It’s been a couple months since I’ve even been on wordpress (had more pressing matters than words – if you’ll excuse the phrase). However this news story came out of the New York Times and I found it rather exciting:

Now the title may be a stretch yet, but scientists were able to extract protein material from the preserved bone marrow of a T-Rex.

Much cooler is that they were able to test the sequences they’d retrieved for genetic similarities with current organisms. 3 of the 7 sequences reacted to chicken in a way that really supports the contested idea that dinosaurs eventually evolved into birds. Strong genetic correlations with dinosaurs and birds is a great find.

The best thing about this procedure is there may be some other fossils where protein can be extracted… I can see a bunch of paleontologists reading the initial reports and, in shock, spitting their coffee all over their monitors as they rush to go examine some of their fossils.

But the thought that DNA and protein can survive so long is a a great turn of events. This may mean that Jurassic Park may be possible in the future. This is great for everybody. Ok, well maybe it’s not great for creationists. =P

At the very least, this answers the immortal question of, “What would a T-Rex taste like?” Like Chicken!

Mike

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I’m sure many of you have already heard the story about James Cameron producing a documentary where they investigate a tomb uncovered in 1980 which some suspect housed the body of Jesus and his family (including his mother Mary, wife Mary Magdalene, son Judah, and Mathew – there are apparently 5 other coffins in a neighboring tomb yet to be identified). According to the film-makers this is supposed to be a celebration of the life of a great man, however christians have already begun a public outry, declaring that the film-makers are attempting to undermine christianity.

To be fair, if Jesus didn’t resurrect the game is over, that’s the core tenant of the christian faith – it’s understandable they’d be upset… IF the documentary made a good point. But we don’t know yet what points it makes! Of course we only know very little about the documentary, but this hasn’t stopped christians and alleged bible scholars from attacking it head on.

Yes this is an old find (1980), and one which has been covered before 11 years ago with a BBC documentary which proved ill-researched and not particularly well founded in science, archeology, or anything of that nature. Yet allegedly there is new evidence and new arguments to be made on this site.

And this is the key point. They claim to have enough new evidence to propose that makes this tomb worth investigating again. By all accounts this won’t be a retread of the defeated BBC documentary, but something challenging and new. Cameron assures us, “It doesn’t get bigger than this. We’ve done our homework; we’ve made the case; and now it’s time for the debate to begin.”

Of course already christians are trying to combat this, before the documentary has come out or even been seen by them. If you are an intelligent individual this should raise some red flags for you. If they haven’t seen this documentary, then how can they know all the claims forwarded and effectively combat them?

The answer is simple: They can’t. They’re making this shit up in a preemptive manner to discredit the documentary any way they can. Or they’re relying on what they do know of the Tomb to try and (mistakenly?) predict what the arguments will be and discredit those.

Bold words to be sure, but very probably true – the church does have a long and illustrious history of smear campaigns, misinformation, distortion of evidence, and so on… They are exceedingly efficient at it, the complete lack of understanding for evolution and the perpetuating of misconceptions being just one glaring example.

I will say this: Reading a book by its cover is the province of fools and the ignorant. If going in with an open mind will challenge your faith, then you seriously need to re-evaluate your faith.

Forgive me if I sound harsh, but these people are essentially laying a verdict on a movie before it’s release (with no pre-screenings either) or trying to debunk an argument that’s not even yet been forwarded. It is, in concept, utterly absurd.

As I’ve said before, religion thrives on misconception. To repeat a quote of mine that became popular among my debate team, “christian churches are made of straw” – of course referring to the Straw Man Fallacy (also known as the “Fallacy of extension.” And this seems to be what many of these religious scholars are actively doing. Misconceptions are already abound, spreading like wildfire among those who are committing much the same fallacy and not realizing that their concerns are apparently going to be specifically addressed. These misconceptions are as follows:

1. Those were all common names at the time – so what? It’s probably coincidence.

From what little has been revealed, the answer lies in probability. It turns out that those names weren’t as common as expected and when you factor in the specific combination it becomes much less probable. Andrey Feuerverger (professor of statistics and mathematics) recently did a statistical analysis based on how often each name appears during that time period, its frequency, and to be conservative he allowed for the possibility of the name being more frequent than we know. Even then the odds of all five of those names being together is at least 600 to 1 against. That means the probability of this being the correct tomb and not sheer coincidence is a surprising 99.84%!

Let me repeat that, the statistical odds of this being more than coincidence are 99.84%. Something of course glossed over (or somehow missed?) by those attacking the film.

2. What are they going to do with DNA testing? There’s nothing to test!

They are using DNA testing to examine the family relationship and see who is directly related to who. We know that they’ve determined Jesus and the one thought to be Mary Magdalene are not related – which indicates they’re a couple if not spousal. It should go without saying that this alone really changes the odds of this being coincidence with all things considered. They are not using DNA tests to compare with living persons, the shroud of Turin or other such farcical things…

Now I am not staunchly defending the documentary, nor am I taking a particular stand in either direction at the moment. What I am suggesting and really advising is that people hold off until they see the damn documentary before they go making arguments.

Personally I don’t necessarily agree with the ideas being forwarded (I’m rather of the opinion that he never existed, not even as a mortal human), but I am willing to go in with an open mind and see the evidence presented and make assessments based on that.

I encourage others to similarly wait, see what the arguments and evidence are, and THEN make your decisions.

For more information, please refer to these (mostly) unbiased articles:

Discovery’s article on the subject:
James Cameron discusses the film:

Here’s an example as to how journalists are falling into the trap of letting their personal believes affect the way they write and portray the story, look at this (note the absence of documentary claims but focus on the counterarguments):

Yahoo News article:

Or if you really want to see the bad, look to Fox News.

Again the whole point is to not jump to conclusions and listen to the morons defending faith without even seeing the damn thing. It may be easily falsifiable, but wait and find out.

Yours in reason,

Mike

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Evidently “some people say” that the Nintendo DS leads to child molestation… Ha!

You can see their actual report here.

Essentially their story goes like this:

– You are driving your child around and he or she is playing their DS. Fair enough.

– A pedophile or child molestor is driving on the highway near enough to you to glance over and scan your car for children. He sees your child playing a Nintendo DS. (improbable, but ok..)

– The child molester then whips out his DS and, while driving, begins pictochat to see if he can find your kid on pictochat. (Using a DS while driving would be a very difficult thing to do, especially pictochat which tends to require both hands – one to hold it and one to use the stylus).

– Your kid isn’t playing a game but is instead sitting already in pictochat mode for some unexplicable reason and just waiting for some random shmuck (who’s steering with his mental willpower at this point) to message him/her.

– When your kid gets the message he/she accepts the messages and the child molester uses his Jedi mind tricks to get the kid to tell him the address. “You want to tell me where you live.” (Again, the odds of a kid giving up his address so readily is very improbable. And a kid gullible enough to do it wouldn’t even know the address.)

– The pedophile writes down the address (balancing the DS and paper pad while writing and driving the car), seeks it out, breaks in and rapes the kid.

Uh huh, great job Fox.

This would be a great case study in sensationalist garbage.

The kid already has to be on pictochat (on the freeway which is very unlikely) and waiting for someone to message him for this to work. Most kids play games on the DS, it’s not really seen as a communication device among children except for friends and neighbors. Also it’s not like they’d have the sense to be quiet about it if they’re dumb enough to give away their address. They wouldn’t be at the age where they’d keep secrets from mommy because some random stranger said to. Plus, pedos are far more likely to reach kids online through IMs…

Just to address a comment in the report:

Granted they knew it was me sending the messages but they had only met me minutes before.

Really sherlock? I’m sure the fact that you were invited into their home, trusted by the mother, and already AT their address helped that. Oh and the fact that you’re a well known news figure and a trusted authority source was another factor playing into that. With the questions he was asking they probably thought it was a demonstration or test of the communication capabilities, not a way to test child readiness to divulge their address to strangers.

And wow, the DS can send a message more than 300′ away while they advertise only 65 feet, those must be evil deceptive bastards! Of course it’s probably fair to assume that the 65 feet is the range for the worst conditions and it’s safer to underpromise on this sort of thing, but how dare they allow such a long distance for gameplaying? I think that’s actually awesome and opens great possibility for multiplayer (what everyone really uses the wifi for).

Beyond that there’s the usual shallow propaganda techniques Fox is known for. It’s remarkable the kind of stories they will run know… are they just low on ideas?

Mike

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I can respect Tom Cruise as an actor…

Sure he plays pretty much the same role in every movie (the cocky jackass who finds humility, loyalty and other virtues), but he plays that one role very well!

Yet riding on the hype of War of the Worlds he announced to the world that he was, indeed, a nutjob and basketcase. Professing faith in scientology he offended rational people everywhere.

My current feelings for Tom Cruise are best represented by this picture:

This just perfectly sums up Tom.

This came out of a brief photoshop lesson and it seems so perfect, so… him. We’ve got the purple crown with a strange symbol (it’s really a wristband and symbol for the Bleed Purple Foundation) which is pure silliness contrasted with a stern and perceptive staring into the distance look (good ol’ Tom is keeping a watch out for the minions of Lord Zenu). We have a yellow background to contrast everything even further.

Yes, this is the prophet of scientology. This is the man that, in 2000 years, people may actually be worshiping as a demigod or the son of some diety. They will say he healed the sick, he defeated the robot uprising unwittingly unleashed by Microsoft, he died and came back to life in his true alien form, and so on. That the whole religion was created in 1954 as a bet will be long forgotten. There is no science, only TOM.

This picture is the future folks. Peace.

Mike

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