Biochemical Soul Musings on Nature, Science, Evolution, Biology, and Education

2Jul/09Off

Grandpa’s Pet Therapod

nope - not a fake at all...

nope - not a fake at all...

I hang out online sometimes with a bunch of like-minded fossil-enthusiasts (The Fossil Forum).

Tonight somebody posted this:

Just watched the new this evening and they were talking about a dig going on right now outside of Glen Rose, on the McFall ranch. The news showed the footprints of the therapod and the human prints together. It was interesting. For report go to cbs11tv.com

So I mosied over to the Dallas, TX CBS news site and found the article "Local City Known As Dinosaur Capital Of Texas, by Arezow Doost."

Sounds innocuous enough for a title, right?  Then I read the first three sentences:

"Did you ever think that there were dinosaurs in North Texas?

As it turns out, this is one of the most prolific areas for dinosaur tracks in the state. One group of scientists have even found tracks dating back millions of years."

Read that last sentence again:

"One group of scientists have even found tracks dating back millions of years."

Cause, you know, all those other groups found tracks that weren't millions of years old...
(for those of you who missed out on elementary school, dinosaurs went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous sixty-five million years ago.)

Absolutely hilarious...and mind-numbingly maddening.

After reading a bit more, then you learn what it is really about:

"Scientists believe that one of the most unique findings is human prints dating back to the same period as the dinosaur prints. "We are looking for the truth," said Baugh. "We don't want anything else but the truth.""

I rolled my eyes. Obviously, I had a feeling what I would find out with a little search, but I decided to check out the scientist quoted in the piece, because I thought it was a bit odd that he said "We are looking for the truth. We don't want anything else but the truth."

You see, that is a very non-scientist thing to say in a media piece, and it instantly threw up a red flag to me. I say this because when one is actually in the practice of being a good scientist, a statement like that is like a commercial fisherman saying "no really, we're just out here to catch fish." What else would a fisherman be fishing in the ocean for? If you're a scientist, a statement like that is less than unnecessary.

Yeah this guy, Carl Baugh, is a young earth creationist discredited in the scientific community and with a questionable education. He is obviously seeking to prove his own wrong beliefs - not actually do what good scientists do, which is let the data speak for themselves. Check this out for some rather hilarious reading on Baugh: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Baugh

Sigh...it is Texas after all (I was born and raised in east Texas, FYI)

As an added moronic bonus, if you look at the url of the story you'll see that it's filed under "pets."
(http://cbs11tv.com/pets/Texas.Dinosaur.Capital.2.1069336.html).

What kind of of idiots are running that station?

One thing about the fossil record - it's insanely consistent across both time and continental space, if fragmentary. And it has consistently shown us that human and therapod existence is quite a few tens of millions of years apart.

Hell, mammals were barely existent back then, compared to today. But primates? LOL - no.

***

Side note: I'm going fossil hunting in Aurora, NC tomorrow and at Greens Mill Run in Greenville, NC on Saturday!!  Shark teeth here I come. Please just let me find a megalodon.

9Sep/08Off

The 95th Skeptics’ Circle – Skeptimedia

Taking the form of Nostradamus' The Very Lost Prophecies, the 95th edition of the Skeptics' Circle is now live over at the Skeptic's Dictionary, hosted by Skeptimedia.

Go now - revel in the prescience of those long lost quatrains - find that hidden meaning you've sought - discover the course of the future - and please, oh please - take it with a grain of salt.

My own post on using current (and old) news to teach the difference between science and pseudoscience and the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

Excerpt from the 95th Skeptics' Circle:

The next verse wasn't quite so simple.

I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways
I've stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I've been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard.

His eyes sparkling with delight, Biochemicalsoul announced that this had to do with using the news to teach the post hoc fallacy. This verse, which seemed impenetrable only moments earlier, suddenly became obvious once the true meaning was revealed.

14Aug/08Off

Flying Spaghetti Monster

3D animation of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. This is a render that I modeled and animated in two nights. Bathe in the glory of his Noodly Appendages.

Created with the opensource Blender and the GIMP, and Adobe After Effects.

For you CG animators out there, I am providing the .blend file here. Do whatever you wish with it.

If you'll look in my sidebar, I also created a small animated GIF of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You may also snag this file. Here's the same GIF but with a white background. And here's a GIF on a black background. If anyone wants a version matched to a particular background color, I can make you one - no problem. Let me know if you want the movie itself or higher quality versions.

13Aug/08Off

93rd Skeptic’s Circle!

For those of you who have yet to partake in the skeptical arts, check out the latest edition of the 93rd Skeptic’s Circle Blog Carnival, by City of Skeptics, who hosted the latest edition using a clever ironic Tarot reading (with the final card shown here).

My own most recent post about the second coming of an alien Jesus was graciously included in this edition.

If any of you have your own Skeptical Writings, consider submitting them to the Skeptic’s Circle. The 94th edition will be hosted by Reduce to Common Sense. Go here for submission guidelines.


7Aug/08Off

Camp Inquiry on NPR

There is hope for skepticism, reason, and science in America yet! Today on NPR I heard an awesome story about a camp called “Camp Inquiry” (read the story here). It’s a summer camp for kids ages 7 to 16, in which instead of learning about the bible as in bible camps, they learn how to use skepticism, empiricism, and logical reasoning to guide their own knowledge of the world and their development.

And it’s about time. These kids get to have fun and do all the cool things I can remember in cub scout camp, art camp (Arts Encounter), and biology camp (called Wet-n-Wild – what a dork was I?). They also have deep philosophical discussions, look at the stars and planets, study fossils, and most importantly, bond with other children who have inherited or developed a skeptical mind.

I think this is a fabulous idea. I only wish that there were such summer camps for adults.

On that note, why the hell can’t we have a culture in which adults go to summer camp as a normal part of adult life? Summer vacations hardly compare with the experiences of camp - meeting new people at a place far away from home, learning new things, gaining new experiences.

Maybe we should institute a new cultural tradition. Every summer, we get one week off to go to adult summer camp. Hey, there could be a whole multi-billion dollar industry surrounding it.

I know, I know – what about money, jobs, kids, time, blah. Of course it would never be practical, but hey – can’t a kid masquerading as an adult dream?