Durango Skeptics and Atheists Newsletter December 2015

Opinions, when expressed, are solely those of Larry Bollinger and do not necessarily reflect those of Durango Skeptics and Atheists…so chill.

“In retrospect, this magazine’s coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided…Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon?…As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence…Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their field better than, say U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do. Indeed, if political or special interest groups say things that seem untrue or misleading, our duty as journalists is to quote them without comment or contradiction. To do otherwise would be elitist and therefore wrong.”

          -Sarcasm from the Editors of Scientific American

read the entire piece here:   http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/okay-we-give-up/

Next general meeting,  Wednesday

December 16, 2015 

 Irish Embassy, 900 Main St. Durango

Dinner from 5:30PM.

Discussion starts at 6:30


The topic for this month’s discussion:

“Recent Mobilization of Anti-Science Factions: The Strategies and Tools at Their Disposal, presented by Marc Masor.   The first half of this month’s Newsletter is taken up with articles that are intended to help provide background for this month’s discussion. The  information is divided into four sections to make it easier for you to find some aspects of the subject that are of particular interest to you. The four segments are: Introduction; Science, Politics and Funding of Research; Science and Education; and Science and Society.



What Science Is…How and Why It Works


Sister Neil Explains composit


Science, Politics and Funding of Scientific Research



Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA)  Broun was a Member of The Committee until his defeat in 2014    “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.” Broun added that “I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old.”

Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) Former Chair of The Committee, has suggested that climate change is the product of a mass global conspiracy of scientists — the overwhelming majority of whom have concluded that burning fossil fuels cause warming — to obtain grant money. In 2011, he told National Journal he didn’t believe climate change was man-made because “I don’t think we can control what God controls. I’m really more fearful of freezing,” Hall said. “And I don’t have any science to prove that. But we have a lot of science that tells us [climate scientists are] not basing it on real scientific facts.”

James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI) Former Chair of The Committee, believes that climate change is a “massive international scientific fraud,” and in December 2009 declared, “There’s increasing evidence of scientific fascism that’s going on.” Sensenbrenner famously suggested in a hearing that “dinosaur flatulence” might explain historic warming patterns.

Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) Former Vice-Chair of The Committee. “Just so you know, global warming is a total fraud and it is being designed by – what you’ve got is you’ve got liberals who get elected at the local level want state government to do the work and let them make the decisions. Then, at the state level, they want the federal government to do it. And at the federal government, they want to create global government to control all of our lives. That’s what the game plan is. It’s step by step by step, more and bigger control over our lives by higher levels of government. And global warming is that strategy in spades…. Our freedom to make our choices on transportation and everything else? No, that’s gotta be done by a government official who, by the way, probably comes from Nigeria because he’s a UN government official, not a US government official.”

Lamar Smith (R-TX) Current Chair of The Committee.  “It was inconvenient for this administration that climate data has clearly showed no warming for the past two decades,” he said in a statement. “The American people have every right to be suspicious when NOAA alters data to get the politically correct results they want and then refuses to reveal how those decisions were made.”  http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2014/11/republican-feud-opens-other-value-some-us-research-science    Also see the article below: “BATTLE OVER SCIENCE FUNDING IN CONGRESS” 

Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) Ranking Democratic member of The Committee http://democrats.science.house.gov/sites/democrats.science.house.gov/files/Ranking%20Member%20Johnson%20Letter%20to%20Chairman%20Smith%20on%20NOAA%20Subpoena.pdf    Responding to Chairman Smith’s unilateral subpoena of NOAA documents, calls the effort a ‘fishing expedition’. The Washington Post wrote, that Smith’s subpoena as “.an invasive fishing expedition in search of a pretext to discredit [research scientists].”

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (From the Washington Post article headlined “Jim Inhofe Embarrasses GOP and the US). ”Mr. Inhofe delivered a Senate floor speech about the “hysteria on global warming” last week with two conspicuous props. One was a blown-up photo of his family standing in front of an igloo labeled “AL GORE’S NEW HOME.” The Inhofe clan constructed it following a 2010 “snowstorm that had been unprecedented, it set a record that year,” Mr. Inhofe explained. “In case we had forgotten, because we keep hearing that 2014 has been the warmest year on record,” Mr. Inhofe continued, reaching for a plastic bag next to his lectern, “I ask the chair, do you know what this is? It’s a snowball, just from outside here. It’s very, very cold out.”


Battle Over Science Funding in Congress

According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Congressional cuts, along with the across-the-board reductions known as sequestration, from 2010 to 2013 resulted in the largest overall decrease in a three-year period since the end of the space race. Seen from a longer perspective, federal spending on R&D as a share of the gross domestic product has been in a long, slow slide from the 1970s, when it peaked above 2 percent. The AAAS puts the fiscal year 2014 figure at 0.78 percent. 

Lamar Smith goes after ‘frivolous research’… http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/battle-over-science-funding-gets-fiercer-in-u-s-congress/

 The Association of American Universities Fights Back    http://www.aau.edu/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=15678

 R n D as percent of budget

Where does the monehy go


Pew Research Poll: Views About Government/Private Research Funding

“I think Government investment in scientific research is essential”                          2009 – 60%         2014 – 61%

“I think private investment is enough”   2009 – 29%    2014 – 34%

“I don’t know”    2099 – 11%           2014 – 5%


Who Pays For Science? What Will Science Research Look Like in the Future?    In Four Parts

Part 1: According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the federal government pays almost $140 billion a year for research and development, down from a 2010 peak of about $160 billion, in constant dollars. Since the 2010 apex, cuts to discretionary spending have clipped R&D funds by 15.4 percent in inflation-adjusted spending, although nondefense R&D has declined only 4.9 percent.http://www.bu.edu/research/articles/funding-for-scientific-research/


Part 2: Truths and Half-Truths An ecologist, an estuary and a case study on communicating climate change.   http://www.bu.edu/research/articles/communicating-climate-change-research/

Part 3: Cracking the NIH Code: Amid Science Fundings Grim Realities, One Group Is Making It Work  http://www.bu.edu/research/articles/kotton-wilson-ikonomou-lab/

 Part 4: Too Many Post-Docs, Too Little Funding  http://www.bu.edu/research/articles/helping-young-researchers-find-jobs-outside-academia/




Science and Education



Dismissing Darwin

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/04/creationism_in_louisiana_public_school_science_classes_school_boards_and.html  Louisiana has its “creationism law,” which allows teachers to sneak religion into public school science classes by using materials that criticize evolution. Seventy-eight Nobel laureates and many other prominent scientists and educators have joined me in calling for the repeal of this law, officially known as the Louisiana Science Education Act, and tens of thousands of people have signed petitions against it over the past four years, but so far we’ve failed. Louisiana teachers can still bring religion into public school science classrooms, legally. 

Confessions of a Creationist Kid: “I Was Determined Not to Learn About Evolution  http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/05/creationism_and_evolution_in_school_religious_students_can_t_learn_natural.html

Public Schools Where Taxpayer Money is Used to Teach Creationism  http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/01/creationism_in_public_schools_mapped_where_tax_money_supports_alternatives.html A large, publicly funded charter school system in Texas is teaching creationism to its students, Zack Kopplin recently reported in Slate. Creationist teachers don’t even need to be sneaky about it—the Texas state science education standards, as well as recent laws in Louisiana and Tennessee, permit public school teachers to teach “alternatives” to evolution. Meanwhile, in Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Arizona, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, taxpayer money is funding creationist private schools through state tuition voucher or scholarship programs.

Creationism where it's taught

Creationism vs. Evolution: Science, Religion and Public Education https://www.au.org/resources/publications/science-religion-and-public-education  Americans United for Separation of Church and State sums up the battle for the minds of the nation’s students. “A well-organized and well-funded campaign is underway to undermine the separation of church and state in America’s public schools. Aggressive religious pressure groups are pushing school boards nationwide to change the curriculum to conform to their doctrines. Battles have erupted all over the nation, and your community may be next…”


Teaching In the Science Classroom: The American Federation of Teachers Weighs In  http://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/periodicals/berkman_plutzer.pdf  “With increasing politicization in our society of astronomy (Big Bang), health (vaccines), and earth science (climate change), controversy could become the new normal for K-12 science.”


National Science Teachers Association’s Position Statement http://www.nsta.org/about/positions/evolution.aspx  (from the Introduction): “The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) strongly supports the position that evolution is a major unifying concept in science and should be emphasized in K–12 science education frameworks and curricula. Furthermore, if evolution is not taught, students will not achieve the level of scientific literacy needed to be well-informed citizens and prepared for college and STEM careers. This position is consistent with that of the National Academies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and many other scientific and educational organizations.”



Science and Society

Citizens and Scientists See Science Through Different Lenses http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/29/public-and-scientists-views-on-science-and-society/   New Pew Research Center surveys of citizens and a representative sample of scientists connected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) show powerful crosscurrents that both recognize the achievements of scientists and expose stark fissures between scientists and citizens on a range of science, engineering and technology issues.

Opinion differences between people and scientistsCRAZY SCIENTIST

perceptions about consensus on various major science topics


Whoa! Dissonance!  Pew Study Finds Highly Religious People See Little Conflict Between Science and Religions  


Are Atheists wrong when we assume that most theists are anti-science? This Pew poll points in that direction. Although 60% of respondents think there is a conflict between Science and Religion, a breakdown of the results shows that while 76% of non-religious respondents find conflict, only 50% of those who regularly attend church services see it that way! Scratch your head while reading all about it at the above link.


Michael Shermer on Why Christians and Conservatives Should Accept Evolution 


In an article originally published in 2006, Shermer, publisher of Skeptic Magazine, outlines 6 good reasons why evolution makes sense for theists as well as rationalists.


creationist composit

Is Evolution via Natural Selection Finally Winning Over Creationism?

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/11/polls_americans_believe_in_evolution_less_in_creationism.html    At least among young people, the Theory of Evolution is starting to make sense. A Pew Research poll indicates that 73% of American adults under the age of 30 expressed at least a limited ‘belief in’ Evolution, up from 61% in 2009.






Watch Richard Dawkins Near Apoplexy As He Debates the Merits of The BiblE (Contributed by Ruth Olmsted)     This link will take you to an edited version of the ‘debate’ which was recorded in April, 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTXN5nOstRs

And here is the link to the full, unedited intellectual slug fest:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbVA4 

Here’s a taste – Dawkins: (To a room full of mostly theists) “Well, what about the New Testament? Here we have a god who wanted to forgive mankind its sins, including by the way the ‘sin of Adam’ whom He knew perfectly well never existed, nevertheless he wants to forgive Man’s sins…WHY didn’t he JUST FORGIVE HIM … why was it necessary to have a human sacrifice – to have His Son tortured and executed in order that the sins of mankind should be absolved? Is that not the MOST DISGUSTING idea you’ve ever heard?” [Scattered applause]. “Why did god have to sacrifice a scapegoat?”   In answer a fellow panelist offered this weak tea: “It is not God sacrificing His Son, it is His Son in His obedience to the Divine Will of His Father….it is His obedience in the context of a corrupt society that leads to His death…it is His sacrifice that restores that which is broken between God and mankind…there can be no forgiveness without cost…” [applause].

Honestly, I love this stuff!

Richard DAwkins

Richard Dawkins with Ariane Sherine, originator of the Atheist Bus Campaign


Holy Smoke! Sarah Palin Says Legalization of Weed Hardly Worth Talking About!    http://thelibertarianrepublic.com/sarah-palin-on-legalized-marijuana-no-big-deal/   Alaska legalized pot last year and on Hugh Hewitt’s radio program, the host challenged Palin by asking,“What happened in Alaska? What are you people thinking there?” Palin’s surprising response? “We’ve got that libertarian streak in us, and I grew up in Alaska when pot was legal anyway. It was absolutely no big deal.” She went on to say that government has ‘more important issues to worry about’.
Sarah Palin composit


The KKK’s Aniversary…A Very Unhappy Birthday To Yooouuu!  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/kkk-failed-comeback_5654a4dee4b0258edb331a2d   100 years ago, the KKK attempted a comeback after a 40 year hiatus …KKK propagandists worried that immigration would  “…mongrelize the citizenship of the United States”, but for the past century, immigrants have only made us stronger.

KKK rally compositKKK rally and parade, Washington DC 1925

Oscar the Grouch composithttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBKuMHwFe5Q


Catholic Visionary: “It’s Time For Us to Listen to the Animals”  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sister-joan-chittister-osb/listen-to-the-animals_b_8510390.html     An excerpt from Sister Joan Chitister’s Book, Two Dogs and a Parrot: What our Animal Friends Can Teach US About Life.  An interesting little essay about (among other things) how the physical placement of the first two books of Genesis created our society’s domineering attitudes towards animals and our environment.

Some-people-talkSeduced by a theology of superiority and domination, sure that the world and everything in it had been made for human consumption and human control, the narrative of human relationships with animals has a very mixed and sad history. Only the findings of science concerning the intelligence, feelings, and place of animals in the human enterprise, and the realization that we are all made of the same stuff, have begun once again to reverse the story of human-animal relationships and return it to an earlier cosmology.” 


Climate Change Watch 

What’s Good For The Conservative Goose is Good For The Liberal Gander: An Environmental Sting Video http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/08/greenpeace-exposes-sceptics-cast-doubt-climate-science   Environmental undercover operatives from Greenpeace, masquerading as consultants for the fossil fuel industry, approached two prominent climate skeptics offering to pay them to write reports that tout the ‘benefits’ of rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere and to praise the use of coal as an energy source. The point of the ‘sting’ was to demonstrate how information, bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry, can be placed into the public sphere without anyone knowing the ultimate source of the funding.

Money-Handshake composit                     Again, if you haven’t read Merchants of Doubt: you should seriously consider doing so.  As Mark Twain may or may not have said, “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” True, no matter who said it!

From the Paris Climate Conference: A Warning About ‘Climate Change Refugees’ http://bigstory.ap.org/urn:publicid:ap.org:a44a24b89e314bc99a2bb4cea92ea2cd    International migration officials want a global climate accord under discussion to address the growing risk of migration because of extreme weather.

climate change refugee compositThe director of the International Organization for Migration, William Lacy Swing, said the planet is seeing more forced migration today than any time since World War II, and seeing what he called “unprecedented anti-immigration sentiment.”

The First ‘Climate Change Refugees’ in the U.S.?  http://bigstory.ap.org/urn:publicid:ap.org:e20428eb10bc4b2cab9a789bca506eb6    “The islanders in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay could be among the first U.S. ‘climate change refugees’ in the continental United States as rising seas claim their historic fishing village…”

Chesapeake Bay


PBS Guide to Every Candidate’s Position on ISIS and Refugees http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/presidential-candidate-proposes-islamic-state-refugee-crisis/

PBS refugees


Baby (Zombie) Jesus? Uproar Over Nativity Scene in Ohio http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/08/us/zombie-nativity-scene-cincinnati.html?_r=0    If you think about it, the story of Jesus’ resurrection is a rip-roaring zombie tale…especially if you add in the biblical accounts of the graves around Golgotha opening up and the dead issuing forth at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion…see http://biblehub.com/matthew/27-52.htm

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that someone built a nativity scene using zombie figures in place of the traditional sheep and shepherds. The city tried shutting it down on the basis of building code violations, but that didn’t go very well…

jesus as zomie baby

Irate neighbor’s letter: ‘Jesus is NOT a zombie’.


jesus as zomie baby 2

The visitation of the Wise Zombies



Icelanders Feel Taxed By State Church…Rebel By Worshipping Sumarian Gods!  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/08/new-icelandic-religion-sumerian-gods-tax-rebates-zuism   (Contributed by David Stariha, via Ray Polidori)Iceland church



Just Kidding…I Think…  (Contributed by John Weihert)   This might be more appropriate for the Easter Edition of the Newsletter, but I couldn’t wait…

Masterbation prevention device (credit to John) 

And then there’s this…

masterbation straight jacket

I’ve save you the trouble of typing the URL…here’s the link:  http://stopmasturbationnow.org/  where you can find out about Fappy the Anti-Masturbation Dolphin’s arrest and other news of interest leaking  from the Self-Raping Community.


Worst. Christmas. Card. Ever.

Christmas Card

http://freedomoutpost.com/2015/12/las-vegas-assemblywoman-michele-fiores-pro-second-amendment-christmas-card-setting-gun-grabbers-hair-fire/ Here’s a link to the story in freedomoutpost.com where the biggest national worry is that the ‘gun grabbers’ will get you!



And now, because you’ve (probably) been nice (enough) and not (very) naughty…Your Moment Of Dancing Bug x3!

Tom the Dancing Bug

Tom the Dancing Bug


Tom the Dancing Bug

Tom the Dancing Bug is reproduced in our monthly Newsletter courtesy of the artist, Ruben Bolling.
Visit the archive of years of TtDB cartoons at http://gocomics.typepad.com/tomthedancingbugblog/



Thanks to: John Weihert , David Stariha, Ray Polidori, Ruth Olmsted, Rueben Bolling, for contributing to this month’s Newsletter



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