Friday, June 22, 2007

Quote mining and worse

Jason Rosenhouse has a post at Evolutionblog in which he points to an extremely misleading use of a quotation by Michael Behe in his recent Intelligent Design book The Edge of Evolution. Quote mining has long been a standard tactic of Creationists and is an indication of their scholastic misconduct--the whole purpose of scientific writing is accurate communication of research. But, that's obviously not the whole purpose of Creationist writing, which appears to be the political advancement of the beliefs of particular religious sects.

Now CAD at VWXYNot? relates how she discovered that her research ("Endogenous Retroviruses and the Evidence for Evolution") has been misapplied by the anti-science folks at Reasons to Believe. A small percentage of the human genome consists of DNA derived from RNA of retroviruses, and, rather than having no function (inaccurately referred to as "junk" DNA), some of this stuff may regulate some gene, meaning it does indeed have a function. Some Creationists assume that the discovery that some "junk" DNA actually has a function somehow is evidence of Design (I know, it does not logically follow, but we're talking about Creationists here).

CAD's post clearly describes how the properties and working of this endogenous retrovirus material is evidence for, not against, evolution, including how it helps understand the timing of evolutionary splits. CAD has done the research. Creationists, to whom doing original scientific research is anathema, are happy to take yet another piece of science and thoroughly convolute it to produce a bit of logical origami and claim victory. And commit fraud yet again.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

World Nut Daily reveals age of the Earth!

In breaking news last Thursday the celebrated wingnut tabloid revealed that the Earth was created by God on October 23, 4004 BC. This announcement was based on a new English translation of a book nearly 350 years old: The Annals of the World, by Bishop James Ussher.

Many people have been aware of Ussher's calculation ever since it was published in 1658, and the book has been frequently cited over the years. Rather than describing this book as being of interest for its cultural impact or its relation to the study of history, WND's story (well, it's an advertisement really) suggests its historical and Biblical accuracy have made it second only to the Bible itself in literary importance. It does acknowledge
Of course, there will be those who disagree with Ussher's calculations of time - especially evolutionists who need billions of years to explain their theory of how life sprang from non-life and mutated from one-celled animals into human beings.
but I guess we can find an explanation elsewhere on the site from Herr Professor Doktor Pat Boone why many years of subsequent research into geology, biology, and astronomy are all mistaken and should be ignored.

And just in case you were drunk enough to think this was a legitimate news story, the key line may be found at Answers in Genesis:
Donate $350 for the Creation Museum (by using the cart button above) and receive this amazing piece of historical literature, the Annals of the World--a genuine leather-bound limited edition!
And when you read that site, compare with the WND site, and wonder who wrote it.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Dover HS introduces mandatory ID badges

After weeks of discussion, the Dover (Penna.) Area School Board voted 8-1 to approve the high school student handbook, which includes a policy mandating ID badges for students, according to the York Dispatch.

Okay, the policy does not call for students to wear buttons that say "I'm a Creationist!" or "Intelligent Design is for me!" Dover High School has had some interruptions in the past year and there is very real concern for the safety of students. It's no laughing matter.

Thankfully, the Dispatch article did not quote anyone declaring (Pat Robertson-like) that, by embracing the teaching of evolution in science class, the township had rejected God and will be bringing indiscriminate divine wrath upon its children just like Columbine and Waco (well, maybe not like Waco).

But there is an evolution connection.

The lone dissenting vote came from Heather (I-Don't-Know-
Back-Into-The-Classroom,-I'm-All-For-It) Geesey. Geesey is the only one of the pro-ID board members who was not voted out of office in the November 2005 election (her position was not up for re-election).

Geesey had to remind folks why she is considered a dimwit:

Geesey said that some "religious" people in the community will also take issue with their children wearing a badge that contains a barcode, due to the Biblical reference of "the mark of the beast."

This won't affect her, she said, because she sends her children to cyber school when they reach high school age.

So it comes as no surprise that Geesey did not win enough votes in the primary election in May to appear on the ballot in the November election. Hey, maybe she can run as Sam Brownback's running mate in '08.

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