By now, I’m sure, many people know about the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham. Only 9% of respondents apparently saw Ham as the winner. Of course that won’t be the end of it.
Barack Obama is seeking only skin-deep diversity when he chooses judicial nominees. 70% of judicial nominees come from the corporate sector and only 3.6 percent of the president’s nominees have a background in public interest organizations. Elizabeth Warren is concerned:
“Power is becoming more and more concentrated on one side,” she said. “Professional diversity is one way to insulate the courts from corporate capture.”
First, there was the debate:
After Bill Nye’s debate with evidence-free Ken Ham, the Creationists lined up with their questions.
At Slate, Phil Plait provides the answers.
Plait offers links to two excellent resources for those who really care to learn more about evolution:
1. Understanding Evolution. This is a collaborative project of the University of California Museum of Paleontology and the National Center for Science Education.
2. FAQ’s for Creationists by TalkOrigins.
Talk.origins is a Usenet newsgroup devoted to the discussion and debate of biological and physical origins. Most discussions in the newsgroup center on the creation/evolution controversy, but other topics of discussion include the origin of life, geology, biology, catastrophism, cosmology and theology.
Plait ends his article with a link to another of his excellent articles, “Is Science Faith-Based.” Here’s why science is not faith-based:
The scientific method makes one assumption, and one assumption only: the Universe obeys a set of rules. That’s it. There is one corollary, and that is that if the Universe follows these rules, then those rules can be deduced by observing the way Universe behaves. This follows naturally; if it obeys the rules, then the rules must be revealed by that behavior . . . Science is not simply a database of knowledge. It’s a method, a way of finding this knowledge. Observe, hypothesize, predict, observe, revise. Science is provisional; it’s always open to improvement. Science is even subject to itself. If the method itself didn’t work, we’d see it. Our computers wouldn’t work (OK, bad example), our space probes wouldn’t get off the ground, our electronics wouldn’t work, our medicine wouldn’t work. Yet, all these things do in fact function, spectacularly well. Science is a check on itself, which is why it is such an astonishingly powerful way of understanding reality.
We don’t always remember how things were, but how we need them to be. Here’s new evidence reported by NPR, titled, Our Brains Rewrite Our Memories, Putting Present In The Past”:
Think about your fifth-birthday party. Maybe your mom carried the cake. What did her face look like? If you have a hard time imagining the way she looked then rather than how she looks now, you’re not alone.
The brain edits memories relentlessly, updating the past with new information. Scientists say that this isn’t a question of having a bad memory. Instead, they think the brain updates memories to make them more relevant and useful now — even if they’re not a true representation of the past.
I’ve written a lot more about memory research here.
The military has won an ideological battle in the United States. We see many of our most pervasive problems in terms of war. Once we do that, the solution is violence. Now it’s eating up all of us, based on the “culture wars.” Watching TV for any amount of time will demonstrate that Hollywood struggles to be creative, and has descended to the lowest common denominator: violence. It’s something we all understand and it captivates us because we fear it, just as we fear spiders and snakes. And listen to our modern language. We are constantly speaking in metaphors of violence. We always have, but it seems worse to my ears. Mark Johnson and George Lakoff pointed out (in Metaphors we Live By) that we employ the war as a conceptual metaphor:
ARGUMENT IS WAR
Your claims are indefensible.
He attacked every weak point in my argument.
His criticisms were right on target.
I demolished his argument.I’ve never won an argument with him.
You disagree? Okay, shoot!
If you use that strategy, he’ll wipe you out.
He shot down all of my arguments.
But it now seems worse, whenever I’m listening to those engaged in dispute (we almost always dispute rather than discuss). We Americans destroy the opposition, we kill ideas, we employ shock and awe, we look for smoking guns, we come out with guns blazing. Mary Hamer has categorized many types of speech that draw on violence in an essay called “Violent Language That Kills The Human Spirit.” It’s a long painful list. Here is her thesis: