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T-Shirts, TAMs and Total Absurdity.

I am going to say one thing about this situation and one thing only:

If this makes anyone cry, please send photos to ToughenUpAndLearnToTakeCriticism@RealFeministsHateYou.com

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Out of Touch – Out of Mind: Thoughts on Creating Bubble Realities

Following my appearance in ReapSowRadio tonight, filling in for the birthday boy, Al Stefanelli, I couldn’t stop thinking about one of our topics of conversation.  While the topics were broad, my biggest head-desk of the night came from a claim on a thread to which Reap posted a link in the chat, wherein claims were being made about homosexuality.  These claims were, of course, religious in nature, as they would be anything else.  Ironically, one of the claims was that the persecution of gays does not come from a religious origin.

Needless to say, I was mind-boggled by this claim, as I could only think to myself ‘what other origin is there for bigotry against homosexuals?’  There are three reasons for this type of bigotry: Basic human xenophobia, fear of homosexuality because of repressed inner homosexuality, and finally, religion.  The problem is that religion is usually the basis of the first, and often the basis of the second.  Religion instills homophobic principles into people, which are usually taught when a child is young, the result of which is the repression of homosexuality.  Religion is also the largest source of reinforcement to xenophobia on the planet, as it teaches people to fear or hate above tolerance.

The three reasons for the anti-gay agenda are all traced back to religion, even at the admission of most of the world’s anti-gay activists, such as Rick Santorum, Pastor Fred Phelps, Michele and Marcus Bachmann, Ann Coulter, Pat Robertson, and numerous others.  In fact, I challenge anyone to find an anti-gay activist who is not doing it out of his or her religious motivations.  And it all stems back to a book in the bible which also states both shaving and wearing clothing made from more than one fiber, should be punishable by death.

I guess what I’m wondering here is how people get to the point where they’re so out of touch with reality that they feel they can have their own facts.  Where they feel they’re entitled to their own reality, or their own little bubble that only they call real life.  I know it must be easy to do on a physical level, but just the thought of being so closed-minded and out of touch actually hurts me intellectually.  Do these people not share the same intellectual curiosity and integrity that I do?  I’m not trying to sound egotistical, but when talking about a crowd of ostriches such as these men and women, it’s hard not to have a sense of superiority.

To make a claim such as this, stating that none of America’s giant crusade is with religious motivations, is to make a claim as ignorant as to say that homosexual bullying doesn’t really exist.  This claim, by the way, was made on the same thread.  Homosexual bullying doesn’t exist anywhere in America, or outside this country.  Apparently Matthew Shepherd didn’t get that memo.  Once again, this absurd claim is made with absolutely no regard for facts, empiricism, or reality in general.  These statements are made again and again without justification or support – as you would expect – and again I’m absolutely floored by these claims; I’m even more floored by the notion that it’s entirely possible that those spouting these unreasonable statements might actually believe them to be true.  How does this even happen?

To conclusively close off the rest of the world and selectively observe the actual world around one’s self seems like such a foreign idea to me.  I’m not exactly a very extroverted person, but I still pay attention to the world around me in my little hermit den that is our dwelling.  It’s impossible not to.  I log into Facebook, and my entire stream is news stories.  I log into my email and I see the same.  The internet has made news and information travel faster than ever before in our history, and yet there are those with no interest, who somehow manage to avoid those aspects of the world around them that may contradict the false reality they’ve created for themselves.  This is the same false reality that convinces fathers that their sick daughters could be treated better with prayer than with medicine.  This is the same kind of false reality that is convincing parents not to vaccinate their children, or reinforcing anti-Semitic morals with crazy 9/11 conspiracy hypotheses.

These notions may be crazy, but I feel they’re not even on par with making the aforementioned claims in a country where gay marriage is illegal in over 40 states, admittedly for religious reasons, as there are no others.  In a country where gay children commit suicide at constant rates because of gay bullying in schools.  It doesn’t stop in schools either.  All throughout a person’s life, no matter what progressive paradise they may find, that person is going to deal with bigotry, either in media, or face to face.  Sometimes in the form of extreme violence, or perhaps you’ve never heard the term “gay-bashing”.  I’ve known plenty of victims of everything I’ve mentioned, and worse, in my life, and to think there are those who would have us believe these instances just don’t happen makes me so enraged I feel I can’t even properly construct a paragraph.  If there are any English majors reading this, I’m sure you would agree.

We’ve only just now gotten to the point where homosexuals can serve openly in the military.  In other words, if a man or woman wants to fight for our country, that person no longer has to hide a giant part of their identity in order to avoid a dishonorable discharge.  Homosexuals still can’t marry in most states.  Homosexuals are bullied all across the country, and in other countries, are still hanged for being gay.  A gay kiss on television still brings about the rage of the religious community and often results in violent retaliation.  Saying the word gay in some schools in the south is punishable by expulsion or termination.  Homosexuals are still beaten and assaulted on a daily basis across the country.  Homosexuals are still verbally assaulted on a daily basis.  Homosexuals are still sexually assaulted on a daily basis by so-called straight fundamentalists (scroll back and see reason number two for bigotry against gays).  If those making the aforementioned claims could imagine what it feels like not to be able to live in the open and just be who you are without risking verbal assault, or often worse, maybe they would change their minds and come out of their own bubble realities.  However, it’s doubtful.  There is nothing more blissful than ignorance, and there is no wall so soundly constructed as the barrier between a closed mind and the real world.

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Yogis: Dumber Than the Average People

I’m sure I don’t have to explain what Yoga is.  If I do, I’ll just refer to it as an amazing exercise that has been known to do wonders for the body.  Much like meditation, it’s also known as a wonderful mental exercise that allows people to enter deep states of concentration.

What’s the problem then?

The problem is that while Yoga, as an exercise, is incredibly empirically effective, there are fringes of Yogis who seem to feel there is something deeper.  The spiritual end of Yoga is well-known, and of course, none of it is empirically proven, as it involves areas of mythology that have never been proven – many of which have been conclusively disproved, and other aspects are negatives which cannot be disproved under any circumstances, i.e., the existence of God or the Invisible Pink Unicorn.

This is only a real problem because there are many people in the world who seem to think this religious/spiritual aspect of Yoga is rooted in science.  Let’s explore these religious and spiritual aspects of Yoga and any and all science that exist to support them – Spoiler Alert: There is absolutely none.

The main religious aspect surrounding yoga is the belief in seven rotating spheres of energy in the body called Chakras.  The origin of this idea comes from Hindu texts and is Sanskrit for “turning wheel” or “motion wheel”.  The Chakras are known as force centers or energy sources in the human body in the Hindu faith, and are also described as rotating vortices of “subtle matter” as described by John Cross and Robert Charman in their book Healing with the Chakra Energy System.  Anyone familiar with faith systems already sees the problem here, but if not, the issue is the usage of vague or non-existent words or terms.

According to most disciplines of the mythology, there are seven Chakras in the body: The Crown, The Third Eye, The Throat, The Heart, The Solar Plexus, The Sacral, and The Root Chakra.  In the image above, they are listed from top to bottom, along with their mythological names.  They have also been associated with astrology (yet another pseudoscience) as is also illustrated above.

1) It is never described what types of energy Chakras emit.

Here is a list of the types of energy with a foundation in proven fact: Potential energy, kenetic energy, thermal energy, chemical energy, electrical energy, electrochemical energy, electromagnetic energy, sound energy and nuclear energy.  What is never defined is which of these types of energy it is that Chakras are said to either emit or of which they’re said to be made up.  Well, at least, like I said, none of these particular energies are said to have anything to do with Chakras.  What Chakras are said to emit is spiritual energy.

I have a neighbor who has a very, very misguided friend who seems to think there is a pure science behind the idea of Chakras.  This is also a woman who thinks testimonials are a form of evidence, but I digress.  I asked her one night to find me some form of evidence to support the idea of either Chakras or spiritual energy.  Lo and behold, she couldn’t.  What she found at first was a video of a testimonial – as I previously mentioned – of a very happy, happy man who claims Yoga changed his spiritual life.  I explained to her, or at least tried to explain to her the difference between concrete, empirical evidence, and anecdotal, circumstantial evidence.  After this was explained, I asked her to find something from an official human physiology or biology textbook, or something from an actual peer-reviewed scientific website, noting the existence of Chakras or spiritual energy.  All she could find is what I described earlier on in this piece: Yoga is a great source of physical exercise (NIH official website).  Again, nothing of note about the existence of the energy spoken of in Yoga theology.

In fact, to date there has been no hard, empirical evidence to support the very existence of this type of energy, nor these energy sources, let alone, evidence to support the idea that Yoga has any affects on these so-called energy sources at all.  Funny thing is that I not only kept all of my college textbooks, but I actually buy them frequently from places such as Half Price Books, in order to continue my education as much as possible.  In all of my biology, chemistry, or physics books, I’ve never heard one mention of this type of energy, nor seen mention of these magical spheres in the body.  Imagine that.

Conclusion: Absence of evidence is evidence of absence, as that which is asserted without evidence, can just as easily be dismissed without evidence.  That was easy.

2) It is never described of what type of force Chakras are made up.

Here, again, we run into the same type of problem.  What is the force these chakras are said to made up of, or to emit.  There are four scientifically known forces: Gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear force and weak nuclear force.  These types of forces are clearly defined, as are their functions.  And while, admittedly, even today, there is much to be known about gravity, what we do know is well within the lines of factual and empirical evidence.  Once again, the scientific method leaves absolutely no room for guess work, and neither do I.

Once again, as with the case above, there is no conclusive evidence that leads anyone to believe there are extra forces in the world related to the human body.  Everything we do that requires force has a known source, just like with energy.  For instance, we eat food in order to store energy, and we utilize that energy in order to move.  These are known as potential energy and kinetic energy.  When we walk, we push back on the ground with one foot, using kinetic energy to take advantage of the ground’s wonderful friction.  If we didn’t eat, we wouldn’t have the energy to move.  The same is true with forces.  Everything that happens within the body has a known source in regards to its force.  We stay on the ground because of gravity, our brains are able to function, among other reasons, because of electromagnetic energy, our atoms maintain themselves using the weak nuclear force, and if we happen to be exposed to radiation, we experience the work of the strong nuclear force.  There is no room for extra forces when it comes to the body, and if they do exist, their effects are negligible at best, since we don’t appear to use them at all.

In summation: Again, no evidence in support of any external force emitted by Chakras, nor evidence of Chakras themselves.

3) What precisely is “subtle matter” and where does such a type of matter fall into a proper scientific methodology?

Matter is something that is most certainly defined.  We have a universe comprise of two things: Matter and antimatter.  Antimatter is just how it sounds, it’s the opposite of matter.  For every proton, there is an antiproton, and for every electron, there is a positron.  Quarks comprise matter in two different ways.  They comprise baryons by grouping into threes and they comprise mesons by one quark pairing up with an antiquark.  One of the problems that plagues modern day physicists is why almost all of the known universe – the universe that doesn’t stretch beyond our 14 billion lightyear visual horizon – is predominantly matter, without equal parts antimatter.  The answer to this question probably lies beyond the visual horizon of space – the part of space that we cannot see because the universe hasn’t existed for long enough for its photons (light) to reach earth.

The point I’m making is that we have a pretty damn good grasp on what matter is.  There is, of course, dark matter and dark energy which is still to this day plaguing our best minds, but this most surely isn’t existing inside of our bodies, especially dark energy, and thank Jebus for that.  Another type of matter that is purely hypothetical at this point, comes from the quantum world, and I might mention, the outer fringes of it.  It is called exotic matter.  Exotic matter is defined as ” Exotic matter is a hypothetical concept of particle physics. It covers any material which violates one or more classical conditions or is not made of known baryonic particles.”  In other words, these materials would possess thus unobserved qualities like negative mass and could also, hypothetically speaking, be repelled by gravity, instead of attracted by it. But what, my dear, is subtle matter?

There to date has been absolutely no scientific frame of reference for subtle matter.  In fact, it was very hard to find any reference to subtle matter, flipping through almost fifty pages of a Google search, that wasn’t in the field of parapsychology or metaphysics – despite their names sounding impressive, neither of these are considered, even by the most liberal of empiricists, as scientific fields.  Subtle matter is defined by almost every bit of information I found on it, as “Spiritual matter.  Thought and consciousness.”

There’s that word again.  So much for this aspect of Yoga being a scientific, rather than religious concept.  In fact, the term stems, again, from Indian mythology, and describes a type of matter of which our consciousness is made up.

I want to take this time to remind people that consciousness is nothing more than the collective workings of the brain.  It’s something that cannot be described per se, because it is entirely different all the time, as the brain is never really functioning in the exact same way throughout the day.  There are too many variables.  However, one thing that is for certain is that all of the brain’s parts are always working together to keep you thinking, breathing, seeing, hearing, feeling, moving, tasting, smelling, and doing numerous other phenomena that the body is known to do.  This was something that couldn’t have been known to ancient peoples, as obviously, they didn’t have the kind of testing technology we have today.  In fact, they didn’t have much of a grasp on anything that we know scientifically today.  Why would they?  Civilizations evolve with technology.

Therefore, they needed to explain the workings of the body in the same way the ancient Romans had to explain thunder by inventing a god for it, or a type of magic to explain it.  The same can be said for any ancient or even modern superstition.  They exist for the sole reason of explaining phenomena of which a culture does not have a natural/scientific explanation.  Today, we know that thunder and lightening are not the work of gods, but are the result of atmospheric discharges of energy.  This is where the “god of the gaps” philosophy fails us; the gaps keep getting smaller.

The point I’m attempting to make is that the concept of subtle energy is that of mere ancient superstition with no more water in today’s scientifically evolved culture, than the ancient practices of witchcraft, voodoo, or shamanism.  In fact, one could say that the ideas behind Yoga stem from the Eastern versions of what we in the west knew as shamans only centuries ago, or what we still to this day call priests.

However, in this day and age, we have another name for them: Charlatans, snake-oil salesmen.  These men and women have existed in every generation, taking advantage of gullible people who are scientifically uneducated, and don’t understand their surroundings or bodies as well as they should.  In today’s society, scientific illiteracy runs rampant.  Walk up to the average person and ask him just how much floor is underneath him compared to what he sees.  When after you tell him that the floor is made up of atoms that are 99.9999999999999% empty space, he may ask why you don’t fall through.  Then you explain to him the Pauli exclusionary principle, and watch his face turn to that of a dear with a bright burst of photons shining into its eyes.  We do not have high enough graduation standards today in any field of education, namely science, and until we do, charlatans like Yogies, anti-vaccers, homeopaths, anti-GMOers, and various other scientifically illiterate groups will continue to form for the profit of charlatans everywhere.  We get dumber – they get richer.

In summation, nothing of the type of matter describes as “subtle matter” has ever been proven to exist, and once again, it must not do a whole lot, as we’ve summed up the universe with just a few other types of matter known to science.  Again, that which is asserted without evidence can be easily dismissed without evidence.  In science, it’s up to the person making the assertion to prove him or herself right, it’s not up to others to prove them wrong.  As my fiancee just said to me, “If I have one more person suggest Reiki for my back, I’m gonna punch a mother.”  I couldn’t have said it better.

Absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

Conclusion:

American science writer and editor in chief of Skeptic Magazine, Michael Shermer, says in his book The Skeptical Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience, “The chakra system… has no proven relationship with the anatomy or physiology of the human body. Nothing resembling the energy of the Chakras has ever been detected, despite the exquisite sensitivity of modern instruments.”  This is absolutely correct, and studies that have been done conclusively show nothing related to how Chakras are defined are present in the human body, nor are any of the energies or forces they’re said to be related to in ancient Hindu mythology.  Chakras and their forces and energies, are just that: Mythology.  They will never be taught outside the liberal arts classroom, and even most “disciplines” of the liberal arts wouldn’t even mention the existence of something so absurdly untrue and unproven in their walls.  Even the psychology classroom.

Yoga is strenuous exercise.  I do it myself from time to time.  I hurt like I’ve just been put through some kind of unique torture, and I sweat like a Catholic priest in the It’s a Small World ride at Disney.  Afterward, I am in a state of relaxation, namely because my body has just been put through an amazing workout, and obviously, we feel that in our brain as well.  Any kind of exercise is immense stimulation that releases numerous chemicals in our bodies that make us feel good.  That’s just simple evolution, and we don’t need any kind of witchery or magic to explain it.  It’s in the natural classification of things – not the supernatural.  In the same way that meditation acts in a positive way by clearing our heads and allowing the brain and bodies time to relax, it requires no magic or alternate dimensions or alternate planes of existence to explain it.  It’s a great workout and it feels amazing, but it’s nothing you cannot do at home, nor is it anything you need to attend higher education in order to practice, as some very, very, very gullible people are doing these days.  Far too many in my neighborhood, if you ask me.

Note: I normally go out of my way to quote peer-reviewed studies as much as possible.  The problem with this piece is that there absolutely are none in support of the existence of Chakras.  And other than their magical energy being useless, it’s impossible to prove through clinical trials that they don’t exist, much the same with any supernatural being.  You cannot disprove a negative.  I’m sure I don’t have to explain that.  The problem with this is that there are many who feel if something cannot be disproved, it must exist.  This is obviously not the case.  It is the very mythological rabbit hole science has been fighting since it first broke from the church during the Enlightenment.  Anyone can make up any crazy idea and ask that it be disproved.  Our courts don’t work like that, and neither does science.  Disproving a negative is nothing more than a tool that charlatans have used for centuries, and for whatever reason, the general public never seems to catch on.

Thanks for reading.

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Jesse Ventura: Conman of the Ages

The inside caption is something I saw this morning on Jesse Ventura’s Conspiracy Theory Facebook page.  Needless to say, I could resist to make it into an image, and I’m glad to see it’s been shared a ton.  Actually, it made its way back around to me within an hour.  That’s pretty impressive.

The problem with the original photo is something common to conspiracy “theorists” (again, I hate applying the word theory to anything that’s not an actual theory): They are the most scientifically illiterate people walking the planet (see 9/11 speed-of-gravity argument).  The main problem is that the image is misleading.  The image shows a danger notice of the chemical compound known as sodium fluoride.  The image dictates that sodium fluoride can be lethal – toxic to human beings.  Here’s where you should respond with, “No shit?”

There is not a chemical compound in existence that isn’t lethal to people in some concentration or abundance.  For instance, what if I were to make a sign that read, “Don’t drink water!  Drinking water puts human beings at risk of Hyponatremia. This is an electrolyte disturbance in the body that has been known to be fatal. I repeat, NO MORE WATER.”  This, while incredibly misleading, is actually true.  Hyponatremia is an electrolyte disturbance in the body that is caused by the over-consumption of water, or over-hydration.  You can over-water plants as well, but that doesn’t make water dangerous.  Maybe, however, if we were to tell them about this disease, they’ll think water is a giant conspiracy and stop drinking it.  Darwin would thank us.

The same is true for sodium fluoride.  Much like other elements in the body like iron, it’s actually good for you, but can be harmful in large amounts.  Iron is a great example of this because the thresholds on both sides leave a very small window for proper iron levels.  Too little can kill you and too much can easily kill you.  Should we start avoiding iron as well?

The point is that Jesse Ventura, much like the remainder of his hoard of idiots, needs to get his head on straight and start doing some real research before posting stuff like this online.  If there were riots on water plants tomorrow, from a hoard of Tea-Bagging conspiracy nuts, one could easily trace it back to his Fox News-esque style of reporting “facts” to people.  It’s not only stupidity and lunacy, but it’s incredibly irresponsible and intentionally misleading.

Side note:  Just a by the by, sodium fluoride isn’t actually used to fluoridate water in the U.S. a fraction as much as sodium hexafluorosilicate which comes from hexafluorosilicic acid.  You can read all about both here.  Official NIH reports, in case anyone is wondering.

Thanks for reading.  Let the conspiracy religionists flow like wine.

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Is it Time to Stop Bitching About Pluto?

In short, yes.

In 2012, I still see posts on Facebook disputing the decision of the IAU, declaring that Pluto would be demoted to dwarf planet status.  I just wonder, if we were to suddenly find out tomorrow that hydrogen was actually never an individual element in and of itself, but has been a helium isotope all along, would there be such large-scale protesting?  Of course not.  Nobody cares about hydrogen.  They should, but they don’t.  Hydrogen doesn’t appeal to the American spirit in the way that Pluto does, but why doesn’t it?  It’s quite analogous.

Hydrogen is the smallest element known in the universe, consisting of one proton and one electron.  It’s a tiny little guy who is light and sears off into space as soon as it can.  Its isotopes can fuse together to become helium, the first noble gas, but to this day, hydrogen is hydrogen, and is element one.  It’s rare on earth, but is quite abundant when combined with other elements, such as oxygen (water).  The point is that hydrogen is very, very small – the smallest – so why doesn’t it appeal to the American spirit in the same way as Pluto?  Well, because there isn’t a Disney character named after hydrogen.  Also, because hydrogen is one among over 100 known atoms, whereas Pluto was one planet among 9.  Nine is easier to remember than 118 elements, plus a couple hundred isotopes.  Maybe because the periodic table isn’t as pretty as almost completely round objects elliptically orbiting a bright, shiny star.

 

Here are the facts:

Pluto has moons, yes, and it is also mostly round – two things that would classify it as a planet.  Here’s the problem, however: it is smaller than many other objects in the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt.  Another problem is that another thing that would classify something as a full-fledged planet, is that it must clear other objects from its orbit.  Pluto does not.  It’s too small.  Massive enough to be round, but still too small to clear its own orbit.  In fact, it crosses an orbit with another planet.

The issue with Pluto is its size when compared to the known planets in our galaxy.  There have been thousands of other planets observed by scientists in other solar systems, and Pluto still is still classified as a dwarf planet, and probably always will be.  Pluto is a tiny, tiny astral body of just under 2,400 km, meaning it’s about the size of 70% of our moon.  To give a more adept approximation, it’s only 18% the earth’s diameter.  Pluto, being classified as a full-fledged planet hardly makes any sense.  If our moon were to orbit the sun instead of the earth, and be rounder, it could be defined as a full-fledged planet if Pluto were.

 

Reasonable argument, the only:

“We cannot merely change the status of the a planet only to keep the number of full-fledged planets low and simple.  We don’t do that in chemistry or physics, so why should we do it in astronomy?”

This is actually a good point, however, the reasoning behind demoting Pluto wasn’t to keep full-fledged planets at a manageable number.  There are bodies in the Kuiper belt that are much larger than Pluto, that would suddenly become planets if we were to continue to classify Pluto as one.  The fact is that we classify stars according to their size.  There are dwarf stars, yellow dwarf stars, red dwarf stars, red giant stars, blue giant stars, and supergiant stars.  We keep these classifications for reference.  We classify them according to their size, their gravity, and numerous other matters.  For instance, when we talk about a supergiant going supernova, we know what the outcome will be: a black hole.  If we were to simplify the classifications by say, just two types of stars, then confusion would set in when we talk about the “giant” stars going supernova.  What would happen?

We must classify planets by different types for the same reason we classify noble gases, transition metals, lanthanoids, actinoids, and other classifications of elements.  Classification groups certain types of elements together so that we can gauge their reactions to other elements merely by their grouping.  We can also gauge the chances of the element becoming radioactive because of these classifications.  The noble gases are just peachy and fine on their own, other non-metals just love a good bonding experience.

Doing the same to planets is essential to keep our understanding of them in line.  This type does this and has this mass.  This other type does this and has this mass.  Classification is essential to make scientific education palpable and accessible.

 

Sometimes classifications change as we learn more about the universe.  Hell, classifications often change on much, much smaller levels here on earth, but nobody seems to notice.  Science is ever-evolving because our understanding of the world and the universe around us is ever-evolving.  There is always new information to be had, and what we know right now in the scientific community, no matter how expansive our knowledge, is subatomic when compared to all of the knowledge there is to be had.  We can’t let sentiments get in the way of progress.

Pluto was a planet when I was a child as well, but that doesn’t mean I should resist this knowledge merely out of emotion.  When my grandfather was a child, it was believed that separate species of human ancestors never walked together, yet now we know that not only did they walk with one another and fight with one another, but they interbred with one another.  Should we protest this knowledge because it’s different from the knowledge we were taught as a child?  Of course not.  That would be a little silly, wouldn’t it?  Well, I fail to see how Pluto is any different.  Pluto is a dwarf planet, plain and simple.  That doesn’t mean it’s gone anywhere.  Trust me, it’s still there, and it’s still orbiting the sun along with us.  Just very, very slowly.

If string hypothesis were to ever be proven (not likely), should we rebel in protest to sustain the standard model, even though it’s been shown to be – though only in this one instance – flawed?  I’ll throw it down the toilet tomorrow if you can make string hypothesis a legitimate theory.  Science requires progress and we must move along with it.

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Fun with Fundies! Yes, it’s Back Just for This Guy!

People, this is not parody.  This guy is serious.

So much wrong, where do you even start with this moron?  I’m not even going to try, because if you managed to turn on a computer, you’re already far more scientifically literate than this guy.

 

 

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A Different Approach to Trayvon Martin

I’ve recently taken a small break from being “The Smiling Skeptic” to concentrate on other matters.  Other matters that don’t leave me with heart conditions from either pure rage brought on by frustration, or by hysterical laughter.  However, I thought of this subject this morning after a long night, and I realized this would be something I should really talk about, because other skeptics are really either keeping their traps shut, or falling prey to media smear campaigns that are just as laughable as anything I’ve ever seen.

As most of you know, Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old African American high school student in Florida, who was gunned down by his own neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, one month ago today.

Police have been incredibly slow to act because of claims that this was a self-defense act, despite Trayvon Martin being armed with nothing more than an ice tea and a small bag of Skittles.

Since this happened, the media has been in a frenzy, sensationalizing the case, demonizing Zimmerman as a violent lunatic, making jokes to his grieving mom about Trayvon’s love for friend chicken, and numerous other seriously misguided things.  However, if you examine the facts about the case (fried chicken jokes aside) the media hasn’t been all that wrong about it.  And by “media” I refer to the mainstream media, and not Fox News, which was quick to take the side of Zimmerman.  Geraldo Rivera even made note on national television that Trayvon was “asking for it” because his hoodie made him look like “a wannabe gangster.”  It was then later on that same week that Fox News published a bunch of photos of Trayvon, contrary to those that had been shown in the media, depicting him as a violent gang-banger.

Notice, I gave you the story, and I started off with one of the problems.  This info-graphic pretty much puts things into perspective:

The caption at the bottom is certainly correct, well, for those of us who aren’t living in the 18th century like so many of those at Fox News.  I’ve got a feeling that most hosts on that network couldn’t tell the difference.  Okay, now I’m just being rude, but it’s probably factual.  As you can clearly see, the images posted at the start of this smear campaign were not even pictures of the right Trayvon Martin.  In fact, just a slight peek at the fake Trayvon’s Facebook page, one of the first things you see is his origin: Georgia.

Was this a mistake?  I don’t know.  As a skeptic by nature, I can’t say I know one way or another without empirical evidence, but what I can say is that it’s nothing new for the right-wing media to blatantly make things up.

Next thing we know, all of Facebook is flooded with photos such as this one:

Notice the problem?  Look at how they try to make Zimmerman look as “white” as possible, while portraying Trayvon as…oh wait!  Oh, that’s right.  We already discussed this.  That’s not actually the Trayvon Martin who was killed.  Well, it’s surely starting to look more and more as if the conflation was on purpose, isn’t it?

The next image I saw was posted by someone who decided to delete me after I offered up some criticism for the image she posted regarding how George Zimmerman had a wife, a job, and owned a house, whereas Trayvon had recently been suspended from school for marijuana.  The argument was that Trayvon was a typical criminal and George Zimmerman is a stand-up guy, or as another might say it, as mainstream white as a fellow minority could be.  I immediately shared this image along with my criticism, but with the connection deleted, so was the photo.  But if you’d like to find the photo I’m talking about, simply find this person on Facebook:

After you find the photo, just take a look at it, then I suggest you delete the little bigot immediately.

And now for something completely different.  How about we do what nobody is doing in this case thus yet: we look at the facts.

According to allvoices.com

In 2005, Zimmerman was arrested and charged with ‘resisting officer with violence’ and ‘battery of law enforcement officer’, and both these felonies are considered third-degree. Due to his desperate attempts, the charge was reduced to ‘resisting officer without violence’ and then it was completely waived off once he entered an alcohol education program.

In the same year, 2005, Zimmerman’s ex-fiance, Veronica Zuazo filed a civil motion for a restraining order alleging domestic violence. In retaliation, Zimmerman filed for a retraining order against Zuazo and both these claims were resolved with both restraining orders being granted.

These are not just allegations from a bias website.  These are from Zimmerman’s official criminal background.  Zimmerman also has a history of traffic violations, but those are hardly meaningful in this situation.  In fact, they’re about as meaningful as Trayvon’s marijuana suspension that has been over-played by the right-wing media.  Here would be a good time to mention Trayvon has a blank criminal record, but I digress.  The fact of the matter is Zimmerman is hardly a stand-up guy.  He has a history of assault and violence, and in any reasonable state with real standards, should not have had either a license to carry a concealed weapon, nor should he have had any right to be appointed a neighborhood watch captain.  Well, he actually wasn’t appointed neighborhood watch captain, unless self-appointment counts.  Another fact worth mentioning, I thought.

Trayvon, on the other hand, as I mentioned had one school suspension for marijuana and no criminal record.  A right-wing columnist alleged Trayvon had attacked a bus driver in the Miami Herald, but this story was later disproved.  Imagine that.  A right-wing columnist said something without any evidence to back it up.  Back to the suspension, however; does that mean Trayvon was a bad kid?  Absolutely not.  Let me share a little something with you: I’m a functioning adult with degrees in psychology, sociology and evolutionary biology.  One of my many projects is making videos to help younger children better understand the basic principles of science.  I’m an avid reader, writer, published author, blogger, designer, web developer, web designer, product developer, and many, many more titles.  Guess what; I was suspended more times in middle and high school than you could ever imagine.  I was even booted out of my middle school, and was forced to attend and alternative learning center, just after returning home from a 6 1/2 month drug treatment program.  Bet you didn’t know that about me.

Here’s my point: If someone were to gun me down right now, would that make it okay?  If you think so, then you need to seriously reevaluate your morals.

Okay, enough about the background smearing, because it’s simply meaningless.  Here is the one fact that matters in this trial: George Zimmerman was an armed adult who used lethal force, gunning down an unarmed minor.  No internet photos (no matter how fake they are anyway), no background checks, no accusations can change that.  That is what happened that day.  Of six witnesses, only one of them confirms Zimmerman’s story that Trayvon attacked him first.  No matter if Trayvon attacked him first, since that still doesn’t give the man the legal right to resort immediately to lethal force.  The butt of a gun to the forehead would have taken Trayvon down.

When police arrived at the scene, Zimmerman had injuries consistent with his story, including blood stains and a broken nose.  The problem here, again, is that only one of the six witnesses confirms this story, while others tell the story differently, and consistently with one another’s stories.  One witness even says Zimmerman was chasing Trayvon through her own backyard while Martin was running toward his home.  Zimmerman shot Trayvon after this.  A kid running away from you is not assault in any state or country, no matter how backwoods their laws may be.

In regards to the allegations of racism, other witnesses have come forward alleging Zimmerman had previously gone door-to-door telling people to be on the lookout for suspicious looking black men in the neighborhood.  This is according to a Miami Herald story that can be found here.

These racial allegations, much like other allegations and smears, are pretty much irrelevant, however, to the actual facts of the story.

Look, I’m not going to pretend this was an entirely impartial article.  I’m at a severe point of frustration with all of this, and I’ve really been trying to avoid it like the plague in order to avoid a stress rash.   Yes, though I’m more than willing to attack either side of the political spectrum, I do indeed have my political leanings and I’m honest about that.  I have biases just like we all do.  However, as I mentioned, the facts are the facts.  Take out every slam against the right-wing media, and you’re still left with a piece exploring the facts of this trial, and under no circumstance is Zimmerman an innocent man who fended for his life, according to the facts that are known.  Could more facts surface?  Of course.  New evidence could turn up, just like witnesses can change their stories, and I’m open to all of that.  For now, however, you know where I stand.

For further information, you can visit Wikipedia here to listen to all of the 9-11 calls associated with the Trayvon Martin case.  You may also like to visit some of the following sites for more indepth information that can help you in drawing your own conclusions about this case:

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/03/26/452310/what-everyone-needs-to-know-about-the-smear-campaign-against-trayvon-martin-1995-2012/?mobile=nc

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/11808013-george-zimmermans-criminal-records-revealed

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/03/trayvon-martin-case-timeline-of-events/

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2017819414_zimmerman23.html

http://www.thefloridanewsjournal.com/2012/03/12/sanford-police-say-they-lack-evidence-arrest-george-zimmerman

http://www.wftv.com/news/news/state-attorney-case-will-be-given-grand-jury-shoot/nLX9c/

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-03-24/news/os-trayvon-martin-new-black-panthers-protest-20120324_1_sanford-vigilante-justice-black-men

Update:  Today, video was released of George Zimmerman being taken from the arresting squad car into police custody.  Now, this was right after the incident – the same night – but Zimmerman alleged having a broken nose and numerous lacerations.  Video quality may not be the best, but he sure seems just fine.  He must have had a very good surgeon who cleaned him up very quickly.  I’m still not saying one way or another, and I’m being skeptical of what I’m hearing, but if this is actually from the very night of the shooting, this is pretty damning, not only to Zimmerman, but also to the police who claimed Zimmerman’s wounds were consistent with his story:  http://abcnews.go.com/US/video/george-zimmerman-police-surveillance-16024475  I apologize.  I can’t post the video directly, so I have to do it through the link.

 

Update: April 1, 2012:

Even more evidence has surfaced that doesn’t corroborate Zimmerman’s side of the story.  In the official 9-1-1 call, Zimmerman claimed he was the voice screaming for help because he was being attacked.  As it turns out, now that the tapes have been released, forensics experts now say that the voice screaming for help in the 9-1-1 call was actually that of Trayvon Martin.  You can visit Addicting Info to listen to the audio and read the official story from the forensics lab in charge of the case.

Again, Zimmerman, as anyone else, is innocent until proven guilty, but the evidence keeps stacking up against him.  And I still attest that he is indeed guilty of murder no matter what, and there is absolutely no denying that.  The only question is whether or not this stands to be ruled as a justifiable homicide due to backwoods Florida laws that have caused so-called justifiable homicides to triple since their inception.

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…Like Abstinence is a Sexual Position

If you missed Bill Maher this past Friday, you missed Bill once again explaining that atheism is not a belief or a religion.  This cop-out from the religious seems to be used more and more by the day, and I think it’s time we tie all of them down and make them listen to phrases such as, “Atheism is a religion like baldness is a hair color,” or “Atheism is a religion just like abstinence is a sexual position.”  Truly, eventually it has to sink in, no matter how ignorant these people are.

 

 

 

Source: HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher

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The Internet in Real Life

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