The Skeptical Teacher

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

Archive for August, 2009

On Health Care, Rightwing Nutbags Choose Lies & Misinformation Over Civil Discourse

Posted by mattusmaximus on August 12, 2009

Okay, so the hot U.S. political topic of the day is health care reform.  I am not going to make this a post about advocating for or against a specific kind of legislation, though personally I do have my preferences.  Rather, this post is about the manner in which the debate, or lack thereof, is progressing concerning this all-important topic.

Sadly, there is a large amount of misinformation and outright lies being spread about health care reform, and much of it is being fueled by uncritical & hysterical thinking via TV ads and the Internet.  Most of these lies are being spewed by various rightwing groups with the express purpose of derailing any kind of reform, and the movement is encouraging people not to take part in a civilized debate & discourse (which is needed).  Rather, this movement is actively encouraging people to attend Congressional town hall meetings solely for the purpose of disrupting them with angry shouts and even death threats.  Yes, that’s right – some members of Congress have been getting death threats.

So what can one do to cut through all the b.s. and get “just the facts”?  I’d say the best thing to do is go to a non-partisan source, such as  They’ve been doing a bang up job of looking into various claims about health care reform, as well as some of the outrageous garbage which is causing such a stir.  Let’s take a quick look at some of the big lies repeated of late, and how takes them on…

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Posted in politics, psychology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Texas Board of Education Pushes Religious Ideology in Social Studies Classes

Posted by mattusmaximus on August 9, 2009

I’ve made numerous posts here about the Texas Board of Education pushing a creationist agenda in regards to science classes & textbooks, but the agenda of the religious fundamentalists in Texas is much broader than that.

I recently received the following press release from the American Humanist Association regarding an attempt by the conservative wing of the Texas BoEd to use social studies classes & textbooks in Texas to push their religious agenda. It seems that BoEd member Don McLeroy is behind the push to include what are called the “biblical motivations” of the U.S. founders in the Texas social studies curriculum.  This is code for pushing fundamentalist Christianity, folks, pure and simple.

The AHA press elaborates…

The American Humanist Association responded today to a letter from Texas State Board of Education Member Don McLeroy, arguing that social studies classes should not aim to promote religion and should accurately portray the secular nature of the United States government. McLeroy had responded to an open letter the American Humanist Association sent to the Texas State Board of Education last Thursday, prompted by reports the Board had been advised to include the “biblical motivations” of the founders in the state’s new social studies curriculum. In McLeroy’s e-mail to the American Humanist Association, he stated he disagreed with the group and cited an essay he wrote in 2002 titled “The Gift of Medieval Christendom to the World.” (The letter sent to the Texas State School Board of Education can be found here: say-to-texas-state-board-of-education-dont-mess-with-texas, and McLeroy’s response can be found here:

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Posted in education, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

William Dembski & the Anti-Science Crusade

Posted by mattusmaximus on August 4, 2009

Those of you who have followed the evolution-creationism battles for the last few years will recognize the name and infamy of William Dembski. Dembski is one of the top talking heads for the Discovery Institute, the intelligent design “think-tank” which rose to prominence in the 1990s, and he is guilty of pretty much every logical fallacy & dishonest debating tactic in the book in his promotion of ID-creationism.


But now, Dembski has decided to branch out from telling lies about evolutionary science, because apparently after the Discovery Institute’s embarrassing smackdown at the Dover trial in 2005, the creationist movement has decided to take their anti-scientific agenda into other areas, such as environmental science.  For details, see the following article on the Southern Baptist Conference’s website where Dembski recently outlined this broader attack on science.

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Posted in creationism, global warming denial | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Birthers Plan to Target GOP Congress-Critters

Posted by mattusmaximus on August 2, 2009

I recently posted about how the birther conspiracy theorists have started to gain a higher profile in the media. In that post I also lamented about how such a group of hardcore rightwing conspiracy mongers could threaten to push the Republican party into dangerously extreme territory and how that would be bad for the United States as a nation.

Well, it seems that my fears were at least somewhat founded, because during the August recess the birthers are planning to target GOP Congressmen & women in their nutty campaign…

GOP headache: The birther issue

As GOP Rep. Mike Castle learned the hard way back home in Delaware this month, there’s no easy way to deal with the small but vocal crowd of right-wing activists who refuse to believe that President Barack Obama was born in the United States.

At a town hall meeting in Georgetown, a woman demanded to know why Castle and his colleagues were “ignoring” questions about Obama’s birth certificate — questions that have been put to rest repeatedly by state officials in Hawaii, where the birth certificate and all other credible evidence show that Obama was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961.

When Castle countered that Obama is, in fact, “a citizen of the United States,” the crowd erupted in boos, the woman seized control of the gathering and led a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The video went viral; by Sunday, it had been viewed on YouTube more than half a million times.

And birthers say members should expect more of the same in the coming weeks.

“Absolutely,” says California resident Orly Taitz, the Russian-born attorney/dentist who has become a kind of ringleader for the movement. “It is a very important issue, one that politicians should have taken up a long time ago.”

Moments after speaking with POLITICO Saturday, Taitz posted a call to arms on her blog:

“I believe it is a serious concern and I hope that each and every decent American comes to town hall meetings with a video camera and demands action,” she wrote.

So there you have it.  While the country struggles with all manner of big problems: two wars, an ailing economy, high unemployment, and highly complex healthcare reform – these birthers are attempting to hijack one of the two major political parties with a near fundamentalist religious zeal.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be watching Youtube closely over the next few weeks.  This is going to get interesting, folks – like watching a train wreck in slow motion…

Posted in conspiracy theories, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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