Full Sun Vampire

An ugly truth

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/04/why_the_wingnuts_hate_plan_b.php By PZ Meyers, on his blog, Pharyngula.

No, it's not from Beck

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

from Shakespeare's The Tempest

Can you read?

A translation for those who studied any of the humanities. It's a scientific way of asking: can you define force, mass, velocity and acceleration?

Have you read any Shakespeare?

Another gloss. This is for this (or similar basic laws) question: Can you recite the Second Law of Thermodynamics?

Please write me an essay on ....

Perhaps an equivalent to asking for an explanation for why evolution and intelligent design don't mix. You will be graded on logic, a little casual research, knowledge, internal consistency, and the ability of your instructor to understand what you have written.

The last three above are a paraphrase of CP Snow.

Why I think the DNA Engine should work exactly the way that it does

"Science is at no moment quite right, but it is seldom quite wrong, and has, as a rule, a better chance of being right than the theories of the unscientific."

- Bertrand Russel

Science, however is not just a matter of making mistakes, but of making mistakes in public. Making mistakes for all to see, in the hopes of getting others to help with the corrections. It has been plausibly maintained by Nichola Humprey, David Premack, and others, that chimpanzees are natural psychologists-what I would call second-order intentional systems [I think Dennett means 'in the style of philosopher Karl Popper' here], capable of adopting the intentional stance towards other things. This is not surprinsing if our own innate equipment includes a theory-of-mind module as Leslie, Baron-Cohen, and others have maintained, for perhaps this is a part of the endowment the chimpanzee and we inherit from a common ancestor. But even if chimpanzees, are, like us, innately equipped as natural psychologists, folk and professional varieties; they never get to compare notes.

from the 'The Role of Language in Intelligence' chapter of Daniel C Dennett's 'Darwin's Dangerous Idea' p 380

Save the Baptists! Yes, of course, but not By All Means. No if it means tolerating the deliberate misinforming of children about the natural world. According to a recent [1985-ish, probably] poll 48% of the people in the United States believe the book of Genesis is literally true. And 70 percent believe that "creation science" should be taught in school alongside evolution. Some recent writers recommend a policy in which parents would be able to "opt out" of materials they don't want their children taught. Should evolution be taught in schools? Should arithmetic be taught? Should history? Misinforming a child is a terrible offense.

from the 'In Praise of Biodiversity' chapter of Daniel C Dennett's 'Darwin's Dangerous Idea' p516

On Jihad (or, Thank You Judge Jones III)

If you want to teach our children they are the tools of God, you had better not teach them they are God's rifles, or we will have to stand firmly opposed to you: your doctrine has no glory, no special rights, no intrinsic and inalienable merit. If you insist on teaching your children falsehoods-that the earth is flat, that "Man" is not the product of evolution by natural selection-then you must expect, at the very least, that those of us with the freedom of speech will feel free to describe your teachings as the spreading of falsehoods, and will attempt to demonstrate this to your children at the earliest opportunity. Our future well-being, the well-being of all of us on the planet-depends on the education of our descendants.

from the same section, p519


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Sea Change

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