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Penn Jillette on What's The Harm Website…

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Friend o ' Reason Penn Jillette talks up the very interesting website What's the Harm?, which lays out bad consequences stemming from belief in various things, ranging from acupuncture to numerology to UFOs (most of the site documents deaths related to stupid or anti-scientific systems of thought.

Worth watching and checking out:

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  1. Acupuncturists believe that there is such a thing as ‘bad’ acupuncture. Like if they hit the wrong points, they’ll make the cats really huge…or something.

  2. That is one butt ugly woman.

  3. I’d have a great deal more respect for Gillette if he hadn’t named his son Valvoline or something similar. Someone who’d do that to his son must not be someone you’d want to share an elevator with.

  4. The problem with presenting a rational argument against an irrational belief, is that it doesn’t impress the fool you’re arguing with.

    This sounds like a good idea, we’ll see if it can have an impact.

  5. Thomas Jackson: His daughter is named Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette, and his son is Zolten Penn Jillette. You’re totally right, this guy is a douchebag.

  6. The website is fairly interesting but confuses the harm done by silly beliefs to the harm others do to people who hold silly beliefs. So people who are arrested for Holocaust denial in the unfree countries of Europe (when it comes to speech) are listed as if their beliefs hurt them and not the prosecution inflicted on them. This same premise would list being gay as harmful because bigots beat up gay people.

    The site would be much stronger if it made some distinction between people who suffer because they do stupid things based on stupid beliefs. Dying of cancer because you think the Virgin Mary would heal you is one kind of harm inflicted on yourself through stupidity. Being arrested for believing the wrong thing is a very different kind of harm inflicted on you because other people are stupid.

  7. His daughter is named Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette, and his son is Zolten Penn Jillette. You’re totally right, this guy is a douchebag.

    So that makes Frank Zappa a douchebag, too? Or at least a Jr. Honorary Douchebag?

  8. What’s the harm in smoking tobacco? Oh wait, reason SUPPORTS tobacco use, but is against acupuncture (a blind-test proven pain reliever), I get it. Or do I?

  9. He named his kids Moxie and Zolten. How is that even remotely douchebagy? It’s not like he named them Imelda and Mao. Or is it a sin to give your kid a non-biblical name?

  10. I fully support people’s rights to do stupid things as long as they’re at least arm’s length away while doing so.

    I’m wary that this site might be abused by nanny staters for their own authoritarian purposes.

  11. I would, personally, fucking LOVE for my middle name to be CrimeFighter.

    You’d be the equivalent of an X-Man in grade school. Then later, when you get a job in the real world, you have a built-in awesomeness.

    Jim CrimeFighter Clay–Janitor.

    Hank CrimeFighter McCoy–District Attorney.

    Just the possibility of putting “CrimeFighter” on your office door or your card…jesus I’m jealous.

    Fuck it. I’ll do it anyway.

  12. Wow I’m reading through this site and it’s totally douchy and antifreedom. Check this out from the FAQ:

    “Unwilling victims notwithstanding, we firmly believe in the principle of not blaming the victim. Many people come by their assumptions or beliefs not by conscious choice, but by societal forces, parental ignorance, or other forms of indoctrination. Who is to say that any one of these victims might have been persuaded to drop their irrational beliefs, had they been reached in time?”

    Thought police! We have determined that your belief system is a danger to others. Please report to re-education camp alpha for deprogramming.

  13. *danger to yourself and others

  14. The specific homebirth anecdotes cited on this site would fit more appropriately in the category “what’s the harm in… being a religious zealot.” Most of the couples I know (self included, along with my hyperanalytical software engineer spouse) who have chosen homebirth are, in fact, exceptionally analytical consumers of healthcare who do not hesitate seeking it when appropriate for themselves and their families.

    Overall, what I don’t like about this site is its creator purports to champion critical thinking, but presents a serious bias in the topics he’s chosen to share. Anecdotes about alternative health choices, but NONE about allopathic care? Anecdotes about the consequences of vaccine-denial, but no anecdotes about vaccine harm?

    If he thinks western medicine is even remotely scientific, let alone evidence-based, he needs a reality check. Every healthcare consumer needs to be JUST as analytical about their allopathic medical care as he apparently proposes they should be about the alternatives.

    The premise of the site might be interesting, but the implementation is so flawed and unrealistically ambitious, I’m afraid its effect is quite the opposite of what its creator intends. This site is just what we need: More hysterical anecdotes to support uninformed people making wild claims with no supporting data.

  15. “Thomas Jackson: His daughter is named Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette, and his son is Zolten Penn Jillette. You’re totally right, this guy is a douchebag.”

    We respectfully disagree.

  16. acupuncture (a blind-test proven pain reliever)

    Wrong-o, Mary Lou

    Link within the link:

    Study: Fake acupuncture helps ease low-back pain

    Fake actupuncture. That’s some evidence of acupuncture as tought in specific courses.

  17. Egosumabbas,
    So if someone is unaware that she is doing something harmful to herself, it is anti freedom to tell her, but it is pro freedom to blame her when she does harm herself?

  18. I’m a big fan of Penn’s, and I don’t give a damn what he names his kids. Without Penn Jillette, I’d have nothing to post on Monkey Tuesday. Besides, he’s one of five libertarians in entertainment.

    Teller’s great, too.

  19. What’s the harm in smoking tobacco? Oh wait, reason SUPPORTS tobacco use, but is against acupuncture (a blind-test proven pain reliever), I get it. Or do I?

    Did anyone say that acupuncture should be illegal or punitively taxed?

    Wow I’m reading through this site and it’s totally douchy and antifreedom. Check this out from the FAQ:

    “Unwilling victims notwithstanding, we firmly believe in the principle of not blaming the victim. Many people come by their assumptions or beliefs not by conscious choice, but by societal forces, parental ignorance, or other forms of indoctrination. Who is to say that any one of these victims might have been persuaded to drop their irrational beliefs, had they been reached in time?”

    Thought police! We have determined that your belief system is a danger to others. Please report to re-education camp alpha for deprogramming.

    Did they say it should be illegal to advocate absurd beliefs?

    I’d be strongly opposed to that. But I support efforts to educate people and expose them to the evidence/arguments against the irrational ideas with which they’ve been indoctrinated.

  20. Did Penn recommend this site because it’s side-achingly funny? I didn’t go into all the entries, but that’s at least how most of them look, and I recommend them for that reason. I imagine it’s satire of the same sort that would tell a story of someone’s smoking pot and leading by a far-fetched chain of events to dire consequences ostensibly of the evil weed. I especially recommend the entries on GPS! (Reminds me of a “Grin And Bear It” cartoon: “Next time remember: the red lines are roads, the blue lines are rivers!”)

    All the anecdotes boil down to one or more persons being a dork who can be connected somehow to a belief or disbelief in or reliance or lack of reliance on something.

  21. The website is fairly interesting but confuses the harm done by silly beliefs to the harm others do to people who hold silly beliefs. So people who are arrested for Holocaust denial in the unfree countries of Europe (when it comes to speech) are listed as if their beliefs hurt them and not the prosecution inflicted on them. This same premise would list being gay as harmful because bigots beat up gay people.

    I think they were trying to be funny, because they have entries just like that, only instead of being gay it’s believing in or denying evolution, plus some other things that people got beaten or killed for either believing or disbelieving. I think one got beaten up for believing in evolution, and another killed for disbelieving it — plus jobs lost and a lawsuit. Also someone who beat up (or killed, I forgot which) a relative who believed she’d over-vaccinated her own child and caused autism thereby.

    If you took the site seriously (which I don’t think we’re meant to, especially given Penn’s sense of humor), the overall lesson would appear to be that disagreements are evil.

  22. The comments by those who think naming your child Stereo Crimefighter Cockroach really cool speaks for both their intelligence and self esteem. If only their parents had named them that or better yet if they changed their names legally to those probably very fitting names.

    These people like Gillette need lithium. I really good care what he names his kids or what he does just so long as he isn’t loose on a street or capable of inflicting his beliefs on me.

    As for the numnuts who believe praying is dull, you can bet everyone of the flight that went down in the Hudson wasn’t praying to the Cosmic Donut or The Science Dept. chairman.

    But tinfoil hats are required wwear for the PC crowd. The dangerous self indulgences that these leftwingnuts engage in are mere banality packaged as bombast.

  23. I’m sure most of this site is good, but the first thing I looked at was the GPS navigation section. I know, not very sexy, but I thought almost every case listed was more a case of personal stupidity than anything else. I wasn’t very sympathetic.

    What’s the harm in GPS Navigation?

  24. “I’d have a great deal more respect for Gillette if he hadn’t named his son Valvoline or something similar. Someone who’d do that to his son must not be someone you’d want to share an elevator with.”

    Agreed 100%. People shouldn’t be able to give their kids moronic names like Valvoline… or Thomas Jackson.

  25. hay betsy – blow that fucking anti vaccine stuff out yer ass.

  26. Creationists gave us the Sistine chapel, Jesus Candles and the Gregorian Calendar. Can’t we cut them a little slack? I mean, they’re cute and all. And they’ve at least learned to make their poopoos on the potty. Look on the bright side.

  27. The problem with presenting a rational argument against an irrational belief, is that it doesn’t impress the fool you’re arguing with.

    “You can’t reason a man out of what he wasn’t reasoned into.”

  28. Yeah and Hussein ought to banned.

    Look at all the lemmings who voted for the Obamessiah.

  29. Ever notice the people who worship at the altar of secularism are the first to discard scientific testing when applied to their beliefs.

    I loved Dawkins who believes life simply came into existence (but it couldn’t have been God).

    Rather he seems to believe a tornado went through a junkyard and formed a complete 747. Yeah right. These people wear the biggest blinders.

  30. Ever notice the people who worship at the altar of secularism are the first to discard scientific testing when applied to their beliefs.

    I loved Dawkins who believes life simply came into existence (but it couldn’t have been God).

    Rather he seems to believe a tornado went through a junkyard and formed a complete 747. Yeah right. These people wear the biggest blinders.

    Dude, Richard Dawkins has addressed this argument plenty of times. His reply is convincing and I’ve never heard a compelling counter-argument to his response. Here’s one lecture where he addresses it:

    http://richarddawkins.net/article,2989,Richard-Dawkins-Lecture-at-UC-Berkeley,Richard-Dawkins

    (There are 6 videos and its somewhere towards the middle. I don’t remember exactly where though.)

    Here’s a summary of his argument:

    People often misunderstand and think that evolution holds that complex life forms arose purely by chance. They argue that if you randomly scramble the parts of some complex body part (like an eye) it is extremely unlikely that you would get anything that sees or does anything useful. Therefore, they say, evolution can’t be true.

    This would be a good argument, if evolution held that such complex things arose by chance; but evolution doesn’t say that. Evolution provides an account of how the world could start out with less complex things, and, through a process of natural selection, end up with more complex things over a long period of time. This account has been corroborated by a lot of evidence.

    The reason complex life forms need an explanation is that their complexity makes them, by definition, statistically unlikely to “just happen” or “just exist by chance”. So in order to explain such things, one needs to show how they could be caused by something that isn’t statistically unlikely to “just happen”.

    Evolution does this. But saying “God created it” does not. In order to design or create anything, God would need to be very complex. And therefore it is statistically unlikely that God would “just happen”. So that leaves the improbable complexity in existence unexplained. How did a statistically unlikely, complex, creative deity come into existence?

  31. Check out the quackwatch.com article on homeopathy. I had noooo idea the HP methodology was so screwed up.

  32. Hey VM fewer than 10% of adults are up to date on their vaccines. Put your money where your mouth is and take the needle in YOUR ass. Yeah I’m laying odds you’re not one of the conscientious few.

  33. Interesting how people who criticize others for “not thinking critically” fail to take their own advice. I looked over that site, and in areas where I knew something about the science involved the site’s claims were way off. A few problems I noticed:
    ? The “chelation and vitamin C lady from Wichita” gets put in multiple categories, so her case is listed at least twice. They claim that vitamin C caused her kidney to fail, but offer no evidence to support this – either in general or in the woman’s particular case.
    ? Anyone who doesn’t have a life could take the time to make a similar site listing people who died in hospitals because of mistakes made while administering “mainstream” medical treatments. Apparently, this doesn’t make the victims fools: the “establishment” is never wrong.
    ? The site comes pretty close to advocating government action against people who choose alternative therapies for themselves or their children. Totally un-libertarian, to say the least.
    ? I’d bet that many of the cancer patients who try alternative therapies have a very poor prognosis, and can’t be helped by the current standard of care anyhow.

  34. The site comes pretty close to advocating government action against people who choose alternative therapies for themselves or their children. Totally un-libertarian, to say the least.

    I’d generally oppose government action against people who make such decisions for themselves. And I’d generally oppose limits on their freedom to make an informed decision to do so.

    But when you talk about people making decisions for their children (who, presumably, have not obtained the legal age at which they can grant valid consent, nor is their expression of consent required for treatment) there is another person’s rights at stake aside from the parent or guardian. In that case, it is perfectly appropriate for the state to impose limits on the discretion of the parent or guardian. And scientific evidence (from double-blind tests and so forth) is relevant in determining what those limits should be.

  35. “And scientific evidence (from double-blind tests and so forth) is relevant in determining what those limits should be.”

    Yes, and we all know that the state always conscientiously uses the most rigorous scientific evidence for these purposes.

  36. Yes, and we all know that the state always conscientiously uses the most rigorous scientific evidence for these purposes.

    What’s your point?

    And is it a point that contradicts any of the points that I made?

  37. Paul,

    Regarding your “fake acupuncture” as a debunk of the trials that show acupuncture to work…

    It is impossible to tell from your links what constituted “fake” acupuncture.

    Here’s one that gives the specifics.

    https://www.cebp.nl/media/m583.pdf

    Acupuncture that doesn’t puncture doesn’t work as well.

    Clearly acupuncture doesn’t work for the reasons the creators of the technique thought it worked, but even the study you cite points out that it works better than traditional western treatments for lower back pain.

    The evidence on acupuncture’s effectiveness is fairly solid. At least compared to many common treatments.

  38. Wow, judging by these comments, many people who read reason (or at least comment on it online) are more gullible than I expected. Color me a light shade of disillusioned.

  39. Betsy,

    Vaccination among adults age 18-49, 2007:
    Influenza 37.3%
    Pneumococcal 32.8%
    Tetanus 57.2%
    Shingles 0.8%
    Hepatitis A 12.1%
    Hepatitis B 23.4%
    HPV (female) 2.4%

    [Source: http://tinyurl.com/ddcble%5D

    That’s a far cry from “fewer than 10%”, especially when you consider that the first three are most important (shingles is just chickenpox, while hep A and B and HPV can be easily avoided).

    You may try to claim the unvaccinated remainder for your anti-vaccine cult, but I think you’ll find most of them are already dedicated members the Church of Procrastination.

  40. Ed,

    God knows that ANYONE who questions the validity of the state’s vaccine schedule MUST be a tremendously gullible individual. Or, as you put it, part of the anti-vaccine cult.

    These are probably some of the same losers who questioned that there were WMD in Iraq too; you know the pro-Saddam cult.

  41. Ed, your list of what vaccines are recommended for adults is out of date. It’s missing MMR boosters and DTP (every 10 years). The 10% adult vaccination rate is per CDC. My point stands. Vaccinate the vaccinators. The vaccine load on infants (an immunologically vulnerable segment of the population) is not something any conscientious parent should lightly dismiss.

    Further, the presumption that I have an anti-vaccine stance simply because I advocate an analytical approach to healthcare is, uh, somewhat less than analytical on your part.

    I have three children all up to date on their vaccines. But not after a lot of research and thoughtful consideration of the risks vs. benefits (and frankly, I still think Hep B for infants is more than a little overzealous).

  42. BG;
    Fairly good comment but why should the state superceed the authority of the parent?

    If it can why have parents?

    Where does this authority end?

    And if they can overule parent why not spouses, individuals, or anyone they wish?

    Sorry but no sale.

  43. BG:
    Dawkins is a nut case who makes a better case for Tarrot cards than science.

    Snakeoil salesmen sound more informed than Dawkins.
    Even Darwin admitted he couldn’t explain the gaps in his theory although Dawkins gives us the BIG BANG theory of creation.

    Bang the eye was created. Bang the brain happened. Bang the 747 just happened.

    Right care to elaborate what makes you believe in someone whose explanation is it just happened.

  44. Everyone can nurse their own prejudicies. Jillette believes apractise the Chinese have employed successuflly is bunk. Fine. He doesn’t demonstrate why such a people would employ such a practise or why it would have spread throughout the world.

    But we do have Jillette’s worldview to judge.
    I mean what’s not to like about Zoltan?

    Hate to be his son, or is it his daughter.

  45. Have you checked out J’s website? Talk about the outer limits. Reality as defined by J.

  46. Orange Line Destroyer

    Fairly good comment but why should the state superceed the authority of the parent?

    Because sometimes the parent wishes to violate the rights of the child; either intentionally, or by selecting a course of action so irrational that they should know that the result will be avoidable harm. Under certain circumstances, eschewing modern medicine in favor of “alternative” treatments would fit that category.

    For example, suppose a minor develops a case of Tuberculosis; and the parents say to the doctors “You may not give our child any antibiotics! Our religion says that only spiritual healing is acceptable!” The doctors should be allowed to provide treatment without the parents’ consent in that case. (I’m less concerned with who pays for the treatment than with the child’s right to receive treatment despite parental objections.)

    If it can why have parents?

    We are kind of stuck with parents. What is the alternative?

    But the fact that society has to have parents to produce and raise offspring does not mean the parents’ authority is (or should be) absolute.

    Where does this authority end?

    In general, I would say the goal of the state should be to keep the minor alive, prevent serious physical harm, and ensure that the minor has sufficient knowledge of the world to be admitted to full adult freedom in the future. I’m not sure what I’d say about psychological harm.

    Its hard to be precise about where I would “draw the line” without an overly-long comment. But if you want to give examples of specific hypothetical (or real) situations and ask whether I think the state should intervene, I’m up for that. That might help you figure out where I stand on whatever concerns you.

    And if they can overule parent why not spouses, individuals, or anyone they wish?

    I’m not sure where you are going with “spouses”, but if a sane adult individual makes an informed decision to refuse scientific treatment, or undergo bogus treatment, or do something to himself/herself that appears self-destructive to others; that is that person’s right.

    In that case, the person consenting to the decision is the same person who is affected by the decision. That is not so with parental decisions regarding a minor’s medical treatment, which is why parents should have less discretion in this area than if they were deciding for themselves.

  47. Orange Line Destroyer

    As for your second comment:

    Dawkins is a nut case who makes a better case for Tarrot cards than science.

    Snakeoil salesmen sound more informed than Dawkins.
    Even Darwin admitted he couldn’t explain the gaps in his theory although Dawkins gives us the BIG BANG theory of creation.

    I take it you didn’t watch the video I linked to. And I guess my comment wasn’t clear enough to dispel this:

    Bang the eye was created. Nope. Bang the brain happened. Not correct. Bang the 747 just happened. Strike three.

    Right care to elaborate what makes you believe in someone whose explanation is it just happened.

    No, but I will elaborate on the point that evolution doesn’t claim that those things “just happened”.

    The complex human eye is composed of many simpler parts. For an organism with a more primitive version of the eye, it is not that improbable of an event that one of those simple parts would be added to its offspring’s eyes due to random mutation. Certainly such simple additions are likely if we have a lot of organisms reproducing over a long period of time.

    If this trait, of having one more simple part added to the eye, helped the organism survive long enough to reproduce (and reproduce more than its competitors without the trait), this would create more members of future generations with that trait. This higher rate or reproduction by organisms with the new part would mean that over time, most or all of the animals in that species would have that trait.

    The modern eye is the product of many simple additions being made to simple, primitive, light-reacting parts of animal populations through this process. The first light-reacting animal body part must have been simple enough that having it arise through random mutation was not too much of a stretch (and it would be very from the modern eye). There is an extremely long time period in which this can occur, and it only needs to happen once if that organism reproduces successfully.

    The brain evolved in a similar way: from simple nervous systems, to ganglia, to fusing of ganglia into a primative brain, to enlargements over a very long period of time.

    Evolution is supported by a large amount of scientific evidence: fossil records, the distribution of species (the geographic isolation of different groups from each other is related to their genetic and physical differences), lab experiments with bacteria (which reproduce in mush shorter time periods so you can see the changes faster), molecular biology (examine a gene in different organisms in order to group species into some taxonomy and you’ll get a specific grouping scheme; pick any other gene at random for the some process and you’ll get the same grouping scheme), etc.

    If that doesn’t convince you, I would just say watch the video (and some other of his lectures). He’ll probably explain it more clearly. Or read this:

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=15-answers-to-creationist

  48. BG,

    Do you distinguish between a parent who withholds medical treatment for religious reasons (the TB antibiotic example) and one who disagrees with their local doctors (or ‘the medical establishment’ in general) about a particular course of treatment.

    In the TB case, it’s beyond dispute that the antibiotics will save the child’s life. In cases of kids with cancer, though, chemotherapy is by no means certain to help. I think the parent should make the call here.

    The problems with cervical cancer vaccine, and the inclination of some politicians to make it mandatory, probably deserves a whole thread to itself.

  49. Do you distinguish between a parent who withholds medical treatment for religious reasons (the TB antibiotic example) and one who disagrees with their local doctors (or ‘the medical establishment’ in general) about a particular course of treatment.

    If there is significant evidence that an alternative treatment works, or significant reason to doubt that the mainstream treatment will work, I’d be more likely to support parental discretion. There are also quality of life issues associated with some treatments and that may need to be factored in.

    But it is not only religiously based parental vetoes that I am opposed to. If the parents’ decision is supported only by pseudo-science or pseudo-medicine. For example, suppose we have a TB case again; and this time the parent say they accept antibiotics, but they want the kid to have only “homeopathic antibiotics” in which the active ingredient is diluted to levels too low to have an effect. My thinking on that is the same as the “spiritual healing” example.

    I’m not that familiar with the studies regarding chemotherapy for kids with cancer, so I’ll reserve judgement on that for now.

  50. BG:

    Wow BG how smart you are. Did you bother to read Darwin, even he admits he cannot explain how the eye developed. But I see you have the answer.

    As usual we see those who condemn oithers who don’t partake of their Kool Aid condemn other views as pseudo science. Fossil evidence-zero. Why have they been no new species? Why have we no evidence of evolution. Cmon just give us one example of where this display is.

    Bold assertion is the last refuge of the uninformed and kool aid drinkers.

    Now please explain who made you part of the Star Chamber. There is zero evidence for Darwin as even he admitted.

    Dawkins is a low life who is a base fraud. The “science” you promote smacks of eugenics and other false sciences. But then Darwinism was the basis of Sanger a noted racist. It also understandable to see why racists of all striped embraced Darwinism, good folks like Stalin and Hitler who worshipped your kind of “science.” I suggest you peddle your theories elsewhere. If unproven they remain theories, just like those people who believe in the mothership.

    I also found your “quality of life” phrase worth looking at. The National Socialist used it as an excuse for eliminating those with lives not worth living. But of course we realize that parents should be excluded from these decisions in favor of people like….you?

    Excuse me while puke. If parents make a decision that is adverse they can be prosecuted. But I trust parents better then the compassionate who will determine what lives are worth living.

    We ahve all ready seen how compassionate people who always put up the “children” are.

  51. The Urkobold? MADE BG PART OF THE STAR CHAMBER.

    The Urkobold? DID NOT MAKE EVERYONE WITH “Orange Line” IN THEIR NAME A DUNDERHEAD.

  52. Orange Line Destroyer

    You obviously haven’t read the article I linked to in my 1:38 am comment, or listened to any of Dawkins’s lectures where he addressed what you’re saying, or thought clearly about evolution at all. I’ll post some relevant excerpts from the article as well as other sources, lest anyone think that the nonsense you are spouting doesn’t have an answer.

    Wow BG how smart you are. Did you bother to read Darwin, even he admits he cannot explain how the eye developed. But I see you have the answer.

    Linked Article page 6:
    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=15-answers-to-creationist&page=6

    “This “argument from design” is the backbone of most recent attacks on evolution, but it is also one of the oldest. In 1802 theologian William Paley wrote that if one finds a pocket watch in a field, the most reasonable conclusion is that someone dropped it, not that natural forces created it there. By analogy, Paley argued, the complex structures of living things must be the handiwork of direct, divine invention. Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species as an answer to Paley: he explained how natural forces of selection, acting on inherited features, could gradually shape the evolution of ornate organic structures.

    Generations of creationists have tried to counter Darwin by citing the example of the eye as a structure that could not have evolved. The eye’s ability to provide vision depends on the perfect arrangement of its parts, these critics say. Natural selection could thus never favor the transitional forms needed during the eye’s evolution–what good is half an eye? Anticipating this criticism, Darwin suggested that even “incomplete” eyes might confer benefits (such as helping creatures orient toward light) and thereby survive for further evolutionary refinement. Biology has vindicated Darwin: researchers have identified primitive eyes and light-sensing organs throughout the animal kingdom and have even tracked the evolutionary history of eyes through comparative genetics. (It now appears that in various families of organisms, eyes have evolved independently.)”

    As usual we see those who condemn oithers who don’t partake of their Kool Aid condemn other views as pseudo science. Fossil evidence-zero.

    So you deny the existence of fossils? Or do you merely deny that the fossil record is evidence of evolution. Either way you’re wrong. Linked article page 2:
    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=15-answers-to-creationist&page=2

    “The historical nature of macroevolutionary study involves inference from fossils and DNA rather than direct observation. Yet in the historical sciences (which include astronomy, geology and archaeology, as well as evolutionary biology), hypotheses can still be tested by checking whether they accord with physical evidence and whether they lead to verifiable predictions about future discoveries. For instance, evolution implies that between the earliest-known ancestors of humans (roughly five million years old) and the appearance of anatomically modern humans (about 100,000 years ago), one should find a succession of hominid creatures with features progressively less apelike and more modern, which is indeed what the fossil record shows. But one should not–and does not–find modern human fossils embedded in strata from the Jurassic period (144 million years ago). Evolutionary biology routinely makes predictions far more refined and precise than this, and researchers test them constantly.”

    Why have they been no new species?

    Linked article page 5

    “Speciation is probably fairly rare and in many cases might take centuries. Furthermore, recognizing a new species during a formative stage can be difficult, because biologists sometimes disagree about how best to define a species. The most widely used definition, Mayr’s Biological Species Concept, recognizes a species as a distinct community of reproductively isolated populations–sets of organisms that normally do not or cannot breed outside their community. In practice, this standard can be difficult to apply to organisms isolated by distance or terrain or to plants (and, of course, fossils do not breed). Biologists therefore usually use organisms’ physical and behavioral traits as clues to their species membership.

    Nevertheless, the scientific literature does contain reports of apparent speciation events in plants, insects and worms. In most of these experiments, researchers subjected organisms to various types of selection–for anatomical differences, mating behaviors, habitat preferences and other traits–and found that they had created populations of organisms that did not breed with outsiders. For example, William R. Rice of the University of New Mexico and George W. Salt of the University of California at Davis demonstrated that if they sorted a group of fruit flies by their preference for certain environments and bred those flies separately over 35 generations, the resulting flies would refuse to breed with those from a very different environment.”

    Dawkins is a low life who is a base fraud. The “science” you promote smacks of eugenics and other false sciences. But then Darwinism was the basis of Sanger a noted racist. It also understandable to see why racists of all striped embraced Darwinism, good folks like Stalin and Hitler who worshipped your kind of “science.” I suggest you peddle your theories elsewhere. If unproven they remain theories, just like those people who believe in the mothership.

    I also found your “quality of life” phrase worth looking at. The National Socialist used it as an excuse for eliminating those with lives not worth living. But of course we realize that parents should be excluded from these decisions in favor of people like….you?

    Whoa! Godwin much?

    It is a fact that modern complex organisms evolved from primordial simple one-celled organisms over a period of billions of years, driven largely by random mutation and natural selection. But nothing about that fact provides any intellectual justification for the Nazi’s barbarism or pseudoscientific theories about “Race” or “Aryan blood”. And clearly nothing about my comments can be reasonably be interpreted to mean that I support “eliminating those with lives not worth living”.

    Eugenics, including coercive eugenics which violates individual rights, was proposed and practiced long before the fact of evolution was discovered or even suspected. Since ancient times, people had noticed that certain traits were inherited from one’s parents and some people wanted society to guaranty that certain traits would be dominant by controlling individual reproduction decisions or by killing those without such traits.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics#Pre-Galtonian_eugenic_philosophies

    Clearly, knowledge of evolution is neither necessary nor sufficient to get someone to support coercive eugenics. (Incidently, I would observe a moral distinction between coercive eugenics and what might be called voluntary eugenics, in which a talented person who wants to reproduce seeks out another person who is also talented to increase the probability that the offspring will have a genetic advantage.)

    One final point regarding Stalin. Contrary to your apparent belief, he was not advocate of pseudoscientific eugenics nor even the real science of genetics.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suppressed_research_in_the_Soviet_Union

    “In the mid-1930s, the agronomist Trofim Lysenko started a campaign against genetics and was supported by Stalin. Between 1934 and 1940, many geneticists were executed (including Agol, Levit, Nadson) or sent to labor camps (including the best-known Soviet geneticist, Nikolai Vavilov, who died in prison in 1943). Genetics was called “the whore of capitalism” (?????????????????? ?????????? ??????????????????????) and stigmatized as a “fascist science”, hinting at its closeness to eugenics, popular in Nazi Germany. However, some geneticists survived and continued to work on genetics, dangerous as this was.
    In 1948, genetics was officially declared “a bourgeois pseudoscience”; all geneticists were fired from work (some were also arrested), and all genetic research was discontinued. The taboo on genetics continued even after Stalin’s death. Only in the mid-1960s was it completely waived.”

  53. Why all the hate for the name “Moxie”? People name their kids “Faith” and “Charity” all the time, apparently naming them after personality traits they hope the kids will have. “Faith” certainly wouldn’t make much sense for a libertarian atheist (and even “Charity” is a little iffy), but “Moxie” seems perfectly appropriate to me. With regard to her middle name, “Crimefighter”, they’ve said explicitly it’s because nobody (apart from maybe pretentious poets) uses their middle name anyway, so it doesn’t really matter what it is. And someday, when she gets pulled over for speeding, she can say, “But officer, I’m on your side. Why, my middle name is ‘Crimefighter’!”

    As for “Zolten”, it’s Penn’s wife’s maiden name, and it’s a perfectly ordinary Hungarian name (e.g., composer Zoltan Kodaly). No big deal.

    Did you bother to read Darwin, even he admits he cannot explain how the eye developed.

    A good point, assuming that all progress of knowledge in the field of evolution stopped cold the day Darwin died…

    (Just in case you’re oblivious to sarcasm: Just because Darwin couldn’t explain it, does not mean no one today can explain it.)

  54. Now how could I possible beat an argument that quotes the wisdom of Wiki. How could one possible beat a response that says it takes too long to observe changes but trust us they happen even if you can’t show any evidence.

    How can one refrute someone who says saving people is dependent on if that life is worth living. Ah who could refrute such humanity or its scientific basis.

    I did love your explaination of the eye. Just imagine every specifies having to independently develop eyes, digestive tracks, brains, and leaving no evidence nor having specifies that through mutation developed in amazing different ways rather than having so many commonalities. But lets ignore that Darwin couldn’t explain it, nor the many other flaws in his theories.

    We can believe in poeple like Dawkins who provides so mcu demonstratable evidence. A theory sir remains just that unless it can be demonstrated independently. To close off avenues of inquiry just demonstrate the same mindset of Star Chambers or the Inquisition.

    The Communists didn’t believe in eugenics? To prove this you cite certain biologists among the 30 odd million people Stalin killed. What do you suppose the chances of this were. Do you suppose the seven aviation bureau directors who were executed in the 30s were killed because they didn’t believe in flight? Why do you suppose that the Soviets praised eugenics and funded Sanger? Or haven’t you bothered to read their propoganda of the period of the 20s and 30s?

    I ask for proof and I get Gollum discussing My Little Pony.

    I believe you let your mask fall when you decided that you would be the authority on what life was worth living. Only a patient and his next of kin should decide this, not some bureaucrat, or someone waiting to collect insurance.

    Dawkins remains a symbol of junk science. Long on theory short on fact, and really, really imaginative but this is not science. Yet we have the global warming people, the cellphone people, the alar tyopes who all have theirsnakeoil to peddle.

    And jsut as there were those who said science proved the sun revolved arond the earth or that the world was flat we see the same leemings today. If Darwin’s theory can be proven you wouldn’t e writing the tripe you have.

    You’d say here is the fossil evidnec in the British Museum of Antiquities, or at the Smithsonian. I await some proof. But please don’t refer me to another truther site.

  55. Salvius:

    A parent that inflicts not an unusual name but a strange one on a child does no service to that child. He demonstrates his affection and respect for the child. Do you think your parent wouyld be honoring you if he named you BurgerKing Whopper Horndog Zoltan? Or that he had issues?

    Now after a hundred years one would assume the explanation of how the eye evolved would have been found yet no one has. We have not found wevidence to support evolution’s theories and again I would ask why aren’t the transition stages available? We are not talking the change of a breed of dogs but let us say a dog into a tuna if such a thing were posited? Why is there no evidence if we have fossil records going back hundreds of millions of years.

    Just as we have no firm idea of why the dinosaurs were wiped out, you have your choice among several possible theories, one doesn’t proclaim this is the one and only explanation in the absence of evidence.

    To do so makes one no better than Elmer Gantry. And the same scientists who brayed the earth was the center of the universe or that the world was flat or that 3o years ago we were told we’d be in an ice age today and there would be no oil, a claim repeated every decade by the US government for some future date usually 50 years in the future only serves to highlight the point that those who proclaim the true defenders of the faith are just that.

    Defenders of the faith but not science. Science demands open minds and open inquiry not the closing of minds. It demands proof not rhetoric.

    Do you think such a person would be entirely stable or rather self centered and needing to be the center of attention for all the wrong reaons.

    I actually meant a family named Rabbit who named their children Peter, Jack, Brare, Cottontail. I imagine these kids learned to fight early. They must have loved these names.

  56. Now after a hundred years one would assume the explanation of how the eye evolved would have been found yet no one has.

    You’re not looking hard enough.

    And my argument about Penn was not that it’s OK for him to give his kids strange names, it’s that the (primary) names he gave his kids aren’t all that strange.

  57. Orange Line Destroyer

    You did not even try to refute any of the substantial points cited in the scientific article I linked to. For example there was a paragraph cited in my last comment about what the fossil record shows and doesn’t show and who this confirms the predictions made by evolution (page 2 of original article). Also there is a paragraph cited that starts “Nevertheless, the scientific literature does contain reports of apparent speciation events in plants, insects and worms” (page 5 in original article).

    This, at the end of your statement, was interesting:

    You’d say here is the fossil evidnec in the British Museum of Antiquities, or at the Smithsonian. I await some proof. But please don’t refer me to another truther site.

    If you think thousands of scientists are involved in a conspiracy (saying they found fossils when they didn’t, or making false claims about what they found when they studied them, or making false claims about what hey found upon doing radioactive dating of surrounding fossil layers, or whatever) then I recommend 2 things to you. First look up Occam’s Razor. Second, if you still suspect such a conspiracy, contact some paleontologists and tell them you want to accompany them the next time they gather fossil evidence, and while they do lab studies of it. Referring you to websites is the only thing I can do in a discussion over the internet (and you can have your own standards for what you consider a “truther site”). But if you want to accompany the scientists yourself, I’ll help get you started by posting the contact information for the United States Geological Survey:

    USGS Information Services
    Box 25286, Building 810
    Denver Federal Center
    Denver, CO 80225
    303-202-4700; Fax 303-202-4693

    Here are some more sites (and excerpts) which you may or may not find credible:

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/fossils/succession.html

    “If we begin at the present and examine older and older layers of rock, we will come to a level where no fossils of humans are present. If we continue backwards in time, we will successively come to levels where no fossils of flowering plants are present, no birds, no mammals, no reptiles, no four-footed vertebrates, no land plants, no fishes, no shells, and no animals. The three concepts are summarized in the general principle called the Law of Fossil Succession: The kinds of animals and plants found as fossils change through time. When we find the same kinds of fossils in rocks from different places, we know that the rocks are the same age”

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/lines_01

    The age of the Earth and its inhabitants has been determined through two complementary lines of evidence: relative dating and numerical (or radiometric) dating.

    ? Relative dating places fossils in a temporal sequence by noting their positions in layers of rocks, known as strata. As shown in the diagram, fossils found in lower strata were typically deposited first and are deemed to be older (this principle is known as superposition). Sometimes this method doesn’t work, either because the layers weren’t deposited horizontally to begin with, or because they have been overturned.
    If that’s the case, we can use one of three other methods to date fossil-bearing layers relative to one another: faunal succession, crosscutting relationships, and inclusions.
    By studying and comparing strata from all over the world we can learn which came first and which came next, but we need further evidence to ascertain the specific, or numerical, ages of fossils.

    ? Numerical dating relies on the decay of radioactive elements, such as uranium, potassium, rubidium and carbon. Very old rocks must be dated using volcanic material. By dating volcanic ash layers both above and below a fossil-bearing layer, as shown in the diagram, you can determine “older than X, but younger than Y” dates for the fossils. Sedimentary rocks less than 50,000 years old can be dated as well, using their radioactive carbon content. Geologists have assembled a geological time scale on the basis of numerical dating of rocks from around the world.

    We can believe in poeple like Dawkins who provides so mcu demonstratable evidence. A theory sir remains just that unless it can be demonstrated independently. To close off avenues of inquiry just demonstrate the same mindset of Star Chambers or the Inquisition.

    Although I was recently appointed to the Star Chamber by Urkobold, I decline to use my authority to close off inquiry on evolution or any other subject. If you can find evidence against evolution (for example fossils of an organism in layer of rack that is clearly aged before that organism could have evolved) feel free to publish or cite it.

  58. Missing cite from my last post (its actually a linked to the berkley page, but I better cite the exact page as some may not have the ability to ind it on their own):

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/lines_10

  59. I believe you let your mask fall when you decided that you would be the authority on what life was worth living. Only a patient and his next of kin should decide this, not some bureaucrat, or someone waiting to collect insurance.

    Please cite the statement in which I decided that. The only thing I can think of is that you grossly misinterpreted this:

    BG February 9, 2009

    Do you distinguish between a parent who withholds medical treatment for religious reasons (the TB antibiotic example) and one who disagrees with their local doctors (or ‘the medical establishment’ in general) about a particular course of treatment.

    If there is significant evidence that an alternative treatment works, or significant reason to doubt that the mainstream treatment will work, I’d be more likely to support parental discretion. There are also quality of life issues associated with some treatments and that may need to be factored in.” (emphasis added now)

    This was in the context of how much discretion parents should have to refuse to allow doctors to give certain medical treatments to minors.

    So for example, say there are two possible courses of treatment: A and B, and neither is certain to work but most doctors think A is slightly more likely to work; it might be a tough call whether doctors should be bound by a decision by parents to give their kid B. (By contrast, it is an easy call to say that doctors should be allowed to give a minor with TB antibiotics, even if the parents insist on only “spiritual healing”).

    The “quality of life” thing is relevant because some treatments (such as chemotherapy, which was cited by jjc) have significant adverse side effects. This potentially has bearing on whether, and when, a parent’s rejection of chemotherapy for a kid with cancer should be binding on doctors.

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