Friday, June 22, 2012

Who Wouldn't You Vote For?

12:25 PM |

Between now and the 2012 political conventions, there will be discussion about the qualifications of presidential candidates -- their education, age, religion, race, and so on. If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be _____, would you vote for that person? June 2012 results

Monday, June 4, 2012

What is Geoengineering? And How can it Affect our Future?

4:50 PM |

The average global temperature is rising, and it is likely due to the added annual 2% of new carbon pumped into the atmosphere every year. 2012 is a milestone year for climatology, because the Earth's atmosphere is likely to hit 400 carbon parts per million. Before the industrial age, the atmosphere averaged about 280 carbon ppm.

How do we combat rising global temperatures? Some people believe they have found an answer in "geoengeering," which is essentially the process by which tons and tons of sulfur is pumped into the atmosphere to help cool the earth while carbon emissions continue to rise. As Shawn Lawrence Otto describes it in his book, Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America, it is like giving crack as a remedy to someone with an alcohol problem. Pumping obscene amounts of sulfur into the atmosphere will undoubtedly reduce temperatures, due to the sulfur's ability to deflect sunlight, but it does nothing to attack the source of the problem, carbon.

Pumping sulfur into the atmosphere is surprisingly a cheap solution to climate change with total costs estimating around a few million. Meaning, a country such as Bangladesh--where a rising sea level of a mere three-ten feet would force the migration of millions of people, and where rising temperatures could change their relied upon monsoon season-- can easily use geoengineering techniques on their own.

So what happens after 20-50 years of pumping sulfur into the atmosphere? Well, most of it will fall as acid rain,  likely causing the ocean's acidity to rise to alarming levels, marine life extinction, and the destruction of coral reefs. So countries gather and decide that its time to stop geoengineering due to its harmful oceanic effects. After a few months the sky becomes less and less white, and day to day life appears "not so bad." But oh wait, all the while we were pumping sulfur into the atmosphere,  we've also added an estimated 50-60% increase in new carbon into the atmosphere. Temperatures climb, people are displaced, and Canada and Serbia are the gold rush of the 2050s because their land is one of the few places where farmers can grow grain.

Can this happen? Maybe. Governments are now investigating the use of geoengineering as a "last ditched solution" if climate change one day spirals out of control. The scary thing is, it might already be already spiraling out of control.

Michael Shermer & Johnathan Haidt on Why Liberals and Conservatives are "Tribal"

4:06 PM |

Which of these two narratives most closely matches your political perspective?
"Once upon a time people lived in societies that were unequal and oppressive, where the rich got richer and the poor got exploited. Chattel slavery, child labor, economic inequality, racism, sexism and discriminations of all types abounded until the liberal tradition of fairness, justice, care and equality brought about a free and fair society. And now conservatives want to turn back the clock in the name of greed and God."
"Once upon a time people lived in societies that embraced values and tradition, where people took personal responsibility, worked hard, enjoyed the fruits of their labor and through charity helped those in need. Marriage, family, faith, honor, loyalty, sanctity, and respect for authority and the rule of law brought about a free and fair society. But then liberals came along and destroyed everything in the name of “progress” and utopian social engineering."

How can evolution explain which narrative matches your political perspective?

Michael Shermer on beliefs and the free market

Monday, March 19, 2012

Americans Deserve a Presidential Science Debate byLawrence M. Krauss

10:45 PM |

Every major policy challenge the nation is facing is either wholly or partly driven by science, and yet this year in particular we have seen every mainstream candidate for president in 2012 adopt one or more positions that run contrary to the best available evidence science has to offer.
This isn't just a Republican problem. The current president has also taken policy positions that run contrary to advice from scientists on bipartisan panels, such as his position restricting the over-the-counter sale of the contraceptive known as Plan B.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Indiana House Speaker Says He's Killing Creationism Bill

2:45 AM |

A bill that would have specifically allowed Indiana's public schools to teach creationism alongside evolution in science classes has been shelved by the leader of the Indiana House of Representatives.
The proposal cleared the state Senate two weeks ago, but Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma is using a procedural move to kill the proposal for this legislative session.
“It seemed to me not to be a productive discussion, particularly in light that there is a United States Supreme Court case that appears to be on point that very similar language is counter to the constitution,” Bosma said Tuesday. “It looked to me to be buying a lawsuit when the state can ill afford it."

Indiana Senate passes creationism in schools bill

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Scale of the Universe

3:24 AM |

The Scale of the Universe 2

Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains Why Newt Gingrich Moon Colony Rhetoric is Unrealistic

3:18 AM |

Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains Why Newt Gingrich Moon Colony Rhetoric is Unrealistic

The Young Turks Talk about Newt Gingrich's Religious Views

3:16 AM |

Christian Government Under Newt Gingrich

The new anti-science assault on US schools Katherine Stewart

3:12 AM |

In a disturbing trend, anti-evolution campaigners are combining with climate change deniers to undermine public education

Charles Darwin, circa 1854: 12 February, his birthday, is marked by International Darwin Day.
Photograph: Corbis
You might have thought it was all over after the 2005 decision by the US district court of Middle Pennsylvania (pdf), which ruled in the case of the Dover Area schools that teaching intelligent design is unconstitutional. You might have guessed that they wouldn't come back after the 1987 US supreme court decision in Edwards v Aguillard, which deemed the teaching of creationism in Louisiana schools unconstitutional. Or maybe you figured that the opponents of evolution had their Waterloo in the 1925 Scopes "monkey" trial in Tennessee.
They are back. There are six bills aimed at undermining the teaching of evolution before state legislatures this year: two each in New Hampshire and Missouri, one each in Indiana and Oklahoma. And it's only February.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Something from Nothing

11:45 AM |

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Something from Nothing with Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss

1:41 AM |

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Reason Rally

4:05 AM |

Courtesy of :

The Reason Rally is an event sponsored by many of the country’s largest and most influential secular organizations. It will be free to attend and will take place in Washington, D.C. on March 24th, 2012 from 10:00AM – 4:00PM at the National Mall. There will be music, comedy, speakers, and so much more. We hope you can join us!  Please poke around this site for more information, stay tuned for frequent updates,  Speakers include:

Richard Dawkins

Author of The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, The God Delusion, The Greatest Show on Earth, and more;  Founder of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

Tim Minchin

Musician, composer, songwriter, actor, comedian and writer.

PZ Myers

Blogger at Pharyngula; Professor of Biology at the University of Minnesota Morris.

Taslima Nasrin

Author of more than thirty books, including Lajja (“Shame”); Prolific activist for gender equality, free thought, and human rights.

James Randi

Founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation; Creator of The One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge; Magician (known as “The Amazing Randi”).

Bad Religion

Legendary rock band fronted by singer/songwriter Greg Graffin.