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.

awesome woman, awesome commentor

This video has been making the rounds.


so I have two quick comments then a present.

1) Dear awesome student. You are awesome and there are many people in the blogosphere who would have loved to have been you for those few minutes.
2) Dear fucking trumpet player. Fuck you, you fucking fuck

Anyway, on the pharyngula comments about this video, one man, DorkMan, transcribed the video to text. I beleive he is a masochist. Anyway, via Dorkman, I give you the transcription:

Female Student: [Unintelligible] saying, "Origin of the Species! Go evolution!" So, when somebody --
Kirk: [Unintelligible]
FS: Yeah, you did, I heard you. And I was like, "What? Kirk Cameron's believes in evolution?" Are you being ironic or --?
Kirk: No, I didn't say "go evolution," I took a picture and I said "Everyone say 'Darwin'!" And I said "Darwin!"
FS: Oh, okay.
Kirk: I did say that.
FS: Okay. I'm sorry. But that's not important. Anyways, so when a passerby is getting that book, and they don't know about you, they haven't seen your videos, and they don't know who you are, they think, "Oh, okay, this is the book," so when they read it, they're not aware that the information is coming from a group that has a special interest in dissuading people from evolution.
Kirk: Okay. Okay, fair enough.
FS: It's like hidden propaganda. Which you, like -- atheists groups would never, like, hand out the Bible saying, like, "This is not true and this is all the scientific information" --
Male Student 1: I think you could have been more honest if [unintelligible].
Kirk: (to Female Student) Can I respond to what you're saying?
Cameraman: (to MS1) Say it louder.
MS1: I think it would have been more honest you had just distributed the introduction by itself --
Kirk: I -- I heard you earlier. (to FS) So, here's my thought. I used to be -- used to be an atheist, and studied evolution, and the Darwinian, the Neo-Darwinian [unintelligible], to the point where I'm, I'm convinced that it is not science, that Darwinism is atheism masquerading as science. That's --
FS: Darwin wasn't an atheist, actually. He was really hesitant to publish his work because he knew that it would go against the beliefs of, you know, the church.
Cameraman: And I kind of feel that's undermining the faith of people who do accept evolution and who are Christian.
Kirk: (ignoring Cameraman, to FS) Well, why do you believe that?
FS: Because he has journals and because, like, you know, he took a long time -- it wasn't 'til Wallace said, like, "Hey, check this out!" and he's like "Oh, boy," you know, "I should probably publish what I'm doing."
Kirk: Okay, have you heard... Okay. Here's, here's, here's the other important...um...(lengthy pause) I believe that Darwin was absolutely...that the end game was to make God...was to remove God from...the, the worldview of... I think that that was his end game. Um. And if you read -- I don't know if you've read the introduction in here, yet.
FS: No, I have not yet. But I will.
Kirk: You'll find things you maybe haven't read before.
FS: I probably have never read what you wrote, no.
Kirk: In my, my... I think that it is...very, uh... dishonest, and extremely --
Trumpet: "When The Saints Go Marching In"
Kirk: -- for, for...for teachers, in the name of science, to push an atheistic worldview. Which -- and they use Darwin in order to do it.
FS: I don't understand how... you're combining atheism -- because not all scientists are atheists, like, I would not say I'm an atheist.
Kirk: Yes, alright, but --
FS: But I, I, I...
Male Student 2: Francis Collins.
FS: Yeah.
Cameraman: I bet he knows about that.
FS: I don' t understand [unintelligible]. Why is science an atheistic endeavor? I don't understand that.
Kirk: Okay, let me --
FS: I don't understand the problem.
Kirk: Why is science an atheistic endeavor?
FS: Yeah, and why is -- particularly, um --
Kirk: You have to ask [unintelligible] of atheism being taught in the science classes to answer that question. I mean, look at Dawkins, for instance, look at Dawkins --
FS: I love Dawkins.
Kirk: ...okay, so --
FS: But other science --
Kirk: But if you look at those who are the loudest proponents for, uh, Darwinism, and evolution, you'll find that they are absolutely on the mission to demonstrate that God is irrelevant and doesn't exist. And they're atheists.
FS: What Dawkins argues is that God and science should not be in the same argument, because science is based on evidence, whereas religion is based on faith. And so --
Kirk: So is Darw --
FS: They don't explain...
Kirk: But Darwinism is extremely based on faith, not on evidence.
FS: Not really, it's based on a lot of evidence. He made, he made assertions that were based on faith, he didn't have evidence for yet, but he had a lot of evidence. Later on now, scientists are, you know, doing research. And in fact, current scientific thought doesn't accept, uh, plain Darwinian evolution. In fact now, there's like a lot of different, uh...
Cameraman: It expanded over the years.
Kirk: Sure.
FS: It expanded, so --
Cameraman: Especially with genetics and that sort of thing.
FS: Yeah. So Darwin was the basis, but it is not, uh, what actual evolutionary biologists, you know, uh... go with. And in science, there's no like "Okay, this is the FINAL ABSOLUTE TRUTH," it's always changing because --
Kirk: Correct.
FS: You know, all the evidence either against it, or that should show different things.
Kirk: So, what... so, what -- I understand that -- so, so I'm pro-science, I love science.
FS: Why not this specific branch of it? Because --
Kirk: Which branch are you referring to?
FS: I'm referring to biology.
Kirk: I love biology.
FS: Except the part where it says that -- do you believe in micro-evolution?
Kirk: Are we talking about, um, adaptation?
FS: Yeah, that's why you get a different vaccine every year because --
Kirk: Yes.
FS: -- you know -- okay.
Kirk: Yes, but to extrapolate that into speciation and macro-evolution by saying it takes lots of time --
FS: No, not if you accept, not if you accept that it does take -- okay, so if you believe in micro-evolution, you believe that it continues happening, it just doesn't happen in like, two minutes and then it's done, it continues happening. The Earth is not six thousand years old, and even if it were six thousand years old, in that span of time, continuous micro-evolution would have added up to something, right? Even if you believe the literal Biblical, uh, idea that the Earth is not old, it would've still added up. Not to what we have here...
Kirk: Do, do you -- I understand what you're saying, [unintelligible] I think that they do change over time, but we don't, but we don't see speciation as a result of adaptation. We don't see --
FS: Because we don't have enough time. And in fact they are --
Kirk: Okay, but you have to, but you then have to concede, though, that that's a presupposition that you're assuming that it happened, even though we don't have enough time to observe it.
FS: Well, it's not -- it's because of geological evidence. What happens in science, is you bring different branches of knowledge together, and it's not, it's not isolated. You don't just say, like, "Okay, biology proves it." Because biology doesn't prove anything. There's evidence that there's a biological process, but combining that with geology, physics, and --
MS2: Astronomy.
FS: Other sciences -- astronomy, yeah.
MS2: They all agree.
FS: Then you, you combine that knowledge, right? And that's how you think, like, "Okay, if this is happening now, and if we know that the Earth has been, you know, this old and this, like, many changes have happened" -- all of this knowledge, then you -- it, it is a safe, logical assumption to make that conclusion. For instance say, like, "Micro-evolution has been happening for this long, and it's added up." Whereas with, uh, a belief in a certain faith, particularly in this case the, the Christian persuasion, all the evidence that you have is based on the Bible, and that would be circular logic, because you think, "I believe in the Bible because the Bible says it's written by God." (draws a circle in the air) It doesn't -- there's no outside body of evidence, there, there's no conjecture --
Kirk: That's not true.
FS: What other body --
Kirk; History, geology, cosmology, biology...
FS: So, okay, so history --
Cameraman: Do you mind if I ask you a question about geology, really quick?
Kirk: Hang on a second.
Cameraman: Okay, sure.
FS: How does history disprove evolution?
Kirk: How does history disprove evolution?
FS: Yes.
Kirk: Well, I didn't say history disproves evolution, I said that history --
FS: Okay. Then give me another line of evidence other than the Bible that disproves evolution.
Kirk: Um, I would say evolution disproves -- D, Dar -- I would -- (pauses) Evolution, talking about, we're talking about speciation, I would say that, that...that Darwin's theory, nor -- and ANY theory -- does not sufficiently, uh, account for speciation, apart from the existence of God. You don't find the fossil record, you don't find --
FS: Okay, what about the difference between bonobos and chimpanzees? Which are very similarly related, they just have --
Kirk: I'm not familiar with, what?
FS: Okay, bonobos are essentially chimpanzees, except they're smaller, and they're more, uh, friendly with each other. Whereas chimpanzees are, like, very aggressive --
[END OF VIDEO]

Thanks awesome woman, Thanks Awesome Dorkman.



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I think the media is in a coma


I saw these news blurbs about a man in Belgium who allegedly was awake for 23 years although the doctors thought he was in a coma. This story brought so many thoughts ot my head I though I would try to get them down.

  • I have a living will that tells my loved ones to pull the plug if I go in a vegetative state
  • I think we are going to see more and more stories about medicine going wrong in countries with socialized health care
  • This sort of thing give more inflated, uncouched ammunition to CAM practitioners
  • I'm not convinced that this guy is actually saying anything.

Living Wills and Vegetative states
I am an engineer, not only by trade but "by life". When I see things that are cool I want to know how they work. But more importantly, I get an large amount of joy when I build something, write something, or perform something. I love life, I love my abilities and to use them (even if I bitch and moan sometimes during the process). My biggest fear in life, is to come out of a long coma, which unlike in the movies, people do not come out of the same way they went into. It is crippling. You only need to look at the video above.

It's not like losing a hand, or an eye. I could probably deal with that (both hands would be extremely debilitating to me though). Its an all over muscular loss. I simply do not want to live like that. And no, hearing about the one or two people who not only come out of a long coma but also regain mobility and speech does not provide any comfort to me when that is the extreme exception.

Socialized Medicine
We've already seen it from Fox in some respect when they did some ridiculous reporting about how The Netherlands are in a state of anarchy, reveling in a mire of smut and drugs, implying that this is what we can expect if those damn liberals get in charge. I expect we will see more and more of isolated cases where medicine went wrong (as if that has anything to do with how the medicine is paid for) on the news as we move towards, you know, a new healthcare system that is also not socialized.

Strengthening CAM
I also bet we are going to see cases like this used to strengthen the canard of "Doctors don't know everything". You see, the "logic" goes like this, if doctors screw up somewhere on the planet, then homeopathy works. Isn't that clear as day? Take a look over at NaturalNews or HuffPo in the next few days, I have little doubt that this case will be made.

Is he really writing?
Before I actually read any of the articles about this case, I saw a few tweets from Michael Shermer.

So, I thought "What is Michael yammering on about?" So I saw the video above. What the hell? Is everyone credulous? Would it have been so offensive or so unethical to actually put some headphones on the woman moving that mans hand so we could determine if this is real or not.

I'm not saying that the guy is not awake, I'm not saying he didn't suffer for 23 years. I'm not a doctor, I didn't diagnose him, I haven't seen any of the data suggesting he is not in a coma. I'm saying that it's bullshit that he is typing out these words, that fast. Isn't it just as unethical to force words down his throat in the form of typing things he may not actually be saying?

I do wish some modicum of skepticism would enter the media the first time, and not at the end of weeks of hype.



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Skeptic's Circle 124

New Skeptics Circle is up at Beyond The Short Coat

Its simple but there is a lot of good reading in there! Include one from yours truly! Have a blast!

The next Skeptics Circle is right here at Effort Sisyphus!

UPDATE (December 1): I am afraid that I will be unavailable to work on this tomorrow. So I have to close this circle for submissions now. Sorry if you were trying to pop out one last entry, but have strength! The next circle is only 2 weeks away.



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We vaccinated our daughter and have seen severe changes in her

I’m writing this post because there is a lot of hoopla about vaccinations right now and I think one more anecdote to the pile of anecdotes out there about vaccinations is important.

My daughter, Bean (yeah, that's not her real name), is going to be three really soon and I need to go into her history a bit to really be able to delineate her vaccination story effectively.

Bean was born about three years ago to two of the most loving parents on the planet, if I don’t say so myself. To this day I’m amazed at the changes your body and brain go through when you have a kid. I was always the kind of guy that thought kids were something my sister should have, I now have completely reversed that position.

Its amazing to me how you can love someone so much that just cries, needs to be fed, burps, pukes, pisses and poops. But you do, and each week that passes, I love her more and more. Bean learned to walk a little later than average, but not much later, 13 months. But she learned some basic sign language at 8 months (“more” was her first signed word).

Our household has 2 languages in it, I’m an English speaker trying to learn French. My wife is French who speaks perfect English. We decided that I would talk to Bean in English and she would talk to her in French.

With the signing and the dual languages we expected her to start speaking late and she did. But in time we started to realize that she still wasn't speaking even after allowing for some extra time. There was a word here or there, but she was way behind in speaking. The inability to communicate lead to temperament issues and the all out tantrums were both common and severe. As new parents we had trouble differentiating between normal toddler tantrums and this. But looking at the pace of other kids, we slowly realized that Bean was behind the curve.

We further noted extreme discomfort in social situations. She did a little better with adults, but when it was other kids she would be very flustered and usually end up in a tantrum. Its so hard to see someone you love that much get so upset by normal social interactions that other kids are actually having fun with.

We also noticed that she was rarely smiling or happy. She didnt giggle like other little girls not near as often.

In time we got child therapists. New York State has a great program where therapists come to your house to help your child get up to speed. We have a speech therapist, an occupational therapist (not what it sounds like, the OC helps her negotiate new and different tactile senses), and a therapist to help with her social interactions. I really appreciate these programs available in my sate and now understand where some of the exorbitant tax money goes.

We also took Bean to a developmental psychologist. The autism word was thrown around, but it became clear that bean was probably not autistic. She was very ahead in some cognitive areas and very behind in others, but he didn't think it was a case of autism.

 

I want to fast forward to the beginning of October now. Bean got her flu vaccination. It had thimerisol and everything. She had absolutely no physical reactions to it whatsoever: no fever, no swelling, no pain. However since the shot there have been some huge changes in her.

Bean was able to start school since then. She can be in a group of 7 kids in good comfort. This is totally amazing. She has been really fun to be around, really explorative, points out lots of new things here at home, at school and at our weekend house. She can talk well enough that we generally understand what she wants to say although there is still some baby talk that comes out that is hard to understand. She laughs at funny stories or when we joke around. She still has tantrums when she doesn’t get her way, but they are rarely for random or unintelligible reasons anymore. Basically it feels like ever since we got the flu shot for her, she has become a normal child for her age.

 

Everything in this post is 100% true and accurate as far as I can remember it. I am also 100% sure that if I ask my wife, she will have a different chronology and describe the severity of different aspects of Beans personality differently, but not differently enough that we couldn’t ascribe her improvement to the flu vaccination. You’ll notice that I went ahead and gave credit to the vaccination for her improvement and not the months of work the therapists did.

But I know its not the flu vaccination, of course it isn’t, because there is no reason to think that it is, just like the other way. Just because something happens hours, days or weeks after a vaccination doesn't necessarily mean that it was because of the vaccination itself. The cause and effect must specifically be studied. To date there is simply no good reason to fear vaccines unless you have allergies to eggs, or some familial history of negative reactions.

 

I understand how vaccinations work with your immune system. I learned it in high school and relearned it to be able to understand this so called controversy. I have heard the claims by antivaxxers and have read the responses of medical professions on each and every one of those claims even as goalposts move. I then went and checked the claims of the medical professionals. You know what? the people who actually do science and medicine as a living are far better at explaining why they are right, backing up their claims with references that actually confirm what they are saying and have far, far larger datasets that they draw on to show the veracity of their claims. That is part of the years of training that went into their education to be a medical professional. Folks like Kevin Trudeau, Jenny McCarthy, and JB Handley have never had to deal with that rigor and are completely unequipped to back up anything they say without misrepresentation, conspiracy theories, and ad hominem attacks. Their delusions are no more probable, no more explainable, and no more real than the idea that my daughters extreme cognitive improvement came from the flu vaccine.

I love my daughter. I love her to the point that stepping in front of a moving train for her seems like a tiny inconvenience. Part of my love for her is to show her immune system what the bad guys look like, so it can fight them without causing suffering for her.

 

Oh, and by the way, I didn't start speaking until I was near three. No, I don't think any delays she had were from her vaccinations.


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Slow Down

Looks like things are slowing down a bit here at Effort Sisyphus. There are a number of reasons for this such as:

  • I have a big skeptical project I am working on, news to come
  • I have real life things that are interfering with my blogging time
  • I am preparing the Atheist Charities post to be a little more user friendly for release in December
  • I'm suffering writer's block, but have been tweeting on little things I see here and there, feel free to follow (techskeptik)


I have three posts jogging around in my head I'd like to find a few hours to attack, unfortunately it is currently impossible to schedule time for them that they require.

Well now you know. This place is not dead, I am in a temporarly slow down that should recover again soon.

Stay Tuned!



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