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02.12.2010 – Happy Darwin Day

February 12, 2010 1 comment

In honor of Darwin Day, I thought that I would just post some Charles Darwin quotes that I really like. So here goes:

* We can allow satellites, planets, suns, universe, nay whole systems of universe, to be governed by laws, but the smallest insect, we wish to be created at once by special act.

* I feel most deeply that this whole question of Creation is too profound for human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton! Let each man hope and believe what he can.

* There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

* It has often and confidently been asserted, that man’s origin can never be known: Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

Happy Birthday Charles Darwin. Today I celebrate the life of a man who we may find, ultimately, caused more change in the worldview of human kind than any other in history. At least that’s my hope. Maybe one day everyone will find the path that I found and shed superstition and replace it with reason, science, and critical thinking. Maybe one day Darwin’s theory will be so common place that the debate is finally put to rest.

Maybe one day!

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02.01.2010 – Natural Selection vs. Artificial Selection

February 1, 2010 1 comment

Matt Dillahunty on this week’s Atheist Experience show was asked by a caller about why believers in Evolution/Natural selection/Survival of the fittest wouldn’t naturally move towards a society in which handicapped people or the general ‘undesirables’ of society would be eliminated. It seemed to me to be the usual attempt to connect Darwin’s theory with Hitler and other genocidal maniacs of recent centuries.

I found Matt’s response to be just about perfect (big surprise there) and something that really helped to solidify this concept in my mind. He basically said that what these people are doing is ‘artificial selection’. They are trying to force their world view onto society at large.

Natural selection is just that…natural. It involves biological laws and rules that direct genetics to mutate and change to suit the various changing attributes of a species’ environment. There’s no reason that we would have to connect this ‘natural’ process to folks that try to force the world to be what they see in their disturbed little heads.

Thanks to Matt’s explanation, I have a much better understanding that these two ideas and processes are completely separate.

Thanks Matt!

01.26.2010 – Facebook Fun – Episode 3 – Young Earth Creationism

January 26, 2010 2 comments

One of my facebook friends (a hardcore fundy) posted this as her status today:

hmmm. so what are your thoughts? young earth or old earth?

So, obviously I couldn’t resist responding. It’s been pretty light-hearterd in general. Though, my mother posted a massive writing that she got from some creationist website and I countered all the arguments with links from talkorigins.org so, that wasn’t a big deal.

However, it was the latest comment from someone I don’t know that really made me scratch my head and worry about the over-all mentality of these folks:

When God created Adam he created an adult not a baby. Could he have created the earth with an age also? If he did is it old or young? At actual age of 1 day how old was Adam physically? Just some food for thought.. As for what I believe, I believe the earth is actually aprox. 6000 years old

I just am amazed at the lengths that folks will go to to justify their belief in these bronze aged myths. So now the earth was created, in it’s near present form already representing 4.5 billion years of age to anyone that would look and search to find it? I truly believe that people like this are just beyond help. I suppose if they are just living in their own little deluded world, that’s fine, but they rarely just leave it at that. It’s these kind of folks that are tyring to get stuff like this taught in the science classroom. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s wrong on many levels.

10.15.2009 – Honest Questions About Evolution

October 15, 2009 6 comments

Let me first start by saying that I believe Evolutionary Theory. I believe that the brilliant Scientists that have done the hard work of researching and testing the theory over the many years have done good work. I can see no reason that they would have to mislead people intentionally. I do trust that they are honest in their findings and in the way it is presented to the general public. 

That being said, I have a few questions. 

I have just started reading Richard Dawkins ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’. And as usual with his writing, I am enjoying it tremendously. In the first part of the book, he uses the topic of the various breeds of Dogs to support the theory of ‘artificial selection’ (since humans were the ones to develop and domesticate the various breeds of dogs). He states that it’s been determined that all dog breeds lead back and tie into the genetics of Wolfs. Not foxes, hyenas, etc like originally thought. 

Here is where things get foggy for me. I did a bit of digging separate from the book to see if I could find more information on how this actually occurred. I found one idea where it said that larger wolves would be bred with smaller, more pointy eared wolves, and would end up with a slightly smaller version. And that process was repeated to eventually develop the various breeds. I’m having trouble with this. Isn’t it correct that if you breed a large wolf, with one that may be smaller and look slightly different that you would still have a wolf? At least throughout the much smaller span of time that humans have been doing this as compared to the EONS of time that natural selection works in. This is an honest question. I am really looking to find how the process actually works and actual evidence that supports it. If anyone reads this and has links to articles or books that would explain the process, PLEASE post it in the comments. I would appreciate it greatly. 

Another thing that has been nagging me lately is this. It is theorized that all life formed in the water (or Primordial Soup if you will). Single cell life forms eventually developed into more complex life forms over billions of years. And eventually some of those life forms moved onto land. Well, how does this happen? If a creature lives in water, it has gills. If a creature lives on land, it has lungs. How do the very FIRST creatures to do this, move from water to land? I mean, a fish that wanders on to land, and maybe lays eggs, doesn’t have babies that all of a sudden are born able to breathe air. Believe me when I say, I am not trying to over-simplify the process or claim that this is a flaw in the theory. I just can’t seem to figure out in my head, how this would happen. So, as with the other question, if there’s any information out there to explain this, I would LOVE to read it. 

Maybe Dawkins will discuss this later in the book, and I’m just jumping the gun, but like I said, it’s just something that’s been nagging me and I’m curious to see what’s out there to explain these questions. 

-eoe-

Beware the Spinal Trap

I’m reposting this article in support of CSICOP….

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Beware the Spinal Trap (link to article on csicop.org)

Some practitioners claim it is a cure-all, but the research suggests chiropractic therapy has mixed results – and can even be lethal, says Simon Singh.

Simon Singh


On 29th July a number of magazines and websites are going to be publishing Simon Singh’s Guardian article on chiropractic from April 2008, with the part the BCA sued him for removed.

They are reprinting it, following the lead of Wilson da Silva at COSMOS magazine, because they think the public should have access to the evidence and the arguments in it that were lost when the Guardian withdrew the article after the British Chiropractic Association sued for libel.

We want as many people as possible around the world to print it or put it live on the internet at the same time to make an interesting story and prove that threatening libel or bringing a libel case against a science writer won’t necessarily shut down the debate.


You might be surprised to know that the founder of chiropractic therapy, Daniel David Palmer, wrote that “99% of all diseases are caused by displaced vertebrae”. In the 1860s, Palmer began to develop his theory that the spine was involved in almost every illness because the spinal cord connects the brain to the rest of the body. Therefore any misalignment could cause a problem in distant parts of the body.

In fact, Palmer’s first chiropractic intervention supposedly cured a man who had been profoundly deaf for 17 years. His second treatment was equally strange, because he claimed that he treated a patient with heart trouble by correcting a displaced vertebra.

You might think that modern chiropractors restrict themselves to treating back problems, but in fact some still possess quite wacky ideas. The fundamentalists argue that they can cure anything, including helping treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying – even though there is not a jot of evidence.

I can confidently label these assertions as utter nonsense because I have co-authored a book about alternative medicine with the world’s first professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst. He learned chiropractic techniques himself and used them as a doctor. This is when he began to see the need for some critical evaluation. Among other projects, he examined the evidence from 70 trials exploring the benefits of chiropractic therapy in conditions unrelated to the back. He found no evidence to suggest that chiropractors could treat any such conditions.

But what about chiropractic in the context of treating back problems? Manipulating the spine can cure some problems, but results are mixed. To be fair, conventional approaches, such as physiotherapy, also struggle to treat back problems with any consistency. Nevertheless, conventional therapy is still preferable because of the serious dangers associated with chiropractic.

In 2001, a systematic review of five studies revealed that roughly half of all chiropractic patients experience temporary adverse effects, such as pain, numbness, stiffness, dizziness and headaches. These are relatively minor effects, but the frequency is very high, and this has to be weighed against the limited benefit offered by chiropractors.

More worryingly, the hallmark technique of the chiropractor, known as high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust, carries much more significant risks. This involves pushing joints beyond their natural range of motion by applying a short, sharp force. Although this is a safe procedure for most patients, others can suffer dislocations and fractures.

Worse still, manipulation of the neck can damage the vertebral arteries, which supply blood to the brain. So-called vertebral dissection can ultimately cut off the blood supply, which in turn can lead to a stroke and even death. Because there is usually a delay between the vertebral dissection and the blockage of blood to the brain, the link between chiropractic and strokes went unnoticed for many years. Recently, however, it has been possible to identify cases where spinal manipulation has certainly been the cause of vertebral dissection.

Laurie Mathiason was a 20-year-old Canadian waitress who visited a chiropractor 21 times between 1997 and 1998 to relieve her low-back pain. On her penultimate visit she complained of stiffness in her neck. That evening she began dropping plates at the restaurant, so she returned to the chiropractor. As the chiropractor manipulated her neck, Mathiason began to cry, her eyes started to roll, she foamed at the mouth and her body began to convulse. She was rushed to hospital, slipped into a coma and died three days later. At the inquest, the coroner declared: “Laurie died of a ruptured vertebral artery, which occurred in association with a chiropractic manipulation of the neck.”

This case is not unique. In Canada alone there have been several other women who have died after receiving chiropractic therapy, and Edzard Ernst has identified about 700 cases of serious complications among the medical literature. This should be a major concern for health officials, particularly as under-reporting will mean that the actual number of cases is much higher.

If spinal manipulation were a drug with such serious adverse effects and so little demonstrable benefit, then it would almost certainly have been taken off the market.