Friday, May 26, 2006

The Anointing of Intelligent Design As A Science

(Note, I wrote this six months ago, but the primary points still hold).

It is Divinely Devout Dayton all over again – eighty lost, fruitless, aberrant years later. The Bible Thumpers, Holier than even God Himself, have managed to push through legislation in a number of states that is heaven-bent on introducing religion – and a very specific one at that –into the public school system via creationism. Of course, these devilishly clever Christians don’t call it creationism: they claim it is an alternative scientific theory, one known by the angelic appellation, “Intelligent Design”. They even take great pains to point out that it is supported by at least ten or fifteen brilliant, well known (amongst the wine and wafer crowd, anyway) and pious scientists. And, if those prominent purveyors of scrupulous scientific principles feel comfortable anointing ID as a science, then, by God, it must be one. Never mind the stench of simplistic superstition turned religious reality wafting from every pore of ID – that stench is not noticed by the right-minded, to them it is an aroma as sweet as a concoction of milk and honey.

Thus armed with a cleverly christened theory carefully canonized by sacred standard-bearers of science, the Kansas School Board, channeling God’s infinite wisdom, has decided that it is best to offer to the misguided youth of today’s unrepentant world pseudo-scientific ideas that are at odds with Darwin’s crazed theory that we might even be remotely related to “lower” life forms, or any of “God’s creatures” for that matter. Not the noble horse, not the majestic elephant, and certainly not some amorphous amoeba swimming in an imaginary primordial ooze. No, we are above all that, images of a God who did it all in six short days.

Note that I said “a God”: I assure you that there will be scant mention of the creation myths of the Hindus, the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, the Hittites or any other unholy cabal of confounded and confused pagans. No, ID is very much focused on one alternative reality, and that is the story of creation as found in the Bible and somewhat uncomfortably, in the Qu’ran.

Thus, ID is not as science. But, this is not merely because it is derived from the aforementioned religious mythology, but because it lacks they one key element by which all true scientific principles must be judged: disprovability. The theory is not testable. It cannot be proven or disproven. It is simply a matter of belief and as such, it is not science. Say what you will about Darwin’s theory, point out that it has weaknesses (and it does), note it’s difficulties if you wish, and in so doing you will have shown why evolution is a science and why ID is mere pietistic piffle.

Originally, I was going to end this piece by noting that in the final tally on this Day of Judgment it seems that Darwin was wrong; some people will never evolve: they lack the requisite intelligence to open their minds to reality, preferring instead to dance in some sacred cave of religious ignorance, for, as has been said by so many, ignorance is bliss. However, shortly after I had written that epitaph, voters in Dover, Pennsylvania fired the eight fired-up fundamentalists who had foisted ID on that little suburban town. So, Darwin was right – but sadly, it seems that evolution is even more selective that he thought. But, what bothers me the most about this whole debate is that the pushers of this piffle, smug in their sanctity, fail to grasp one of the great tacit implications in believing that there was a creator at work: what makes humans different from all other species is our ability to think, and this ability is a gift that these holy hucksters seem almost too willing to return unused. Thus, when they spit in the faces of those atheistic folks who seek a scientific solution to all mysteries, they are, in effect, spitting in the face of their God. One of these eschatological days, he just might decide to spit back.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

No Child Left Untaxed

On May 18, 2006, the great No-tax-and-spend-way-more-than-you-have non-fiscal-conservative George “Dubya” Bush, signed yet another “tax-relief” bill. Well, almost. A cute little catch in the bill increases taxes for “teenagers age 14 to 17 with investment income” who will now “be taxed at the same rate as their parents, not at their own rates.” In other words, according to the NYT, “Long-term capital gains and dividends that had been taxed at 5 percent will now be taxed at 15 percent. Interest that had been taxed at 10 percent will now be taxed at as much as 35 percent.”

Aside from the fact that this new bill effectively breaks Dubya’s 1999 promise to “veto any bill that raises taxes”, and that this bill is clearly at odds with the alleged intent of his “No Child Left Behind” pseudomasterpiece, the White House response to getting caught with its hand in teenagers’ pockets is rather telling.

Initially, the White House had crowed that Dubya had “reduced taxes on all people who pay income taxes.” Caught taking candy from babies, the Truth-lite House retracted the original statement and modified it with, “reduced taxes on virtually all people who pay income taxes”.

Now, in order to see what I’m on about, let’s parse this sentence:

  • First, people are not taxed, their income is. Yet, by using the preposition “on” rather than “for”, the Bushites clearly want to propagate the myth that “Taxes don’t tax income, they kill people” (or something like that).
  • The use of “virtually all” when talking about tax reductions makes it sound as if the status quo has been maintained for the rest, not that taxes have actually tripled on income that was to be used so that no child really is left behind.
  • The use of “income taxes” is deliberately misleading: there is only one income tax. It may have different facets, but there’s only one tax. Saying income “taxes” creates the opposite impression.
  • “…people who pay income taxes” is also a bit nebulous. True, it is correct to note that not all people pay income tax – but the reason is never specified, leading the reader to draw their own conclusion, which, given the average American’s lack of knowledge of the Internal Revenue Code, is likely to be the wrong conclusion. The reason is that some people make too little for their income to be taxed, but the wording suggests that some people are getting away with something. (And some are – mostly Dubya’s “Rangers” and “Pioneers”)

Bottom line? The statement is a masterpiece in misinformation (or, perhaps, disinformation) well in keeping with the overall all tendency of the Bushites, who started their tax disinformation program by misrepresenting and propagandizing Estate Taxes, which they were quick to call “Death Taxes”.

P.S. – Although I noted above, “Aside from the fact … that this bill is clearly at odds with the alleged intent of his “No Child Left Behind” pseudomasterpiece…”, I should touch on that aspect, too. Are too many lower- and middle-income kids now able to afford a college education, thus creating problems for the children of privilege who might actually have to compete for jobs based on their college GPA? Could the kids born with plastic spoons in their mouths actually supplant those born to the silver spoon set? The horror, the horror.

Friday, May 19, 2006


"Truth" is becoming as subjective as beauty these days. No one wants to look at anything objectively – doing so is too scary and one might learn that a cherished belief is untrue.

Why is it that the most pietistic areas of this country tend to be those in which counting to five and putting one's shoes on the proper feet are considered major accomplishments?

A wise man sometimes thinks himself a fool but a fool always thinks himself a wise man.

One day, a Christian anthropologist will find Jesus’ body; he will then be stoned to death by a mob of his fellow Christians.

Fear and narcissism fuel our search for gods and aliens: fear that we are alone and without purpose; and a narcissistic belief that we are important and interesting enough to be the center of other beings’ attention.

Demeter is the mother of all gods, for it was agriculture that gave us the leisure to create pantheons.

All who wish to be the New Rome must bear one thing in mind: Rome fell.

Among many modern Christians one only turns the other cheek in order to spit upon another infidel.

Beware the man who says he is a “uniter not a divider”: his dream of unity can only occur if all believe as he does.

If you do not wish to watch something, change the channel; if you do not wish to hear it, turn the dial; if you do not wish to read it, cast it aside: but do not deny my right to watch, to listen, to read – or to learn.

Taking the high road, while lauded as the civilized thing to do, is actually quite suicidal: it merely makes one an open target for the snipers hiding in the bushes below.

Hasn’t the term “compassionate conservative” ever bothered you? After all, it is clearly a de facto admission that true conservatism knows no compassion.

Bullshit, when backed by money, talks; truth, without a dime to its name, walks.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Requiem for a Language Part I: Pet Peeves of the English Police

For the past few days, several friends and I have had an ongoing discussion regarding the examples of English language abuse that drive us absolutely bonkers. Here's the list:

Me: "chose" in place of "choose", "loose" in place of "lose", the "their/there/they're" triad, as well as the "your/you're" befuddlement. And, "I should of...", or "for all intensive purposes", or "supposably", or "irregardless". Finally (for the nonce), "free bonus gift".

Choo-Choo Freddie:
* Incorrect use of superlative when a comparative should have been used.
* Incorrect use of comparative when a superlative should have been used(classic example;a list of >2 things, author then refers to the last thing as the "latter")
* The word "data" is a plural
* "stadiums", "referendums" and other non-plurals.*
* it's/its
* "none" used in the plural
* The plural of "index" is "indices".
* criteria is plural, its singular is criterion.

Dendrophile: My pet peeve is "most unique". Unique means singular, it can't take comparators.

Canis Rabidus: "censor" when one means "censure"

Pussy Willow: "got" instead of "have"

I'm sure we'll come up with more. If you have any thoughts, leave a response.