Daily Archives: September 25, 2011

Balancing Acts in Science

How do you know when alternative views are real alternatives, and thus should be considered in a “balanced view” vs. when those views are not any longer valid and should be ignored? This sounds like a hard thing to do but it is not as hard as you might think. I suggest two different approaches: “Tipping Points” and “Clues that Something is Wrong Here.”

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Saudi Arabia Takes An Important Step Towards the 20th Century

The Medieval Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a relatively progressive King, apparently. He decided that women would be allowed to vote. This is a good thing, but it does remind us of how backwards a nation can be. And makes us wonder if a country like Saudi Arabia should have ever been allowed in the UN to begin with.

From the wp:

Saudi King Abdullah announced Sunday that the nation’s women will gain the right to vote and run as candidates in local elections to be held in 2015 in a major advancement for the rights of women in the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom.

In an annual speech before his advisory assembly, or Shura Council, the Saudi monarch said he ordered the step after consulting with the nation’s top religious clerics, whose advice carries great weight in the kingdom.

Abdullah said the changes announced Sunday would also allow women to be appointed to the Shura Council, the advisory body selected by the king that is currently all-male.

Note that only local elections were mentioned. Women in Saudi Arabia still can’t drive, and are liable to be sentenced to death if they are raped, etc. etc. But this is an important step in the right direction.

The Majority of Americans Think Global Warming Is Real

There was a poll.

On climate change, 69% of respondents said that they believe that “there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades,” with 26% saying that they did not believe it, 2% volunteering that there is some or mixed evidence, and 3% saying that they didn’t know or refusing to answer the question. Among those who believed that there is evidence (whether solid or mixed), 64% said that “[c]limate change is caused mostly by human activity such as burning fossil fuels” came closest to their view, while 32% preferred “[c]limate change is caused mostly by natural patterns in the earth’s environment” instead, and 4% said that they didn’t know or refused to answer the question.

Unfortunately, that comes out to about 44% believing that climate change is anthropogenic.

Science education anyone?

Berkeley Campus Republicans: Native American Women are the Lowest Form of Life

The Campus Republicans of the UC-Berkeley campus are having a bake sale with the cost per item set in relation to the buyer’s skin color and gender. White males would pay full price, but people who have very dark skin and are female get the food for less. Here’s the pricing structure:

  • White $2.00
  • Asian $1.50
  • Latino $1.00
  • Black $0.75
  • Native American $0.25
  • $0.25 off for all women

This is their way of demonstrating how admission policies at UC allow inferior people who should be valued less into college. The intention of the bake sale was to make people mad. That failed, and instead it made people look at the Campus Republicans of the University of California Berkeley and go “Oh, isn’t that cute. They have no brains but they can still talk and walk. Like those Japanese robots.”

From the cnn report:
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Interesting Developments in Gay Marriage in Minneosta

Minnesota Atheists is involved in a very interesting legal fight pertaining to same-sex marriage. On learning of recent developments in this case, I asked Mike Haubrich, who knows much more about it than I do, if he would write a guest post telling you all about it. Same sex marriage is an issue that demands effective activism, and the action being taken by Mn Atheists is an excellent example of this. Oh, and feel free to donate to the MN Atheist legal fund.

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Vaccines and Autism: A Tale of Shifting Hypotheses

ResearchBlogging.orgA paper coming out in the next issue of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases addresses the question of the link between vaccines and autism. This new review article examines three hypotheses linking vaccines to autism:

(1) the combination measles�mumps�rubella vaccine causes autism by damaging the intestinal lining, which allows the entrance of encephalopathic proteins;

(2) thimerosal, an ethylmercury�containing preservative in some vaccines, is toxic to the central nervous system; and

(3) the simultaneous administration of multiple vaccines overwhelms or weakens the immune system.

Continue reading Vaccines and Autism: A Tale of Shifting Hypotheses

David Silverman on the Radio

Carl Hancock and Steve Petersen will interview David Silverman, President of American Atheists. We will discuss their current activities, including, public campaigns to gain attention for atheists with billboards, aerial banners, appearances on television and radio. Why American atheists suit to keep a surviving fragmented I-beam from becoming a Christian religious symbol at the world Trade Center tragedy. Additional we will spend some time discussing the Reason Rally convention 2012 and a host of other subjects in the news.

Details here