Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blog on hold till November 30

Because I am writing a book and working for a living, I have regretfully decided that the only time management solution is to put this blog on hold until November 30, 2011.

I thank all regular readers and occasional donors.

Always glad to share a good read and thoughts thereon. The blog search box at the top left will give you access to all past stories.

I will still be blogging at Access Research Network (bottom row of headlines), Salvo, and Uncommon Descent.

Good luck to all in the happy hunting ground of materialist nonsense that so much pop science has become.

Exoplanets expert thinks intelligent beings rare in galaxy

Here,'s Mike Wall interviews astronomer Geoff Marcy on "Life on other planets?" (2/1/2011):
Leading expert weighs in

Marcy has had a hand in finding more alien planets than anyone else. He helped spot 70 of the first 100. He also found the first multiplanet system around a sun-like star, and he discovered the first planet that transits — or passes in front of — its star from our perspective on Earth

[ ... ] Our solar system is so young, compared to the universe. And the universe is so big. So there's been lots of time and opportunity for advanced civilizations to get started, and to try to contact us. Some people think that the fact that we seemingly haven't been contacted means that we may well bealone in the universe.

Marcy: Well, you have to fold it in. The absence of an intelligent radio or television wave from any advanced civilization represents one indication, not a proof, that maybe habitable planets that sustain Darwinian evolution for a billion years —maybe they're rare. Maybe. What do you reckon? Do you have a gut feeling about this?

Marcy: I do. If I had to bet — and this is now beyond science — I would say that intelligent, technological critters are rare in the Milky Way galaxy. The evidence mounts. We Homo sapiens didn't arise until some quirk of environment on the East African savannah — so quirky that the hominid paleontologists still can't tell us why the australopithecines somehow evolved big brains and had dexterity that could play piano concertos, and things that make no real honest sense in terms of Darwinian evolution.
The whole is worth reading. He thinks $billion should do the trick.

New atheism, civil rights, and Martin Gaskell

Here's Richard Dawkins, as a friend puts it, "coming out ... as a religious bigot" in analyzing the Martin Gaskell case ("potentially evangelical" astronomer settles for $100K):
The University of Kentucky has caved in and agreed a settlement, out of court, with the allegedly creationist astronomer Martin Gaskell. ...

[ ... ]

If Martin were not so superbly qualified, so breathtakingly above the other applicants in background and experience, then our decision would be much simpler. We could easily choose another applicant, and we could content ourselves with the idea that Martin's religious beliefs played little role in our decision. However, this is not the case. As it is, no objective observer could possibly believe that we excluded Martin on any basis other than religious...
A smoking gun, it would seem, ...

- Should employers be blind to private beliefs? (Jan 24, 2011)
He then goes on to make a case for discriminating against job applicants on the basis of religious beliefs (other than atheism).

Curious thing about the new atheists: One thing they'll sure get rid of is civil liberties as commonly understood.

I was giving a talk at a church recently, and the adult education leader told me that many older churchgoers worried about whether their children and grandchildren would have jobs. They remember a more sane and tolerant society, but don't know how to get back there. I hate having to tell them that the answer begins with losing all interest in the question of whether people think they are nice. They could end up being just nice enough to make sure their grandchildren can't get jobs unless they disown them. (Historically, that has happened before.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Scientist? Take the peer review pressure off at the Journal of Universal Rejection

Here the Journal promises to save you masses of bother by guaranteeing to just reject your submission up front:
The founding principle of the Journal of Universal Rejection (JofUR) is rejection. Universal rejection. That is to say, all submissions, regardless of quality, will be rejected. Despite that apparent drawback, here are a number of reasons you may choose to submit to the JofUR:

You can send your manuscript here without suffering waves of anxiety regarding the eventual fate of your submission. You know with 100% certainty that it will not be accepted for publication.

There are no page-fees.

You may claim to have submitted to the most prestigious journal (judged by acceptance rate).

The JofUR is one-of-a-kind. Merely submitting work to it may be considered a badge of honor.

You retain complete rights to your work, and are free to resubmit to other journals even before our review process is complete.

Decisions are often (though not always) rendered within hours of submission
There. Now you can go back to trying to find that elusive particle of dark matter. Then, Nobel assured, fame and fortune in sight, you can publish in the Journal of Fizzics if you want to.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Hostility to life is norm for exoplanets, senior astrophysicist says

Artist's conception of  Kepler-10b, NASA
In “Kepler-10b - The first extrasolar system rocky planet”, British physicist David Tyler notes,
The presumption that there are millions of Earth-like planets in habitable zones is based on theory that is not supported by evidence. This point has recently been made by Howard Smith, a senior astrophysicist at Harvard. He has made the claim that "we are alone in the universe" after an analysis of the 500 planets discovered so far showed all were hostile to life.

"Dr Smith said the extreme conditions found so far on planets discovered outside out Solar System are likely to be the norm, and that the hospitable conditions on Earth could be unique.
"We have found that most other planets and solar systems are wildly different from our own. They are very hostile to life as we know it," he said."
never mind rare Earths, there aren’t any spare Earths, period. Better take care of the one we got.

Telic Thoughts weighs in on Coppedge case

Bradford for Telic Thoughts comments on the Coppedge case:
Another issue merits attention. Coppedge is not merely a creationist, he is a Christian version of one. There are Muslim creationists and creationists of other non-conventional religious persuasions when assessed by American cultural norms. That group falls within a different category within the tortured minds of PC advocates. We need to practice diversity when dealing with them. Understanding. Tolerance. The contradiction is nauseating but perhaps explainable.
Oh, but this is common, Bradford. In Canada, for example, anti-Semitism isn’t tolerated - except when it is Islamist anti-Semitism. The political motivation is obvious: Islamists, like leftists, restrict intellectual freedom, so they are useful to the left. (Though, in fairness, many bystanders here are starting to wake up, led by courageous younger Jews.)

PC is a very successful strategy of the new hard left. Tolerance means nothing more than what the NHL choose to tolerate, in the process of limiting free or thoughtful inquiry. As Theodore Dalrymple has pointed out, PC's real value is forcing most people to lie. They are morally ashamed of themselves for succumbing so readily to making cowardice a virtue, make nervous little jokes, and blame anyone who expressed honest opinions for bringing the storm on themselves.

Bradford offers,
IDists have been tagged as wedge practitioners by critics. But the dubious charge never had substance. If some IDists did have a wedge strategy in mind they were clearly ineffectual. Take notes from the pros. PCers are experts at wedging.
Yes, the political correctness thugs assume, as do most humans, that everyone thinks as they do. If PC enforcers turn any institution they take over into a stinkpot of closed, mediocre minds, it goes without saying that everyone else must want to do the same, but they got there first.

Smart on the Telic guys’ part to take an interest, because they are next. In a PC environment, even asking questions, other than the prescribed ones leading to the approved answers, is a sure sign that you are trouble.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What if scientism had to pay its own bills?

Here's commentator David Klinghoffer's comments on the purging of astronomers Gaskell and Gonzalez and NASA mission specialist David Coppedge, among others, for doubting the Central Dogma of biology:
For years I've collected accounts of scientists who voiced doubts about Darwin and ended up paying a high price. In February, the University of Kentucky will defend itself in court in a discrimination case brought by astronomer Martin Gaskell, now at the University of Texas. He argues convincingly that he was turned down to direct Kentucky's observatory because of remarks on his personal website noting reservations about Darwinian theory and an openness to intelligent design.

Gaskell's attorneys present records of email traffic among the faculty search committee. Professors falsely tarred Gaskell as a "creationist" while a lone astrophysicist on the committee protested that Gaskell stood to be rejected "despite his qualifications that stand far above those of any other applicant."

The case resembles another at Iowa State University. Astrophysicist Guillermo Gonzalez was refused tenure, despite a spectacular research publication record, because of a book he co-authored arguing that earthly life is no cosmic accident. Again, email traffic told the tale. The department chairman had instructed faculty that intelligent design was a litmus test for tenure, "disqualify[ing] him from serving as a science educator."

[ ... ]

This year, a top-level computer specialist on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Cassini mission to Saturn, David Coppedge, sued JPL for discrimination after being demoted for circulating among colleagues a couple of DVDs favoring intelligent design.

- "'Science Says' Is Now Just Another Special Interest Claim" (Human Events, January 6, 2011) January 30, 2011
Interestingly, Gaskell ($100, 000 settlement) and Gonzalez (new observatory) didn't do so badly out of it, and one hopes Coppedge will also land on his feet.

The key thing to see here, in my view, is that the scientism lobby can't hope to both treat science as their private game park and expect public funding. Or can they? Let's see what the Coppedge case brings.