Archive for the ‘Reason’ Category

Non-violent communication

Aught3
Aught3
Sun Feb 09, 2014 12:43 am by Aught3

Non-violent communication (NVC) is based on the acknowledgement that there are some people who like committing violence while there are others who enjoy contributing to well being through compassionate giving. Many of the structures in our societies contribute to the violent aspect by educating people to be obedient and submissive to authority. In the same way that our culture foists a life philosophy of enlightened hedonism onto us, it also sets us up in domination structures where superiors are expected to tell others what’s best for them and inferiors are simply supposed to obey. The goal of NVC is liberation from decades of cultural education steeped in domination structures and replace it with compassionate systems of communication, thinking, and influencing.

Part of the education problem is the widespread use of a “static” language that focuses on what people are rather than how they are feeling. They, their behaviour, or their appearance are constantly judged as good or bad, right or wrong, normal or abnormal. Our approach of retributive justice also plays a role. When someone is judged as “bad” by the authorities we come to believe they now deserve to receive punishment. All that it takes to make violence enjoyable is to believe there are bad people and they need to be punished. This approach to justice goes to the heart of violence on the planet. Finally, there is danger in a language that denies choice. Words like “ought”, “must”, and “have to” are commonplace but they deny individual responsibility and lead us to be slaves of authority. We may not like all the things we do but it is important to recognise that we don’t so anything that we don’t choose to. NVC is a system primary of communication but also of thinking and influence which helps us to overcome the domination structures which lead to excess violence.

If the alternative to domination and violence is compassion and giving then the question NVC answers is “what skills are needed to live compassionately?” It is about how we ensure that what ever we do is done willingly and comes solely out of the joy that comes from giving. In order to do this, NVC puts the focus back on human needs. If human needs are unfulfilled we take action. Once the needs are fulfilled we can celebrate. The basis of this process is to figure out “what is alive in us” and “what would make life more wonderful” How to go about communicating the answers to these questions to others is the process of NVC. 

 

The Process
1. Observe without judgement
The process of NVC begins with clear observations that are delivered without judgement. Clear observations tell other people whether or not they are fulfilling our needs. However, judgement and evaluation, especially when it is received as negative, often provokes defensiveness and shuts down the possibility of listening in the other person. Observations, on the other hand, are objective and can be agreed upon by both parties without the presence of guilt or blame. Blame and criticism make it difficult for others to enjoy contributing to our well-being which is the whole point of NVC. If done successfully, this initial agreement over the facts of the situation is a great way to begin a productive conversation.

2. Feel and empathise
Both positive and negative feelings are a manifestation of fulfilled (positive) or unfulfilled (negative) needs. NVC is all about putting people in touch with feelings, either their own or others. After making observations, the next step is to attach a feeling to those facts. Again it’s important to stick to only naming feeling in this step and not move into judgement or evaluation. Saying “I feel disappointed” is the right type of response. Saying “I feel you aren’t trying to the best of your ability” is making a judgement while masking it with the language of ‘feeling’.  In this stage empathy is very important. You may need to check with the other person that they really heard and understood your feeling and are empathising correctly.

3. Communicate the need
Needs have a specific meaning in NVC. They are broad categories of shared desires present in all people. Some examples of these types of needs are respect, self-determination, companionship, etc. The idea here is to link the need with a feeling from the previous stage, again no judgement should be taking place. “I’m feeling scared because my need for safety isn’t being met” or “I’m disappointed that my need for honesty isn’t being met” are good instances of this. The need should be communicated in a clear and open way to reduce the chance that it is misinterpreted. Again, checking that the other person heard you by having them repeat back your need is a useful way to confirm communication is taking place correctly.

4. Make a request
The last step is to make a request of the other person that would help you to get your need met. Because this is a request and not a demand we have to be open to the other person proposing a less-than-ideal alternative or even saying “no”. If the other person hears a demand, it makes it difficult for them to enjoy contributing to us, and they may comply out of shame and guilt. This is not the way we want other people to help us! This is why, in NVC, we only request and never demand. Requests made between two freely-acting individuals in order to fulfill each other’s needs is the entire goal of NVC. If the other person doesn’t agree to your request, that’s okay! You can use NVC to find out what feeling or need is holding them back and propose an alternative that gets both your needs met or you can simply accept their choice not to fulfill your need today. In NVC, each person is responsible for finding ways to get their own needs fulfilled and not responsible for trying to fulfill the needs of others.

 

Although it has been around for decades, NVC is a system of communication that I came across only recently. I think the idea is pretty powerful and putting it into practice, although difficult, has been extremely rewarding for me so far. It’s hard to believe I wasn’t introduced to NVC sooner and I hope introducing it to you will improve your relationships with those around you and make your own life better too. I think NVC is especially useful for people in imbalanced power dynamics (e.g., teachers, parents, and managers should definitely pay attention) but it is still a great system for use in any type of relationship.

“What about this document?” Holocaust deniers make me sick!

theyounghistorian77
theyounghistorian77
Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:43 am by theyounghistorian77

So, in the space of less than a week, I have caught out twice two different Neo-Nazi holocaust deniers on Twitter trying to use (or rather abuse) this ITS B.A.D Arolsen file against me (at the bottom of the post) in their mad claims that the true total of Jewish deaths is lower than the approx 6 million figure that I and every other scholar who is not a Nazi or a racist accepts as the truth (on a range of various sources; see Lucy Dawidowicz, “The War Against the Jews: 1933-1945″; Raul Hilberg, “The Destruction of the European Jews”; Peter Longerich, “Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews”; and Arno J Mayer, “Why did the Heavens not Darken?” among many many other excellent titles).

For those who do not know, the ITS B.A.D Arolsen is, as it says on its website, “a centre for documentation, information and research on Nazi persecution, forced labour and the Holocaust.” It’s an excellent service and I would recommend in the same vain “The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names” by the Yad Vesham Center which has painstakingly compiled “the biographical details of two thirds of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their accomplices.” For those who do not know too much about the Holocaust, I would highly consider you visit both websites together and fully digest them, so that one may begin to get an understanding of the actual vast scale of the tragedy of the Holocaust, for both document it. Unsurprisingly, no Neo-Nazi I have ever had the unfortunate luck to to run into has ever admitted to liking full documentation. It proves too much truth. Take for example the following written by General Commissioner Wilhelm Kube on 31 July 1942, which is arguably one of the most explicit documents about the Nazi mass extermination. No denier has ever managed to explain this one away to me, and I don’t expect any to. Thus far I have quoted it in all debates I have ever had with Neo-nazis, even on this very forum.

“In every encounter with partisans in White Ruthenia, it has been established that in the former Soviet part of the district general as well as in the former Polish part the Jews together with the Polish Resistance Movement in the East and the Red Army men of Moscow are the mainstay of the partisan movement. As a result of this, and in view of the danger to the whole economy, the treatment of the Jews in White Ruthenia is a predominantly political matter which, therefore, should not be solved according to economic but political angles. During detailed consultations with the SS Brigadefuehrer Zenner and the extremely capable Chief of the SD, SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Dr. jur. Strauch, we found that we had liquidated approximately 55,000 Jews in White Ruthenia during the last 10 weeks. In the Minsk-Land area, the Jewry was completely exterminated, without endangering the allocation of labor in any way. In the prevailing Polish Lida area, 16,000 Jews, in Slonim 8,000 Jews, etc., were liquidated. The preparations for the liquidation of the Jews in the Glebokie area were completely disrupted by the arbitrary action by the rear army area, which has already been reported to your office. In the rear army area , I was not contacted , 10,000 Jews were liquidated who were scheduled for extermination by us anyway. In the city of Minsk about 10,000 Jews were liquidated on 28 and 29 July, 6,500 of whom were Russian Jews , mainly old people, women, and children , the remainder consisted of Jews unfit for work, most of whom had been sent to Minsk from Vienna, Brno, Bremen, and Berlin in November of the previous year at the Fuehrer’s orders.

The Slutsk area was also ridded of several thousand Jews. The same applies to Novogrudok and Vileika. Radical measures still remain to be taken for Baranovichi and Hanzevichi. In Baranovichi, about 10,000 Jews are still living in the town alone, 9,000 of whom will be liquidated next month. In the town of Minsk, 2,600 Jews from Germany have been left over. Besides, all the 6,000 Jews and Jewesses are still alive who have been working, during the action, with the units who had employed them previously. Even in the future the largest Jewish labor force will be in Minsk, since the centralization of armament industries and the burden on the railways makes this necessary for the time being. In all other areas the number of Jews utilized for labor by the SD and myself will be fixed at 800 at the outside but at 500 if possible so that after the completion of the action 8,600 Jews will remain in Minsk and approximately 7,000 in the 10 remaining territories, including the territory Minsk-Land, which is already free from Jews. The danger that the partisans will, in future, derive any important support from the Jews will then have ceased to exist. I myself and the SD would certainly much prefer that the Jewish population in the district general of White Ruthenia should be eliminated once and for all when the economic requirements of the Wehrmacht have fallen off. For the time being, the necessary requirements of the Wehrmacht who is the main employer of the Jewish population are still being considered. The clear anti-Jewish attitude of the SD and the difficult task of the units in White Ruthenia to deliver again and again new Jewish transports from the Reich to their destination, both put an undue strain on the physical and spiritual strength of men of the SD and diverts them from their real purpose, which lies in the White Ruthenian region itself.

I should therefore be grateful if the Reich Commissioner could see his way to stop further Jewish transports until the partisan threat has finally been overcome. I must make 100 percent use of the SD against partisans and against the Polish Resistance Movement, both of which demand the use of the full strength of the SD units, which are none too strong as it is.

After the conclusion of the anti-Jewish action in Minsk, Dr. Strauch, SS Lieutenant Colonel, reported to me tonight, with justifiable wrath, that without any order from the Reich Leader SS and without notification of the commissioner, a transport of 1,000 Jews has suddenly arrived from Warsaw for use in this air fleet area.

I should like to ask the Reich Commissioner (who has already been advised by teletype), in his capacity as the highest authority in the Ostland, to stop such transports. The Polish Jew is, exactly like the Russian Jew, an enemy of all that is German. He represents a politically dangerous factor, the political danger of which exceeds by far his value as a specialized worker. Under no conditions must Wehrmacht agencies of the army or the Luftwaffe, be allowed to import, without the approval of the Reich Commissioner, into an area under civil administration, Jews from the General Government who might endanger the entire political work and security of the district general. I am in full agreement with the commander of the SD in White Ruthenia, that we are to liquidate every Jewish transport which has not been ordered or announced by our superior officers, so as to avoid further unrest in White Ruthenia.” – Source

so they always turn to tidbits, lunatics and distortions to make their case, tactics that are of course very familar to the Creationists on this forum and they easily belong in the same category of stupid (even if somewhat more offensive perhaps). This is what brings me to the following document you see now:

What do we have here? Although I will not say I am 100% sure on this namely because actually up until this week i hadn’t seen it, but I’ll take my cue from this which is another excellent website on Holocaust education and specialises in refuting denier arguments. From that I am inclined to believe we have a 1979 document taken out of context by the deniers that, in actuality, represents figures for applications to death certificates made by family members and relatives of the victims. Of course, if an entire family had died in the holocaust, there would be no one around left to make an application. Remember, this document comes from 1979, so it’s one thing the figures seen would be incomplete even in that department anyway by modern standards, families since would have made claims. It’s entirely something else that the figures within cannot describe final numbers of Holocaust dead like in the way the deniers are spinning this document.

In short Holocaust deniers makes me sick!

Creationism – Cargo Cult Science

Inferno
Inferno
Thu Aug 22, 2013 4:23 pm by Inferno

In a Caltech-address given in 1974, Richard Feynman coined the term “Cargo Cult Science” to describe any group of scientists who follow the external traits of being a scientist (like wearing lab coats and saying “Deoxyribonucleic acid”) but who don’t follow the rigorous scientific method (like trying not to fool yourself and publishing in the peer-reviewed literature).

There are quite a few stories about how creationism is cargo cult science. For example, the story about the Discovery Institute using a stock photo of a lab to gain scientific credibility. Or take the Creation Science Museum. Those are all good examples of cargo cult science. They follow some external traits (having a laboratory, having a museum) but none of the rigorous scientific method.

I’ll introduce you to another aspect: Peer review. A few of you will be familiar with the Discovery Institute’s list of ID peer reviewed articles. They count 50 articles in seven years (2004-2011) a lot, a “boom” even. Wow, impressive.

Some of you will know the Answers in Genesis research journal. I wrote about an article of theirs a while back, calling their article one of the “most dishonest creationist “research paper”“. They’ve got another article up, one I’ll look at in due time.

A third attempt by creationists to get peer reviewed is CreationWiki’s attempt at peer review. “No articles submitted” should tell you something. Why hilarious? Because of this quote by Chris Ashcraft: “That is the goal of peer reviews in general – to uphold the consensus position. Peer reviews are just what the phrase describes – reviews by peers. Atheists and creationists are not peers regarding theories formed from these worldviews. Only creationists can provide peer reviews of creationist views.”

There are also several others out there attempting to do the same, but we shan’t worry about them for the time being. (Nor ever, as far as I’m concerned.)

Why is peer review so important for creationists? Well, proponents of evolution (hereafter called “scientists”) have often told creationists to “put up or shut up“: Either produce peer-reviewed evidence positively indicative of magical creation or get out of our schools.

Creationists now had two options: To either try and get their articles passed through proper channels or create their own journals. The first option failed horribly so they went for number two.

In very clear terms: If creationists are unable to produce peer-reviewed articles, they will not be regarded as science. Or so they think. The problem, of course, lies not with the publications, that is to say whether there are any published or not. Nor, as Casey Luskin claims, with the quantity of the research. It lies solely with the truth and evidence of the publications. Creationists could have published only a single article and, if it were correct, that would sufficiently throw any theory into doubt. Yet creationists don’t have that silver bullet, nor do they have anything else of value. They could have millions of articles out there and still not convince anyone, simply because their articles (as I showed) are full of crap.

Creationists don’t agree, of course, and rectified their problem (not getting published enough) by simply making up their own journals. Pretty awesome logic, right? Read the link, it’s rife with hilarity. First the author suggests that peer review is ineffective anyway, then he goes on to casually mention “therefore we’ve got our own journals”. Yeah, good on ya.

Anyway, back on topic. What makes this “cargo cult science”? Well, look again at the AiG journal. Doesn’t it remind you of some other journal? I think it looks a lot like a mix between the design from Nature and Science. (I seem to remember there’s another journal that looks even more like AiG’s but I can neither find it nor claim with certainty that I’m correct on that one.) That could be a coincidence, right?

Well, consider the fact that trueorigins looks identical to talkorigins and you might not feel like it’s that much of a coincidence any more.

In conclusion:
Creationists and ID-folk alike use fancy look-alike pages to make their audience think they’re real scientists. They use “big words” (Beta-Globin Pseudogene yadda yadda) and write articles hat look like real scientific articles, so much even that one of their articles slipped into a journal some years ago. They have editors, rules for submission, peer reviewers… everything a real journal has. Except for one thing: Evidence-based articles.

/a

Rebuttal to Ian Juby’s “’In 7 Days’ Crash Course in Creation” Day 7

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Mon Jun 10, 2013 9:19 pm by he_who_is_nobody

Read part onepart twopart threepart fourpart five, and part six.

Day 7:  What would Jesus believe?

 

In this lesson, Juby spends the majority of his time proselytizing for Jesus. I frankly do not care about the claims of Christianity (or any religion for that matter). I was not sure if it was worth my time to make a post for this lesson because there is so little creationist content in it. However, I pressed forward to have a complete rebuttal to all his creationist nonsense.

The whole crux of the creation/evolution debate boils down to consequences: If there is no God, then there is no such thing as sin, there is no eternity, and no judgment.  The core of the origins debate is not so much science, but rather free will and a deep-seated, natural rebellion and resentment towards our creator God.  I freely admit that until I got to know this Creator personally, I too struggled with resentment towards this God.

After this very brief tour of some of the evidence pertaining to the debate, we now reach this crux of the matter head-on.

 

First off, Juby is wrong to claim that the crux of the Origins Debate boils down to consequences, it boils down to having accurate science taught in schools. Juby is essentially making a version of the First Foundational Falsehood of Creationism. However, the difference is that Juby is claiming that one cannot be a Christian and still accept evolution. Juby does not come out and say that evolution is inherently atheistic. Second, Juby can speak for himself. As an atheist, I know that I do not have any resentment towards any of the deities that have been created by humans over the eons. Furthermore, if there were such a thing as a god(s), it would do nothing to disprove evolution, as we know it.

Juby than spends a lot of time discussing C. S. Lewis and explaining what his thought about Jesus and the bible. What point does this have to do with creation?

Death before sin?

Another significant point in trying to cram evolution into the scriptures is that death, disease and survival of the fittest are crucial to the evolutionary process.  Mutations (disease, sickness) are the driving force behind the supposed changes needed by evolution.  Death is supposed to have happened for hundreds of millions of years before people evolved, according to evolutionary theory.  Yet in Genesis, we read that death, diseases, thorns, etc., are the result of Adam and Eve’s sin.

 

Once again, Juby is wrong, mutations are not the driving force of evolution; natural and sexual selection are. However, I would like Juby to explain how our fellow animals and we were able to survive in Eden if we were not able to eat from this garden. Juby never says it in his crash course, but he believes that all animals on earth were vegetarians before the expulsion from Eden (and perhaps up until the flood). When one eats and digests food, one is killing the plant matter.

Furthermore, it would also be nice for Juby to explain where he thinks diseases and thorns came from? Did they just spontaneously generate after the expulsion from Eden or does he think they evolved (he would not call it that) from preexisting creatures into what they are now.

If evolution was happening for millions of years leading up to Adam and Eve, then you have death before the sin of Adam and Eve, and the Genesis account is null and void.  Furthermore, Christ died to redeem man from the sin of Adam and Eve.  If death was going on before Adam and Eve, and it was a tool God used to produce the diversity of life on earth, then how could God say it was all “good” throughout the days of Creation, (Gen 1:4,10,12,18,21,25, & 31) while simultaneously referring to death as wicked, evil, and an enemy?  (Deut 31:15,Ezek 33:1,1 Cor 15:26)

 

I am including this section because I want to know what everyone thinks about it. Has Ian Juby created a great argument against Christianity from a modern scientific standpoint? Has Juby just destroyed his own faith?

Juby goes on to echo this point throughout the rest of this lesson, but I do not think it is worth quoting here. It appears to me that Juby has set up a huge failure for himself. We know that evolution and deep time are facts and that universal common descent is abundantly obvious. Once any creationist that has actually read this crash course is exposed to real science, it appears to me, that they might have a higher chance of losing their faith.

I point this out because I am an atheist, but my understanding of evolutionary theory and deep time had no bearing on that. For most of my youth, I was a Christian, but never a creationist (I was in the sense that I thought god was behind everything). Juby has made it abundantly clear in this lesson that either the bible is literally true or there is no Christian god (the Second Foundational Falsehood of Creationism). Thus, once a student of Juby enters college and is actually exposed to real science, they have a much higher chance of leaving Christianity behind, because Juby has stapled creationism to that faith.

Fine by me.

That’s all folks!
Thank you for subscribing to the “In 7 Days crash course in creation.” I hope that you have enjoyed it.

 

I have enjoyed this. I actually thought it was going to be much harder to debunk most of Juby’s tripe, but it was surprisingly easy. That makes sense because creationists very rarely get any new arguments. Juby’s lesson three is a great example of a creationist hoarding debunked arguments.

Unless you want to receive an occasional update about these lessons (which will be almost never), use the link down below to UNSUBSCRIBE from the course.

 

I wonder how much updating Juby will be performing after he reads these blogs. I am going to stay subscribed, because I would love to read his updates and if they are more of the tripe he has put forth thus far, I will make more posts about it.

Well, I hope everyone enjoyed reading this. I know I enjoyed writing it.

Have a nice day. :)

 

Rebuttal to Ian Juby’s “’In 7 Days’ Crash Course in Creation” Day 6

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Sun Jun 02, 2013 8:01 am by he_who_is_nobody

Read part one, part two, part three, part four, and part five.

Day 6:  Nothing changes…

Often I have had skeptics say “You keep arguing against evolution – what are your arguments for creation?”

 

This is a very fair and open question; because creationists seem to believe (as Juby goes on to demonstrate); there is a dichotomy when it comes to the Origins Debate. It appears that all creationists believe that they simply have to disprove evolution in order to prove creationism. However, this is not the case, creationism (young earth creationism especially) has been disproved for the last 200 years. Thus, proving evolution wrong will not make creationism true.

While this is a fair question, something does need to be clarified before proceeding:
The scientific method is one based upon falsification.  In other words, you cannot really “prove” anything – you can only “disprove” something.  Furthermore, creation and evolution really do rule out all other possible models.  For example, suggesting that aliens transplanted us here on earth (and thus answering the question “where did we come from?”) does not answer the question “From whence did we come?” It is actually intellectual cop-out – it only brings up the question “Where did the aliens come from?”

 

Juby makes this statement without realizing the irony of what he has just done. One only needs to change a few words and Juby has virtually made a great case against his position.

For example, suggesting that a god(s) magically created us here on earth (and thus answering the question “where did we come from?”) does not answer the question “From whence did we come?” It is actually intellectual cop-out – it only brings up the question “Where did this god(s) come from?”

Tada, Juby has just explained why creationism fails.

It all boils down to creation, or evolution.  Either we were created by supernatural processes, or we evolved by supernatural processes.

 

Again, here we have Juby admitting that creationism is nothing more than magic while at the same time projecting that fault onto evolution and science in general. There is nothing supernatural about evolution and evolutionary theory. We have evidence in the way of genetics, fossils, etc… Juby’s shameless projection will do nothing to diminish these facts. Furthermore, it does not boil down to creation or evolution, no matter how much Juby wants to set up that false dichotomy. Evolution is the only explanation for the diversity of life on earth, while creationism has never been anything more than belief in magic, as Juby so readily points out.

One example of evidence for creation comes from my good friend, John Mackay (http://creationresearch.net).  As he points out, ten times in the first chapter of Genesis it says God created things to reproduce after their kind.  Evolution requires things to change over time, and so we thus have another scientific test to apply to the creation/evolution debate.

 

Before Juby could move on from this, he would have to define kind in a scientific context. I have blogged about this idea earlier and pointed out that as soon as a creationist defines kind they have lost; because it is effortless to show evidence that all species of animals share a common ancestor. Thus, Juby (and Mackay) have given us away to falsify creationism in their own words.

Stasis in the fossil record:
“Stasis” is a huge problem for evolution.  “Stasis” simply means that things stay the same – for example, on the right is a cast (in the collection of the Creation Science Museum of Canada) of a fossil garfish.  How do we know it’s a garfish?  Because they are still around today, and they have stayed the same.

This fossil fish is supposedly 100 million years old by evolutionary standards.  Fossil garfish have evolved into….. garfish.

Instead of being evidence for evolution, this is evidence that garfish have faithfully reproduced after their kind.

 

Stasis is not a huge problem for modern evolution. It might have been a problem for early ideas of universal gradualism, but we now know that stasis is a normal part of life on earth. Think about this, evolution only happens when there is need for change (e.g. changes in climate). If the climate an organism lives in changes very little over geologic time, the organisms found in said environment would also change very little.

However, even with that said, there are still build-ups of neutral mutations that will change an organism ever so slightly over the eons. Thus, the fossil garfish Juby shows a picture of (and this is true for all the examples Juby gives) is not the same species as the modern version. So, depending on how Juby would define kind this example (and all others provided) could be examples of kinds changing over time.

On the right you see another excellent example of a fossil horseshoe crab.  Beside it is a modern one.  Again, 100 million years of supposed evolution has turned horseshoe crabs into…. horseshoe crabs.

In fact in early 2008, a fossil horseshoe crab was found in Manitoba, Canada, dated at over 400 million years old.  How did they know it was a horseshoe crab?  Cause it looks like one.  400 million years of evolution has changed nothing.

 

Juby throws out the term “horseshoe crab” as if it were a species level designation; it is not. Horseshoe crab (Limulidea) is a family level classification that holds three living genera and one extinct genus.

Furthermore, Juby exposes how little he knows about taxonomy by acting as if Limulidea were a species level designation. In fact, this whole lesson is an example of how little Juby knows about taxonomy, cladistics, and basic biology. To make an analogy, Juby is saying they found a species of cat (Felidae) that dates back to 16 million years ago. How did they know it was a cat? Because, it looks like one. The traits that make a Limulidea a Limulidea (or a cat a cat) are the traits used by scientists in order to classify them in relation to other organisms. This includes species as diverse and different as house cats, lions, and extinct species such as Smilodons.

This fossil fish (part of the CSMC collection) is from the Green River formation – supposedly 50 million years old.  This is a fossil herring.  Commonly called “Knightia,” wikipedia claims it has become extinct.  Compare the photos yourself – the one on the right, to the wikipedia photo of a herring:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Herringadultkils.jpg

Unfortunately, it is confusion in the latin names that has caused some evolutionists to become convinced that evolution has happened.  Knightia is not even the same genus as the herring (Genus Clupea).  In fact, as Vance Nelson has pointed out, often the only evolution in an organism is in its latin name!  In other words, the modern, living version of a fossil organism is often classed in a completely different genera than the fossil, giving the appearance of having major differences when there isn’t any.

 

Juby is asking his non-scientific audience to compare a fossil skeleton to a living fleshed out fish. You have to be kidding me.

Juby has already exposed that he knows nothing about human anatomy (let alone any other animal’s anatomy), so what makes anyone think he is qualified to question the classification of any organism. Furthermore, based on the they look the same argument I am sure Juby would argue that mammoths, mastodons, and modern elephants were the same animal.

Usually I don’t need to tell people what the fossil on the right is (courtesy of the Big Valley Creation Science Museum).  It’s a dragonfly – and there is a photograph of a modern counterpart.  Dragonflies have evolved into dragonflies.

This example falls under all the arguments I have made thus far (Juby’s ignorance of anatomy, cladistics, misunderstanding of stasis, and thinking dragonfly is a species level designation). The only main difference is that dragonfly (Anisoptera) is considered a suborder classification, even worse than his Limulidea example.

 

Nothing has changed – this is powerful evidence for creation, and thoroughly refutes evolution which requires changes over time en par with a frog turning into a prince – only evolution requires a second frog turning into a princess at precisely the same time and place.

 

First off, this is not evidence of creationism at all. It is only evidence of Juby’s basic ignorance (or blatant misrepresentation) of taxonomy. In addition, Juby goes on to straw man evolution by comparing it to a fairy tale, which again is an example of him projecting the faults of creationism onto evolution. He further goes on to expose just how little he actually knows about evolution (or another blatant misrepresentation) by stating “evolution requires a second frog turning into a princess at precisely the same time and place.” Obviously, Juby does not know that evolution happens to populations and not individuals, thus stating something this ignorant is inexcusable for someone who claims to have studied the Origins Debate for as long as Juby claims.

One of the classic examples of a “living fossil” is the Coelacanth (pronounced See-la-canth).  Once thought to be a precursor to the fish that walked onto land (in the evolutionary belief system), it was also believed to have been extinct for some 70 million years (i.e., went extinct the same time as the dinosaurs).

Then one was caught alive in the 1930’s.  Schools of them have been found since.  This was akin to finding a Stegosaurus in your back yard!
The coelacanth first appears in the fossil record some 450 million years ago, and has remained essentially unchanged.
(Photo courtesy of Max Planck institute, click here to see the Chicago field museum’s page on the coelacanth.)

 

First off, the photo he used was too large to be included in this blog and I will not be bothered to look for another one (everyone already knows what the fish looks like). Second, since this is, as Juby points out, the classic example of a living fossil for creationists, I will repeat myself and explain the mistakes Juby is making when it comes to the Coelacanth.

The first mistake is that Juby acts as if Coelacanth (Coelacanthiforme) is a species level designation. Coelacanthiforme is an order classification with several species found within it. Coelacanthiformes were never thought to be a precursor for tetrapods, but a very close relative of the first tetrapod lineage.

Juby is correct that finding a living Coelacanthiforme was akin to finding living Stegosaurs, but not for the reasons he thinks. Essentially, this animal was only known from fossils and because of that, we thought it went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous. Finding a living version was a surprise, but did nothing to shake up our ideas of evolution; it only shook up our ideas of the fossil record, just like finding a living non-avian dinosaur would not shake up our ideas of evolution, only our ideas of the fossil record.

Furthermore, the species of Coelacanthiforme alive today (Latimeria) is not found in the fossil record. The last example of Coelacanthiforme found in the fossil record was Macropoma, a shallow sea version of Coelacanthiforme. Latimeria are deep-water fish and could be the reason why their fossils have never been found.

Now some anti-creationists will contend that there are changes in these organisms.  When one examines the claims closely, one finds the claim is primarily speculation, i.e., the internal organs of the coelacanth are assumed to have changed over time (see my commentary on the NOVA Coelacanth program and why the coelacanth is not evidence for evolution).  The few minor variations we do see are still well within variation within the species.

 

We can see evidence of evolution from the first Coelacanthiforme, Litoptychius, found in the Devonian all the way through Macropoma the last Coelacanthiforme found in the fossil record. Second, as I pointed out Macropoma was a shallow sea fish and there are many species of Coelacanthiforme that were fresh water fish as well. That alone would be a major change in their anatomy; something Juby probably would not understand because he thinks all fish would have survived the flood. Juby would not understand that salt-water fish and fresh water fish have different ways of coping with their environment. Furthermore, Litoptychius is a deep-water fish, and in order for it to survive at the water pressure it does, means major anatomical differences from any of the fossil versions we have. Again, I doubt Juby would understand this. He believes animals can move well being incased in mud.

Yet many anti-creationists try and focus on differences that are minute compared to the variations within dogs – and claim that this is somehow evidence for evolution.  No, coelacanths have “evolved” into coelacanths.  This is powerful evidence for creation, and powerful evidence against evolution.

 

Living in fresh water, shallow sea, and deep sea are not tiny differences. Furthermore, stating that the variation between breeds of dogs is greater than the variation it would take to live in three completely different environments is just asinine and once again exposes how little Juby understand biology.

So many living fossils, so little time…
There are far, far more examples of living fossils around today.  See part 10 of “The Complete Creation” video encyclopedia, still viewable for free on my website:
http://ianjuby.org/videos.html

 

That simply means there are far, far more examples for Juby to misrepresent and display his utter lack of knowledge about taxonomy, cladistics, and basic biology. Stasis is very well understood in evolutionary theory. Punctuated equilibrium explains the stasis we see in the fossil record. Nevertheless, for every example of stasis Juby could find, I could find an even more dramatic example of transition. From horses to whales, and even in our lineage, we have great examples of transitional life forms.

Coming up in the next lesson:
What would Jesus believe?

 

Rebuttal to Ian Juby’s “’In 7 Days’ Crash Course in Creation” Day 5

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Mon May 27, 2013 8:15 pm by he_who_is_nobody

Read part one, part two, part three, and, part four.

Day 5:  Dinosaur Egg Nests: An argument against a global flood?

I’ve had numerous skeptics try to use dinosaur egg nests as an argument for an old earth, and to counter the claim that the rock layers we see around the world were formed by Noah’s flood.  After all, if those layers were made by Noah’s flood, how did the dinosaurs lay nests on the bottom of this raging, world-wide ocean?

 

I have actually never heard this argument made against creationism, but it is a good one. Truly think about a flood and how destructive they are, even a small-scale one. Does anyone truly believe that a nest of eggs would be preserved during a flood of any scale?

Such comments betray a lack of knowledge of what the Bible says, and what Noah’s flood would accomplish, how, and when.  The Bible indicates that Noah’s ark did not float until the 40th day after the start of the flood – that’s almost a month and a half! (Genesis 7:17)  During the flood of Noah, tides would still be in effect – in fact, they would be enhanced as more and more of the land becomes submerged, and thus resistance to the tides become less and less.

Thus, every twelve hours, you have a tide flowing inland, laying down a new layer, and then flowing out during low tide.  Because the waters of the flood are continually rising, the next tide that comes in will be higher than the last, and so it lays down another layer.  During low tides, dinosaurs, people, and other animals will go out onto these new tidal flats as they forage for food or try to get to higher land.  Footprints are made during this time, which harden into rock and become fossil footprints.

Dinosaurs carrying their eggs during this time ( a period of weeks at least) are going to do one of two things: They are either going to ditch the eggs, or try to lay a nest.

 

I will not argue against a global flood having larger tides, and I will just accept his premise. This leads to an experiment that Juby can perform in order to verify his hypothesis. Juby could take eggs from various species of birds and other reptiles today, place them in mock nests in a tidal zone and record the experiment. He can see whether the force of the tides bury the nests or destroy the nests and move the eggs to different areas. Since Juby believes that the tides would become larger and larger as the flood went on he can also try this experiment in different locations (e.g. Minas Basin, in Nova Scotia) in order to truly test his hypothesis.

Now, Juby travels around the U.S. and Canada with his traveling creationist museum. During his travels, he could stop at different coastal cities and perform his experiment in order to verify the claims he is making. The fact that Juby has not already done this speaks volumes about how much stock he actually holds in his hypothesis. On the other hand, Juby is a creationist; they never perform experiments to test their hypotheses.

Furthermore, Juby alludes to the tides during this worldwide flood creating different sedimentary layers, thus accounting for the geologic column we see today. This is a very sophomoric look at sedimentation and does not account for major features found in the geologic column (i.e. angular unconformities, lava flows, eolian sandstone, and shale; just to name a few). Additionally, flooding would sort sediment by grain size and in many places in the geologic column; this is simply not the case.

On the right is a reconstruction of an Oviraptor egg nest.  Most dinosaur eggs are found in a disordered state, not an ordered one like this.  We will focus on the “ordered” nests here.
This nest would be a text-book example.  The Oviraptor apparently stood in the middle of the circle, and apparently laid eggs in pairs, toward the outside.  It would then rotate, lay another two eggs, rotate, lay another two eggs, etc… It would then sometimes lay a second level on top of the first circle, and sometimes a third level.

 

Juby claims that Oviraptors laid eggs in pairs yet cites no evidence to support this claim. Based on birds and crocodilians (the closest living relatives to dinosaurs), I highly doubt that Oviraptors would have laid their eggs in pairs. Nevertheless, I digress, where is Juby going with this?

Oviraptor was originally so named because it was found associated with some dinosaur eggs.  The evolutionary assumptions of “Survival of the fittest” and “there has been no global catastrophe” led to the conclusion that it was stealing the eggs for food.  This led to the name Ovi-raptor; ovi for egg, raptor for thief.

Later on however, an identical egg was found with an embryo still inside of it.  As it turns out, these were Oviraptor eggs!  It wasn’t stealing the eggs for food – it was the mother trying to protect the nest from whatever catastrophe buried it and the eggs together!

 

There is just so much wrong in this, it is hard to know where to start. First, there have been several mass extinctions in earths passed, and paleontologists have often speculated about some sort of global catastrophe behind all of them. Juby is just upset because a global flood is not one of them. However, Juby is correct in pointing out that the eggs belong to Oviraptor thus the name is misleading. Nevertheless, what Juby does not tell you is that the people who corrected the old ideas of Oviraptor being an egg thief were actual scientists, not creationists. I do not understand why Juby thought this was relevant to point out.

The evolutionary assumptions of these finds is still evident, even in the wikipedia article on Oviraptor citipati.  This was an Oviraptor found buried alive sitting on its nest:
“This brooding posture is found today only in birds and supports a behavioral link between birds and theropod dinosaurs.”

Wait a minute – was it in a brooding posture, or did it have its arms wrapped around the nest to protect it from the flood that buried it alive while sitting on top of the nest?  Even the evolutionists agree it was a flash flood that buried it alive while sitting on its nest.  But the evolutionary beliefs (that of dinosaurs evolving into birds) are assumed, whereas the catastrophic interpretation (which is more logical) is ignored.

 

Juby seems to be missing the point of the fossil cited, he even admits that the Oviraptor was sitting on its eggs, something birds do and other reptiles do not. Whether this fossil was formed by a flash flood, sandstorm, or global flood it appears the Oviraptor was in the brooding posture.

Furthermore, Juby also fails to understand the vast amount of evidence that links therapod dinosaurs, such as Oviraptor to birds (e.g. feathers, hollow bones, skeletal anatomy, etc…). In addition, Juby believes that a wall of water (which would be produced in a worldwide flood) burying this Oviraptor in the brooding posture is logical. Does he not understand the physics that goes into a flood (small or large scale)?

Next, we move onto Juby’s biggest blunder of this whole crash course:

Here is another example of an Oviraptor “nest” found in Montana.  The eggs are again laid in pairs, but apparently this Oviraptor laid its eggs on the run!

This is, again, the more logical explanation – but in the original article on this “nest,” the authors claim (for some inexplicable reason) that the Oviraptor re-oriented the eggs in this position.  You see, an evolutionary perspective is programmed into you in school and via the media.  I’ve been a hard-core, young-earth creationist for almost 20 years now, and I still find myself having to de-program myself of my evolutionary assumptions that I was taught when I was younger!  Evolutionary assumptions that were colouring my world-view, and I did not even know about them.

 

First off, Oviraptors are found in Mongolia, not North America. Second, there is a reason why Juby does not cite the article in this lesson, and that reason is that the eggs seen above come from a Troodon, not an Oviraptor. Juby’s inability to honestly portray the evidence speaks volumes about his character. Potholer54 has a wonderful video about this specific claim from Juby.

Juby, it does not seem like you are deprogramming yourself, it seems like you are willfully deceiving yourself, and others, into believing in creationism. This blatant misrepresentation can only be interpreted as a lie and I do remember how Juby felt about being lied too.

Our last nest we’ll look at today comes from a Hadrosaur.  Again, the Hadrosaur apparently stood in the middle and laid its eggs in a circle.  However, notice how the eggs in this nest were laid – each higher than the last?  Apparently between the time the first egg was laid and the last one was laid, there was mud rising around the ankles of the dinosaur!  In fact, the highest egg was actually a polystrate egg – the rock layer cut right through the middle of this egg.

Again, clear evidence of eggs being laid in catastrophic conditions, when apparently the dinosaur had no other choice.

 

This is not clear evidence of a catastrophe, at least not one that Juby thinks happened. Everything that Juby attributes to the fossil I can agree with, it does appear that the Hadrosaur laid its eggs in a muddy area, leading to the polystrate egg (remember polystrate fossils are not what creationists wish they were). However, making the leap from this fossil to global flood does not follow from the evidence.

Floods are seen in the geologic column and they leave evidence behind. The fossil evidence Juby points out in this lesson is not the type of evidence we would see for a flood. Again, if Juby wants to make a case for a global flood, he needs to start with the sedimentation and point to a layer in the geological column that, not only is created by a flood, but stretches around the world and dates to the same time. Without evidence like this, one cannot claim evidence of a global flood.

Coming up in the next lesson:
Nothing changes….

Education: Some facts

Inferno
Inferno
Wed May 22, 2013 10:00 pm by Inferno

Education has been around since before written history. In one form or another, people have taught other people about stuff they know, and sometimes even about stuff they don’t or can’t know.

Real “education for the masses” has been around for only a relatively short time, since the enlightenment. I’ll talk about the enlightenment specifically in a future post, so I won’t lose time here on the why’s and how’s. In Austria, we owe our first real school reform to Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria, in 1775. She made education compulsory for all 6 to 12 year olds, which was really revolutionary in these days. She caught a lot of flack for that.

Today in the world, we have a total literacy rate of roughly 85%. That number is slightly higher for men (88.5% in 2011) and lower for women (79.8% in 2011). I won’t talk about this here, though I will remark that this imbalance is atrocious.

Global Literacy Rates in 2011

One will note that the highest one gets in this graph is “>97%” literacy. That might strike some as odd, but remember that there are a fair number of people who can’t go to school, for one reason or another, and there is a surprisingly big number of functional illiterates. (That is to say, people can’t read and write well enough “to manage daily living and employment tasks that require reading skills beyond a basic level.”)

Functional illiterates are often thought to make up anywhere between 3% and 99% of the population. In less economically developed countries (LEDC’s), to give them their proper term, the numbers of literacy in itself is low (26.2% for Mali in 2009, see page 174) and the percentage of those 26% being functional illiterates may also be high. More economically developed countries (MEDC’s) tend to have higher literacy rates (usually calculated as 99% for the HDI), but may have huge rates of functional illiterates. Wikipedia claims nearly 50% for Italy in 2003, to name but one example.

These estimates are almost certainly too high. Official figures estimate about 200,000 to 400,000 functional illiterates (plus about 80,000 illiterates) in Austria, so anywhere between 2.5% and 5%.

How many people enrol in school? The numbers are a tad more difficult here. We would need to differentiate between different ethnic groups in the US to do this topic justice, but I don’t have time for that. The general trend is: Whites enrol more than Blacks than Hispanics. (Note: I am using the language from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).)

At most 40% of the population are enrolled in preschool, generally over 90% are enrolled from ages 7 to 17. Then, the numbers drop rapidly. About 30% of the population continue some kind of tertiary education, though half of these are 2-3 year courses. Only 16% of adults are still enrolled between the ages of 22 and 24 (generally the time needed for a Masters or equivalent), compared to about 25% of the population in Finland.

Another thing is worth mentioning in this post: PISA. Arguably the most important assessment of secondary education today is the PISA study. Done every three years, it sets out to test students in three areas (Reading literacy, Mathematics and Science) in a standardized manner. Among the top five countries (well, regions really) in the last few years were almost always Finland, Shanghai, Hong Kong and South Korea.

Now I don’t have data on South Korea’s system of education, nor on Hong Kong or Shanghai, but I think it’s fairly safe to expect that these countries are strongly influenced by at least one socialist trend: Long compulsory education for everybody. It’s certainly true for Finland.

If you want to learn more about various education systems in the EU, I suggest Eurypedia.

I want to end on a slightly depressing note. Research shows (unsourced, I think I read it in Hattie 2007) that between 60-80% of learning achievement can be predicted by looking at the background of children. (Note: Pasi Sahlberg claims about 2/3rds, so my figure is fairly accurate.) Are they from a rich family? Does the family care about education? Do the parents hold at least one degree?

This is a travesty in two ways: It means that, no matter what teachers and the education system of today are doing, we will almost certainly lose a large portion of the children. I hope that we will find ways to make this better.

Second, it means that economic inequality has lasting consequences on your descendants. That’s unacceptable, or should be. Society should work towards making society more equal. All working toward a common goal… wouldn’t that be nice?

In future posts, I will be talking about teaching strategies, effectiveness of teaching, the Hattie study, the politics of education and different systems of education. I want to use this post as a starting point for these later discussions.

The EU wants to restrict seeds!!!1!!!one!!eleven

Inferno
Inferno
Wed May 22, 2013 9:59 pm by Inferno

No reeeealy, believe me! It’s a petition after all. Here’s one of many Austrian newspaper articles on the topic.

The EU is the ultimate force of political evil in the world, we all know that. The EU wastes trillions of Euros every year on full body scanners, requires women to hand in their old sex toys and otherwise tries to infringe on our freedoms.

I am, of course, being only slightly facetious. If you look at the number of myths about the EU made up by newspapers since the early 1990’s, you might find yourself slightly overwhelmed by the stupidity floating around. One of the more ridiculous myths suggests fishing boats must carry a minimum of 200 condoms so the sailors can practice safe sex.

In short, the amount of nonsense about the EU floating around the media is staggering. If you see a story about the EU, be slightly weary.

However, I want to get back to the seeds I mentioned at the top. There is currently a lot of fear, at least in Austria, about the EU interfering with biodiversity and farmers’ rights to own/use/sell particular types of seeds.

The tabloid “Heute” “reported” that the EU wants to once again strip us of our God-given rights. Well, you can already see where this is going. The charges are the ones mentioned in the petition above: Basically, various rare seeds are to be restricted. That means no more green tomatoes and red cucumbers, etc. etc.

There’s only one problem with these allegations: They’re simply not true.

The EU law was only concerned with the compulsory registration of these seeds and the creation of norms guarding the safety and quality of them. The old, rare seeds would still be available to collectors and small enterprises, just like in the already existing laws. In short, nothing would change except that you would have to report which seeds you were planting and buying.

This was recently reported in “Der Standard”, quoting Mr. Borg: “Die Kommission schlage lediglich eine Vereinfachung der Meldepflicht vor. Ausgenommen von den EU-Vorschriften ist der Einsatz von Saatgut für private Zwecke.”

And in English: “The Commission merely suggests a simpler way of notification requirement. These prescriptions do not apply to the use of seeds for private use.”

The prescription (not a law!) has since been amended, though neither drastically nor have any of the points changed in their essence. And yet, this is counted as an “Austrian victory against the EU”. (Minister of Agriculture, Niki Berlakovic)

When will people stop talking crap and just take the time to research what is actually said?

This leads me to another point. The other day, I was talking to my uncle. He said something along the lines of “We need to know WHY laws are being passed. But companies will continue to prohibit that knowledge because that would interfere with their profit margin.”

I call bullshit on that, but that’s not my main point. I disagree with the “why?”. We do not need to know why a law is passed, at least not as a first step. Far more important is the knowledge WHAT is suggested and HOW that affects us. Knowing the exact details is often far too complicated and really up to experts, but we should be able to understand the broad gist of the laws and prescriptions, not only of the EU but most importantly in our own country. Currently, we are light-years away from that goal.

In two future posts, I will suggest ways to achieve that goal.

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