26 August 2012

Neil Armstrong In Memoriam

Neil_Armstrong
Neil Armstrong, Korean War veteran, test pilot, first man to walk on the Moon, has died from complications due to heart surgery. He was 82.

As the first of only twelve men to step foot on the Moon, Armstrong is a member of the most prestigeous group of humans in history. He lived his post-Apollo years semi-retired from public life, rarely granting interviews.

One of our greatest heroes, Neil Armstrong will dearly be missed.


Video of that one small step


CNN Biography of Armstrong

22 August 2012

Robert Spencer Exposes CAIR

Robert Spencer exposes the connections between Islamist propaganda group CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) and major terrorist organizations (Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, etc.), and their designs on making any critical analysis of Islamic groups or people(including his speech and my synopsis) "hate speech" and illegal under United Nations law, in effect making the entire non-Muslim world dhimmi living under sharia law.

runs 28 minutes.

21 August 2012

A Question About The Quran II

Here is the first part in this series, to refresh your memory.

The video runs 15 minutes. Below is my synopsis.



In 1972 a German scholar Gerd R. Puin was asked to investigate some manuscript fragments discovered in Sana'a, Yemen. What he found was fragments of the oldest Quran in existence. The text shows evidence of having been altered, with verses changed and rearranged, and missing diacritical marks permitting the existing words and verses to have a great many different meanings, not the one orthodox meaning found in the Quran today.

Another scholar, writing under the name Christoph Luxenberg, analysed the text of the Quran and discovered a great many loan words and passages that do not make sense in Arabic but make perfect sense when read in Syrio-Aramaic, the dominant language in Western Arabia and the Levant when the Quran was first written.

Together their work suggests that, far from being a single, monolithic text that has existed in its present form for over a thousand years, the Quran has, in fact, gone through revisions and significant alterations in meaning. The Quran may also have been pieced together over several generations from many different texts and may not have existed in its present form until long after Muhammad died.

We may never know the true origins of the text of the Quran (as with virtually any book from antiquity), but now people are asking questions. People are (slowly) giving the Quran the same treatment as the Bible and the Vedas and are performing critical scholarship of the text no one dare question.

19 August 2012

The Truth About The Crusades with Robert Spencer

Dispells the myths that the Islamic empire was tolerant and multicultural and that the crusaders were proto-imperialistic evil bloodthirsty monsters who descended like a plague on the peace-loving Muslims (like some Monty Python documentaries on the subject will tell you).

Roughly 48 minutes.





16 August 2012

Bugs Stay Bugs

Has anyone ever asked you, "If humans evolved from monkeys, then why do we still have monkeys?" Or maybe you have encountered this one: "If evolution happens, then why don't we ever see new species?" Such question are often asked by people who have no understanding of evolutionary processes and who may not even believe that such processes exist. The fact that anyone today, given the overwhelming evidence for biological evolution, would ask such questions is a depressing reflection of the poor quality of biological education in the United States.
[Introduction to Physical Anthropology, Tenth Edition, page 23]

My problems with the book are legion, but here's an interesting one relevant to this paragraph. The genus Homo appeared with Homo habilis, the oldest fossil of which, KNM ER 1813, is about 1.9 million years old. That means the genus Homo has been around for about 82,600 generations, during which time we went from this:
Homo_Monkey

to this:
Chucky_Darwin

That's a significant change, and humans evolve slow, but bacteria evolve quickly (supposedly), which is why we see all this antibiotic resistance springing up (actually, those "super bugs" can only exist in modern super clean settings like hospitals; when put in a neutral environment they are easily outcompeted by their non-drug resistant counterparts).

Richard Lenski at Michigan State ran his famous long-term E. coli experiment that got him a spot at the National Academy of Sciences. In that time since the experiment started and his big discovery in 2008 his germs lived through 31,500 generations, not quite half the time it took to turn chimp-man into modern humans. E. coli is missing an enzyme called citrate permease, which would allow them to transport citrate trough their cell membrane in the presence of oxygen. The development of a gene, Cit+, necessary to transport citrate required the mutation seen at generation 31,500 and another mutation at generation 20,000. To this day (at least as of 2011) Lenski has not been specific about his Cit+ cells (even defensive and condescending when asked), but another study showed the existence of mutant E. coli that could perform the same trick did so by overexpression of an existing gene that allowed them to transport citrate in anaerobic conditions (citT). If Lenski's Cit+ cells are like the citT cells, then the only change was in the rate of gene expression, not the appearance of anything new.

In the same time it took Lenski's E. coli to (probably) alter the expression rate of a preexisting gene and develop the ability to digest citrate in aerobic coditions, under circumstances set up to pressure them to develop this change and food was given to them, Homo erectus had appeared and Homo habilis was gone. Erectus was significantly larger, had nearly doubled brain size, reduced sexual dimorphism, invented fire, likely had the ability for some form of speech, lived in the first hunter-gatherer societies, and spread out over most of Afro-Eurasia, and all under natural conditions, where there existed real competition, predators, and the reality of having to work for food.

Why don't we ever see new species then? We watch E. coli for now 50,000 generations under ideal conditions and essentially nothing happened, yet somehow there was a quantum leap in human evolution that no one was around to see. My question, then, is, if speciation happens why does it only happen when no one is looking? Better yet, why is speciation an experiment that can't be replicated?



ADDENDUM

Michael Behe paper (The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 85, No. 4, December 2010) critiquing Lenski's experiment.

Evolution News article on the Lenski experiment.

08 August 2012

Roswell

Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Dick French talks about how he was ordered to investigate and debunk flying saucers. He says they're real and that he'll be surprised if they stay a secret for long.

02 August 2012

The Bible Code - McKay Strikes Back

Remember the documentary where Brendan McKay claims to have discovered the assassinations of famous people in Moby-Dick? An analysis from a Bible code website breaks down in detail why McKay's stunt is not a refutation of the existence of the Bible code, and does not answer Michael Drosnin's challenge, which was: "When my critics find a message about the assassination of a prime minister encrypted in Moby-Dick I'll believe them."

The unnamed author of the piece points out that all correct codes found in the Torah must meet at least three criteria:
1. they must use a priori key words that are logically and historically related to the event being searched, meaning the key words must be chosen before the search is conducted in order for a code to be valid;
2. the a priori key words must have a relatively compact arrangement of ELS (equidistant letter skips) within the code cylinder;
3. one or more of the a priori key words must have a low rank skip ELS.

Every one of McKay's codes do not meet one or more of the criteria for the Bible code, meaning McKay did not find similar code in Moby-Dick and he did not refute the existence of the Bible code.

The first example given is of India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was assassinated 31 October 1984. The following is an example of the code table, or matrix, McKay found regarding the assassination (there are many such tables in the piece, this one is used here as a reference):

CodeTable

What McKay did, according to the article, was search for every instance of "IGANDHI" in the text of Moby-Dick and searched all of them for words related to killing. The one example he did find was "THEBLOODYDEED". This does not meet the first criteria for a valid code. The article goes on to say: "The second problem is that the ELS for bloody deed is not a low rank skip ELS. Its rank is about 200, meaning there are about 200 ELSs of I. Ghandi in Moby Dick having smaller absolute skip than the one shown in the McKay table. Low rank skip for a primary key word generally means a rank smaller than about 30."

A similar method is used for the deaths of other prominent people. Lebanese President Rene Moawad crosses the entire phrase "ANEXPLODINGBOMB", a rather complex phrase that one would not use as an a priori key word (just as you wouldn't search for the entire phrase "SHOTINTHEHEAD" when looking for the Kennedy assassination, you would use words like "SHOT" and "DALLAS"). Leon Trotsky is found with the word "EXECUTED", when he was murdered by a criminal while exiled in Mexico, not killed in an official execution. The other codes found by McKay either display odd complete phrases, indicating cheating, or are not statistically significant (McKay's code for JFK has a probability of 34.5 in 100, whereas the probability of the results of the original rabbi's experiment he said was fake had a probability of 1 in 10 million).

The conclusion is clear: Brendan McKay did not perform an experiment. He used no experimental protocal, certainly not the rigorous one used in the original experiment he was criticising. McKay performed a debunking exercise where he cheated at every chance he could, searching the text for anything he thought would look good, and put on a show to purpousfully deceive the uneducated reader. His whole purpose was to discredit genuine code researchers because he has an a priori metaphysical objection to the existence of codes, not a real scientific objection.