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Because I Hate Bad Arguments…

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

People are often very invested in creationism*. For most, it is a moral imperative – the Bible says it is so, and if that part of the Bible is wrong, then what’s stopping the whole thing from being wrong? Or, it’s a matter of fear – not wanting to dare tread on the toes of the insitution they’ve been raised in. A minority don’t believe evolution because they’re ignorant of science.

For me, the most frustrating thing about most creationist arguments is that they’re just plain untrue. Half of them betray a complete misunderstanding of the Theory of Evolution. The rest of them betray a complete lack of a science education or basic research. Or they’re off-topic. One that continually drives me bat-shit-insane is “Vestigal organs, like humans losing their tail, are proof that evolution is false, because evolution is about advancing and gaining function, not losing it!”

If you don’t understand why this argument is wrong, then the rest of this post is probably too advanced for you. You should spend the time reading basic evolutionary theory instead, then come back.

What most creationists don’t realise (I assume…) is that the claims they gather so eagerly off the internet (seriously?) are so very untrue. Very few sites cite sources; fewer sites cite scientific research as sources. Creationists, I can again only assume, seem to think that these ideas they’re spreading around are completely new and untested. Perhaps believing that scientists wouldn’t deign to look into matters like religion, or more likely, that scientists are too scared to test these ideas in case they were proven correct! (*Gasp*) But, as so often, creationists are wrong again. While perhaps few of the arguments have been directly tested, science itself is advanced enough that most of these crazy new ideas are disproven quite easily.

Unfortunately (but understandably), in order to come up with reasons why these creationist arguments are false usually requires at least a decent understand of biology, chemistry, physics, geology, and argumentative fallacies and at most a good poke around in the scientific literature. Otherwise, you’re unlikely to even know where to start looking, never mind where to find the answer.

Luckily, these days we have the Internet. And these days we have someone intelligent enough to realise that only having scientists and professors, scattered over many fields, well-enough equipt to refute and give proof that these arguments are false is not a good enough defense against hoards of list-waving people screaming out reasons why evolution can’t exist that they don’t even understand, never mind came up with. At least, not a good enough defense if the common person can’t access a scientist or professor for the truth when confronted with these reasons. And these days, we’re lucky enough to have someone kind enough to spend the time to make a website of happy!!!

I present: Index to Creationist Claims

This website is a compiled list of pretty much every creationist argument ever made, and perhaps every personal question you’ve ever pondered about evolution. And every argument has a refutement – and every refutement has citations! Hooray! It has answers to the simpler arguments we’ve all probably come across, like:

  • Some systems are too complex to be explained by evolution [answer]
  • The second law of thermodynamics prohibits evolution [answer]
  • Ockham’s Razor says’s the simplest explanation is prefferable, and creationism is simpler [answer]
  • The eye cannot have evolved gradually – that means at some point there would have been ‘half an eye’ and that would be useless! [answer]

And the more complicated ones**:

  • Does chirality make the chance of simple chemicals/structures forming too small? [answer]
  • If DNA is replicated by proteins, but proteins are formed by DNA, how could one form without the other already being present? [answer]

So go, browse around. Have a look for yourself. There is no real science behind creationism. It’s the sad truth. If you want to disreguard science, that’s your personal choice, but please understand there’s no more reason for doing so than your own personal convictions. And please understand that your own personal convictions do not make science into a ‘pick and choose’ buffet line – evolution is proven far well enough to be taught everywhere, just like all the other hard sciences, so whether it’s controversial or not, we must include it, or degrade our own scientific system.

To quote:

“Evolution matters because science matters, and too many people (including some presidents) are willing to believe that science is something you can pick and choose from, with “good” science being anything that supports your own views and “bad” science being anything that doesn’t. …Too many people can’t accept that although scientists are not perfect, and do make mistakes (sometimes whoppers), science isn’t something you can pick through like a buffet, accepting only what is to your “taste” and designating the rest inedible. If people feel free to reject the science of evolution, they feel free to reject any science on no better grounds ” [source]

* For the purpose of this post, I’m clumping ‘creationism’ and ‘intelligent design’ together, because if you strip away the BS and politics, they are the same thing. Yes, really. To quote from the site referenced above, “A solution to a problem must address the parameters of the problem, or it is just irrelevant hand waving. Any theory about design must somehow address the agent and purpose, or it is not really about design.” [link] So you can argue your heart out that intelligent design isn’t about God, but it’s pretty obviously some kind of deism. I chose to use ‘creationism’ because it’s shorter.

** These arguments actually deal with the origin of life, which can be argued seperately from evolution. (Yes! It can! I could believe God threw a bunch of one-celled bacteria into the ocean and then it evolved into everything we have today.)

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A New Day Dawns in America Today

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Everybody’s making their posts of one kind of another, so I figured I’d share mine as well. I don’t have much to say – I’m just so, so happy. And so, so hopeful.

Sean and I spent election night downtown at the Hilton, where the Democratic party gathered to watch the election. We didn’t even find out about it until 8, and headed over there at 9. Man, what a great decision! The atmosphere was electric, the people were smiling; everyone had on Obama shirts and stickers. The media were everywhere. It was so, so neat to be surrounded by Democrats in Texas!! When Virginia was announced and the huge screen (one of three) flashed up Obama as the President-Elect, I cannot even put into words how amazing it was. The cheers were deafening, a million American flags went up, everybody was hugging everyone else, tears were streaming. Truly, one of the most emotional and impressive experiences of my life.

It is a strange feeling to me to feel such hope for America. For most of my adult life it’s been Bush Bush Bush (actually, for most of my life, given that we got that story twice via father and son), and it’s been a long time of kind of waiting for the next stupid thing to happen. How much more debt can we rack up, how many more countries can we invade, how many more civil liberties can we tie up in misnomer acts like the “Patriot Act”.

I’m going to revel in the victory for a minute and reply to a few common sentiments I’ve seen expressed:

- “I hope everyone can be civil and imagine what it would be like if their candidate had lost.”
I don’t have to imagine, thanks very much. The last 8 years? Yea, not so hot for me. I remember it clearly. It’s not like Democrats have been ruling elite for 20 years and we’re still rubbing in Republican faces.

- “I’m moving to Canada!”
Now, I’ve said this myself, so the sentiment itself is fair enough at a time when you’re down about the country. But I’m a little confused. It makes sense for you to move to Canada because it’s totally more conservative than America…. no… wait.. that doesn’t sound right. In short – it makes sense for me to want to move to Canada, but not Republicans.

- “I’m watching history repeat itself, unfortunately.”
Uh, how? What recent Democratic candidate put America into such ruin? Somehow I think more tax cuts for the rich and more wars would be much more… repetitive, no?

- “Obama can pry my guns from my cold, dead hands!”
Right. No one is taking away your precious guns. Don’t worry. If you’re seriously afraid of this, you’re delusional.

- “I wasn’t using my civil liberties anyway.”
Because the last 8 years have been such a great example of how to protect civil liberties… oh, except for when it’s inconvenient for the government.

- “Have fun losing all your money to taxes!”
To everyone making more than $600,000 a year: I am really sorry your taxes are going to go up. I really hope it doesn’t put you out on the street. I know you must be worried about feeding your family and paying your bills.
Seriously, though. If you’re making that much money, you can afford to provide for the services we all enjoy, and especially for those much less fortunate than you. In short, you should give back to the country that helped you get so successful.
To everyone else: Have fun with your tax cuts or no change in taxes!

Well, I hope that answered some misconceptions about Obama. Also, he is not a terrorist, not a closet Muslim, and is an American citizen. Also, I am not either!

Emma/Svara ’12!

Also, in case you were wondering what main issues I’d be moaning about if McCain had won, it would be his apparent nonchalant attitude towards spending 100 years in Iraq, his dismissal of women’s “health,” trying to turn Roe v Wade back to states (which is totally stupid, for reasons I’ll discuss later), and his great idea of giving the biggest tax cuts to those that need them most…. those making more than $2.8 million. Problem is, he’s actually voiced all of those out loud, making it hard to believe it’s just fear and rumors.

Anyway, enough of the moaning. Change is coming now. The world has exhaled in thankfulness, and American can continue on down a hopefully much more peaceful, fiscally responsible, socially just, healthy, and environmentally friendly road.

GOBAMA!

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Yes means Yes, No means No…

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

I read this article, which pretty much tries to defend the idea of ‘grey rape,’ when I came across this quote in the comments, that I thought was pretty clever, and thus would share with you all:

Yes means yes,
No means no,
Whatever we wear,
Wherever we go

In a nutshell, there is no such thing as ‘grey rape’. There’s a clear line between rape and non-rape – consent. If consent was not given, it’s rape. If consent was revoked, it’s rape. If consent was given while the person wasn’t legally able to consent (ex: inebriated), it’s rape.

In the article above the author outlines a scenario where a girl dresses provocatively, gets drunk, acts like she wants sex, and then changes her mind at the last minute. The guy “he disregards this as momentary insanity on her part and enters her anyway”. The author claims this is ‘grey rape’ because she “vehemently sen[t] the message that sex was what she wanted” and “even showed up to the party looking like pure sex”. She asks who’s really at fault.

There are a hundred things in this article I could sink my teeth into and tear to pieces, but I feel like it’s been well accomplished by most of the commenters. (Please go read these if you are unconvinced that this is, in fact, rape.)

True, it kind of sucks for the guy – here he was all raring to go, and he gets denied at the last minute. But there’s a really, really easy way to avoid this situation – don’t hook up with girls who are drunk or who seem unsure. Because it doesn’t matter how ready you are or how disappointed you feel – you still need consent all the way through. If you don’t want to be in a situation where you might ignore someone revoking consent – avoid the situation entirely! You have no one to blame but yourself if you get charged with rape because you put yourself in a situation where you knew it might be difficult for you to back down.

It’s hard to listen to ‘no’ when you’re horny as hell – I think lots of people can relate to that. But that’s no excuse. If you think you might not have full control when you’re hot and heavy, avoid getting into that situation with someone who’s unsure or drunk. If you’re really worried, avoid that situation completely except with those you are involved in a relationship with.

Anyway, it gets me all worked up to hear about stuff like that. Be careful out there, everyone.

And let me know if you see a bumper sticker with the above quote on it : )

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Friday, November 5th, 2004

I Like the Cold

Well the last few days have been interesting. I received a package from my dad, with the paperwork confirming my appointation as director (wow, Freudian slip, I just put ‘dictator’) of this new company of Gerdt’s.

November 3rd was a sad, depressing day. There was a ‘protest’ gathering in the middle of the commons for those for whom ‘Bush is not your president’ applied. At first I was a little confused, because it didn’t seem like much would be changed, but as the day wore on a understood what it was about, so after calculus I sat with them from 2-5. And it was fucking cold. It was great to be with some like-minded people, though. If nothing else, we showed we simply disapproved, and got a chance to talk, vent, comfort, and be at peace with like-minded people. Republican and Bush-supporting students did not take kindly to the gathering.. Apparently once during the day a line of them arm-in-arm came up, with one wearing a Bush mask, and starting shouting random insults, including ‘vegetarian hippies.’ In my Islam class the majority of my class was celebrating Bush’s victory, and talking about how all the Republicans on campus are too scared to say anything because they’re such a minority. I really believe that’s bullshit. I’d say the divide was about equal, at most 45-55%, Rep-Liberal respectively. I use the terms ‘Republican’ and ‘Liberal’ because that’s how you’re classified in SU, if you take a political stance. All my classes seem to be a majority of Republicans, I don’t know where all the Liberals are, at least, when they’re not sitting in the middle of the commons. One guy in my Islam class supported Kerry, and expressed his disappointment. A very happy Bush supporter comforted him, “Don’t worry, you’ll see, you’ll be better off this way!” That really pissed me off. Especially the way she said it… “Don’t worry little person, you just don’t know what’s good for you.. I do, I’ll make it all better!” God. I said, “Two words: civil liberties. Will we be better off when they’re gone?” But she ignored me. No Bush supporter ever confronts that question. Pisses me off. Anyway, so sitting on the commons just made me feel better in general. There were some really interesting people there and lots of interesting discussion. Lots of staff, too, and a guy from the Williamson County paper. It was fucking freezing, but in a way that was suitable. It sometimes feels good to be subject to some good harsh weather when you feel bad. By the end, though, I was just shaking too much, and getting too little work done (because of the good convos going on), so I retired to my dorm. One girl bought me a cup of hot chocolate, and I dont even know who she is. I doubt she’ll find this, but if she does, she is the coolest person ever! And somehow I must repay her. Anyway… so I was left feeling much better, and that’s good. I was wondering what would happen to all the anti-Bush sites, anyway.

Does anyone else have an utterly confusing time figuring themselves out? I do. I try and figure out why something bothers me, and I swear, it’s like getting into the mind of s serial killer or something.. except it’s ME, and as far as I know, I’m in my own head!! I’ve realized that I really perceive myself as almost two people, one looking out for the other. I conciously observe myself and then alter my experiences and environments so that I won’t react badly to them, like a small child. I look at myself, and I think ‘Emma would not react well to this, so let’s make this happen instead, and then this, and then things will go a lot smoother.’ Then I impliment this plan. I just realised this is probably because I have a very hard time controlling how I react to things… sometimes. In many situations, I can smooth up a perfect front, but in others, my reactions are the most basic. Usually that only happens when I’m around people I have a large amount of trust in, like family and very, very close friends. It’s then that I alter scenarios for myself. I don’t know, I’m so fucked up in my head. I think I’ve got some kind of disorder sometimes, and wish someone would just figure me out.

Anyway, if you’re thinking of coming to Canada with me, Latifa, Max, and my math teacher, there’ll be a wait.

I swear I had more to say, but I guess one of me decided it’s not that important.

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