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PZ’s Greatist Hits 14 Jul 2008

Posted by Jessa in Uncategorized.
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Here.  But he left out my favorite.

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The Great Cracker Conflagration of 2008 12 Jul 2008

Posted by Jessa in Religion.
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Regular readers of this blog (hi to all four of you) probably already know about this – PZ Myers has found himself in a bit of an internet uproar over a communion wafer.

A condensed timeline:

  • A student at the University of Central Florida takes a consecrated communion wafer home with him.  Much outrage ensues, including accusing said student of a “hate crime” and “kidnapping”, and e-mailed death threats.
  • PZ writes about it, and includes a call for people to send him wafers to desecrate.
  • Bill Donohue (of Catholic League fame) gets wind of it, and acts typically by issuing a press release calling for people to write to the University of Minnesota president to demand that PZ gets fired.
  • PZ responds and fights back.
  • Meanwhile, he’s getting his own batch of hate mail, some with death threats.
  • The Catholic League issues another press release calling for extra security for Catholics at the upcoming Republican Convention in Minneapolis, despite the fact that Morris is 150 miles away from Minneapolis and PZ has not threatened anyone.

Whew. What drama.

I’m somewhat undecided about PZ’s pledge to desecrate a cracker.  On one hand, I think it’s a fairly juvenile stunt.  On the other hand, actions like his can open up a dialog (if somewhat heated) about important issues.  Some of the most important insights I’ve had in my life have come from getting offended and then examining why I was offended.

But what I did find interesting was the thread that ran among the comments from those supporting the Catholic outrage.  Most of them either implicitly or explicitly included the idea that an individual has a right to have their beliefs respected.  Um, no.  Your right to hold a belief should be respected, but the belief itself has no right to be respected.  The idea of respecting beliefs sounds like a good one at first blush, but it’s totally unworkable.  There are some sincerely held but genuinely silly beliefs out there.  Anyone who has spent any time on the internet can come up with at least 5 examples off the top of their head.  By the rationale of the “respect beliefs” argument, we must respect the belief that aliens built the Great Pyramids.  Or that the moon landing was a hoax.  Or that the US government was behind 9/11.  There are people out there that believe these things just as deeply as Catholics believe that a priest can, with appropriate hand gestures and incantations, turn a wafer into the Body of Christ.  See how respecting all beliefs just won’t work?

But the “respect beliefs” commenters don’t really believe that all beliefs should be respected.  A great number of them are calling for PZ to desecrate a Koran instead.  So apparently they have no problems with disrespecting the beliefs of Muslims.  I guess “respect beliefs” really means “respect the beliefs with which I agree”.

Mmmm…I love the smell of hypocrisy.

PZ-Away 31 Mar 2008

Posted by Jessa in Uncategorized.
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Click pic for source.

Bwahahaha! 20 Mar 2008

Posted by Jessa in Non-Religion, Non-Science, Religion, Science.
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PZ Myers shares a delicious bit of irony.

It seems that he was specifically barred, on threat of arrest, from attending an advance screening of Expelled. Expelled from Expelled!

But that’s not the best part:

I’m still laughing though. You don’t know how hilarious this is. Not only is it the extreme hypocrisy of being expelled from their Expelled movie, but there’s another layer of amusement. Deep, belly laugh funny. Yeah, I’d be rolling around on the floor right now, if I weren’t so dang dignified.

You see … well, have you ever heard of a sabot? It’s a kind of sleeve or lightweight carrier used to surround a piece of munition fired from a gun. It isn’t the actually load intended to strike the target, but may even be discarded as it leaves the barrel.

I’m a kind of sabot right now.

They singled me out and evicted me, but they didn’t notice my guest. They let him go in escorted by my wife and daughter. I guess they didn’t recognize him. My guest was …

Richard Dawkins.

He’s in the theater right now, watching their movie.

AWESOME!

Proteomics Incident: One Author Responds 11 Feb 2008

Posted by Jessa in Science.
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Pharyngula has received an apologetic e-mail from Jin Han, one of the authors of the Proteomics paper that caused a stir.  Like PZ, I don’t buy the whole “confusion between drafts” thing.  It doesn’t address either the bizarre claims made in the paper or the plagiarism.  But at least the authors are going to request a retraction.

Peer review may have failed at the official level, but it’s alive and well in the blogosphere.

The Proteomics Paper Problem 10 Feb 2008

Posted by Jessa in Science.
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A bit of a scandal has been brewing in the scientific blogging community over an ahead-of-print paper in the journal Proteomics. Pharyngula had some serious issues with the peer-review process of this article because it contains an invocation of a “mighty creator” and some weird claim of a body-soul connection in mitochondria.  It appears that this was a case of shoddy work by the paper’s reviewers, who seemingly approved the paper without reading it in depth.

Then it got even more serious.  Some astute commenters on Pharyngula noticed that a significant portion of the paper was plagiarized from other sources.   I hope that the editors of Proteomics responds to these issues quickly and decisively, for the sake of their integrity.