What's Up With The Miley Cyrus/Mindy McReady Posts?

No, WOTW has not turned too the dark side of pop culture blogging. Our latest posts were a simple experiment in an effort to troubleshoot why the WOTW Google Analytics counter has flatlined. Could it really be true that thousands have stopped flocking to our little corner of the web? (OK, hundreds...or thereabouts...within a couple orders of magnitude...) So we installed some Site Meter code to run in parallel with Google Analytics and tossed the bait in the internet waters. Sure enough, visits spiked to an all time high according to SM, while GA remained flat. We can't figure out why, but will miss GA and are looking for better alternatives to SM.

We will now return to our regularly scheduled programming.


15 Year Old Miley Cyrus Poses

More pop-news - another starlet beginning reentry. It'll be a fiery, rocky ride. Hollywoodgrind has some of the pictures.

Mindy McReady - PopBuzz

Roger Clemens and Mindy McReady are reported to have had a 10 year long affair. It's what everyone is talking about.


Wounded Stones and Fizzy Sodas

The "penis thieves" article has been making the rounds on the internet, about sorcerer's in Africa preying on the fears of their countrymen and stealing or shrinking their penises.
Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.
Other than my Oom Paul post, I haven't really delved into the woo of other countries, but I've read enough to know that it is very strong in India and Africa. Coincidentally, I just happened to be watching "10 Questions That Every Intelligent Christian Must Answer":

I checked on the Deuteronomy quote about stoning virgins who really weren't virginal. Sure enough, the bible says to do it. But the first sentence in the next chapter of Deuteronomy says:
He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.
You can make the connection with the penis theft article easily enough. Beyond that, I found it interesting that "stones" was the colloquialism of the day, as was "privy member". This puts a whole new spin on what the Bible means by "stoning" someone to death, like the hapless non-virgins. And forget about explaining to the congregation of the LORD that you were killed by being stoned in the stones (if that's even possible). That dog won't hunt (flashback). And for the bible to even address this at all means that it must have been a major problem back then.

But let's get back to the virgins. So, those of you who found this post by way of the keyword "penis" can leave now. There's nothing more for you here.

Seems like the old testament crowd really had a thing for virgins, especially for those who weren't, as if a virgin was a can of Coke. Pop the tab and relish the bubbly carbonation. Ah, sweet, sweet carbonation.

But let's say you popped the tab and there is no sweet sweet bubbly carbonation. Nothing tickles your nose, no fizzy fizzy popping sounds...Jesus Friggin' High Fructose Corn Syrup with Caramel Color, someone has already popped the tab on your coke! What the hell are you going to do now??

Continuing with this inane analogy, let's see what Deuteronomy tells us.
If any man buys a coke, takes a swig, and hates it, and says bad things about it, and calls it an evil name (Pepsi?), and says I had a sip and found no fizz, then the store owner from whom the coke was purchased shall bring forth proof that there was most definitely fizz and the customer was totally wrong to talk smack and call it Pepsi. If the owner proves his case, the customer will be chastised and will take the coke and he will like it for the rest of his life. But if indeed it has been found that the coke had long since fizzled out, the coke lovers of the city shall stone it until it is no more.

If a man is found drinking someone else's coke, then both the man shall die and the coke can crushed.

If a customer says "Hey, I'd like to buy that coke" but someone else drinks it before him, then that someone else will be stoned. And by the way, stone the coke as well since it didn't cry out.

But if a man finds someone else's coke in a field and drinks of it, then that man shall die but the coke spared because...well, it couldn't stop him, could it?

And if someone finds a fresh can of coke that no one has bought yet, takes a sip and is discovered, then that person must pay the store owner fifty shekels of silver, and become the proud owner of an open can of coke. And he better like it, because it's his forever.

And oh by the way, you may not have sex with your mom, nor discover your father's skirt.
It's nice that the Deuteron's threw that last bit of moralizing in for us, because where would we be without someone to tell us not to discover our father's skirt. Hell, if it wasn't for Deuteronomy, I wouldn't even know my father had a skirt! Now I've got to figure out how best not to discover it.

Anywhoo...I notice that nowhere does it say that a man shouldn't share his coke with friends, so I guess that's ok. And it looks like it's just as ok to buy the 24-pak. As for me, I think it's time for a beer.


Ben Stein, You Fool...

...you didn't know this, this, and this.

Cosmas Damian Asam's Metaphor

Can you spot it?
The painting shows the solar corona and the diamond ring effect visible when sunlight flows only between mountains on the Moon. The person depicted viewing it all is St Benedict undergoing a religious experience. Perhaps he is marveling at the amazing coincidence of the moon subtending nearly the same angle as the sun when viewed from earth. Do ya think?

This painting was done in 1735, before solar eclipses were seriously studied. The painter, Cosmas Damian Asam, not only captures a complete solar eclipse, but also the sun's corona and the diamond ring effect.


Directed but not Designed

Here's a cool video from 1994 on directed evolution, in which creatures evolve towards a handpicked goal (e.g. live the longest, jump the highest, move the fastest, etc.) A genetic algorithm is used to determine the creature's final form. However, the initial algorithm is only a seed. Across thousands of reduplications of the algorithm, mutations occur at some specified mutation rate. The resulting creature is compared to others in the gene pool against the goal. The worst creatures are eliminated. The concept is simple and the results are unpredictable. But can you say they are designed?


Blood Sausage - Really?

From the pages of the London Telegraph, two German Airmen were arrested for making blood sausage. With real human blood.
One of the soldiers posted pictures of himself on a popular German website siphoning off their blood and adding it to a recipe for the traditional Blotwurst sausage using onions, bacon, spices and breadcrumbs.
The recipe for the sausage, which apparently came from one of their grandmothers, was found in the belongings of one of the men after they were arrested.
And while we're on the topic:

Jonesville Church of God -- Humm, Are They Idiots?

And the survey says....YES, they are!

(seen first over at The Friendly Atheist)


Horton Hears a Box Office Flop

In its opening weekend, the anti-science, pro-ID movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is a box office smash smutch. Trudging into the #9 spot in this weekend's movie ratings, Expelled barely beat out Leatherheads and settled in behind Horton Hears a Who (a movie which has been out for 6 weeks now, it's advertising spigot long since shut off). This must dampen the prognosticatorial spirit of World Net Daily's Jill Stanek, who predicted a "big bang" on April 18 as the movie opened in more theaters than any other documentary. Unfortunately for the film's backers, the per theater total paled in comparison to other documentaries that opened in far fewer theaters. Given the film garnered about $3.4 million over the weekend on 1052 screens, that's about $3200 per screen. According to the Friendly Atheist,

These may not be fair comparisons either, but they’re first-time documentaries headlined by a well-known or semi-well-known person.

Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me had a $12,601 per-theater opening weekend average from 41 theaters. It made $516,641 that weekend.

Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth had a $70,332 per-theater opening weekend average from 4 theaters. It made $281,330 that weekend.

Michael Moore’s Roger and Me had a $20,063 per-theater opening weekend average from 4 theaters. It made $80,253 that weekend.

What's more, Expelled had to be carried into its position on the backs of students, church groups, and sympathetic zealots who were craving the free stuff (like free money!) from its marketing campaign. Christian schools who could provide the most ticket stubs from seeing Expelled earned the chance to win $10,000. Through the "Fetch A Friend" program, individuals and group leaders had the opportunity to win (hold breath) a movie poster AND a discussion guide. But only if you promised to bring 3 people with you on opening weekend. The really spirited leaders who could gather 25 people or more would have received a Ben Stein Bobble-Head, T-shirt, AND resource kit!

Really, who wouldn't want a Ben Stein Bobble-Head to prove their commitment to academic freedom?

So, what is it called when a movie marketing campaign pays money to screw with people's heads? Promoting academic freedom or intellectual prostitution? And, who's the pimp and who's the john in this deceitful transaction?

A showing of $3200 per screen for a film that was more convenient to see than An Inconvenient Truth tells us that the premise behind the film isn't a concern to most people (and by most, I mean nearly everyone). It also tells us that Ben Stein is not a box office draw. Let's say that between Friday and Sunday, the film made $1100 per day per screen. Assuming that a movie ticket is $10, that means 110 people went to see the film at any one theater. If Expelled was shown 3 times during the day (a conservative estimate), then on average, there were only 37 people in the theater.

Only 37. And one of those had a Ben Stein bobble-head.

For more, see Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily and Daily Box Office (shows Expelled at #8), all useful links I learned from the Friendly Atheist blog, who also points out that this movie was the only one in the list that earned less on Saturday than it did on Friday.


Movie Reviews for Expelled

The following reviews for the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed are posted as I find them, so check back often. -Jim

kval.com 13
- Review: 'Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed' Bites Down Hard
I'm afraid this movie isn't going to hoist any craven evolutionists over the wall and onto the side of the enlightened, but it's sure to play like the sweetest of siren songs to those already tramping that ground.

Northern Star
- 'Expelled' takes a biased look at the evolution vs. creationism debate
“Expelled” is definitely a film to see, merely because of the ideas and questions that are raised. However, the documentary and the way Stein channels Michael Moore with his bias ruins any chance of deeming Stein’s argumentative evidence credible.

The Lariat Online
- Obviously Not Objective, 'Expelled' Explores Academic Freedom
Expelled doesn't get high marks as a documentary. But Ben Stein's look into academic censorship, from a Baylor journalism major's perspective, deserves a B.

The Maneater
- Column: 'Expelled': Lacks Valid Arguments
But when it comes to picking a side and proving a point, Ben Stein leaves more unanswered questions than a resounding argument. In fact, Stein veers into different arguments so frequently that at times it’s hard to figure out just what “Expelled” is trying to prove. What starts as an examination into teaching freedom in the classroom quickly ventures into an attempt to prove Darwin wrong and vindicate Intelligent Design. Stein never offers counterarguments to Darwin’s evolutionary theory, and fails to find any evidence in support of Intelligent Design.

- Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
Expelled isn't a thoughtfully rendered documentary about the freedom of inquiry; it's a shot across the bow of the scientific establishment. And it just doesn't work.

American Chronicle
- Film Review: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
I walked into the theater this afternoon a believer in natural evolution, and that is what I remain. It´s hard to imagine anyone being convinced of the validity of intelligent design by this film. Instead, it will resonate the loudest with those who have agreed with its unscientific ideas all along. Ben Stein and his fellow filmmakers claim that their film is not an argument for creationism, not an attempt to slip religious doctrines into scientific discussions, but by preaching to the choir they show they have much more in common with Christian apologists than scientists.

TV Guide
- Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed: Review
It's hard to pinpoint the most insulting aspects of this obvious propaganda piece from Ben Stein, the eye-drops spokesman, conservative writer and pundit whom most people remember from a bit part in FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF.

The Boston Globe
- No Intelligence Allowed in 'Expelled'
But the brash methods of director Nathan Frankowski ("After . . .", TV miniseries "The Pathway to 9/11"), who has assembled a frenetic, chest-beating film worthy of the tabloids, undercut the argument "Expelled" attempts to make.

- No "Intelligence" Evident in Stein Documentary
Managing to make the films of Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock look like dry, scholarly treatises by comparison, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" more than lives up to its subtitle.

New York Times
- Resentment Over Darwan Evolves Into a Documentary
One of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” is a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry.

Salt Lake Tribune - Stein shuns intelligent debate in dishonest 'Expelled'
While many right-wingers decried Michael Moore for playing fast-and-loose with the facts in his documentaries, apparently other conservatives said, "Hey, if he can do it, so can we."
And, lo, there appeared "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," a slick but intellectually dishonest documentary that mounts an argument for so-called "intelligent design."

E! Online - Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed E! Reviews
The 180—a Second Opinion: If this preposterous flick stifles Stein's career, perhaps we'll finally be spared the Ferris Bueller shtick he's been milking for two decades.

Minneapolis Star Tribune - Propaganda piece "Expelled" flunks
Typical of all propaganda, it also distorts language. The narration talks of "Darwinism" -- not evolution -- to make it sound like a dangerously secular cult; creationism is replaced by the more scientific-sounding "intelligent design." After an hour and a half, my faith in Darwin was shaken because, judging by what was on screen, we haven't evolved one blessed bit.

Baltimore Sun - 'Expelled' fails to make the argument
(D) Someday perhaps it will be possible to look back on Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed as a relic and reminder of the rhetorical logic employed during the era of George W. Bush. Until then, it should be seen simply as a tiresome ideological bludgeon, an attempt to deceive audiences into believing it is one thing when it is, in fact, quite another.

Entertainment Weekly - Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
Regardless of your personal views, Expelled's heavy-handed bias (a visit to Darwin's home gets the same eerie music as a tour of Dachau) is exasperating. By the time the camera zooms in on the word ''Creator'' in the Declaration of Independence, the whole debate seems less urgent than getting out of the theater.

Variety - Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
There's an intelligent case to be made for intelligent design, which is why "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," a flimsy attempt to discredit Darwinist theory as the cornerstone of modern biology, reps such a missed opportunity. While roving interviewer Ben Stein extracts some choice soundbites from scientists on both sides of the creation-vs.-evolution debate, the film's flippant approach undermines the seriousness of its discourse, trading less in facts than in emotional appeals. A probable punching bag for film critics and evolution proponents alike, docu will be a natural selection for Christian audiences and should spread like the gospel on homevid.

FoxNews.com - Ben Stein: Win His Career
Directed by one Nathan Frankowski, "Expelled" is a sloppy, all-over-the-place, poorly made (and not just a little boring) "expose" of the scientific community. It’s not very exciting. But it does show that Stein, who’s carved out a career selling eye drops in commercials and amusing us on sitcoms, is either completely nuts or so avaricious that he’s abandoned all good sense to make a buck.

New York Post - Creative Writhing
Stein spends the first half of the movie setting himself a trap, and the second half squirming in it.

Orlando Sentinel - Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
Shockingly, the "experts" Stein hurls against evolution are disgruntled, under-credentialed academics dismissed from lesser colleges, they say because they say they wanted to teach creation rather than science. Other "experts" in the film come from anti-evolution "think tank" cranks.

Slant Magazine - Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
For a film about American freedom of expression and the necessity for open dialogue, it's hard to imagine Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed being more one-sided, narrow-minded, and intellectually dishonest.

Village Voice - Ben Stein, Propagandist, in Expelled
ID'ers protest that they're simply interested in secular alternatives to Darwinian evolution; their scientific opponents, meanwhile, are potential Communists and Nazis. Bizarre and hysterical.

Colorado Confidential - Science Sunday: Intelligent Design Goes to the Movies
"Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" may be the first volley in the next battle by creationists to give their movement intellectual weight. But its cartoon version of evolutionary theory, Its remarkable lack of evidence for its case, its unbalanced and hysterical portrayal of the "martyrs," its dismal and depressing musical score, and its lack of genuine humor will persuade only the already persuaded.

The Guardian - A Step to the Right
Comic actor and game show host Ben Stein isn't at all happy, according to the trailers for his spurious-looking new documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, in which he berates in overheated, lachrymose and rhetorically manipulative ways the American academic establishment's reluctance to recognise intelligent design, the pseudoscientific, inbred second-cousin of biblical creationism, for which Expelled offers straightforward propaganda.

Colorado Springs Independent - Lies, damned lies and 'Intelligent design'
It's nuttiness right from the opening moments of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Images of Nazi atrocities and the terrors of life behind the Berlin Wall are smugly deployed in an attempt to editorialize away basic scientific fact. In a saner universe, you could scoff at Stein and not give his nonsense another thought. But we don't live in that universe. We live here, where the religious insecurity of a scientifically illiterate populace is being twisted by people who certainly know better.

Savannah Now - No Intelligence Allowed: They Got That Part Right
"Expelled" is a full-on, amply budgeted Michael Moore-styled mockery of evolution, a film that dresses creationist crackpottery in an "intelligent design" leisure suit and tries to make the fact that it's not given credence in schools a matter of "academic freedom."

The New York Sun - Stein Goes to Bat for Intelligent Design
"Expelled" will likely appeal to those whose minds are made up in favor of intelligent design and infuriate those who, like Mr. Dawkins, oppose mixing God with biology. For those with little stake in either side of the controversy, there is the amusing spectacle of Mr. Stein skewering brilliant scientific minds as they are caught off guard by the lights, camera, and action.


Harry Kroto, Nobel Laureate, Weighs In on Florida Bill

Evolution Fray Attracts Top Scientist: "'As far as I'm concerned, it's an abuse of position not to teach science correctly to children,' Kroto said. 'Today they don't need to know how anything works. The technology is so good if something breaks they get it fixed. There's a large number of kids probably prepared to accept something without being too careful.'"

Expelled Exposed - Activate!

Fast on the heels of my latest post, the Expelled Exposed site has gone live. So, can you hear that noise? That's the sound of the Discovery Institute engines running in overdrive.

Speaking of being expelled from your job:


" 'Expelled Exposed' -- Exposed" -- Exposed!

Bruce Chapman's most recent post at the Discovery Institute's Evolution News and Views purports to "expose" the Expelled Exposed website:
The folks at the National Center for Science Education have set up a website to attack the film Expelled before it ever gets into movie theaters. It undoubtedly will be a resource for those already organized to damn the film as quickly and thoroughly as possible. This is the ideology of the NCSE, which, after all, is not what it sounds like, but a lobby for Darwinian evolution.
But the NCSE site only provides links to movie reviews, news, and relative blog postings. Eugenie Scott has said that the site will go active the day before Expelled opens to provide the truth about the movie. Until then, it is just a minimal resource page. We're all waiting to see what will be put forward. Yet, Chapman "exposes" the site for attacking a movie that has not even been released yet...and he fails to see the irony that the site itself is still in the womb??

In the meantime, Chapman and others at DI are spinning like worms on a hook, trying to deflect criticisms lodged against the film and they're working overtime on the holocaust charge (you know, how they uses images and film clips to tie Darwinism and Evolution to the cause of the holocaust, without actually directly saying this...or at least that's how they're portraying it)
The latest is that they deplore the claim that Darwin caused the Holocaust, even though the film does not say that at all. It does say—in one segment—that Darwinism influenced the development of Nazi ideology, and that not only is true, but demonstrated in the film itself in visits Ben Stein makes to a sanatorium near Dachau where, in the 30s, developmental disabled people were brought ostensibly for treatment, and killed instead. The director of the Hademar facility readily acknowledges the Nazi’s debt to Darwin. Then there are the Nazi propaganda films used in Germany to drum up support for the ruthless eugenics program they Nazis perpetrated. Instead of answering THAT, the Darwinists, as I say, set a straw man that has the film claiming that the Holocaust was solely caused by Darwinism, or even poor old Darwin himself. This is dishonest and worthy of critical censure itself.
Just like burying creationism behind the robes of Intelligent Design, they are now trying to back away from their Holocaust-Evolution claim by saying they never made it. I think movie goers are sophisticated enough to see their charge for what it is. But, I also think that most movie goers are sophisticated enough to pass this film by.


Monique Davis - Worst Person in the World

...and rightly so. Showing herself to be both ignorant and intolerant, Illinois State representative Monique Davis must have forgotten that she was an elected official sitting in the General Assembly when she told atheist activist Rob Sherman to "Get out of that seat!" as he was testifying before the House State Government Administration Committee.

Davis: I don’t know what you have against God, but some of us don’t have much against him. We look forward to him and his blessings. And it’s really a tragedy -- it’s tragic -- when a person who is engaged in anything related to God, they want to fight. They want to fight prayer in school.

I don’t see you (Sherman) fighting guns in school. You know?

I’m trying to understand the philosophy that you want to spread in the state of Illinois. This is the Land of Lincoln. This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children.… What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it’s dangerous--

Sherman: What’s dangerous, ma’am?

Davis: It’s dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Now you will go to court to fight kids to have the opportunity to be quiet for a minute. But damn if you’ll go to [court] to fight for them to keep guns out of their hands. I am fed up! Get out of that seat!

Sherman: Thank you for sharing your perspective with me, and I’m sure that if this matter does go to court---

Davis: You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.

This story has since gone national and Davis was recently named as the Worst Person in the World on MSNBC. She has supposedly apologized to Mr. Sherman with some lame excuse but it's too late to put that kind of prejudice back in the closet.

Movie Review of Expelled

Directed by one Nathan Frankowski, "Expelled" is a sloppy, all-over-the-place, poorly made (and not just a little boring) "expose" of the scientific community. It’s not very exciting. But it does show that Stein, who’s carved out a career selling eye drops in commercials and amusing us on sitcoms, is either completely nuts or so avaricious that he’s abandoned all good sense to make a buck.
That's pretty harsh.
What the producers of this film would love, love, love is a controversy. That’s because it’s being marketed by the same people who brought us "The Passion of the Christ." They’re hoping someone will latch onto an anti-Semitism theme here, since there’s a visit to a concentration camp and the raised idea — apparently typical of the intelligent design community — that somehow the theory of evolution is so evil that it caused the Holocaust. Alas, this is such a warped premise that no one’s biting.
Hey...a movie reviewer who gets it! Could this be from a skeptic site? Freethought media? An atheist network? Perhaps you'll be shocked to find that this came from FoxNews. I know I was. This is one of those Twilight Zone moments where reality has been tossed on its head.

Kudos for the great review but FoxNews - you're starting to scare me with this new example of fairness and balancedness.


Jesus? Willie Nelson? An Aging Elf??

Is that Willie Nelson playing Jesus? Or (check the ear) is it a backwoods elf from Lord of the Rings?

Gotta love the hand makeup.

(found over at The Friendly Atheist)


Bigfoot Continues to Fool

A couple days ago was April Fools Day. As usual, there were several local papers trying to get in on the gag, most of them wimping out in the last lines of their story with "Surprise...April Fools Day!" But not the Bastrop Daily Enterprise. They published a 1st person story about a Bigfoot sighting on the banks of the Bonne Idee, complete with a tacky, photoshopped picture.
Bigfoot on Bonne Idee?
A Morehouse Parish woman claims to have had a chance encounter with the elusive creature known as Bigfoot -- and she has the photo to prove it.
The Bigfoot was just starting to get out of the water as she approached the bank. Although frightened, the witness says she snapped the accompanying photo. The creature turned around as though startled, then ran along the bank of the bayou.
"We tell people not to worry, that Bigfoot is just as scared of you as you are of him," said Tubbs. "We don't really follow up on those calls because you can't always believe what people tell you when April Fool's Day rolls around."
But the real story is from the next day's headlines.
Bigfoot Backlash: Sighting Story Creates Quite a Stir
Yesterday's story about a "sighting" of bigfoot on the banks of Bayou Bonne Idee apparently evaded quite a few folks.
I walked over to the sheriff's office later in the morning and told Danny McGrew and Mike Tubbs about the call. Danny said he'd heard people all over town asking questions yesterday like, "Who do you think it was that saw it?" Someone said they'd overheard people at a local convenience store talking about the "sighting" when one of the participants said, "Now someone else has seen it."

About midafternoon, Capt. Alan Bankston with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries -- who agreed to take part in the ruse -- called and asked if I wanted "to make a contribution to help them get a new file cabinet for all the bigfoot sightings" that had been reported to his office in Monroe since the story broke. Then he spoke an absolute truth.

"People want to believe in it sooooo bad," he said.

Thinking out loud in the newsroom that we've got to do a follow up to the joke, Wes tells me the story and photo have been posted on two Websites apparently hosted by people who really believe in Sasquatch. One of the sites even said our story "... is written as fact, without any hint of fakery."

The purposely poor job we did putting bigfoot in the photo that went with the story should have been the first clue. If that wasn't enough, Wes put the perfect ending on the story, quoting Tubbs saying, "We don't really follow up on those calls because you can't always believe what people tell you when April Fool's Day rolls around."

Bankston was spot on with his assessment of the activity that followed the faux story. Why do people want to believe that huge, hairy man-ape creatures roam the wilderness or that spaceships are zooming around the third rock from the sun?

Beats me? But it's sure fun to pick on them.

It sure is. But it's also a little disturbing to think some people can still be that simple minded.

Dean Maynard vs The Gamblers

Psychic Predicts 2008 Grand National Winner
Renowned psychic expert Dean "Midas" Maynard has put his reputation on the line by making a prediction for the 2008 Grand National that takes place at Aintree on this Saturday 5th April.
Renowned? Geez...I've never even heard of Dean Maynard. That is, until now...and now that I have, I've got my eye on him. We'll see whether Bewleys Berry or Simon takes the win. The results will be fed back into Maynard's "renown".


Furniture Abuse

This is just so wrong. It demeans lawn furniture everywhere.

Psychic Fair Postponed

Pembroke psychic fair postponed

The fair was to include astrologers, mediums, tarot readers and an aura camera. But a resident called the library, concerned that the psychics were coming in March, the same month as Easter.

“There are some religions that not only don’t like psychics, they see it as evil,” Library Director Deborah Wall said. “We just didn’t want to offend anybody so close to Easter.”

Which brings to mind a question I've got: can a psychic ever be disappointed?

About Caroline Crocker

Rising Tides for Caroline Crocker
Dr. Caroline Crocker is featured in the upcoming intelligent design (ID) movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed as one of the victims of academia's bull headed penchant for teaching legitimate science. She first came to our attention when she “mentioned” intelligent design in an introductory biology course at George Mason University (probably 104 Introductory Biology II) in early 2005. Being only a Term Assistant Professor, her contract with GMU was allowed to expire without renewal. The world's most prestigious science journal, Nature, picked up on her plight:
"I lost my job at George Mason University for teaching the problems with evolution," said Crocker, a charge that the university denies. "Lots of scientists question evolution, but they would lose their jobs if they spoke out." (ref)
In reality, Dr. Crocker didn't lose her job at GMU...she gave it up. Under her tutelage, college students expecting an education in science were instead provided with a dose of the decidedly unscientific claims of intelligent design. Who can blame GMU for wanting to stick by their principles and doing their job to the best of their abilities?
Our approach to science education is centered around the sharing and cultivation of critical thinking, curiosity, skills, and commitment to the advancement of knowledge. Our faculty members use novel pedagogical approaches to challenge and prepare students to become independent and creative members of the scientific community and society.(ref)
We can parse this quasi-mission statement with Crocker and ID in mind:
  • ID does not promote critical thinking. Instead, they would have you push the "I Believe" button and accept, without any semblance of proof, that life is a top-down design.
  • ID does not make you curious. It is enough that you are in awe at the complexity of life, that you remain amazed at the designer's handiwork...but no need to push the boundaries any farther.
  • ID has no commitment to the advancement of knowledge. Additional discoveries serve only to push the designer deeper into the recesses of irrelevance and so are counter to their central mission of keeping the designer in the forefront.
  • ID does not provide any useful skills other than development of one's imagination...i.e. other than the one currently being practiced by Dr. Crocker.
And by no stretch can Crocker's tactics be considered pedagogical. It is not a case of stifling academic freedom to require someone to fulfill their job description, no matter what Ben Stein would have you believe.
"There really is not a lot of evidence for evolution," Crocker said. Besides, she added, she saw her role as trying to balance the "ad nauseum" pro-evolution accounts that students had long been force-fed. (ref)
Her statement on the lack of evidence for evolution flies in the face of a century's worth of accumulated knowledge, fossilized specimens, and genetic data, underscoring how her ideological convictions have made her either ignorant or blind. And ad nauseum pro-evolution accounts? Is she getting bored with basic science? How is this any different than U2 refusing to play any of their hit songs at concerts? Or the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company giving up on Shakespeare? The "ad nauseum" comes from the professor's point of view, not the students'. Should the physics professor be allowed to balance the "ad nauseum" accounts of General Relativity with Modified Newtonian Dynamics? Maybe...in an altogether different course, but not one on GR. There is no room for comic book physics or imaginary biology lessons in these classes, especially with hefty tuitions on the line. Evidently, Crocker needed a vacation to overcome her boredom.

Religion in the Classroom
By many accounts, Dr. Crocker (aka Doc Croc by former students) was a smart, tough teacher who required you to know your stuff. She gave hard exams in a complex subject, so she wasn't a professor to be taken lightly. Nevertheless, the early warning signs were there. In 2003, before all the media brouhaha began, one student relates
What a laundry list: overly tough exams based on the most minute factoids from lecture, argues in favor of Intelligent Design(!!), invites students to Bible study. Run, do not walk, to the registrar and drop this class! (ref)
...and later in 2004...
Her notes and lectures have almost nothing to do with her tests. She is a fairly new teacher and acts like she has something to prove. I would steer clear of her. (ref)
...and finally in 2006...
Does she even still teach at GMU? Granted, she should have left God out of evolution but she is (was) a great professor. Great info presentation, did a study group EVERY week and on weekends before tests, gave extra credit. A lot of material but those who say she didn't teach well were lazy and didn't do their part. (ref)
So, don't believe Crocker when she says her case stems from her simply "mentioning" intelligent design. This has been going on for longer than we were led to believe.

Was GMU too Harsh?
The question of academic freedom is central to her case, but there are limits to what any university will allow, especially when you don't have tenure. Dr. Crocker didn't win her case with the grievance committee. Edward Sisson, her lawyer with experience in ID cases, apparently dropped her and she ended up teaching intro biology courses at Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) (which she had been doing before being hired at GMU).

But should GMU just have let her go? Why not just a slap on the wrist and tell her to just stick with the science? She certainly has the credentials for the job. The truth is that we don't know exactly what GMU's reasons were because they never say. We only have Dr. Crocker's version. However, when Expelled is released, there's bound to be more media attention placed on the university so they should get their ducks in a row toot-sweet.

Clearly, GMU took the correct course of action, especially since Crocker is now showing her true colors and is sailing unabashedly under the ID banner. Crocker's leanings since leaving legitimate science behind has purely been on the side of intelligent design. Being married to an assistant rector of a church is only one indicator, but becoming active in the ID community and being recently named as the first executive director of IDEA (Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center) shows that she has abandoned all sense of objectivity as far as the theory of evolution goes. One can easily imagine that her presentation of the "problems with evolution" at GMU was her first foray into proselytizing in the classroom...testing the grounds, if you will. Undoubtedly, things would only get worse if she stayed on.

So yeah, GMU made the right call.

Evangelist Rising...
Caroline Crocker's ironically named website, IntellectualHonesty.info (tip to Dr. Crocker - tell Dad you love him, but you've got to go with a professional website designer), gives the costs for her services. A standard talk will set you back $1000, while a talk customized for your audience goes for $1500. Or, you can get all the Caroline you can stand in four talks for only $5000. Here's what's on the menu when Caroline caters:
  • Science Censored - the true story of what happened to one biology professor who dared to challenge students to have an open mind about Darwinism
  • Evolution, Creation, or ID? - an introductory talk, primarily for those who are not scientists, to introduce them to the debate and the reasons for it
  • What is Intelligent Design? - the fundamental ideas behind ID and the scientific evidences supporting this theory are described and assessed
  • Evolution: A Fact of Life? - the principle tenets of Darwinian evolution and the experiments supporting them are explained and evaluated
  • Is Intelligent Design Science? - the philosophical assumptions behind the claim that ID is not science are summarized and their validity considered
  • Argumentum ad Baculum - a shocking talk giving real life examples of what happens to students and scientists who openly question Darwinism
  • Alpha Evangelism - Dr. Crocker is an experienced and popular Alpha speaker
  • Various Biblical Topics - Dr. Crocker is well-versed in the Bible and has taught Sunday School as well as spoken at church retreats
After dropping out from the mainstream of science, she has fully come out of the closet as an alpha evangelist for establishing God's kingdom on earth. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just that her closet happened to be in an undergrad biology classroom and she came out in front of the children. For shame! I don't claim to know what an "alpha evangelist" is, but I bet you get a black belt and a scepter upon completing the course! A short tour online says it's more likely a kinder and gentler sort of evangelism. But if the scepter shoots laser beams, sign me up.

Cheap and Easy
Clearly, Crocker thinks of herself as a persecuted scientist and is capitalizing on this portrayal. She can't command $1000 to speak on phosphodiesterase inhibitors or glucocorticosteroids, but a little creative writing about a winsome academic struggling against the torturous bonds of science, rising like a phoenix from the cold, dark ocean of facts and evidence is apparently much more lucrative.

Did someone say "breathtaking inanity"? So much for a hard-earned Ph.D.

But suppose you can't afford the $1000 per lecture, or maybe you would really like some one-on-one time with Dr. Crocker. Impossible? Maybe...but maybe not. Turns out, Dr. Crocker isn't just Dr. Crocker - she's also I. Caroline Crocker and Irene Caroline Evenbly Crocker and sometimes I.C.E. Crocker. Under Caroline Evenbly, she offers a tutoring service where you can become clearly educated. For only $75 an hour, you can get direct tutoring from her. Or, for only $50 an hour, you can get her associate, James, whose M.A. in theology is bound to come in handy.

So why pay $1000 when you can have her for $75? And if she lays off the biology and gives you only ID, well...then there really is only one answer to all the evolution questions, isn't there?

See? Cheap and easy.

Additional resources:

The Intelligent Design Controversy in Higher Education, a Coral Ridge Ministries video

Heck Yeah - Caroline Crocker Should Have Been Fired, Pharyngula blogpost

Why ID Should Not be Taught in Science Clase, Neurologica blogpost

Are There No Intelligent Creationists?, Pharyngula blogpost

Ode to Caroline Crocker, Tiny Frog blogpost with examples of Dr. Crocker's presentation

Do ID Proponents Get Persecuted in the Academy? by Caroline Crocker

Caroline Crocker's New Website, and Where the Real Action Is, Uncommon Descent blogpost

James Randi Dating Sylvia Browne!