Thursday, 27 March 2008

Expelled Exposed

Just a quick one. Everyone else out there in the real skeptical blogosphere (as opposed to this quiet backwater) is posting links to this website:

Expelled Exposed

It is a site devoted to collecting material relevant to what is actually going on with the IDiots and the cretinists. I'll post something longer later on, I'm just wading through some stuff on pseudo-medicine at the moment. Oh, and some actual science work too!

Sunday, 23 March 2008

BBC News: Have Your Say about the HFEB

In general, I am quite impressed looking through the most recomended comments on the BBC News HYS page about the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Most of the top comments are along the lines of:
"How dare he comment on issues that are obviously above his intellectual capabilities. Leave the science to the scientists." - Tariq, London
"If people wish to engage in debate on this issue, they should at least try to construct a rational argument. Empty rhetoric along the lines of 'it's sick', or references to religious beliefs offer nothing to the debate." - Bella, Glasgow
I find this quite pleasing to be honest. Unfortunately I'm fairly sure MPs don't bother reading HYS so I guess we still have to write to them ot let them know we're not all religious lunatics. sadly, you will also still run across things like:
"I agree with the Cardinal, this is a step too far. An embryo contains blood cells, kidney cells, and nerve cells, if it has nerve cells, doesn't that mean that it can feel pain?"
which pretty much sums up the lack of knowledge on the part of the opposition. Fourteen day old embryos do not have any differentiation of cells. That is kind of the point. The cells are more useful before they have differentiated.

The prize for most random highly recommended comment has to go, however, to this gem:
"And do we really want to allow Science to change the course of Human evolution? Imagine if they switched on a Gene in every new born baby that made them super intelligent. Then imagine if they made a mistake and turned on the Serial Killer gene instead."
Yes, my considered argument against this piece of legislation is that something else that I have just made up on the spot is really really bad, therefore the legislation must also be bad. And we should also ban chocolate because being run over really hurts.

I thought I'd just leave the names off the stupid comments. After all, there's no need to rub it in.

Oh yes, and something fairly hilarious has happened involving Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers and Ben Stein's ridiculous (and apparently also really badly put together) Expelled documentary. It's covered in detail over at Pharyngula (Just scroll odwn til you see the word Exand at the RDF so I won't bother going into any detail now.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Newsflash: Catholics still incredibly hypocritical

Oh look, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, another Catholic Church leader has found out about the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Apparently the experiments proposed in the bill will be of "Frankenstein proportions" which just goes to show that he probably hasn't read the thing either. I know being uneducated and scientifically illiterate is still considered a virtue in the Catholic Church, but seriously.
And I quote:
"This Bill represents a monstrous attack on human rights, human dignity and human life."
What really really makes me angry is that this is the same "human dignity" that the Catholics are promoting when they spread lies about HIV and contraceptives in Africa, when they cover up abuse of children by their clergy and when they oppose legalising abortion when statistics show that it is a major factor in determining the rights and quality of life of women in a given country.
"I can say that the government has no mandate for these changes: they were not in any election manifesto, nor do they enjoy widespread public support."
What a stupid thing to say. If every little thing the government intended to do had to be put in a manifesto ahead of time I think we'd be wasting a lot more time writing manifestos and not actually getting things done. Also, he cannot know whether they enjoy public support or not. Certainly the only evidence he has that there is public opposition is from a few thousand credulous idiots in the Passion for Life movement. None of whom have read the bill either!

I'm fairly hopeful that Gordon Brown isn't going to listen to this stupid little man. However, a small part of me is concerned that the P4Lers and their ilk are getting more and more publicity. Oddly, none of them advocate actually reading the bill, or even the summary documents. They'd much rather just rain self-righteous ignorance and religous protestations down form on high with no thought for the actual benefits of the Bill and only dogma to guide them.

Of course, we all know that the stuff about genetics isn't what really bothers the Catholics. It all just coem sback to the fact that it clarifies in law the rights of homsexual couples to seek fertility treatment. After all, nothing bothers them more than what those gays are up to.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Sins Ain't What They Used to Be

Those pesky Catholics! You turn your back for a second and they're messing about with things again... After a normal, every-day, run-of-the-mill training week aimed at encouraging more people to confess regularly - because everybody loves telling an old (alleged) paedophile their darkest secrets - an archbishop (Gianfranco Girotti if you must know) announces an updated list of deadly sins. It seems there are still seven of them - why break with tradition after all? - but they are rather different form their predecessors.
Well, I'm sure you're all waiting with baited breath so without further ado, here are the winners:
  1. Environmental Pollution
  2. Genetic Manipulation
  3. Accumulating Excessive Wealth
  4. Inflicting Poverty
  5. Drug Trafficking and Consumption
  6. Morally Debatable Experiments
  7. Violation of Fundamental Rights of Human Nature
So there you have it. Much of the bad stuff I'd be concerned about would be covered by no. 7 there. Although what rights of human nature are I have no idea. Human nature is always blamed for bad stuff as well as praised for good. So who is doing the violating? I'm sure there'll be lots of complicated theological explanatory notes that nobody can understand...

I also like that they've covered science in there twice, under "genetic experiments" and again under "morally debatable experiments". Debatable? So any experiment that is in a grey area is right out? Because if you're being strict that might include a hell of a lot of science. You know, all that stuff that ethics committees spend their time thinking about. Clinical trials for example. For those life-saving drugs. And, of course, both of these would cover embryonic stem-cell research so the HFEB is doubly slapped by that one.

I wonder if genetic manipulation of animals is allowed but not of humans? I'll have to wait for those handy notes before I decide whether or not to eat those GM foods - because this would be another reason for me to take it up in a big way, what with me being contrary like that.

And also, the Catholic Church says "Don't do Drugs" or you're going to hell, first class and no refunds. You hear? What about drugs that are allowed in some countries but not others? what about Christ's Blood? Or is that OK because it has transubstantiated (is that a verb?) before you drink it? They'd best be careful.

The environmental pollution one is heartening, although everyone pollutes to some extent so there might need to be a lot of confessing. Since that was the point of the training week, however, I can see how they decided to include it. "Hmmm, let's include even more stuff people do on a daily basis, that way they're sinning 24/7!"

And then there's the ones about wealth. I guess a specific definition of wealth would be required. And then a short trip to the Vatican's accounts department for an investigation into "unnecessary wealth".

Anywho, I may blog again about this if I find more on it. You have been warned.

Friday, 7 March 2008

You Can Say What You Like About Jesus!

No really. Be my guest. As of a couple of days ago there is no blasphemy law in the UK! The house of Lords has decided that it's a bit of a silly idea in a country where people now so many different kinds of rubbish they'd all have to be blaspheming against someone. Anyway, it gave special status to the Church of England, that most inoffensive of institutions - more tea vicar? And perhaps another choir boy?

Now, I know they never really enforced it anyway because that would be kind of dumb, and probably in contravention of all sorts of other European and British laws, but it's nice to have that ridiculous law removed from the books anyway. Symbolic gestures can be important too. Not only does this give us atheists the right to say what we like about Jesus, but all those delusional people can say what they like too.

Maybe he was a paedophile? Maybe he was a murderer, or a rapist? Maybe he was just a really bad man trying to con a bunch of people? Or... gasp... maybe he didn't sodding exist in the first place? The very existence of such a law was laughable anyway, as if insulting a made-up dead guy could do anyone any harm. For that matter, insulting real dead guys doesn't really do anybody any harm.

Ah well, when this law is officially removed - apparently some monarch or other has to officially 'approve' it - we can all take to the streets and blaspheme to our hearts' content. Savour it. If anyone tries to stop you, remind them that it's not as if there's a law against it.