Vox Populi

If you’re like me and enjoy reading something excruciatingly dumb every now and then, then you can rarely go wrong with the Letters to the Editors pages of local newspapers. I usually find myself wondering, “If these are the ones they saw fit to publish, just how awful must the unfit ones have been?” And today’s three letters are no different.

Let’s start with C. Dale German of Bethany, OK, who has a nuanced and original take on the current condition of these great United States.

One nation under God

Ha ha! Just kidding. He’s just gonna regurgitate dishonest god-humper boilerplate. This asshole has totally drunk the “1950s were a utopia” Kool-Aid about the 1950s that too many Americans gullibly believe, and he wants us all to know how deluded he is.

America was once a civil place.

Even our Wars were Civil!

Democrats and Republicans fought from opposite political perspectives yet were both proud Americans.

In fact, just like now, they would NEVER shut up about what proud Americans they are. It’s practically the only thing politicians ever say in this country.

Families could watch TV with small children and never hear profanity.

Talk about first world problems. Oh, I’m sorry, I meant fucking god damn first world problems, you cunt-faced son of a bitch.

School days began with Bible reading, a salute to the flag and the Lord’s Prayer.

That flag reference sandwiched between two religious references is very revealing. As much as they yammer on about the evils of idolatry, the flag might as well be a god to fundamentalists.

We went to work and left our houses unlocked.

Then you were idiots, seeing as crime rates were about the same in the 1950s as they are today, and are actually steeply declining over the last two decades. The only thing that’s changed is now you have sensationalistic 24 hour news channels constantly bombarding you with real life horror stories.

The American military was strong and respected.

That’s because we’d just dropped a fucking nuke on Japan. The “respect” was bullshit. People just didn’t want to get fucking nuked.

Americans felt blessed to live in America.

We still do. I just had a conversation the other day about how happy I am not to live in fucking Mexico where the fucking cartels are leaving duffel bags full of severed heads in elementary schools. The difference is that I don’t feel the need to buttress those feelings with glurgy, sentimental garbage and lies like you do.

“Blue laws” supported businesses that closed on Sunday.

Free enterprise!

Those who don’t remember this America don’t know how heartbreaking it is for those who do remember the America we lost.

It wasn’t lost, because you can’t lose something that never existed.

For sure there was poverty, segregation and social ills to be cured in an evolving America.

*Snort!* Yeah, America in the 50s was great! We saluted the flag and didn’t say the word “shit” on TV! Sure, there was crime, injustice, racism, sexism, higher poverty rates, higher illiteracy rates and all. But we had blue laws! (By the way–blue laws still exist in many cities…)

But we remember a nice country.

That’s because you were a spoiled little brat who was shielded from the harsh realities of the country you lived in. Social ills and injustice are perpetuated by silence, and silence is exactly what a sanctimonious, censorious, prudish, sheltered society like 1950s America breeds. That’s why you were so content with your fucking censored TV and chintzy American flag crap while black people were being beaten in the streets just for protesting Jim Crow laws. “Yeah, there was segregation and poverty, but I remember a nice country.” Shut the hell up.

School teachers and clergy wore suits and were respected.

If you paid school teachers a decent wage maybe they could afford more suits. Or, you know, feed and clothe their children. But the suits seem to be what’s important to you, and if that’s what it takes to get you to pay teachers more, then I guess I can go with it.

Men respected women as ladies and women responded as ladies.

“As ladies”. There is so much packed into those two words that I could write an entire blog post unraveling it. (Don’t worry. I won’t.) Let’s just say that this is the 1950’s “suits=respect” way of saying “Bitches stayed in their place.”

We can hope that not all is lost.

I hope all of it is lost. I don’t want to live in a society where superficial crap like words on TV, saluting a flag and wearing a suit are more important than real life concerns like poverty and injustice. Take your shallow-minded, cotton-candy, shiny-surface-with-a-rotten-core vision of America and shove it.

When those who remember are gone and only those who don’t remember remain, we can hope today’s crass, vulgar, obscenity of incivility will one day fade into history in a born-again America true to its founding purpose — one nation under God.

Or we could just keep living our lives and wait for all you pathetic old fogies to die so we don’t have to hear about this crap any more. The really funny thing is that 60 years from now people will be saying these exact same things about the times we’re currently living in. Humans are nothing if not predictable animals.

Our next subject, Wayne Hull of Yukon, OK, has some serious fucking Fatwa Envy going on:

Regarding the staging of “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” at Civic Center Music Hall: Why would anyone during the holidays condemn an actual religion of peace? Imagine the ferocious protests if the same venue was being used to stage “The Most Fabulous Ramadan.” Why mock people of faith who celebrate their faith?

Because it’s funny? It’s telling that every time Christianity is mocked, the response is a furious protest by Christians claiming that Christians don’t do furious protests so fuck the Muzzies. They are so jealous of Muslims they can barely contain it.

What’s hilarious about ridiculing the story of Christ, likely using the most exaggerated homosexual caricatures in the presentation, and infusing sex acts into a holiday otherwise devoid of promiscuity?

Christmas? Devoid of promiscuity? Are you fucking high? The whole damn holiday revolves around a teenage girl giving birth out of wedlock.

Oh, and notice how he says “likely” when describing the contents of the play he’s furiously not-protesting. That means he hasn’t seen the play he’s criticizing. Fucking typical.

How is this anything but an affront to people whose beliefs are different and, consequently, threatening?

Pretty sure you’re the one protesting people whose beliefs you view as different and threatening. Hasn’t that been the whole theme of every single sentence prior to this one?

They made a play about gay Jesus. Fucking get over it. You didn’t even fucking see it, and no one is forcing you or anybody else to watch it. Yet you protest its very existence. You, my friend, are the one being intolerant.

Last year the Obama administration openly condemned an American citizen for a YouTube video poking fun at the Prophet Muhammad.

This would be a good time to remind everyone that the term “religion of peace” in regards to Islam was coined by George W. Bush. Pandering to Muslims is nothing new, and both parties do it. It’s not right, but it’s not exclusive to Obama, either.

Now our elected officials waffle with another public piece that, if paralleled in regards to Islam, would likely result in mass riots.

More fatwa envy. American Christians really, really, REALLY wish they could get away with the violence that goes on in the Muslim world. They’d love to riot and chop people’s heads off if they could.

Christians are supposed to shut up passively as their faith is ridiculed. If they speak up, they’re chastised as being bigots or, at least, anti-First Amendment.

And rightly so, because that’s exactly what they are. But no one is calling for you to be censored. What you’re asking for, on the other hand…

Those who support a “gay agenda” must know how deeply regressive this play impacts their desire to be recognized as part of a larger society.

Only amongst small minded bigots like you. Normal people don’t respond to a gay Jesus play by thinking, “Well, I guess that means I should deny gays their rights!” That’s not how human brains work.

The Christmas story isn’t a story of gay sex, let alone gay persons.

See? The gay people don’t need your fucking approbation anyhow. You’ve already excluded them, so why should they censor their play to appease your bigoted ass?

It’s a Middle Eastern story of one man whose life changed the world forever.

Which is why we Christians fight tooth and nail to make sure it never changes again….

…And lose every time.

And just so it doesn’t look like I’m unfairly picking on my home state, let’s move on to Pennsylvania. Central Pennsylvania, to be more precise. And as we all know, central Pennsylvania is the most important Pennsylvania, because it’s central to all that other Pennsylvania. And it’s got those fires that never, ever, ever go out.*

But that’s not what the real problem is. Take it away, Chris Hicks of East Pennsboro Township.

If the question is gay marriage, God has the answer

Please tell me Jesus finally proposed to Muhammad.

In response to Shirley Ericson’s letter, “United Methodist church is acting against a courageous minister“:

Contrary to Ms. Ericson’s opinion, God is not this grandfatherly-cosmic-casual-genie that looks down on us and is OK with our sinful condition.

Grandfatherly Cosmic Casual Genie sounds a lot better when you sing it to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon theme. Seriously, try it.

And why would god even be a genie, casual or otherwise? I read Shirley Ericson’s letter. She at no point implies that Jeebus is played by Shaq or Robin Williams, or that he ever grants any wishes (see what I did there? Prayer is bullshit!). The only person talking about this weird genie Jesus is you, bub.

Anyways, if gob doesn’t like our sinful condition, he shouldn’t have created it in the first place. He chose to give us free will and put tempting fruit in the garden. If he’s unhappy with the result, he has no one to blame but himself. Would you put a steak on your floor then beat your dog for eating it?

His word is clear and infallible. It does not change, while a culture’s moral compass becomes clouded and is in decline.

How exactly can a compass be in decline? Maybe he’s referring to the Golden Compass film franchise…

His word is rock solid, firm and clear.

Weirdly, this is also true of his dick.

Sin is bad because it hurts the heart of God.

What is it about fundamentalist religion that turns its followers into prattling five year olds? The baby-talk that comes from these people is just plain fucking creepy. The above sentence should never be spoken by any human being over the age of 8, unless they have, like, Down’s syndrome or something. And even then they should keep it to a minimum.

But apparently, in this guy’s puerile mind, an omnipotent being can be hurt. How? How could a perfect being be harmed in any way? If he has ANY vulnerabilities or shortcomings whatsoever, then he is not perfect and omnipotent.  It makes no sense to speak of a perfect being feeling or wanting or needing anything at all. And, with one fell swoop, I’ve just erased the motivation for all but the most deistic forms of religion. Sorry about that. I know how you guys hate logic.

When will we quit trying to pursue our own fleshly lusts and sinful desires and seek to live sacrificial lives unto our great, gracious, holy heavenly Father?

When we all lose our god damn minds. So, hopefully never.

For a closing exercise, click on that link above and read Shirley Ericson’s letter, then go back and read Chris Hicks’ again.  These are both Christians, but they are clearly very different kinds of Christians. And I’m not just talking about their views on gay marriage being different. Their brains work differently.  They’re processing information and reacting to it in starkly different ways.

Even before we get to their beliefs and their claims, just the language of the two letters shows striking contrasts. Both letters, for instance, contain a single interrogative sentence. But they use the interrogative for entirely different purposes. Ericson’s interrogative (third paragraph) is a hypothetical in which she presents some evidence and then provides a logical conclusion from it in order to make the reader THINK about their position. She’s challenging her audience to use their minds and reconsider their position.

Now look at Hicks’ interrogative, which I just snarked at above. It’s a lament, intended to get people to stop behaving differently from him and start unquestioningly obeying an authority. It has precisely the OPPOSITE purpose as Ericson’s. And rather than use logic to persuade, he tries to change the reader’s mind by appealing to a cognitive bias humans have to be more trusting of people who look wealthy, clean, beautiful, or powerful. Seriously, would even North Korea use language like his to describe its leader?

The baby-talk is completely absent from Ericson’s letter. Her declarative sentences are more complex than Hicks’, and again she uses them differently. Her declarative sentences consist mostly of statements of fact that are not a matter of belief, such as “This guy will lose his job,” etc. She often uses these facts as premises and conclusions in arguments. For Hicks, EVERY declarative sentence states as fact something that is a matter of his own personal faith. He doesn’t actually state a single faith-free fact anywhere in his letter. Not one. And he doesn’t make any arguments at all. He just declares his own beliefs as absolutely true by fiat, as if he himself were god.

I could go on and on analyzing the differences between the two, but the point should be obvious by now. There are different kinds of Christians, and differences between them run so deep that they alter the very way they process information and interact with the world. Ericson focuses on concrete facts. She then processes these to see what they imply. And if what they imply contradicts what she believes about gay marriage, she adapts her beliefs to the new information. She then proceeds to spell out these premises and conclusions for others, hoping to replicate the process in other minds as well. This is all just a long way of saying she’s a RATIONAL FUCKING PERSON.

Hicks, on the other hand, is a textbooks example of an authoritarian. He associates power with truth and beauty. If someone is powerful, then whatever they say must be true and good. He sees himself as a conduit of this power, and issues demands on its behalf that others assimilate to his thought processes or face dire wrath. So he’s like the Borg, but without any real power. He views communication between humans as a string of commands that others obey the power that he is vicariously channeling from an imaginary being.  And he sees value in others only insofar as they conform to this arbitrary string of commands. Which, again, is just a long way of saying he’s a FUNDAMENTALIST FUCKFACE.

I’m glad there’s no heaven. Spending eternity with these guys would be hell.

 

____________________

*No wonder they based a horror video game on it. That shit is fucking scary.

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God hates flop

Creationists are a special kind of crazy. Their entire fucking belief system centers around gullible acceptance of fanciful stories, and their lack of self-awareness and intellectual reflection means that they view everything else in the world in terms of unquestioning acceptance of imaginary tales. They just aren’t capable of thinking any other way. If they were, they wouldn’t be creationists.  And since they write hoping to influence (i.e. corrupt) young children, their prose is geared towards generating simple-minded mnemonics and catchphrases rather than eloquence or mellifluousness. Hence the title of this recent article from creation.com:

The 3 Rs of Evolution: Rearrange, Remove, Ruin—in other words, no evolution!

The genetic changes observed in living things today could not have turned bacteria into basset hounds—ever

Alliteration nourishes the lazy brain.

Mr. Catchpoole is clearly hoping to add another catchphrase to the creationist repertoire. Maybe “Rearrange, Remove, Ruin” will join other creationist stalwarts like “From Goo through the Zoo to You” and “Were You There?” and “Design Implies a Designer” and other empty bromides that creationists endlessly regurgitate without ever actually thinking about. But probably not.

Anyways, let’s look at what Mr. Crotchpull has to say.

Evolution textbooks cite variation as being something upon which ‘evolution depends’.1 However, when one examines closely the claimed ‘demonstrable examples’ of ‘evolution’, they actually fall into three categories, which we can label here as the ‘3 Rs’.

Spoiler: He doesn’t actually look at any demonstrable examples (in scare quotes or otherwise). In fact, there is no discussion of any recent experimental evidence anywhere in the subsequent article. I’m sure you’re shocked to learn this.

‘R’#1: Rearrange existing genes

Careful examination of many purported instances of ‘evolution in action’ shows that such ‘variation’ actually already exists, conferred by genes that already exist.

In science, careful examination means looking at evidence gathered from experiments or collected from nature. In creationism, careful examination means ignoring distinctions and nuance and creating false dichotomies.

Of course evolution involves variation that is already there. It wouldn’t work the way it does if it didn’t prominently involve pre-existing variation. Natural selection does not create out of nothing. It modifies what already exists. This has been a core principle of the theory ever since fucking Darwin himself proposed it over 150 years ago.

Creationists want us to believe that there’s some kind of XOR relation between pre-existing variation and new variation. But there is nothing of the sort. Evolution involves both pre-existing variation and new variation. Both are essential to the theory.

Here’s a simplified example that shows this, and also how such genetic variety might be misconstrued as ‘evidence of evolution’. The two dogs in the top row of Figure 1 are a male and a female. They each have a gene that codes for short hair (inherited from its mother or father) and a gene that codes for long hair (inherited from the other parent). In combination, this gene pair for fur length results in medium length hair.2

Congratu-fucking-lations, you’ve achieved a less-than-rudimentary understanding of partial dominance. And need I even mention that he’s not referring to any actual dogs that were part of any actual experiment, but rather just to a cartoon drawing that accompanied the article? Keep that in mind.

A casual observer, looking only at the outward appearance, i.e. unaware of what is happening at the genetic level, might think: “There were no long-hair dogs in the parents’ generation. This long hair is a new characteristic—evolution is true!”

You’re operating under the assumption that the casual observer is even dumber than you are. People had noticed this phenomenon long before the theory of evolution came along, and Darwin was well aware of it.

But such a view is incorrect. The only thing this ‘evolution’ has done is to rearrange existing genes. There’s simply been a sorting out of pre-existing genetic information. There’s no new information here of the kind needed to have turned pond scum into poodles, Pekingese, pointers and papillons.

But such a view isn’t what evolutionary biologists are talking about. Your make-believe situation with the dogs is utterly fucking irrelevant. Experiments such as Richard Lenski’s long term E. coli experiments have demonstrated again and again organisms evolving new genetic traits which weren’t there before. Unlike your make-believe dogs, they did this with real organisms and used real genetic tests to see what genes were there already and what genes appeared in later generations. Why is it so hard for creationists to understand that reality trumps Magical Pretend Land?

I’ve got actual experimental evidence. You’ve got cartoon dogs. I win.

‘R’#2: Remove genetic information

What about natural selection, adaptation and speciation?

None of these represent the generation of any new microbes-to-mastiff genetic information either. In our ‘hairy dog’ example, if we were to send our new population of dogs, some with short hair, others with medium or long hair, to an icy, very cold location, we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see natural selection at work, killing off any dog that didn’t have long hair (Figure 2, Line 1). When the survivors reproduce, the only fur-length genes passed on to the offspring are those that code for long hair (Figure 2, Line 2).

Thus we now have a population of dogs beautifully adapted to its environment. Biologists encountering our ice-bound population of dogs, observing them to be isolated3 from other populations of dogs, could argue that they be given a new species name.

So here we see natural selection, adaptation, and possibly even speciation—but no new genes have been added. In fact, there’s been a loss of genes (the genetic information for short-and medium-length hair has been removed from the population).

We don’t see anything here, because you’ve demonstrated nothing. You’ve taken a completely imaginary scenario and invented arbitrary rules for it. And here’s where you really fuck up…

Note that such examples of natural selection, adaptation and speciation are often portrayed as evidence for evolution, but the only thing this ‘evolution’ has done is to remove existing genes. If this population of exclusively long-hair dogs were now forcibly relocated to a steamy tropical island, the population could not ‘adapt’ to the hot climate unless someone re-introduced the short-hair gene to the population again, by ‘back-crossing’ a short-or medium-length hair dog from elsewhere.

You have your imaginary bullshit. I have actual evidence. The precise situation you describe has actually happened in real life, and guess what? The result was exactly the opposite of what you say.

In 1971, lizards were transported to the island Pod Mrcaru from the island Pod Kopiste in the Adriatic Sea. In 2008, the lizards on Pod Mrcaru were examined, and were found to have evolved a number of new traits, the most striking of which was a cecal valve in their stomachs. A whole new valve, in under 40 years! Genetic tests showed that they did not interbreed with any other lizards–they were wholly descended from the Pod Kopiste lizards, even though those lizards do not have a cecal valve (in fact, cecal valves are extremely rare in any species of lizard). This is exactly what the creationists insist cannot happen, and yet it does.

Once again, you have some cartoony shit that you pulled out of your ass. I have actual evidence taken from nature. I win.

This is exactly the sort of thing that our crop and livestock breeders are doing. They are scouring the world for the original genes created during Creation Week4 but which have subsequently been ‘bred out’ (lost) from our domestic varieties/breeds of plants and animals because of breeders artificially selecting certain characteristics, which means other features are de-selected (lost).

This just downright idiotic. Here’s an example. In the picture below, on the right is an ear of corn. On the left is corn’s wild genetic ancestor, which is called teosinte.

499px-Maize-teosinte

There is clearly more going on here than just a few genes being missing. The entire overall structure has been radically altered.

Strike three for your bullshit cartoons and imaginary scenarios.

So how about that third R?

However, there are forms of dog genes today which were not present at Creation but have arisen since. But those have not arisen by any creative process, but by mutations, which are copying mistakes (typos, we might say) as genes are passed from parents to offspring. You would expect such accidental changes to wreck the existing genes, and that’s what happens. For example, the dog pictured in Figure 3 has just such a mutated gene, resulting in ‘floppy ear syndrome’.5

“Wreck”? What the hell does that mean? That’s not a scientific term, and it is never defined in this article. Instead, the buttfuckingly stupid example of floppy ears on dogs is somehow supposed to explain how mutations “wreck” genes.

Dogs with this genetic mutation have weaker cartilage and cannot lift up their ears. So they just hang, floppy before dinner, and sloppy after it—unless their owners are diligent in cleaning them. Such regular attention to ear hygiene is necessary, as dogs with floppy ears are prone to serious ear infections, which can even lead to hearing loss.6 Not that their hearing was especially good anyway. As you might expect, dogs with erect ears are far superior to floppy-eared dogs at detecting prey by sound.7

So fucking what? The dogs that have floppy ears have no need to hunt prey by sound, so they aren’t harmed by this at all. This is like saying that a dolphin is “wrecked” because its limbs aren’t strong enough to walk around on land. When would it ever need to do that?

I can remember reflecting on this when I was an atheist/evolutionist, and wondering how such floppy-eared dogs could have ever evolved and survived in the wild.

You must have been the stupidest atheist in the universe.

I now know that they didn’t.

Yeah, no shit.

Instead this mutation in the genes has arisen since the original “very good” world (Genesis 1:31) was cursed as a result of Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:17–19). The floppy-eared mutation in dogs is but one example of how a post-Fall world is very much “in bondage to decay” (Romans 8:19–22).

How the fuck did you get from floppy ears to bondage?

And, no, that is not the explanation.  Floppy ears are an example of paedomorphosis, which can result from developmental processes like neoteny or progenesis. This involves alterations to regulatory genes which alter the time or pacing of sexual development and cause juvenile traits to be retained in the adult animal. It’s been the subject of experimental research ever since Dmitri Belyaev was able to recreate how dogs evolved from wolves, except this time using foxes. And he did this 50 years ago.

It’s not “wrecking” the genes. It’s making alterations which, if adaptive, will be preserved by natural selection. In the case of floppy ears, for domestic dogs “adaptive” means “humans like it”, and that’s what we see with dogs.

Why is this so important to consider, in the context of evolutionary claims that no Creator was necessary?

It’s not. Evolutionary biologists already understand floppy ears much better than you ever will, and unlike you, they have actual experimental evidence to back up their claims.

Evolutionary biologists, when pressed with the facts about natural selection, will concede that natural selection by itself can only remove existing genetic information. However, they argue that in tandem with mutations, natural selection would be a creative process.

But the floppy-ear mutation, for one, is a classic example of the widespread degradation of the genome—a downhill process. For microbes-to-man evolution to be true, evolutionists should be able to point to thousands of examples of information-gaining mutations, an uphill process, but they can’t.8 Mutations overwhelmingly ruin genetic information. Therefore evolutionists looking to mutations as being evolution’s ‘engine’ do so in vain.9 Thus they are left with no known mechanism capable of ever turning microbes into mutts—i.e. no way of ‘climbing’ up the supposed evolutionary ‘tree’.

This is why creationist fail. They fundamentally misunderstand the theory they’re arguing against, and end up making stupid arguments like this.

Evolution is not teleological. It has no direction. There is no path. “Good” and “bad” mutations are only good or bad relative to the environment the organism lives in. What’s good in one environment might be bad in another.

For this reason, there’s no such thing as “degradation” of the genome. What counts as a “good” genome depends on what kind of environment we’re talking about. In the wild, floppy ears might not be good. But living with humans, dogs with floppy ears have been successful and bred widely, and from a natural selection point of view that’s all that matters.

Note that while mutations degrade genetic information, sometimes an advantage arising from such degradation can outweigh the disadvantage vis-à-vis survival. While a floppy-eared mutant mutt might not last long in the wild, under human care—i.e. with regular ear cleaning—the equation changes. And what about the key moment when a buyer is looking for the ‘cutest’, friendliest pup in the pet shop window? Indeed, there is increasing evidence that the floppy-eared characteristic is strongly associated with tameness.10,11 Little wonder then, that floppy-eared dogs are so common today.12

Wait, so you acknowledge what I said earlier??? Then in what possible way could you mean “degrade”? Obviously you acknowledge that floppy ears actually benefit dogs in their human environment, so they’re not bad. So they haven’t been degraded or wrecked. Or is it that even in your tiny little creationist head you’ve never bothered to clarify just what the fuck those words are supposed to mean in this context?

Look, you’re conceding the point here. You’re acknowledging that in the right environment, a mutation might provide a survival benefit and, as a result, be preserved by natural selection. You basically just said that the evolutionists are right and natural selection preserves adaptive variations. In just one paragraph you completely undermined whatever garbled, nonsensical point you were trying to make about “degradation”. And yet you go on after this to spike the football and celebrate your victory over evolution, like a team that never looked at the scoreboard and doesn’t realize that they lost the game long ago, and in fact that last touchdown was in their own end zone. It’s just sad, really.

The Three R’s fail spectacularly. They’re supported by no actual experimental or observational evidence. Instead, they stand on only imaginary scenarios which either do not have any real life counterpart or are just childish recreations of rudimentary concepts. They don’t propose anything that evolutionary biologists hadn’t already considered (and often rejected). And in the end they undermine their own point. They boil down to a self-contradictory collection of nonsense founded on imaginary tales with arbitrary rules.

In other words, they are typical of religion.

Cloning the Language

There’s a widely cited term in the skeptical community about a commonly observed phenomenon in the gullible dingleberry community. Crank Magnetism, as it’s called, is the tendency of those who accept one ludicrous pseudoscientific or otherwise demonstrably false belief to accept others as well. So a creationist like Phillip Johnson also turns out to be an HIV/AIDS denialist.  Or a global warming denialist might also be a stem cell denialist. Essentially fucktardation in one realm of thought correlates positively with other realms of thought also being fucktarded. Stupidity spreads through one’s brain like the virus you deny exists, and makes your thoughts on a whole range of topics utterly fucktarded.

This is certainly true of the Discovery Institute, the primary driver behind the ball-crunchingly fucktarded pseudo-theory of Intelligent Design. They also are fucktarded in several other scientific domains, including the one I’m looking at today: Human Cloning. It also provides a perfect example of another odious practice that the superstitious and bigoted like to do: Appropriating Language. Observe:

Some worry most about the eventual birth of a cloned baby—an event that is still a long way off. But therapeutic cloning already poses an acute threat to human dignity.

It’s starting to reach the point where I cringe whenever I hear the word “dignity”, because it is more and more being used to attack things that have nothing to do with dignity. The damn Catholic Church claims that IVF techniques are an affront to human dignity, for fuck’s sake. Generally, “dignity” is more and more starting to mean “some airy idea or arbitrary rule that we will treat as more important than actual physical human beings.”

As Charles Krauthammer, who served on George W. Bush’s President’s Council on Bioethics, warned in the New Republic in 2002, creating cloned embryos for research—now accomplished—is “dangerous” because it reduces the cloned embryo to “mere thingness,” justifying “the most ruthless exploitation.”

Quoting Krauthammer, eh? That’s fucking hilarious, seeing as he once called you guys’ pet theory “tarted-up creationism” and thinks you Intelligent Design nuts are scientific phonies. But let’s see what this Iraq War supporter has to say about “dignity”.

He went on to say:

It is the ultimate in desensitization . . . The problem, one could almost say, is not what cloning does to the embryo, but what it does to us . . . Creating a human embryo just so it can be used and then destroyed undermines the very foundation of the moral prudence that informs the entire enterprise of genetic research: the idea that, while a human embryo may not be a person, it is not nothing. Because if it is nothing, then everything is permitted. And if everything is permitted, then there are no fences, no safeguards, no bottom.

Hey, Charles. Hyperbole just called. He said he wants you to tone it down, since even he’s embarrassed by this. Also, notice how he’s picked up the terms “exploitation” and “desensitization” from other issues and stuck them onto an issue to which they simply don’t apply. Remember, this is a single cell that we are talking about. One human zygote–that’s what therapeutic cloning produces. That’s it. It has no feeling, no thoughts, no experiences, no nerves, no brain. There is nothing there to be harmed in any way. A single cell has no dignity. It can’t be exploited. It has no senses. It is not a person. But in the name of “exploitation” and “desensitization” and “human dignity” we need to outlaw experimenting on it at the cost of valuable medical knowledge which could save thousands of real human beings.

Here’s a thought experiment. Imagine a trolley track with a fork in it. You’re at the switch. You can decide which track to send an out of control trolley down by pulling the switch.  On one track, there is a man tied to it. On the other track, a rack of petri dishes containing one thousand human zygotes. If you don’t pull the switch, the trolley will hit the man and kill him. If you pull the switch, it will hit the petri dishes and destroy all 1,000 embryos. What do you do?

If you answer “Pull the switch”, then you don’t believe zygotes are really people, since you’d be willing to destroy 1,000 of them to save one life.

If you say, “Don’t pull the switch and let the man die,” then you’re a fucking asshole.

The only effective preventative is to enact a comprehensive legal ban on human SCNT, not just the uses to which a cloned embryo may be put. Contrary to what the science intelligentsia, the biotechnology industry, and the mainstream media might claim, banning human SCNT is a step that is widely supported internationally. Indeed, in 2005, the General Assembly of the United Nationsvoted overwhelmingly in support of a non-binding resolution calling upon member states “to prohibit all forms of human cloning.”

Is there anything that the UN HASN’T issued a non-binding resolution on? I mean, Jesus, just about anybody can suck the right diplomatic cock and get a non-binding resolution through in the UN. And you gotta love how the right wing fuckberries rail against the evils of the UN and kowtowing to the international community…right up until they agree with them on something.

The devil will be found in how the term “cloning” is defined. In particular, we should be on the lookout for phony bans that actually legalize the SCNT process using human DNA. For example, many proposals would only outlaw “reproductive cloning.” But as we have seen, such a “ban” would not outlaw cloning at all, merelyone potential use that could be made of embryo made through cloning.

Yeah, kinda sucks when people use that tactic of  making a law vaguely worded so that it doesn’t actually do what you claim it does. Now, about those “academic freedom” laws that the Discovery Institute keeps pushing in state after state….

Outlawing human cloning would provide salutatory benefits

No, it wouldn’t. All it would do is deprive us of life-saving research in order to protect single cells. There is no plus side to this.

First, it would deprive cloning researchers of the funds to further perfect human cloning techniques.

Hear that? That’s every sane person on earth asking, “How the fuck is that a salutatory benefit?”

Outlawing human cloning would also be a clarion call to our scientists demanding that they stay within proper moral parameters as they serve society through the pursuit of knowledge.

I send this message out to all god-humpers, all sanctimonious twats, all conservative evangelicals and every moral crusader in the country:

YOU DO NOT GET TO DEFINE THE “PROPER MORAL PARAMETERS” FOR THE REST OF US. FUCK OFF.

And it would protect women.

You have got to be shitting me.

Recall that human eggs are the essential ingredients in the cloning recipe. As I wrote here last month, the need for human eggs in cloning threatens a great “human egg rush.”

But retrieving human eggs can be very dangerous to women’s health and fecundity. Banning cloning can thus prevent the further objectification of the female biological function.

There’s more appropriation for you. “Objectification”. Except for the fact that this issue has nothing to do with objectification or feminist critiques thereof.

This shit really pisses me of.  This asshole is leaving out the part where women volunteer their eggs in order to further scientific knowledge. It’s not like scientists are running through the streets probing every woman they find in order to get at her precious, precious ova. Women–grown up, adult women–donate the eggs of their own free will.

And yet, this guy is trying to sound like a feminist while leaving out a woman’s ability to make her own choices about her own body. I’m gonna call this bullshit Patriarchal Pseudo-Feminism. Basically, it means infantilizing women, treating them like they are unable to determine their own lives and choices, just like patriarchy always does to women, but disguising it in the language of feminism. I see it a lot. I’ve seen it used to attack pornography, abortion, IVF, contraception and a host of other issues relating to women. It frustrates me even more than overt sexism or misogyny, since at least if someone is being blatantly sexist they aren’t trying to lie to me about what a piece of shit they are.

But this fucknugget is treating women like they’re helpless children who need the law to protect them from evil scientists, and trying to make it look like he’s pro-woman for this. Fuck that. I’m not standing for it. Women can make their own fucking choices about their own fucking eggs. And (assuming they’re properly informed) if they want to give them to a scientist for a cloning experiment, the rest of us should respect their decision and not make condescending, patriarchal comments about how we need to protect them from themselves. Fuck you, Discovery Institute.

And any time you hear someone demanding that we need to ban something in the name of feminism, but they conveniently leave out the notions of informed consent and a woman determining her own life, tell hem to fuck off with their patriarchal wolf in feminist clothing.

Finally, on a positive note, once human cloning becomes beyond the pale, we could begin to row in the direction of areas of biotechnology that are morally licit, freeing human and financial resources for the pursuit of the abundant avenues of moral andefficacious biotechnological research—such as adult stem cell research, genetically tailored chemotherapy, and other medical treatments.

Except for the fact that there are things you can do with cloning that can’t be done with those other types of research. You’d be preventing us from making certain discoveries, not encouraging discoveries in other areas.

We can achieve remarkable biotechnology breakthroughs in this century without surrendering our ethics.

“Our” ethics? I certainly don’t share ethics with you, shitwad.

Outlawing human cloning is the essential progressive act.

And we end with one more act of cloning the left’s language in order to attack it. “Progressive” my boney white ass.

More Lies for Kids from AIG

Answers in Genesis just loves lying to children.  Here’s a fascinating article that purports to answer, for children, the question “What is science?” As someone who’s spent the last 12 years or so studying the history and philosophy of science, I can tell you this is no simple question.  In answer to a child’s query, I wouldn’t give them some complicated history of logical positivism or the demarcation problem or the difference between the syntactic and semantic accounts of scientific theories. But I would at least try to give them a description that accurately represents the current views of philosophers and historians and scientists, and that reflects both the potential and the limits of science while stressing the complexity of the overall process and the dangers of judging scientific findings one doesn’t understand.  Can I expect anything like that from AIG? No, of course not. Instead, we get this:

The kind of science that we normally think of as science (called “operational science”) is a wonderful tool that helps researchers discover new vaccines, find new kinds of fish in previously-uncharted waters, build more fuel-efficient cars, chart a course to other planets, and devise new treatments for old diseases.

Science makes you nifty toys and cures you when you have poopy-butt! That’s what the collected knowledge of hundreds of years of human endeavor to understand nature has earned us. New cars and space ships and diarrhea medicine.

“Operational science” is not a term in philosophy of science that I’m familiar with. The invention of new cars and medicines is what’s usually called “applied science” in philosophy of science. But it is sad but true that the shallow “gives us new technology to buy at the mall” view of science is all too common. People see the applications of science without any understanding of the theoretical principles that make that application possible.

With this kind of science, people can uncover fossils or study the composition of rocks.

Science finds things and tells you what they’re made of! Because that’s interesting and shit! But saying anything more than a shallow, simplistic “Here’s that fossil” or “Here’s that rock” is verboten blasphemy, because…

However, operational science has limitations. It can’t, for example, tell us where fish came from, when the rock formed in the first place, or how the bones of the creature came to be fossilized.

So it’s basically useless. A science that just points out the existence of things or describes what they are made of is just glorified stamp collecting. And, by the way, you can’t do important medical sciences like epidemiology without talking about how things (in this case, diseases) originate. So your definition of “operational science” is internally inconsistent. You can’t do medical science with this childish “point at rock and break it open” approach to science.

Operational science deals with the world of today. It involves testing and repeating experiments.

Are these two sentences both supposed to be about the same topic? They’re presented as if they are, and yet they clearly are not. If I had a hypothesis that King Tut had some particular genetic abnormality, and obtained some of his tissues and sequenced his genome, that would certainly be testing, and the experiment would be repeatable. But it’s not about today; it’s about thousands of years ago. And if I were a meteorologist who predicted something about the particular weather patterns happening right now, that would certainly be about today, but it would not be repeatable, since no future day is going to be exactly like today. And if I were an astronomer, I could make a prediction that such-and-such planet will appear in the sky today, but it wouldn’t be an experiment, since I have no way of manipulating or controlling any planet’s path. In fact, there’s quite a bit of legitimate science that doesn’t fit this definition of “operational science”.

“Operational science” doesn’t sound like science at all. Rather, it sounds like a way to enjoy the fruits of science while disparaging the ones who produce them. Kinda like how wealthy Republicans treat the workforce.

Origins science deals with the past.

Again, “origins science” is not a common term in history and philosophy of science. Care to elaborate?

Origins or historical science is used to reconstruct events that have happened in the past, using principles such as causality (for every effect, there must be a cause) and analogy (if this is the way it happens today, then perhaps it happened like this in the past).

Well, “historical science” is a real term, but you defined it poorly. “Causality” is part of all science. Seriously, what aspect of any human endeavor anywhere doesn’t involve causality? ‘What causes what’ is basic to almost any intellectual pursuit. And, again, analogy can play a role in any form of science. If causes and metaphors are all it takes to be origins science, then pretty much everything is origins science, and the term is meaningless.

The important factors in historical science are principles such as vera causae (causes for which you have independent evidence to know that they exist) and consilience of inductions (when multiple independent lines of evidence lead to the same conclusion). The important word in each is “independent”. Scientific facts aren’t discovered in a vacuum. They must be evaluated in terms of what you already know (and don’t know), and that’s crucial for understanding historical sciences like forensic science, geology, archeology, and, yes, evolutionary biology.

But I’m sitting here giving a philosophical evaluation of a dichotomy created solely to keep the god-humpers from having to acknowledge that human knowledge has advanced beyond their silly little book of fairy tales. Observe:

Of course, the best method of reconstruction is to rely on the account of an accurate eyewitness.

Really? So a few thousand years ago, Europe and the middle east were crawling with Centaurs, Minotaurs, Griffins, Satyrs, Trolls, Genies, Frost Giants, Leprechauns, Hydras, Sirens, Nymphs, Faeries, and about seventy bajillion gods and goddesses? Because that’s what the eye witnesses of the time tell us.

Naturalists have no such eyewitness to rely on.

“Naturalists” here means “people who rely on rationale, evidence based explanations”.

However, the Bible provides a written record of an eyewitness to (who was also intimately involved in) history—the Creator God.

So you don’t have any such witness either. And that’s not how parenthetical statements work, by the way.

This eyewitness cannot lie, so His account is completely trustworthy.

The fuck he can’t lie. If he’s even real, then basically his entire creation is one big fat lie. He puts the most distant galaxies 13.7 billion light years away, meaning the universe must be at least 13.7 billion years old or else we couldn’t see them, but then tells us it’s only 6,000 years old? Either the Bible is lying or the universe is lying. But since Jeebus is apparently the perpetrator of both, it’s his fault either way.

We can use this written record as our foundation for understanding the world around us.

We could do the same with the Gilgamesh or the Koran. And it wouldn’t be any more or less stupid.

This will help us to understand why the world is the way it is today and to make sense of where we came from and why we’re here.

There’s some fundamentalist logic for you. Specifically preventing people from pursuing questions like “How did the world get the way it is” is the path to finding the answer.

As you go through the museum, be sure to look for statements which fall under operational science—e.g., “this fossil was found in Montana”—and statements which fall under origins science—e.g., “this fossil is 65 million years old.”

Translation: Focus on easy, childish shit and reject things that require more effort, thought and training.

The philosophy of science that creationists peddle to children is reflective of the kinds of attitudes we see in adults who gullibly buy into this shit. Science, for them, is just a way to point at something, take it apart, and find a way to market it. Any broader understanding of reality is spoon fed to you by someone who claims to have absolute truth that can’t be questioned. And yet, so few people actually bother to notice the obvious fact that science couldn’t possibly have accomplished all it has over the last 400 years if finding things and taking them apart were all it could do. Pretty much all of modern technology relies on theoretical findings about atoms, electricity, germs, genes and physical interactions that can’t be directly observed but still succumb to the scientific method when understood properly. There is no eye witness account of the curvature of space-time, and yet our GPS satellites which rely explicitly on this theory work quite well. There have been tons of murders which nobody witnessed, but the killer was caught anyways due to the power of forensic science.

The creationist numbskulls are asserting two rather contradictory theses: 1.) What isn’t obviously right in front of your face can’t be real truth (thus evolution isn’t true because no one saw all 4 billions years of it), and 2.) You have to take on faith that the ruler of the entire universe inspired this particular book and any science that contradicts it must be wrong. The obvious problem here is that none of us saw God witnessing any of these events. We have to rely on non-witness humans to tell us God saw these events. The importance of eye-witnesses shoots them in the foot–we don’t have eye witness accounts in the Bible. Rather, we have people claiming someone else (god) told them he was an eye witness. And these people don’t provide any evidence whatsoever that they actually communicated with this so-called “god” fellow.

So we have to choose between humans who meticulously gathered gobs and gobs of evidence of evolution, and humans who say a magical being told them the truth. The latter’s argument only sounds convincing when you leave out the part where it’s humans saying that God said such-and-such, without bothering to provide any proof that any actual god said any such thing.  Leave that part in, and obviously the mounds of fossils and DNA and biogeography and comparative morphology and embryology and geology and astrophysics and cladistics and vestigial organs and plate tectonics sounds a lot more convincing than “I’m a human, and I say god wrote this book. So believe it, damn it!”

Someone sure needs a brain reinvention…

CNN has seen fit to publish a fluff piece by Deepak Chopra entitled “Reinventing the brain is closer than you think.” As is typical of Chopra’s brand of woo, it is light on facts, makes no new or insightful observations, and is padded out with feel-good woo-woo crap that is either too vague or too obviously nonsensical to be of any use to anyone.

He starts out reasonably enough:

We’re living in a golden age for brain research, which could revolutionize how we think, feel and behave.

Thanks to brain scans like the fMRI, brain activity can be localized and even the most precise activity pinpointed. For example, researchers can spot the minuscule area in the visual cortex that, when damaged, prevents a person from recognizing faces, including his own. The slant in neuroscience has been to map the brain down to the tiniest detail.

Well, yes, neuroscience is advancing at an incredible rate, but let’s not exaggerate what we have. There is still a lot of work to be done, and we can’t yet pinpoint “the most precise activity”, if I took that phrase to mean what it would mean if spoken by anyone using plain English.

But what will we use the map for? One obvious area is medicine. The more we know about what goes wrong in Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, the closer we get to a cure. But the highest goal would be to reinvent how we use our brains.

Uh, actually I’d vote for saving lives if it were up to me. I don’t even know what reinventing the brain is, but I damn well know what Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are, and I want to see them cured.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, the answer is no. At no point for the rest of the article does Chopra give anything like a clear explanation of what he means by “reinventing our brains”.

“Reinvent” isn’t an exaggeration. Ten thousand years ago, Homo sapiens had evolved the same genetic array that modern people inherit. But in those 10,000 years arose reading, writing, advanced art and music, government, mathematics and science. Their foundation was a new relationship between mind and body.

What do you mean by “same genetic array”? Are you saying our genome hasn’t changed in 10,000 years? That’s demonstrably untrue. And what the hell does that last sentence mean?

If genes and a fixed structure of brain cells told the whole story, it would remain a total mystery why a cave dweller after the last Ice Age should have just the right complement of neurons to discover gravity or write a symphony. Now we realize that the human brain is far from fixed, at any level.

No, it wouldn’t be a mystery, because that’s a stupid thing to say. Who in the hell would think there must be “just the right complement of neurons to discover gravity”? That’s like wondering at the “mystery” of how my computer could have “just the right complement of computer chips” to read this particular page. Or why my eyes would have “just the right compliment of optic nerves” to see the glass of wine next to me.

Any such array would be nearly useless in any context, and natural selection would likely eliminate it (unless it were genetically linked to something that is useful). There doesn’t have to be a special compliment of neurons for computing the theory of gravity. A general capacity for math and logic is what you need. In fact, especially for a behaviorally generalized species like ours, the more generalized and multiply applicable the mental function, the better.

New brain cells are being formed throughout life; trillions of connections between neurons are developed; and the genetic activity inside each neuron is dynamic, responding to every experience and every stimulus from the outside world.

Wha…what? What genetic activity? You mean like transcription and protein synthesis? Those processes most certainly do NOT “respond to every experience”.  New synaptic connections do occur frequently, but that’s not because of a change in the genes. You seem to have confused genetics with the electrical relays in the nerves. They are not the same thing, and thinking doesn’t change your genes.

Human beings reinvent the brain as we go along, day by day. It’s not a matter of eons. In short, the brain is a verb, not a noun. It is reshaped by thoughts, memories, desire and experience.

The first two sentences are mostly true. Neural plasticity is real, although calling it “reinventing” the brain is unnecessarily hyperbolic, in my semi-expert opinion (phd minor in cognitive science). The third sentence, however, is nonsense. And the fourth makes no sense in light of the third.

The word “brain” is a noun. It’s referent, the actual physical gray matter between your ears, is not a noun or a verb or any part of speech, because it’s not a word. I realize Chopra is trying to be poetic and I’m being very literal, but I reserve the right to do so when the attempt at poetry is embedded in a sea of nonsense and half truths. And also, since being “reshaped by thought” is not what makes a thing a verb any way, I hold that his attempt a poetry fails utterly. I have the right to be as overly literal as I want.

Because it is dynamic, fluid and ever-renewing, the brain is much more malleable than anyone ever imagined.

Actually, a lot of people imagined it, seeing as Chopra surely isn’t doing any of this neuroscientific research himself. He’s just grabbing ideas from other people’s heads, dumbing them down to the level of the average woo-woo customer, then calling them his own.

And yes, the brain is plastic, adaptable and dynamic in SOME ways, but it is certainly not “ever-renewing”. It can be pushed to the point that it stops renewing. It’s called Being a Conservative Christian.

Consider a controversial British medical journal article from 1980 entitled “Is the brain really necessary?” It was based on the work of British neurologist John Lorber, who had been working with victims of a brain disorder known as hydrocephalus (“water on the brain”), in which excessive fluid builds up. The pressure that results squeezes the life out of brain cells. Hydrocephalus leads to retardation as well as other severe damage and even death.

Lorber had previously written about two infants born with no cerebral cortex. Yet despite this rare and fatal defect, they seemed to be developing normally, with no external signs of damage. One child survived for three months, the other for a year.

After reading that last paragraph, I had to sit and stare at my screen for a while and let my brain process a confusing and amusing realization: Chopra does not consider infant death to be an “external sign of damage”.

If this were not remarkable enough, a colleague at Sheffield University sent Lorber a young man who had an enlarged head. He had graduated from college with a first-class honors degree in mathematics and had an IQ of 126. There were no symptoms of hydrocephalus; the young man was leading a normal life.

Yet a CAT scan revealed, in Lorber’s words, that he had “virtually no brain.” The skull was lined with a thin layer of brain cells about a millimeter thick (less than 1/10 of an inch), while the rest of the space in the skull was filled with cerebral fluid.

I’ve read about this guy before, and Lorber was exaggerating. The guy did indeed have a brain, it was just greatly compressed by the fluid. This is not evidence that the brain isn’t necessary. Is it amazing? Oh, yes, but don’t read too much into it. Not that Chopra would heed such a warning. Reading too much into other people’s work is what keeps him in business.

Once medical science accepts that the brain can be reinvented, there is no limit.

No. There are always limits. And you still haven’t clearly defined what “reinventing the brain” even means. If you’re talking about neural plasticity, it’s not a reinvention. It’s adaptation and change in response to external stimuli.

Together with Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and a leading researcher on Alzheimer’s, my efforts have been directed at how each person can relate to the brain in a new way.

As we argue in our book “Super Brain,” the most direct way to improve brain function is through the mind.

I knew it! I knew it! This isn’t a genuine op-ed. It’s a fluff piece letting Chopra hock his own book. Damn you, CNN! Damn you and your paper thin credibility held in place solely by the fact that Fox News is even worse!

By the way, that last phrase is about as informative as saying, “The most direct way to improve muscle function is through strength.” Chopra may not believe it, but the mind is just something the brain does.

The mind-body connection is powerful because our habits lead to brain changes. What you pay attention to, what your passion is, your approach to diet, exercise, stress and even basic emotions like anger and fear — all of these things register in your brain and drastically shape its structure.

Okay, again. Yes, these things do alter brain structure. But calling it “drastic” is irresponsible hyperbole. In fact, it would be more accurate is that each of these things slightly alters the brain, and over time the alterations build up, making your brain plastic and adaptable to your environment.

In the simplest terms, every experience is either positive or negative when seen as input for the brain. A brain that is processing positive input will grow and evolve much differently from a brain that processes negative input.

This is just complete and utter woo woo claptrap. Every experience is either “positive” or “negative”? Bullshit. The vast majority of experience, from either an emotional or moral standpoint (Chopra is unclear as to which he has in mind as “positive” or “negative”), is completely neutral. As I type this, I’m taking in a wide array of sensory experience about the colors and shapes of objects around me, the temperature of the room, the feel of the keys on my fingers, the sound of my heater coming on, etc etc etc. None of these has any particularly positive or negative effect on me (regardless of whatever meaning Chopra failed to give to those words but may have intended).

Rather than appealing to anything factual from neuroscience or rational from the philosophy of mind, Chopra here is just spoonfeeding his audience the over-simplified, puerile mush that unfortunately so many humans crave. There are good feelings, and there are bad feelings, and you can be better by feeling better. That is ALL he is saying. He’s cloaking it in the language of neuroscience to make his audience and himself feel smarter, but what he’s saying boils down to advice so grossly obvious and easily appealing that even a four year old could grasp it.

This has always seemed intuitively right; we all know that children who are well-loved, for example, almost always turn out better than children who are abused. Now, we have validation from neuroscience.

No, we don’t. At least, we don’t from anything you have presented.

The most important conclusion is that no one needs to submit to old conditioning. The past can be changed by changing the brain, just as the future can be shaped by how your brain is trained today. Reinventing the brain is much closer than you think.

No. No no no no no. You can’t just make problems poof into the aether by positive-thinking them away. The changes in the brain can’t be undone that easily. If you want to talk about things that are “intuitively right”, ever heard the saying, “Old habits die hard”? Well, there’s some truth to it. You can’t just erase the past with vapid platitudes about happy thoughts. For instance, you can’t change the fact that you’ve spent the last several years as a dishonest crackpot bilking people out of their money by talking out your ass about shit you haven’t even attempted to understand.

And, of course, none of this has anything to do with “reinventing the brain”. He’s just taken old codswallop and wrapped in a fancy new pseudoscientific garb. The closest thing we can gather from his article is that reinventing your brain means using positive thinking to feel better. And remember earlier, when he said reinventing the brain was more important than curing Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s? Yeah, not so much. Really, really, really not so much. But this is exactly the kind of spoiled, self-absorbed thinking that appeals to millions of under-stimulated American yuppies suffering with a bad case of White People’s Problems Syndrome. And Chopra loves making money off the problem rather than trying to correct it.

Grrrr, fuck this guy. And fuck CNN for promoting him. Bad! Bad 24 hour news network! Y’know, did you ever think that maybe there just isn’t enough news for 24 hours of programming, and perhaps you should try to focus on other things? And that if you didn’t feel the need to fill up 24 ours with whatever crap you can find, you wouldn’t be giving the time of day to babbling crackpots like Chopra?