I’m quite pleased to pass along to you a hilarious, and quite informative, YouTube video on the importance of church-state separation. It features Jane Lynch (of “Glee” fame) and Jordan Peele (of “Key & Peele” fame), and it was put together by Americans United for the Separation of Church & State. If you agree with the message of the video, “like” it, pass it along, and please consider signing AU’s petition!
Posts Tagged ‘petition’
Posted by mattusmaximus on June 3, 2013
Posted in humor, politics, religion | Tagged: Americans United, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, AU, church, church state separation, Establishment Clause, First Amendment, Glee, government, Jane Lynch, Jordan Peele, Key and Peele, petition, politics, religion, state, Thomas Jefferson, United States, video, wall, youtube | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on January 6, 2013
I wanted to pass along to everyone a call-to-arms which hits really close to home for me… literally. As a science teacher, I am especially concerned with seeing that public institutions that promote good science education are protected. This usually means that I am defending our public schools from creationism or other nonsense, but there is another insitution which often goes overlooked: museums. Case in point: the Field Museum of Natural History, perhaps one of the best public educational/research institutions in the country, is in real trouble. Please take a few minutes to read this excellent Skepticblog post by Donald Prothero and consider taking action!
Save the Field Museum!by Donald Prothero, Jan 02 2013
Buried in all the news of the end of the world, the “fiscal cliff”, and the holiday season was another item that probably escaped most people’s attention. The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, one of the world’s foremost natural history museums, is planning huge cutbacks in their scientific staff in the next few weeks. Details of who will be cut are sketchy, but the news raced through my professional community and made us all very upset. This is not only because many people who are our personal friends will be losing their jobs because of mismanagement at the top, but also because such a disastrous move would hurt science in many ways that the general public may not appreciate. …
… Most people think a museum is just a bunch of exhibits of fossils or art on display, but don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes. As Jerry Coyne also points out in his post, a top museum like the Field is also one of the most important research institutions in the country, with curators who are among the top scientists in their area of research. Just like university research professors, these curators must pursue research grants and find funding to do important scientific projects. Unlike most university research scientists (who don’t have a place to store too many specimens if they find them), museum curators tend to focus on research that recovers new specimens, and adds to the total resource base for scientific research. Without this material, our data base for research and understanding topics in the fossil record would dry up, because there is no else out there to perform such an important role. I’ve known nearly all the vertebrate paleontology curators at the Field Museum (both past and present) for many years, and most are among the sharpest minds in our field, doing essential science that few others could perform. …
Posted in education, science funding, skeptical community | Tagged: Chicago, Donald Prothero, education, Field Museum, finances, funding, money, museum, natural history, petition, public, research, scientists, Skepticblog | 2 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 8, 2012
I’m a bit late in posting this, seeing as how it was time-sensitive, but I would still like to share it because it is an excellent example of how to engage in effective skeptical activism. My skeptical colleague – and general badass mofo – Elyse Anders, recently wrote an article at Skepchick regarding the appearance of actor Rob Schneider on a radio show. Who cares about Rob Schneider? (It’s an honest question, in one sense, because I’ve never been a fan, but I digress)
Well, in this case we skeptics should care about Schneider, because it seems he has become one of the newest celebrity darlings and spokesmen for the anti-vaccination movement. Elyse elaborates in her Skepchick post…
… Tomorrow [this was Friday, Oct. 5th], he’s going to be on the KXRK 96.3 in Salt Lake City to promote his new… oh, I honestly don’t know. Who cares? It’s probably more awful than measles. But the measles thing we can at least do something about.
Last time he was on the show, he was promoting something related to his “career” and decided the best way to fill that time was to start yelling about how Big Vax is in bed with Big Brother. Full-on foil hat style.
Reader Atropos provided a clip of the show you can listen to here (or by clicking the poster from his Oscar Winning Drama Hot Chicks which I’ve provided in place of an embedded player.)
Favorite points/quick and dirty highlights:
- Polio just runs its course. It infects a few million people, gets bored, then stops infecting people. And eradicates itself. But then comes back again… maybe to avenge it’s eradication. Exactly how evolution works.
- Vaccines are not tested. Ever. On anyone. Or anything. A bunch of wild-haired men in lab coats run around making vats of Big Pharma’s HAHAHA WHATEVER patented mix then they stick it into vials and inject it into you then PROFIT!
- Vaccines are not tested. And don’t work. And we know they don’t work despite not testing. Ever. On anyone. Or anything.
- THE GOVERNMENT PAYS YOU TO GET AUTISM! Because??? Autistic people are easy to control? It seems like a poor long term government investment.
- Rob Schneider can read. Why is no one talking about this? …
Yup, a lot of the usual anti-vax talking points and conspiracy mongering. But what I wanted to point out isn’t so much that Elyse was venting her spleen about some idiot celebrity spewing nonsense on the radio, it was that she was willing to DO SOMETHING about it!!! (Which is one reason I love her )
… If you’re local, tune into X 96 (96.3 FM) tomorrow morning at 7 am local time. If you’re not near Salt Lake City, listen online at X96.com. 7 am MDT which is
10 am9 am EDT. Call in during the show to talk to Mr. Schneider* and confront him with weird ass facts that he’s discussing. 877-602-9696
Brush up on your anti-vax arguments here:
Google Scholar: vaccine clinical trials (for reference, not for reading)
Oh… and a little site I like Hug Me, I’m Vaccinated.
So yeah, I missed the boat on this one. But take a moment to learn from Elyse’s activism, and read her links. The next time you hear that Rob Schneider (or Jim Carrey or Jenny McCarthy or any celebrity whack-a-loon) is going to be on a program where he could spew his anti-vaccine garbage, consider calling/emailing/texting in and holding him accountable. If more and more skeptics take their cue from Elyse and act in a like manner more often when some pseudoscientist or conspiracy theorist spews their nonsense in a public forum, it will help go a long way towards countering that nonsense.
Posted in medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: activism, anti-vaccination movement, anti-vaccine, anti-vax, autism, AVM, Elyse Anders, Hug Me, Hug Me I'm Vaccinated, interview, Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, petition, radio, Rob Schneider, Salt Lake City, Skepchick, skeptical, skepticism, thimerisol, Utah, vaccine, vaccines, X96 | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on April 11, 2012
The National Center for Science Education has reported that the infamous “Monkey bill” in Tennessee has now become law by default, because while Gov. Haslam didn’t sign the bill, his refusal to veto it led to it automatically becoming law after a certain waiting period. More from the NCSE…
Governor Bill Haslam allowed Tennessee’s House Bill 368 to become law without his signature on April 10, 2012, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal (April 10, 2012). The law encourages teachers to present the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of topics that arouse “debate and disputation” such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”
In a statement, Haslam explained, “I have reviewed the final language of HB 368/SB 893 and assessed the legislation’s impact. I have also evaluated the concerns that have been raised by the bill. I do not believe that this legislation changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools or the curriculum that is used by our teachers. However, I also don’t believe that it accomplishes anything that isn’t already acceptable in our schools. The bill received strong bipartisan support, passing the House and Senate by a three-to-one margin, but good legislation should bring clarity and not confusion. My concern is that this bill has not met this objective. For that reason, I will not sign the bill but will allow it to become law without my signature.” …
… Probably contributing to Haslam’s unwillingness to sign the bill were the protests from state and national civil liberties, educational, and scientific groups, the editorials against the bill from the state’s major newspapers, and the petition effort organized by Larisa DeSantis of Vanderbilt University, which garnered thousands of signatures calling for a veto of HB 368.
What happens next seems inevitable: sooner or later, some creationist teachers are going to attempt to use this law as cover to teach creationism in public school science classes; they’ll get called out on it and taken to court; they will lose, likely costing the state many millions of dollars (plus giving them much-deserved embarrassment) in the process.
It looks like Tennessee has taken one step along the road presented by this graphic:
Way to go, Tennessee! Welcome back to the 19th century!!!
Posted in creationism, education, politics | Tagged: academic freedom, bill, Bill Haslam, creationism, Explore Evolution, Governor Bill Haslam, Haslam, HB 368, ID, intelligent design, law, lawsuit, legislature, monkey bill, National Center for Science Education, NCSE, petition, public, schools, science, Scopes, Scopes Monkey Trial, taxpayers, Tennessee, TN, trial, veto | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on April 4, 2012
Finally getting back to completing my series of recent posts about evolution and creationism (see here and here for the previous ones), I wanted to pass along an update about a situation in Tennessee. It seems that, in its infinite wisdom, the Tennessee legislature has decided to pass its own version of the Louisiana “Academic Freedom” Law, which is little more than a touchy-feely way of saying that they want to protect teachers who want to teach creationism in public school science classes. The National Center for Science Education has an update on the bill…
Tennessee’s House Bill 368 was sent to Governor Bill Haslam on March 29, 2012 — and columnists in newspapers across the state are continuing to press the case against the bill. Nicknamed the “monkey bill” by former Speaker of the House Jimmy Naifeh, HB 368 would encourage teachers to present the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of topics that arouse “debate and disputation” such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” Haslam now has till April 9, 2012, to sign the bill, allow it to become law without his signature, or veto it.
The Murfreesboro Daily News Journal (March 29, 2012) editorially lamented, “At a time when Tennessee is becoming a national center for technological and alternative fuel research and development, it is odd — to say the least — that our state Legislature would push scientific debate back more than 85 years,” adding, “Science and teacher associations across the state and nation oppose this legislation, yet our Legislature is determined to impose its will on the classrooms of Tennessee, showing a general disrespect for scientific academia in favor of running its religious views up a flagpole.”
Writing in The Tennessean (March 29, 2012), Leslie Brunetta — a science writer and cancer survivor — argued that antievolution bills such as Tennessee’s “are bad for my health and the health of each of the 1.5 million Americans diagnosed with cancer every year,” for while evolutionary theory helps to guide cancer research, the “challengers of evolution theory” provide no actual research program. She concludes, “If you’re looking for a cure for your cancer, don’t look to evolution-deniers for hope. As for me, I give thanks to Darwin and the researchers who have stood on his shoulders.”
And writing in the Knoxville News Sentinel (March 30, 2012), columnist Pam Strickland commented, “Tennessee has already tried this teaching creationism once before, The story is known worldwide as the Scopes Monkey Trial and is told through the play and movie ‘Inherit the Wind.’” She added, “if Haslam or his staff is reading, they need to know that the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Association of Biology Teachers, the National Association of Bioscience Teachers and the National Earth Science Teachers Association are all against HB 368.”
So that’s the bad news: the Tennessee legislature has passed the bill. But there is good news: it seems that the governor of Tennessee is having serious reservations about signing the bill into law, seemingly because he sees it as ripe for a lawsuit which the state will inevitably lose while spending millions upon millions of dollars in court costs attempting to defend. And, especially in a time when taxpayer dollars are so tight, it doesn’t make much fiscal sense to try defending a law which is highly likely to go down in flames.
That’s where you and I come in: we need to help encourage Gov. Haslam to veto this bad legislation! To do so, please consider signing onto the following petition, and then spread the word to all of your friends – especially the ones who live in Tennessee!
As parents, educators, and concerned citizens, we call on you to veto HB 368, which encourages teachers to present scientific topics such as evolution and global warming as “controversial.” This bill is deeply misleading and will only serve to confuse students about well-established scientific concepts. Our children need the best education possible in order to excel in college, compete in a 21st-century job market, and cope with the future challenges of climate change. Governor Haslam, we strongly urge you to support sound science and veto HB 368. …
Posted in creationism, education, politics | Tagged: academic freedom, bill, Bill Haslam, creationism, Explore Evolution, Governor Bill Haslam, Haslam, HB 368, ID, intelligent design, lawsuit, legislature, monkey bill, National Center for Science Education, NCSE, petition, public, schools, science, Scopes, Scopes Monkey Trial, taxpayers, Tennessee, TN, trial, veto | 3 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on December 28, 2011
Just yesterday I learned that the National Vaccine Information Center, a deceptive title for one of the worst anti-vaccine propaganda groups out there, has a new ad playing in New York City’s Times Square. Worse yet, this ad is going to be playing on the megatron screen there during the New Year’s Eve celebration on Dec. 31st! Folks, this is bad, not just because of the content of the ad, which plays on the “pro-choice” mentality that parents are better equipped to make medical decisions than doctors and also directs viewers to the NVIC’s website, but because of the timing: due to the fact that millions (perhaps even billions) of people watch the Times Square festivities on television, this ad could easily get worldwide exposure.
We need to fight back, and we’ve already started. Elyse Anders has already written a post at Skepchick on this, and I’ve also blown the whistle via the JREF Swift blog. But more needs to be done, so here’s what you can do:
1. Direct people to reliable and trustworthy outlets for vaccine information – a quick and handy one is the Women Thinking Free Foundation’s Hug Me I’m Vaccinated FAQ.
2. Sign the new petition demanding that ABC Full Circle pull the NVIC Times Square ad.
I resolve to end deadly anti-vaccine propaganda. @DisneyChannelPR Pull NVIC’s anti-vax Times Square ad http://wp.me/pbblq-6RR #ABCsSickNYE
Whooping cough is on the rise thanks to things like NVIC advertising on @DisneyChannelPR screens in NYC. #ABCsSickNYE http://bit.ly/rXLHOd
4. Go to the NVIC YouTube video link and “dislike” the video.
5. Share this information on Facebook and other social media outlets.
6. Contact Gerald Griffin at ABC Full Circle by emailing Gerald.T.Griffin@abc.com or calling 212.456.7389 to voice your displeasure with them playing the NVIC ad.
And this campaign needs to be mounted from the inside as well as the outside: it seems we in the skeptical and pro-science community need media connections within the companies which rent out space for these high-profile ads. We need to inform and educate these companies about the part they are playing in spreading this dangerous anti-vaccination misinformation, and we need to raise such a fuss that they’ll simply refuse the NVIC the next time they come wanting to rent the space.
Of course, none of this will work without you, because we are going up against an organization that has literally hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on anti-vaccine propaganda. So please take some time to get involved and take action now – it really is a matter of life or death.
Posted in environmental hysteria, media woo, medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: 12-31, 12/31, 42nd street, ABC, activism, ad, advertisement, anti-vaccination movement, anti-vaccine, anti-vax, autism, AVM, Body Count, celebration, Change.org, Dec 31, December 31st, Full Circle, Hug Me, Hug Me I'm Vaccinated, Jenny McCarthy, megatron, National Vaccine Information Center, New Year, New Year's Eve, New York, NVIC, petition, Skepchick, skeptical, skepticism, thimerisol, Times Square, vaccine, vaccines | 2 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on April 9, 2011
[**Update (4-15-11): The American Academy of Pediatrics has requested that CBS pull the anti-vax ad.]
Okay folks, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get skeptically active. I have found out that CBS plans to air an anti-vaccination ad on the Jumbotron at 42nd Street in New York’s Times Square starting on April 28th. The sponsoring organizations are the notoriously anti-vaccinationist Mercola and National Vaccine Information Center. These are a couple of the biggest groups out there promoting the falsehood that, among other things, vaccines cause autism (they don’t, btw). And while their ad gives the impression that they want to simply inform people about their “vaccine choices”, what they are really about is spreading flagrantly non-scientific, incorrect, and fear-mongering bilge about vaccines. If you’d like to see some accurate info on vaccines, check out this link to the Hug Me, I’m Vaccinated website.
Folks, we have to do something to stop this. Why? Simple: because vaccines save lives. Period.
Thus I propose that we not only light candles in the gathering darkness, I propose that we start up a huge frakkin’ bonfire! So what can we do about this nonsense? Elyse Anders of Skepchick has a few ideas on that…
Posted in media woo, medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: 42nd street, activism, ad, advertisement, anti-vaccination movement, anti-vaccine, anti-vax, autism, AVM, boycott, CBS, Change.org, Hug Me, Hug Me I'm Vaccinated, Jumbotron, Mercola, National Vaccine Information Center, New York, NVIC, petition, Skepchick, skeptical, skepticism, thimerisol, Times Square, vaccine, vaccines | 16 Comments »