Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Indigo Children

I recently came across and it just makes me sad.

"Spirited Children offers daily, monthly and summer programs that help your children to connect with their soul. Your child has special gifts."

"Utilizing the Law of Attraction, our programs attract children like yours, creating a social environment that strengthens and supports the special gifts your children bring to this world."

I wasn't aware that a law of physics worked to attract like children. Though many new agers say that it goes beyond physics the evidence does not support that. These two quotes are right on the home page too. I find myself pulling out my skeptical tool kit for this one.

What are spirited children?

"Spirited Children have been labeled with many names like Indigo, Crystal, Rainbow, ADD, ADHD and Autistic. These children come to earth with many special gifts, abilities and sensitivities. Some can see aura's or have phenomenal artistic talent or see and talk to angels and spirits. Others are extremely sensitive to light, sound, chemicals and energies that abound in our modern world. Some are defiant because they are here to change the world. Society places a great number of restrictions on the process of growing."

That was unexpected. Just as an FYI I make that title before I read this part of the website. It looks like I was more accurate than I thought with my title. Apparently, according to the website, all children have gifts beyond our wildest dreams. This is distinctly odd, according to so-called "Indigo Children" are the “beginning of a new consciousness, an actual change in Human nature." As a side note, check out the ten attributes of an Indigo child. I know quite a few children who meet those attributes, most of whom really are ADHD or otherwise mentally ill. This isn't just silly; it is dangerous because many of these problems need interventions to treat. These children need help to get the problems they are having under control and this Indigo child, or spirited children idea, is harming the child because they will have a significantly more difficult time when they get older. This is especially true if the children are mentally ill in other ways for example if they are autistic.

The next part that got me was when spirited children started talking about “human designs.” I am a curious sort and ordered one, but first what is a Human Design? According to the website;

"Human Design is a relatively new system, a kind of synthesis of ancient wisdom and modern science, that combines elements of Eastern and Western Astrology, the Chinese I'Ching, the Kabalah (Tree of Life), the Hindu Chakra system and modern quantum physics."

That is a whole lot of woo and a gratuitous use of the words 'quantum physics.' If you’re interested in Human Design check out the website. As I said, I was interested and ordered myself a human design for free from the site. I am reminded of other pseudo-sciences, astrology in particular. Both human design and astrology are dependent on the Barnum effect, which states that humans tend to personalize vague and generalized statements to make them seem appropriate to any given circumstance. My friend AJ over at Dreaded Memes and I both received the same Human Design, never mind the fact that we were born many years apart, in opposite seasons and very different places.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

google makes me sad

I am horrified. On a whim I googled 'how do we date the earth' I got 209,000,000 responses. The first page has and Four of the first page’s links are about how the bible dates the earth. Sick. Why on, well, Earth does that have anything to do with how we date the earth? It's not like the bible is even remotely an accurate judge of science, which after all is what needs to be used to date the globe.

Just some of the nonsense on these sites:

"But God has told us that His Word is true, and cannot err. So as scholars, believing and unbelieving, have their fun and nit-pick one anther's imaginations, we shall simply believe that there is a solution, and trust in God's Word."

Apparently the bible is true because God says the bible is true which we know because it is written in the bible? That is more than a bit of circular reasoning there. I am not going to go through the full article because frankly it's ludicrous. Look the next website says the same thing!

"There is no reason to believe the earth is 4.5 billion years old. Since the Bible is God's word, and he is the only one among us who was there when creation happened, I prefer to take his word for it. Creation may not have happened in 4000BC, but there's no reason to doubt that Genesis is much closer to the truth than the current state of our science. I do not believe Genesis chapters 1-11 should be accepted in a symbolic sense. I believe they should be accepted in the plain sense of the words in which they were written."

No reason to doubt that Genesis is closer to the truth? I am more persuaded by the fact that the bible was written by man not God and man is flawed. Why wouldn't the bible be too? The same reasoning again, how can the reference for why a book is true be that said book claims it is true?

"A global, year-long, catastrophic Flood did happen at the time of Noah. We can say this with confidence because of the clear authority of the historical record in Genesis."

Genesis was written around 3500 years ago.... the flood (pretending it really happened) was thousands of years before that. How could you even remotely pretend that the guy that wrote Genesis could be an authority on that? Beyond that there is no geologic evidence that any such global flood occurred. Again this is based off a circular argument three websites, three of the same fallacious arguments.

Finally only one of the pages has something even reasonable -

"Belief in a "young Earth" continued among scientists, until the early 18th century, when it became obvious to most researchers that geological processes were exceedingly slow, and must have been accomplished over incredibly long periods of time. A 5,800 year old earth simply was not possible. A hundred years later, investigators studying Egyptian found that "...civilization of Egypt began earlier than the time assigned for the creation of man." 1: Once limited from the time constraints imposed by the young Earth concept, progress in geology and other earth scientists advanced by leaps and bounds."

Huzzah. Finally a group that uses logic and evidence.

Really though, what do any of these have to do with how we date the earth?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Discovery Institute produces a guideline for budding creationists in high school

The discovery institute's CSC section recently released a report about "preparing students to intelligently question Darwin this fall." Casey Luskin prepares three guides for ID students when they are taking biology.
Luskin's first point”

Tip #1: Never opt out of learning evolution"

Sounds good on the surface but then it's explained;

“Despite the one-sided nature of evolution-education, I found that the more evolutionary biology I took, the more I became convinced that the theory was based upon unproven assumptions, contradictory methodologies, and supported weakly by the data. So my first tip is to never be afraid to study evolution. But when studying evolution, always think critically and stay proactively informed about a diversity of viewpoints.”

Unproven assumption, contradictory methodologies and weak data say what? I’ll start with the so-called weak data in tip number 1. Talk Origin's discussion that evolution is a fact has some excellent points about this that I want to bring up. First - there are examples of evolution that are apparent; e.g. modern populations are evolving and the evidence of Homo sapiens and chimpanzees common ancestor. There is so much evidence in support of primate evolution that it is basically a fact. The next point offered is that while in some cases, like about all organisms having a common ancestor, pieces are still being worked out there is no opposing evidence. Because this isn't entirely worked out it is not yet a "fact" and there are reasonable alternatives. Finally the epistemological argument against evolution as fact - nothing in science can be "proven" including evolution. Well, true but in the case of evolution and other theories we are so certain to be 99% certain it is true and really there is always going to be doubt because science is open to being wrong and we will never ever be 100% sure.

Next point "Tip #2: Think for yourself, think critically, and question assumptions."

“Though my professors rarely (if ever) would acknowledge it, I quickly discovered in college that nearly all evolutionary claims are based upon assumptions. Modern evolutionary theory is assumed to be true, and then the data is interpreted based upon Darwinian assumptions.”

I don't think I need to redo my point again even though Luskin feels the need to do so.

“Biological similarity between two species implies inheritance from a common ancestor (i.e. vertical common descent) except for when it doesn’t (and then they appeal to processes like "convergent evolution" or "horizontal gene transfer").”

Common decent concerns genetic origins and says that all life is genetically related. Not necessarily that it is vertical. This seems be a common misconception, evolution is not vertical, it is simultaneous. Next

“Neo-Darwinism predicts transitional forms may be found, but when they’re not found, that just shows that the transitions took place too rapidly and in populations too small to (statistically speaking) become fossilized.”

WHAT? No transitional forms? Hasn't this been beat into the ground? I am just referring you all to Dr. Novella over at neurologica blog and his bit about Archaeopteryx.

“Evolutionary genetics predicts the genome will be full of useless junk DNA, except for when we discover function for such “junk” DNA. Then evolution predicts that cells would never retain useless junk DNA in the first place.”

Yes, we are continuing to find out what DNA does and how it works but evolutionary genetics doesn't move the goalpost. Genetics will, and does only answer the questions we have about how species are related. As scientists learn more, more of the links are revealed. Check out this for a better argument, talk origins is a wonderful place to find the refutations of all these points.

The last bit in this tip is to think independently. It would be nice if people like Luskin practiced this given he isn't open minded about science, specifically evolution.

The final "Tip #3: Proactively study credible scientific viewpoints that dissent from Darwinism. "

What credible viewpoints? Surely Luskin doesn't mean "intelligent design"? Apparently:

“To gain a balanced understanding of the scientific evidence, students may need to take the time to pro-actively research the pro-ID scientific arguments that many faculty may be opposing, misrepresenting, or perhaps even outright censoring. Yes, take courses advocating evolution. But also read material from credible Darwin skeptics to learn about other viewpoints. Only then can one truly make up his mind in an informed fashion.”

What pro-ID scientific arguments? I am not going to dignify this with an argument. It isn't worth it.

We need to be aware of the ID/creationist brainwashing because this is what we are going to be counteracting later when these kids grow up, so watch out. Just when we think the old generation of ID “scientists” will go away, their protégé grow up.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"vitamin B17"

~not my usual article, just something I was worried about~

As many know I do Kempo at a local dojo. Well, tonight we had a chiropractor come in and do a talk about the nervous system and how we can utilize nerves and posture to more effectively take down an opponent. Ok, I give him that much. Knowledge of where the nerves are convenient to strike would be a useful thing, while I am not sure that a chiropractor is the best option to find this out I had no beef with that information. He started off however, talking about acupuncture. I challenged the acupuncture points and he promptly told me that 'science can prove or disprove anything it wants but there is a lot that it can't show, this is one of them.' As to I was in the middle of class I opted not to challenge that load of bunk. Then he ended his demo with the worst (yes worse than acupuncture) bit of all; chakras. You bet I had to bite my tongue for this one. Seriously he was diagnosing emotional problems by looking at the tension around our chakras. I find myself skeptical. After class I challenged him on this and he instead of addressing me, looked to the people I had been talking to and spouted utter nonsense to them and talked over me when I attempted to refute his point. It was so pointless I opted not to continue challenging him.

Then one of the other students brought up his experience with brain cancer. He had been given 6mo to live and told that they couldn't operate because of the cancers location. He went down to Mexico and smuggled in laetrile. Sadly I couldn't remember what that was off the top of my head, only that I hadn't heard anything good. Then he clinched that feeling by mentioning "A world without cancer" by griffin. I looked it up when I got home and lo and behold - It's bunk! Not just bunk but cyanide based bunk. My classmate is lucky to be alive.