Weekly weird comments

As I said, as our readership grows the wingnuts, creationists, extreme religionists and other bizarros are coming out of the woodwork in increasing numbers. This is only a small sample of the comments that didn’t make it through this week.

This first one, for example, might be a troll, but somehow I don’t think so. Reader “useless eater” comments on my post, “William Lane Craig defends his ridiculous view that animals don’t suffer

Far be it from to advocate for inflicting pain on any species. But i’m wondering if maybe i should have doubts that the Jews in concentration camps felt pain in the same way the rest of experience it.

I suppose I’m more willing to accept the existence of anti-Semitism than are some readers, but you might have heard of a new poll by the Anti-Defamation League, surveying 53,100 adults in 102 countries, showing that:

“More than one-in-four adults, 26 percent of those surveyed, are deeply infected with anti-Semitic attitudes.  This figure represents an estimated 1.09 billion people around the world

The overall ADL Global 100 Index score represents the percentage of respondents who answered “probably true” to six or more of 11 negative stereotypes about Jews. An 11-question index has been used by ADL as a key metric in measuring anti-Semitic attitudes in the United States for the last 50 years.

Further, only 54% of people surveyed had heard of the Holocaust (that amazes me), and, worse, about 2/3 of the people polled “have either never heard of the Holocaust, or do not believe historical accounts to be accurate.” Since 46% of people hadn’t heard of the Holocaust, that means that about 20% had, but thought it was fabricated. You can see the survey data graphically at this site, and remember, this isn’t like “Islamophobia”—the dislike of religious tenets—but rather the dislike of Jews themselves. The questions weren’t about religious beliefs.

*****

Ah, we’ve heard again from Texas dentist Don McLeroy, former head and later member of the Texas school board, who, as a creationist, tried his hardest to keep evolution away from the children he was charged with educating.  Here he comments on my post “

Dr. Coyne: I agree with you about rejecting theistic evolution; it is simply self-contradicting. This is one main reason you are worth reading and your blog is worth following. Genie Scott and Kenneth Miller–by contrast–are not as compelling.

A a creationist, I reject evolution because it fails the test as presented in the opening episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.

Here, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Ann Druyan present an incredibly clear and powerful description of the scientific process. They claim that if you “accept these terms, the Cosmos is yours.”

These terms, Tyson explains, are just a “simple set of rules.

Test ideas by experiment and observation.
Build on those ideas that pass the test.
Reject the ones that fail.
Follow the evidence wherever it leads, and
Question everything.”

Evolution simply fails the test; there is not even close to enough evidence to explain the amazing phenomenon we find in life.

Don McLeroy

This is a distillation of an unintentionally humorous post from his own website, “To my listening ear,” in which he simply dismisses all the evidence for evolution. One thing is for damn sure: whatever McLeroy’s ears do, they don’t listen. What puzzles me is the statement that he thinks my “blog” is worth following and the advocates of theistic evolution are not. If I’m so compelling, how come he rejects everything I say?

*****

Here’s a fervent plea from Muslim reader “Bushra”, intended as a comment on my post “British citizen sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy“:

I wish if u ppl may ever get a chance to read Quran. We Muslims are not terrorists nor pakistanis… Its just all happening because of the wrong doers and the real terrorists who have come from idk where in Pakistan and are rising turbulence (in a sense of violence)its not about the law and order, its about the wrong people and perceptions i agree with all these cases but the reasons are shown in a wrong way..
I request u all to read Quran and all ur wrong concepts will be cleared …. once only… just like a book…! please

Well, I’ve read the Qur’an, and it merely reinforced my view that Muslim scripture encourages hateful behavior. And of course not all Islamic terrorists are Pakistanis (has he heard of Nigeria?).  This looks like Reza Aslan written in broken English.

*****

Reader James Schlup comments on my old post “Birds may be paedomorphic dinosaurs“:

No, the serpent (a bird at the time) was in the tree in the garden being used as a medium for Satan to talk to Eve. For that, God rebuked the serpent at said from now on it would be on the ground eating dust. Then the serpent, no longer able to fly, crawled out of the tree and those serpents, so cursed, but still laying eggs, became the species that descended from birds and became reptiles. Satan tried, through amalgamations of species to get them to fly again. Thus some fossil remains of “dinosaurs” that resemble birds in skeletal structure, but of course could not fly because God said they would not. James Schlup

Well that shows that biology got it all backwards!

*****

Finally, two comments on my post “Tear down this wall, Mr. Justice Roberts”: Supreme Court allows prayer in town meetings“.

From reader Jerry L. Gentry, a blight on the honorable name “Jerry”:

Maybe the pilgrims should have waited for the athiests [sic] and other divisive groups to land and prevent cutting trees or plowing land or eating game. Then true progress could be reduced to a crawl and today we could thank them for their contributions.

Yep, we’re all tree-huggers and vegetarians. It’s eating MEAT and cutting TREES, after all, that has made our country great.

Finally, from reader Jim, ignorant of the Constitution but ebullient in his capslock:

THIS IS A GREAT DAY!

It takes all kinds to make a world. But why does it have to be my small world?

128 Comments

  1. compuholio
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Further, 54% of people surveyed had never heard of the Holocaust (that amazes me), and an additional 13% had heard of it but thought it was a fiction.

    It surprises me that 54% claim to never have heard about it. What does not suprise me is the belief that the Holocaust was fiction.

    We see every day that the human mind has the ability not to accept an obvious fact if this fact somehow displeases us.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 24, 2014 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      People are distracted by bread and circuses. I bet they can name all the Kardashians.

      • Alex
        Posted May 24, 2014 at 9:19 am | Permalink

        Off the top of my head I can only name Garak… But then, I have heard of the Holocaust.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted May 24, 2014 at 10:09 am | Permalink

          🙂 I was hoping there would be Cardassian references!

        • Grania Spingies
          Posted May 24, 2014 at 10:15 am | Permalink

          And the best ever: Gul Dukat.

          As I am not an American and definitely a Trekkie, when I hear that surname I automatically think of the grey-skinned race with extremely well-developed necks.

          • Alex
            Posted May 24, 2014 at 10:37 am | Permalink

            How could I forget Gul Dukat! A great charakter.

      • Posted May 24, 2014 at 9:49 am | Permalink

        Well, let’s see, there’s the annoying Kardashian, mean Kardashian, surgically enhanced Kardashian, rapper Kardashian, and forgettable Kardashian(s)

      • Posted May 24, 2014 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

        Well, perhaps some people can. I cannot name any of the Kardashians. All I know about them is that they are rumoured to be quite rich despite never having done anything significant. On the other hand, I’m old enough to have known people who were in the Holocaust and had the tattoos to prove it.

    • darrelle
      Posted May 24, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      Yeah, I am apparently naive in this respect, but I am dumbfounded that 54% of randomly selected people in the US say they have never heard of the Holocaust.

      • Simon Hayward
        Posted May 24, 2014 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        That was 54% from 102 countries apparently. Still hard to fathom but rather less so than for a US or European based survey

        • darrelle
          Posted May 24, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink

          Thanks for the correction.

    • microraptor
      Posted May 25, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      I discovered Thursday that two of my coworkers had never heard of Auschwitz.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        What country are you in & are they from other countries?

        • microraptor
          Posted May 25, 2014 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

          I’m from the US and so are they. But Auschwitz is something I learned about in the 4th grade. The other coworker who was there was as shocked as I was.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted May 25, 2014 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

            That’s nuts!

            • microraptor
              Posted May 25, 2014 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

              You’re telling me.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 25, 2014 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

                I should survey some people at work. I think even Asian immigrants know of it but who knows. I’d be interested in seeing what my coworkers know then slapping them if they don’t (okay not slapping….verbally slapping maybe).

  2. Mark Joseph
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    It takes all kinds to make a world. But why does it have to be my small world?

    Here’s the answer to your question, Professor Ceiling Cat: “Where there’s light, there’s bugs.”

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      Hey, that’s good!

      • Filippo
        Posted May 27, 2014 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        And a lethal logarithmic function. 😉

  3. Posted May 24, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    I don’t regard the Anti-Defamation League as a disinterested source. I resigned from them many years ago because of their conflation of reasoned criticism of Israeli policy with antisemitism.

    As for not having heard of the Holocaust, there are obvious difficulties in choosing a name for it that would be recognised worldwide, so I am not sure what the 54% figure actually means. Holocaust denial, alas, is all too credible.

    • Posted May 24, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      Just read the questions that were asked. Do you think the ADL simply fabricated the survey results? That’s what you’re implying when you say they’re not a “disinterested source.”

      And here’s the Holocaust question, which I assume they translated into the appropriate language. You’d have to be a blithering idiot not to know what they’re asking about:

      Q10 Which of the following statement comes closest to your views about the Holocaust in Europe during World War Two?

      The Holocaust is a myth and did not happen

      The Holocaust happened, but the number of Jews who died in it has been greatly
      exaggerated by history

      The Holocaust happened, and the number of Jews who died in it have been fairly
      described by history

      Don’t know/refused

      • Posted May 24, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

        I spoke too soon, and retract. Please ignore or, better, delete my comment.

  4. Posted May 24, 2014 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Every event that has ever occurred is an individual component of the single great big story that explains me and everything else in the universe. Each event exerts its own proportionate level of influence on all the others, but each is vital to the whole. The learning opportunity, and benefits from it, are almost infinite.

    People recognize instances that result in circumstances that impact their individual lives, but a huge bunch of them often are oblivious to all else (some, through ill-fated circumstance), are possessed of little if any curiosity or no opportunity to satisfy opportunity, and astoundingly stunted awareness is a result.

    Every day a too large proportion of us wake up to a whole new, baffling, and mysterious world full of avoidable mistakes their course then is set upon, creating Groundhog Day(s) for us all.

  5. Diana MacPherson
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    One thing is for damn sure: whatever McLeroy’s ears do, they don’t listen

    Ha ha! I wonder if he can wiggle them!

    • Kevin Alexander
      Posted May 24, 2014 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      Diana, are you suggesting that ear muscles are atavisms and therefore evidence for evilution?
      FSM (Parmesan Be Upon Him) created those muscles to help pull up our smiles when we take the sacrament.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 24, 2014 at 10:21 am | Permalink

        I guess those that wiggle them are blessed more than those that cannot. I can wiggle mine almost like a cat! 😀

        • Larry Cook
          Posted May 24, 2014 at 11:14 am | Permalink

          Are you saying that ear wigglers are more evolved than others? I would have thought the opposite in that it’s an ability we no longer need or use. Since I am quite the ear wiggler and I can raise one eyebrow, raise each side of my upper lip to show my upper teeth and open and close my nostrils very fast and do all of those things simultaneously, I’ve always considered myself more advanced than the average person. These skills make me much more likely to procreate since women find them irresistibly attractive and I’m likely to live a long time because the way I look while exercising these abilities scares away predators. In my experience I’ve found that they don’t like to eat crazy people. I could be wrong I suppose.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted May 24, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

            Can you move only your pinky toe? Or touch your tongue to your nose? I can do those too. If you can’t, I says add them to your repertoire as I’m sure you will attract the ladies!

            • Taskin
              Posted May 24, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

              I can touch my tongue to my nose too. I can also raise one eyebrow. The year I fell in love with Star Trek, I spent the summer vacation learning to do it. (Take that Kardashians and Cardassians!)

      • john frum
        Posted May 24, 2014 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

        “Parmesan Be Upon Him”.

        Love it.

    • Susan
      Posted May 24, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      That would be appropriate. Isn’t the fact that some people have the muscles necessary to wiggle ears evidence for evolution?

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 24, 2014 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        Ding! 🙂

  6. Lianne Byram
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I find the ignorance of the Holocaust quite baffling. Is it not in high school curricula in the US?
    Ignorance of anti-Semitism could be more hopeful. Nice to imagine that so many people have never seen it, and perhaps find it unthinkable, which it should be.

  7. Timothy Hughbanks
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    …not even close to enough evidence…

    Rigghht. But for talking snakes, food falling from the sky, burning bushes, vegetarian T-rex’s, a 450 feet long wooden ship that weathered a genocidal flood carrying the descendents of all the land species on earth – the case is airtight.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted May 24, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Good one paragraph reply. This will be stolen.

      • Timothy Hughbanks
        Posted May 24, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        Unfortunately, I left out the zombie Messiah – feel free to improve on my efforts.

        • Posted May 24, 2014 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

          A talking burning bush.

          • Mark Joseph
            Posted May 24, 2014 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

            Given that the snakes, donkeys, and spirits of the dead also all talked, and that the very stones would cry out, it seems that it was a very noisy place back then.

            • Diane G.
              Posted May 26, 2014 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

              Constant Babel.

  8. TnkAgn
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    There are two likely explanations for this:

    1. Humans have developed as a psychological defense mechanism, an inability to fully appreciate the frequency and degree of monstrosity in events that demonstrate man’s inhumanity to man, or

    2. There’s a lot of goddamn ignorance and bigotry out there.

    Which is the more likely explanation?

    • Posted May 24, 2014 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      Yes.

      If you haven’t heard of this book, “The Good Old Days: the holocaust as seen by its perpetrators and bystanders” (Klee, Dressen, Riess, Eds.) it is one hellish read. The original in German, compiled in Germany 1988, I do not have the title for. It was translated in ’92.

      The most chilling thing about it for me is how mundane and banal the journal / diary entries are. How blase and casual the mentions of the mass executions happening all around (or being ordered by the person making the diary entry). Then followed-up by discussions of the weather or getting a box of sausages sent from a loved one or such minutiae.

    • Posted May 24, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      Don’t forget woeful education, especially when non-secular. I suppose that contributes to (2).

      Never attribute to malice what can be attributed to incompetence, as the old saying goes.

  9. DrDroid
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    A trip to the Holocaust Museum in DC should be more than enough to convince anybody. My wife and I went several years ago and we had to leave half way through because my wife couldn’t take it anymore. That is one HEAVY museum, but one that everyone should visit.

    • natalielaberlinoise
      Posted May 24, 2014 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      ” … That is one HEAVY museum, but one that everyone should visit.”

      For people who might not ever make it to DC, but find themselves driving through the capital of Germany one day, I heartily commend the excellent Jewish Museum, it’s so well done. And the thought-provoking Holocaust Memorial. And the eery and detailed Topographie des Terrors installation.

      Location, I guess.

      • merilee
        Posted May 24, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        Or visiting Dachau, or Mauthausen, or Auschwitz…Very hard to take, but necessary…

  10. darrelle
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    “Maybe the pilgrims should have waited for the athiests [sic] and other divisive groups to land and prevent cutting trees or plowing land or eating game.

    Sanctimonious nitwits seem to disproportionately share certain traits, like lack of imagination, lack of humor, sloppy writing / spelling, and most of all the inability to detect irony.

    Does this paragon of christianity not understand that the pilgrims were the very definition of a divisive group?

    Does he / she not see the irony of a person proudly belonging to a group that has divided hundreds of times, often violently and even more frequently with rancor and ill will, speaking badly about “divisive” groups?

    There goes yet another irony meter.

    • Jeffery
      Posted May 24, 2014 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      Yes, the Pilgrims were such good Christians that they outlawed Christmas itself for 75 years, and hanged a couple of Quaker women who dared to proselytize in their territory.

      • anthrosciguy
        Posted May 24, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        Well, at least they weren’t divisive.

        And from Wikipedia: “Responding to reports of a military threat to Wessagussett, Myles Standish organized a militia to defend Wessagussett. However, he found that there had been no attack. He therefore decided on a pre-emptive strike. In an event called “Standish’s raid” by historian Nathaniel Philbrick, he lured two prominent Massachusett military leaders into a house at Wessagussett under the pretense of sharing a meal and making negotiations. Standish and his men then stabbed and killed the two unsuspecting Native Americans.”

        But they did it so very non-divisively.

  11. Diana MacPherson
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    I was surprised at the amount of anti-semitism in Greece! ἀλήθεια!

  12. Newish Gnu
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Re McLeroy: “What puzzles me is the statement that he thinks my “blog” is worth following and the advocates of theistic evolution are not. If I’m so compelling, how come he rejects everything I say?”

    Because you are the enemy of some of his enemies, Professor CC. The theistic evolutionists are far more dangerous than us because they are xians.

  13. Bethlenfalvy
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Do they give a reason why Slovakia is not in the poll?

    Many of the European countries listed are less-numerous (Finland, Norway, Croatia, Ireland, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Moldavia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Iceland, Montenegro).

  14. Posted May 24, 2014 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I saw the Holocaust survey a few days ago and found it very depressing. I take it to mean that few countries have (or implement) a requirement to teach about the Holocaust in public schools.

    About a third of the students in my northern Virginia public schools were of Jewish descent. The Holocaust was taught in 7th and 11th grade, though I ended up reading more widely on it than most students because I had a close friend whose parents were survivors.

    When I went to college in southwest Virginia, I met students who had only the vaguest idea of what “Jewish” meant. My best friend, an education major from Roanoke, had assumed that Jews were “people who lived in the Bible”.

    That was thirty years ago and I had hoped things had improved. Apparently I was optimistic.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 24, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      It is weird because I was inundated with holocaust information as a child. Looking back, showing us those terrifying images was a bit soon at 6. I found adults back then wanted to traumatized children. Between holocaust films and pictures, Old Yellar and the strap I’m surprised I wasn’t neurotic. Happily, I didn’t have to go to war or be killed though so there is that!

      • Larry Cook
        Posted May 24, 2014 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        I was taught about the holocaust pretty thoroughly also. What I’d like to see is a poll that includes these holocaust questions along with questions about other major events in the world over the last few hundred years, so that we could see whether it’s only the holocaust people don’t know about or perhaps it’s just ignorance about history in general. I’m not sure which is worse.

    • W.Benson
      Posted May 24, 2014 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      My Holocaust education was very effective. I discovered a stack of brochures in a corner of the office of small business just purchased from a Jewish family. The brochures showed drawings of people lined up with guards, their being pushed into ‘shower rooms’, the gas being pumped in, and the bodies being carried off. No more than 15 minutes had passed before my mom found what I was up to and took the brochures away while telling me the guards were ‘bad people.’ That happened in 1948 and is one of the few clear memories I have from when I was five.

      According to the ADL survey summary, anti-Semitism scores depend more on region than religion – anti-Semitism indices are highest in Middle East and North Africa, but similar levels appear in Muslims and Christians. However, and curiously(?), in Eastern Europe anti-Semitism seems greater among Christians than among Muslims!

      Many people in Asia have had little opportunity to appreciate Western religious divisions and their history, and are unfamiliar with the Holocaust. While this is regrettable, the same can be said of Western ignorance of major human catastrophes in Asia, even those provoked by European belief systems. For example, the Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864) arose through a Christianized citizen, a Mr. Hong Xiuquan, who convinced himself and his followers that he was the brother of Jesus Christ. He said he visited heaven and met brother Jesus and his wife, so it must have been true. In the Taiping’s campaign against Confucianism, Buddhism and traditional Chinese folk beliefs (monks and priests were murdered), at least 20 million Chinese died. Knowing this helps explain why some in China today are wary of Christian missionaries.

      • Diane G.
        Posted May 26, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        Sorry to admit I was indeed unaware of that.

  15. pangurbanthecat
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Dr. Coyne,

    I happened to flip through the channels last week and landed on channel 10 here in Florida. It is a channel I usually avoid because it presents shows that are either about preachers in huge auditoriums preaching about gawd. I lingered on the show that came up and learned that it was called Creation in the 21st Century. It is a show hosted by someone named David Rives. His guest was Dr. Georgia Purdom the author of “The Code of Life DNA, Information, and Mutation” and the title of the show was “Mutations – A Major Problem for Evolution.”
    They were discussing Anthrobacter, basic soil bacteria, and about how it was capable of breaking down nylon as I recall. The discussion went on to talk about how Purdom observed that there was a study on Anthrobacter that recorded some 50,000 generations, and I believe they noted this adaptation or something occurring and suddenly Dr. Purdom was mentioning your name in a negative way. The next thing I know they devolved to talking about how “all life has a gawd given ability to adapt. They also in relation to this discussion referenced your comments on Dr. Lenski’s E. Coli study. She claims a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics (more like Mosaic Gymnastics).
    Their assertions and conclusions, in my opinion, were devoid of substance, but, if you weren’t aware of it, I thought I would bring it to your attention. As I recall they were discussing how these adaptations were demonstrative of adaptive mutation along the lines of intelligent design.

    I can’t seem to find a link to the video of this show, though this link offers video links to other shows of this program.
    http://creationinthe21stcentury.com/

    Here also is Purdom pushing her books and opinions.

    https://answersingenesis.org/genetics/mutations/a-poke-in-the-eye/

    • Susan
      Posted May 24, 2014 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      It makes perfect sense. Nylon was invented in the 20th century. Therefore, the existence of an organism that survives on nylon proves that gob created all life in its present form at the moment of creation. The teeny tiny problem of how it existed for thousands of years before its food source was created is irrelevant. Of course this makes sense….. I believe…… I believe……

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted May 24, 2014 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Of all of the wackaloons at AiG, Purdom may possibly the wackalooniest (which, in itself, would be quite an accomplishment). The Sensuous Curmudgeon has let the air out of her tires on a number of occasions (search his bl*g); here is her entry at the Encyclopedia of American Loons.

      • pangurbanthecat
        Posted May 24, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Mark and Susan for your comments. Susan you gave me a good chuckle. Thanks Mark, I checked out the link to the Encyclopedia of American Loons and found the information there about Purdom laughable as well.

        BTW, I am about to be bounced from the “Thinking christian” blog site because I refuse to capitalize the word god.

        Apparently, it is rule number 5 of their discussion policy.

        I originally responded to someone who claimed that atheism is a form of idolatry, that her god isn’t the ot god, that atheism is our idol, that we reject the god of our understanding rather than the god of Their understanding, and that we are somehow throwing babies out with bathwater.

        I reminded them that the baby didn’t exist and that the bathtub was empty to begin with.

        I further added that atheist sites don’t insist that believers spell the word god without a capital letter.

        • Mark Joseph
          Posted May 24, 2014 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

          Glad to help.

          There was a discussion on this website back a few months about capitalizing “god” (which I don’t do). A little searching will probably turn it up if you are interested.

          In any case, you’ll always be welcome here. Just put “god” alongside of the other popular monikers here, such as “gawd”.

          • Posted May 25, 2014 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

            I missed that one. What is the consensus? I normally do it because it is still a part of what is considered correct English grammar. Not capitalizing God (when referring to the Abrahamic variety) seems rather like not capitalizing Thor or Zeus or Allah. The pronouns are a bit different, but I usually still capitalize them for clarity since it is standard.

            • Mark Joseph
              Posted May 25, 2014 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

              If I recall correctly (not likely, I know), the majority was for capitalization for the reasons you mentioned; the minority for not capitalizing as a way of not showing undue respect (which is *exactly* the reason why I don’t capitalize). There was also some discussion as to whether not capitalizing made our message less palatable to believers.

              Question: Does the Google (had to capitalize! ;-)) find text in the comment sections on bl*gs/websites? I’ve never had much luck with that, but it could be faulty memory again.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted May 26, 2014 at 1:33 am | Permalink

                Like Chris Buckley, I’d capitalize God [the Christian god, that is] since it’s a proper name. Not to, would be grammatically incorrect. The only thing I’m respecting by doing so is grammar.

                In fact one could argue that, by refusing to capitalize ‘god’-as-a-proper-name, you are in fact giving God (the Christian one) special treatment. How’s that for arguing black-is-white? 😉

                But I wouldn’t capitalize pronouns like ‘him’ since normal grammar rules don’t require it.

              • Diane G.
                Posted May 26, 2014 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

                Then you also go with allah, thor, quetzalcoatl… 😉

                (Interestingly, Quetzalcoatl is the only one of those three that my spell-check automatically capitalizes.)

              • Mark Joseph
                Posted May 26, 2014 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

                No special treatment; I don’t ordinarily capitalize the names of any other non-existent deities, either.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted May 27, 2014 at 12:54 am | Permalink

                @Mark:

                But would you not capitalise Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, King Arthur or Santa Claus? Surely for consistency one would capitalise equally mythical deities?

              • Mark Joseph
                Posted May 27, 2014 at 5:59 am | Permalink

                True, but.

                None of the Fab Four whom you mentioned pretend to the status of deities, nor are their adherents attempting to have their mythological stories taught as fact in the science classroom.

                You’ll notice I did capitalize Harry Potter!

              • Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:40 am | Permalink

                Google will indeed pick up comments on websites in searches so long as the site is set up to allow search engines to crawl them. It depends on the site; it seems wordpress.com is set up this way as evidenced here: https://www.google.com/#q=chrisbuckley80+whyevolutionistrue

                Maybe if a god gave you results like that on a search you’d start capitalizing its name?

  16. Bar O'Brien
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    “…54% of people surveyed had never heard of the Holocaust (that amazes me)…”

    You misread the results. ADL is claiming that 35% had never heard of the Holocaust, and 54% had heard of it. This is clear right from the first heading (“Only 54 Percent of Respondents Have Heard of the Holocaust”).

    This survey, like most of what the ADL does, is driven by its agenda of exaggerating the prevalence and nature of anti-Semitism and especially (as Paul Braterman noted) conflating it with criticism of Israel. Just read the list of 11 questions on which they predicated their conclusions. You said that the survey deals with “dislike of Jews themselves”, but that’s true of practically none of the questions:

    1) Jews are more loyal to Israel than to [this country/the countries they live in].
    2) Jews have too much power in the business world.
    3) Jews have too much power in international financial markets.
    4) Jews don’t care about what happens to anyone but their own kind.
    5) Jews have too much control over global affairs.
    6) People hate Jews because of the way Jews behave.
    7) Jews think they are better than other people.
    8) Jews have too much control over the United States government.
    9) Jews have too much control over the global media.
    10) Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.
    11) Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.

    The first question in particular expresses nothing about anti-Semitism but does say quite a bit about the ADL’s core goal of conflating attitudes about Israel with anti-Semitism. Not surprisingly, the ADL found this was “the most widely accepted anti-Semitic [sic] stereotype worldwide”, shared by 41% of respondents.

    Beyond the fact that few of these questions reflect actual anti-Semitism, the phrasing appears to have been carefully chosen to create the desired result. Respondents obviously didn’t have the option of changing the frequently loaded question text (for example “control” rather than “influence”), after all, and could only indicate any hedging/uncertainty/nuance in the answer. But the ADL took care of that by treating “probably true” as just “true” in tallying the results.

    For anyone interested in critical responses to this survey (and there are many), Philip Weiss and others at Mondoweiss have published several analyses and collected critiques; see the links below. As they astutely note, “An ADL study on anti-Semitism should be greeted with the same skepticism as a tobacco industry study on the effects of second-hand smoke.” They also ask why the ADL didn’t survey Israelis, which I agree is a significant and telling omission.

    http://mondoweiss.net/2014/05/semitic-stereotypes-israelis.html

    http://mondoweiss.net/2014/05/whats-survey-could-improved.html

    By the way: based on past experiences here I expect to be banned for having posted this comment, so I won’t have an opportunity to reply to anything people might say in response. Please don’t take the silence as assent.

    • Posted May 24, 2014 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      I disagree with you that the questions don’t have anything to do with anti-semitism. Look at them: Jews think they are better than other people, control the media, are selfish, and so on. Those aren’t criticisms of religious beliefs, but of Jews themselves. You don’t consider that anti-Semitic? If not, then you’re living in another world than I am.

      As for the figure; I’ll correct it, as I read it backwards.

      But I’m warning you; don’t start trolling this thread and engaging in debates with everyone. You’re not banned, but I don’t want you misrepresenting the survey questions as you did above.

      • Larry Cook
        Posted May 24, 2014 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        Dr. Coyne, I believe you have just shown once again what a fair and tolerant person you are. He absolutely did misrepresent the questions. He also did his best to pretend to be fair while engaging in unfair criticism of the JDL. Obviously the JDL has an agenda, but if they don’t do surveys like this one and express their alarm at the fading memory the world exhibits regarding the holocaust, then who will? It’s one of their jobs to remind the world of the insane horrors that have been inflicted upon Jews. They should not be criticized for openly displaying their mission while following that same mission.

        And as soon as I create a website, Bar O’Brien is barred from commenting on it.

      • Bar O'Brien
        Posted May 24, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        So I’m not banned as long as I don’t participate in the discussion? Perfect. I suppose you think that differs from an outright ban in that I have the ability to participate in future discussions…right up to the point that I say something you disagree with and order me to muzzle myself again, that is.

        All: I’ve been banned here at least two times in the past — once for suggesting that Daniel Dennett may have been poking good-natured fun in something he wrote that deeply offended Jerry, and once for commenting that “it makes me uneasy to hear you say you find it amusing to be contacted by people who are upset that you’ve censored their comments”. I didn’t realize Jerry had banned me until later, so there may actually have been other times; I’ve certainly had more than just those two comments disappear into the digital trash bin on this site (and I expect I’d have been banned in this instance too had I not mentioned banning, and no doubt at all that he’d have banned me if I were a first-time commenter rather than having been previously authorized). The last time Jerry banned me he inexplicably claimed “you have no idea what kinds of comments I ‘censor'”, despite noting immediately afterward that he frequently posts them (!) — but beyond that I have very direct experience.

        And what I’ve seen is this: the best way to get banned by Jerry is to disagree with him. I noticed from the first time I read comments here that there was a uniformity of opinion I rarely see, and disagreement seemed to range only within a relatively circumscribed range. After more time here I know why: Jerry not only bans people with abandon for the crime of disagreeing with him, he regularly instructs readers in what they can say, literally dictating what is “permitted” and what he “[doesn’t] want to hear in comments”, darkly warning that he has “little patience for readers” who express particular opinions, shutting people down with no warnings, etc. I’ve never seen a blog where the author was more controlling of his commenters, not just in terms of how they express themselves but what they’re allowed to say.

        It doesn’t matter what tone you use. It’s pretty funny reading these regular compendiums of banned commenters and noting how many of them are polite and sincere (even though they express opinions I strongly disagree with). But Jerry conflates those that *are* polite and sincere with the ranters and trolls, as though they’re all one. He has every right to moderate his site in whatever way he wants, of course, but I can honestly say I’ve never seen anyone as quick to ban people, without warning or explanation, for little more than the fact that they disagree with him. If you’ve seen people suddenly disappear from a conversation (or the site), particularly after Jerry posted some irritated response to them, you can safely assume they were banned.

        I greatly enjoyed Jerry’s book, and (even now) I appreciate his take on many things. In reading his site initially I found there were a number of areas where I disagreed with him, and I was interested in discussing those things and possibly seeing his reaction. But that notion was quickly disabused when I saw how low the standard is here for banning and comment censorship. My comment here is a good case in point: ask yourselves if it really deserved the implication that I’m a liar and troll, and the threat of expulsion if I so much as try to explain what I’m saying (much less respond to these baseless attacks). It’s painfully ironic that Jerry calls himself a “free speech absolutist” and regularly decries “self-censorship” (while making censorship of one’s disagreements the only way to continue on his site).

        The bottom line is that Jerry appears to want an echo chamber, not a discussion. Which was a surprise and is also a real shame…but it is what it is.

        So ban away, Jerry. It’s what you do.

        • Mark Joseph
          Posted May 24, 2014 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

          I noticed from the first time I read comments here that there was a uniformity of opinion I rarely see

          Regardless of the merit or lack thereof of this statement, it is clear that you are not looking very hard. If you want groupthink, you could do worse than to go to any creationist site, many of which don’t even have a place for comments. Or, better yet, go to one of their churches and question something biblical on scientific or ethical grounds.

          Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted May 24, 2014 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

            I wondered if his statements were true re: groupthink. I recall many disagreements here and have participated in lots. I don’t think he has noticed the big discussions many of us get into. We don’t all agree on everything but we are civil in our disagreements for the most part. I learn a lot from participating in discussions here and I often feel it is where I can have my ideas challenged. It is here that I figured my way through the free Will stuff.

            • Posted May 25, 2014 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

              I’ve been commenting here for a few months and would have to say this is one of the most civil places on the web. It is really the closest thing I’ve seen to emulating real life discussion and Jerry frequently mentions that he wants to run a site where people act as if they are sitting in a room together.

              I have read many spirited debates between commenter here and have had no problem with commenter who have a few times vehemently disagreed with something I said. It is almost always civil and respectful; when it isn’t, Jerry clamps down on it.

              If you want to see true censorship, head over to Catholic Answers, a forum I occasionally frequent. Evolution and atheism are explicitly banned as topics there. Imagine that, a site representing Catholicism, a religion which “fully embraces” science, yet one of the most amazing theories in science is banned! Attempting to discuss it can get you immediately and permanently banned from the site.

              • Mark Joseph
                Posted May 25, 2014 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

                Geez, it would be tough to discuss Ken Miller’s ideas there! 😉

                Maybe he’s not a True Catholic™.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted May 26, 2014 at 1:53 am | Permalink

                Although… I seem to recall years ago reading that Creationism vs Evolution was a banned topic on the Usenet Science echo, simply because any discussion immediately got heated and out of control and swamped the rest of the echo. We don’t have flamewars like they used to….
                (They created a C-vs-E echo specifically for such debates).

                It may be giving the Catholics the benefit of too much doubt to suggest they may possibly have had had the same experience.

    • Posted May 24, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Bar O’Brien: I would have preferred to ignore you. But since you mention me by name, I must point out that you have ignored my retraction of the comment that you cite, and dissociate myself from the rest of your comments.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 24, 2014 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think the first question was aimed at conflating attitudes about Israel with anti semitism. I think it was aimed at seeing if there is a bias of how people think about Jews. This bias being that they are not loyal to their own country but only care about Israel.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      “Beyond the fact that few of these questions reflect actual anti-Semitism…”

      Then what on earth would you consider anti-Semitism in the developed world?!

      (I realize the commenter might be constrained from answering, but I thought this stood as a rhetorical question anyway.)

  17. Timothy Hughbanks
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Since Mr. McLeroy is down with the scientific method, I’d be interested in his clearly delineating just what evidence would lead him to reject creationism.

  18. Posted May 24, 2014 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    That’s an interesting statement from McLeroy about about “Test ideas by experiment and observation.” I didn’t realize Creation has been tested or observed.

  19. steve oberski
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I swear to Ceiling Cat that these bible bangers never even bother to read their own big book of bad ideas; if James Schlup had bothered to do so he might have known that there is no mention of the actual location of the serpent, and in fact based on the context of the conversation with Eve, who actually does not have a name yet, being referred to as “Woman” and “the woman”, (We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden), the tree in question most likely is not in the immediate vicinity, i.e. the serpent is not in the tree and the bit about it being a bird is total bullshit.

  20. Marella
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    “Like German tourists, the stupid are everywhere.” Lister, Red Dwarf.

    • john frum
      Posted May 24, 2014 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      Ah, Red Dwarf.
      I got one of my favourite sayings, “Smeghead” from that show. 🙂

  21. Jeffery
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    It’s always amazed me as the level of murderous hatred, distrust, and envy towards a group that comprises only .2% of the world’s population and is losing adherents at the rate of 50,000 a year- it’s a “meme” that’s acquired a life of its own over the centuries and a perfect example of how our societies are still primarily motivated by basic emotions and logical fallacies: it seems we always have to find SOMEONE to hate!

    • Susan
      Posted May 24, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      Every culture has a despised class on which to blame the problems of society. In Europe for centuries it was Jews and gypsies. In the US, it was blacks, and now fluctuates between immigrants and gays. In Japan, leather workers were outsiders and nice people didn’t marry them. There was probably some evolutionary advantage thousands of years ago to hating outsiders. But seeing as we have brains and science, it sure would be nice if ancient irrational hatreds would go the way of animal sacrifice.

      • Jeffery
        Posted May 24, 2014 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        I disagree as to what the “predominant” class despised in the U.S. currently is, as it varies from region to region and is based on differing “reasons” (in some places, competition for jobs fuels it; in others, it’s more ethnic or religion-based, which boils back down to a basic xenophobia). I feel that there still is a great deal of “anti-Jew”, not necessarily antisemitism, (and, of course, “anti-black”) feeling in this country as evidenced by the continued thriving of the “Zionist conspiracy” meme. It’s interesting that many of the people who are openly or covertly prejudiced against Jews have little understanding of Jewish history or traditions (of course, when you “demonize” a group, you don’t WANT to know much about them, as it makes them too human). Not only that, but it’s absurdly ironic that Christian and Muslim fundamentalists (the Christians look forward to seeing the Jews burn in Hell eventually; the Muslims want to kill them all right now)accept as the word of God the Babble, which is primarily from Jewish sources!

      • Mark Joseph
        Posted May 24, 2014 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

        In the US, it was blacks, and now fluctuates between immigrants and gays.

        I’d adjust that to “it was blacks, and now fluctuates between immigrants, muslims, gays, and atheists, with a still-considerable animus against blacks and jews, especially in certain regions.” Remember there was a poll showing that Americans would be *less* likely to vote for a qualified atheist than for a qualified member of any other group, including such traditional pariahs such as mormons, muslims, and gays.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted May 24, 2014 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          Don’t forget natives (First Nations). They get piled on a lot and their history and where they are now is complex in its relationship to whites.

          • pangurbanthecat
            Posted May 24, 2014 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

            It is amazing how tribal civilization still is. The white tribe is not happy with anyone but themselves and show it with how it structures civilization within its own realms to confine those who aren’t of the white tribe. Discrimination against the blacks hasn’t gone away, it’s just not as visible as it once was.

            The Native Americans are still subjugated. Treatment of women, ethnic and racial minorities are under this white thumb, as are the LGBT.

            I am white and ashamed of how we behave.

            http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/truth-about-race-america-its-getting-worse-not-better?akid=11844.1070144.QFDKFx&rd=1&src=newsletter995794&t=10

            My memory of the Holocaust is via the numerous film footages I saw as a child growing up in post-WWII America. And they were played over and over again.

            Later, I took care of patients at the Cleveland Clinic and treated many who had long numbers tattooed to the inside of their wrists and spoke to them about it in ways that was appropriate for who they were and what they went through.

            Much of what the Jewish people face to this day is the lingering memory of them crucifying some guy and even though some pope offered an apology on behalf of the RCC. It was only something on the surface and empty of real change, nor was it really taken to heart by the other versions of christianity.

            • Susan
              Posted May 25, 2014 at 4:11 am | Permalink

              I agree with the many alternatives to the scapegoat class that many people mentioned. I would add the Chinese in California in prior centuries. It varies from place to place and decade to decade. The one constant is in any human culture, there will be at least one. I think the variation in the US now represents a good thing, in that there is no longer a universal acceptance about which group is (groups are) less human, less worthy, less patriotic than “real Americans.” I would like to interpret the inability to pick one as progress, but this could be wishful thinking.

              “I am white and ashamed of how we behave.” I agree, with a caveat below. Any honest reading of the treatment of native americans from the moment columbus landed through today should make a person cry. The trail of tears. The forced movement of native americans onto reservations. On one reservation, they were forced on in the fall, and provided with nothing but moth-eaten blankets, mealy flour and rancid bacon and most died over the winter of starvation. Anyone who then says “but what happened in Germany could never happen here” is an idiot or a liar. The only difference is that we spread the genocide out over centuries and we mostly pretended the deaths weren’t intentional.

              The only thing I would change about the comment is that nasty behavior is not limited to whites, or Americans or Europeans and their descendants. The tendency to despise, and at times, exterminate, “outsiders” is found in every human culture. I personally thing denying this human capability is dangerous.

              • pangurbanthecat
                Posted May 25, 2014 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

                Susan wrote: “I am white and ashamed of how we behave.” I agree, with a caveat below. The only thing I would change about the comment is that nasty behavior is not limited to whites, or Americans or Europeans and their descendants. The tendency to despise, and at times, exterminate, “outsiders” is found in every human culture. I personally thing denying this human capability is dangerous.

                I agree Susan with your conclusion that it is not limited to whites, or Americans, or Europeans and their descendants. I did not mean to imply this was only relegated to those regarded as white. I am aware that in nearly every instance (and I can’t actually bring to mind one at the present, so I am leaving the door open) the dominant sub-group, no matter their race, or ethnicity engaged in subduing, dominating, discriminating, enslaving and/or eliminating the non-dominant sub-group often in a variety of ways.

                However, that being said, the expansion from mostly Europe into new lands and territories all around the world extended the reach of the whites and extended these practices of conquest and colonization. I’ve been a student of world history for most of my life so I am rather familiar with who was part of which group; the dominant sub-group vs the non-dominant subgroup.

                The group most noted in our history books is evidence that whites have predominated. Jarod Diamond’s book Guns, Germs and Steel, though somewhat discredited for various reasons, still shows that this is true.

                And through these long periods of dominance, (spanning at least 2 millennia) have done nothing to alter this image, and behavior. We now have more dangerous toys to play with in this game, and rather than offering reparations, and changing our behavior, it merely continues.

                At present our representatives in Washington are responsible for some 700,000 people. In most, or many, other democratic nations the ratio is more like 1 per 100,000. A strident element of the conservatives is doing whatever it can to maintain their hegemony. A simple glance at the composition of 113th Congress in assessing how many women there are, and how many non-white members there are will demonstrate just another aspect of this.

                That we have as a species, continued to behave along these tribal lines is disappointing. While whites continue to be the dominant sub-group in America, the Hispanic portion of the population is rising. White birth rates are declining to the point that whites now represent only 70% of the population.

                One need but look at the behavior of conservatives recently in regard to denying voting rights to select elements of society, and by gerrymandering to insure that the dominant sub-group continues to maintain its superiority.

  22. Filippo
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    “Maybe the pilgrims should have waited for the athiests [sic] and other divisive groups to land . . . .”

    Right, the Pilgrims, the Congregationalists, who came to the New World to escape persecution, only to inflict it on others. (Re: Hitch on Jefferson’s response to the Baptists having to deal with the Congregationalists.)

  23. Achrachno
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    “as our readership grows the wingnuts, creationists, extreme religionists and other bizarros are coming out of the woodwork in increasing numbers”

    We’re becoming more like America?

    Only sometimes a good thing, I guess.

  24. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    The Schlup comment [sorry, it sounds so funny in swedish – shlup, shlup] is hilarious. I haven’t seen “it is the _other_ major magical agent we believe in” for quite a while.

    Oh, and it is good to have confirmation that similarly to that magic agency is never perceived as “ground of being” it is also never perceived as mono-agency among abrahamists. Figures, such simple agency never really took among the egyptians either.

    Evolution simply fails the test; there is not even close to enough evidence to explain the amazing phenomenon we find in life.

    Um, what!? Only a creationist would think that evolution needs to predict “the amazing phenomenon we find in life” or even “the amazing phenomenon we find life to be”, which may or may not have been Leroy’s intended verbiage. (For a head of a school board, he seems to hang on to language by his bare teeth.)

    Using the principles Leroy claim he is using – “test ideas … question everything” – we would immediately question if evolution is demanded to predict life or every emergent physical phenomena it is involved in. But it is not, since it is asked to predict differential reproduction. E.g. why our T cells are selected over a time frame of days, or why there are yearly flu outbreaks et cetera, up to and including extinction events.

    That is why physics is called upon to predict physics, and astrobiology is called upon to predict emergence of life. The latter seems to be a process where chemical evolution slowly evolves into biological evolution.

    The latest advance is that the UCA glycolysis and pentose phosphate pathways is likely a result of non-enzymatic but Fe(II) anoxic catalysis in the 70+ degC heated ocean zone around hydrothermal vents. E.g. 3/6C metabolism can build on products from the simpler 1C metabolism that submarine alkaline hydrothermal emergence of life pulls out of pH and redox differentials acting on CO2 (atmosphere) and CH4 (serpentinization). [“Non-enzymatic glycolysis and pentose phosphate pathway-like reactions in a plausible Archean ocean”, Keller et al, Mol. Sys. Biol. 2014]

    The chemically evolved almost-life protocells of SAH vents likely exaptated a chemically evolved metabolic core. That push the advent of darwinian evolution and its reliance on hereditary material* as opposed to hereditary pathways closer to the UCA cell. It blurs the boundary between almost-life and life further. And it shows how little Leroy’s foaming at the mouth actually means re evolution.

    * Ironically in the context of creationists, the cell is the ultimate Material Girl. You would think creationists took that hint…

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted May 24, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, that should have been “the simpler 2C metabolism”. The basal protocell metabolism gets to the acetyl group that later is transported as acetyl-CoA.

    • Achrachno
      Posted May 24, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      “The Schlup comment [sorry, it sounds so funny in swedish – shlup, shlup] is hilarious.”

      Sounds like a Mel Brooks character, though maybe that would be closer to Von Shlup.

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 26, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      “(For a head of a school board, he seems to hang on to language by his bare teeth.)”

      Ha, ha, good one!

  25. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    By the way, why is it that the “Weekly Weird Comments” attract so many weird comments, weekly? You would think the saner material would be more interesting, but nooo …

    • Achrachno
      Posted May 24, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      I tried to get a conversation going on the great post (previous) on ratite phylogeny/biogeography, but even with 5 comments from me (a couple of them fairly stupid) I couldn’t get much reaction and there are still only 29, less than half of what’s here. Don’t you people like emus and rheas?

      • Susan
        Posted May 24, 2014 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        I like the birds. I just don’t know enough to say much intelligent about them. However, I seem to be able to say a lot about whackos. There is probably some deep meaning here that should worry me….

        • Mark Joseph
          Posted May 24, 2014 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

          Not really. Most of us are far more exposed to various wackaloons than we are to some specific part of nature, with its 30 million+ species and who knows how many rocks, stars, and chemical reactions. Heck, I was lucky I even knew the word “ratite” before I saw that post.

          As you’ve probably guessed, I’m not too enamored with the quality of science teaching in the K-12 grades in the US of A.

          • Susan
            Posted May 25, 2014 at 4:18 am | Permalink

            I didn’t know ratite before starting to read this “internet based commumication vehicle.” I’m learning a couple new words a week. I’m still hoping to find an opportunity to use the phrase “micturate on the carpet.”

          • Filippo
            Posted May 25, 2014 at 11:22 am | Permalink

            “As you’ve probably guessed, I’m not too enamored with the quality of science teaching in the K-12 grades in the US of A”

            For sure, any K-12 teacher stands on her/his own pedagogical merits, and will or will not be able to bear up under the scrutiny of any rational, scientifically-literate (and experienced classroom) observer.

            I admit to some bias regarding this subject, as I have substitute taught full-time for over nine years (more time in the classroom as a teacher than a newly-minted education major has spent in college), all K-12 grades, including a quite significant amount of experience in grades 6-10 science and math. To speak conservatively, I think I’m pretty decent at it and, did the “OJT” apprentice method (by which Abe Lincoln became a lawyer) still obtain (and coupled with a significant amount of formal alternative-program teacher training under my belt), I could make a pretty solid case that I am at least very significantly (if not highly) qualified at what I do.

            But, I have held off accomplishing every jot and tittle of teacher certification because I have had too many run-ins with “oppositionally defiant” and “challenged” and “troubled” and trouble-making students, especially during long-term sub jobs yet still paid sub pittance. (Only do short term now.) Whether one is certified or not, substitute teaching is a dead end situation compared to full-time teaching. But at least one can get through a rough day with such students and generally not have to endure them again.

            Accordingly, whatever the quality of U.S. public school science and math teaching, is it reasonable to conjecture that you are also “not too enamored” with the state of student (mis-)behavior, (a reflection of the coarsening of public behavior in the U.S. in the last twenty-plus years), as well as the degree of student disdain for academic excellence (a reflection of American culture’s pervasive anti-intellectualism well-documented by Hofstadter, Jacoby, et al)?

            Lawrence Krauss has pointed out that approximately 50% of American adults incorrectly answered the following question on more than one NSF surveys: “T or F: the Earth goes around the sun and takes a year to do it.” How hard is it for the average American (student) to hear, understand, and retain that fact? What scientific fact is easier to remember? Are science teachers to bear the bulk (if not all) of responsibility for this 50% error rate and profound general non-curiosity?

            I apologize for the length.

            • Mark Joseph
              Posted May 25, 2014 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

              is it reasonable to conjecture that you are also “not too enamored” with the state of student (mis-)behavior, (a reflection of the coarsening of public behavior in the U.S. in the last twenty-plus years), as well as the degree of student disdain for academic excellence (a reflection of American culture’s pervasive anti-intellectualism well-documented by Hofstadter, Jacoby, et al)?

              Yes.

              I have often recommended both Hofstadter’s and Jacoby’s books here at WEIT. There’s a new one, “Idiot America” by Charles Pierce, that I’m looking forward to reading, too.

              • Filippo
                Posted May 26, 2014 at 6:02 am | Permalink

                I’ve read and recommend Pierce’s book.

              • Mark Joseph
                Posted May 26, 2014 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

                Thanks! Always good to get a recommendation.

  26. Susan
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    What a relief. And to think I was worrried that Prof Ceiling Cat might run out of material for the weekly whacko review. My life would be incomplete without weekly whackos.

  27. Posted May 24, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Nigeria, BTW, is an absolutely magically wonderful place. I have a brother there right now who just can’t wait to get back to Colorado to tell us all about it.

  28. Posted May 24, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

  29. Posted May 24, 2014 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    I want to know how Satan tried “amalgamations of species”. That sounds fun!

    • Posted May 25, 2014 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      I’ve been commenting here for a few months and would have to say this is one of the most civil places on the web. It is really the closest thing I’ve seen to emulating real life discussion and Jerry frequently mentions that he wants to run a site where people act as if they are sitting in a room together.

      I have read many spirited debates between commenter here and have had no problem with commenter who have a few times vehemently disagreed with something I said. It is almost always civil and respectful; when it isn’t, Jerry clamps down on it.

      If you want to see true censorship, head over to Catholic Answers, a forum I occasionally frequent. Evolution and atheism are explicitly banned as topics there. Imagine that, a site representing Catholicism, a religion which “fully embraces” science, yet one of the most amazing theories in science is banned! Attempting to discuss it can get you immediately and permanently banned from the site.

    • Posted May 25, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      Woops, it appears my phone and this site worked together in some mysterious way to duplicate my comment down here.

      What I was going to say is that I sure hope Satan used some kind of fun poetic incantations with his amalgamations. You know something about the ground of being and the irony of being cursed to crawl on the ground for all time.

      • pangurbanthecat
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        Chris,

        I found this YouTube video that seems to critically examine how satan was a word for something other than what it actually became especially later in the bible. It shows that there are actually few mentions of satan at all in the new testament letters and epistles, but suddenly highly mentioned in the gospels to a greater degree.

        It also shows that books written much much later (like Milton’s Paradise Lost) gave more power and description of this character.

        The video promotes the idea that people had to create something besides a god, who they wanted to be a loving creature, to blame the bad things that happened on.

        The Evolution of Satan in the Bible

        It is 14 minutes long but is worth viewing.

  30. johnpieret
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    What puzzles me is the statement that he thinks my “blog” is worth following and the advocates of theistic evolution are not.

    Habitués of the talk.origins newsgroup have long known that creationists hate “theistic evolutionists” much more than atheists. In their world, the viewpoints of atheists can be automatically and (to their minds) easily dismissed simply because they ARE atheists, while the views of professing Christians need more heavy lifting on creationists’ part. That is one of the reasons that the NCSE (rightly or wrongly) think it is worthwhile to point out that many Christians accept the science of evolution (I know, I know … not as fully as you think necessary).

    McLeroy finds it useful to follow your blog website because he can cite an atheist to the effect that you can’t be a Christian AND an “evolutionist,” reinforcing their view that they don’t need to deal with the evidence.

  31. MikeN
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    On the number of people who haven’t heard of the Holocaust- in Asia generally, most people concentrate on their own nation’s history- Taiwan, China, Indonesia, Korea, the Philippines, and South-East Asia countries will unsurprisingly spend a lot more time teaching about Japanese WWII atrocities than about the Holocaust; other countries in Africa and Asia will focus on the imperialist histories that affected them.

    In Taiwan and China there are best-selling books and movies about the Nanjing Massacre, whereas Hitler and the Nazis are regarded as wacky, almost cartoonish, Westerners, with little relevance to Asia.

    • Posted May 24, 2014 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      I did wonder about that – and how many Asian/African atrocities that I am blissfully unaware of as a Western European. I had never heard of the Nanjing Massacre, for example.

    • john frum
      Posted May 24, 2014 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      That is an interesting comment.
      It definitely wouldn’t surprise me if very little to no European history was taught in many Asian countries.
      I will have to ask my Thai friends if they were ever taught about the Holocaust.
      They have probably heard about it since as they have lived in Oz for many years and one of my Thai friends partner is a history nut.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 25, 2014 at 3:00 am | Permalink

        That’s a very good point and it would be interesting to see a list of the 102 countries. It seems quite possible the ADL is conflating ignorance of European history, or even ethno-centrism by other cultures, with anti-semitism. To look at it from the opposite view, could a Chinese person interpret Western ignorance of the Nanjing massacre (of which I’ve never heard) as evidence of anti-asianism?

        I’d think, to really draw any conclusion from the figures, one would have to limit the data to those countries where the predominant culture / history is European.

        The other interesting thing to do would be to take the 11 questions and substitute some other out-group for ‘Jews’ and see how the answers stacked up. (A few of the questions might need re-wording to make sense in the altered context). What I’m wondering is whether Russians, or the Irish, or Arabs, for example, would fare any better. In other words, is anti-semitism some special phenomenon or is it just a manifestation of plain old xenophobia? I wouldn’t be surprised if 26% of people were xenophobic to some degree.

  32. Hempenstein
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    So if McLeroy reads your website, perhaps he’d care to explain why he obviously hasn’t read your book.

    • Posted May 25, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      I read his book.

      • Posted May 25, 2014 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        Then you’re even more ideologically blinkered than I thought. There’s a mountain of truth in that book pointing to evolution, and not an iota of evidence supporting your goddy stories. Do us all a favor and hie yourself to the creationist websitse where you can find plenty of fellow truth-deniers.

        • Posted May 25, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

          If only we spent our time discussing a more sophisticated version of God, you know the one people really believe in.

          Just thought this would be the ideal time to drop that in being that I don’t think the Sophisticated Theologians would be lining up to do that here. 😉

  33. Garnetstar
    Posted May 25, 2014 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    McElroy is wrong! The one main reason for reading Jerry’s website is what Richard Dawkins termed its “idiosyncratic charm”.

    uselesseater is well-named indeed. The French call his ilk “bouches inutiles”, useless mouths, people who consume valuable resources, but contribute nothing. And Klingons are even more blunt: such people are “wastes of skin”. That’s pretty damn harsh, but uselesseater’s comment almost inclines one to think it true.

  34. Posted May 25, 2014 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    ‘This first one, for example, might be a troll, but somehow I don’t think so. Reader “useless eater” comments on my post, “William Lane Craig defends his ridiculous view that animals don’t suffer“

    “Far be it from [me] to advocate for inflicting pain on any species. But i’m wondering if maybe i should have doubts that the Jews in concentration camps felt pain in the same way the rest of [us] experience it.” ‘

    Irony alert!

    I read it that useless eater is comparing WLC with the Nazis. Breaking Godwin’s Law or using the Slippery Slope or both, but I think s/he could be on (y)our side, if s/he’s averring that animals (like humans including Jews) DO suffer, and saying that’s where WLC’s thinking leads. WLC already advocates genocide, after all, so long as God orders it. If useless eater is an antisemite, the first phrase makes no sense.


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  1. […] Jerry Coyne over at his phenomenal website (not a blog) “Why Evolution Is True” has a disturbing post on Modern-day Anti-Semitism, scroll down one paragraph to catch his summary and the link to the original poll data here. […]

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