In defense of Avatar



Normally on this blog we talk about science and skepticism, religion, science-fiction movies and zombies. We try to stay away from politics, unless it intersects science, such as creationism or climate change policies. Well, politics have once again crossed paths with our normal talking points and I have to respond. What is it this time? Creationism in the schools? Cutting of science funding? Lies about science to push through a political agenda? No!...well, probably, but that's not what I'm going to talk about. This time they are going after my sacred cow, science-fiction movies. Avatar in particular.

Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline has written a review of the James Cameron epic. Spoiler Alert: He didn't like it.

Phill Kline, for those of you who don't know, was Kansas's AG from 2003 to 2007. He is a very controversial figure, even by Kansas standards. Kline, a Republican with very conservative views, is probably most known for investigating abortion provider Dr. George Tiller and filing a lawsuit to get the medical records of 90 women and girls who receive abortions. Tiller was shot and killed in May, 2009 while ushering at his church.

Like I said, I don't want to talk about his politics and I really don't want to talk about abortion. This just isn't the forum for it. I want to talk about what he said about the movie. Roger Ebert has this to say about the movie:

"Avatar" is not simply a sensational entertainment, although it is that. It's a technical breakthrough. It has a flat-out Green and anti-war message. It is predestined to launch a cult. It contains such visual detailing that it would reward repeating viewings.... It is an Event, one of those films you feel you must see to keep up with the conversation.


Kline, on the other hand, has a different view:

Avatar represents the left's first epic introduction of the new Darwin spiritualism. Since Darwin cannot survive in the West's spiritual culture, Darwin has now become god in the form of mother earth. Every living thing on planet Pandora is a god. And so, the new left has reached back in history to leap ahead of the scientific age. In the new religion, man is not god as in the age of reason and science. Rather, all is god and thereby nothing is god. But at least we're spiritual.

All this provided just in time for Christmas, oops, the Winter Solstice.


I can understand if some people didn't like the movie. Art is subjective and everyone has their own tastes. But holy fuck, what the hell is Kline talking about? Yes, the movie does have a message; that there is an intrinsic good to nature and we shouldn't exploit it just for profit. But like many other good movies, there are other messages in Avatar. Many of them are much more subtle. Messages that have to do with change, redemption, and the triumph of the human spirit. The story is written with archetypes that you can replace with almost any parallel that you like. It could be about the US invasion of Iraq. It could be about the Indian Wars of the 1800's. It could even be about the Revolutionary War and the founding of America. There is a lot you can get out of this movie.

Kline, however, went into Avatar with his ideology and hung it on the movie.

Nature prevails and evil capitalism and man is defeated. Eywa thereby expresses the only truth respected by the left, a truth worth choosing sides for — a truth worth killing for, mother earth. China's forced abortion policy as spiritual expression.


It is as if he views any opinion that he doesn't agree with as a personal attack on his values and his faith. I almost feel sorry for him. He lets his ideological views get in the way of enjoying a good movie. I'm sure he didn't like Happy Feet, Wall-E, The Abyss, Serenity, or even Star Wars with those freedom hating terrorist trying to bring down the government. Sometimes, a movie is just a movie and you should go along for the ride. I would say that Phill Kline should stop reviewing movies and go back to his day job, but I remember what a disaster that was. Wait! I'm sorry, I said I wouldn't talk about that. What I meant to say was, go review "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" and leave movies that I care about alone.

Beer Bullshit + Brains Episode #14

It's the end of the year and decided to phone this one in. We did a seasonal beer review, bullshitted a lot, then edited in some out takes and called it a day.

Episode #14 Show Notes

It's our year end wrap up, lazy-ass bullshit edition! We really didn't talk about anything that was noteworthy, so we'll leave you with this.

Beer Bullshit + Brains Episode #13

We discuss Climategate with expert Mike Kaulbars. Is there a vast scientific conspiracy to fake the evidence for global warming? Find out now!

Episode #13 Show Notes

In this episode, we discuss climate change and the Climategate scandal with expert and activist Mike Kaulbars, who runs the blog Greenfyre. It was a very informative discussion that revolves around the climate change debate and those who seek to deny the science. And finally, Justin reads the Bullshit Question of the Week off of an Applebee's kid's meal menu.

A Secular Christmas Carol

The always wonderful Tim Minchin has released a secular Christmas single called "White Wine in the Sun" and I can't get it out of my head. It is a beautiful take on the true meaning of Christmas without all the trappings of consumerism or religion.

There is a push to get the single in to the UK top 40. He only needs about 10,000 more downloads to do it. The song is £0.79 at iTunes and the proceeds are going to a charity. Here is the link to the official single, please go download it.

Here is the YouTube video of the song so you can get a taste of it.

An Influenza Recap

I've had a lot of conversations and annoyed a lot of people talking about H1N1 and its vaccine. The argument that I hear most often from people is that the swine flu really isn't that bad, and since the H1N1 vaccine hasn't been tested throughly and might have serious side-effects, they are better off taking their chances with the flu. Joseph Albietz at Science Based Medicine has
completely destroyed that argument. He didn't use scare tactics or logical fallacies, he just let the science speak for itself.

OH HAI! UR WASTIN UR TIEM!

The Real Vaccine Conspiracy

As the flu season has dragged on, so has the controversy about H1N1 and its vaccine. On TV, on the blogs, and especially on Facebook, people are saying that they don't trust the safety of the vaccine, that it hasn't been tested enough, that it's worse than the swine flu, that they would never give it to their children, that it is all part of a vast conspiracy to keep the people sick. I've spent a lot of time researching the subject and talking to both skeptics, anti-vaxxers, and people who believe everything they hear on the television. Because of this, I've come to two conclusions. First, everybody is an expert about the H1N1 vaccine. Regardless of their medical knowledge or their research on the topic, everybody has an opinion about the vaccine that they are willing to defend, even if it's based on an anonymous forwarded email that showed up one day in their in-box. Second, I've come to believe there is actually a vaccine conspiracy.

A conspiracy, by definition, is a plan by multiple people to commit a crime, fraud, or other wrongful act. It only takes a quick Google search of "vaccination conspiracy" to find hundreds of sites dedicated to the various flavors of this vast conspiracy. Some border on the crazy, claiming chemtrails and sprayable microchips are causing the swine flu in order to either control the minds of the population or to kill us all. The ultimate motive varies from site to site. The more believable conspiracy, and the one that I'm hanging my hat on, is that there is a group of people who stand to make a lot of money off of sick people. This group of people is spreading lies and misinformation to the public, in order to sell them a "cure" that has had little to no testing, can be cheaply manufactured then sold for a huge profit, and has no medical value, but has people coming back for more because they can never truly be cured of what ails them with this medicine. Am I talking about the medical establishment with their Big Pharma overlords? No, I am referring to complimentary and alternative medicine movement.

Complimentary and alternative medicine, or CAM, is a modern-day snake oil. They have a cure for whatever ails you. Some will give you herbs, some will try to align your chi, some will give you magic water, some will even believe in what they are trying to sell you. None of this is part of modern medicine because none of this works. The thing about today's medicine is that it has to proven to work before it goes on the market. Sometimes this takes years of studies. CAM treatments, on the other hand, either haven't been studied or have been shown to have no effect at all. Some are actually harmful. The proponents of these treatments simply ignore this data. Either they are knowingly committing fraud, or they are deluding themselves. Either way, the results are the same. They want your money.

The best way to get your money is to first spread fear about the treatments that actually work. In the case of vaccines, which have one of the best benefit-to-risk ratios in all of medicine, they do one of two things. One, publicize the very rare, sometimes one-in-a-million, side effects to make them seem much more common and frightening, or, two, just make crap up. Both of these tactics have been used very well in regards to the H1N1 vaccine. Up to 50% of the population believe that the vaccine is worse for you than the swine flu. I'm not going to debunk all those fear-mongering claims in this post, but you can go here to find out the truth about them.

After these frauds have eroded your faith in modern medicine, they then step up to fill that hole with their own "natural cure". This can be anything from echinacea and vitamin C, to homeopathy, which is really nothing more than water and sugar pills, to acupuncture. All of these "treatments" are designed to separate you from your money and that's all. None of these treatments have been shown to work and almost none of their proponents have medical licenses. These people want you to believe that because they have taken a few night courses that taught them that, despite all known laws of nature, water can have cure-all properties, that you should trust your health and sometimes your life to them.

Not only is this immoral, but it is criminal. But somehow CAM found away around it. But that doesn't make it any less vile or evil. Yes, I believe there is a conspiracy to keep people sick and to rob them of their money and we should do everything we can to bring this conspiracy to the light of day.

Beer Bullshit + Brains Episode #12

In this episode, our heroes bash Kirk Cameron and his latest creationist stunt, then wax on and on about 80's sci-fi movies.

Episode #12 Show Notes

In this episode, we start with our beer reviews as usual. But now we have this nifty color guide!

Then we move on to Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort corrupting "The Origin of Species" with creationist crap. Also, this is not kung fu.

For the last three-fourths of the podcast we have to talk about 80's science fiction movies. For the record, Ice Pirates kicked ass. Just watch out for the space herpes. Also, Tony and Justin talk about the time they camped out at the movie to see Snakes on a Plane. This is the shirt that they made:



Lastly, if you want a good laugh, here is the site to go to.

Beer Bullshit + Brains Episode #11

We talk beer, some shitty, some good. Also, Windows 7, Satan's candy, and time machines!

Episode #11 Show Notes

In this episode, we are finally back from our hiatus and we talk a lot of bullshit. I'm mean a lot. We talked about Windows 7, the Devil's plan to taint all the Halloween candy, and what we would do with a DeLorean.

Carl Sagan Day

Happy Carl Sagan Day to the billions and billions of you. I know this is a little old, but here is a little something to help you celebrate.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween everyone! And to celebrate the holiday, I think I'll give you all a bit of a holiday scare. This article by Kimberly Daniels was originally posted on Pat Robertson's website, CBN. The article didn't stay on that site for very long before it was pulled. Now, while I love kooky religious intolerance as much as the next person, Ms. Daniels has gone to far in this slanderous attack on one of my favorite holidays. Not only does she call Halloween the devil's holy day, confuse paganism with satanism, but then she had this to say:

During this period demons are assigned against those who participate in the rituals and festivities. These demons are automatically drawn to the fetishes that open doors for them to come into the lives of human beings. For example, most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches.


Oh, the horrors! Not the candy! I can live with the baby sacrifices and the orgies with demons, but leave my peanut butter cups alone. Wasn't the unfounded razor-blades-in-the-candy scare from the 80s bad enough? Now we have witches and warlocks running all the candy companies! Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, blogged about this story, which is where I first read about it, and had this to say:

Wow, it must be fun to live in an evidence-free world where you can simply assert whatever you want without proof or references or anything! Here, let me try: CBN is run by a TI 99-4a computer with buggy code that sometimes strings words together in patterns that almost make sense, if you squint and stand some distance away from them.

Hey, that was easy!


Isn't it fun to be scared on Halloween.

The Moon Strikes Back

Alright, the moon really wasn't trying to extract revenge for the LCROSS mission, in which NASA impacted a spent stage of a rocket into a shadowed crater near the south pole of the moon in hopes of finding water ice. However, the Earth really did get hit by an asteroid on October 8, of the coast of Indonesia.

According to NewScientist.com, an asteroid that was roughly 10 meters in diameter exploded with the force of 50,000 tons of TNT. That is three times the force of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. There was no damage because it detonated high in the atmosphere, at least 15 to 20 kilometer above the surface.


Bigger than 10 fucking meters

The scary thing, I mean the really fucking scary thing is this object was only 10 meters across! If it was a little bigger and hit a populated area, it could do some real damage. And we didn't even see it coming. While surveys have found most of the Near Earth Objects that could cause a global disaster, the ones a kilometer or so in size, only a small fraction of the objects under a 100 meter across have been found. Any of these could wipe out an entire city. The good news? An asteroid 10 meters in diameter or larger only hits on average once per decade.

Fighting Anti-vaxxers on Facebook

Recently, a friend of mine posted this video on Facebook. For those of you too lazy to click on the link, it is a video of some doctor on Fox News saying that the H1N1 vaccine is more deadly than the swine flu. Well, duty called and I just had do say something. Little did I know that I was about to begin an epic debate with Janet, the lady who first posted the video and a staunch anti-vaxxer. I'm going to copy the conversation and let everyone read it. I'll let you decide who won and who lost. I had a lot of fun debating her, I won't lie, but this conversation took hours of research, much more than I was expecting to get into when I posted my first jackass comment.

The debate is as follows:

Me: That doctor is a fearmonger. Almost everything in youtube info text is not proven or is a flat out lie. Think I'll trust the CDC over anything that is on Fox News.

http://www.cdc.gov/H1N1flu/vaccination/pregnant_qa.htm


Janet: Justin, I'm no Fox watcher, but I do find it strange that it was even broadcast on Fox. Now, please take a moment and do a little reading here before you go trusting the CDC. http://www.whale.to/vaccines.html All vaccines deliver foreign substances to the body. If the body does not recognize consumption as nutritive, then it must either store it, or eliminate it. No one ever died from a lack of aspirin and health cannot be found in a syringe or a bottle. Achieving and maintaining good health is the only way to prevent illness.

Me: I'm sorry. I didn't mean to characterize you in some way that you are not. However, I believe you do have a misunderstanding on how the immune system works. While maintaining a healthy lifestyle does lead to a healthier life, you are mainly cutting the risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and related disorders. However, when an external germ invades your body, whether it be a virus, bacteria, or parasite, your immune system takes over. When a new virus invades your body, certain cells "read" the proteins on the virus then make antibodies. The antibodies tell other cells to recognize those proteins as foreign and to kill them on sight. But with some viruses, you can become very sick by the time this happens. All a vaccine does, is injecting those proteins without the virus, so your immune system will kill the virus on sight, with out the several day lag. There is no virus in the vaccine, many swine flu vaccines and all MMR vaccines have no thimerosal, the preservative that anti-vaxxers claim that cause autism and which, after years of study, has be conclusively shown that it does not. If you have any other concerns about the safety of vaccines, I would love to discuss them with you. I'm planning on getting my son vaccinated as soon as the shots are available.

Janet: Yes, that is precisely what I was taught in school, in college, and the like. I no longer believe any of that. For instance, you may find it interesting that the term "immune system" was not seen in textbooks or elsewhere prior to the 1980's. Every cell builds, cleanses and repairs itself at every given moment. Germs are ubiquitous and will seek food in acidic environments; namely unhealthy individuals that do not live in accordance with Nature's design. If anything, they are helping to clean up the mess like flies on garbage. Keep in mind that the germ theory is...a theory. Koch's Postulates disprove the germ theory as a causation for dis-ease. http://www.answers.com/topic/koch-s-postulates Also, Pasteur recanted the germ theory on his death bed. But, it was too late since our whole medical system now is built on a foundation of falsehoods, treating symptoms rather than removing the cause of disease. The medical model of treating dis-ease has caused more iatrogenic deaths than many wars. The numbers are sobering.

Me: First off, your claim that the term "immune system" was not used in textbooks or elsewhere prior to the 1980's is a logical fallacy. Science is constantly improving upon itself and coming up with new information. The text books are always being rewritten. This is not a failing of science, but a triumph. If science didn't progress humanity's knowledge, we would still be blood letting and having 35 year life spans. Second, people had a pretty good idea of what the immune system was and were starting to figure out how it worked as early as the 1890's.

While you are correct that every cell can repair itself to an extent, metabolize food and remove waste, the cells in a human are highly specialize. If your kidney cells aren't functioning properly, no other cell in your body is going to be able to filter out the toxins. All your cells will drown in their own waste without medical treatment.

While there are beneficial germs, ones, if fact, that we can't live without, there are also harmful ones. There are trillions of species of bacteria and to think that they are all benevolent is naive. The human body has a very complex system to keep its pH at a constant and correct level. If you eat something basic (the opposite of acidic) your stomach acids will just neutralize it, if it is to acidic you body will take care of that to. Either way, it doesn't effect the germs in your body.

Now onto germ theory! A scientific theory is not the same a the way a layperson uses the word "theory". A scientific theory is a collection of concepts used to describe the relationships between observed phenomnon. For example, if I let go of a book, it will fall to the floor. It does this every time I let go of it. This is a fact. To explain this fact, I'll use the theory of gravity. But in order for it to be a theory and not just a hypothesis, I'll have to do lots of experiments and prove beyond any doubt that it is true. That's what a theory is. We've had about 150 years of data on germs, and it is, without a doubt, a provable theory. It is one of the foundations of modern biology.

If fact, Robert Koch is on of its founding fathers. I don't know if you actual read the link you posted, but it disproves almost all your points.

From Wikipedia:

"Koch's postulates are:
The microorganism must be found in abundance in all organisms suffering from the disease, but should not be found in healthy animals.
The microorganism must be isolated from a diseased organism and grown in pure culture.
The cultured microorganism should cause disease when introduced into a healthy organism.
The microorganism must be reisolated from the inoculated, diseased experimental host and identified as being identical to the original specific causative agent.

However, Koch abandoned the universalist requirement of the first postulate altogether when he discovered asymptomatic carriers of cholera[1] and, later, of typhoid fever. Asymptomatic or subclinical infection carriers are now known to be a common feature of many infectious diseases, especially viruses such as polio, herpes simplex, HIV and hepatitis C. As a specific example, all doctors and virologists agree that poliovirus causes paralysis in just a few infected subjects, and the success of the polio vaccine in preventing disease supports the conviction that the poliovirus is the causative agent."

Pasteur did not have a deathbed confession. Rumor like these have been around for ages about people who their critics want to discredit. I've heard the same things about Darwin, Newton, and Harry Houdini, who was a skeptic, atheist, and debunker of paranormal claims.

Vaccines and modern medicine have saved billions upon billions of lives in the last 200 years. More lives have been saved with vaccines than have been lost in every war, ever fought. EVER. If you would like, I can find you case studies of people who gave up modern medicine for natural cures for them selves or their children. They are either dead or in jail on manslaughter charges. If homeopathy, vitamins, wheat grass, or and of hundreds of other natural "cures" and snake oils actually worked, they wouldn't be alternative medicine. They would just be medicine. People would use them all the time and get results. However, all these things haven't been shown to be anymore effective than a placebo. That is the reason they aren't part of established medicine. No big conspiracy. They just don't work. When I say I stand behind the CDC, I'm saying I am standing behind 400 years of science, 150 years of pathological studies, and 70 years of vaccine trials.

Jordan fades back, swoosh, and THAT'S THE GAME!

If you have anything else you would like debunked, just let me know.


Janet: To say that making the claim that the term “immune system” was not used in textbooks or elsewhere prior to the 1980’s is a logical fallacy is hardly sincere. So much health news is given to us in terms of the immune system “fighting” this or that, rather than the body simply cleansing, building, and repairing itself as it does every given moment. Science today is a religion based on a very clear set of articulated beliefs, one being “reductionism”. Simply put, reductionism is that everything is equal to the sum of all its parts and can therefore be explained in terms of its parts. This approach fails miserably, in part, because the whole being, our inherent endowment, which humans do not comprehend at all, is nothing more than a set of parts to be manipulated, studied, surgically removed, genetically modified, and so on. What is lost is any conception of the organism as a whole, integral being. So, we have this illness, or that cancer, or this dis-ease, rather than conceptualizing the problems as a phenomenological response to conditions by the ENTIRE system. In other words, living organisms are greater than the sum of their parts.

You said, "While you are correct that every cell can repair itself to an extent, metabolize food and remove waste, the cells in a human are highly specialize. If your kidney cells aren't functioning properly, no other cell in your body is going to be able to filter out the toxins. All your cells will drown in their own waste without medical treatment."

Yes, this supports my earlier claim that living organisms are more than the sum of our parts. The dysfunction of an organ will affect other parts of the system as they are meant to work together as one entire system, rather than independently.

You said, "While there are beneficial germs, ones, if fact, that we can't live without, there are also harmful ones. There are trillions of species of bacteria and to think that they are all benevolent is naive. The human body has a very complex system to keep its pH at a constant and correct level. If you eat something basic (the opposite of acidic) your stomach acids will just neutralize it, if it is to acidic you body will take care of that to. Either way, it doesn't effect the germs in your body."

I don’t see bacteria and germs as either benevolent or capable of sporting an AK-47! (*smirk*) It is we that are at war with Nature. When we choose to eat in ways that increase the acidity (breakdown) of our body, we create an environment that attracts certain life forms, like a fly to garbage. Then, we eat drugs and antibiotics (“anti-LIFE”), that further the burden on the body to cleanse and repair itself.

You said, "However, Koch abandoned the universalist requirement of the first postulate altogether when he discovered asymptomatic carriers of cholera[1] and, later, of typhoid fever. Asymptomatic or subclinical infection carriers are now known to be a common feature of many infectious diseases, especially viruses such as polio, herpes simplex, HIV and hepatitis C. As a specific example, all doctors and virologists agree that poliovirus causes paralysis in just a few infected subjects, and the success of the polio vaccine in preventing disease supports the conviction that the poliovirus is the causative agent."

I listed Koch’s postulates as something to refute, actually. There are two obvious reasons why his postulates do not work. Healthy people often harbor germs that are said to cause one disease or another. This refutes his first postulate. Conversely, many people with a given disease have been shown to not harbor the “causative agent”. This also refutes the first postulate, that Koch abandoned. I would hesitate to claim that all doctors and virologists agree on anything. Here is one interesting related article that looks at the trouble with the poliovirus and explores other agents that cause polio:

http://www.fearoftheinvisible.com/trouble-with-poliovirus

It is said that Pasteur said, and yes, on his deathbed, that he confessed that microbes were not the primary cause of disease, but rather, a toxic “milieu interior” – an interior environment in which the microbes live – is the breeding ground for disease. But, I'm not really arguing what Pasteur said.

Take a look at these graphs please (real eye-opener) http://www.whale.to/a/graphs.html
and notice that vaccines are introduced when a specific dis-ease is already on the decline.

I know many people who have given up medical model thinking, and are enjoying better health as a result. My whole family is one example, and many, many others are doing the same. There are still many in the alternative health fields that treat symptoms, rather than removing the cause and creating health, to their detriment. Not all alternative methods are equal or accurate.

If you’re interested in exploring other paradigms, just let me know. I’m not competing with you, but seeking truth with wide-eyed wonderment. Peace. :)

Me: Statistics can be made to say just about anything. The problem is that many people confuse causation with correlation.

For example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:FSM_Pirates.png

If I'm understanding your argument on the graphs that you linked, is that many diseases were in decline, some to the point of extinction, and that vaccines are just something that people came up with that don't really do anything. But if you look at the graphs all the disease began to decline around the same time, in the late 1800's. Why is that? In order for dozens of unrelated diseases to decline at the same time after centuries of being relatively constant, some thing had to have happened. That something is the development of germ theory and modern sanitation. Simply washing your hands with soap and water drastically cut rates of certain diseases. If your hypothesis is correct, and germs aren't the cause of disease, we wouldn't expect to see this drop.

If you don't mind, I would like to keep each post from becoming a novel, so I suggest that instead of throwing everything on the wall and seeing what sticks, we limit ourselves to just a few of the most relevant points and stick to those topics.

I think what this debate is eventually going to boil down to is the validity of science, so that is the point I'm going to argue. If you think other point is more important, I would love to debate about that instead.

You appear to be building a straw-man argument that science is a dogmatic religion that loves to break things down to their smallest parts and label them in its attempt to explain everything. However, none of this is true. Science is simply a process of how find an answer to a question through experimentation and reason. Science doesn't care what the answer is. For example, I'll use ESP. No one would love for psychic powers to be real more than me. However, to prove they are real, I would have to set up an experiment for a psychic to prove her powers, such as figuring out which cup out of 10 has a ball underneath it, or some other experiment in line with the claimed abilities. If she can do it repeatedly better than chance, there might be an actual affect there to study. However, since no one has ever done this better than chance in hundreds of experiments, I can only conclude that ESP doesn't exist, or if it does, it is so weak that it has no real affect on day to day life. I want ESP to be real, because, frankly, that would be awesome. But the evidence says that it is not, and I have to go with reality over my own wishful thinking.

The point about reductionism is also not true. Science never claims that everything is just a some of its parts. In fact there is something called Emergence Theory, which states that very complex systems can arise out of simple parts. Such as, a bunch of neurons sitting on a petri dish aren't going to do anything but metabolize and send electric pulses to each other. But if you get enough of them together, human conciousness emerges out of them. Not out of the neurons themselves, but out of the endless connections between them.

The point I am trying to make is that science delivers the good. In experiment after experiment, medicines have been shown to work, while natural cures work no better than chance. We may disagree on the philosophies of why the natural world is the way it is, but if you deny the evidence and you deny science, you are denying reality itself. The world works the way it works, not the way we wish it would work.


Janet: The article I linked to didn't appear to be read. You didn't mention anything from it. In short, the author explains that there are environmental causes to paralysis that can be diagnosed as polio. Viruses were not always present in those diagnosed with polio.

And he quotes, "Most of us are thus unaware of the historical importance of the hunt for the poliovirus during the first half of the 20th Century. It was the decades-long ‘Manhattan' project of virology; the project that established this science in the pattern that it has followed until today. It set out to prove a virus caused a major disease and took forty years to do so. It effectively removed from consideration other possible causes of epidemics. It would make vaccine provision a prime responsibility of governments, given this priority in practice over the provision of good water supplies and adequate nutrition."

And, "Some remembered that metal workers had suffered for centuries from a seemingly identical paralysis caused by the lead and arsenic in metals they were processing - the very same ‘heavy metals' that were sprayed up to 12 times a summer over apple orchards."

And, "A toxic cause for polio would crucially explain why farmyard chickens and animals were reported as suffering paralysis at the same time as the children. This should not have happened, according to the virologists, for their poliovirus can only infect humans."

As for the graphs, it is interesting to take a look at graph propaganda where the picture is only taken right before the vaccine is introduced. Take a look: http://www.whale.to/vaccine/graphs_lies.html

You wrote, "You appear to be building a straw-man argument that science is a dogmatic religion that loves to break things down to their smallest parts and label them in its attempt to explain everything." Rather, you appear to be inferring this from me. Please re-read what I wrote about reductionism. I did not say "dogmatic", nor did I say "smallest". I think you're missing my point. That there is "something" called Emergence Theory does not deny the overwhelming practice of reductionism. I commend you for reading about ET, just the same. Quantum physics is fun reading, too, but it's not being practiced in hospitals across the country as a method of treatment.

How can you say that science "NEVER claims that everything is just a some of its parts."? *sigh*

I'll just cut to the chase and say that I don't believe most science is valid. That is not to say I don't find some science useful in the quest for knowledge and truth. However, it is impossible to get meaningful results about true health when subjects are not optimally healthy to begin with. Our society does not study optimal health. We study disease and ways to treat it. I'd argue that virtually everyone in our modern times is afflicted with some kind of illness whether it is being overweight, diabetes, poor eyesight, cancer, or allergies. All of these are symptoms of poor health, ...of not living in accordance with Nature's design. Putting foreign substances into your bloodstream is not going to guarantee freedom from dis-ease. Only building health can liberate the body from dis-ease. It's sort of like being pro-peace, rather than anti-war.

Btw, I never once saw my mother in a hospital, or sick, until after she took a flu shot. It nearly killed her. Good luck. I wish you the best, and thank you for the discussion.

Me: Thank you for the discussion, I am really enjoying it. I would hope your mother is doing well. Flu vaccines do sometimes have very rare side effects. Like everything else, nothing is 100% safe. Does she have any allergies for chicken eggs? Eggs are used to make the vaccine and the doctor should have asked. If not, there is also the chance that it was a coincidence. Millions of people get flu shots every year, and millions of people get sick every year. Just by those staggering numbers alone, thousands will get sick following the flu shot, just as dozen will get run over by cars after receiving the vaccine. That doesn't mean they are related. Regardless, my best wishes to your mom, and I hope she had a speedy recovery.

I did read the link you sent. I didn't comment on it because, first, I would have rather made my point defending science because that's where the conversation was going and, second, the article was so full of misinformation I didn't know where to begin and didn't fill like writing a novel. Just a few of my misgivings about it: The whole article is an opinion piece by the author, Janine Roberts. She is not an expert in pathology, in fact, she isn't even a biologist. She has a phD in Theology. I don't know what your background is, but you and I are both just as qualified to as Ms. Roberts on the subject without reading any background materials. Ms. Roberts also claims that the polio virus wasn't found in the stool of patients suspected of having the disease. Her conclusion was that the people didn't have a virus, but were being afflicted with something else, namely, heavy metal poisoning. However, polio and poisoning with metals, such as lead, mercury and arsenic have very different symptoms. Polio's include fever, nausea, vomiting, flu-like symptoms, aseptic meningitis, loss of reflexes and later on, paralysis. Heavy metals on the other hand include, mental confusion, pain in muscles and joints, headaches, memory loss, nausea, paralysis, kidney failure, discolorations of the skin and a whole host of others. The only ones that are the same are nausea and paralysis. Any decent doctor should be able to immediately tell the difference between the two. (On a slightly different topic, you'll notice that autism is not on the list of effects. While we might not know for sure what causes it, we can positively rule out mercury poisoning, from vaccines or from the enviroment.) Also, most importantly, the heavy metal hypothesis fails to give an explaination for why polio is so highly contagious. Heavy metals have to be consumed, but you can pass polio on just by shaking someone's hand. Ms. Roberts DDT hypothesis about DDT being in everyones home also fail to explain all the evidence. Polio can be spread from person to person regardless of the chemicals in the home. Even during a worst case senario where millions of children were eating the DDT saturated wall paper of their homes and not just inhaling the fumes, the symptoms don't match.

And now a brief point about your graphs, and how they don't mean any thing because one describes measles deaths in America and the other is cases of infection. The graphs aren't comparing apples to apples. Plus that graph is only of America where modern medicine really started in the 1850's, there by contributing to the declining death rate. Worldwide however, the measles have kill 200 million people in the last 150 years, and I can't even guess how many were infected but survived with side-effects such as blindness and sterility.

The main thing I would like to argue, is not what we know, but how we came to know it. As I said before, science is a rigid system of checks and balances that tease the truth out by experimentation and making predictions. Scientist developed germ theory after years of collecting evidence and analyzing data. The people that you are getting your information from are either misinterpreting the work of others, or just making it up. Instead of coming up with the evidence to prove their hypothesises, these people slander real doctors such as Ben Goldacre, Michael Fumento and Rachael Dunlop (whom I've had the privelage of interviewing. If you, want the link I'll be happy to send it to you. However, be forewarned, it is more entertaining than informative.), doctors who are simply trying to get information out about evidence-based medicine. These aren't part of some big pharma conspiracy, they are only trying to save the lives of children. (sorry about that melodramatic last line. It is late and I am tired, but it is still true.)

http://www.jennymccarthybodycount.com/Jenny_McCarthy_Body_Count/Home.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFVE8csrcRw&feature=player_embedded


Janet: Hi Justin,

And thank you for the civil discussion. I know that I am challenging the establishment, so to speak. And, I'm finding it a bit of a challenge to get across and express the different paradigm from which I argue my points. Too much of it warrants an introduction, which I have provided in an audio link near the end of this comment. My current perspective comes from an entirely different paradigm than the one I grew up with and have spent most of my adult life living by.

As for my mother, she died in March of '06 at the age of 77. A year after the flu-shot debacle, she fell ill to what they thought was West Nile encephalitis, then later she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, then diabetes about 6 months after that, then pancreatic cancer three months later. None of these ailments "run" in our family. She died at her home, four months later, with most of us (four out of five kids) surrounding her. Yes, it changed my life and the way I view health and dis-ease. She was a lovely woman. Think Audrey Hepburn and you have the charming woman my mother was. I am fully convinced that the medical model of treatment killed her. Unfortunately, it did not kill her hastily enough to save her from incredible suffering.

My thinking has gone through a tremendous overhaul as a result of that experience, and that of watching about twenty other close friends and family die from dis-ease, not naturally from old age. In fact, who does die naturally anymore from old age? Something is terribly amiss in Western medicine, and I know now that I had a lot to UNlearn before I could be fully ready to take in the knowledge that I have accumulated during and since my mother's illness and death.

So, we can argue back and forth the points on a point by point basis, but I suspect it is taking as much of your time as mine. I'm up now past my bedtime. Or, I can once again, cut to the chase and tell you that there is more out there than what modern medicine has to offer. I prefer to look at Nature for answers, since that is where we originate from. Yes, Nature. I belong to several raw food groups, and also a special group called the Path of Health run by an incredible person who speaks in the audio link. Please give him at least twenty minutes of your time before you decide anything (preferably the whole 90 min.) I have seen all kinds of dis-ease and illness reversed through better diet, fasting, and rest. Yes, even cancer. And, I've seen average people turn into spectacular athletes by changing their diet, getting fresh air, sun, water, and living as naturally as possible in this modern world. If you, or anyone reading this has the patience, is ready, willing, and able to listen to a 90 minute teleconference, then take a listen here:

http://www.pathofhealth.org/Programs&Events/GettingStarted/GettingStarted-1of4~WhatIsHealth--Jan.24.2007CE--PathOfHealth.mp3

I offer this to you as a gift. It is called, "What is Health?" It is the first of four teleconferences of which I was a part.

Ok, now if you see it completely necessary for me to argue the points you made, I'll be happy to do so, but at a later time. I simply can't devote the time for it now with my other obligations on hand.

Best regards,
Janet

Me: Thank you, I'll take a listen, although it might be later this weekend before I get a chance. I'm sorry about your mother. I've had a grandfather and a great uncle both die of pancreatic cancer. That disease probably scares me more than any other. Thanks for the conversation.
Wishing you the best,
Justin


If you, like me, thought the conversation was over, you are wrong.

Janet: Ok, so I'm still here. Did you get a chance to listen to the audio? Just curious. You might be interested in learning about some other interesting facts regarding vaccines.

Take a look at this:
http://www.wnho.net/vaccine_coverup.htm

And, to add to it, here's a video that should leave anyone a little shaken (if you have an hour).:
http://www.whale.to/vaccine/ayoub_v.html

Darn, there's more. Here's another article of interest:
http://socioecohistory.wordpress.com/2009/07/15/dr-russell-blaylock-vaccine-may-be-more-dangerous-than-swine-flu/

Peace out,
Janet - who is tired and ready to read in bed about the beef industry. Yes, I constantly research many topics.

Me: Sorry its taken me so long to respond. I've been very busy lately. I didn't have time to watch the video, but if it brings up any points that we haven't covered, I can trust that you will point them out to me.

It seems to me that Dr. Blaylock is making the claim that there is a vast conspiracy involving Big Pharma and the government in order to keep the population sick while at the same time making billions of dollars. He also claims that vaccines in general, and the H1N1 vaccine in particular are worse than the diseases that they are supposed to prevent. He also claims that the thimerosal that is used as a preservative in some vaccines actually causes mercury poisoning that leads to autism. Now, I can tear apart Dr. Blaylock's crediblity, poke dozens of holes in the conspiracy, and spend pages talking about how molecular chemistry works and the differences between ethylmercury and methylmercury, and the powers of one single atomic bond and how that can influence the world, but you and I both know that all of that won't change your mind. You believe what you want to believe and no amount of evidence will persuade you. So, what I'm going to do instead, for the sake of argument, is assume that all your claims are true. If they are true, it should be pretty easy to make predictions and find the evidence for them. All we have to do is ask and truthfully answer just a few simple questions.

1. Thimerosal causes autism

I'm starting with this one because it is the easiest to prove. If thimerosal causes autism, we should see a clear link between vaccination rates and autism rates. The more kids that get injected with thimerosal, the more kids should get autism. Now, we can talk about conspiracy theories and chemistry and ethics and whatever, but that is all skirting the point. Does thimerosal ACTUALLY cause autism? Lets look at the data. Thimerosal was removed from the MMR vaccine in 2002 and most other vaccines that children get before the age of one. We should see the autism rate in children plummet after 2002 because kids are no longer being exposed to thimerosal. What actually happened? Autism rates stayed the same. How can this be? The only answer that I can think of is that thimerosal does not cause autism. That is my first question to you. HOW CAN THIMEROSAL CAUSE AUTISM WHEN THE AUTISM RATES STAY THE SAME WHEN KIDS ARE NO LONGER EXPOSED TO IT?

Now, you can make the claim that why was it removed if it wasn't harmful? That question is just beating around the bush. It could be that is was removed for cost saving reasons. If it was harmful, the data would show it.

Also, on a related note, a recent study has found that autism rates have increased to 1 in 100 kids, up from 1 in 150. If there was some enviromental factor that was causing more and more kids to autism, we should be able to see that. As the the toxins increase in the enviroment, younger kids should get autism at a higher rate. Autism first appears in very young children, so there should be more 3 year olds with autism than 30 year olds, because the toxins, what ever they are, have increased since the 30 year olds were kids. But if we look at the age groups of the people with an autism spectrum disorder, we find that autism rates have increased across all age groups. How is this possible? All we have to do is broaden our definition of what falls on to the autism spectrum. If we do that, then more people from all walks of life will now be classified as autistic, even people who are mildly anti-social or introverted. Many of these people have such slight symptoms that no one would notice that they are autistic. If we look at the rates of the severally autistic people, they have held steady for decades. There is no out break of autism, just a change in the definition of autism. That is my second question to you. IF AUTISM RATES IN CHILDREN ARE INCREASING DUE TO AN ENVIROMENTAL TOXIN, WHY ARE THE AUTISM RATES OF ALL AGE GROUPS INCREASING BY THE SAME AMOUNT?

Now, you can't say that a 30 year old suddenly came down with autism, because that simply isn't true. There is no evidence for that ever happening. People in the older age groups have had those symptoms all their lives, but weren't considered autistic until recently.

2. Vaccines are worse for you than the disease.

If this is true, there should be more sickness and a higher mortality rate in the vaccinated than in the unvaccinated. Now, I would like to point out before I go any further, that nothing is 100% safe and there will always be some risk involved, whether it is getting vaccinated or eating a peach. We just have to is if the benefits out weight the risks. In the case of the peach, it is easy to make the case that the benefits win out over the odds of choking on it or it being tainted. Now lets look at vaccines. I'm going to use the HPV vaccine, Gardasil. All the same claims have been made against it as the swine flu vaccine, so the comparison is valid. Lets look at the facts.

20,400,000 million people have been given the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer as of August 31, 2009. 10,326 people developed side effects, from sore injection spot and rash to nausea and fainting. Of those, 722 developed serious side effects, from serious fainting spells to blood clots. 20 people died within a year of getting the vaccination. However, all of those girl died of a variety of causes, such as stroke or heart attack. The lack of a pattern of symptoms would suggest that the vaccine didn't cause the deaths. Plus, the death rate is about the same as the unvaccinated group. With enough people, some will die by chance after any arbitary event. If a million people read this post, chances are 1 or 2 will die within a week, but I can be fairly certain this post didn't kill them. But, lets pretend for a minute that the vaccine did kill those 20 people. That would mean the chances of dying from the vaccine are 1,000,000:1 and you lifetime risk is 145,000:1. The odd of getting hit by lightning are 75,000:1. So if the vaccine does kill some people, you are twice as likely to be hit by lightning.

What are the chances of dying from cervical cancer? 500:1. Studies have shown that the HPV vaccine is nearly 100% effective in preventing the virus that causes 70% of cervical cancers. Even if it was only 25% effective, you are still better of taking it than going with out. If the vaccine is worse than the disease, how do you explain those numbers? The mortality rate of the vaccine should be higher than 500:1. Instead it is 1,000,000:1. You have a 50,000 time greater chance of dying from cervical cancer than the vaccine.

3. Vaccines are part of a conspiracy by Big Pharma to make billions of dollars.

My answer to this may surprise you. If it is true, so what. It is completely beside the point. The ONLY thing that matters it that vaccines are effective and cause much less pain and suffering than the diseases they are trying to prevent. As I've shown above, they accomplish that with flying color. If there is a big conspiracy to keep people sick, they are doing a crappy job of it. Now, don't get me wrong, those companies aren't saints. They are out to make a profit. But there are safeguards in place to protect the public. Every now and then something like Vioxx slips threw and shows that it is not a perfect system. But the system works better than the alternative. By which I am referring to the alternative health product companies which are totally unregulated and sell all kinds of snake oils and potions. If you're lucky, the products simply won't work. If your unlucky, they can have serious side effects, such as Airborne and ear candles. Some products can actually kill. Now, not all of this is quack medicine. But if it actually works, it becomes actual medicine. For example, there is a compound in willow bark that can treat minor aches and pains. Instead of giving people bark to chew on, which would have varying amounts of this compound, scientists isolated it and standardized it. Now this compound from the willow tree is known as aspirin.

Now, I've asked a few question here that your theory can not explain. And there are a few others, such as without the germ theory of disease, how can illnesses be spread from person to person? You can cherry pick the evidence all you want. You can pull out a quote here and a fact there, but you are still buried under a mountain of data that proves you wrong. If 99% of the scientific community agrees on something, chances are that 1% is not the lone voice of reason in a vast conspiracy. Chances are that 1% is deluded. I would take you seriously if you produce a study that is repeatable, that had a sample size of more than 15 subjects, and stood up to scientific review. But you can't. But you can't. All you can do is cherry pick the data for studies like the 1998 Wakefield study (which as been thoroughly debunk and retracted by everyone involved except Dr. Andrew Wakefield) while ignoring hundreds if not thousands of other studies. If you could look at all the data in an honest way, and put aside your predetermined beliefs, you would see that you are wrong. There is nothing wrong with being mistaken, it happens to everyone. But are you to proud to accept that? If you can produce the mountains of evidence, the hundreds of well designed studies, the scientific proof, instead of the conspiracy theories, bogus studies, and random people claiming to be experts, I would happily change my mind and admit I'm wrong. Can you?


Wow, did you read all of that? Congrats if you did. I didn't realize it was so long while writing it but now looking back at it, one would think it was a huge waste of time. I thought so too. After Janet's second post, I realize that I could never change her mind, but I was too proud to let her when the argument. A few days later, while at the coffee shop, an acquaintance stopped me and thanked me for writing all of that. A few other people had read all of that and had gotten some useful information out of it. Here's the kicker, after thanking me, the acquaintance apologized to me for not getting the flu shot yet!

Edit: There is an audio link in one of Janet's post that I had to disable the link on. For some reason it was showing up on the podcast feed. If you want to listen to it, just copy and paste the URL.

Beer Bullshit + Brains Episode #10

We had a great time talking to and interviewing Dr. Rachael Dunlop from the Skeptic Zone.

Episode #10 Show Notes

For our special 1Oth episode, we riffed about rapture pets saviors, sat down with Dr. Rachael Dunlop from Skeptic Zone, and we talked some good ol' bullshit about science fiction movies.

Creatonist Expert in <5 min!

Hi all, we just finished up episode 10. Here's a little something to keep you occupied until it's posted:

Fun for all ages, and takes WAY LESS time than actually understanding anything.

Beer Bullshit + Brains Episode #09

Guest caster, Ryan from NASA joins us again as we discuss the space shuttle, an impact on Jupiter and, of course, beer.

Episode #09 Show Notes

In this episode, we talk about more space stuff with Ryan, including the return of the space shuttle, an impact on Jupiter, and more stupid movie references!

The Shuttle returns

Jupiter gets smacked

Unnecessary Quotes

It annoys the hell out of me when people blatantly misuse quotation marks for emphasis. Finally, someone is tackling this problem head-on.

If you don't understand why these are funny, please read up on the correct use of quotation marks.

Beer Bullshit + Brains Episode #08

In the newest episode of BB+B we spend our time talking about NASA's upcoming lunar shenanigans, beer and lots of bullshit. Enjoy!

Episode #08 Show Notes

In the latest episode of the triple B, we talk about our beers as always, some NASA space things.

NASA's first step back to the Moon

Moon landing tapes got erased

Beer Bullshit + Brains Episode #07

We are finally back from our break. In this episode we discuss zoning out, universal healthcare, USB 3.0, and superpowers.

Episode #07 Show Notes

In this episode, we discuss zoning out while drinking, universal health care, and USB 3.0. Also superpowers and our usual off topic bullshit.

Zoning Out While Drinking

Exposé on Universal Heathcare

USB 3.0

Reposts

It has come to our attention that a few of our earlier episodes were not showing up in iTunes. We've reposted them and hopefully that will fix the problem. If you have any problems getting our episodes, please email us and will try to resolve the problem. However, since no one reads this, it shouldn't be a problem.

Repost: Beer Bullshit + Brains Episode #03

Beer and drinking beer seems to be the prevailing topic of the episode but we did get time to argue about vampires!

Repost: Beer Bullshit + Brains Episode #02

In this episode, we discuss Galaxy Zoo, Atlantis and Naruto, as well as this week's beer choices, and plenty of Bullshit.

Repost: Beer Bullshit + Brains Episode #01

In our first official episode, we discuss our beer choices for the week, Monster Truck promoter getting run over, Conficker computer virus infecting 15 million PCs, Trojan virus found in pirated Apple iWorks, 1 billion people worldwide on the internets, methane on Mars might prove there is life, Chinese New Year, Darwin day, Pope reinstating 4 rebel bishops, and random rantings.

Big thanks to Ryan for being our guest caster this week.

I finded me a new webcomic.

Specifically, his series on Kart got me hooked.

Atheists' worst nightmare!

This video proves that God does exist! The guy prays to Yahweh, get tasered by the cops, but instead of subduing him, he receives the power of God and escapes!

Beer Bullshit + Brains Episode #06

Thanks to Justin for leaving in my repeated bloopers at the beginning! Basically we talk about zombie ants and the Large Hadron Collider and beer!

Episode #06 Show Notes

This episode we discussed ZOMBIES!! Go figure. But we talked about zombie ants this time. We also bullshitted about the Large Hadron Collider, antimatter, and "Angels and Demons."

Brain-Controlling Flies to Triumph Over Alien Ants?

While the cat's away: How removing an invasive species devastated a World Heritage island

Large Hadron Collider Homepage

FAQ about the LHC and "Angels and Demons"

Has the Large Hadron Collider destroyed the earth yet? Be sure to check out the source code.

Kate McAlpine, author of the LCH Rap



The Reality of Blogging

"Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few."

I love demotivators. This is from a new one that I can't help but think applies to us.

Sean Tevis, a follow up.

Last week I posted about Sean Tevis, the Kansas information architect and pseudo web celeb was again running for political office.

We at the BB+B are all originally from the ... ah sort of great ... I guess... state of Kansas and fully support what Sean Tevis is doing. He is a normal guy, trying to make government less douchetastic (Yes, I said douchetastic, if Colbert can make up cool words, so can I). Instead of relying on lobbyists and corporate funding to fuel his campaign, Tevis uses small donations he gets from the internet.

A friend over at Bloggasm recently interviewed Sean Tevis, check it out.

— Tony

Social Statistics Art

Click on the title for some really profound visualized statistics. Very impressive stuff.

— Scott

Beer Bullshit + Brains Episode #05

We hope you enjoy our special Swine flu edition of Beer Bullshit + Brains! Scott, Tony and Justin debate and discuss the over reaction of the public and mass media, the complete and utter uselessness of face masks to stop a fucking virus, and throw out some cold hard facts about the H1N1 influenza virus.

Episode #05 Show Notes

This week we address some of the real facts about the H1N1 "Swine flu" virus and the surrounding media hype. Oh yeah, we talk about zombies and vampires again.

Here are some links to more information if you would like to enlighten yourself more.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention H1N1 Information

World Health Organization H1N1 Information

How to Build Natural Immunity against the Swine Flu

Swine flu name change?

Israeli official urges name change for 'swine flu'

Sean Tevis 2010

I am so donating money to this guy.

He is running yet another grass roots internet campaign for the Kansas House this time.

— Tony

No XKCD

I'm thinking of submitting this to the Florida Citizen's for Science stick figure contest. Any thoughts?


— Justin

There's life on Mars!...No, wait....nevermind, it's just a rock




We now have proof of aliens living on Mars. And by living, I really mean dead. And by aliens, I mean rocks.

Spirit, one of the Martian rovers, took a picture of a rock. In one of the thousands of pictures of millions of rocks, there is a rock that kind of looks like a skull. If I use my imagination, it reminds me of the crystal skull from Indiana Jones if the skull was made out of basalt and carved by an 8 year old. It is just a case of paradolia, when the mind recognizes some random thing as something familiar, like a face. The are plenty of examples of this on Mars. Like this one:



This image hit the net last year. It shows Bigfoot strolling around on Mars, that is, if Bigfoot were 3 inches tall and could survive in an oxygen-free atmosphere that is 1% a thick as Earth's. Sorry, crazy believers, just another rock. I'm sure in the future, there will be plenty more photos like these as long as the rovers continue to function. The human mind is very good at deceiving its self.

Special thanks to Kate who sent in the link.

— Justin

Congrats, Elyse

If you listened to our last episode, you would have heard Tony, Scott and I drinking beer and bullshitting with Elyse from Skepchick. You might have noticed that while we were drinking, some of us to excess, Elyse wasn't partaking. In her latest post on Skepchick, she reveals why. BBB would like to congratulate her and wish her and the world's littlest skeptic the best of luck!

— Justin

Stop Talking about Arlen Specter

Speculation that the Democrats will now have some magic 60 bullet to push legislation past a veto with the addition of Senator Specter to the fold is preposterous. He was performing poorly in Republican primary polling because he does not stick to the party platform in votes. His party line jump does absolutely nothing to change the makeup of the senate except change the color of his seat from red to blue on the little TV pundit maps.

I am assuming that the Obama administration is smart enough to know that trying to push bills through without bipartisan support with this new pseudo-supermajority is doomed to failure, I just can't understand why the news organizations don't get it.
If you check out his voting record, by the way, Arlen is an interesting fellow: Pro-choice, supports education funding, pro-gay rights (but not gay marriage), anti-gun control and pro-death penalty. I certainly don't agree with all of his positions, but I certainly respect that he sticks to his guns. (Couldn't resist the cheap pun.)

— Scott

FCBD09



The first Saturday of May for the last few years has been Free Comic Book Day in the U.S. Everybody loves free stuff, so head over to your local comic book store, grab some schwag and maybe buy something too.

I plan on picking up "Attack of the Alterna-Zombies" The synopsis of the book is made of awesome. "The zombie menace invades the Alterna-Verse in this FCBD exclusive! Alterna Comics characters have turned into zombies and it's up to Jesus and Lincoln to defeat them and restore normality to their world."

How can you go wrong with Jesus and Abe Lincoln fighting zombies ... for FREE!

— Tony

Rap Chop!



"You're gonna love my nuts." I swear I have listened to this about 50 times.

— Tony

Buzzed Aldrin

Our guest podcaster Elyse from over at Skepchick told us a little bit about a drink recipe she tested during the Skepchick drink contest called the Buzz Aldrin. The recipe is so simple a space chimp could do it, try it out!

1. Pour Vodka in a glass
2. Stir in as much Tang as you can
3. Enjoy

I also found a few other recipes for this citrus cocktail.

Buzz Aldrin with Bourbon and Ginger Ale

Buzz Aldrin with Peach Vodka and Triple Sec

— Tony

Best Skeptic Movie Ever?



I watched probably the best skeptic movie ever created the other night.

If you are a skeptic and have not seen this movie, I urge you to put it on your Netflix. You will not be disappointed.

— Tony

HOLY CRAP WE'RE LEGIT

Last podcast was done in collaboration with Elyse from Skepchick. Now we're even linked on their blog.

We're so big time.

— Scott

I weep for the English language . . . and giggle.

I'm simultaneously irritated and amused by the media and the administration disparaging the 100 days in office thing by calling it a "Hallmark holiday." I understand what they mean of course, and largely agree with it, but the etymology of the term is ridiculous. The actual meaning of the word "hallmark" is almost exactly the opposite of what they mean. It's silly that a corporate trademark can completely supplant the original word's meaning.

— Scott

Beer Bullshit + Brains Episode #04

Guest pod caster Elyse from Skepchick joins us for a rowdy night of news and booze.

Episode #04 Show Notes

In our latest episode, we had a guest bullshitter Elyse from over at Skepchick, discussed after school religion kabbalah programs, evolution cartoons, and the attempted Time Warner bandwidth cap.

Thanks to Elyse for putting up with us and making it a really fun show!

Here are the links to stories discussed in this week's episode.

'Spirituality for Kids' class draws fire

Stick Science Contest

Atheism vs Agnosticism

Time Warner drops Internet metering plan

My computer is praying for me

Well, I've finally gotten my computer fixed and can start recording the podcast again. A new hard drive and RAM make a hell of a lot of difference. The next episode should be up shortly, plus it sounds a lot better than the shit we had be producing. Now that my computer is running at 110%, I think I going to sign up for this.

As many of you know, I am not religious. In fact, I'm about the opposite of religious. And as such, I'm going to burn in hell for it. But now I have an answer to my non-existent prayers! As an agnostic/atheist, I want to live my life to the fullest with out the fear of some divine punishment. The Christian argument is "Better safe than sorry." I don't want to find out that hell exists when it is too late. But now I have the perfect solution. At Information Age Prayers, my computer will do all my praying for me, leaving me free to go out sinning! For a small fee, this service will say a prayer in any denomination that I choose, several times a day, for months at a time. And the best thing is, God doesn't know it's not me! He is getting a prayer that is coming my address, and that is good enough for him. Plus, if I sign up for all the prayers, the Catholic, the Jewish, Muslim, non-denominational, I'll have all my bases covered, you know, just in case Jesus was just a carpenter. I just have to remember to face my speakers east or else the Muslim ones won't work.

— Justin

Node 3 is called what?

So Node 3 for the International Space Station finally got its official name announced the other day. And I am still baffled...

There was an online poll/contest on the NASA website where Internet users could vote from a list of four NASA suggested names for the node or submit their own choice. There was a big a media hullabaloo about it after the poll closed on March 20 because Stephen Colbert urged his minions of Colbert Nation to vote for him. "Colbert" was the #1 poll winner followed closely by the NASA suggested name "Serenity."

Pretty much everyone expected NASA to baulk on the name Colbert, so that was not a shock to me at all. What really pisses me off is that NASA fucking named Node 3 "Tranquility." That name was not even on their own God damn list of suggested names! So really, what the fuck was the poll for in the first place?

Oh, but I should mention they did try to appease the masses by naming the treadmill the "Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill" or C.O.L.B.E.R.T.

I want to give NASA a high-five, then pull it back at the last second and call them a loser. Not only did they agitate the Colbert flock, I am sure the "Firefly" fan boys are raising a stink too, since "Serenity" was on NASA's list, it technically won, and they named the node something completely not on the list.

Fuck you NASA.

— Tony

Happy Zombie Jesus Day!



John 11:25-26
"He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die...."

AND EAT BRAINSSSSSSS!!!!

— Tony

Oh Shit Wolvy, you got jacked.


So I know this is old news by now, but it deserves a little back peddle...

About two weeks ago the movie "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" was leaked to the net and lit up the piracy networks like the Forth of July. Now the bad thing is that it was not a crappy cam job, this was a freaking DVD quality leak... nearly a month before the movie even hit theaters. Shit.

There were over 100,000 downloads ON THE FIRST DAY IT WAS UP. That is a box office killer. Now 20th Century Fox is going on the warpath, they are pretty much fucking pissed. They claim that they are working with the FBI to find the leak, charge it with something, and make sure the leak gets plugged by a big burly man named Francis in prison.

At first I thought it was great, the movie was easily available for people to watch and enjoy for free. Then I realized this could be very, very bad for the Internet pirates. Very bad.

Before now, the only thing that was leaked was DVDs before they hit the shelves, and a bunch of shitty cam jobs of current films. That only affects DVD sales, and in my opinion, very minimally. If you enjoy the film and want the special features, you have to buy or rent it anyway. And cam jobs are for the most part a huge waste of time, shitty sound and video, just go to the theater you twat.

With that said, "Wolverine" threatens this happy little co-existence. I am not really looking forward to the repercussions of the HUGE leak.

— Tony

Mercy Killing

So we recorded our bi-weekly podcast last week as usual. Then Justin informed us that his aging iMac must of broke it's hip or something. It only recorded a portion of the 'cast and it's performance is very lacking.

I think he should put the old bird out of it's misery, but maybe with the right physical therapy, it will be back to it's old self in no time.

Get better Ol' Mac.

— Tony

Tonight is Earth Hour


Tonight is Earth Hour, and over a billion people are going to dim their lights tonight. From 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., people are encouraged to turn off all non-essential lights to highlight the threat of climate change. However, here in the middle of Kansas, the climate has already change and an ice storm has knocked out the power to much of the area. We still have lights on here, but an ex-coworker of mine said she isn't going to get her power back on for maybe 3 days. I think I'll keep my lights on out of respect to all those with power. It's only the right thing to do.

— Justin

Making fun of religion is now a crime

According to a Reuters article, the United Nations passed a resolution Thursday condemning "defamation of religion." The resolution was introduced by Pakistan, and is supposed to protect religious minorities from intolerance and discrimination, specifically the Muslim community. I really don't think the resolution is going to affect us much here in the U.S., however, in the Muslim world and possibly Europe, this is a bad thing to any one who speaks out against religion. This could be used a justification for curtailing people's free speech all around the world. Canada's representative to the UN said this:

"It is individuals who have rights, not religions. Canada believes that to extend (the notion of) defamation beyond its proper scope would jeopardize the fundamental right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of expression on religious subjects."


It's scary to think that I could go to jail for calling a religion retarded.

— Justin

An Annoying in Connecticut


A haunted house in Connecticut is becoming a nightmare for it's owners, and not because of the ghosts. The home, a formal funeral parlor, is the subject of the upcoming movie, "A Haunting in Connecticut" and has curious fans, ghost hunters and other morons coming to look.

The movie is loosely based on events that happened to the Snedeker family in the 1980's, and when I say "loosely based on," what I really mean is totally made up. The Snedekers claimed their son would hear strange noises, see shadows on the wall of people who were not there. A niece visiting the home said she felt hands on her body as she tried to sleep, and her covers levitated. Ed and Lorraine Warren, the paranormal researchers of Amityville Horror fame, visited the home and witnessed the evil presence. Of course, I don't think the Warrens ever visited a house that they weren't convinced wasn't haunted.

Anyway, fans of the movie which they haven't seen yet and people who believe in ghost stories have been visiting the house at all hours, scaring the children of the current residents, and basically being general dickholes. The local police have even had to add extra patrols around the home.

I swear, some people are retarded. Some "haunted houses," such as the Winchester House are worth visiting just for the historical value of the thing. Other homes are worth visiting if you are huge fans of the movie or series in which it was featured. The Brady Bunch home, anyone? But this house has neither. It isn't and never has been haunted. The movie looks pretty crappy and it isn't even out yet. The only reason I can think of that people might want to visit it, is that it seems like it is one of the few homes that hasn't been foreclosed one.

Leave those poor people alone.

— Justin

Here we go again.

Today, right now in fact, the Texas Board of Education is pretty much deciding if creationism will be in the science class room for the next couple of years. If Texas decides to allow certain phrases in textbooks or not pretty much seals the deal for the rest of the U.S. due to is high percentage of book sales.

I think the last time we went round and round about this topic it was in Kansas, and Scott still resided in Kansas at the time. Now Scott lives in Texas and the issue is back again ... Is there a link between Scott's presence and agitated creationists?!

— Tony

Space Station Colbert

The votes are in. And the winner is...Colbert.

NASA's online contest to name the next module for the International Space Station ended Friday with almost 1.2 million votes cast. And Stephen Colbert won. And by a lot. Personally, I think that is funny as hell. You would think that in this day and age, with a bridge in Hungary, a sports team's mascot and an eagle named after Colbert, people would stop allowing write-ins on their naming contests. Stephen will just hijack your contest and get it named after him. You know he will.

Anyway, if NASA allows it, it looks like the internet fanboys have won . If they don't, the internet fanboys still win because the second place winner is Serenity (which of course is the name of the space ship in the cult classic Firefly series and movie).

I really doubt NASA is going to name Node 3, "Colbert," but if they do, whenever I see that bright point of light streaking across the night sky, I won't be able to help but think of this...


— Justin

The entire "Cosmos" Series



I was pleased to locate the complete 13 hours of Carl Sagan's Cosmos series on Hulu. Sagan teaches us about intelligent life, space travel, and urges viewers to contemplate existence. Created and filmed in 1980, the science presented is still informative and contemporary.

— Tony

Rebranding the SciFi Channel



According to a press release from the SciFi Channel, they intend to reinvent themselves into the Syfy Channel. Heh. Siffy Channel.

Please take the time read the fan-boy comments at the bottom and also the ones to the response article for all the fan-boy comments!

Justin and Scott are devoted Battlestar Galactica watchers, and I have never missed an episode of Eureka, but other than those two shows ... seems little left to offer. The SciFi Channel is just playing Star Trek TNG reruns between episodes of Ghost Hunters, add a dash of horrible, in house movies and then sprinkle in a good show for 1 hour of the week.

Speaking of shitty TV channels ... remember when G4 was Tech TV and it didn't suck?

— Tony

Beer Correction

Before we get any emails, I want to point out a mistake that was made. I referred to the 90 Shilling as an English beer, and I was totally wrong. First it is brewed by the Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado. Secondly, it is their version of traditional Scottish ale. My bad.

— Justin

And I said "post-humorously," but what can I say I was a wee bit drunk. I meant to say posthumously meaning after death.

— Tony

Beer Bullshit + Brains Episode #03

Beer and drinking beer seems to be the prevailing topic of the episode but we did get time to argue about vampires!

Episode #03 Show Notes

This episode we discussed beer, beer and more beer, climate change with economic shifts, and vampires!

Here are the links to stories discussed in this week's episode.

Beer Benefits

Italy dig unearths female 'vampire' in Venice

Is the Financial Crisis Saving the Planet?

The Artwork of Brady Scott

Dinosaur Comics, Zombies vs. Vampires

As a footnote to the "Bullshit Question of the Week," I have been doing some research on vampire regeneration. In the classical Nosferatu, Vlad the Impaler & Bram Stoker Dracula stories I could find no mention of regeneration.

Yet in more contemporary stories of vampires, the supernatural powers of these undead keep growing and expanding further in to the realm of super anti-heroism, without any limits. These increased powers also have a relation to age, the older the vampire, the more super powers they seem to acquire.

One prime example if from the Japanese animation series "Hellsing" which tells the tale of Alucard, a ridiculously over powered vampire, that oddly enough works with humans to kill other vampires. Alucard does have the power of unlimited regeneration, which makes him pretty much impossible to kill. At least Superman had Kryptonite.

Justin has a point as do I, but since we did not define the terms of classic vampire mythology or contemporary comic book and manga undead, I will admit defeat.

Comments?

We were hoping to get some listener feedback about a first few casts. No comments posted so far. Lets us know if we suck or what you would like to hear us talk about!

Add a comment below or drop us an e-mail at beerbullbrains@gmail.com

Beer Bullshit + Brains Episode #02

In this episode, we discuss Galaxy Zoo, Atlantis and Naruto, as well as this week's beer choices, and plenty of Bullshit.

Episode #02 Show Notes

Here are the links to stories discussed in this week's episode.

Galaxy Zoo 2

Google Finds Atlantis

Dude with Sniper Rifle and Google kills Bambi

Biotechnology Seed Companies Are Thwarting Research