That about sums it up…

May 25, 2011


April 26, 2011

Some of you may have seen this floating around:

Kinda cute, in a condescending sort of way. But, we don’t believe in luck, either. That’s kind of the point.

The Nibiru stupid – it burns!

April 17, 2011

I was searching for a nice tutorial for my students on using Stellarium today, when I came across this youtube video:

At first I thought it might be something cute inserted by the Stellarium team – it is open source, after all, so someone may have slipped it in. But then I read the description:

…If you also want observe Nibiru, just download and install the software Stellarium ( ) and then go directly to the directory C:\Program Files\Stellarium\data, and copy/paste the information below at the end of the ssystem.ini file.

name = NIBIRU
parent = Sun
radius = 24000
oblateness = 0.0
albedo = 0.9
lighting = true
halo = true
color = 1.0,0.84,0.68
tex_map = ariel.png
tex_halo = star16x16.png
coord_func = comet_orbit
orbit_Epoch = 630033.0
orbit_MeanAnomaly = 220.0
orbit_SemiMajorAxis = 234.888999
orbit_Eccentricity = 0.991700
orbit_ArgOfPericenter = 270.0
orbit_AscendingNode = 194.5
orbit_Inclination = -145.0
sidereal_period = 1336815.0


So I ask myself, just how fucking stupid are these people? This guy adds data for a nonexistent object into the software, and then claims the output is proof of the existence of that object. And he tells you how to do it.

So just to show how utterly ludicrous this is, I give you the following screenshot from Stellarium. Proof. What more do you need?

Running the numbers on homeopathic dilution

February 13, 2011

Why do we keep saying that homeopathy is not medicine? Why do we keep saying that there is no medicine in it? Surely when you dilute something there is still some of it there. So why do skeptics insist that there is nothing?

Well, I’ll explain.

In a typical homeopathic dilution, a tiny sample of something is dissolved in water, and then 1 mL of solution is transferred to 99 mL of water (making an even 100 mL). It is mixed (well, “succussed”), and then 1 mL is transferred to another 99 mL container, and so on. This may be done 20 or 30 times.

Sure, that’s a lot of dilution, but even if you put a few drops of something in a swimming pool, there are so many atoms in a drop that any sample should contain traces of the substance, and the homeopathic dilution is, after all, only a few litres.

Well, no. Let’s do the math on this, and see what the concentration comes out to be at the end. Let’s choose something like Lithium, as it is light, and it is used as a medication (I have no idea if it is used in homeopathy, but let’s just use it as an example). Lithium has a molar mass of 6.94g, and a density of 0.53 g/mL. Let’s begin with a 1% solution (v/v), and dilute it 20 times:

1 mL of Lithium contains 4.6×10^22 atoms. That’s 4600000000000000000000 atoms. That’s a lot. When dissolved, 1 mL of that solution should contain 1/100 of that, though still 46000000000000000000 atoms. But each time we dilute it, we decrease it by a factor of 100, so with serial dilutions, we have

  1. 460000000000000000 atoms
  2. 4600000000000000 atoms
  3. 46000000000000 atoms
  4. 460000000000 atoms
  5. 4600000000 atoms
  6. 46000000 atoms
  7. 460000 atoms
  8. 4600 atoms
  9. 46 atoms
  10. 0.46 atoms
  11. 0.0046 atoms
  12. 0.000046 atoms
  13. 0.00000046 atoms
  14. 0.0000000046 atoms
  15. 0.000000000046 atoms
  16. 0.00000000000046 atoms
  17. 0.0000000000000046 atoms
  18. 0.000000000000000046 atoms
  19. 0.00000000000000000046 atoms
  20. 0.0000000000000000000046 atoms

What this means is that after only 10 dilutions there is a roughly 50:50 chance of a single atom being present, and after 20, there is a chance of 1 in 217 billion billion that there will even be one atom present. Or, put another way, it would be the same as taking one mL of a substance and dissolving it in a volume of water equivalent to a sphere over two and a half billion kilometres across, or roughly the size of the orbit of Saturn correction: with 20 dilutions the volume would be about the volume of a sphere the size of earth’s orbit. But if you add two more dilutions, that sphere expands to the orbit of Uranus. And if I’m doing my math correctly, 30 dilutions would be equivalent to dilution in a sphere 130 light years across!*

So we know that there is none of the active ingredient in homeopathic medicine, if it is in fact prepared properly. None at all. But then, homeopaths don’t claim the original substance is there – they claim the water is influenced, and retains a “memory” of the substance, and that this memory is what is amplified by the dilution. This, too, is of course utter bullshit.  This idea is born of magical wish-thinking, and is not even remotely related to reality. Water is water, and has the properties of water, not a “memory” of what was once in it.

So that’s why, when we say “there’s nothing in it”, we really mean it.

*check my math:

  • there are 10^15 cm^3 in a cubic km
  • 30 dilutions by 100 is 10^60 mL
  • which is 10^45 km^3
  • which is a sphere with radius 6.2×10^14 km, or 65 light years.

Oh yeah? So there!

January 20, 2011

Oh, what the hell. I really shouldn’t be doing this as I have actual work to do. CL Taylor (@cltaylor463) claimed to have disproven evolution several times. So I called him on it. He says

@BipedalTetrapod I just refuted your ignorant evolution-Athestic ideas in the past seven tweets

Okay then. Let’s have a look-see at the refutation, in reverse chronological order:

I have once again picked apart evolution!

Ya, ya, you said that. Butlet’s have a look

Adaptive radiation is a pipe dream develped by evolutions to justify a faulty assumption of evolution.

Um, no. Adaptive radiation is observable in the fossil record. Sorry, but “I say so” isn’t refutation.

All creatures are not perfect. Imperfections mean nothing evolution is flawed.

No. Evolution never EVER claimed creatures are perfect. Quite the opposite. Creationists do, however, so that’s a point for me.

Homology means that we have common traits with other animals but nothing more evolution is flawed

You share the same number of arms and legs and hands and feet with your siblings and cousins, yes? Are these genetic? Did you inherit those traits from a common grandparent? Or is it just chance that your whole family has the same number of fingers and toes? If these characteristics are genetic traits that are inherited from a common ancestor, then ALL organisms that share those traits inherited them from a common ancestor.

98% is not 100%.A chimp is not a human.Our DNA is so complex that we do not share a common ancestor.

Duh. If a chimp were human it wouldn’t be a chimp. DNA isn’t actually complex. It is very simple. Paired nucleotides strung together. It’s just that there are a shitload of pairs.

Life does not have a family tree evolutionist.We did not come from bacteria.

“because I say so” isn’t an argument. So, wrong.

It is impossible both mathematically&observingly for evolution to exist.

Whatever that means. Evolution is observable and has been observed (see, and mathematics is used all the time in evolution.

Since radioactive dating is inaccurate,Evolution is based on unscientific&undocumented assumptions.

Radioactive dating is quite accurate. Evolution is based on science, and always has been, whether you like it or not.

Evolutionist,still believe in the principle of superposition?

That recent strata are deposited on older strata? Duh.

Evolutionist-Calculations based on invalid assumptions always=invalid results

But calculations made repeatedly on assumptions that have been validated by umpteen different analyses from all walks of science tend to be valid. I would say, however, that Intelligent Design calculations, which are based on invalid assumptions, do lead to invalid results. So thanks for pointing that out.

There is no way for scientist to know the original amount of radioactivity in rocks when made.

Yes, there is, by looking at the quantity of the products of radioactive decay.

The earth’s rotation was stopped twice in Joshua10:13-14;II Kings20:9-11.

Gee, you got me there. Why, I must give up my atheistic evolutionist ways! No. Just kidding. Sorry, but it really wasn’t.

Only God could have designed cell differentiation so well. Random chance could not have done such.

Evolution is NOT about random chance. It is about iteration under selective pressure.

Evolution flaws-the uniqueness of DNA is so complex that it proves complex organism were made seperate&along side simple living things.

See the Chimp comment earlier. To which I will add that “It’s too complicated for me to understand so it must be false” is not a valid argument. I count 14, not 7 tweets. But anyway, let’s take a couple more:

@kaimatai It is not observable to believe in Evolution, b/c it denies the existance of God. God is the law and order in life.

So, what you are saying is, your faith is so shaky that it is threatened by actual observations of real events?

@kaimatai I find it very hypocritical that your lack of stable morality is lecturing me on your Postmodernism. Really? You are a fraud also

You want lack of stable morality? Research shows that the faithful have a wandering moral compass.

The Disingenuous “Thermodynamics” Argument

January 20, 2011

You know, I still keep seeing the second law of thermodynamics being used as an argument against evolution, despite multiple thorough rebuttals. So let me add a few words of my own in an effort to stem the flow of stupid.

The argument, loosely summarized, goes like this:

  1. The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that entropy must increase in any closed system.
  2. Since life from non-life requires complex molecules to form from simple molecules, life could not arise by chance, because this would violate the 2nd Law.
  3. Since mammals and birds and fish are all more complex than single-cell organisms, they could not have evolved, as a system cannot become more complex over time.

The rebuttals for this are, quite simply:

  1. The Earth is not a closed system. We receive about 1.3 kJ of solar energy per square metre per second, every second, always.  The second law of thermodynamics does not apply.
  2. Life from non-life is abiogenesis, not evolution. But abiogenesis is thought to have been driven by heat and chemosynthesis, so again there is an input of energy.
  3. Lastly, and most ironically, the very people who claim that single celled organisms couldn’t possibly become complex, multicellular organisms, themselves grew from a single cell. So it’s good enough for them, but not any other organism. And secondly, the argument using thermodynamics against evolution proposes, instead, the sudden appearance of all living things. Like that doesn’t violate the laws of thermodynamics. Sheesh.

But wait, there’s more. You see, the argument that evolution is impossible because of the second law was widely promoted by the likes of Drs. Henry Morris and Duane Gish of the Institute for Creation Research. Please note that these gentlemen, at the time they made these claims, had doctorates in Engineering and Biochemistry respectively. Which means they understood the laws of thermodynamics, and would have known that the argument was wrong. Which means they were blatantly lying.

The fact that this argument is still being presented as evidence against evolution is appalling, and shows just how ill-informed the anti-evolution movement really is.  Feel free to send anyone you find using this argument to this page, or for a more torough thrashing, to the Talk Origins Thermodynamics FAQ.

What does this say about intertube users?

October 25, 2010

Every once and a while I check my stats. Not every day, I’m not quite that narcissistic, but every few days. And one thing that I noticed was that almost every day there are one or two hits to this blog using the search “guinea pig funny”. Presumably linking to the one and only guinea pig related post. But then I got to thinking – how far down on the list must this post be when doing a search for “guinea pig funny”. So I went on to four different search engines, and entered that search term, and scanned through the first 20 pages. And guess what? No Bipedalia. That’s really not surprising – but it does mean that there are a couple people each day searching through more than 20 pages of search engine hits for funny pictures of guinea pigs. Somehow that lowers my estimation of mankind.