Sunday, August 24, 2008

Beautiful, Majestic, Awe Inspriring...Real.

Via Bad Astronomy comes this incredible image: BA says: Click to hugely embiggen)

I may start a regular weekly posting of a cool image. They wouldn't all be from space, just pics I think are cool. We'll see.


UPDATE: Also via Bad Astronomy, comes NASA Images for all your space picture needs.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Vast ignorance

Via Fundies Say the Darndest Things (specifically here)comes a creotard website that is almost painful in its ignorance.

Missing Universe Museum

Here is the site's mission statement (from the home page):

The Missing Universe Museum contrasts the Evolution and Creation models of origins. The main purpose of this museum is to demonstrate that these two models are opposites and therefore are mutually exclusive. The public will be shown the assumptions behind each model and will be assisted in making predictions based on them. Evidence from around the world is presented so that each person will be able to make an intelligent, informed decision as to which model best explains our universe.

Here's how evolution is defined in "Exhibit 1":
The Evolution model states that matter has always existed.
Modern Evolutionary Theory says no such thing. Wrong theory. Hell, wrong branch of science.
Everything in the universe came about by chance.
Still not MET.
Life began spontaneously from non living matter.
That's really abiogenesis, not MET. But that's a quibble; MET does sort of imply abiogenesis. However, "spontaneously" is bullplop. Get rid of that and the statement is true enough.
Evolution is a random, ongoing process.
Partial credit for "ongoing process". Selection via survival is very much non-random.
All living things have a common ancestor.
A 100% correct statement. I am astounded!
There is no God.
Oops. MET has nothing to say about the existence of any god(s).
The concept of evolution has been hinted at for centuries, but Darwin gave it apparent plausibility by his theory of natural selection which would result in "purposeful" organisms without a Creator.
Close. Lose the word "apparent", and you've got it.
The mechanism for change is mutation, refined by natural selection.
Incredible, right again!
A few (partially) correct statements + a few outright lies = wildly incorrect description of MET. There is one reference given (Exhibit 1A). It is a statement by The American Humanist Association, from 1977 (it's really good, and still 100% applicable). Here is the same statement, but on Almost surprisingly, it is the same. But it isn't really a reference, it is, as it's title says, "A Statement Affirming Evolution as a Principle of Science". It is not a description of the evidence for MET.

Here's the definition for the creation model (also part of "Exhibit 1"):
The Creation model is defined by the Bible. God has always existed. All things were created by God and all life forms existed at the same time. Every living thing then would reproduce after it's kind, so Creation was an act, not an ongoing process. There was no death until man disobeyed God.
Wait, where did that last part come from? I think Genesis 3:22
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:[KJV]
clearly indicates that man, at least, was already subject to death.
The Bible says that the world was flooded, which caused rapid mass extinction and reshaped the surface of the earth.
There are four reference links, all of which provide a bunch of bible verses (some of which are repeats), and nothing else.

Pretty standard tactic: ignore all that pesky evidence, and claim an ancient text trumps it all anyway.

Then there is a fun little chart comparing "predictions" of both theories.

Going through it line-by-line:
  1. "A Finished Act" vs "An Ongoing Process"
    Okay. Pass.
  2. "Zero Transitions" vs "Trillions Of Transitions"
    I don't know about trillions, but lots, so I'll let this one pass, too.
  3. "Zero Vestigial Organs" vs "Trillions Of Vestigial Organs"
    Again, trillions? but yeah, vestigial organs. So, pass.
  4. "Decreasing Species" vs "Increasing Species"
    Guess what, speciation has been observed. But MET predicts both, actually. Increasing due to speciation, and decreasing due to extinctions. Fail.
  5. "Purpose/Intelligence" vs "Random/Chance"
    NO. That should be "Random Mutation + Non-Random Selection". The selection part is what makes MET work. If you don't emphasize selection, you aren't discussing MET. Fail.
  6. "Will Be Missing Links" vs "Species Will Blend Together"
    A slew of transitional fossils have been discovered. That link is even outdated, several more have been discovered. But, hey, it's right about MET, so, pass.
  7. "Fossils Lived At Same Time" vs "Fossils Show Progression"
    We have those pesky transitional fossils. Whales and horses are good examples. And, sorry creos, dating methods really are accurate Still, right about MET. I'm actually pleasantly surprised that "progression" is used rather than "progress" (which suggests a goal). Pass
  8. "World Under-Populated" vs "World Over-Populated"
    MET does not predict overpopulation. Fail.
  9. "Permanent Extinction" vs "Temporary Extinction"
    "Temporary Extinction" is an oxymoron. When a species goes extinct, it is gone forever. The dodo is not coming back. Fail.
  10. "Probably Young Earth" vs "Requires Old Earth"
    Yep, pass.
  11. "Was Oxygen Atmosphere" vs "Was Reducing Atmosphere"
    This probably refers to the Urey-Miller experiment back in the '50s. But there probably was a mildly reducing atmosphere. Even so, MET does not require one. So, Fail.
  12. "Rapid Catastrophe" vs "Slow, Uniform Processes"
    Nope, sorry. Evolution occurs at varying rates (punctuated equilibrium) and extinctions can happen quite suddenly. Fail
  13. "Fossils Buried Alive" vs "Fossils Died, Then Buried"
    MET makes no predictions about the condition of a creature when it was buried. Fossilization could occur (or not) either way. Fail.
  14. "Mutations Are Harmful" vs "Mutations Are Beneficial"
    According to MET, the vast majority of mutations are neutral, followed by harmful as distant second. Mutations may be beneficial, but it's very unlikely. Fail.
  15. "Fossils Are Abundant" vs "Fossils Are Rare"
    "Rare" is a relative term. In terms of raw numbers fossils are extremely common. As a kid, I used to find rocks with fossilized shell imprints in the gravel in my driveway. In comparison to the number of organisms that have ever lived, fossilization is rare. So, while this is technically correct, it is also misleading. Therefore, fail.
  16. "Limited Coal And Oil" vs "Renewable Coal And Oil"
    Even though it's a pretty big stretch to tie this to MET, I'll let it slide. But, if we are using them several million times faster than they form, they aren't really renewable, are they? Fail.
  17. "Isolated Species" vs "Same Species Globally"
    Geographical isolation is one major way speciation can occur. Fail.
  18. "Clocks Are Always Created" vs "Clocks Can Evolve!"
Notice that I didn't say anything about the creation side of the table. That's because if you posit an omnipotent deity, absolutely anything is possible.

That's just Exhibit 1. The other 24 fail just as badly.

My favorite, and the one that brought this site to my attention, is Exhibit 20, wherein evolution is disproved because a random pile of LEGOs doesn't become a house or a car or something. This kind of hearkens back to Fred Hoyle's "Tornado + Junyard = Boeing 747" metaphor for evolution. Both illustrate a terrible, perhaps insurmountable, misunderstanding of MET.

Oh, about that clock thing. See this previous post. Pay close attention to the exposition at the beginning and end of the video to understand why clocks can't really evolve.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Food Meme

Via Good Math / Bad Math
Which of the following foods have you eaten:

  1. Venison: Yep. Love it.
  2. Nettle tea: Nope.
  3. Huevos rancheros: Yep, very good, but I don't really go for big breakfasts
  4. Steak tartar: Yep. "Steak tartar? Ah yes, steak tartar." (10 points if you can name the movie, 5 points extra credit if you can name the actor who said it.)
  5. Crocodile: Nope.
  6. Black pudding: Nope.
  7. Cheese fondue: Yep.
  8. Carp: Yep.
  9. Borscht: Nope
  10. Calamari: Hell, yes. Good stuff.
  11. Pho: Nope.
  12. PB&J sandwich: Duh.
  13. Aloo gobi: Nope
  14. Hot dog from a street cart: Yep.
  15. Epoisses: Nope.
  16. Black truffle: Yep
  17. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes: Yep
  18. Steamed pork buns: Yep.
  19. Pistachio ice cream: Yep.
  20. Heirloom tomatoes: I don't think so.
  21. Fresh wild berries: Yep.
  22. Rice and beans: Yep.
  23. Brawn, or head cheese: Nope
  24. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper: Nope
  25. Dulce de leche: Yes.
  26. Oysters: Yep.
  27. Baklava: Yep. In Greece, even
  28. Bagna cauda: Nope.
  29. Wasabi peas: Yep. Meh.
  30. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl: Yep.
  31. Salted lassi: Nope.
  32. Sauerkraut: Yep. Can't have a Reuben without it.
  33. Root beer float: Yep.
  34. Cognac with a fat cigar: Nope.
  35. Clotted cream tea: Yep. In England. My time in the Navy was almost worth it just for the food.
  36. Vodka jelly/Jell-O: Yep.
  37. Gumbo: Yep.
  38. Oxtail: Yep.
  39. Curried goat: Nope.
  40. Whole insects: Nope.
  41. Phaal: Nope.
  42. Goat's milk: Yep. Pretty good once you get used to it.
  43. Fugu: Nope.
  44. Chicken tikka masala:Yep
  45. Eel: Yep.
  46. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut: Yep
  47. Sea urchin: Nope.
  48. Prickly pear: Nope.
  49. Umeboshi: Nope.
  50. Abalone: Yes.
  51. Paneer: Nope.
  52. McDonald's Big Mac Meal: Yes. Meh.
  53. Spaetzle: Yep.
  54. Dirty gin martini: Nope.
  55. Beer above 8% ABV: Yep
  56. Poutine: Nope, I have had gravy fries, but not with cheese curd
  57. Carob chips: Yes. Meh.
  58. S'mores: Duh.
  59. Sweetbreads: Yep. Meh, better than liver, though.
  60. Kaolin: Nope.
  61. Currywurst: Nope.
  62. Durian: Nope.
  63. Frogs' legs: Yep. They're OK.
  64. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake: Yep.
  65. Haggis: Ach! Aye!
  66. Fried plantain: Yep. Meh.
  67. Chitterlings, or andouillette: Nope.
  68. Gazpacho: Yep. "Tomato soup, seved ice cold"
  69. Caviar and blini: Nope.
  70. Louche absinthe: Nope.
  71. Gjetost, or brunost: Nope.
  72. Roadkill: Nope.
  73. Baijiu: Nope.
  74. Hostess Fruit Pie: Yep. Loved 'em as a kid.
  75. Snail: Yep. (France)
  76. Lapsang souchong: Nope.
  77. Bellini: Nope.
  78. Tom yum: Nope.
  79. Eggs Benedict: Yep. OK, but, again, I'm not much for breakfast foods.
  80. Pocky: Yep.
  81. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant: Nope.
  82. Kobe beef: Nope.
  83. Hare: Yep.
  84. Goulash: Yep.
  85. Flowers: Yep, if dandelions and rose hips count.
  86. Horse: Nope.
  87. Criollo chocolate: Nope.
  88. Spam: Yep. Yuck.
  89. Soft shell crab: Yep.
  90. Rose harissa: Nope
  91. Catfish: Yep.
  92. Mole poblano: Yep.
  93. Bagel and lox: Yep.
  94. Lobster Thermidor: Nope.
  95. Polenta: Yep.
  96. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee: Nope.
  97. Snake: Nope.

Some extras have been added.

  1. Elk: Yep. Dad makes a killer Elk stew. In fact, I think Elk is pretty awesome all around, except in spaghetti sauce for some reason
  2. Ostrich: Nope.
  3. Moose: Yep.
  4. Whole hog BBQ: Yep.
  5. Wine @ >$400/bottle.: Nope.
  6. Home made bacon/sausage: Yep. The sausage anyway, never had home-made bacon that I'm aware of.
  7. Chocolate and chilis: Nope
  8. Chittlins: Nope.
  9. Moonshine: Nope.
  10. Quail eggs: Nope.
  11. Monkfish liver: Nope.
  12. Live scallop: Nope.
  13. Fried chicken giblets: Yep. Yuck.
  14. Duck cracklings: Yep. OK if you like fried skin.
  15. Grappa: Nope.

Well, that's it. I've had a little over half of the original 100. I can't think of anything to add to the list.