RSSCategory: nature

Say hello to Eriophora biapicata

February 6, 2009 | By | 6 Replies More
Say hello to Eriophora biapicata

eriophora biapicata Thought I’d post something different – a little taste of home. Literally from my own backyard in fact. This is a female eriophora biapicata, or Garden Orb-weaving spider (females are about one-quarter to one-third bigger than males). Unlike many Australian arachnids (and most Australian wildlife in general), this species doesn’t want to kill […]

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A Rant in Rhyme Saves Time

January 30, 2009 | By | 10 Replies More
A Rant in Rhyme Saves Time

Here is a beat poem that first appeared on YouTube as a concert bootleg with subtitles about a month ago. The artist quickly had the bootleg taken down. And then received a Storm of protests, requests to post it again. Finally, he put it up himself. Sans subtitles, or even video. So listen well to a rational rant that many of us would love to be capable of delivering.

Storm, by Tim Minchin

I’ve seen those warning eyes from both my wives, and held my piece for a while. But the temptation is great to emulate this artists storm of bile.

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Science versus pseudoscience according to Carl Sagan

January 11, 2009 | By | 16 Replies More
Science versus pseudoscience according to Carl Sagan

Provoked by a persistent fellow who has been haunting this site and who constantly downplays the scope, value and accuracy of science in his comments, some of us have been increasingly trying to express what it is, exactly, that makes science valuable and more “truthful” than pseudoscience. While considering this issue, I decided to reread Carl Sagan’s inspired book: The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1996). Sagan’s ideas reminded me of the value of Ann Druyan’s suggestion that we eliminate the term “supernatural” from our vocabulary and substitute “sub-natural.” I believe that this approach would quite often put things in better perspective.

I will quote here, at length, various passages from The Demon-Haunted World bearing on the definition and value of bona fide science. Sagan so often said it so very well:

Superstition and pseudoscience keep getting in the way, distracting [believers in pseudoscience], providing easy answers, dodging skeptical scrutiny, casually pressing our awe buttons and cheapening the experience, making us routine and comfortable practitioners as well as victims of credulity. Yes, the world would be a more interesting place if there were UFOs lurking in the deep waters off Bermuda and eating ships and planes, or if dead people could take control of our hands and writers messages. It would be fascinating if adolescents were able to make telephone handsets rocket off their cradles just by thinking at them or if our dreams could, more often than can be explained by chance and our knowledge of the world, actually foretell the future. These are all instances of pseudoscience. They purport to use the methods and findings of science, while in fact they are faithless to its nature-often because they are based on insufficient evidence or because they ignore clues that point the other way. They ripple with gullibility. (Page 13)

[more . . . ]

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What does it mean to be a primate? One of many paths through the phylogenetic tree.

January 6, 2009 | By | 6 Replies More
What does it mean to be a primate? One of many paths through the phylogenetic tree.

Strap on your seat belt and learn about the reality of primates:

“Primates” are collectively defined as any gill-less, organic RNA/DNA protein-based, metabolic, metazoic, nucleic, diploid, bilaterally-symmetrical, endothermic, digestive, tryploblast, opisthokont, deuterostome coelemate with a spinal chord and 12 cranial nerves connecting to a limbic system in an enlarged cerebrial cortex with a reduced olfactory region inside a jawed-skull with specialized teeth including canines and premolars, forward-oriented fully-enclosed optical orbits, and a single temporal fenestra, -attached to a vertebrate hind-leg dominant tetrapoidal skeleton with a sacral pelvis, clavical, and wrist & ankle bones; and having lungs, tear ducts, body-wide hair follicles, lactal mammaries, opposable thumbs, and keratinized dermis with chitinous nails on all five digits on all four extremities, in addition to an embryonic development in amniotic fluid, leading to a placental birth and highly social lifestyle.

See here for the full transcript.

This video constitutes a highly condensed summary of some of the basic principles of evolutionary biology so often overlooked by creationists. The author goes to pains to point out that scientists don’t just make claims about evolutionary development because they want to make these claims. Rather, the conclusions of evolutionary biology are compelled by an elaborate well-documented scheme of development based on massive collections of evidence, verified by thousands of scientists over hundreds of years, including more than a few scientists who were conservative Christians. Using this evidence, we can trace the development of a species from antecedent related species , but the phylogenetic tree of life . . . can be just as objectively confirmed from the top down when re-examined genetically. This is why it is referred to as a “twin-nested hierarchy.”

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Critters in the basement

January 4, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More
Critters in the basement

Dan Klarmann’s photos of the cricket in his basement inspired me to grab my camera when I spied a tiny spider in my basement (it was about 4mm in diameter).   My daughter held a flashlight on him/her while I brought my camera within an inch of my subject.   I finally got a clear shot after […]

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Why Won’t Facebook Let them Nurse?

January 3, 2009 | By | 6 Replies More
Why Won’t Facebook Let them Nurse?

Facebook apparently used its no-pornography policy to justify removing a photo from a woman’s page – of her breastfeeding her infant daughter.  She crossed the line, according to the Facebook spokesperson, for allowing the tiniest peek of her areola to show next to the baby’s mouth.  According to the spokesperson, they don’t go trolling through people’s photos […]

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Naturalists Are Inherently Uncertain

January 3, 2009 | By | 6 Replies More
Naturalists Are Inherently Uncertain

This is another post based on a comment by our online frenemy, Karl K. He said, “So naturalists get to have their certainty and be skeptics at the same time and never be at risk of being proven in error because their certainty is based on something that cannot be directly observed. Very convenient.” But […]

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Taking the time to look at clouds

June 10, 2008 | By | 23 Replies More
Taking the time to look at clouds

I’ll admit that I’ve become obsessed with clouds lately.

We’ve had an incredibly intense season of thunderstorms in the Midwest. An hour of sunshine has become simply a chance for nature to take a breather before erupting with yet another thunderstorm.

Then again, take a look at the detailed things you can find among the clouds. Not just shapes, but all kinds of animals and people and ghosts. I can’t deny it, because I saw them.

We are living in a giant kaleidoscope, it seems. I know that I’ve already foisted cloud photos on you. Perhaps you’ve had enough of “my” clouds. I was ready to move on too, but then I found these new cloud menageries outside my window as the small jet in which I was flying traveled around a massive storm rather than through it. We were returning from Minneapolis after an intense weekend at the National Conference for Media Reform. After a weekend of intellectual endeavors, it was time for a spiritual experience. This is a different kind of memorable experience than I had on the trip to Minneapolis.

A fellow passenger and I were stunned by what we saw outside of the plane. We were 30,000 feet in the air and I started taking these photos through my tiny scratched airplane window.

As I looked, mesmerized, I started seeing all kinds of animals in the clouds, including my deceased dog “Puccini” in the scene below (or is that your deceased dog?). You can click on any of these photos to bring out the details. I can assure you that this will be worth your while, unless you are the unusual kind of person who already takes the time to stare at the clouds. Even if you do like clouds, these were special clouds, even for those of you who like to look at clouds while flying. These photos are not PhotoShopped; this is exactly how these scenes looked to my eyes during my flight.

There were dozens of animals to be seen, and people too.

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