One of the biggest obstacles for the conservative movement when it comes to recruiting new members is, to be frank, reality itself. History, science, economics are all fields constantly churning out information that makes right-wing ideology look silly, nonsensical and even delusional. In response, the conservative movement has launched a massive media campaign against reality that spreads out on Fox News, talk radio and the web, but despite all this, conservatives are not satisfied. The kids are who conservatives really want. That’s why the right is relentless about its attempts to get into public schools, throw out actual information and replace it with false and misleading ideology. Whether or not they’ll actually be successful in tricking kids into becoming conservatives is up for debate, but in the meantime, they are doing a lot of damage to childrens’ ability to get a decent education.
The latest battle in the ongoing war to turn public schools into propaganda machines for the right is being fought in the state of Texas. The state is often at the center of conservative-fomented education controversies, as right-wingers there keep trying to sneak creationism into the science classroom. Texas also continues to maintain its abysmally high teen pregnancy rate by pushing sex “education” that usually doesn’t bother to mention contraception. While the right has been losing some ground on those two issues, a new report from the Texas Freedom Network suggests that conservatives have been able to inject a shocking number of lies and disinformation into public school history classrooms.
And while it may be tempting to think kids getting a subpar education is a red state-only problem, in reality what happens to Texas affects the rest of the country, including blue states. Because of Texas’ size, what they want in textbooks often becomes the only thing publishers are willing to offer. Your kid may be going to school in some other state, but what she reads in class may be decided by what some right-wingers in Texas want to indoctrinate kids into believing.
After the 3D printing era has begun on Earth, astronauts are now preparing to bring one of these printers to the International Space Station, so that in the future, they won’t have to crank out spare parts in order to fix their spacecraft. Instead, they will simply print the part they need.
Produced by a Northern California company called Made in Space, the 3D printer will be sent to the International Space station aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule, together with 5,000 pounds of space station cargo, departing on Sunday.
Apart from the replacement parts that NASA envisions astronauts creating at the International Space Station, they hope to be able to create entire habitats in the decades ahead, on faraway destinations such as Mars. As Jeff Sheehy, NASA Senior technologist told reporters on Friday, if the U.S. would set shop on Mars, it would be ridiculously expensive to bring everything with us. Instead, he hopes that astronauts would reach a point where they can simply make the things that they need.
In Bad Company: ‘Ark Park’ Mastermind to Headline Conference Organized by Group Tied to Neo-Confederates
Ken Ham of Ark Park fame meets with group tied to League of the South board member.
Ken Ham, president of the fundamentalist ministry Answers in Genesis, has sold Kentucky lawmakers on the idea that a religious theme park featuring a 510-foot replica of Noah’s Ark deserves taxpayer dollars because it will create jobs. Unfortunately some politicians have been more than willing to jump into bed with Ham, but given his upcoming appearance at a conference organized by a group with neo-Confederate ties, it seems these lawmakers don’t know who they’re dealing with.
On Oct. 18, Ham will headline an event hosted by the Institute on the Constitution (IOTC) at Severn Christian Church in Severn, Md. The IOTC certainly sounds harmless enough - after all, Americans United believes everyone should study the document that guarantees freedom of conscience for all. But in this case, a seemingly innocuous name provides cover for an organization that believes America should be an officially “Christian nation” and supports white supremacists.
As detailed in a blog post by Warren Throckmorton, a professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, the Institute on the Constitution was founded by Michael Peroutka, a former board member and current member of the League of the South. The League is a radical outfit that seeks to preserve the “Anglo-Celtic culture” of the South. The League, which can’t seem to accept that the Civil War ended in 1865, is actually working toward secession (because that worked out so well last time). It has even been labeled a racist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Jon Phillips takes on Nicholas Wade’s claims, and proves once again that so called “scientific” racism is little more than a pseudoscience. This was originally posted in September 2014 edition of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report, ( Under the Title, Troublesome Sources ) and than cross posted at Alternet.
Nicholas Wade’s new book, A Troublesome Inheritance, is only the latest in a long line of works arguing that humans can be divided into discrete races, and that between those races, there are differences in behavior, temperament, intelligence, and even political and economic structures. Although the specifics of the arguments change, what remains constant is the idea that white people of European descent are inherently smarter, better, more “civilized” than members of other races, especially black Africans and their descendants. Wade’s work is no exception.
This book’s failure as a work of popular science has been well documented by biologists and anthropologists. This review will focus on another problem with Wade’s book, one just as damning as its scientific errors: its uncritical reliance on and legitimization of fringe racist theories masquerading as mainstream biology.
Wade, a former science writer for The New York Times, attempts to fabricate a sense of scientific credibility for his outlandish theories with the division of his book into two very different sections. The first half is intended as a survey of the history and science of research into human evolution, race, and genetics, and Wade supports most of his claims with citations to scientific literature.
In the second, more “speculative” half of the book, Wade’s claims about human genetics and evolution continue, but the scientific sources disappear. It is in this part of the book, for example, that Wade explains modern history through the claim that “European populations” have a genetic predisposition to “open societies and the rule of law to autocracies,” while the Chinese are inherently “drawn to a system of family obligations, political hierarchy, and conformity.” He posits that white Europeans and East Asians are innately more intelligent than Papuans or members of other “Stone Age societies” because “intelligence can be more highly rewarded in modern societies because it is in far greater demand.” Although he acknowledges at the outset that these portions of the book are intended to be speculative, in the text he presents these racist, hackneyed ideas as though they are simple facts, uncontroversial and incontrovertible.
Johns Hopkins University political scientists wanted to know if America’s unelected officials have enough in common with the people they govern to understand them.
The answer: Not really.
Surveying 850 people who either work in government or directly with it, researchers found that the inside-the-Beltway crowd has very little in common with America at large. Washington insiders are more likely to be white. They are more educated. Their salaries are higher, they vote more and have more faith in the fairness of elections. They are probably Democrat and liberal. They more diligently follow the news. And they think the mechanizations of government couldn’t be easier to comprehend.
Jennifer Bachner and Benjamin Ginsberg asked hundreds of questions in 2013 of those who work in federal agencies, on Capitol Hill and in other Washington policy jobs. They presented some of their findings recently at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in a talk called The Civic Distance Between the Rulers and Ruled. Complete results of their research will be featured in their forthcoming book What the Government Thinks of the People.
The fourth SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract, carrying the ISS-RapidScat scatterometer instrument designed and built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, is scheduled to launch Saturday, September 20th, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The one-day adjustment in the launch date was made to accommodate preparations of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and was coordinated with the station’s partners and managers.
STORM WARNING: A pair of CMEs is heading for Earth. The two solar storm clouds were launched on Sept. 9th and 10th by strong explosions in the magnetic canopy of sunspot AR2158. NOAA forecasters estimate a nearly 80% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Sept. 12th when the first of the two CMEs arrives. Auroras are in the offing, possibly visible at mid-latitudes before the weekend.. Aurora alerts: text, voice
EARTH-DIRECTED X-FLARE AND CME: Sunspot AR2158 erupted on Sept. 10th at 17:46 UT, producing an X1.6-class solar flare. A flash of ultraviolet radiation from the explosion ionized the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere, disturbing HF radio communications for more than an hour. More importantly, the explosion hurled a CME directly toward Earth. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory photographed the expanding cloud:
China expects to establish its first space station by around 2022, building upon the experience of an experimental module already in orbit, state media said on Wednesday.
China’s leaders have set a priority on advancing its space program, with President Xi Jinping calling for the country to establish itself as a space power.
In China’s manned space mission last year, three astronauts spent 15 days in orbit and docked with an experimental space laboratory, the Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) 1.
Yang Liwei, deputy head of China’s Manned Space Agency and also the country’s first man in space, said the follow-up Tiangong 2 was likely to be launched in about 2016.
There are some myths, bits of misinformation, or lies about medicine that I like to refer to zombie quackery. The reasons are obvious. Like at the end of a horror movie, just when you think the myth is finally dead, its rotting hand rises out of the dirt to grab your leg and drag you down to be consumed. Of course, the big difference between zombies and these bits of zombie quackery is that in most stories a single shot to the brain will kill the zombie. The same is not true of zombie quackery. You can empty clip after clip of reason, science, and logic into the “head” of the zombie quackery at point blank range, and the best you’ll do is to drive it away for a while, only tor rise up again when you least expect it.
Of course, antivaccine pseudoscience, in my experience, is one area of quackery that is rich, if not the richest, in zombie quackery and zombie memes. The same old lies keep popping up again and again and again, like Whac-A-Mole. Sure, they’ll sometimes go away for a while (or appear to go away for a while), but sooner or later the exact same misinformation, occasionally with minor alterations. Think the claim that the CDC conspired at Simpsonwood to “hide” that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism, a myth first popularized by antivaccine icon Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. back in 2005 whose rotting corpse recently been resurrected to shamble about like so many extras on The Walking Dead. One of the advantages of having been at this blogging thing for nearly a decade is that I’ve come to recognized many of these zombie memes immediately on sight. Where other people think they’re new, I recognize them as something old, often something I’ve written about before at least once, if not many times. The disadvantage, on the other hand, is a tendency to become jaded or bored with refuting the same nonsense over and over again. Sometimes I marvel that in December it will have been a decade since I started blogging and sixteen years since I started refuting online nonsense.
The latest zombie meme struggling to make a comeback is a particularly brain dead one, even by antivaccine zombie meme standards. It comes in the form of a press release on ChristianNewsWire for a new “study” (and I do use the term loosely, even though apparently it was published in a peer-reviewed journal) entitled New Study in Journal of Public Health and Epidemiology Correlates Autism Disorder Increase and Human Fetal DNA, Retroviral Agents in Vaccines. The first thing that you should notice about this press release is that it is on ChristianNewWire, whose news sources consist mainly of—you guessed it!—fundamentalist Christian and conservative Catholic organizations, with very few legitimate scientific organizations.
As John Timmer at Ars Technica points out, we may have found not only a new species, but a brand new type of animal! This is big news for the science of biology, and zoology in particular!
/ D. enigmata on the right, with the three larger samples on the left representing D. discoides.
Over the past few years, studies of genomes have confused what we thought we knew about the origin of animal life. Instead of the simple sponges being the earliest branch off the animal tree, a group of relatively complex organisms, the ctenophores, seem to be the earliest branch. That finding has some serious implications, as it suggests that a nervous system evolved twice.
Now, some more traditional biology may upset the family tree even further. Old samples taken from the seabed near Tasmania contain examples of two different species that may belong to a phylum entirely unknown to us—one that split off near the base of the animal tree. The strange creatures also have features that suggest they may be related to remains from the Ediacaran, a period in which the first animal life appears in the fossil record.
The samples actually date from a research cruise taken nearly 30 years ago, where a “sled” was dragged along the ocean floor and samples returned to the surface. The new species weren’t recognized as interesting when they were first found, so they were left mixed in with the rest of the collection, which was fixed with formaldehyde and then dumped in 80 percent ethanol. The samples suffered a bit of further abuse when one of the authors wanted to refresh the alcohol and was given 100 percent ethanol instead. (The paper actually notes, “Unfortunately absolute alcohol was provided without comment instead of the requested 80 percent ethanol.”)