Explaining Monkeys and Uncles to Christine O'Donnell

Yes, I know the election is old news.  Yes, I know Christine O’Donnell lost.  But she speaks for a hefty ignorant chunk of the population when she spouts that snide “Then why are there still monkeys?!” line at the slightest whiff of evolution.

Brian Switek explains a few things about monkeys, uncles, and why your cousins don’t vanish merely because you survived:

In any family tree you care to draw – whether from a broad evolutionary perspective or a narrowed genealogy of close relatives – each point among the branches is going to fall into one of two categories: linear relatives and collateral relatives. Your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc. are all linear relatives, while cousins, uncles, and aunts are collateral relatives who are more closely related to you than most other people but are not direct ancestors or descendants. That’s simple enough, and the same sort of logic can be applied to evolutionary relationships.

Read the whole thing, and you’ll be well-prepared the next time some ignoramus thinks he or she has stymied you with the monkey schtick.

Explaining Monkeys and Uncles to Christine O'Donnell

Best Friday Dose of Woo Ever – or Should That Be Worst?

Orac occasionally reposts some of his classic Insolence, which is a good thing – especially when he reposts something so mind-meltingly five-alarm Woo that I wonder where it’s been all my life.  This bit of classic Insolence alternatively made me laugh, cry and howl.  I ended up starting silently at my computer screen in numb disbelief.

A taste:

Regular readers of this blog are probably aware of my general opinion about Reiki and other “energy healing” modalities. In short, they’re woo, pure and simple. Consequently, one might reasonably ask why I’ve never featured the woo that is Reiki in Your Friday Dose of Woo. There’s a simple reason for that.
Basic Reiki is boring.
Really, I mean it. In and of itself, it just doesn’t reach the level of sheer ecstatic nuttiness that I like to feature every week. Oh, sure, there’s lots of handwaving about “channeling the universal energy” through the healer to augment the life force of the person being healed. Certainly there’s lots of serious woo about being able to heal people at a distance or through laying on of hands. (And you thought Jesus was main guy known for this.) But, in its basic form, Reiki lacks something to put it truly over the top. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I found out.
It’s missing laser beams. No, really. We’re talking about Laser Reiki, which provides this promise:

If you loved the movie The Matrix, then you will love healing your life and changing your reality with Laser Reiki.

Now we’re talking! Personally, I did like The Matrix. I even liked The Matrix Reloaded. The Matrix Revolutions kind of sucked, though. Is Laser Reiki like The Matrix, or is it like The Matrix Revolutions? You be the judge!

It gets better (worse?) from there.  The shit some people come up with to ‘splain why their chosen Woo is ever-so-scientific is truly remarkable.

Quantum physicists in the audience, be warned: your heads might explode.  This cantina is not responsible for traumatic brain injury, damage to furniture, walls, or electronics, or cleaning costs for removing bits of brain matter and skull shards from any nearby surfaces, up to and including carpet, chair, pets and loved ones.

Best Friday Dose of Woo Ever – or Should That Be Worst?

Commending These to Your Attention

I have to go to bed early so that I’m nice and fresh for fending off used car salesmen in the morning.  I haven’t yet decided how I’m going to approach this situation.  I got my hand in by test-driving a car I’m lukewarm about, and managed to escape without being invited back to the office to discuss a deal.  But we’re in the big leagues, now, going to two different large dealerships and seeing two cars I adore already.  One is the snappiest Nissan Sentra I’ve ever seen in my life, complete with spoiler (and black!), the other a nearly-new Honda Civic that looks utterly delish.  Both are manual transmission.  Both are low mileage.  Both have clean Carfax reports.  And both seem like they would make me a happy woman indeed.  So I have two issues, here: 1) must talk salesman into lowering prices and 2) must choose between them.  What if the price is right for both?  What if I fall head-over-heels for both? 

Sean and I pondered this during the slow bits of work, and decided the only mechanism for choice would be to throw the used car salesmen in a mud wrestling pit.  Victor gets the sale.

(Gentlemen, if you’re reading this, I just want to assure you it very probably won’t come to that.  But you might want to have swim trunks to hand just in case.)

Anyway, whist I’m off on those adventures, here are a few links to keep you occupied.

Bing at Happy Jihad’s has treated an Answers In Genesis “research paper” with due respect, i.e., none.  I plucked two quotes from it, one because it’s beautiful, the other because I couldn’t resist going there.

Quote #1:

The overwhelming consensus of the astronomical community is that you are not a part of it, Jason. 

Brilliant.  Simply brilliant.

Quote #2:

The Bing Bang sits on your head and farts, feeb.

So, ah, I guess that would be Bing Bang Boom, then.  Ah ha ha.


Our own John Pieret (may he get well soon!) points out that John Wilkins has an important project going.  Scientists!  Here’s your chance to shape a book explaining the basics of scientific method(s) to laypeople such as myself:

So scientists should follow the series and assist in formulating the manual and nonscientists can help in making it intelligible to people like them. Everyone can, I’m sure, learn something along the way and have fun in the effort.

Set to!

Finally, a pair o’ quotes and a post from Steve Benen.

Quote #1:

Republicans will keep asking, “Where are the jobs?” and no one seems inclined to answer, “Your party got rid of them.”

Quote #2:

And maybe it’s just me, but when I hear about a “Goldilocks” planet that appears capable of supporting life, I don’t think, “Cool, maybe there are aliens there.” I think “Cool, maybe we can move there after we’ve finished screwing up here.”

And the post:  “Lying About Lying is Never a Good Idea.”  Just remember, kiddos, the woman who lied and lied and lied and then lied about lying repeatedly is the same one who said that a person hiding Jews should always tell the truth when Nazis come looking for said Jews, because lying is never ever justified.

How’s that again, Christine?

Commending These to Your Attention

You May Think I Hate You After This

I assure you, I don’t.  I can prove it.  I’m warning you ahead of time, read Orac’s Friday Dose of Woo in increments.  Just nibble away at the edges of the burning stupid, then take plenty of antacid and digest for a bit before returning for more.

On the continuum of burning stupidity, this one’s roughly the temperature of the Sun’s core.  Here’s the appetizer:

What, you may ask, is “DNA activation”? Let international spiritual teacher, Soul Wisdom Psyche Doctor, distant healing specialist, co-founder of the Higher School for Conscious Evolution, and author of the Great Master (not to mention DNA practitioner) Toby Alexander explain why you should activate your DNA:

Most people know that DNA is the ‘blueprint of life’ and is located in every cell of the body. In addition to each chromosome’s 2 strand double helix of DNA, there are an additional 10 etheric strands of DNA available to each human, which have been de-activated and dormant since the beginning of recorded history. Each additional strand possesses attributes that permit the individual to perform greater human accomplishments. Scientists acknowledge that we currently only use 3% of our current 2 strand DNA. Thus we live in a society where people are sick, unhappy, stressed out, create wars, have “difficulty experiencing love, and are totally disconnected with the universe. Most people have to meditate for many years just to have a so-called ‘mystical’ experience, that’s how disconnected we are now. Imagine activating 100% of your 2 strand DNA, PLUS 10 additional strands! You will go from using 10% of your brain to becoming a multi-dimensional being with psychic, telepathic, and manifestation abilities beyond anything you’ve ever dreamed of. Plus, you will stop the aging process and actually start to rejuvenate to look and feel YOUNGER. This is the Original Divine Blueprint, what man USED to be. It has been written that Jesus had 12 strands of DNA activated. There have been children born throughout the history of humanity to raise the frequency of the planet that have more than 2 strands of DNA active – they are known as Indigo children. These are the incredibly intelligent, loving, and amazing children that are being mistakenly diagnosed as having A.D.D. because they are too smart to pay attention in class. Your DNA is your blueprint of life and is what controls every single function inside each of your cells. If you change your DNA, you really will change your life.

Holy woo, Batman!

I swear I felt brain cells fuse from the heat of the stupid as I read on.  Some neurons seem to have actually vaporized on contact.  It got so bad I had to go clear out my work email’s inbox for a while, until things stopped steaming and molten bits of brain matter stopped dripping from my ear canals.

I’d planned to do a Dumbfuckery du Jour today, but nothing in politics came close to being that inane.  It’s all anticlimax from here.

And why am I tormenting you with this?  Because watching Orac spank someone that insanely stupid is an education and a pleasure.  Also, I had to explain why I haven’t got any nice geology outtakes from the trip ready for you yet.  The unmelted bits of my brain curled up in a fetal ball for protection and refuse to uncurl.  I’m putting them to bed with a book on glaciers, a friendly glass of Beaujolais, and a warm, purring, only mildly homicidal feline.  (I love winter.  The temptation to stay warm overcomes my cat’s innate violent tendencies, although only just, and I get to enjoy what so many other cat owners do: cuddles without the fang marks.)

I’d get my DNA activated, but if it’s anything like a cell phone activation, it means I’m stuck in a two-year contract with a large early termination fee.  No thanks, I’ll pass.  Unless, of course, a bunch of us can get together for a discussion about how we can use words like “quantum entanglement” to convince Mr. Alexander that we’ve fused our collective activated etheric DNA and shall hold his chakras hostage until he pays us

You May Think I Hate You After This

Convert Your Republican Friends. Plus, What Faux News Fears Most

Suzanne found two absolutely yummy political articles for ye to sink yer teeth in to.

First off, for those of your with semi-sane conservative relatives or friends who refuse to abandon the Cons no matter how batshit fucking insane they get, this is a helpful guide to helping them face facts.

And you’ll love the biggest threat to Faux News’s long-term survival.

There ye go.  Don’t say Suzanne never gave ya nothin’.

Convert Your Republican Friends. Plus, What Faux News Fears Most

Clueless Reporter + Creationists = FAIL

Yep, woke up too early after falling asleep too late.  But that’s all to the good!  I got to spend time upon the intertoobz, and wouldn’t you know that Brian Switek wrote up one of the most delicious dishes of fail I’ve seen in, well, days.  Here’s what happens when a frigate bird crosses the paths of credulous “journalists” and a couple of creationists:

Sadly, some people still get duped by the fantastic claims espoused by “professional monster hunters.” Last week on Salem-News.com, reporter Terrence Aym posted an article proclaiming: “Dinosaur Found Alive: Two Species Recorded in Papua New Guinea.” (The piece is a shortened version of an article Aym posted to Helium.com.) Citing eyewitness accounts collected by “serious researchers” Jim Blume and David Woetzel, Aym reports that at least two types of pterosaur—flying archosaurs which were not dinosaurs—still soar over Papua New Guinea, and he even provides some video to prove it.
The trouble is that the video provides a pretty clear look at what is definitely a frigatebird, probably a female great frigatebird (Fregata minor) based upon the dark feathers and white patch on the chest. 
Then there is the problem of Aym’s sources. Both Blume and Woetzel are creationist explorers who have tried to promote the existence of living pterosaurs and dinosaurs. In fact, Woetzel has gone as far to propose these living pterosaurs as the “fiery flying serpent” of Isaiah 30:6 in the Bible, claiming that the pterosaurs also give off a kind of bioluminescent glow they use to catch fish. For Woetzel, such anecdotes are enough to prove that humans and pterosaurs have always coexisted, and in a Creation Research Society Quarterly paper he asserts that “evolutionists have appropriated the natural fascination with the terrible reptiles to propound their belief in naturalistic origins and billions of years of evolution.  By God’s grace we should strive to tear down this high place and point people instead to the great Creator.”

Apparently Mr. Aym never learned in Journalism 101 that one should actually, y’know, verify your sources.

This rather glaringly points up the incredible inanity of creationists, as well as the piss-poor quality of reporters.  It’s pretty pathetic when you have to turn to cryptozoology and ridiculous postulations about surviving pterosaurs to shore up your faith.  They’re not even trying to shoehorn facts to fit the Bible – they’re just making shit up.  If they weren’t so faith-blind, they’d have a pretty good shot at a lucrative career writing fantasy.  Alas, people this god-deluded don’t make good novelists.  Too preachy.  Fantasy fans want fun, not fundamentalism.

Brian, darling, thank you for giving me a good sendoff!  Now I must away to say my goodbyes to the cat (hopefully without getting maimed in the process) and brave Seattle morning traffic so I can bring you all some awesome geology, plus flowers.

If you’re needing amusement whilst I’m away, call up your local creationist, tell him you’ve got living proof the descendants of the dinosaurs still walk among us, and give him a budgie.

Clueless Reporter + Creationists = FAIL

Palinisms and a Very Good Point

Lockwood takes note of the new book of Palinisms soon to be published, and makes a damned good point:

However, I think that simply listing all these strange quotes (and they are strange) for the LOLs misses the point. First, it gets old pretty quick. Second, it overlooks, even obscures, the strange phenomenon of Palin: here is a person who apparently cannot tack together an intelligible sentence in the English language without a prompt, and even then it’s iffy. Yet people are paying her hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, for her writing and speeches. What does that say about the media, and what does it say about us? That is the book I’d like to read.

Yeah, me too.  To tell the truth, I have utterly no interest in reading a book of Palin quotes, even to poke fun at her.  At least with Bush and his Bushisms, you could sorta see where he’d intended to go, and where he’d taken the wrong turn at Albuquerque, and that made his verbal blunders all the funnier.  With Palin, it’s just painful.  It’s like trying to make fun of a retarded person who’s on drugs and is suffering from recent head trauma.  It’s just sad.  The only thing funny is that she believes she’s qualified to be POTUS, and even that hilarity is tempered by horror, because there are people dumb enough to vote for her.

I don’t know what’s worse: that, or the fact they find her babble comprehensible.  Maybe it’s like scripture or Nostradamus: nonsensical enough that people can read into it whatever they want to hear.  And perhaps that explains why she gets paid so much money for her inane shit.

Palinisms and a Very Good Point

Newsflash: Sticking Burning Candles in Your Ear Could Be Hazardous to Your Health

Back in the late 1990s, someone babbled at me about ear candling for a great many minutes.  They waxed poetic over the health benefits of stuffing a candle in your ear and lighting it up.  I can’t remember why.  All I can remember is staring at them with my jaw hanging open and thinking, “Are you nuts?”

Needless to say, though I wasn’t a Certified Skeptic back then, and hadn’t even heard of science-based medicine, I gave ear candling a pass.  It sounded like the height of folly.

Over a decade later, the FDA’s caught on.  I ended up on their MedWatch page page after reading a post at Terra Sigillata about yet more prescription drugs being sneaked into yet more supplements. (Yes, manufacturers do this so that their “wholesome and natural” products will actually work.)   Just for S&G, I decided to see what other nefarious nonsense the altmed world’s been up to, and I came across an alert entitled “Ear Candles: Serious Risk of Injuries.”  I laughed and laughed and howled, “Well, no shit, Sherlock!”

The first paragraph is morbidly hilarious:

FDA is notifying consumers and healthcare providers of its warning not to use ear candles – a hollow cone about 10 inches long made from a fabric tube soaked in beeswax, paraffin or a mixture of the two – because they can cause serious injuries, even when used according to the manufacturer’s directions. According to advertised claims, a burning ear candle draws ear wax and “impurities” or “toxins” out of the ear canal. Other claims for ear candles include relief from sinus and ear infections, headache and earache, as well as improved hearing, “blood purification,” improvements in brain function, and cure cancer. FDA has found no valid scientific evidence to support the safety or effectiveness of these devices for any medical claims or benefits. FDA has received reports of burns, perforated eardrums and blockage of the ear canal which required outpatient surgery from the use of ear candles.

Anyone stupid enough to believe that sticking a candle in their ear and lighting it will cure them of cancer almost deserves a little blockage of the ear canal as an object lesson, except I can mostly forgive them – they’re desperate and scared and willing to try anything to survive.  The real stupidity comes from the dumbshits purveying this as a cure.  They’re either moronic or greedy or both.

And don’t even get me started on the parents taking their kids in for this treatment.  Really, don’t.  Let’s just say I have definite opinions regarding their fitness as parents, and those opinions aren’t flattering.

While we’re on the subject of “miracle” cures, there’s another great one at Terra Sigillata that’s really not to be missed:

FDA Warns Consumers of Serious Harm from Drinking Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS)
Product contains industrial strength bleach
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to take Miracle Mineral Solution, an oral liquid also known as “Miracle Mineral Supplement” or “MMS.”  The product, when used as directed, produces an industrial bleach that can cause serious harm to health.

The next time some fluffy-bunny altmed worshiper asks me “what’s the harm?”, I shall be more than happy to inform them.

Newsflash: Sticking Burning Candles in Your Ear Could Be Hazardous to Your Health