28 June 2010: pm

Workout notes yoga, rotator cuff exercises, 6 mile Hike at FPNC (1:07 outer loop, 55:50 out and back). I really took the out easy (30).

Shoulder: ached at first last night then got better. Feels good now..the rest and walking with “arms down” appears to be helping.

I like this granny!

This traffic system: hard to believe that this wasn’t taken in Peoria, IL. :)

Political Humor

News of the easily perplexed: Chuck Norris has a hard time thinking. He doesn’t quite get why the President received the, gasp, SECULAR STUDENT ALLIANCE but appears to disapprove of an organization that discriminates against gays:

Well, it seems that Norris is convinced that the mean nasty liberal White House is out to get the ever-so-honorable and upstanding Boy Scouts, and sees the SSA’s visit to the White House as further evidence of this liberal conspiracy of DOOM:

Hasn’t America reached a particular low in its history when the White House distances itself from the Boy Scouts of America but invites groups like the Secular Student Alliance to participate in its faith and college missions?

I’ll make this easy: if the SSA decided to discriminate against gays or lesbians, then I’d petition the President to NOT receive them. :)
(Thanks Miranda!)

Other posts It is clear that scientists are less religious than the public at large, at least in the United States. This is especially true if you talk about research scientists (those with Ph. D’s who publish original research in peer reviewed journals). Of course, some will bend over backwards to either disguise that fact or at least to mislead the public on that fact. Jerry Coyne writes:

At EvolutionBlog, Jason Rosenhouse has summarized Ecklund’s results, which include these statistics:

* 34% of scientists say that they have no belief in God, while another 30% agree with this statement: “I do not know if there is a God, and there is no way to find out.” That makes 64% of them who are in the atheist camp (or atheist/agnostic camp, depending how you define “agnostic”). Only 6% of the American public falls into these two groups.
* An additional 8% of scientists agree with the statement, “I believe in a higher power, but it is not God.” Total: 72% of scientists are non-theists. The figure for Americans as a whole: 16%.
* Only 9% of scientists say this: “I have no doubts about God’s existence”. Compare this to the 63% of Americans who are dead certain.
* 54% of scientists claim no religious affiliation, compared with only 16% of the general public.
* Only 2% of scientists say they are evangelical Protestants, while 28% of all Americans claim this label.

Ecklund did her study at “elite” universities, but if you look at “elite scientists,” i.e., those who have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the degree of disbelief is even higher: 72% are flat-out atheists and another 21% are doubters or agnostics, with only 7% accepting a personal god. (The NAS data are from an independent study.)

If you want to see framing at its nauseating best, or worst, observe how Ecklund downplays the irreligiosity of scientists in favor of showing how “spiritual” they are, how few of them actually spend their time trying to destroy religion, and how “nearly one in five is actively involved in a house of worship, attending services more than once a month.”

Science and the public

The mass media and the public will quickly “misunderstand” a result, especially if there is money to be made:

In the spring of 1993 a psychologist named Francis Rauscher played 10 minutes of a Mozart Piano Sonata to 36 college students, and after the excerpt, gave the students a test of spatial reasoning. Rauscher also asked the students to take a spatial reasoning test after listening to 10 minutes of silence, and, after listening to 10 minutes of a person with a monotone speaking voice.

And Rauscher says, the results of this experiment seemed pretty clear. “What we found was that the students who had listened to the Mozart Sonata scored significantly higher on the spatial temporal task.”

Now Rauscher is quick to emphasize that the test she gave measured only a certain kind of spatial intelligence. “It’s very important to note that we did not find effects for general intelligence,” Rauscher says, “just for this one aspect of intelligence. It’s a small gain and it doesn’t last very long.”

In fact the cognitive gains produced by the so-called “Mozart Effect” lasted only about 10 to 15 minutes.

And this is what Rauscher wrote in the single page paper she subsequently published in the journal Nature. She reported that listening to Mozart’s music improved spatial reasoning for about 10 minutes.

And though Rauscher personally thought the finding was neat, she never really expected other people to be interested.

Then, came the call.

A Molehill Becomes A Mountain

The first call came from Associated Press before Rauscher had even realized that her paper was due to be published. Once the Associated Press printed its story the Mozart Effect was everywhere.

Lest you misunderstand: I am NOT complaining about music education. LEARNING music might well have some mental benefits. I am talking about the idea that somehow passive listening will make one smart.

Religion and Politics
Where oh where is this in our politics? Leave it to Australia:

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd was a regular at Canberra church services and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is known as a devout Catholic.

In contrast, Ms Gillard says that while she greatly respects other people’s religious views, she does not believe in God.

Ms Gillard has been quizzed on personal topics including her attitude to religion and her relationship with her partner during interviews this morning.

She says does not go through religious rituals for the sake of appearance.

“I am not going to pretend a faith I don’t feel,” she said.

“I am what I am and people will judge that.

“For people of faith, I think the greatest compliment I could pay to them is to respect their genuinely held beliefs and not to engage in some pretence about mine.”

“I grew up in the Christian church, a Christian background. I won prizes for catechism, for being able to remember Bible verses. I am steeped in that tradition, but I’ve made decisions in my adult life about my own views.

“I’m worried about the national interest. About doing the right thing by Australians. And I’ll allow people to form their own views about whatever is going to drive their views.

“What I can say to Australians broadly of course is I believe you can be a person of strong principle and values from a variety of perspectives.”

The economic mess: remember who made it:

Over at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Kathy Ruffing and James R. Horney are reminding us – in case we’ve forgotten the way so much of the media have – that the deficits we’re facing in the next decade are due to the economic downturn, financial rescues, and Cheney-Bush policies, including the tax cuts they crafted for their wealthy cronies.

Some critics continue to assert that President George W. Bush’s policies bear little responsibility for the deficits the nation faces over the coming decade — that, instead, the new policies of President Barack Obama and the 111th Congress are to blame. Most recently, a Heritage Foundation paper downplayed the role of Bush-era policies. … Nevertheless, the fact remains: Together with the economic downturn, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years.

The deficit for fiscal year 2009 was $1.4 trillion and, at nearly 10 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), was the largest deficit relative to the size of the economy since the end of World War II. If current policies are continued without changes, deficits will likely approach those figures in 2010 and remain near $1 trillion a year for the next decade.

The events and policies that have pushed deficits to these high levels in the near term, however, were largely outside the new Administration’s control. If not for the tax cuts enacted during the presidency of George W. Bush that Congress did not pay for, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were initiated during that period, and the effects of the worst economic slump since the Great Depression (including the cost of steps necessary to combat it), we would not be facing these huge deficits in the near term.

Ultimately, of course, it will be up to women and men of good sense to deal with the accumulated indebtedness caused by the Great Recession, the trillions spent on war and the Cheney-Bush welfare for their pals. But, whatever one’s point of view about how the current administration has handled the economic mess we’re in or how much Democrats prior to 2001 contributed to laying the foundation for that mess, nobody can deny with a straight face that the mess was inherited.

Yes, the President should be judged on how well he does his job of cleaning up. But to think that he is going to somehow undo this mess quickly is absurd. I see it this way: his administration started with the country in a deep hole. So it isn’t his fault that we started there. It will be his fault if he starts digging or if he doesn’t do a good job of leading us out. And yes, I agree with those who think that the debts/deficit isn’t the major problem to confront right now; the problem is that too many don’t have any money to spend.

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June 29, 2010 - Posted by | 2010 election, Barack Obama, economy, education, humor, injury, Peoria, Peoria/local, political humor, politics, politics/social, religion, Republican, republicans, republicans politics, science, social/political, walking


  1. Thanks for giving the Secular Student Alliance a shout-out! (I’m the Communications Director)

    And actually, if any of our affiliate members started to discriminate, we would disaffiliate them! We have a non-discrimination policy in our minimum standard:

    “Non-discriminatory – We cannot affiliate with groups that bar members from joining on the basis of their creed or worldview. We also cannot affiliate with groups that discriminate on the basis of race, color, sexual orientation, national origin, sex, age, handicap, or veteran status.”

    Comment by Jesse Galef | June 29, 2010 | Reply

    • Hey, keep up the good work! Pity the Boy Scouts require discrimination rather than discourage it.

      Comment by blueollie | June 29, 2010 | Reply

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