I keep having to come back to this episode of Inquiring Minds. I keep having to refer back to it over and over in conversation because people just want to believe that living better will keep you from getting cancer. I get so much pushback from people who want to believe that this or that strategy will keep them from getting cancer that I’m going to backdate the episode to the the blog with some descriptive text that didn’t get pulled out in the blurb, but does state the point I keep having to make.
In the book, Johnson cites a stunning estimate by MIT cancer researcher Robert Weinberg: About 4 million of our body’s cells are dividing and copying their DNA every second of every day. With every replication, there is a potential for mistakes, and a risk of developing cancer. Thankfully, we’ve evolved solutions to rogue errors, and our bodies can repair or destroy precancerous cells the vast majority of the time. Yet the risk can never be zero, because without this process of cell division and regeneration, we would quickly cease to live.
In fact, without the capacity for cellular mutation and the ability to pass on reformatted DNA to our offspring, our species would not have been capable of evolving. We wouldn’t be who we are today. “There’s something unfortunately natural about cancer,” explains Johnson. “It’s a natural tradeoff of evolution.”
Paraphrasing the pertinent quote from this episode If you live long enough you will eventually get cancer. The errors in cell replication that lead to cancer are the same errors that allow for genetic diversity. We get cancer because evolution occurs even within our own bodies, and most evolution produces bad outcomes. Cancer is definitely not the result of poor diet or GMO foods. Cancer is a natural process gone horribly wrong, a side effect of living so long that the evolutionary process takes place inside your body. For those of you who deny evolution, think of this as payback from mother nature for doubting that her mechanisms exist. Mutation is how we got from single celled organisms to humans in 3.8 billion years. Mutation which frequently shows up as cancer in the individual. Them’s the breaks.
Nothing, not even viruses *just happened* (never mind that the existence of life is not what evolution describes. Perhaps life is everywhere in the universe, just waiting for the right conditions to spring up. No one knows) evolution describes, and is the only explanation that fits, how the many forms of life on this planet came to exist. It’s a lot like gravity. It doesn’t depend on your acceptance or belief to function as it does; it just does. If you understand it you can create things like animal companions that meet specific needs (in that sense breeders have understood evolution for centuries) and modern medicine, including drugs like the morning after pill that prevents conception (the myth that The Pope declares begins life) and hormone drugs that treat various feminine diseases as well as preventing pregnancy.
…and anything that calls itself a *health care plan* should include those drugs.
The government should handle all parts of public health. Vaccinations, regular examinations, emergency care, maintenance drugs, etc. We,the people, should take back control of our government from the MIC, and force it to spend the taxes it already takes from us, on US. There is more than enough (we’d all get tax breaks, even) to pay for the kinds of services that Europe already enjoys. They have better healthcare in Mexico than we do here. If the wealthy want Cadillac service, they should be allowed to purchase it on their own. Public health should not be left to the whims of the individual and the budgets of the poor.
Evolution, as I said, is not subject to belief. My belief, your belief, the Pope’s belief. It is a process that occurs whether we will it or not. God has no hand in it, because if god interferes with the real world, that interference can be measured. No such influence has ever been detected. Spinoza might have a point (and Einstein loved Spinoza) about the universe being god, but that god is not the god that most people believe in. Humans evolved from earlier (I won’t say lower because that’s another misunderstanding) forms of hominids which we have documented in the fossil record. It’s simply the way it IS. If we ever have a hope of retaining our (imagined) place in the world, we are going to have to embrace science.
I’ll never understand libertarians who deride government and their ability to use force; and at the same time trumpet corporations while they use force. It is the same force, exercised by the same types of legal fictions, one (The Government) creating the other (The Corporation) If libertarians are opposed to coercion, force and fraud then they necessarily must place both corporations and government in the same category of *evil which must be stopped*. Just another reason I don’t bother to call myself libertarian anymore.
Public health is *exactly* what the government was formed for, if we’re talking about healthcare. If you care about public health, you should care that all individuals get immunized, get regular checkups, and are provided with maintenance medications for ailments. Emergency care requires investments in infrastructure, training and employment of professionals. It realistically requires government oversight.
To not have the government involved in public health is to not have a government at all. Anarchy not minarchy.
(Published here, here and here on Facebook. Two of my most commented upon status updates to date)
Spotted on Scientific American, now available only on the Wayback Machine if you know how to look for it. I, dear reader, am just the kind of geek you are looking for to find this kind of useless false information and re-expose it to the light of day.
Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody’s ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts. Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do. Indeed, if politicians 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. In that spirit, we will end the practice of expressing our own views in this space: an editorial page is no place for opinions.
It appears that they have republished this tidbit annually since 2005.
Just got done listening to Common Sense 172. I generally agree with Dan on a lot of things. This is one time I think there’s more threat here than he’s willing to admit to.
As an example, here’s a quote from show Number 8:
“I’m not an intelligent design guy, I’m just an open-minded guy. I don’t mind a whole bunch of theories being thrown out there. I think we’ve really forgotten in this whole evolution thing is that the name of this whole evolution thing is the theory of evolution.“
I’m not suggesting that Dan is a creationist, or even a christian. What I am suggesting is that the arguments of the Religious Reich (and I’ve heard this exact phrase come out of ID defenders mouths before) have seeped into the common arguments presented by average people who don’t necessarily understand what scientists mean when they use the word theory. Gravitational theory is only a theory too. But I wouldn’t suggest you jump off a building and expect to float. There is every bit as much science backing evolution as there is gravitation. Perhaps more. Dan has gone on the attack against science in the past (episode 5 for those with the DVD) albeit attacking pop science. And yet the scientific method is the only method that has been shown to be capable of determining what truth is.
Science is under attack here in Texas, more than history is. The SBOE has specifically gone on the attack against the scientific method itself, attempting to undercut the basis for our technological society. The stories coming out about the history textbooks just highlight what kind of mental neanderthals are serving on the SBOE, and what their real goals are.
In recent years, board members have been locked in an ideological battle between a bloc of conservatives who question Darwin’s theory of evolution and believe the Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles, and a handful of Democrats and moderate Republicans who have fought to preserve the teaching of Darwinism and the separation of church and state. Since January, Republicans on the board have passed more than 100 amendments to the 120-page curriculum standards affecting history, sociology and economics courses from elementary to high school. The standards were proposed by a panel of teachers. “We are adding balance,” said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”
Excuse me if I don’t buy McLeroy’s arguments on the subject of the skewing of academia. His past support for inclusion of the teaching of creationism in science classrooms (which is distinctly NOT science) and his boards attempts to manipulate the definition of the scientific method so that Intelligent Design would meet the criteria, have shown that he is no friend of education, or our technologically based society either (which only exists because of the scientific method) which makes me question the justification for his chairing the board that dictates what Texas children will be taught in coming years.
The one thing I do agree with Dan on, on this subject, is the legitimacy of the existence of these types of boards in the first place. There isn’t any. They should all be disbanded, and the controls for what is taught should be handed back to the teachers and parents. The people directly involved in educating the children.
Because, trust me, education begins at home. No matter what the government schools set out to teach my children, they get an education in critical thinking from me.
I seem to have started an interesting thread over at the Common Sense forum. Still think Dan didn’t hit the SBOE hard enough. Jon Stewart did.
I’d like to put this in perspective. The rest of the nation is buying textbooks that meet standards set by a state whose students are not even close to the best performers in the nation.
Bureaucracy in action.
For those who might think I exaggerate the threat, here’s a list of the worst of the current changes proposed by the SBOE to the Social Studies curriculum, from the TFN website:
Religious conservatives on the board killed a proposed standard that would have required high school government students to “examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others.” That means the board rejected teaching students about the most fundamental constitutional protection for religious freedom in America. (3/11/10)
Even as board members continued to demand that students learn about “American exceptionalism,” they stripped Thomas Jefferson from a world history standard about the influence of Enlightenment thinkers on political revolutions from the 1700s to today. In Jefferson’s place, the board’s religious conservatives inserted Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. They also removed the reference to “Enlightenment ideas” from the standard, requiring that students simply learn about the “writings” of various thinkers (including Calvin and Aquinas). (3/11/10)
Board conservatives succeeded in censoring the word “capitalism” in the standards, requiring that the term for that economic system be called “free enterprise” throughout all social studies courses. Board members such as Terri Leo and Ken Mercer charged that “capitalism” is a negative term used by “liberal professors in academia.” (3/11/10)
The board removed the concepts of “justice” and “responsibility for the common good” from a list of characteristics of good citizenship for Grades 1-3. (The proposal to remove “equality” failed.) (1/14/10)
Social conservatives on the board removed Santa Barraza from a Grade 7 Texas history standard on Texans who have made contributions to the arts because they objected to one of her (many) paintings — one including a depiction of a woman’s exposed breasts. Yet some of Barraza’s works had been displayed in the Texas Governor’s Mansion during the gubernatorial administration of George W. Bush in the 1990s. (3/11/10)
The board stripped Dolores Huerta, cofounder of United Farm Workers of America, from a Grade 3 list of “historical and contemporary figures who have exemplified good citizenship.” Conservative board members said Huerta is not a good role model for third-graders because she’s a socialist. But they did not remove Hellen Keller from the same standard even though Keller was a staunch socialist. Don McLeroy, a conservative board member who voted to remove Huerta, had earlier added W.E.B. DuBois so the Grade 2 standards. McLeroy apparently didn’t know that DuBois had joined the Communist Party in the year before he died. (1/14/10)
In an absurd attempt to excuse Joseph McCarthy’s outrageous witchhunts in the 1950s, far-right board members succeeded in adding a requirement that students learn about “communist infiltration in U.S. government” during the Cold War. (Board member Don McLeroy has even claimed outright that Joseph McCarthy has been “vindicated,” a contention not supported by mainstream scholarship.) (1/15/10)
The board voted in January to remove children’s book author Bill Martin Jr. from a Grade 3 standard about significant writers and artists because members confused the author of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? with another Bill Martin who had written a book about Marxism. An embarrassed board reinserted Martin into the Grade 3 standards in March. (3/11/10)
Board members added Friedrich von Hayek to a standard in the high school economics course even though some board members acknowledged that they had no idea who the Austrian-born economist even was. (3/11/10)
The board added a requirement that American history students learn about conservative heroes and icons such as Phyllis Schlafly, the Heritage Foundation and the Moral Majority. The board included no similar standard requiring students to learn about individuals and organizations simply because they are liberal. (1/15/10)
Board conservatives passed a standard for the eighth-grade U.S. history class requiring students to learn about the ideas in Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address as president of the Confederacy during the Civil War. (1/14/10)
In a high school government standard about “the importance of the expression of different points of view in a democratic republic,” the board added a requirement that students learn about the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. (3/11/10)
The board’s bloc of social conservatives tried to water down instruction on the history of the civil rights movement. One board amendment, for example, would have required students to learn that the civil rights movement created “unreasonable expectations for equal outcomes.” That failed to pass. Other amendments passed in January minimized the decades of struggle by women and ethnic minorities to gain equal and civil rights. (Board member Don McLeroy even claimed that women and minorities owed thanks to men and “the majority” for their rights. Earlier in the revision process, a conservative appointed by McLeroy to a curriculum team had complained about an “over-representation of minorities” in the standards.) Under pressure from civil rights groups, the board partially reversed those earlier amendments. (3/11/10)
The board’s right-wing faction removed references to “democratic” (or “representative democracy”) when discussing the U.S. form of government. The board’s majority Republicans changed those references to “constitutional republic.” Board member Cynthia Dunbar also won approval for changing references to “democratic societies” to “societies with representative government.” (3/11/10)
Religious conservatives stripped from the high school sociology course a standard having students “differentiate between sex and gender as social constructs and determine how gender and socialization interact.” Board member Barbara Cargill argued that the standard would lead students to learn about “transexuals, transvestites and who knows what else.” She told board members she had conducted a “Google search” to support her argument. Board member Ken Mercer complained that the amendment was about “sex.” The board consulted no sociologists during the debate. (3/11/10)
Board member Barbara Cargill proposed a standard to the high school economics course requiring students to “analyze the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar since the inception of the Federal Reserve System since 1913.” After debate, the board passed a revised standard that requires students to “analyze the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard.” References to 1913 and the Federal Reserve System were dropped. The board consulted no economists during the debate. (3/11/10)
The board approved a standard requiring students to learn about “any unintended consequences” of the Great Society, affirmative action and Title IX. (3/11/10)
In a high school U.S. history standard on musical genres that have been popular over time, the board’s bloc of social conservatives removed “hip hop,” equating this broad genre with “gangsta rap.” (3/11/10)
The board voted to use “BC” and “AD” rather than “BCE” and “CE” in references to dates in the history classes. That means students going off to college won’t be familiar with what has become an increasingly common standard for dates. (3/10/10)
The board removed Oscar Romero, a prominent Roman Catholic archbishop who was assassinated in 1980 (as he was celebrating Mass) by rightists in El Salvador, from a world history standard about leaders who led resistance to political oppression. Romero, they argued, wasn’t of the same stature as others listed in the standards: Nelson Mandela and Mohandas Gandhi. One board member argued that “he didn’t have his own movie like the others.” He quickly reversed himself — the film Romero, based on the archbishop’s life, was released in 1989 and starred actor Raul Julia in the title role. (3/10/10)
The board’s right-wing faction removed a reference to propaganda as a factor in U.S. entry into World War I. (The role of propaganda on behalf of both the Allies and Central Powers in swaying public opinion in the United States is well-documented. Republican Pat Hardy noted that her fellow board members were “rewriting history” with that and similar changes.) (1/15/10)
The board changed a “imperialism” to “expansionism” in a U.S. history course standard about American acquisition of overseas territories in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Board conservatives argued that what the United States did at the time was not the same as European imperialism. (1/15/10)
A compilation of my thoughts on the topic of the SBOE and the conversation with Dan Carlin’s forum community about this episode, cribbed from this and other threads preserved at The Wayback Machine: Archive.org
August 23, 2008 – Guests: Ernie Chambers and Katha Pollitt
Saddleback abomination. Religious test for office. Homophobia on parade. Supreme misunderstanding.
5:20 Ernie Chambers 2nd appearance; discusses his case against god; omnipotence & omniscience precludes service. the case was brought specifically because courts should be open to any body for any reason (the way the law reads in Nebraska) he goes through a few of the counts against god listed in the lawsuit.
18:40 Catha Pollitt, flocking to faith; Obama’s complete betrayal of the constitution, with his announcement to continue the faith based initiative.
She qualifies her bile with her intention to continue her support for Obama. I find this blind subservience to any political faction sad & disgusting.
5:15 theocracy alert. Texas pledge modification (how about no pledge? My children do not pledge) David Vidder, latest conservative hypocrite. Bill Moyers’ religious judgment error with Martin Marty. God’s warriors.
Neo-Nazis protesting on women’s equality day. Only Turkey has a smaller percentage of people who accept the proof of evolution than the US. Evolution left off list of acceptable low income US education grants. Pope sacks astronomer. Coulter smears Darwin (earns label of coultergeist)
Larry Lerner representing the Fordham Foundation and the report he co-wrote www.edexcellence.net on science standards in the classroom. The discussion revolves around the problems of setting and maintaining education standards, and the evolving nature of creationism.
Kristen Lems & Dan Barker sing The Preacher & the Slave
There are those who say Dawkins goes too far in his attack on religion. That he fails to understand the true nature of religious mystery; that his criticism relies on a parody of faith that he himself set in place, and that people do not take seriously anymore. those who make that objection tend to belong to the mild kindly end of the religious spectrum. these days we should be in no doubt of what the other end of the spectrum is like and we might remember that no social structure ever gives up power because it wants to. If some parts of the christian church are decent and tolerant today, it is because the crusaders and inquisitors and witch burners have been shamed and stripped of their authority by the great critics of religion, some indeed who belonged to the church itself. But all of whom were accused in their time of going too far. -Philip Pullman
“we don’t trust numbers to build up a cause; rather we look at principles, to the truth and the right.” -Elizabeth katy Stanton
Confession. I had nearly given up on reviewing Freethought Radio, until I heard this episode. Michael Shermer’s book “Why Darwin Matters“ was a CATO event which I reference whenever I get into an argument with ID supporters (there’s also the Mind of the Market event) but really, I was just impressed that Dan and Laurie reached outside of their comfortable progressive group and found someone new to talk to.
“Science progresses funeral by funeral” (anonymous observation)
The subject of Expelled was a prominent discussion point in the interview. My thoughts on that worthless film are here. Micheal Shermer’s review is here.
The episode opened with discussion of the ARIS poll and Harris Polls that show a marked decline in religious belief and attendance. I personally like the interactive features at The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. No matter how you slice it, though, there’s no arguing that the US is becoming less concerned with religion.
Which probably explains why the Southern Baptists featured in Theocracy Alert sound so concerned.
I actually listened to this episode a year ago because Catherine Fahringer is from Texas and I wanted to hear the views of a fellow Texan. I was surprised to hear that there was a chapter of FFrF in Texas. They certainly don’t have a web presence.
Paraphrasing Susan Jacoby; It really doesn’t matter what the beliefs of the founding fathers were, what matters was what they put in the founding documents. There is no god in the Constitution; and the ‘creator’ referenced in the Declaration is nothing more than a nod to nature as the creator.
Those of us who have been wandering around in Libertarian circles for the lat 15 years are reasonably familiar with these facts.
Now, the story of Robert Green Ingersoll (the second half of the interview) is something you wouldn’t know about unless you have been looking into the history of disbelief. You certainly wouldn’t have stumbled across his name in school in modern day America, the devout have exorcised him from the history books.
The final segment gets into the part of the interview that I find most interesting. Why are you a non-believer? The varying stories of how and why a person comes to “lose faith in faith” just seem to hold my attention.
McLeroy’s latest antic — though I would call it the first shot fired in a war, a war on reality — was over, of all things, the English standards. According to an article in the Dallas Morning News, teachers and experts had worked for two and a half to three years on new standards for English. So what did McLeroy do? He ignored all that work entirely, and let “social conservatives” on the board draft a new set overnight.
Overnight? Think that’s better than Standards teachers and experts spent nearly three years on?
This new version cobbled together in a few hours was delivered to Board members an hour before the meeting in which they were to vote on it. An hour! In the meeting, McLeroy rammed through the discussion, even dismissing people who claimed he was going too quickly:
“Mr. Chair you’re going so fast … you’re moving so fast we can’t find it in the other document,” [board member Mary Helen] Berlanga said, shortly after the page-by-page explanation began.
After more complaints, McLeroy declared that he would continue at the fast pace.
“The ruling is you’re being dilatory in dragging this out,” McLeroy said.
What a guy! And now guess how this ends…
The board voted to approve the hastily cobbled-together standards, 9-6.
And if you’re not tired of guessing, then guess what discipline comes up next for review? Science!
Every time you pet your dog, you are touching a known product of evolution. Through thousands of years of companionship, we have created the creatures that lovingly chew our sneakers and pee on the rug. God didn’t create dogs, humans evolved them from wolves that were captured and tamed. This is a concept so obvious, most people don’t even notice it.
The current chairman of the Texas Board of Education is one of these people. He is a creationist, bent on introducing Intelligent Design into Texas classrooms. He needs to be ousted, and yesterday wouldn’t be soon enough.
There is no room for creationism at the science table when it comes to teaching children. Leave it at church where it belongs. Send a message to the powers that be this year, tell the TEA hands off our science curriculum, send the fundamentalists packing.
I have, and I will again. Either the state concedes on this issue and removes the sitting board chairman, or Texas spends millions of dollars defending itself against lawsuits as outraged parents take the state to court over curriculum that they refuse to see taught to their children.
Which outcome do you prefer?
Here’s an interesting coincidence. The Governor’s contact page seems to be terminally on the fritz. That’s odd. I know I’ve used that contact system before. I wonder if he’s feeling the heat from his extremely unwise choice of SBOE chairs. One can only hope.
“Analysis of a shred of 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex protein – along with the proteins of 21 modern species – confirms that dinosaurs share common ancestry with chickens, ostriches and, to a lesser extent, alligators”
I could go on, but the subject of factual dinosaur evolution is more interesting than belief systems that have proven to be erroneous; otherwise I’d be gushing about Jurassic Park right now, which has it’s own baggage of belief (or Disbelief) to carry, and is far more interesting than the subject of Intelligent Design.
I should give a nod to Michael Crichton for introducing me to the concept of birds evolving from dinosaurs. Proves the value of reading widely, especially in the SF field.
Why were they so dishonest about it? If Mathis had said outright that he wants to interview an atheist and outspoken critic of Intelligent Design for a film he was making about how ID is unfairly excluded from academe, I would have said, “bring it on!” We would have had a good, pugnacious argument on tape that directly addresses the claims of his movie, and it would have been a better (at least, more honest and more relevant) sequence. He would have also been more likely to get that good ol’ wild-haired, bulgy-eyed furious John Brown of the Godless vision than the usual mild-mannered professor that he did tape. And I probably would have been more aggressive with a plainly stated disagreement between us.
I mean, seriously, not telling one of the sides in a debate about what the subject might be and then leading him around randomly to various topics, with the intent of later editing it down to the parts that just make the points you want, is the video version of quote-mining and is fundamentally dishonest.
The article goes to the detail necessary to prove that he (and others) were tricked into participating in a film different from the one they had agreed to be interviewed for.
Having now been accosted on several occasions by the obnoxious mug of Ben Stein on Science Channel programming that I just happened to be watching, I decided to track down more on the subject of this pro-ID propaganda piece. I’m not quite as militant about the subject as the Bad Astronomer is, I do agree with his sentiment. I’m not surprised though. Watching The History Channel for any length of time removes any illusions about what kind of history is important there.
Suffice it to say, I won’t be paying to see this film. If I do see it, I’ll be watching it in much the same way I saw Sicko, another propaganda piece not worthy of a monetary investment.
I don’t think it’s possible to make too much fun of those who take ID seriously:
It just about equates on the reality meter. Ben Stein is an ignorant fool.
Editor’s note 2019. Featuring the only Digg link that I’ve found was captured by the Internet Wayback machine.