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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Today at Colliding Universes

Origin of life: The misnaming of the Great Oxidation Event - which maybe never happened, so forget your prof's huffing way back when

Time: Can time flow backwards in quantum physics? Maybe ...

Hubble Space Telescope: And awesome introduction

History moment: Moon landing recalled

Can the laws of physics evolve?

Colliding Universes is my blog on competing theories about our universe. You can search it via the Search Blog box at the top left, beside the "B" logo.

(Note: If you follow me at Twitter, you will get regular notice of new Colliding Universes posts, usually when I have posted five or so stories.)

Colliding Universes is my blog about competing theories of our universe.

Intellectual freedom: American novelist Toni Morrison's view

Friend Franklin Carter at the Book and Periodical Council's Freedom of Expression Committee points me to American novelist (and literary laureate) Toni Morrison's comments on censorship quoted by Alison Flood in The Guardian (5 June 2009):
Just a few weeks after one of her own books was removed from a high school curriculum, Toni Morrison has spoken out against censorship and about the importance – the "sacredness" – of access to books.
Apparently, parents had complained about "sexual and violent content."

My own view is that teachers and school librarians are professionals, and - when not obviously guilty of malpractice* - should be allowed to design the curriculum they see fit. Their results should be evaluated by the proportion of their students who graduate, go on to further education, and/or find gainful employment, while avoiding useless conflict with society (prison terms, etc.).

Any other standard risks a disproportionate weight given to the personal opinion of outsiders who will not be accountable for the school's results.

*obviously guilty of malpractice: For example, suppose a misguided teacher has introduced students to animal rights extremism, sexual adventurism, terrorism, atheism cloaked as Darwinian evolution, occultism, or whatever, when she was hired to teach a conventional literature curriculum: Her actions should be addressed by the principal, the district superintendent, and/or the Teacher's College.

Most teens will just shrug her off as a nut, of course. However, that does not end the harm. Their year is largely wasted, and a disturbed teen might take her opinions as confirmation that he should carry out some deadly intention he already had in mind.

These events cannot always be prevented, but teachers who are good role models probably prevent more of them than we ever realize, by modelling a sane approach to information.


If you really need to hear from profs, you won't need to pay for these

At "50 Awesome Ivy League Lectures All About the Future" (Jun 3rd, 2009), Meredith Walker introduces the lectures, saying,
These tough times call for forward thinking: looking toward the future, as well as considering how we can improve it. Ivy League lectures online offer a look at issues including science, politics, economics, and more. Here, you’ll find top notch lectures in these topics and beyond that will have you thinking of days to come.
Some look quite interesting, for example "50 years in media: Changes in journalism."

But, it must be said, such programs normally promise far more than they deliver.

I, for example, have been taken aback by the lies I have heard from media panels over the years.

You know the sort of thing: "Journalists are objective, we only report the news, we are not influenced by advertising, we have nothing against traditional ethics and morality, we do not reflexively support the deviant .... " All lies.

And when not lies, sheer fatuity: "Dog bites man is not a story. Man bites dog is a story."

Yeah right. And so? Does that explain why pack journalists targeted a Canadian health minister in the 1970s and made a big deal out of the fact that he was a Catholic and had six kids? - and have done the same sort of thing repeatedly to many others ever since (but only to Christians; they wouldn't dare attack anyone else)?

In my view, traditional media are failing not because their lies and bias are being exposed but simply because the news customer now has many other choices. If anything, they have become more vicious and irresponsible as a result. But they matter much less and will not be missed.

I first started researching the intelligent design controversy because it was difficult to find any media source that cared what was really happening, as opposed to reflexively "framing" the story. = The "smart" Christian prof who knows that Darwin and Jesus would get on like a house on fire takes on the fundie undies who just don't "get it" about anything.

It was ruddy embarrassing to an old news hound to realize that not a single one of the portentous journalists emitting this crap had actually sat down and read a book like Darwin's Black Box or Edge of Evolution, that addressed the science problems with current evolution theory.

In fairness, they probably couldn't afford to, because they would then need to realize that many of their favoured pundits have been covering up a huge deficit for many years, uttering platitudes to the public and outlining problems only among peers.

Now that is genuine news and it happens to be true, but "news" media, of course, didn't want it.

No, the legacy media will not be missed.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

"Theistic evolution": Facing the facts as if facts mattered

In Are Religious Liberals Useful Idiots or Just Idiots?, Darwinists Debate, David Klinghoffer writes, at BeliefNet:
Today Daily Kos blogger Erratic Synapse lashes Discover Magazine blogger Chris Mooney and Barbara Forrest, author of Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design. Their offense? Calling for "civility" toward Darwin-believing religious moderates. Mooney had previously attacked biologist Jerry Coyne, author of Why Evolution Is True, who urges a No More Mr. Nice Guy stance. Writes Coyne: "Professional societies like the National Academy of Sciences...have concluded that to make evolution palatable to Americans, you must show that it is not only consistent with religion, but also no threat to it." Coyne is particularly annoyed by the folks at the Darwin-defending but religion-appeasing National Center for Science Education, for "compromising the very science they aspire to defend."

In the 2008 documentary Expelled, atheist Richard Dawkins scathingly makes a similar point about the NCSE and its ilk. "There's a kind of science defense lobby or an evolution defense lobby, in particular," Dawkins says. "They are mostly atheists, but they are wanting to -- desperately wanting -- to be friendly to mainstream, sensible religious people. And the way you do that is to tell them that there's no incompatibility between science and religion."
Of course, everyone knows this is true. Darwinism is basically about atheism; its frantic promotion is about providing atheism with a creation story, which any religious agenda must have.

I had not thought much about Darwinism until I started to research By Design or by Chance? in 2002, and then I was astonished to discover the number of people who had lost their contact with traditional religion explicitly on that account.

People deserve to know this, especially when Darwinism is fronted to the school system as "just another theory in science." It never has been and never will be, and the day it is, it will be quietly relegated to the shelf as just another theory about how life forms come to look like they do, along with neoteny and Lamarckism.

As for the religious liberals, it seems to me that they have just plain lost their way. There was a time when religious liberalism accommodated traditional religions to the facts of globalization, technical change, and so forth. But today, it seems primarily about accommodating to atheistic materialism in stages rather than all at once, which is why liberal church membership is tanking rapidly.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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