Tag Archives: Charles Darwin

Huffington Post supports too much woo

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I like Huffington Post for their political coverage. That’s what drew me to them in the beginning. Even as they changed their view point to be harder on the Obama Administration, I still read it every day. However editorial changes over the last few months have pushed me to stop recommending the site and to avoid linking to them in the future.

What changed my mind was when they added a religion section. At first I thought, since it was a liberal blog, it might give a fair shake to religion, instead the first articles I saw were from people bashing so-called “new atheists” and articles supporting creationism. Like the article by David Klinghoffer, from the creation shills the Discovery Institute, blaming Darwin for eugenics and the Nazis.

Then there is the Living section that is full of pseudoscientific crap one sees regularly on Oprah and “The View”. As Joshua Holland wrote:

I’ve long been a critic of HuffPo’s “Living” section, where fake doctors peddle snake oil cures and vaccine conspiracy theorists spread their poisonous misinformation. Those who read the Huffington Post solely for its (usually good) political content often don’t even realize that a couple verticals away is a den of quackery and pseudo science…

But publishing the new agey holistic naturopath crystal-healing Beverly Hills quack-to-the-stars bullshit of Adriana’s good friend’s nutritionist is one (stupid, potentially dangerous) thing. Giving a platform to the anti-science creationist dingbats at The Discovery Institute is a step in a darker direction.

Huffington Post Publishes Creationist Nonsense; Touchy About Criticism

Then today what should I see but in a prominent “above the fold” place a link to a live chat with the “positive thinking” huckster to the stars Tony Robbins. Here is a screen cap:

When it comes to science and medicine I have to insist on the truth and articles based on actual evidence that has been peer reviewed. Sometimes science doesn’t feel good – that isn’t its job. Science is suppose to inform us on the world in which we live.

And as blogger vjack noted:

I admit that I have been slow to act. I was torn because I continue to find excellent political content on HuffPo that I do not always see elsewhere. I have tried to avoid the woo and focus my attention on the good stuff. But now I have reached the point where the quackery simply couldn’t be avoided any longer. It is too pervasive, and it makes me question the credibility of everything else the blog does. PZ is right; it is time to walk away from HuffPo.

Huffington Post is no friend to reality

I agree the quackery taints what is good about HuffPo and so I can’t quote or link to it any longer.

Darwin film lacks US distributor because people are too stupid

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The film “Creation”, starring Paul Bettany, which is about Charles Darwin and his “struggle between faith and reason” as he wrote On The Origin of Species, doesn’t have a US distributor yet. The reason is because the subject is too controversial for US audiences. I don’t understand it either.

The film has sparked fierce debate on US Christian websites, with a typical comment dismissing evolution as “a silly theory with a serious lack of evidence to support it despite over a century of trying”.

Jeremy Thomas, the Oscar-winning producer of Creation, said he was astonished that such attitudes exist 150 years after On The Origin of Species was published.

“That’s what we’re up against. In 2009. It’s amazing,” he said.

“The film has no distributor in America. It has got a deal everywhere else in the world but in the US, and it’s because of what the film is about. People have been saying this is the best film they’ve seen all year, yet nobody in the US has picked it up.

Charles Darwin film ‘too controversial for religious America’

The stupidity of average America just astonishes me.

This is not cool at all.

Darwin film to open Toronto festival

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The Toronto International Film Festival arrives in September and it was announced the film picked to open it is called “Creation” starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly. It tells the story of Charles Darwin and his writing of his book “Origins of Species” that introduced the science theory of Natural Selection and led to Evolution. It seems from the trailer that the story focuses on Darwin’s struggle to write a book that takes on religious explanations about the origin of creatures found on Earth. My only concern is that the film doesn’t have the usual “protagonist sees the error of his irreligious ways…” we see in films about people struggling with their faith.

“We have traditionally opened with a Canadian film, but this year we chose to go a different route. We fell in love with this movie and this is the one, we felt, really sets the tone for the kinds of conversations we hope will happen around the films at the festival,” TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey told reporters on Tuesday.

He added that the “tension between faith and reason” seen in Jon Amiel’s film Creation — which follows Darwin as he struggles with the views of his deeply religious wife and his world-changing theories — is also emerging in other films programmers have selected.

“This theme of that eternal conflict between faith and reason does seem to be emerging from different parts of the world, in different kinds of films: documentaries, fiction films, big films, small films,” Bailey said.

Toronto film festival picks Darwin drama Creation as opener

See the trailer for the film here

Happy Birthday Charles Darwin!

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Today marks the 200th Birthday of the man who forwarded the concept of Evolution of species, which is a basic foundation of the science of Biology. Evolution is also a flash point in arguments between people with different views on religion. Even though Evolution has nothing to do with religion or religious beliefs, it has been used as a scapegoat for some people’s beliefs that might conflict with the results and facts of Evolution. How did we get there?

One problem has been a misunderstanding of the term Evolution. In science Evolution’s basic definition is: a process that results in heritable changes in a population spread over many generations.

That’s it. Nothing about monkeys turning into humans or “survival of the fittest”, which have been claims used against teaching of Evolution. All it means is to describe changes in a population over time.

Darwin called his idea “Natural Selection” and by that he meant species changed over time by adaptation controlled by the environment they lived in. Species that adapted appropriately passed their genes on to the next generation while those that didn’t adapt eventually died out. It isn’t that one species was “better” than the other only that one adapted better than the other and was able to pass on its genes.

Natural selection also infers that species can come from a common ancestor since it had to start some where to get to that particular point in time. There is strong evidence that Humans and apes share aspects that suggest we came from a common ancestor. At one time there was some species that then split into apes and another branch split into Humans.

That’s where religious people get upset. They fully believe that God created all the creatures on the Earth and if Evolution is true then it puts that idea into jeopardy.

The religious people are the ones who make it an issue. Darwin never cared about all it ALL began. All he did was forward the idea of how species got to where they are. Nothing in the study of Evolution is meant to be anti-religious or to intentionally contradict the story of creation. Many scientists support Evolution and consider themselves believers in a God.

However since Evolution, like all science facts, are tentative, there could be information collected soon or in the near future that solves the ultimate mystery of how it ALL got here.

That’s the promise of science – learning the answers to all the questions we have about the universe in which we live.

A tip of the hat today to the man who got the ball rolling – Charles Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882).

Some links for further info on Darwin and Evolution

The Origin Of Species: 6th Edition

Charles Darwin bio

Charles Darwin Day

FAQs about Evolution and the religious debates

Reminder for forgetful mayor

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In the latest news article on the Darwin Day dust up (see my previous post) there was a quote that caught my eye. It seems that the former mayor of Reynoldsburg Ohio Robert McPherson said he didn’t remember signing a similar proclamation for a Darwin Day in his city in 2006. Well it seems there is proof that he did in fact issue such a proclamation.

Whitehall’s consideration of honoring Darwin this year came after a a mass e-mail was sent to cities in November from the citizen group Darwin Day Columbus Planning Committee.

Amy Birtcher, a board member of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio, put the group together.

“This isn’t anti-religious; this is a science thing,” she said. “It’s part of an international movement to help us celebrate Darwin and the things he did to help us better understand the world.”

Birtcher said officials from a few other cities told her that they’d pass the idea along.

Former Reynoldsburg Mayor Robert McPherson proclaimed Feb. 12 Darwin Day in 2006, although yesterday he said he didn’t remember doing it.

Naming scientists now the holdup

I checked with the Humanist Community of Central Ohio and they sent me a scan of the document:


(Click on the document to see it full size)

I was there when the document arrived in the mail since I am a member of HCCO. We were shocked to get it because ironically some of our members had been complaining about McPherson putting up a Nativity Scene on the lawn of the city hall there and denying all attempts to add other symbols as required by various court cases around the country.

More ignorance in Whitehall Ohio

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The other day I posted a story about the conflict in the Whitehall city council about naming a Darwin Day to celebrate the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, who developed the concept of Evolution. At a meeting on Tuesday, January 27th, the Darwin Day follies focused on actually naming a scientist to honor for the compromise “Science Month”. And then it got funnier.

According to a report in the Columbus Dispatch:

Councilwoman Jacquelyn Thompson originally suggested declaring Feb. 12 Darwin Day in honor of the 200th birthday of the man who conceived the theory of evolution. However, she watered it down to “Science Month” and added Galileo’s name in a compromise two weeks ago.

“The whole idea of this was to recognize the events,” she said at a council meeting yesterday. “I thought it was a great opportunity to show that we value science, we value inquiry and we encourage our students to open up to the world.”

A few council members replied with shouts of “Not my children!”

“Is it fair to the hundreds if not thousands of other scientists to not name them?” Councilman Jim Graham asked.

Council members suggested leaving a celebration of science to the schools and complained that it would compete with other February designations, such as Black History Month. However, the unspoken issue revolved around who believed in evolution versus creationism.

Naming scientists now the holdup

Yes, a few council members shouted “Not my children!”

WOW! What a bunch of kooks.