F Rosa Rubicondior: September 2021

Thursday 30 September 2021

How Trump's Team Concocted the Big Lie

Trump's lawyer, Rudi Giuliani
"Created the Dominion conspiracy lie out of whole cloth"
Rachel Maddow Reads Damning Giuliani Testimony Showing Roots Of Election Conspiracy | HuffPost UK

Trump's big lie team made a major tactical blunder when they falsely claimed that Dominion, who supplied voting machines, conspired to steal the election for Biden. What they failed to take into account was that Dominion would sue. The result of this is that it gives the Dominion legal team the right to discover the evidence on which the claim was based.

It turns out that not only was there no such evidence, but, questioned under oath, Trump's lawyer and former New York mayor, Rudolph "Rudi" Giuliani admitted he couldn't even remember where he saw the allegation that he went public with, or even where he was at the time or exactly when he heard them (court papers exhibit J-1, transcription pp 34-36), and that the claim of a witness was almost certainly made up. He thought he might have seen it on Facebook! But he wasn't even sure of that and anyway he was too busy to check!

In other words, the entire claim was an invention.

Wednesday 29 September 2021

US Christians Targeted by Eastern European Troll Farms

White Evangelical Christians at the Capitol, 6 Jan, 2021
Targets of Eastern European troll farms.
Troll farms reached 140 million Americans a month on Facebook before 2020 election | MIT Technology Review

According to an internal Facebook report, leaked by a former employee to MIT Technology Review, in the run-up to the 2020 elections in the USA, Christians were amongst those specially targeted by Eastern European troll farms intent on interfering with the elections, to the extent that 19 of the 20 most popular Christian groups on Facebook were run by these troll farms.

The report found that, after the 2016 election, Facebook:

A Meteor Strike in Bronze Age Jordan Destroyed a Large City - And Any Claim That The Bible is Literal History.

Location of Tall el-Hammam. (a) Photo of the southern Levant, looking north, showing the Dead Sea, the site location (TeH), and nearby countries. The Dead Sea Rift, the fault line marking a major tectonic plate boundary, runs through the area. Source of base image: NASA, Space Shuttle. “The Sinai Peninsula and the Dead Sea Rift”. Photo: sts109-708-024, taken 12/16/2009. From the NASA Langley Research Center Atmospheric Science Data Center (nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/astronauts_eyes/sts109-708-024.html). Modified by the authors using Adobe Photoshop CC2014 (adobe.com/products/photoshop.html). (b) West-southwest-facing view of the upper tall showing locations of the palace and temple behind the curve of the upper tall. The Dead Sea is in the background to the left.
An Ancient Disaster | The UCSB Current

From the Middle East, archaeologists bring us evidence that, although a couple of Bible tales may have their origins in a real event which could have lingered in the folk memories of the ancient Canaanites, the truth was very different to the highly embroidered stories these memories were subsequently woven into.

The evidence is that the large Late Bronze age city, now known as Tall el-Hammam, in the Jordan Valley, north of the Dead Sea, was suddenly destroyed by the air-burst of a meteorite larger than that responsible for the Tanguska incident in Siberia in 1908, which was estimated to have been the equivalent of an explosion and heat-wave about 1000 times more powerful than the atom bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

This explosion occurred in about 1650 BCE and, according to the authors of a paper published, open access, in Scientific Reports, could have been the origin of both the myths of Sodom and Gomorrah and the destruction of Jericho (identified as Tell es-Sultan, near to Tall el-Hammam) by an Israelite army led by Joshua.

For Bible literalists wishing to use this as evidence that the Bible is real history, these two mythological events allegedly occurred many years apart and not contemporaneously. The tale in Genesis of the destruction of the 'cities of the plain' and the survival of Lot and his daughters with whom he fathered two sons is, according to Israeli archaeologists, Finkelstein and Silberman, in The Bible Unearthed, probably a propaganda story written to discredit two rival Canaanite tribes to Israel, in Moab and Ammon, as the descendants of the children of drunken debauchery and incest. The story of the breaching of the (non-existent) walls of Jericho and its sack by Joshua's mob came much later, in Joshua, at the end of the supposed exodus from Egypt and the mythical entry into the 'Promised Land' by the Israelites.

Tuesday 28 September 2021

Atheist News - How Atheists Don't Need a God to be Good, But Theists Need One to be Bad.

Misinformation and Facts about Secularism and Religion | Psychology Today

In this devastating rebuttal of the 2011 claim by Dr Thomas G. Plante, Ph.D, that generally, religious people are more moral than non-religious people, David Niose, former president of both the American Humanist Association and the Secular Coalition for America, points out the factual and unfounded errors in Plante's article. In particular:
Plante casually claims that religious people are "better citizens" and "behave better." And without citing any sources, he tells us: "Research has consistently found that religious people are less likely to engage in criminal behavior, marital infidelity, alcoholism, unprotected sexual activity. . ." In other words, according to Plante, if you're not religious you might be a good person, but on average you are more likely to have these undesirable characteristics. This is a bold assertion that, of course, immediately puts secular individuals on the defensive. (Just imagine if the same claims were made against any other minority group.) It is precisely claims like these that lead to many Americans having an unfavorable view of atheists and other nonbelievers. Fortunately for atheists, agnostics, and secular humanists, there is no factual basis for Plante's claim that "research has consistently found" secular individuals to be more prone to such antisocial behavior.

Monday 27 September 2021

Christian Hate News - Loony Talibangelical Extremist Greg Locke on the War-Path.

Pastor Greg Locke, Global Vision Bible Church, Tennessee.
"This means war!"
Hate-Preacher Tells Right-Wing Crowd They’re Being Persecuted: “This Means War!” | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

Readers of this blog will be very familiar with false prophet, rabid homophobe and preacher of hate with a persecution complex, Greg Locke, who recently announced he was building the violent Church that Jesus wanted. An announcement that promptly got him banned from Twitter and resulted in several of his more offensive YouTube videos being taken down.

According to Locke, only gay people would do nothing while the evil, Satanic Democrats closed churches to stop them spreading the coronavirus, and Jesus wasn't gay so he would have defended his First Amendments rights with his Second Amendment rights.

It goes without saying that the US Constitution applied in 1st Century Palestine and Jesus jealously guarded his right to use guns to keep his churches open by posting armed thugs at the door to stop the authorities "trying something"!

I'm not a psychiatrist, but Locke's behaviour since he was shown to be a false prophet by falsely prophesying that Trump would win last November by a landslide because God had told him personally, he would arrange it, is becoming so bizarre and extreme that if his behaviour doesn't meet the definition of insanity, then insanity needs to be redefined.

Sunday 26 September 2021

Creationism's Favourite Felon is Back Behind Bars.

Mr Kent Hovind. Back in prison, this time for assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
Creationist Kent Hovind Sentenced to 30 Days in Jail for Domestic Violence | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

Creationism's favourite criminal, Mr Kent Hovind, is back in prison. Let's try to help him be a better person.

To anyone familiar with Hovind's distain for the law of the land, believing he makes his own laws because he has a close personal relationship with God, this will come as no surprise, since Hovind pushes a relentlessly literal interpretation of the Bible and the Bible positively commands behaviour which might have been acceptable in a brutal, Late Bronze/Early Iron Age tribal society but which is, following the European Enlightenment and the incorporation of Humanism into Christianity, now regarded as criminal in most civilised societies.

Thursday 23 September 2021

Covidiot News - The Sad Self-inflicted Genocide of Anti-Vaxx Covidiots Continues

Anti-vaxx couple dies of virus after claiming they survived pandemic despite being unvaccinated - Alternet.org

If there is one thing that should feature 'bigly' in history's assessment of Donald Trump's legacy, it is the huge number of covidiot deaths of those who listened to him and his allies in the Talibangelical Christian cults, the QAnon conspiracists and the Repugnican politicians who prefer to allow this self-inflicted genocide to proceed rather than lose face and admit they were wrong about the pandemic, the measures to control it and then the efficacy and safety of the vaccines.

Here for example, is yet another case of two people who believed the anti-vaxxer fools and not the experts. They are, or rather were, Dusty and Tristan Graham, who styled themselves the "Alabama Pickers", popular YouTube/eBay resellers. According to their daughter, Windsor Graham, Dusty died of COVID-19 last Thursday after a three-week battle against the virus while Tristan died suddenly on August 20th from COVID-19-related complications.

Wednesday 22 September 2021

Jews and Arabs Descended from Canaanites - Biblical Archaeology Society

Canaanite relief in basalt depicting a lion and a lioness at play, 14th century BC, from Beit She’an, Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Credit: Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany,
CC BY-SA 2.0
via Wikimedia Commons
Jews and Arabs Descended from Canaanites - Biblical Archaeology Society

In their book, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Sacred Texts, Tel Aviv University archaeologists, Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman conclude from the archaeological evidence that the history of the Jews in the Old Testament, including that in Exodus, is almost entirely invented; the Jews arose in situ from indigenous Canaanites, carving out the states of Israel and Judah on land peripheral to the Bronze Age Canaanite city states as these faded during the Early Iron Age.

The invented history simply reflects the rivalry between these closely related populations and, as with all invented histories, shows those writing them to be the superior group, having stunning victory after stunning victory over their rivals, whom they always totally vanquished and annihilated and enslaved, and having the superior tribal god(s). The stories were invented to give retrospective justification for genocide and land-theft and invariably exaggerated them, as we can see from the fact that there are descendants today of these supposedly totally annihilated tribes.

Monday 20 September 2021

Malevolent Designer News - How a Bacterium Turns Plants Into Zombies

Lime witches broom, induced by Phytoplasma
The microbial molecule that turns plants into zombies | John Innes Centre

Parasites that turn their hosts into zombies that serve only the needs of the parasite, are by no means uncommon in nature. In fact, I include several examples in my popular, illustrated book, The Malevolent Designer: Why Nature's God is not Good. To the perpetual embarrassment of Creationists who like to pretend that their putative designer god is one and the same as the supposed god of love in the Christian Bible, they betray the fiendishly evil, amoral mind of anything that could have consciously and intentionally designed such relationships.

And now we have one more to add to the long, sorry list.

Sunday 19 September 2021

Atheists Top the List of Those Doing Right by Others. Evangelicals are Bottom.

Atheists nab top spot in shots; White evangelicals least vaccinated - Freedom From Religion Foundation

I mentioned at the end my last blog post that Christians seem to need the promise of a reward in order to do the right thing, with the implication that it would be much better if they just did the right thing because it is the right thing to do. However, nowhere in their handbook of morals and ethics, is that ever mandated or even recommended.

The closest they come to it is the instruction to do to others what they would want others to do to them - the so-called golden rule, common to just about every culture. Unfortunately, after several decades of the Republicans advocating greed and selfishness and insisting that it deserves a reward, most American fundamentalist Christians have come to associate doing the right thing by others as some sort of undesirable, socialist/liberal subversion of the 'American Way', and so not what God wants at all.

Few things highlight this better than the findings of a recent Pew Research survey into COVID-19 vaccine take-up, which places white evangelicals at the bottom of the table and Atheists at the top. Atheists clearly understand that by being vaccinated, they are not only protecting themselves, but also protecting other people and the society at large, by:

Saturday 18 September 2021

Covidiot News - The self-inflicted Genocide is not Confined to American Fundamentalists...

Hai Shaulian, leading Israeli anti-vaxxer, died of COVID-19, last Monday morning
Anti-Vaccine Activist Who Said 'There's No Epidemic' Dies of COVID

Evidence that the self-inflicted genocide which is currently culling the herd by removing right-wing fundamentalist anti-vaxxer covidiots, is not confined to America, but includes Israeli anti-vaxxers too, comes with the death from COVID-19 of the anti-vaxxer activist, Hai Shaulian in an Israeli hospital.

Sadly, neither prayer, nor his assertion that the 'Creator of the World' was with him so he had nothing to fear, made any difference, and despite the efforts of the hospital staff using medical science, he died last Monday morning. Another life sacrificed on the altar of conspiracy theorists' egos.

Unintelligent Designer News - Muddling Through Without a Plan and No Idea About Good Design

Some caterpillars have a surprising ally for when attacked by an endoparasitic wasp.
Horizontally transmitted parasitoid killing factor shapes insect defense to parasitoids

You know, for a supposedly intelligent designer, Creationism's putative designer god, who designed everything in full and perfect knowledge of what it would do, comes up with some monumentally stupid designs. At times, it's almost exactly like it doesn't have a plan at all and has no idea what it is trying to achieve - other than a creation with as much suffering in it as possible, with no opportunity to make something sick ever ignored.

Here, for instance, is yet another example of how it designed something, then treated that design as a problem to be solved with another design, only to then design a way around that solution to the problem it designed earlier. It is, of course, another example of that major embarrassment to intelligent [sic] design creationists, parasitism and the inevitable evolutionary arms race.

The arms race in this case it that between moths and parasitoid wasps that lays their eggs in the living body of the moth larvae, or caterpillars. Creationists would, of course, assert that their divine malevolence designed the wasps to parasitise the caterpillars because it is the only intelligence capable of designing such a thing as a parasitoid wasp and its method of reproduction (although they never explain the exact method by which intelligence makes chemistry and physics do something they couldn't do without it, nor do they ever provided evidence that this has ever been observed to happen, seemingly preferring conjectures and mysteries to answers, whilst still pretending to be scientists).

Now, a group of researchers from the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Fuchu, Japan and the University of Saskatchewan Department of Biology, Saskatoon, Canada, have discovered that a virus carried by some caterpillars is lethal to the grubs of these parasitic wasps. Not only that, but some caterpillars are capable of manufacturing the toxic protein, or 'parasitoid killing factor' (PKF) themselves, without the virus. These moths have incorporated the genome of the virus into their own genome and now just use the portion of it that codes for the parasitoid-killing toxin.

They also found:

Friday 17 September 2021

Another Creationist Falsehood Exposed - A Beneficial Mutation Helped Early Pastoralists Expand Their Range

Horses of the Central Asian Steppe
© A. Senokosov
Milk Enabled Massive Steppe Migration | Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

The problem with Creationist child-like black vs white thinking is that their assertions are usually very easy to refute, although that rarely, if ever, results in a change of mind. One easily debunkable claim, for example, is that all mutations are harmful.

This demonstrable falsehood forms the basis of Michael J. Behe's recent attempt to replace his failed intelligent [sic] design hoax with his 'devolution' nonsense, in which he tries to argue that, although mutations arise and are inherited, just like the TOE says, but, because they are always harmful, this is 'devolution' not evolution and so is a degeneration from the initial perfection of creation, consistent (of course) with the Bible narrative
a–c, Eneolithic (a), Early Bronze Age (b) and Middle–Late Bronze Age (c) sites in the Pontic–Caspian region, showing the number of individuals with a positive dairy identification out of the total number of individuals with preserved ancient proteins for each site. Strong evidence of preservation of equine or ruminant milk protein identifiers are depicted with black animal icons; the single individual with equivocally identified casein peptides is shown with a grey icon. For a map of all sites (including those without preserved proteins), see Supplementary Fig. 1. Base maps were created using QGIS 3.12 (https://qgis.org/en/site/), and use Natural Earth vector map data from https://www.naturalearthdata.com/downloads/. The horse image is reproduced from ref., 33; sheep silhouette, public domain (https://thenounproject.com/icon/12538/).
of 'The Fall'. Needless to say, Behe is silent on the problem of how to explain a harmful mutation increasing in the species gene pool.

Behe's problem, however, is that this is very easily debunked with real examples, although that never troubles devoted Creationists who will either be blissfully and diligently unaware of the real examples, or will have one or more strategies for dismissing them.

Here though, is one which will be difficult to ignore because it is still present in descendants today and they are very probably enjoying its benefits. It can't possibly be dismissed as harmful because it is so manifestly beneficial and even central to so much of Western food culture. I'm talking about the mutations which caused lactase persistence, which was regarded as so 'normal' that its absence, which causes lactose intolerance was regarded as the abnormal trait, causing what was regarded as a dietary disorder in those without the mutation.

For more information on lactase Persistence/lactose intolerance and its role in the evolution of modern humans, see, Human Evolution in Progress.

Thursday 16 September 2021

Talibangelical Hate News - Trumpanzee Loon, Pastor Greg Locke, Banned from Twitter

After Twitter Ban, Christian Hate-Preacher Greg Locke Whines About “Persecution” | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

I'm not sure if this is good news or bad news. Pastor Greg Locke, of Global Vision Bible Church, Tennessee, is such a goldmine of anti-fundamentalist propaganda that it'll be a shame to lose him, but on the other hand, events have shown that there are people, especially in USA, who are gullible enough to let him think for them. Given his increasing advocacy of violence, repeated misinformation about Trump's defeat last November, which he still can't bring himself to accept, and his Trumpanzee/QAnon-inspired anti Covid vaccine lies, he constitutes the sort of danger to society that Twitter should be protecting its customers from.

In fact, the true value of preachers of hate like Locke is that they server to remind us what a violent and hate-filled religion Christianity would be if it hadn't been moderated and civilised by a hefty dose of Humanism following the European Enlightenment. They simply preach a pure version of primitive Medieval Christianity, based on Bronze Age, despotic Middle Eastern tribalism of which the Taliban and the Spanish Inquisition would be proud.

Wednesday 15 September 2021

Malevolent Designer News - Leaving Nothing To Chance With Alzheimer's Disease

Plasma and brain concentrations of apo B and Aβ.
(A) In vivo PET detection of amyloid binding was used to confirm cerebral amyloid deposition in HSHA mice and their age-matched WT controls. Representative PET and MRI fusion images (coregistered with MRI templates using conventional Fast Spin Echo Sequence T2-weighted sequence) show scan data at 20 to 40 minutes’ post-intravenous administration of [11C] PiB. Each panel (from left to right) illustrates maximum binding potential for [11C] PiB represented by coronal images at −2, 0, 4, and 6 mm from the bregma; indicated by the vertical bar. Plasma (B) and brain (C) levels of apo B, a surrogate marker of TRLs in HSHA and WT control mice, were determined with ELISA. Data are expressed as mean ± SEM. Human and mouse isoforms of Aβ in plasma (D) and brain (E, F) were measured separately with ELISA kits using antibodies specific to each isoform. The data underlying Fig 2B–2F can be found in S1 Data. Aβ, amyloid beta; apo B, apolipoprotein B; HSHA, hepatocyte-specific human amyloid; MRI, magnetic resonance imaging; PET, positron emission tomography; PiB, Pittsburgh compound; TRL, triglyceride-rich lipoprotein; WT, wild-type.
Synthesis of human amyloid restricted to liver results in an Alzheimer disease–like neurodegenerative phenotype

According to Creationists, everything about biology and human anatomy and physiology especially, is definitely not the result of natural, evolutionary forces and the operation of random chance. Instead, it is all designed by their reputedly omnipotent, omniscient god who knew exactly what it was designing and designed if for the particular purpose which it serves - which means it is responsible for both the good and the bad in its 'designs', of course.

So, playing at Intelligent [sic] Design advocates for a moment, we have in this scientific paper an example of the sheer mendacious nastiness of Creationism's divine malevolence. It shows how, just to make sure it's victims get Alzheimer's disease in later life, it has designed a mechanism in the liver that manufactures one of the proteins which has been implicated in the progress of this ghastly disease which robs the sufferer of their dignity, their memory, their personality and eventually their life.

The study, published open access in PLOS Biology, was carried out by John Mamo of Curtin University in Bentley, Australia, and colleagues.

According to the press release from PLOS:
Deposits of amyloid-beta (A-beta) in the brain are one of the pathological hallmarks of AD and are implicated in neurodegeneration in both human patients and animal models of the disease. But A-beta is also present in periphereral organs, and blood levels of A-beta correlate with cerebral amyloid burden and cognitive decline, raising the possibility that peripherally produced a-beta may contribute to the disease. Testing that hypothesis has been difficult, since the brain also produces A-beta, and distinguishing protein from the two sources is challenging.

In the current study, the authors surmounted that challenge by developing a mouse that produces human a-beta only in liver cells. They showed that the protein was carried in the blood by triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, just as it is in humans, and passed from the periphery into the brain. They found that mice developed neurodegeneration and brain atrophy, which was accompanied by neurovascular inflammation and dysfunction of cerebral capillaries, both commonly observed with Alzheimer's disease. Affected mice performed poorly on a learning test that depends on function of the hippocampus, the brain structure that is essential for the formation of new memories.

The findings from this study indicate that peripherally derived A-beta has the ability to cause neurodegeneration and suggest that A-beta made in the liver is a potential contributor to human disease. If that contribution is significant, the findings may have major implications for understanding Alzheimer's disease. To date, most models of the disease have focused on brain overproduction of A-beta, which mimics the rare genetic cases of human Alzheimer's. But for the vast majority of AD cases, overproduction of A-beta in the brain is not thought to be central to the disease etiology. Instead, lifestyle factors may play a more important role, including a high-fat diet, which might accelerate liver production of A-beta.

Monday 13 September 2021

Covidiot News - Loony Talibangelical Nut Job "Destroys" COVID-19 - Again!

Kenneth Copeland, destroyed COVID, again!
Kenneth Copeland, Who Said COVID Was “Destroyed” a Year Ago, Is Saying It Again | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

The ridiculous grifter, Kenneth Copeland, darling of the Talibangelical extreme right, has demonstrated the credulity of his followers yet again, by claiming to have totally destroyed the coronavirus for at least the third time. The virus doesn't seem to have noticed this time either.

Readers may remember how, to the whoops and cheers of the fools in his audience, he 'destroyed' it in March 2020, in the early days of the pandemic, just by blowing 'the wind of God' on it, spitting at it and pronouncing it gone for ever.

Sunday 12 September 2021

You Don't Have to be Insane to Support Donald Trump, But it Helps!

Right Wing Bonus Tracks: A Mass Death Scale Injection | Right Wing Watch

Three stark staring bonkers Trumpanzee fruitloops show just how far round the twist you need to be to think Donald Trump was a good president who actually won a second term. Needless to say, these same bonkers fruitloops are also Talibangelical Christians.

First we have Shane Vaughn, co-founder of First Harvest Ministries in Waveland, Mississippi and convicted criminal who has been making increasingly bizarre 'prophesies' ever since he predicted that Donald Trump would never be impeached (he was impeached a record two time), that he would win a second term (he lost) and that he would serve
12 years as POTUS. After his false prophesy of a second term he declared that the prophesy was actually right because Trump was now 'inside their heads in the White House'.

Vaughn is now insisting that Trump will soon return to the White House to "destroy the work that Satan has done through Joe Biden and Kamala Harris".

Not to be out done, Talibangelical covidiot antivaxxer and former TV show host with links to QAnon but with no medical or scientific credentials, Lauren Witzke, has declared that the anti-Covid-19 injections are a "mass death scale injection" (whatever that means) and a "precursor to the Mark of the Beast" [sic].

Unintelligent Designer News - The Batty Designer Having an Arms Race with Itself!

The Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) has a strong anti-bat acoustic decoy at the tip of its forewings. Composite image with photograph on right half and acoustic tomography on the left. Colour indicates echo strength on a dB scale and red indicates highest echo amplitude. Note the red highly reflecting stripe created by the rippled part of the wingtip.

Credit: Dr Thomas Neil and Professor Marc Holderied
September: Moth wingtips | News and features | University of Bristol

One of the several aspects of biology you can never get an intelligent [sic] design advocate (that's intelligent design, not an intelligent advocate as these are practically unknown) to address is that of what biologists call, 'evolutionary arms races' where two organisms, usually predator and prey, or parasite and host are in competition with one another, each seeking to gain an advantage over the others.

Classic examples of this are the giraffe and acacia trees, with the former evolving a long neck to reach the leaves acacia trees have grown a long trunk to put out of the reach of giraffes and cheetahs and gazelles where each has to run faster than the other, the cheetah to eat and the gazelles to live, so they both run very fast and yet cheetahs still catch end eat gazelles.

Photograph of the Atlas moth (Attacus atlas). This large silkmoth has the strongest known wingtip decoy with ripples and folds.

Credit: Dr Thomas Neil
Another more recent example currently affecting us all, is that of the SARS-CoV-2 parasitic virus where new variants such as the δ variant currently causing a new, more severe, pandemic, have evolved to better overcome the immune systems in its human hosts - an immune system intelligent [sic] design advocates believe their beloved malevolence designed to protect us from the viruses and bacteria it designs to make us sick.

And now, courtesy of a team of scientists from Bristol University, we have the example of moths having a mechanism for diverting the attack of bats which have been given (allegedly) echolocation so they can detect moths.

More of that research in a moment; first a little about the bat/moth arms races, which I wrote about in my popular book, The Unintelligent Designer: Refuting the Intelligent Design Hoax. Briefly, if you accept for
Photograph of the Chinese tussar moth (Antheraea pernyi). This silkmoth has a strong wingtip decoy based on ripples.

Credit: Dr Thomas Neil
the sake of argument, the Creationist insistence that all things are designed by their putative designer god, you have to accept that moths became nocturnal to escape from diurnal predators that hunted them with vision, then it designed the echo-location systems of bats so they could 'see' moths in the dark, then it gave moths the ability to hear the ultrasonic echolocation signals of bats and so avoid them, then it gave bats echolocation frequencies that moths couldn't detect, etc, etc, (See Jacobs, David; Explainer: the evolutionary arms race between bats and moths; 2014).

Now the Bristol team has revealed a new twist in this arms race by some saturniid moth (the group that includes silkworm moths). They have shown that the forewings of these moths have special folds and ripples near the tips which act as super-reflectors of bat echolocation sounds, which either confuse the bat or deflect its attack to the tips of the forewings where it does relatively little harm compared to an attach directed at the head or body.

We have demonstrated that the folded and rippled wingtips on the forewings of some silkmoths act as acoustic decoys.

Structurally, the wingtips act as acoustic retroreflectors, reflecting sound back to its source from numerous angles, meaning a bat would be more likely to strike the wingtip over the more vulnerable body of the moth …

The results of this study introduce another exciting aspect to the story of the bat-moths acoustic arms race. We have identified a novel form of acoustic defense amongst silkmoths which may give them an advantage over hunting bats. Wider implications might include improved man-made anti radar and sonar decoy architectures.

Professor Marc Holderied, corresponding author,
School of Biological Sciences
University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
To quote from the Bristol University press release:
They also discovered that the ripples and folds of the forewing tips have evolved to act as hemispheric and corner retroreflectors respectively, meaning that they reflect sound strongly back to its point of origin. Coupled together, the folds and ripples of these wingtips cover a huge range of incident sounds angles, meaning that over the entire wingbeat cycle of a flying moth and most possible positions of an attacking bat, the wingtip would consistently produce the strongest echoes. The acoustic protection of wingtips is even stronger than that of common hindwing decoys.
It has previously been shown that some moths have long 'streamers' on their hind wings that have a similar purpose in that a bat's attack is directed to where it does least harm to the moth.
Towed acoustic decoys are a well-established defense amongst some silkmoths. These species have evolved elongated hindwings which terminate in a coiled and twisted end. The morphology of these elongated hindwings means that they generate very strong echoes, so much so that they will often divert a bat’s acoustic gaze towards them, away from the exposed body of the moth, causing the bat to strike the expendable tail of the moth or miss the moth all together.
Conclusive support for the idea that the forewing reflector is an acoustic decoy comes from our finding that acoustic forewing decoys always evolved as an alternative to acoustic hindwing decoys, with there being no species known to possess both.

Dr Thomas Neil, lead author
School of Biological Sciences
University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
It takes a special form of gullible credulity to believe that a single designer would design these many examples of arms races to be found in nature, and then to conclude that that single designer is supremely intelligent. It would make more sense, if there were indeed any evidence that magic can make species evolve in a special direction or can make chemistry and physics do things they couldn't do without it, that there was more than one intelligence involved here. However, Creationists are forbidden by religious dogma from believing in more than a single creator so their interpretation - what they laughably call 'scientific creationism' - must be shoe-horned into that religious superstition so it conforms with fundamentalist Christianity.

This is how we can tell that the notion of intelligent design is not an alternative science, like politically-motivated Creationist frauds pretend, but Bible literalism dressed up in a lab coat to try to impress people who neither understand science nor biology and whose parochial ignorance and cultural chauvinism preconditions them to fall for the false dichotomy fallacy that, if there is something science can't explain, the locally popular god must have done it. In this case, though, science not only can but does explain it very well, without resort to magical mysteries.

Thank you for sharing!

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Saturday 11 September 2021

Racist News - Christian White Supremacists are Losing the Race Debate in the USA.

U.S. Approval of Interracial Marriage at New High of 94%

Despite the apparent rise in white supremacist racism in Donald Trump's America, the reality is that Americans of all races and ages are far less racist in their attitude to interracial marriage than they used to be, according to a recent Gallup poll.

In 1958, with segregation and Jim Crow laws operating in many southern states, only 4% of Americans of all races approved of interracial marriages; in 2012 that figure has reached 94%. Moreover, the gap between the races on the issue has closed to just 3% (96%, black and 93%, white). It was 56% and 17% respectively in 1969!

Friday 10 September 2021

Unintelligent Designer News - Two Different Solutions to the Same Problem!

Blue-tongued skinks, Tiliqua sp.
Blue-tongue vs red-bellied black: An Australian evolutionary arms race - UQ News - The University of Queensland, Australia

From Queensland University we have findings which should embarrass any advocate of the childish intelligent [sic] design notion. It's yet another example of the utter stupidity of any putative designer behind living organisms. In this case, an example of 'designing' two entirely different solutions to the same problem, as though it had forgotten a design it did earlier and started again, like a motor car manufacturer designing an entirely new engine from the bottom up, for every new model of car, or an aircraft manufacturer inventing an entirely new method of flight.

Tuesday 7 September 2021

Trumpanzee Lunatic News - Pastor Greg Locke "Building a Violent Church" for Jesus

Pastor Greg Locke
Building a violent church for Jesus
'Apostle' Michael Petro Says God Is Raising Up a 'Violent Church' Because Democrats Don't Tolerate Christianity | Right Wing Watch

Extremist Trumpanzee loon and self-style Prophet of God (PoG), Greg Lock, has never gotten over committing the cardinal sin for PoGs - prophesying a specific event on a specific date and so running the risk of being proved wrong and a false prophet. Lock, of course, is famous for prophesying a Trump win by a landslide last November, claiming God had revealed this to him and promised he would ensure it happened. Trump lost!

Now, as Locke dives deeper down the specially-constructed QAnon conspiracy rabbit hole, desperately trying to prove he isn't a false prophet because Trump won really (it's just that God was powerless to stop the massive, Satanic conspiracy to steal the election, apparently), he is becoming more and more extreme and revealing a tendency towards violence that many Christians find shocking for a supposed man of god and professed follower of Jesus. With every passing deadline by which the military were prophesied to have overthrown the Biden presidency, revealed the scale of the 'election fraud', named the 'child-trafficking paedophiles' responsible, executed the perpetrators, including the entire leadership of the Democratic Party, and reinstated Donald Trump in the White House (the last deadline being the end of August), Lock becomes ever more insane and increasingly violent.

Monday 6 September 2021

Catholic Abuse News - Ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in Court.

Former Cardinal McCarrick
Facing criminal charges for child sexual abuses in 1974
Defrocked prelate Theodore McCarrick arraigned for child sex abuse charges

Former Cardinal McCarrick, the most senior Catholic cleric in the USA and the most senior to be defrocked for child abuse to date, finally appeared in court in Dedham, Massachusetts, last Friday, charged with sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy in 1974. McCarrick, now aged 91 is charged with repeatedly sexually abusing the child of a family friend, including during the sacrament of confession at a wedding in Wellesley College. The alleged victim also claims that McCarrick abused him on family trips and at various hotels in the state.

He pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges and was ordered to stay away from the alleged victim and away from anyone under the age of 18. He has also been accused of similar offences in New York and New Jersey, where the statutes of limitation mean he cannot face prosecution for those offences in those states. These offences were investigated by the Vatican in addition to claims that he had sexually harassed and performed homosexual acts with adult seminarians under his authority. A two-year investigation by the Vatican also revealed that Pope John-Paul II had been aware of the allegations concerning his sexual relations with seminarians and allegations of paedophile abuse, when he appointed McCarrick to the post of Archbishop of Washington and made him a cardinal.

Given that Pope John-Paul II knew of these allegations, it is almost inconceivable that his then right-hand man and enforcer, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, effectively acting Pope in John-Paul II's prolonged dotage, later to become Pope Benedict XVI, knew nothing of them. This revelation then deepens the mystery surrounding why McCarrick was allowed to continue for so long in his post before anyone moved to stop him.

Here is how I covered it at the time:
The report bends over backwards to try to leave Pope Francis looking whiter than white but still leaves a number of questions unanswered. Particularly how much he was told about McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI following his sudden abdication, and if nothing, why not? According to Archbishop Viganò, Pope Francis was fully aware not only of the allegations against McCarrick, but also that his activities had been 'restricted' by Benedict XVI, but Pope Francis removed these restrictions anyway and was thus complicit in his further predatory behaviour.

During John-Paul II's reign, his 'enforcer' was none other than Cardinal Ratzinger, later to become Pope Benedict XVI. It was widely reported when the sexual abuse scandals began to emerge that Ratzinger, acting on John-Paul II's orders, has instructed senior figure in the church to supress allegations of sexual abuse in order to protect the Church's reputation. It was assumed that Benedict XVI's hasty elevation of the dead John-Paul II to the sainthood, was intended to quell these rumours, on the assumption that this was not what a future saint would do. Therefore he could not have ordered Ratzinger to pervert the course of justice, deny redress and compensation to the victims of abuse, and to facilitate the paedophile activities of the Catholic priesthood by being instrumental in covering it up and keeping it from the child-protection agencies.

Pope Francis denies this (in effect, calling Viganò a liar), which begs the question, why did Benedict XVI not tell him? Or did he? By claiming he knew nothing, Pope Francis is shifting the blame onto Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

The executive summary reveals a litany of bumbling incompetence, an over-eager willingness by both John-Paul II and Benedict XVI to believe people who were close to them, and a credulous receptiveness to lies and false assurances that was naive in the extreme. Neither man appeared to be capable of believing a senior Catholic cleric could behave in such a way and then lie about it when challenged. McCarrick's 'oath as a bishop' was regarded as sufficient evidence of his veracity, when he lied about his sexual predation.
The executive summary of that Vatican reports, in the embedded PDF, bears further reading, revealing as it does, scapegoating and a laisses-faire attitude to child abuse and other inappropriate behaviour by senior clerics by Pope John-Paul II and his close advisers.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis, who has shed crocodile tears over the abuse allegations and even blamed Satan, not for the abuses but for encouraging people to speak out against them, is still under a strict code of Omertà regarding the truth of Viganò's allegation that his predecessor, Benedict XVI, placed McCarrick on restricted duties but that Francis rescinded those restrictions, and Francis' claim that McCarrick was never restricted in the first place and he knew mothing of the allegations. Either Francis is lying, or Benedict XVI knew about McCarrick and did nothing he deemed worthy of informing Francis about on his sudden resignation. Either way, McCarrick's predation continued unchecked and it was only when the scandal became public that Francis decided to act, throwing his hands up in horror when the full scale of McCarrick's predatory behaviour and arrogant betrayal of his clerical vows became public knowledge.

Kim Davis, Christian extremist
Ambush meeting with Pope Francis arranged by Cardinal Viganò.
Mind you, it should be said that Viganò bears a grudge. As Papal Legate to Washington, he was in charge of Pope Francis' 2015 official visit, which had been something of a PR coup, until Viganò arrange an ambush meeting between the odious Kim Davis, and Pope Francis. Davis was a Christian extreme fundamentalist and serial adulterer, with multiple extra-marital pregnancies, then disobeying a court order to register same-sex marriage in her job as a registrar. Viganò then issued a press statement announcing triumphantly that Pope Francis had given Davis encouragement in her resistance to authority (and to the rule of law) in the name of Jesus and the sanctity of heterosexual-only marriage.

For a visiting head of state to be seen to encourage law-breaking in his host state and take sides with someone disobeying a court order, turned the triumph into a diplomatic disaster, all so Viganò could sequester the visit and turn it into a victory for right-wing Christian conservatism. He was promptly transferred back to the Vatican, and stripped of his diplomat status, and Francis was left looking like a patsy, casting round for a scapegoat and claiming he knew nothing of Davis' criminal behaviour in the name of Jesus and would not have met her if he had - although, of course, his church still agreed with her about same-sex marriage being a sin.

Maybe the truth about what Pope Francis knew of his predatory behavior will emerge during the coming court case, if McCarrick's lawyers don't manage to get it halted on the grounds that McCarrick is now too old and frail to stand trial, and anyway it was all a long time ago and McCarrick is very sorry. In which case, all the old predator will have suffered is a loss of status and his pension. None of his victims will have received justice.

Thursday 2 September 2021

Covidiot News - Signs That US Covidiots Might be Accepting Reality

Two-Thirds in U.S. Now Say COVID-19 Situation Worsening

In my post yesterday I said the signs were not encouraging that the truth might be getting through to the addled brains of Trump supporters that the anti-COVID vaccines save lives. However, figures from Gallop today suggest I could be wrong and that the recent surge in cases, especially in red states, might just be concentrating their minds enough to make them face up to reality.

The poll conducted between August 16 and August 22, 2021 shows a marked change in Americans' assessment of the seriousness of the pandemic, flipping from highly positive to highly negative since June 2021.

The percentage of those interviewed who though the coronavirus siruation ws getting worse has gone from 3% in June to 89% in August. In July, the split was about 50:50.

The figure for those who think the situation is getting better has slumped from 89% in June to 15% in August.

However, the evidence is that a large number of Republican voters are still struggling to accept reality with only 51% believing the situation is worsening - a rise from 2% in June but still nowhere near the 89% of Democrats who accept that a tripling of cases and deaths in the previous month is a sign that things are getting worse.

67% of Americans now accept that the economic and social disruption due to the pandemic will continue into 2022 - up from 17% in June.

Having fallen to its lowest level in June 2021 of 17%, the percentage of Americans who are concerned about catching the virus has risen to 39%, although this figure, at 46% (up 13% on the June figure) for those who have been vaccinated is higher than the 25% (up just 5%) for unvaccinated people, suggesting that those with a better grasp on the seriousness of the situation are those sensible enough to get vaccinated whilst those who continue to regard the risk of infection as low, are not. This is despite the evidence of the recent δ variant surge in which people from Republican areas where the vaccine uptake is low, are four times more likely to catch the virus and five times more likely to die from it.

This greater awareness of the risk and assessment that the situation is worsening has produced only a modest increase in those taking active measures to reduce the risk, probably due in part to the greater feeing of security the vaccine has given to those who have been vaccinated.

Only 24% of Americans are now 'completely' or 'mostly' isolating themselves from people outside their own household (up 6% from June). Last April, before a significant number had been vaccinated, this figure stood at about 33%. Early in the pandemic, in April, 2020, it was 75%.

Despite this increased appreciation of the seriousness of the current δ variant surge, there has been only a small positive change in avoidance behaviour since June 2021. There has been a nine percentage point increase in people wearing a face-mask outside the home and in avoiding large crowds, a five percentage point increase in avoiding going to public places such as stores and restaurants and in avoiding small gatherings with family or friends, and only a four percentage point increase in avoiding travel on public transport.

Bottom Line

Just a couple of months after it looked like the coronavirus pandemic might be coming to an end, infections have come roaring back in the U.S., fueled by the virus' delta variant, particularly in states with lower vaccination rates. Americans are more likely now than at almost any other point in the pandemic to say the situation is getting worse. And while concern about getting the virus has been growing and coronavirus avoidance behaviors are starting to rise, they remain well below where they were before much of the population was vaccinated.

Jeffrey M. Jones Gallop Senior editor
What seems to be happening here is that, after 18 months of relentless politicization of every aspect of the pandemic as the right-wing tried to accommodate and normalize former President Trump's inept handling of the crisis by trying to minimise it, people are reluctant to be seen to be 'un-American' in taking avoidance measures, even when they accept that the situation is getting worse and will probably continue to worsen for some time.

Some of the change in behaviour can be attributed to the greater feeling of safety that vaccination has given to those sensible enough to have got themselves vaccinated, but much of it has to be laid at the door of the political right. By their reckless attempt to make political capital out of a Trump-induced disaster, the US right is continuing to put their own narrow political self-interest above the health and welfare of the American people. But this itself is the direct consequence of a political philosophy that extols the 'virtues' of greed and selfishness; that places individual liberty above collective responsibility and which promotes the notion that greed and selfishness should be rewarded as 'The American Way'. This has been the relentless message of the American libertarian right for the last few decades, going back to that arch-conservative, Ronald Reagan.

It's a measure of how far to the right the Repugnican Party has moved that, when Barry Goldwater stood against Lyndon Johnson in 1964, Goldwater was regarded as a right-wing extremist. By his death in 1998 he was regarded as a left-leaning liberal, and the Republicans have move further to the right since then, now including neo-Nazi, white supremacists in their ranks.

Consequently, Americans are now dying and will continue to die in their tens of thousands whilst Trumpanzee Repugnicans and their allies in the white supremacist Christian evangelical churches continue to jeer at measures to reduce the severity of the pandemic and right-wing politicians can't afford the political costs of a change of mind and an admission that they got it catastrophically wrong, both in the support for antisocial political philospophies and in their support for Donald Trump.

Religious Hypocrisy News - Child Abuse Widespread in Most UK Religions

Inquiry report finds child sexual abuse in most major UK religions | IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

As though to prove my point that religions provide excuses for people who need excuses, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has concluded that child sexual abuse was fequent in most major uK religions, and that the normal response to allegations was to defend the organization at the expense of their victims.

In a report released yesterday, they say:
Child sexual abuse has been found in most major UK religions… with some found to have no child protection policies in place at all.

The ‘Child protection in religious organisations and settings’ report examined evidence received from 38 religious organisations with a presence in England and Wales, with the figures provided to the Inquiry about known prevalence of child sexual abuse unlikely to reflect the full picture.

Religious organisations play a central and even dominant role in the lives of millions of children in England and Wales. The report highlights the blatant hypocrisy and moral failing of religions purporting to teach right from wrong and yet failing to prevent or respond to child sexual abuse.

Wednesday 1 September 2021

The Covidiot Self-Genocide Gathers Pace

Covid-19 confirmed daily cases, USA (31 Aug 2021)

‘Hoax’ kills COVID-denying anti-vaxxer who worked for the CIA: report

"In red states, where vaccination rates are low, people are four times more likely to catch COVID-19 and five times more likely to die of it, than people living in blue areas where vaccine rates are higher."

The SARS-CoV-2 δ variant is continuing to take out those covidiots who listened to extremist liars like Robert David Steele, a fully signed up subscriber to the QAnon deep state conspiracy theories and a regular guest on the far right-wing program "Infowars", who has just died of... er... COVID-19.

The death from COVID-19 of the former CIA operative and ex-marine who claimed to be one of the first to 'reveal' that the coronavirus pandemic was a hoax, was confirmed by friends yesterday. He was admitted to hospital in Florida, one of the worst-hit states in the current wave due to low vaccine take-up and opposition to social distancing and mask-wearing by the governor. Even then, he was firmly opposed to the vaccine, although he did appear to reluctantly acknowledge the virus was real. In his last post on his blog on 17 August, he said:
Robert David Steel, receiving treatment for what he claimed was a hoax in a Florida Hospital, currently overwhelmed by similar patients who believed him
With love to all of you, I survived! I went in at 77 oxygenation. I’m up to 94. I will not take the vaccination, though I did test positive for whatever they’re calling “COVID” today, but the bottom line is that my lungs are not functioning.

The good news is that I will survive with a few days off. I should be back up and at least functional soon. This is been a near death experience, very much like a new death experience the whole country is going through right now. We will never be the same because now we know that we’ve all been lied to about everything. But, now we also know that we can trust each other. I’m alive today because I had a network that put me into a good hospital in Florida.
His sadly misplaced optimism was accompanied by a photograph of him being treated for what he had been assuring his followers was all a hoax. Even now his friends in the right wing social media, unable to admit they were wrong, are perpetuating his lies and claiming it was being placed on a ventilator that killed him and that his family had been 'shamed' into agreeing to him being treated.

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