Jrefs Youtube account is back

3 April 2009

It was apparently a copyright issue that has been resolved. Is it really necessary to suspend the whole account instead of temporarily removing the videos the is contention about?

Anyway here is a link to the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) YouTube account.

Wikipedia has this to say about James Randi.

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JamesRandiFoundation YouTube suspended

30 March 2009

I see that The James Randi Educational Foundation channel at YouTube has been suspended. I suspect YouTube has screwed up again. I am watching the situation with the expectation that YouTube sees the error of their ways and fixes this. The JREF is one of the bastions of clear thinking on the internet.


US judge says University can ignore Christian course credits | The Register

16 August 2008

Register reports that the a group of Christians lost their court case against the University of California. Register reports:

A federal judge has told the University of California that when considering applicants, it has the constitutional right to ignore high school course work grounded in the notion that the Bible is infallible.

Register notes that:

One high school course was rejected because its primary text, the Bob Jones University-published United States History for Christian Schools, “failed to adequately teach critical thinking and modern historical analytic methods.”

According to one professor on the UC course review committee, the text “instructs that the Bible is the unerring source for analysis of historical events, attributes historical events to divine providence rather than analyzing human action, evaluates historical figures and their contributions based on their religious motivations or lack thereof and contains inadequate treatment of several major ethnic groups, women, and non-Christian religious groups.”

The comment “failed to adequately teach critical thinking …” is something teachers in many countries could reflect on. We seem to be failing here.

US judge says University can ignore Christian course credits | The Register.


Read 2008/4 – God is Not Great

7 April 2008

Book: 4
Title: God is Not Great
God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchins
Author: Christopher Hitchens
Genre: Ante-religion.
Why did you get this book?
Out of curiosity.
Did you enjoy the book? Yes, it was thought provoking.
Was the author new to you? Yes.
Would you read something by this author again? Yes. I liked his writing style.
Are you keeping it or passing it on? I am keeping it. Silly question really. I have never thrown away a book in my life and have seldom given one away.
Anything else? It took quite a while to digest this book. Many thought provoking ideas. Hitchins is one of the fairly recent number of authors who are openly and vocally atheist. Opponents of these authors disparagingly call them new-atheist. Stupid name really. Much of what Hitchins (and the others) are writing about are ideas that have been voiced for decades if not centuries. Perhaps the thing that is new about these so called new-atheists is that they are uncompromising, unafraid (apparently) and unwilling to be silenced. I have seen quite a few video clips of Hitchins being interviewed. He seems polite and soft spoken to his opponents at least until they refuse to act likewise. He is on the other hand unwilling to be dominated by opponents and uses his knowledge and acerbic wit effectively.
Number of pages: 286 plus references and index.
Total pages for the year: 1430


XKCD hits the sweet spot

22 January 2008

This web comic strip from XKCD struck a chord in the skeptics community.

the_data_so_far.png

The Bad Astronomer Phil Plait says it’s why we love XKCD, Rebecca at Skepchick posted it and PZ Myers at Pharyngula would wear it on a t-shirt.

No surprise there. No-one has claimed James Randi‘s million dollars.

Personally I think Larry Niven has it right when he states in his fifth law:

Psi and/or magical powers, if real, are nearly useless.

If that were not true; then natural selection would have given people with such powers an edge, evolution would have run it’s course and everyone would have such powers.


20th December 2005 – cdesign proponentsist day

20 December 2007

Quote from Wikipedia for today:

US District Court Judge John E. Jones III rules against mandating the teaching “intelligent design” in his ruling of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

My first encounter with an evolution denier happened in my late teens. I was talking to a new acquaintance. In telling him things about myself I made a passing comment that took for granted that the theory of evolution was as much a fact as things scientific ever are. My new acquaintance stunned me by telling me he did not believe in evolution. To me this was the equivalent of denying that the theory of gravitation was true. I was shocked that someone could refuse to accept a theory that has stood the test of time since 1859. This person was obviously smart yet his faith seemed to me to be in direct conflict with reality.

Later in life I came across Niven’s Laws the 14th of which seems to cover this:

There exist minds that think as well as you do, but differently.


Difference

24 June 2007

What’s the difference between a sceptic and a religious fundamentalist?
The sceptic believes only what he sees.
The religious fundamentalist sees only what he believes.