The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘Darwin’

Tell Congress to Support the Darwin Day Resolution!

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 5, 2013

I am pleased to pass on the news that there is a resolution pending before the U.S. Congress to adopt a resolution in favor of Darwin Day!  There is more information available on how to get in touch with your Representative and Senator from the Freedom From Religion Foundation below…

Ask Congress to adopt Darwin Day

February 5, 2013

Continuing the tradition of former Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) has introduced a resolution designating Charles Darwin’s 204th birthday, Feb. 12, 2013, as Darwin Day. The resolution “recogniz[es] the importance of science in the betterment of humanity.”

Holt was recently quoted in The New York Times as saying, “I hope we can hold hearings, where people can hear about Darwin and science and the jobs it creates, the lives it saves, everything.”

Holt’s resolution touts “the validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution,” “the monumental amount of scientific evidence” that supports the theory, and notes that evolution’s “validity … is further strongly supported by the modern understanding of the science of genetics.”

The resolution chastises science-deniers: “the advancement of science must be protected from those unconcerned with the adverse impacts of global warming and climate change” and “the teaching of creationism in some public schools compromises the scientific and academic integrity of the United States education systems.”

Our country faces a crisis of ignorance. To the shame of the United States’ international standing, about half of Americans reject evolution. Globally the United States ranks just above Turkey in public acceptance of evolution. How can we compete in a global, technologically advanced community when a majority of U.S. citizens deny basic reality and embrace creationism?

The voices of science and secularism must be heard. Ask the U.S. House to hold Darwin Day hearings.

Take Action Today!

Contact your U.S. Representative to support the resolution and ask for hearings.  To find out who your representative is, type in your zip code on this website to find your representative. Click on their name to contact them.

If you already know who your representative is, find their contact information on this alphabetical list

Call, email, fax, write, or Facebook them. Do whatever it takes to be heard!

Contact the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, where the bill was referred, to ask for a hearing.

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) 2321 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Phone: 202-225-6371 Fax: 202-226-0113

Thank Darwin Day Sponsors

Take a moment to thank Rep. Holt. Rep. Holt, a nuclear physicist by training, self-identifies as a Quaker and deserves our gratitude for his efforts. Do feel free to identify yourself as a nonbeliever, atheist, etc., so he knows the secular bloc has clout (and good manners)!

Letters: 1214 Longworth HOB Washington DC 20515 Phone: (202) 225-5801 Fax: (202) 225-6025 Webform: (Representative Holt will only accept email from residents of New Jersey.)

While you’re at it, thank Holt’s cosponsors (especially if they represent you). They are:

Rep. Michael Honda (CA-17) Rep. Edward Markey (MA-5) Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) Rep. Jared Polis (CO-2) Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY-25) (If your representative’s name isn’t on this list, ask why not!)

Contact your Senator

Ask your Senator to introduce a Darwin Day resolution, while you’re at it!

Find and contact your U.S. Senators:

Write a letter to the editor

Supporting Darwin Day would make an excellent and timely topic of a letter to the editor to your local or favorite publication. Don’t forget social media and online news comment sections to help spread the word.

Thank you for your activism. Freedom depends on freethinkers, and Darwin Day deserves your support!

Posted in politics, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Quick View of Evolution vs. Creationism

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 31, 2012

In my next post on the whole creationism thing, I ran across the following graphic (I cannot recall where) that I think sums up much of the creationist view quite nicely.  Essentially, much of what they believe boils down to an extremely egocentric view of the world, where they are – of course – the “pinnacle of creation”.  Of course, the scientific reality differs from this view

For those interested in a deeper analysis of this idea, take a look at something called The Great Chain of Being.

Posted in creationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

When Darwin-Fish Meets Plush Toy…

Posted by mattusmaximus on October 12, 2011

I think I’m in love. Like many a skeptic who supports good science education, my car sports a Darwin-fish, and I have people close to me who like those cute ‘n cuddly plush toys. Now I am happy to report the best of both worlds – advocacy for science education has met cute ‘n cuddly and the result is this little fellow who is bound to survive the natural selection of Internet markets.  Festivus is coming up, so consider this neat little thing when you think about the skeptic on your gift list… :)

This little sucker is too irresistible – I’m off to buy one now.  Get yours today!

[**Note: In the spirit of full disclosure, I'm pimping this product for a colleague through the WTFF (I'm on their Board), but I'm doing it because I think this is a really good idea for a skeptical product.  I don't get my name behind junk, folks.]

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Help TalkOrigins Bid for the Rights to “Expelled”

Posted by mattusmaximus on June 25, 2011

In my recent post regarding the bankruptcy of the company behind the factually-challenged creationism film “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”, it was briefly mentioned that the rights to the movie were going up for auction.  If you know anything about the history behind how this film was made and edited, you know that there were interviews with prominent scientists (such as Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers) which were selectively edited in order to distort the science behind evolution and play into the whole “expelled” meme of the film.  The kicker is that if we – the skeptical and pro-science community – could get our hands on those movie rights, then we could show the world just how badly the producers of “Expelled” misrepresented the science.

Enter the attempt by TalkOrigins to do just that: win the bidding war for the “Expelled” rights.  Read the following post over at the Panda’s Thumb and please consider making a donation to this worthy cause; and spread the word!

As most of you already know, the production company Premise Media went bankrupt. Their execrable propaganda film, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”, is on the auction block. The online auction is proceeding now, and will end on Tuesday, June 28th.

The auction promises that besides all available rights and interests in the finished film itself (there is an existing distribution contract), the winner will get all the production materials and rights to them. Want to know what was in the rest of the interviews with Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers? I know I would like to have that material archived and made available to the public, among other things that Premise Media found inconvenient to include in their film.

There was talk among individuals on “After the Bar Closes” about the auction. Kristine Harley pointed out that, depending on exactly what is in the production materials, there may well be “Wedge Document 2” in there somewhere. When the “academic freedom” label on religious antievolution goes to court, it could be very handy to have those materials on hand.

But any one individual is unlikely to have the wherewithal to make the winning bid on this.

Today, the TalkOrigins Archive Foundation approved a resolution to use our funds on hand to put in a bid on “Expelled”. We hope to make many of the materials freely available and to collaborate with other groups seeking to produce rebuttals to claims made in “Expelled”. To that end, we would like your help. Our final bid amount will be determined by funds on hand and what has come in via our PayPal donation button by Monday, June 27th. This is because there are delays in transfers between PayPal and the bank, and (hopefully!) we’ll need to pay out of our bank account.

Ken Fair, our secretary and treasurer, wrote a detailed discussion of donations and bidding. The short of it is that while we hope to bid and win the auction, we don’t know what the bid prices will be come the 28th, and cannot guarantee that we will win the auction, especially since it has an unknown reserve price on it. We cannot refund donations, so even in the case of us making the winning bid, donations that take us beyond that amount would remain part of the TOAF funding. On the other hand, contributions to the TOAF are tax-deductible for USA residents and will be used in accordance with the TOAF’s mission.

I hope that by providing a single point at which we can pool our resources, we’ll have a better chance to put in the winning bid on “Expelled”. Even if we don’t manage to make the winning bid, every bit that we can do to raise our bid helps in that the other side will have to take even more money out of their current projects in order to beat the bid.

Posted in creationism, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Creationist Production Company Behind “Expelled” Goes Bankrupt

Posted by mattusmaximus on June 15, 2011

You may recall that a few years ago, there was a major “documentary” (and I use that word in its loosest possible sense) released about creationism and evolution ironically titled “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”. The movie starred actor Ben Stein, who in my view totally jumped the shark by attaching himself to this film, and argued – among other things – that Darwin’s theory of evolution was responsible for Nazism and the Holocaust.  The implication was, of course, that modern proponents of evolutionary science are somehow the moral descendents of Hitler and the Nazis – nice… I’ve heard of Godwinning an argument, but having an entire frakkin’ movie dedicated to a Godwin is a first.

Of course, this film was nothing short of a creationist oriented propaganda hit-piece against evolution, long on paranoid conspiracy mongering and short on pretty much anything factual. (**Aside: for more info on the myriad flaws in this movie, see the Expelled Exposed website)

I recall that at the time numerous creationist outlets (most notably the Discovery Institute) were feverishly promoting the movie, claiming that it was going to be another “death knell for evolution”.

Well, two things are now clear: evolutionary science is still very much alive and kicking, and the legacy of Expelled and those behind it is looking rather grim. That’s because the production company behind the film, Premise Media, is going bankrupt. Here’s more news on this…

Sad legacy for Ben Stein’s failed creationist screed

The production company behind Ben Stein’s shaggy god story ‘Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed’ has a sequel to its intellectual bankruptcy: financial bankruptcy. Premise Media has filed for Chapter 7 and is selling off any asset it can find. The fact that somebody still thinks this movie is an asset could be a clue to what went wrong. Survival of the fittest is a bitch for the unfit.

Critics far and wide trashed the film, with Time magazine stating that he “makes all the usual mistakes nonscientists make whenever they try to take down evolution,” and the New York Times (Stein’s former employer) calling the film “one of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time…a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry.”

But what really drew the ire of critics and scientists was Stein’s claim that Darwin’s theory of natural selection could be the cause of “euthanasia, abortion, eugenics and—wait for it—Nazism,” according to Time. But perhaps the most notorious pan came from noted film critic Roger Ebert:

“Stein…takes a field trip to visit one ‘result’ of Darwinism: Nazi concentration camps. ‘As a Jew,’ he says, ‘I wanted to see for myself.’ We see footage of gaunt, skeletal prisoners. Pathetic children. A mound of naked Jewish corpses. ‘It’s difficult to describe how it felt to walk through such a haunting place,’ he says. Oh, go ahead, Ben Stein. Describe. It filled you with hatred for Charles Darwin and his followers, who represent the overwhelming majority of educated people in every nation on earth. It is not difficult for me to describe how you made me feel by exploiting the deaths of millions of Jews in support of your argument for a peripheral Christian belief. It fills me with contempt.”

But, if I know anything about the mindset of some of these creationist organizations, they’ll find a way to rationalize their spectacular failure.  My guess is, in keeping with their conspiracy-minded worldview, their rationalization will somehow involve blaming “Darwinists” for the company’s downfall.  In short, they’ll go back to their old standby:

Posted in creationism, Holocaust denial, humor | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments »

Institute for Creation Research Admits Defeat in Fight Over It’s Graduate School

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 3, 2010

I got a great piece of news in my email inbox just yesterday from the science defenders over at the National Center for Science Education. It seems that one of the oldest & staunchest creationist organizations (specifically, Young-Earth Creationist or YEC) around – the Institute for Creation Research – has finally thrown in the towel on its controversial attempt to offer a master’s degree in “science” education at its graduate school in Texas.  Nice to see that the folks in the Lone Star State get it right regarding science education sometimes :)

ICR concedes defeat over its graduate school

The Institute for Creation Research is apparently conceding defeat in its lawsuit over the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s 2008 decision to deny the ICR’s request for a state certificate of authority to offer a master’s degree in science education from its graduate school. The United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, finding (PDF, p. 38) that “ICRGS [the Institute for Creation Research Graduate School] has not put forth evidence sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact with respect to any claim it brings,” granted summary judgment to the defendants in a June 18, 2010, ruling. It was not until the September 2010 issue of the ICR’s Acts & Facts, however, that the ICR seems to have publicly commented on the decision, with Henry Morris III, the ICR’s chief executive officer, writing, “ICR’s legal battle is over.”

Information about the graduate school vanished from the ICR’s website over the summer of 2010, but writing in Creation Ministries International’s Journal of Creation (forthcoming 2010; 24 [3]: 54-55), Chris Ashcraft reported (PDF), “On 25 June 2010 the ICR board of directors voted to close the Grad School,” citing a June 30, 2010, e-mail from Henry Morris III. Replacing it, apparently, is the ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics, which offers a Master of Christian Education degree; Creation Research is one of four minors. The ICR explains, “Due to the nature of ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics — a predominantly religious education school — it is exempt from licensing by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Likewise, ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics is legally exempt from being required to be accredited by any secular or ecumenical or other type of accrediting association.”

Posted in creationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Skeptical App on the iPhone/Touch #1: Creationist Claims Index

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 20, 2010

Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation with someone who brings up this or that annoying creationist talking point?  How many times have you lamented: “I wish I had something at my fingertips right now to respond to this malarkey!”

Well now you can reference a quick & handy guide on the spot: The Creationist Claims Index – a neat new app for the iPhone or iPod-Touch.  The app is essentially a copy of The Counter-Creationist Handbook by Mark Isaak. The app is easy-to-use, well laid-out, and another big plus is that it’s free!  So what are you waiting for?  Go download it now at the iTunes store…

Hat tip to The Friendly Atheist :)



Posted in creationism, internet | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Updates From the Evolution & Creationism Battle Lines

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 9, 2010

There’s been a lot going on lately on the battle lines concerning evolution & creationism. In fact, there’s so much happening that I just wanted to provide a quick summary of all that’s been transpiring lately.  Some of it is funny, some of it is sad, some aggravating, but it’s all informative and worth reading.  So, with that, read on…

1. First Annual UpChucky Awards Announced

Our friends over at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) have been having a little bit of fun pointing out some of the most recent and egregious errors & misrepresentations by creationists…

Which creationist was the most nauseating?

When it comes to dissing evolution (and science in general) there’s no lack of volunteers. How to decide which among them is the worst?

Enter the intelligently designed UpChucky Award, which recognizes supreme achievement in the field of persistently rejecting evolution in the most stomach-turning way imaginable. This crown of cluelessness, this diadem of density, this badge of bullpucky isn’t awarded to just any Darwin doubter. The UpChucky is bestowed on that one creationist whose efforts in the preceding year would inspire Darwin (or any rational person) to “drive the porcelain bus”.

Read on for more details…

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in creationism, global warming denial | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Facebook Update: Evolution Winning vs. Creationism… by Natural Selection?

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 12, 2010

In a recent entry I informed you of a clash on Facebook between two pages, a creationist page & a pro-evolution page – each promoting the goal of gathering 1,000,000 fans before June 2010.  I just wanted to give you all an update: the update is that the creationists are getting royally PWNed!

More specifically, as of this writing (Feb. 11th) here are the page stats…

Creationists:  53,331

Pro-Evolution: 242,429 – W00t!!!

To give you a fuller picture of the trends here, which are clearly leaving the creationists in the dust, take a look at the updated graph of fans per page…

At this rate, we shouldn’t have any trouble reaching 1,000,000 by June – keep it up! :)

Posted in creationism, internet | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Evolution & Creationism Clash on Facebook

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 1, 2010

In another example of the science vs. pseudoscience battles that rage across the Internet, there is currently an interesting clash between evolution and creationism taking place on Facebook.

In mid-January, a group of fundamentalist creationists started a page on Facebook titled “We can find 1,000,000 people who don’t believe in Evolution before June” and it started to gather hundreds, then thousands, of fans within days.  Needless to say, this caused a bit of a stir among those of us who actually like science.

In response, a group of pro-science types started another Facebook page titled “We can find 1,000,000 people who DO believe in Evolution before June”.

Now what’s interesting about all of this is that the creationist page started off ahead because it got a jump start.  If my records are correct (they start at January 14th, 2010), the creationist site was at about 3000 when the evolution page got started.  But the creationists didn’t stay ahead for long – by about January 18th the evolution page passed the creationist one in fan number, and since then has left the creationists in the proverbial dust.  In fact, a good skeptical friend of mine put together a nice graph of the population of each page as a function of time…

The vertical axis is the number of fans, and the blue series denotes the population of the evolution page whereas the red series denotes the population of the creationism page.  To date (February 1st), the creationist page is at 26,300 whereas the evolution page is at 115,400!  I wonder if this is the result of natural selection on the Interwebs? ;)

Long story short: the evolution Facebook page is kicking the crap out of the creationists, but we shouldn’t get complacent because we know how sneaky they can be.  Remember, the goal is to make it to 1,000,000 members by June, and we’re well on our way having already gotten over 10% of the way there.  But we won’t make it by resting on our laurels.

So, to keep this explosive population growth going, I suggest we all spread the word and take a page from noted evolutionary biologist P.Z. Myers when he blogged about this over at Pharyngula. And, one last thing, let’s take a bit of advice from P.Z. on something about the word “believe”…

Don’t get all pedantic and academic over the word “believe,” either. We know that the nature of our belief in evolution is very different than the creationists belief in their god: we have a provisional, non-dogmatic acceptance of the overwhelming evidence for a powerful theory. It’s just that that phrase is ponderous and pretentious when “belief” is a simple English shortcut to the meaning.

Amen, brother! :)

Posted in creationism, internet | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »


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