Category Archives: Skepticism.

Articles that deal with shredding whatever absurd, irrational nonsense may be encountered by the authors to the point of blogability.

Putting stuff into context – on the TRAIL of a new science news story on the BBC

Right, so this time I have a few things to add to a news story doing the rounds currently. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25625934

Quote…

The most dangerous and deadly stage of a tumour is when it spreads around the body.

Scientists at Cornell University, in the US, have designed nanoparticles that stay in the bloodstream and kill migrating cancer cells on contact.

They said the impact was “dramatic” but there was “a lot more work to be done”.

One of the biggest factors in life expectancy after being diagnosed with cancer is whether the tumour has spread to become a metastatic cancer.

“About 90% of cancer deaths are related to metastases,” said lead researcher Prof Michael King.

On the trail

The team at Cornell devised a new way of tackling the problem.

They attached a cancer-killing protein called Trail, which has already been used in cancer trials, and other sticky proteins to tiny spheres or nanoparticles.

When these sticky spheres were injected into the blood, they latched on to white blood cells.

Tests showed that in the rough and tumble of the bloodstream, the white blood cells would bump into any tumour cells which had broken off the main tumour and were trying to spread.

The report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesshowed the resulting contact with the Trail protein then triggered the death of the tumour cells.

Prof King told the BBC: “The data shows a dramatic effect: it’s not a slight change in the number of cancer cells.

“The results are quite remarkable actually, in human blood and in mice. After two hours of blood flow, they [the tumour cells] have literally disintegrated.”

He believes the nanoparticles could be used used before surgery or radiotherapy, which can result in tumour cells being shed from the main tumour.

It could also be used in patients with very aggressive tumours to prevent them spreading.

However, much more safety testing in mice and larger animals will be needed before any attempt at a human trial is made.

So far the evidence suggests the system has no knock-on effect for the immune system and does not damage other blood cells or the lining of blood vessels.

But Prof King cautioned: “There’s a lot of work to be done. Various breakthroughs are needed before this could be a benefit to patients.”

Just a few things, though. Firstly, the spread of cancer cells throughout the body may be a very early event in tumour evolution, as suggested by studies in animal models http://www.jci.org/articles/view/43424 . More worryingly, TRAIL can, in cells that have activating mutations in a gene called k-ras, actually lead to more invasive disease and earlier death due to metastasis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20188103 . Several mechanisms of resistance to TRAIL have also been documented http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22206047

So the promise highlighted in the article makes me immensely skeptical.

Planes are made of metal, but this doesn’t mean you can fly on bauxite.

OK, pardon the weird title please. The internet is home to a lot of rubbish about cancer research, and amongst this set of kooky beliefs is the notion that hemp oil/marijuana can cure cancer. The article that has drawn my attention this time round is http://www.destructionofamerica.4t.com/whats_new_3.html

I quote

I didn’t stutter, Cannabis IE “evil drug Marijuana” hemp cures several kinds of brain tumors as well as other cancers. The FDA has known for over twenty tears and hid it from us!

New research shows that marijuana components fight an aggressive form of brain cancer. And the media says – nothing, again.

Combining the two most common cannabinoid compounds in Cannabis may boost the effectiveness of treatments to inhibit the growth of brain cancer cells and increase the number of brain cancer cells that die off. That’s the finding of a new study published in the latest issue of the journalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics.

Marijuana components have been found to inhibit the growth of the most common, and aggressive form of brain tumor, a glioblastoma, according to a study published in the January 6 issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

The study was done at the California Pacific Medical Center by researchers who combined a non-psychoactive ingredient of marijauna, cannabidiol (CBD), with Δ9-tetrahyrdocannabinol (Δ9-THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in Cannabis. The findings demonstrated the inhibitory effect of these two ingredients on brain cancer cells when used together.

“Our study not only suggests that combining these two compounds creates a synergistic effect,” says Sean McAllister, Ph.D., a scientist at CPMCRI and the lead author of the study. “but it also helps identify molecular mechanisms at work here, and that may lead to more effective treatments for glioblastoma and potentially other aggressive cancers.”

“Previous studies had shown that Δ9-THC was effective in inhibiting brain cancer growth in cell cultures and in animal models and prompted a small clinical trial in Spain. There is also evidence that other compounds in Cannabis might prove effective against tumors, but limited scientific evidence is available,” the report stated.

President Reagan & Bush tried to have studies done in Virginia destroyed to hide the facts but fortunately some survived. There are OVER 50,000 products that can be made with hemp conservatively. Yet we have been lied to by the authorities for nearly a hundred years and saw them destroy one of the most profitable commercial industry known to man.

How many people have died that could still be alive? How many have suffered needless pain cannabis could relieve? Call your congress persons today TOLL FREE  800 833 6354 tell them you know the truth and they will be FIRED if they don’t change the law!

Right, time to go fallacy-fishing.

[1] That certain cannabinoid compounds can hit the growth of glioblastoma cell lines in cell lines in no way means that marijuana cures cancer anymore than the effectiveness of Penicillin means Penicilium notatum (the fungus that penicillin is produced from) cures bacterial infections.

[2] Note that these are cell lines and animal models we’re talking about at best – inhibiting the growth of cell lines and xenografts is a preliminary step on the way to develop new cancer therapies; the work in the paper or the studies it cites in no way support the notion that these compounds are curative.

[3] Indeed, the very person who wrote the codswallop above failed to read the very excerpts he quotes.

“Our study not only suggests that combining these two compounds creates a synergistic effect,” says Sean McAllister, Ph.D., a scientist at CPMCRI and the lead author of the study. “but it also helps identify molecular mechanisms at work here, and that may lead to more effective treatments for glioblastoma and potentially other aggressive cancers.”

“Previous studies had shown that Δ9-THC was effective in inhibiting brain cancer growth in cell cultures and in animal models and prompted a small clinical trial in Spain. There is also evidence that other compounds in Cannabis might prove effective against tumors, but limited scientific evidence is available,” the report stated.

In what parallel universe is the notion that Marijuana cures cancer or the idea that the data above implies that the FDA admits it anything less than a brazen display of intellectual contortionism that would put the poriferan equivalent of Houdini to shame?!

Cringeworthy Propaganda Against Vaccines.

One of the little pleasures of being involved in skepticism is that one can be sure of having mind-numbingly stupid, and dangerous, pseudoscientific propaganda being brought to your attention.

The one that has compelled me to write this post appeared on Natural News, and the only thing that could be worse than the “research” described in the article is some of the mind numbingly stupid comments that appeared in the thread that followed. Said article is here http://www.naturalnews.com/036220_vaccinated_children_disease_allergies.html#ixzz1yFQ4eOZN

The purpose of my post is to expose some of the flaws in the article, which has been lapped up eagerly by some of those who seem to have commented later.

The main claim of the article is that all the studies cited show that chronic diseases are 200-500% more common in vaccinated children than unvaccinated ones (and already the dubious headline sneaks in the upper estimate of a flawed figure).

The survey they talk about, that was supposedly set off by a “classical homeopathist” (as opposed to what exactly?) compares volunteers who answer surveys on various anti-vax sites against data from the German KiGGS study. Anybody with elementary training in epidemiology can see the immediate problem this poses – to facilitate a direct comparison between two variables or two groups that vary by a single factor, all other factors need to be randomised so they appear in similar frequencies in both populations. The only thing that can be legitimately compared to the vaccinated children in the KiGGS cohort is the unvaccinated children in the KiGGS cohort, and when this was done, the results debunked the very premise of the drivel in question. ( KiGGS original paper can be found here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3057555/ )

To quote

“The prevalence of allergic diseases and non-specific infections in children and adolescents was not found to depend on vaccination status.”

and worse for the anti-vaxxers, they did find a statistically significant difference in the occurrence of vaccine-preventable illnesses. (See graph below)

Note that a p-value of less than 0.05 is a statistically significant result, and in all the other analyses carried out, there was no statistically significant results indicating that allergies and chronic illnesses are higher in vaccinated people.

Now, having taken care of the excuse for a study that seeks to compare data against the KiGGS study, let us look at some of the others that have been quoted by the article in question.

[1] The IAS survey they refer to has no P.values, meaning that it is impossible to verify if the differences they found were statistically significant or not. Of course, the study itself is moot in light of large scale meta-analyses that have found no evidence that vaccinated children have higher rates of chronic conditions, infectious or otherwise. See the discussion section of the KiGGS paper for associated literature that showed no evidence for such a link.

[2] The study in Christchurch they refer to (Kemp et al) could not rule out differential reporting as a cause of differences.

To quote http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9345669
“These findings do not appear to be due to differential use of health services (although this possibility cannot be excluded) or con-founding by ethnicity,socioeconomic status, parental atopy, or parental smoking.”

Of course, yet more meta-analyses have found no statistically significant link at all between vaccination and asthma http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/120/5/e1269.short

While one or two studies have pointed to a link between whole-cell pertussis vaccine and increased risk of allergy, there are acellular vaccines available, and with re-emergence of whooping cough, partly with the increased prevalence of unvaccinated children, death by whooping cough is not an option.

http://www.immunizationinfo.org/vaccines/pertussis-whooping-cough

Some of the egregious piffle on the site, such as trying to insinuate there is some sort of stupid conspiracy theory against the Bachmair “study”, which was the first thing I dealt with for flaws in study design because people daren’t compare the health of vaccinated against unvaccinated children really takes the cake. The studies that led to the replacement of whole-cell pertussis vaccine with acellular vaccines all appeared in conventional scientific journals, and by insinuating that studies funded by the WHO are somehow biased, the article makes potentially libellous accusations, as well as committing the fallacy of poisoning the well.

If they can produce proper data and get it published, they will have something valid to contribute to discourse on vaccines, otherwise they can, and should, sod off in my humble opinion.

As for Obukhanych, maybe she would be well advised to go back in history and examine the efficacy of the smallpox vaccine, which obviously was in action long before big pharma, the favourite punching bag in the wet dreams of every anti-vaxxer was around. More recently, one can point to solid evidence that vaccines work, even in extremely high-risk populations, even when examined using double blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trials, like this http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM198010093031501

Vaccines clearly reduce the occurrence of the diseases they are designed to immunize people against. And that, it would appear, is the end of that.

And finally, for O’Shea’s “grassroots survey”, even schoolchildren can carry out more rigorous, well-controlled research http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/7/2/168 , there is clearly no standardization involved in asking parents of unvaccinated children to compare their own kids with vaccinated children of friends and family, especially because anti-vaxxers, as evident from the bilge that characterises the comments on that thread, might hold the belief that their children are somehow healthier a priori, and in the absence of rigorous data-collection, this can introduce bias.

That is all from me in this post.

Cheers,
Exploreable.

PS – I’ve found more evidence that Pertussis vaccination is NOT associated with atopic disease, but there is a link between the disease itself and asthma.

[1]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14662571
[2]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9701130

Dear Hitch

Hi all, it’s been a while.

Death is a funny thing. When faced with mortality, people seem obliged to speak up, to take note and pay tribute to the recently deceased’s short time as a person on this planet. I’m guilty of this as well and today has been a perfect example. Last night the world lost a great man. I loved, admired, and revered Christopher Hitchens, but have never really expressed it in words, until now, which is of course a few fleeting moments too late for him to appreciate. Of course he knew he was appreciated by many people like me, and I highly doubt that he would ever have stumbled upon this little article had I written it when he was alive, but it seems a shame that it is only after we have lost someone that we truly appreciate their contribution to our lives.

He was beloved by atheists for his extraordinary and highly entertaining ability to leave his religious debate opponents floundering within minutes, (even if some were ever so slightly too deluded to pick up on it (*cough* Tony Blair *cough*)), but let us not forget the other causes he held dear. An outspoken political campaigner, his relentless fight for a better world was motivating and courageous, and words were his ultimate weapon. It is rare nowadays to encounter such daring eloquence which forces people, blinking, into the harsh light of reality, and pushes them to take action. His unforgiving character dissections of various respected public figures were a much needed second opinion, and often showed that the prevailing view if subject to a bit of scrutiny, is not always accurate.

With the power of his writing, I was convinced that Mother Teresa was a fraud. Please do not think I am easily led. Alas, I had  a lifetime of hearing nothing but praise for her saintliness; certainly for a long time I believed that anyone devoting their life to helping the poor was a good person. In an instant, Hitch changed my mind. After all, he explained so succinctly; she cared not for the suffering of the poor, or for trying to stop the vicious cycle of poverty. He made me comprehend that the religiously motivated charity work was a mere plaster on a wound; hiding a problem away when what it really needs is some fresh air, a fresh approach: ‘the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction’.

‘The Topic of Cancer’ was by far one of the most moving and raw essays I’ve ever read. Even when first diagnosed with cancer, his words did not fail him as they would (understandably) fail so many others. In fact with their rawness, they became stronger and more compelling than ever, as he ever-so-elegantly and valiantly described the process of coming to terms with his newly-stricken state.

More recently, and bravely as ever, Hitch gave a his acceptance speech for the Richard Dawkins award at The Texas Freethought Convention. Whilst clearly weaker in body, with his voice quieter than before but never silenced, his mind was as sharp as ever, and his words still rung true.

At the very foundation of it all, he made me love words and realise their might. He made me want to take action and speak out; he was one of the people who encouraged me to write in the first place. What an exciting life he must have lived. I hope to narrate my own life even half as well.

Juliet
xx

Will Indian Society finally wake up? – Part Deux.

Warning – reader discretion is advised. Some people might find what is written unpalatable.

Hello there,

A few weeks ago it was an alarming trend towards increasing sex-selective abortions in India, even in sections of the society that were well to do and were educated, that shook me up, and now, in a bizarre turn of events, sex-selective abortion has ended up looking almost palatable in comparison to what has transpired in Indore.

If news reports are to be believed, and from what I know India’s National Committee for the Protection of Child Rights has been taking these reports seriously, the fetish for male children has been taken to a whole new extent in the conservative city of Indore.

Parents have been resorting to changing the gender of their daughters through gender reassignment surgery, also called genitoplasty. Now this is unethical right from the start, reason being that there is tangible harm done to the child, which violates the Hippocratic oath which doctors swear to uphold, but that is only the beginning. There is a very good reason that we don’t allow people to marry children, or give children the right to make their own decisions, or give them the right to vote, or the right to use alcohol, that being that they are incapable of giving informed consent till then; Note the word ‘informed’.

So if there is a medical procedure that is being carried out on people who cannot consent to it and is definitely of no medical benefit, why is it even being allowed in the first place? The only reason I can suspect is that nobody had thought that things could get this weird, now that things have gotten this weird, I suppose it would be great if the legislative bodies in the country acted swiftly to curb the practise; My only fear is that it may send this practise underground, and make it much more difficult to root out.

Right, so what are some of the obvious harms of bringing up a female child as a male child? While I cannot find direct examples of this happening there happens to be one exceptional case in which a male child was brought up as a female child.

David Reimer had a botched circumcision that led to his penis being damaged, his parents had his gender changed (after his testes were removed and what was left of his penis was removed and a hole in his abdomen was constructed to enable urination )under the influence of a controversial psychologist called John Money, who wanted to show that gender identities can be completely learned (i.e, it is purely an externally learned behavioural construct) and brought him up as a girl named Brenda. While John Money was out in the press spouting crap about how the gender reassignment had been “successful” , David Reimer had been undergoing psychological trauma and bouts of severe depression, being unable to adopt a female gender identity, despite being treated with female hormones and having an external female identity imposed.

He then, after bouts of suicidal depression, decided to revert to a male identity at the age of fourteen, and in the years to come he had everything they had done to him to change his gender reassigned. He published a story of his experiences to dissuade other doctors from ever deciding in favour of such a “therapeutic” strategy.

All the years of trauma had taken their toll, though, and with a marriage that began to dissolve he was pushed over the edge and committed suicide.

You can find an account of this case, which was featured on the BBC, here , the BBC documentary described in that page is here.

So, to sum up, that one tragic case should be a warning that should be heeded by parents who are resorting to this kind of absurd practise in Indore, never mind the fact that there is no way doctors should be carrying this procedure out, and never mind the fact that the law needs to be amended to make this illegal since the practise is grossly unethical.

The news report that reported the practise is here and a report of the IPCR deciding to get involved in an investigative capacity is here

I cannot be angry enough with the blinkered muppets who think putting their children through the trauma of gender reassignment without their consent is acceptable, all for the purposes of fulfilling their fetish for a son, if they are so fond of a penis I suggest that they get cadaver dicks grafted onto their heads, it would serve as a mark of identity. Moreover, do these geniuses (yes, that is sarcasm) not realize that females reassigned as males will not be fertile, that they will not produce sperm?

So, what can you do? Speak out, make a stand, oppose misogyny. Remember that having a set of balls or lacking it by birth does not have an impact on how successful, bright, beautiful or wonderful someone might be, also remember that when proponents of such practises see you take notice of the practise but do not speak out, they may see it as tacit endorsement.

I will not shut up, and I don’t think you should either.

– Exploreable.

Intolerant atheists never happy.

Hello 😀

So this morning I was searching the news and found a fun little article on the Telegraph website, entitled bodly:

‘THE INTOLERANT ATHEISTS WILL NEVER BE HAPPY’

After a quick read I have determined that a more appropriate title would be:

‘THE IRRATIONAL CHRISTIANS NEVER PRESENT A FAIR ANALYSIS OF A SITUATION, AND INSTEAD JUMP TO ACCUSATIONS OF RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION’

Or there should at least be a little disclaimer in there. But of course, the writer of this ridiculous anti-atheist tirade is entitled to express her opinion, and in response, I’m going to express why she’s wrong.

So she opens her article by explaining that:

‘Celebrating a holiday in Britain is like trying to celebrate it in an unhappy family. The best-laid plans for reviving much-loved traditions quickly blow up in an almighty row. There’s no embarrassing uncle in his cups or stroppy in-laws; just schools that drop Nativity plays, shopping centres that phase out carols, and offices that shun Christmas trees. When Christians meekly complain that their Christmas is being ruined, the powers-that-be shout them down: “It’s in the name of diversity, stupid!”’

..whilst not actually pointing to any examples of where this has happened. I personally know of no atheists that would like to see Christmas disappear, and whilst for many it has lost its religious significance, indeed it is a tradition that many of us have grown up with, that is very close to our hearts; not least because it gives us all time off work, is an excuse to get PRESENTS, and is one of the rare times of year that families can all get together and let their hair down. Having said all that, if someone wants to protest Christmas or other religious holidays, then they are entitled to do so, and I honestly don’t care if it upsets people. After all, it seems that what this woman is saying is that atheists should shut up and submit to what Christians say for no good reason. Surely there’s a double standard going on here? Sorry Cristina, but your rights end where others’ begin. I’m all for religious freedom, as this is what allows me to express my atheism. I for one would hate to live in a country where people risk hefty fines for ‘crimes’ of blasphemy, and face being cast out by their families or even being murdered for simply not accepting the existence of a deity.

But to the main point of the article:

‘Now there’s a new rumpus, and just in time for Easter. The Wakefield and District Housing Association in West Yorkshire has ordered one of its electricians to remove a palm cross from the dashboard of his company van. *Colin Atkinson, a grandfather and former soldier, faces the sack for refusing to follow orders.’
*not too sure why that part is relevant to her article…

The first thing to point out is that on the large scale of things, this really has absolutely nothing to do with Easter; she is just using this case as an excuse to atheist-bash, when there is actually no evidence to support her claim that the company boss (pictured right) is an atheist at all. Secondly, company policy prohibits employees from displaying personal items in the company’s vehicles. Thirdly, the company is completely within its rights and within the law to demand that he removes the cross, and if he doesn’t he should absolutely face disciplinary action. This is called consistency.

The law states that:
Discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief is prohibited by the Equality Act 2010. Under the Act, it is unlawful for an employer to:

(a) directly discriminate against an employee by treating him or her less favourably than it would treat others because of religion or belief; and

(b) indirectly discriminate against an employee by applying a policy/provision, criterion or practice that disadvantages employees of a particular religion (unless the employer can objectively justify that policy).

The company is quite clearly doing neither of these things, and I suspect that if another employee were to display a symbol representing another religion, they would be asked to remove it as well. The reason for this is quite simple. The cross may be interpreted as representing company values, and the company would rather not be associated with any particular religion because it causes controversies like this one! Furthermore, the company is a housing association, and I’m pretty sure they’re targeting their services at everyone, not just Christians, and they risk alienating people of other faiths if their employees are allowed to display crosses in their vans.

The writer goes on to state that:

‘Clearly, in the eyes of this publicly funded body, Mr Atkinson’s palm cross is on a par with a swastika, or a racist slogan. The symbol of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice strikes Mr Atkinson’s bosses as offensive: any show of Christian allegiance could drive a divisive wedge into this multicultural society.’

Which is literally the most stupid thing I’ve read today, for the reasons previously stated. Ms. Odone is clearly in dire need of a lesson in Logic one-oh-one. They’re not ‘offended’, it’s just against company policy. Simple as that. Making reference to ‘Christ’s ultimate sacrifice’ just shows what pathetic propaganda her article is. We all know what Christians believe, and sadly for them (I can’t believe I’m saying this again) it is completely irrelevant to 1) the law, and 2) the company’s policy.

Now we reach the slippery slope conclusion of the article:

‘At stake is not just a happy holiday. Once banning Christian symbols becomes accepted practice, the rejection of Christian beliefs is next. Already, social services have stopped a Christian couple from fostering children lest they infect their charges with an anti-gay attitude. Soon, the authorities will forbid conscientious objection: Christian doctors, for instance, will be forced to carry out elective abortions, which they regard as a sin.Where will it end? I fear intolerant atheists will not be satisfied until they’ve driven faith underground: Christians, Jews and Muslims will be forced to resort to Masonic handshakes and hush-hush gatherings. Meet you in the catacombs.’

Seriously? This stuff is laughable. For a start, no one is banning religious symbols, and nope, Christian beliefs haven’t been rejected across the board either. Although she has yet to make the case as to why they shouldn’t be rejected. They are extraneous to modern society, even stunting it; causing people to (as she points out) have archaic anti-gay attitudes, misogynistic attitudes, and anti-progress attitudes (to name but a few); warping people’s minds to the extent that, like this woman, they think it’s OK to have homophobic people fostering vulnerable kids. I’ve written an article on this particular case before, which unfortunately was lost with my last blog, but as I pointed out then, what would happen if one of their foster-children turned out to be gay? I suspect they’d be tossed straight back into the orphanage and the so-called caring foster parents wouldn’t look back.

Cristina Odone is apparently ‘a journalist, novelist and broadcaster specialising in the relationship between society, families and faith.’ It seems that once again, religion has produced someone who is incapable of producing a logical argument, or seeing the perfectly good reasons behind a decision if it comes into conflict with her faith. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

Now surely if her writing is getting published, mine should?! What do you guys think?!

Juliet 🙂

The Golden Ratio: an argument for Intelligent Design?

Hello everyone 🙂

I have just been added as an author and going to kick off with a post which was inspired by a facebook message I received today from someone who asked me to watch the following 2 videos:

As requested I stuck with the videos and decided to write a response as it’s something that needs addressing and I’ve wanted to address for a while…so it’s a generalised response and not all aimed at the person who originally sent me the message.

Firstly, seeing as I spent 8 and a half minutes of my life watching the first video, and a further 7 minutes watching the second…and a further 20 minutes researching this stuff for myself and a further 30 minutes writing this…others can now do the same, and spend roughly an hour on my point of view, which is as follows, and on further research – ie. don’t take my word for it 😛

First thing to note is that in life I like to look at things skeptically. This doesn’t make me a cynic – it just means I want to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible.

If presented with stuff like the above (this is mostly in reference to the first video by the way), I will independently research to see if there’s any truth in the claims. This guy is quite clearly pushing an agenda – firstly, he’s using buzzwords like ‘sacred‘ and ‘divine‘ all the way through, and then in the last minute or so he makes the colossal jump to say ‘this is amazing, therefore god’, and secondly…he’s trying to sell his art which isn’t all that nice lool.

I should also note that this is a classic argument from ignorance. He can’t explain it and so leaps to God as an explanation, rather than exploring further through rigorous scientific study. It is also clear that he has started with a presupposition (God), which is obvious, as he was using the buzzwords I picked out above throughout, and is only exhibiting evidence to support his presupposition.

He fails to note that actually, many claims of sightings of the so called ‘Golden Ratio’ in nature have been discredited, because much variation in proportions has been observed in these cases (see wiki:  ‘Disputed observations’ section).

To posit a god here when one isn’t needed is intellectually dishonest; these patterns apply to some individuals, not all, and therefore any assertion that ‘the golden ratio is Universal and indicates design’ is automatically falsified by even one example that doesn’t meet that criterion.

It’s also worth noting here that the human brain is excellent at recognising patterns, even when there aren’t any there (ie. something may at first appear to be a pattern but on further investigation is not) (hence why people see Jesus in a slice of toast.)

My next problem with this is that labelling this phenomenon the work of God hasn’t actually increased our actual understanding of why it occurs; in fact it immediately limits any possible further understanding or investigation, because so many people are happy to accept God as an ‘explanation’. This frustrates me no end, as it is complete and utter ignorance – for the reason I just noted, and also because there are people who spend their lives researching this stuff, and people like this guy jump in and make the blind assertion that ‘God did it’, without any credentials behind them. (I don’t know about the video guy’s credentials, but I’m saying this as something I’ve generally noticed about people who cry ‘God’. However seeing as he has done just that I’m willing to bet he’s just as ignorant on the topic as everyone else who says God did it..)

Furthermore, if you think about it, it’s not all that impressive that you can put a square inside a rectangle and come out with a rectangle with the same ratio as the original rectangle.

To use Douglas Adams’ analogy:

‘Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, “This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!” This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.’

Basically, this ‘golden ratio’ is given way more significance than it deserves and has been made out to be way more complex than it actually is.

This ratio does not point to design. By definition the posited designer must be even more complex than everything in existence, so nothing has been explained and a bigger problem has been created. We also know from the observable Universe that things naturally start simple and get more complex. So to put forward a god that is more complex than the Universe itself simply doesn’t make sense.

Intelligent design is not helpful in understanding how the Universe came to be. What people should really strive for is the proper practice of science, as through the pursuit of science and reason we can discover the true beauty of the Universe and how everything actually came about.

The Universe operates under certain physical laws; laws that allow this pattern to reoccur in nature. If there was a God, surely he should sign his work with something slightly more obvious than a spiral pattern?

With regards to evolution, many animals share a body plan. This is because evolution can only work with what it already has, and if something works and is advantageous in an environment it will be propagated. In fact, here’s a link to some research which seems to show that when the golden ratio appears in living things, it does so because it is extremely efficient and something selection would favour.

Last bit (had a little help from Ankur on this part):

1. The assertion is that everything that shows the golden ratio is designed.

2. It follows from 1. that if the golden ratio is a universal indicator of design, then all objects that are designed must show the golden ratio

3. It follows from 2. that anything that does not show the golden ratio is not designed.

4. It is possible to show examples in nature that don’t show this ratio.

5. Therefore it follows that all those examples aren’t designed, and because they are extremely similar to other examples of a similar type which do show the golden ratio, it follows that extremely similar objects would be designed and not designed, this is absurd.

6. It is also true that I can draw things that don’t show the golden ratio, and these drawings would be designed, thus showing the initial assertion (2.) to be flawed and invalid.

To conclude, presence of the golden ratio is not a viable indicator of design.

 

So yeah, I was told to look a little deeper and as it turns out, the argument was exposed to be severely flawed. A little critical thinking goes a long way 😉

Here is a flower:

Hope you enjoyed my first post 🙂

Juliet