Reimagined and Revamped. Fighting the spread of nonsense often feels like a Sisyphean task. However, the joy is in making the information available, not the hope of conversion.

Seeding Sprouts for a cause

Recently Berlzebub put in a lot of time trying to give a hand to P-Momma, a victim of Lupus. One of the tools he used was a chipin, a little tool that made it easier to collect and report on fund raising goals.

His results were impressive (particularly after a mention on PZ's site!). He raised thousands of dollars for her to be able to put UV filters on her windows so she could actually leave her room and live in her house.

Recently, and simultaneously, a group in Wyoming who I have been involved with, decided they needed help. The groups name is Stop Drilling - Save the Bridger-Teton National forest. They are a grassroots effort to try to prevent the oil and gas industry from digging up the BT national forest.

If you have ever been to this part of Wyoming, you know it is one of the most spectacular areas we have in the United States. There are pictures all over the web of this area of the country. To think that we continue to dig up our world for fuel that will continue to hurt our climate is just the height of stupidity.

Yes, we need gas. Yes, we need energy. But after having spent 3 trillion dollars in Iraq (if we get out now), isn't it time that we look for another way? Limiting oil and gas exploration will require these companies to look for alternative incomes. For example BP an oil company, is becoming heavily invested in solar. Chevron is investing in geothermal. Good! The more difficult it is for them to drill, the more they will have to look for alternative incomes. Why should we plunder our the most beautiful areas of our country when we can spend our efforts learning how to get energy from that gigantic ball of fire in the sky?

What do Berlzebub's efforts have to do with gas drilling? Well, his donation tool led me to this web application, sproutbuilder, which I have not seen before. It looked like a very flexible and powerful tool. So I made a sprout.

This is an introduction to the problem. SDSBT's website has far more information. Please join me in helping with their efforts. As you can imagine its a HUGE battle stacked heavily against them. Please donate and seed the sprout to spread the word.



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What, now you can use science?

I was listening to the radio today. Turns out one of the most ludicrous religious groups we have, the Southern Baptists are doing something good. They are finally starting to get on the ball with climate change. Perhaps I should say some of the Southern Baptists are getting on board. OK, Kudos to you guys for actually trying to rouse your own members to do something constructive, even if its for ridiculous reasons (you know like SkyDaddy gave you a planet, you better take care of it).

I dont care if Stephen Pinker writes off our actions towards global warming as simply moralizing an issue. The fact of the matter is that there is tons of data there to support the theory, and lots of conflicting data to prevent other theories from coming into play. I first wrote about it here and wont rehash global warming in this post.

One their declaration page, they discuss why members should pay attention and act towards climate change. After a bunch of bible stuff they come to this:

We have recently engaged in study, reflection and prayer related to the challenges presented by environmental and climate change issues. These things have not always been treated with pressing concern as major issues. Indeed, some of us have required considerable convincing before becoming persuaded that these are real problems that deserve our attention. But now we have seen and heard enough to be persuaded that these issues are among the current era’s challenges that require a unified moral voice.
By "seen and heard enough to be persuaded" you mean "Science has provided you with enough data to be persuaded", don't you. Certainly God didn't tell you, did he? Was there something in the Bible about CO2 concentrations? Was there a letter from one of the disciples about greenhouse gasses? The only way you got 'enough' was from scientific observation, hypothesis generation and verification. This is the scientific method, in short, that you rail against in virtually every other aspect of our civilization.

There are four statements by which these folks support their responsibility towards caring for the earth. It is almost comical (if it weren't so sad) that these are required in order to convince their own members to start cleaning up after themselves and live in a way that doesnt increase suffering around the world.

The first statement is pretty much just fluff. It just goes along with the normal "God said it, I beleive it" sort of stuff, then they quote mine the bible to support the idea that the God followers have to care for an protect the planet.

The second statement has some fun stuff in it.
We recognize that we do not have any special revelation to guide us about whether global warming is occurring and, if it is occurring, whether people are causing it. We are looking at the same evidence unfolding over time that other people are seeing.
Once again, it is made clear that none of this effort is from some communication from God. The only 'evidence unfolding' is that from scientists and scientific observation.
We recognize that if consensus means unanimity, there is not a consensus regarding the anthropogenic nature of climate change or the severity of the problem. There is general agreement among those engaged with this issue in the scientific community. A minority of sincere and respected scientists offer alternate causes for global climate change other than deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels.
If consensus means unanimity, then we dont know anything. There is not one subject considered by man that has a unanimous consensus, there are always a few wackjobs out there. This includes interpretations of the bible, which has no consensus. So once again, points for correctness on how to recognize consensus and how consensus supported by evidence is not a bad thing.

Then, ping! Out to left field!
Unlike abortion and respect for the biblical definition of marriage, this is an issue where Christians may find themselves in justified disagreement about both the problem and its solutions.
There are no christians who support a womens right to choose? There are no christians who support the idea that the government should not be deciding religious matters? There are no christians who are gay? Laughable, but not really important or even on topic, so lets move on.

Yet, even in the absence of perfect knowledge or unanimity, we have to make informed decisions about the future. This will mean we have to take a position of prudence based partly on science that is inevitably changing. We do not believe unanimity is necessary for prudent action. We can make wise decisions even in the absence of infallible evidence.

Based partly on science? What is the other part? You already made clear that god has nothing to do with this except telling you to take care of the planet. For all you know, he meant he wanted you to plant apple trees everywhere to make up for the lost apple.

Though the claims of science are neither infallible nor unanimous, they are substantial and cannot be dismissed out of hand on either scientific or theological grounds.
More points for correctness. Note, with time, the claims of science become less and less fallible as both more evidence become available and scientific theories become more accurate. With more observation we do not see less unanimity, we see more. The global warming issues has now been around for a few decades, only in the last 20 years have we been able to use the observations we have assembled to throw out many hypotheses (including the "nothing is happening" hypothesis) and have a very very strong greenhouse gas emission theory.

Statement three is mostly more bible blather, however there is this part:
The consequences of these problems will most likely hit the poor the hardest, in part because those areas likely to be significantly affected are in the world’s poorest regions. Poor nations and individuals have fewer resources available to cope with major challenges and threats.
This is right on. The reason ignoring global warming is immoral is because it increases suffering around the world. Sadly, and this is why God is just a jokester, it acts exactly how the southern baptists describe, the hardest hit will be the poorest nations with the fewest resources (for the most part). Even in rich nations, the economies will suffer tremendously, and who gets hit the hardest with worsening economies? Yup! You guessed it, the poor and needy. What societal population around the world is the largest? Yup! once again, correct! The poor. Acting in a way that increases your personal and communal greenhouse gas emissions directly acts towards increased suffering around the world.

Statement four spends a bunch of time on abortion again (hello! abortion is primarily due to unwanted pregnancy, help stop that and you are doing more to stop abortion than any law can, focus people, focus!). The rest of the statement basically says the time is now and they must act personally and within their communities towards helping with climate change. Again mostly kudos to you for this effort. Here is a real moment of clarity:
We realize that simply affirming our God-given responsibility to care for the earth will likely produce no tangible or effective results.
That is right, just like praying doesnt do anything, neither does affirming that god gave you responsibility to take care of the earth. Its a moral, and human responsibility that helps our species (and many others!) to survive.

OK, so while I generally regard the southern baptists as the Taliban of American culture, this is a pretty good step forward.

Now since you have made the step forward with regard to climate change, how about making the same exact step forward with regard to evolution. Not only is the mechanism by which acceptance of it exactly the same, the evidence base is even larger and longer! If you can finally accept scientific evidence with regard to climate change, you can accept scientific evidence, period. Lets get on board with your evolution, your germ theory and vaccines, your stem cell use, your genetic research and your nanotechnology. Or is that asking too much at once?

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Shocked, Disappointed, Angry

If you live in a cave and have not heard, the Governor of my state, Elliot Spitzer, just got caught up in a prostitution ring. The specifics are not clear. Without saying exactly what he did, with whom and how much it cost, Spitzer just apologized for doing something wrong.

"I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself," he said. "I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family."


For those of you who are not from this state, Mr. Spitzer has a really incredible background. He was our attorney general and really did a good job, I believe as good a job as can be expected, of creating fairness and reducing immorality (with respect to a population, not arbitrary interpretations from an outdated book). He came to office with as good a resume as you could expect form a governor. He was also expected to be a bit kick ass. He made no qualms about having a strong hand with out assembly and senate, something badly needed here in NY.

He made a few forgivable political errors this summer. Forgivable, not in that it is OK that he did these things, just that they looked like same old run of the mill political nonsense to me.

But now, this prostitution thing. It was just shocking, I literally could not believe it. How could someone, on the right side of so many issues, with the right foresight on so many things, do something so incredibly stupid. I literally could not believe that this could happen. It would be like finding Senator Obama in a porn video. I just didn't seem to fit.


Don't get me wrong. Thousands of men pay prostitutes. To me, as long as both parties in that relationship are consenting, and hold up their ends of the deal, I dont really think it that big of a deal. Its pretty much been a fact of life forever. I wish we could stop it, but this is yet another thing that wont go away by making it illegal. To be succinct, if you want prostitution to stop, make sure that we are teaching our women how to excel in our society, focus on education and opportunities, explore ways to inure our citizens from sexual images, and lets stop making sex this dirty thing. How? Well I read a couple of suggestions before, i'm sure there are more, both things we can do with regard to legislation but others with regard to the way we work in our communities.

That said, I went from being shocked, to being horribly disappointed in Mr. Spitzer. I don't care if he visited a prostitute every week, that is between him and his wife and family. The utter gall, to expect that no one would find out and the height of hypocrisy about the act that he displayed is what bothers me. He busted up other prostitution rings as AG, decrying how despicable and pathetic they were. The whole reason I laugh at the Republican party with regard to all the folks getting caught up in drugs, sex and homosexuality is for the same reason: they try to stand on this fake higher moral ground only to think they won't get caught themselves while performing the very acts they are railing about.

Now Mr. Spitzer does the same thing and I am disappointed. I am sad because he represented hope for my state to get out of its political quagmire. He represented a trustworthy, data driven, optimistic new face of our government and then displays only political clumsiness and now, outright stupidity.

And now I am just angry. What an utter waste of time. The rest of this gubernatorial term will wallow in a chasm of inaction, lack of focus and little will get done except the same crap we have seen for the last decade. I'm pissed off because now it doesn't matter who gets elected, if Jezuz himself rises again and runs for governor I will expect nothing (well, if we see Jesus around I'm going to have to re-examine a bunch of other stuff too!). What Spitzer has done was make it so that there is no one who can have a good enough background, a good enough resume, a good enough set of priorities without the possibility of dumbfounding idiocy. At least we knew Bush was a pliable idiot before he got to office.

I realize this is a lot like an emotional reaction to other events in our lives, like accidental death, or unfairness, and loss. And I did lose something, I lost some of my optimism about the possibilities of a great government.

In closing, screw you Spitzer. Step down now, you are done anyway.

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