Room For Debate
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Pharyngula is one of my favorite blogs on the interwebs. It merges two of my favorite intellectual hobbies: skepticism and science. Granted, all scientists should by definition be skeptics, but I am simply a humble member of the peanut gallery. PZ Myers is a scientist, however, and a brilliant one at that.

In his post today, he takes on the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing:

It’s the cesspit of the university, where all the pseudoscientific fuzzy-headed crap that fails is excreted, polished, gilded, and held on high as a beacon of New Age light to lead the gullible into a sewer of feel-good futility.

Apparently, a homeopathy event (homeopathy is the preposterous claim that ‘medicine’ works better when diluted with as much water as possible)was sponsored in the health sciences building at the University and Mr. Myers really blew his top. The whole post is worth reading (read it here).

I’m posting this because it’s now a matter of policy: this is a public university pissing money away on NONSENSE. As a fiscal conservative, I would love to see this 100% pure and uncut bullshit eviscerated from budgets as soon as possible.

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Ok, so I’m probably the only person who calls him Dick Dawkins and he would probably loathe this contraction of his name. I think it’s wonderfully reminiscent comic book and film noir detective heroes uncovering the truth despite all odds.

Appropriately, Mr. Dawkins’s life has been devoted to uncovering the truth. As an evolutionary biologist, he has contributed greatly to our understanding of human origins and the mechanisms of evolution. He is perhaps most famously the author of The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion. I find his lectures on the origins and probability of life, the massive scale of the universe, and the wonder of nature to be incredibly inspiring. This lecture is probably one of the most conversational and easy to understand (probably because Mr. Dawkins is lecturing to a younger audience). It’s also nice because it includes several demonstrative illustrations. It’s also super 90’s chic! Enjoy:

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As Andrew Sullivan points out in a blog post today, things are not looking good for Charlie Crist’s nomination for the Florida senate seat. I drew a cartoon on this subject not long ago about how Crist and other moderate republicans are being forced out of the party. Here’s another cartoon after Lindsay Graham voted to confirm Sotomayor.

It looks like both parties are moving to the right at the moment – the Democrats are incorporating more independents and blue dogs, and the Republicans are beating the drum of conservative credentials, to the point of even considering a mandatory loyalty exam to receive GOP campaign support. Suddenly Michael Steele is the voice of reason.

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A commenter on the site, Turino, posted this video in response to a discussion that stemmed from my cartoon “Palin for President” (November 14, 2009). I love Ted talks and this particular presentation is certainly thought-provoking. Jonathan Haidt brings up some intriguing psychological studies that illuminate morality and group behavior.

Mr. Haidt challenges us to escape our own self-righteousness, which he describes as the “natural state” of humans on questions of morality. Easier said than done, but I think it’s something worth reminding oneself on a regular basis.

Thanks again to Turino for the tip!

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The esteemed art critic Robert Hughes has covered developments in the art world since the early 1970s. He has been one of the loudest voices protesting the art-for-the-art-market’s-sake that has dominated museums and auction blocks in the last twenty years.

Personally, I find myself in utter agreement with Mr. Hughes:
-What is the message of this generation of artists? I would argue that they are intellectually and aesthetically bankrupt.
-If the ‘artist’ serves only as a conceptual genitor (ordering teams of interns to actually create the art), what is the point of creating it at all? Apparently, so that it can be sold.

The program “The Mona Lisa Curse,” for which I have created a youtube playlist and embedded it below, succinctly outlines the incestuous relationships between ‘artists’ such as Damian Hirst and Jeff Koons and their ignorant, super rich clientele. The real danger, Mr. Hughes shows, is that this fad for art as a collectible is pushing out the meager budgets of museums and leaving them at the whim of rich collectors. These wealthy collectors, now the main buyers of works available at auction, can lend their property to museums to increase its worth, and thus control the narrative of the art world.

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