lower limb bones in the same organisms). Why? Why, because he is an engineer, and when HE designs similar things even in the same machine, he has to use 'different coding':

To say those three [femurs from different animals]are the same is not true. I
make 3 dimensional models and I have modeled many items that have similar
appearing forms and they are not coded the same. Each of these bones is
distinctly and spacially different just as the parts on a model car differ from
a real car. To assert what you have is to overlook a huge mechanical and coding

I mean, genetics must conform to the manner in which a mechanical engineer designs things on a computer...
But here, Clark explains why he can dismiss the musings of non-engineers on matters dealing with mechanics:

Apparently you are not aware of the same things I am since you are arguing
mechanics with a mechanical engineer. You are not taught engineering as part of
biology, nor have you persued instruction past your field as is evident by your
failure to understand mechanical principles.

I wonder - is biology taught to mechanical engineers?

By the way - this is the guy that claimed cells are spheres, carbohydrates are the points of attachment for all cells, etc....

[additional links forthcoming]