SCIENCE, RELIGION, AND SOCIETY: THE PROBLEM OF EVOLUTION IN AMERICA

It’s been a while since I’ve been busy.  Hopefully I’ll have some more time to write he and out.  I have yet to read this paper, but it’s only 10 pages and published by Jerry Coyne.  The paper is titled: Evolution.  Guess what it’s about.  Here’s a link.  And yes, it’s free.  Go to his blog if that link fails or if you don’t read his blog regularly.  It’s among the best on these topics.  Here’s the abstract:

American resistance to accepting evolution is uniquely high among First World countries. This is due largely to the extreme religiosity of the United States, which is much higher than that of comparably advanced nations, and to the resistance of many religious people to the facts and supposed implications of evolution. The prevalence of religious belief in the United States suggests that outreach by scientists alone will not have a huge effect in increasing the acceptance of evolution, nor will the strategy of trying to convince the faithful that evolution is compatible with their religion. Because creationism is a symptom of religion, another strategy to promote evolution involves loosening the grip of faith on America. This is easier said than done, for recent sociological surveys show that religion is highly correlated with the dysfunctionality of a society, and various measures of societal health show that the United States is one of the most socially dysfunctional First World countries. Widespread acceptance of evolution in America, then, may have to await profound social change.

I’ll try to write later today.  Anyways, it’s 4am.  Oops.

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There’s A New Nutcase Around Town

Over the past couple of days, a video of a man by the name of Tommy Jordan went viral.  See here:

Now in this video, Jordan decides that since his daughter posted a note on HER Facebook about how many chores she has to do, the father freaks out.  The young woman is all but 15 years old.  The father then decides that since she did this the day after she was ungrounded after 3 months (3 months!  She’s 15!) for doing a similar thing (which he wouldn’t name), he should mimic what she did, post a video on Youtube and Facebook.

Ok, if you want more synopsis, watch the video.

Now the notes and I won’t go through every point:

1. His daughter is 15 years old.  –> Jordan spied on her Facebook.  This is essentially you finding her diary and reading it and then making a Youtube video about how you disagree with it and then tossing it in the fire and charging her for the paper and fire logs.

2. He punished his daughter before for 3 months for an unknown reason.  –> If you over-punish, obviously the person will rebel or complain.  I can think of very few reasons why someone would have to get a 3 month punishment.

3. Girls have a tremendously hard time through high school.  Society is very brutal on them.  More on this in point 7 and the info below.

4.  If you want to really teach her a lesson, quit smoking.  If not for your heath, for hers!  Passive smoke kills over 50,000 people in the US alone!  There’s no reason you can’t go a few minutes without smoking.  All you’re doing is promoting it.

5.  You use violence to make your point.  You shoot HER laptop 9 times.  You ruined a perfectly good computer.  Why not take it away and sell it for extra cash?  You didn’t because you thought it necessary to seek revenge.  And why do you need a .45 caliber pistol? Why do you need hollow point bullets?  There are over 31,000 gun deaths in the US annually!  You don’t need hollow point for “self defense.”

6. You now decide to ground your daughter for what seems like forever.

7.  By making this video, your intent was to humiliate your daughter.  Not locally, not nationally, but GLOBALLY.  This is abuse!  This is emotionally abusive.  You went through her stuff and abused her privacy!

8. Now some information you might want to think about.

Info: Over 50% of mental illness is through environmental pressures. OVER.  It is not all genetic.  Is humuliating a 15 year old girl globally an environmental contribution?  You bet.  She is at a very vulnerable age and there are better ways to discipline her.  Don’t you think that you would be embarrassed if every single person you meet knows about you through a Youtube video intentionally humiliating you?

How about sitting down and talking to her. Yeah, I know, you tried that.  Well try again.  We do it with North Korea, and you can do it with your daughter.  Furthermore, children rebel.  Plain and simple.  If this is her punishment for writing her thoughts out on Facebook, then what are you planning when she comes home drunk, or with drugs? Statistically, this will happen.  What are you gonna shoot now, the gas station attendant who sold her alcohol?  Sensible humans don’t resort to abuse, emotionally physically, or otherwise.

Now you’ve put yourself in a bad scenario.  Who does she come to when something actually bad happens and she needs advice on what to do?  She isn’t going to be able to count on you, because she knows you will erupt.

And no, this is not “tough love.”  This is “abusive love” and it doesn’t work.

There are countless more issues but these should be more than enough to explain the problems with Tommy Jordan’s thought process, or lack thereof.

Now I’m linking you to the father’s Facebook, to have you do what you’d like:

https://www.facebook.com/tommyjordaniii

EDIT: And she is 15.  How do you expect her to find work?  There are child labor laws.  And she doesn’t have a car.

You should look at this too: http://bctf.ca/publications/ResearchReports.aspx?id=5622

HPV Vaccination for Males!

The CDC just recommended that males get an HPV vaccination.

See here, over at Scienceblogs.  They have a good write-up on the reasons why males must also be vaccinated.

It’s important for everyone to get their vaccinations.  There are very little risks and the vaccines are extremely safe.  It takes more than 90% of a population to be vaccinated in order to effectively eliminate the virus.

On a similar note, people should start getting their flu vaccinations now.  It takes a bit for it to start working so Halloween is a good date.  If you don’t want to deal with needles, find where FluMist is offered.  (Call the visiting nurse association.)  It’s a nasal spray and is less intrusive.  I’ll be getting mine this week.

Those horror stories you’ve heard about vaccinations.  Well, they are not true.  Vaccinations are safe and do not cause autism.  If you feel that you will “put up” with the consequences of the flu, etc.  well, please realize that you can be a carrier.  And that person who gets the flu from you might not fare so well.  There’s no reason not to get a flu vaccination.

Physics Nobel Prize 2011

The winners of the Nobel Prize in physics was just announced.  I like the title that HuffPo gave to it on it’s front page.

Amazing Discovery Wins Nobel Prize

Well, considering it won the Nobel Prize, I would hope that the discovery would be amazing.

It’s about the universe’s expansion constantly accelerating rather than what was previously thought, slow down.

Surprise! Evangelicals Love Premarital Sex Too!

As pointed out by Think Progress,

While the study’s primary report did not explore religion, some additional analysis focusing on sexual activity and religious identification yielded this result: 80 percent of unmarried evangelical young adults (18 to 29) said that they have had sex – slightly less than 88 percent of unmarried adults, according to the teen pregnancy prevention organization.

Wow! 80 percent of evangelicals are automatically going to hell!  And they still believe this crap?  Hm, I think this would easily qualify as HYPOCRITICAL!  Am I mad that they are having sex before marriage?  No, in fact, I’m glad.  It’s healthy and there’s no reason to torture yourself by denying the opportunity to have fun.  But, the problem lies in the fact that they oppose sex education, birth control, and other contraceptives.  And no, abstinence-only “education” is not education.  But rather, indoctrination of dogmatic and foolish beliefs.

I guess this means that evangelicals really aren’t too afraid of going to hell or think that the concept of going to hell because they had sex before marriage is foolish.  Or maybe they think that the rules just, “don’t apply to them.”  I’m betting on the last one.

Furthermore,

As chief proponents of abstinence-only education, religious right-wing organizations insist that delaying sex until marriage “is the only 100 percent effective way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and out-of-wedlock pregnancy.”

This is not true!  What about parthenogenesis?  Their beloved “virgin birth.”  Oh wait, this is only documented in several animals that do not include humans.  And, only females can be born!  Ok, Ok, I kid the evangelicals, but still, you can contract an STI or STD without actually having sex.  For example, HIV can be transferred through a blood transfusion.  Yes, I do realize this is beside their “point.”  But the 100% statistic is still misleading.

Anyways, lets look at the evidence.

Health experts, however, note that evidence suggests such programs “are even harmful and have negative consequences by not providing adequate information for those teens who do become sexually active.” Studies have not found that abstinence-only programs cut pregnancy rates, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or even the age when sexual activity begins.

Without proper sexual education, sexually active young adults are more likely to have unintended pregnancies or contract STDs. Family planning health centers like Planned Parenthood, however, are dedicated to addressing these needs. Indeed, Planned Parenthood’s chief services are sexually transmitted diseases testing and treatment as well as contraception. These services help Planned Parenthood prevent “more than 620,000 unintended pregnancies each year.”

What!  Abstinence-only indoctrination doesn’t work!  Wow!  What a surprise!!!  Not.  That’s like telling a child not to ever play in the street and expecting them to abide by that 100%.  It’s rather silly, really.  But in fact, that is a bad example, because playing in the street can indeed be dangerous whereas sex, generally is safe assuming you don’t have low standards.  And even if you do, you would presumably be taking many other risks and sex would be one of the least concerns.

Planned Parenthood helps out many many women a year and only 3% of the services provided are abortions.  Planned Parenthood frequently helps out people with cancer screenings.  Is it really wise to take this away from the poor–those who need it most?  Is it humane?  No.  Planned Parenthood is a great organization that often helps out the less-fortunate or the non-fortunate.

This is just another unfortunate stance that the Religious-Right tries to force on the rest of America.  Not only is it terribly hypocritical, but it also suppresses woman’s rights, takes away from much needed health services for the poor, and indoctrinates the youth with religious dogma and abuses them with threats of going to hell.

This nonsense is derived from one source, religion.  In no way, does this “attack on sex” educate children.

EDIT: Just thinking about this, I would expect evangelicals to under-report premarital sex at a higher frequency than the general population since it is so heavily frowned upon in their circles.  So I would guess the already small gap of 8% is even smaller.

HIV Vaccine? Vaccine Week! Get Your Flu Shot!

Gizmodo reports that,

Spanish researchers have completed the first human trial of a new vaccine against HIV. It has been successful in 90% of the HIV-free volunteers during phase I testing.

The first human test results were published in Vaccine and Journal of Virology. In the experiment, scientists injected the vaccine in 24 of 30 HIV-free volunteers. Six volunteers were treated with a placebo vaccine—they didn’t experience any effect. But 90% of the treated subjects developed a very strong immunological response against the HIV virus. 85% kept the immunological reaction for at least one year, which is really good news.

According to their results, there were no significant secondary effects in any of the patients, which was one of the major objectives of to be tested in this clinical trial.

This is good, and I am glad that Dr. Esteban said the following,

[T]he treatment has only been tested on 30 volunteers and, while [the vaccine] provokes a powerful response in most of the cases, it’s still to soon if the resulting defense would be effective against an actual [HIV] infection.

This vaccine, if it is found to work is still many mnay years away from coming to the market.  This has only been tested in phase I trials.  It still has to go through phase II and III.

Anyways, even though this won’t help now, hopefully it will in the future.  We are looking at a lot more trials, and in turn, a lot more chances for this vaccine to fail.  Generally phase III requires at least two successful trials.  Hopefully this can get that far.

On a side note, it is vitally important that people receive their recommended vaccinations.  This includes the flu shot.  These vaccinations are incredibly safe and the anti-vax movement has been debunked over and over.  That movement is extremely dangerous to public health.  Even if you say, “oh, well I never get the flu or I don’t mind it if I do,”  you can pass it on to someone else.  And that someone else could die.  Go and get the vaccine, it only takes a few minutes.

Choose Church or Jail

ThinkProgress notes of this new unconstitutional program in, Bay Minette, Alabama.  The program is called Operation Restore Our Community.  These are the details:

Operation Restore Our Community or “ROC”…begins next week. The city judge will either let misdemenor [sic] offenders work off their sentences in jail and pay a fine or go to church every Sunday for a year.

If offenders elect church, they’re allowed to pick the place of worship, but must check in weekly with the pastor and the police department. If the one-year church attendance program is completed successfully, the offender’s case will be dismissed.

It doesn’t take much brains to realize that this is unconstitutional.  And considering this is ordered by their city judge, it is obvious that he is just trying to promote religion.  According to the local news wkrg.com, this is what the Bay Minette Police Chief, Mike Rowland, had to say

it costs his department about 75 bucks per inmate per day. Rowland says the ROC program will be cost-effective and could change the lives of many people heading down the wrong path.

Rowland says the program is legal and doesn’t violate separation of church and state issues because it allows the offender to choose church or jail…and the church of their choice.

Rowland is blatantly lying.  And like the city judge–I could not find his name–he too is trying to promote a religious agenda.  How in hell is giving someone the option between church or jail a real choice?  Who is going to say, no I think I’d prefer to be locked up.  Yeah, that seems like fun.  I won’t see my family, I won’t have to work, I can’t go on vacation, I’ll make a bunch of new friends in jail.  Oh! I just can’t wait!

This is obviously unconstitutional and if the police chief thinks that this isn’t true, not only should he be fired, but his department should be investigated.

Furthermore, Reagan appointee to the Supreme Court, Justice Scalia, notes,

In his dissenting opinion in Lee v. Weisman, Scalia wrote that the state may not us the “threat of penalty” to “coerce anyone to support or participate in religion or its exercise.” Telling someone — even someone convicted of a crime — that they must participate in a religious service or go to jail clearly fails Justice Scalia’s test.

Yes, even Scalia would be against this fanatical program.

Think Progress adds that even conservative law Professor Eugene Volokh points out,

religiously compelled church attendance is so clearly and obviously unconstitutional, that the Mississippi Supreme Court held that a “judge’s decision to order people to attend church as a condition of bail is not just unconstitutional, but merits a 30-day suspension from the bench.” Again, this was in Mississippi.

Even Mississippi is against this.  Mississippi for crying out loud!  This state is in the heart of the bible-belt and it still says this program is unconstitutional!  A 30-day suspension to the judge should be given at the very minimum.  The judge obviously knows it is unconstitutional and intentionally ignores the law.

This is the problem with religion.  People are not able to keep it to themselves; they have to force it upon the rest of the world.  Whether it be divorce, abortion, sex education, contraceptives, family planning, child abuse, hatred toward homosexuals, or pushing a religious agenda in the public school system.  All of these are bad.  So called “moderate” religion is not benign either, it acts as a succor for hatred and violence.

Instead of this program, how about something that is helpful?  Say, attending school or going to therapy or how about public service?