Saturday, August 30, 2014

NSA Whistleblower Signs 911 Truth Petition

A former technical director of the NSA and one of its first whistleblowers, William Binney, has signed the petition at, demanding a new investigation into the collapses of the three high-rise World Trade Center towers on 9/11.  His interview can be heard at 9/11 Free Fall podcast.

When asked why he signed the petition, Binney explained that he had talked with engineers and physicists who pointed out that the NIST investigation into the collapses had selectively ignored basic facts relevant to understanding the collapses, so that at best, their investigation was based on sloppy science.  In addition, he knew of controlled demoliton experts who said that their collapses looked just like controlled demolitions.  In light of that knowledge there wasn't good enough reason to trust the NIST investigation, and that a new one was required. 

He also asked the question, how much should we trust this government, given the amount of  illegal spying on people that they do.  

From here the interview went into an in depth discussion of the NSA, why he left, and how he had tried to use all legal means to expose what was going on there.  Along the way he pointed out that 9/11 was in the interests of those who had wanted to expand the power of NSA, even saying that the former head of the NSA had said that they needed a major catastrophic event in order to change things at the NSA; that 70% of all their funding ($100 billion a year of government funding goes to the intelligence community) went to private contracts, so that just as we have a military/industrial complex, so we also have an intelligence/industrial complex. 

He quoted a proverb that he said is used across all government agencies:  "Keep the problem going so the money keeps flowing."

Because he believed that the NSA was in direct violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution, Binney said that he left the agency at the end of October 2001, after learning that they were using his program to monitor electronic data of all citizens.  He made it clear that the new million square foot storage area that the NSA has build in Utah is there in order to store all the electronic data of everybody. 

He said that NIST's refusal to release data on their investigation of the collapses is a manifestation of how government agencies go about covering up their failures, but that this makes them an accomplice to any crimes involved in 9/11, either of its cover-up or of its actual perpetration.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Professor Moran's (Final?) Reply to Professor Behe

Professor Laurence Moran responds to Professor Michael Behe,
Michael Behe's Final Thoughts on the Edge of Evolution.

 To my mind, the whole debate is worthwhile reading.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Final Form of Islam?

When someone ignores death threats and speaks out against something, they've earned a right to be heard, such as  R. Joseph Hoffman:

I speak from experience: I have known such students. I have taught such students. I have watched them cower under the “authority” of Islamic chaplains of Quranic studies and Fiqh. I have been warned not to say anything to upset the “guys with beards” and having paid no attention to the warning I have managed to survive two death threats–one a close call in the final stages of planning my abduction.

Instead of permitting the leaders of ISIS to label everyone else a heretic, where are the authoritative voices of Muslim leaders that declare for everyone to hear that the era of the caliphs is over. That Islam is a faith, an expression of a belief in God and his sovereignty, and in the prophet who ended the brutality of the tribes and who called Allah compassionate and merciful: “Whoever kills a person [unjustly]…it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.”(Qur’an, 5:32). It is not necessary to mouth the trope “Islam means peace” when almost no one looking on is convinced by the statement. It would be enough for Islam to stand for learning: for discovery, and literature and scientific progress and justice as it is defined in modern contexts, not in medieval jurisprudence.
Until these voices are heard, or until they can be developed, ISIS is winning and Islam capitulates in its winning.

But maybe  Victor Reppert has the simplest explanation of all:

Remember how Islam was founded. Muhammad had been exiled from Mecca, then conquered by force of arms. The Qu'ran is written as a law-book. The idea of separating religion from state does violence to essence of Islam.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Is Richard Dawkins a Eugenicist?

If, like me, Richard Dawkins' recent tweet about the immorality of bringing a child with Downs Syndrome into the world made you wonder if he was a eugenicist, Mike Gene's article will increase your suspicions.

Friday, August 22, 2014

And Larry Moran Fires Back: Understanding Michael Behe

I don't know about the rest of you, but I am thoroughly enjoying the online debate taking place between biochemistry professors Laurence Moran and Michael Behe. Moran's latest: Understanding Michael Behe.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Larry Moran Gets Down to the Nitty-Gritty

If you haven't been following the recent internet debate between Michael Behe and Larry Moran, you're missing a real treat.  And now Larry Moran is getting down to the nitty-gritty.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Behe Responds to Moran

Professor Michael Behe responded to Larry Moran's attempt to take "the Behe challenge."  Some interesting parts:

Moran doesn't seem to actually have much confidence in his own numbers. He asks the readers of his blog to help him correct his calculations -- which is a commendable attitude but makes one wonder, if he's so unsure of the likelihood of helpful combinations of mutations, whence his trust in mutation/selection? In response to the commenter who alerted him to the huge number of parasites in a million people he writes, "This is why meeting the Behe challenge is so difficult. There are too many variables and too many unknowns. You can't calculate the probability because real evolution is much more complicated than Behe imagines." But, again, if he thinks everything is so darn complicated and incalculable, on what basis does he suppose he's right?
That's the reason I issued the challenge in the first place. In my experience almost all Darwinists and fellow travelers (Professor Moran doesn't consider himself a Darwinist) simply don't think quantitatively about what their theory asks of nature in the way of probability. When prodded to do so, they quickly encounter numbers that are, to say the least, bleak. They then seem to lose all interest in the problem and wander away. The conclusion that an unbiased observer should draw is that Darwinian claims simply don't stand up to even the most cursory calculations.
And Behe's conclusion says it all:

The bottom line is that numbers can be tweaked and a few different scenarios can be floated, but there's no escaping the horrendous improbability of developing chloroquine resistance in particular, or of getting two required mutations for any biological feature in general, most especially if intermediate mutations are disadvantageous. If a (selectable) step has to be skipped, the wind goes out of Darwin's sails.

I should confess that though I was the commenter who pointed out that Moran's original calculation meant the probability of developing chloroquine resistance was 1 in 10^18, it was a friend who had pointed out that fact to me.  

Friday, August 1, 2014

Larry Moran Joins the Battle against Behe and company...Sorta'

Professor Larry Moran has joined battle against Behe and company, though I don't understand why he and others only pick on his supporters, instead of going after him.

I suggested that Larry take the Behe challenge.

UPDATE:  And Larry took the challenge!

 I asked Professor Moran in the combox:

"Hi Larry, 

Thanks for taking "the Behe challenge." I'll be curious to see what Behe's response is. Meanwhile, you wrote:

The probability that the other required mutation will occur is roughly 125/25 Mb = 5 × 10‐6, or about five in a million.

I'm curious. Does that mean that if a third mutation was required, then the probability would be 5x10-6 x 5x10-6? And if a fourth mutation was required, would the probability be 5x10-6x5x10-6x5x10-6?"

If the correct answer is "yes," then the probability of getting all four required mutations would be 125 x 10-18, or 1.25 x 10-16, which is not too far off from what Behe estimated the probability was for malaria to develop chloroquine resistance, and also the probability he estimated for evolving one new protein binding site.