Today’s “Wait, What?!?,” Brought to You by Cognitive Dissonance

Thanks to Tom and Cecil from the Cognitive Dissonance podcast for catching this story from the HuffPo for our amusement/terror:

The debate about global warming is over. A Texas pastor has come up with a watertight theory that will shame the swathe of scientists that have concluded, through precise calculations and years of theoretical modelling, that the rise in the earth’s average temperature is a result of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases.

Rather than man-made carbon emissions, global warming is in fact due to… the imminent return of Jesus. How did the scientists miss it? Speaking to his flock in a recent TV broadcast, Matthew Hagee explains that when scientists contradict the world of God, “God’s word is accurate and men are wrong”.

Well, of course.  Why didn’t I think of that?  And I’ve even read the Bible multiple times, you’d think I would have caught the part about climate change and how we shouldn’t worry about it.  Let’s see what proof Matthew Hagee found in the greatest text in the world.

As the pastor explains: “The Bible says that whenever we approach the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strange weather patterns. Jesus said this in Matthew the twenty-fifth chapter.

“So we have a decision to make: do we believe what an environmentalist group says and choose to live in a world where we’re attempting to make everything as clean in the air as possible, or do we believe what the Bible says, that these things were going to happen and that rather than try to clean up all of the air and solve all of the problems of the world by eliminating factories, we should start to tell people about Jesus Christ who is to return?”

*facepalm*  Matthew 25?  How stupid am I not to have noticed that?  I mean, I was thinking that he found the proof hidden deep in one of the less flashy books in the Bible, something like Titus, Chapter 3 or Ecclesiastes, Chapter 11, Verses 2-6, but right there in one of the Gospels?  I mean, fuck!  There are only 4 of them, and everyone who reads the Bible has read them.  Hell, even most people who say they have read the Bible when what they really mean is they believe in the Bible and are Christian so they are going to tell pollsters that they have read the Bible have read at least one of the Gospels.  I see it now, it is all so clear to me…….

Wait a second.  Matthew 25?  *sound of pages flipping*

Okay kids, all together now:

Wait, What?!?

Matthew 25 is long enough that I am not going to quote it here.  It consists of the Parable of the Ten Virgins, the Parable of the Silver Pieces, and The Last Judgement.  (Or NIV version, The Parable of the Ten Virgins,  The Parable of the Bags of Gold, and Sheep and Goats.)  In fact, here is the NIV version, in case you do not have your Bible ready at hand.

I am well and truly sorry, but I am going to have to call “shenanigans” on Pastor Matthew Hagee.  If I were forced to bet on the matter, my money would be on the good Pastor figuring he could tell believers whatever the fuck he wanted to and claim that Jesus said it as well, because he knew that not one of the believers he was talking to would check to see if he was actually full of shit.  Of course, that is if I was a betting man.  Pastor M. Hagee could have meant to cite a different chapter, or he could actually believe he sees Jesus saying what he claims he says, through his personal way of reading between the lines.  But I doubt it.

Think about it.  Sure, we know that Matthew 25 does not say what he claims it says.  But he isn’t talking to us.  He isn’t going to change some progressives mind on climate change by quoting the Bible anymore than we are going to change some conservatives mind by showing them peer reviewed studies.  This is just one more roadblock in the way of meaningfully dealing with climate change.  Now there is a group of people who believe Jesus predicted it in Matthew 25 and it is therefor a good thing.  In addition to the other groups with their own mind-numbingly dumb objections to science and reality.  If you made it through this winter without hearing the words, “God, it is cold and there is so much snow.  I bet those people who believed in global warming feel stupid now.” then you are a luckier person than me.

Promising News

From Dispatches From The Culture Wars:

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of an atheist man from Missouri who was denied parole on a drug charge because he refused to submit to a religious rehab program and the state refused to send him to a secular one. The denial of his original grievance and his loss at the district court level are rather alarming, but it’s a good thing that the appeals court reversed them.

Randall Jackson was sent to Western Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center (WRDCC), a rehab program that required the saying of the famous serenity prayer and other religious elements. When Jackson complained about that, WRDCC told him to just pretend that it all meant something else. When he filed a grievance with the Missouri Department of Corrections and requested to be sent to a secular rehab program, he was denied. He appealed that denial and was again rejected and forced to stay in the program. He finally left the program and was then denied parole for failing to complete it.

Which is promising, however:

This is not a complete victory. The appeals court remanded it back to the district court to actually hold a trial in the case and issue a ruling. And with the district court being the same one that dismissed the case “with prejudice” in the first place, I’m skeptical that he can get a fair outcome. But then it would likely be appealed again to the much more reasonable appeals court. What needs to happen ultimately is that referrals to religious rehab programs as a condition of anything needs to be outlawed. It’s almost inconceivable how that could not be a violation of the First Amendment. You can read the full ruling here.

This is an issue that I think mainly gets swept under the constitutional rug due to a lack of complainants with standing.  (I could very well be wrong, I admit not having looked into the amount of cases challenging similar laws.  Feel free to correct me.)  Personally, when confronted with the option of traditional 12 step treatment programs, either in place of incarceration or as a condition of parole, I was never willing to risk further incarceration by challenging the religious nature of the programs.  I shut up and dealt with the programs  I am sure a healthy percentage of people facing the same choice make the same decision.  It is a shame, because not only do the 12 step based programs have extremely poor success rates, in my opinion they are completely useless for anyone coming to them with an atheistic mindset. There are other treatment programs.  Not every rehab is based on the religious 12 steps.  If we want to get serious about treating addiction in the United States, we need to see what treatment programs the evidence supports, and start referring people to them, instead of sweeping the whole problem under a 12 step rug.

Cosmos: Too Soon to Judge, But…..

This past Sunday marked the premier of the Cosmos reboot, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Seth MacFarlane and the Fox Network’s remake of Carl Sagan’s classic science mini-series.  Fox did everything it could, so it seems, to make sure as many viewers as possible tuned in to the first episode, capping off the promotional blitz leading up to the premier with a statement from President Obama, and then airing the first episode on a myriad of channels.

While I do not believe this version of Cosmos has any chance of reaching the significance of Carl Sagan’s version, I also do not believe that is even a fair criticism.  The television landscape has changed more than most of us can even comprehend since the original airing of Cosmos.  Science fans, and those of us who mourn the day reality shows took over channels such as National Geographic will no doubt tune in each week.  For most of us, Cosmos will be a review of fascinating things we already know.  For me, the question is how many of those for whom this is new information will choose this over the other seemingly infinite entertainment choices?

For a series such as this, one episode is far too small of a taste to give a fair review.  I will definitely be tuning in next week, but that really isn’t saying anything.  With the lack of documentaries, especially astronomical/cosmological documentaries, now that shows like Amish Mafia dominate, Cosmos would have had to literally claim the Earth was 6000 years old for me to stop watching after one episode.  While I feel it is too early to pass judgement on the show, there are a few things I want to point out.

Hitting the positives first, the effects are awe-inspiring.  I have no doubt that Cosmos is going to feature some of the most impressive effects ever seen.  Hopefully they will draw people in who will stay and learn from the science.  Neil Tyson a rockstar.  He is the only science communicator who I think could fill the Carl Sagan role for the reboot, and this far in I think he is doing a fine job.  The most memorable part of the first episode, for me, was his snowy bus stop story of meeting Sagan.  I was already familiar with the story, but that didn’t stop it from bringing a tear to my eye.

Now a couple negatives….

First off, I think Fox really dropped the ball by not finding a sponsor willing to let them present the first episode either commercial free or with limited interruptions.  Maybe a block of ads right after the title sequence or something?  I know that ads are what pays the bills and allows shows like this to be made in the first place, but I find it hard to believe, with the amount of channels they were airing the premier on, that they couldn’t have found a sponsor or two willing.  The amount of commercial breaks was jarring and made it seem much more like just another documentary and less like the start of a special, 13 week event.  Of course, I can’t lay this criticism at the feet of Cosmos.  This ball was dropped by Fox.

The next issue I had though is all Cosmos, and I fully expect that most people will accuse me of picking nits over it.  And perhaps I am.  Of course, with a science documentary, the most important thing in my mind is getting the science right instead of reinforcing misconceptions.  Yet twice during the trip through the solar system the visual designers chose to either pick artistic license or popular misconceptions over reality.  First, by portraying the asteroid belt as described in multiple sci-fi flicks instead of astronomy textbooks, and then doubling down later in the trip by having the space ship weaving through a flock of trans-Neptunian objects when they came to the Kuiper belt.  Now I completely understand that showing the asteroid belt and the Kuiper belt as they are would make a much more boring shot than what they went with.  (The vast majority of both belts is empty space.)  That being said, by showing the belts as they really are, Cosmos could have helped fix a major misconception people have about the asteroid belt.  Instead, they chose to reinforce it.  Here, from Phil Plait’s first book, Bad Astronomy:

Astronomer Dan Durda puts it this way:  imagine a scale model of the solar system where the Sun is a largish beach ball a meter across.  The Earth would be a marble 1 centimeter in size located about 100 meters from the Sun.  Mars would be a pea about 150 meters away from the Sun, and Jupiter, the size of a softball, about 500 meters out.

If you collected all the asteroids in the main belt and balled them up, they would be in toto about the size of a grain of sand.  Now imagine crushing that grain of sand into millions of pieces and strewing it all over the hundreds of thousands of square meters between Mars and Jupiter in the model.  See the problem?  You could tool around out there for months and never see an asteroid, let alone two.


So am I nit-picking here?  Perhaps, and if that is the only bit, to borrow Phil’s phrase, of bad astronomy we see in Cosmos (not going to mention the space ship making a sound as it passed by us in space, not going to do it….) I won’t hold it against the series as a whole.  It does worry me though.  What other bits of artistic license are we going to see them take?

I hope the viewers are tuning in, and I hope this Cosmos is a huge success.  I for one, want more things like this on the air, and less dynasties that involve the instruments of fowl genocide.



Since I Have Nothing Original to Say About the Shutdown, Let’s All Look at Uranus

Seriously.  How many different ways can I say that the current GOP has lost its bleeding mind?

So go outside tonight and look for Uranus.  It is just barely naked eye visible, and pretty easy to find with binoculars.  If you have a telescope, you should be able to resolve it into a disc right now, and may even be able to catch a few of its moons.

Here is a link to Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy on observing Uranus, a guide from Sky and Telescope, and a guide from Universe Today.  Happy gazing.


If You Are Not in the Water, No Shark Can Bite You.

Alternately titled “If You Bite Everyone Wearing Water-skis, No Idiot Can Jump You.”  TL; DR version at the very end

At the risk of sounding very “get off my lawn” or “that shit they listen to now isn’t music, its noise,” allow me to take you on a stroll down the lane of fond memories, back to a time when there were cable networks with mostly educational missions.  I am not claiming that ratings were ignored back in the days long gone, only that there were some principles certain channels were not willing to sacrifice in pursuit of a larger share.

In the beginning, there were networks.  And apparently, they were good, at least according to my mother.  (I’m not that old.)  But as technology advanced, the ability to provide more viewing choices through the magic of cable television moved from fantasy to reality, rendering television sets with 13 channel dials obsolete. When video first began plotting the homicide of the radio star, cable already had buried UHF.  Channel counts rose to unimaginable heights as channels with niche programming came into being.  Mtv became a cultural phenomenon that changed the whole music industry.  ESPN moved sports from a 5 minute part of the evening news cast to an all day affair,   With CNN and then CNN Headline News the 24 hour news cycle was born.  Lifetime provided a home for movies about abused, cheated on, and otherwise done wrong women.  TBS brought Atlanta Braves baseball games into everyone’s house and launched the Turner media empire, eventually leading to every citizen with a television having seen every episode of Law & Order.  When our cable system added Comedy Central we had a total of 48 channels.  (We could have had more, but we never had HBO, Showtime, The Movie Channel, or Skinamax.  To my horny male pubescent self’s constant disappointment.)  At that point, we thought we had an endless amount of variety.    Anyone who watched early cable channels desperately try to fill air time had to assume the saturation point had been reached.  (Australian Rules Football on ESPN anyone?)  Oh, how wrong we were.

Continue reading

ABC Decides to Kill a Couple of Kids for Ratings

Are they going to feed them into a wood chipper?  Unleash a pack of rabid dogs on them?  Force them to watch endless hours of Extreme Weight Loss, The Bachelorette, and Celebrity Wife Swap until they can’t take it anymore and commit suicide?

Nah, they are just going to make Jenny McCarthy a co-host on The View.  You see, Elisabeth Hasselbeck decided to leave The View for a spot on Fox and Friends, Fox New’s insanity filled morning news show, which apparently opened up the “hot blond with crazy opinions” spot on ABC’s morning talk show.  Now while Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s crazy opinions were your garden variety right wing conservatism that you can find all over the TV dial, Jenny McCarthy’s crazy opinions are a bit more dangerous.  Jenny believes that vaccines cause autism, and has been an outspoken champion for the anti-vax movement.  She has appeared on Oprah to spout her insanity, appeared at anti-vaccine rallies, wrote for anti-vaccine websites, supported disgraced “researcher” Andrew Wakefield even after the truth of his “study” linking the MMR vaccine to autism was exposed; Jenny McCarthy is the celebrity of the anti-vaccine movement, and she has dedicated a large amount of effort to promoting a link between vaccines and autism and questioning the safety of vaccines in general.

And Jenny is free to have these views.  If she wants to believe that vaccines caused her son to grow an invisible third arm out of the top of his head, that is her right.  And that belief would have about the same scientific backing as her belief that vaccines are harmful and cause autism.  This is not an open scientific question.   There is no debate in the medical community.  On one side you have Jenny McCarthy, discredited “researchers” like Andrew Wakefield, and a few people either out of their area of expertise, or with very questionable conflicts of interest.  On the other side, you have the rest of the medical community and all published research.

And yet, Jenny has these views.  And now she will have a national television audience, and she will use her platform on The View to express these views, because she has used every other possible platform to express them in the past.  And even if the rest of the co-hosts argue with her and say that vaccines are safe and do not cause autism, it will still have the appearance of an open debate, not the closed scientific question that it actually is.

And some people watching will listen to her.  And they will not vaccinate their children because of what she says.  Why would they listen to her?  *shrug*  They will.  As ThinkProgress writes:

It’s easy to dismiss the idea that McCarthy’s work on autism and vaccines has an impact–celebrity activism often gets accorded outsized importance or treated with utter contempt, when it’s a much more complicated phenomenon. But a University of Michigan survey of parents found that 24 percent of them were willing to place some trust in figures like McCarthy on the question of the link between vaccines and autism, which is a much higher level of credibility than the average person’s going to be able to elicit from the general public.

And even if it is only a small number of people who listen to her and make that choice because of her, well….

And even a small number of parents who decide not to vaccinate on the word of someone like McCarthy, or Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who wrote the initial paper linking autism and vaccines, and has since been banned from practicing medicine in the UK, can have significant public health impacts. California saw a spike in whooping cough in 2010 that resulted in a number of deaths. Wakefield’s work contributed to a rise in measles cases in the United Kingdom. And fears of vaccines in general have lead to suspicion of the HPV vaccine, which is a critical way to help girls reduce their risk of certain kinds of cancers.

Some children will get measles, and whooping cough, and other vaccine preventable diseases because their parents decided not to vaccinate them due to baseless fears sowed by Jenny McCarthy.  And those children will give those disease to children who are either too young to be vaccinated, or who can not be vaccinated due to compromised immune systems or allergies.

And some of those children will die from those diseases.

And some of those children who die will die because ABC decided to give Jenny McCarthy a national platform for her anti-vaccine lunacy.

Which leads to the title of this post.

Way to go, ABC.

I’ll close with this from the ThinkProgress article:

But while it’s possible to debate many sides of many issues, one of the benefits of medicine is that there’s actual evidence that some ideas and right and others are wrong. McCarthy’s are wrong, and continuing to defend them with that other standby of people who like to advance conspiracy theories without evidence, that she’s just raising questions, doesn’t make her decision to stick to her discredited ideas any more admirable. And it doesn’t give The View cover, either. This is not a vital debate in American society in which McCarthy’s position has been historically underrepresented, or a polarity along which it’s important to have multiple perspectives in order to make for a lively conversation. It’s a hoax, on par with McCarthy’s original belief, before her son’s autism diagnosis, that her son was an “indigo child,” a New Age theory that tries to comfort parents of children with autism and learning disabilities by convincing them that their children actually represent a new stage in human evolution.

Maybe Jenny McCarthy has a range of other opinions that ABC, which airs The View, thinks will be valuable to its audience. But the company is a news organization in addition to an entertainment company. And ABC should consider the damage McCarthy’s done to the public interest against whatever else she might have to offer.



Your Science Lesson of the Day

A h/t to Ed Brayton for letting us know this site existed.



Here’s a bit of trivia you can use to wow your friends with at the bar.  I’m sure I’ll find many more facts from this site to share with everyone.  From the Creation Science Hall of Fame:

Key elements of the Hydroplate Theory will help any reader understand why comets, and their orbits, could date the Global Flood. To review: when God created the heavens and the earth, He created two compartments of water on the earth. One compartment became the early seas. The other became a subcrustal ocean.

See, we’re going to use comets to date the Global Flood.  You know, that thing that never happened.  Pay attention.  So we have this subcrustal ocean.  What’s that you ask?  Jesus….

The Apostle Peter makes this abundantly clear, but only if you correctly read the original. The New American Standard Bible (copyright: the Lockman Foundation) renders that verse thus:

They willfully ignore this fact: that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water.

Or, if you read the original Greek words and know their roots, it should read in part:

The earth formed itself standing-together out of the water.

Standing. On what? On pillars that held up the dry land. Underneath that land: water. Or to be more specific, a subcrustal ocean.

Plainly obvious.  Now the moon is going to cook this water.

In the centuries that followed Creation, the moon would pull on the land, and let it fall, a little slower than twice a day. This tidal pumping heated the subcrustal ocean to a supercritical temperature. And because the massive crust confined it, this water was also under supercritical pressure. This condition creates a supercritical fluid – liquid and vapor dissolving one another.

Then the crust is going to fail.  Believe me, stepping on this crack would certainly break your mothers back….

“In the six hundredth year of the life of Noah, in the second month, in the seventeenth day of the month,” the crust failed. (Genesis 7:11) That failure happened roughly where the Mid-Oceanic Ridge now stands. The failure began as a crack, literally microscopic in breadth. This crack rapidly widened and lengthened, until it ran the full length of the present Mid-Oceanic Ridge system. (The Mid-Oceanic Ridge is 46,000 miles long and wraps around the earth like the stitched seam of a baseball.)

All that water came rushing out of its subcrustal chamber, at hypersonic speed. It eroded the land mass for about 400 miles to either side. Beneath it, the floor of the chamber buckled up, now that all the weight pressing on it abruptly lifted. The two parts of the land mass slid down the slope that thus formed. North and South America fell away to the west, and Europe and Africa to the east. When they eventually crashed, they crushed and buckled up, to form the mountain chains we know today. (Note: Mount Everest did not rear itself up until late in the Flood year. So we have no reason to suppose that the Flood waters covered Mount Everest as Mount Everest.)

So the next time one of your hellbound friends mocks the flood by stating how much water would be needed to cover Mount Everest, just give them that pitying look that says “you are so ignorant and stupid, but I don’t want to ruin our friendship by telling you that out loud.”  You know, the one they always give you.

And some of the water, rock and mud that came rushing out of that chamber did not fall back to earth. A large amount, about one percent of the total mass of the earth, is still in space. It went into orbit around the sun, moved beyond earth’s gravitational influence, and then accreted to form several types of objects. These objects persist as the comets, asteroids, and meteoroids of today.

Now this is science!  Not that Satan spawn shit spewed out by college textbooks, public schools, and the National Geographic channel, but real, God fearing, Bible believing science.  Remember, if you can’t twist it in some insanely complicated way to agree with the Bible, then it is Satanscience and you have my permission to cover your ears and yell “Get behind me, Satan!  and no staring at my good Christian ass either!”

Now there is a lot of complicated insane twisting that dates certain comets back to this event, but this is just a blog post, not a graduate level class in Creation Science, so if you want all the hilarity totally backed up by evidence details you can read them at your leisure.  I’m going to skip ahead a bit….

The most-likely date for a “cluster of perihelia” is 3344.5 BC. That is, January of 3344 BC, and six months further back in the past from then. That would put those comets at perihelion in the summer of 3345 BC. Dr. Brown estimates greater than 96 percent confidence for this date. He further estimates an error of about one year.

This, of course, is the most statistically likely perihelion date for these comets. Such a tight clustering of these five comets near earth’s orbit any time in the last 6,000 years (the range of possible flood dates) would only occur by chance less than 4% of the time. As a surprising bonus, this date of convergence coincides with one specific biblically derived date for the flood, as explained below.

These comets would have launched about halfway through autumn in the year of the Global Flood. The annalists of the Global Flood year (Shem, Ham, and Japheth, sons of Noah) state that the Global Flood broke out “in the second month, in the seventeenth day of the month.” Noah and his sons, in those days, used a calendar with a 360-day year and a 30-day month, with the first month beginning with the autumnal equinox. (Moses would receive a Divine directive to reckon the year from the first full moon past the vernal equinox in the year of the Exodus.)

Thus these comets, and all other comets, launched in autumn of the year 3345 BC, give or take a year. This, then, is a good astronomical date range for the Global Flood.

Q. E. Mutha Fuckin’ D.  Suck on that, SatanScience!  So now we have the date, and the method, what will this mean to other subjects?

We now have a firm astronomical date for the Global Flood. This date by itself validates the most comprehensive (and comprehensible) model anyone has yet invented for the Global Flood. But it also carries weighty implications for many other disciplines, including without limitation:

  • Human biology, and especially human longevity.
  • The poisoning of the atmosphere by the carbon-14 that the Global Flood dumped into it.
  • History of ancient Mesopotamia, including Chaldean, Aramean (ancient Syrian), and Babylonian history.
  • Egyptology.
  • Assyriology.
  • History of Judaism.

This new date will force many scholars to lay aside many of their most cherished positions. It will do this by giving the strongest piece of direct evidence not only that the Global Flood happened, but exactly when. And when many other events occurred as well.

The Holy Bible, subject to the proper choice of manuscripts, now stands as the Gold-standard Historical Record. All other historical records must stand (or fall) on their synchrony (or lack of it) with the Bible.

So the next time someone calls you an ignorant halfwit, or tries to explain the so called proofs of an old earth to you, or suggests that you take a science class, or just gives you that look that you know oh so well, remember that they are going to burn in hell for all of eternity and you will get to watch them suffer and plead with you to ease their pain while you laugh at them.

Oh, and that our science is right!