Category Archives: News

Information Enigma: 21-minute video explains intelligent design

Can random mutation and natural selection create new functional information?
Can random mutation and natural selection create new functional information?

The video is here:

I have read and listened and watched a lot of material on intelligent design, but I have never seen so much value packed into such a short lecture. I really hope you’ll watch this and that it’s helpful to you.

Summary:

  • the big question when discussing the origin of life: where did the information in living systems come from?
  • Until 530 million years ago, the oceans were largely devoid of life
  • In a 10 million year period, many new forms of animal life emerged
  • New biological forms of life require new information
  • the discovery of DNA shows that living systems work because cells have information that allows them to build the components of molecular machines: cell types, proteins, etc.
  • can random mutation and natural selection create new functional information?
  • normally, random mutations tend to degrade the functionality of information, e.g. – randomly changing symbols in an applications code does not usually introduce useful new functions, it usually renders what is there non-functional
  • the majority of possible sequences will NOT have functions, so random mutations will more likely give you non-functional code, rather than functional code
  • example: a bicycle lock  with 4 numbers has many possible sequences for the 4 numbers, and only one of them has unlock functionality, the rest have no functionality
  • if you have lots of time, then you might be able to guess the combination, but if the lock as has 10 billion numbers, and only one combination that unlocks, you can spend your whole life trying to unlock it and won’t succeed
  • how likely is it to arrive at a functional protein or gene by chance? Is it more like the 4-dial lock (can be done with lots of time) or the 10 billion dial lock (amount of time required exceeds the time available)?
  • the probability is LOW because there is only one sequence of numbers that has unlock function
  • consider a short protein of 150 amino acids has 10 to the 195th power possible sequences
  • if many of these sequences of amino acides had biological function, then it might be easier to get to one by random mutation and selection than it is with a lock that only unlocks for ONE sequence
  • how many of the possible sequences have biological function?
  • Thanks to research done by Douglas Axe, we now know that the number of functional amino acid sequences for even a short protein is incredibly small…
  • Axe found that the odds of getting a functional sequence of amino acids that will fold and have biological function is 1 in 10 to the 77th power
  • Is that number too improbable to reach by chance? well, there are 10 to 65th atoms in the entire Milky Way galaxy… so yes, this is a very improbable outcome
  • can random genetic mutations search through all the sequences in order to find the one in 10 to the 77th power one that has biological function? It depends on how much guessers we have and how many guesses we get in the time available
  • even with the entire 3.5 billion year history of life on Earth, only about 10 to the 40th organisms have ever lived, which far smaller fraction of the 10 to the 77th total sequences
  • even with a very fast mutation rate, you would not be able to reach a functional protein even with all that time, and even with all those organisms

I was once having a discussion with a woman about the research that Axe did at the Cambridge University lab. He published four articles in the Journal of Molecular Biology. I held out one of the papers to her and showed her the numbers. She said over and over “I hate the Discovery Institute! I hate the Discovery Institute!” Well, yeah, but you can’t make the Journal of Molecular Biology go away with hating the Discovery Institute. JMB is peer-reviewed, and this was experimental evidence – not a theory, not a hypothesis.

We have been blessed by the Creator and Designer of the universe in this time and place with overwhelming evidence – an abundance of riches. For those who have an open mind, this is what you’ve been waiting for to make your decision. For the naturalists who struggle so mightily to block out the progress of experimental science, they’ll need to shout louder and shut their eyes tighter and push harder to block their ears. Maybe if they keep screaming “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” over and over to themselves, they will be able to ignore the real science a little longer.

What percentage of Muslims approve of radical Islam and terrorism?

Muslim populations in Europe
Muslim populations in Europe

Normally, when people ask me about this question, I go straight to the 2013 Pew Research survey which I blogged about before. But now I have something even better.

Here’s a post from Ben Shapiro at Breitbart News which looks at several polls from several different countries.

Shapiro writes: (links to polls removed)

So, here is the evidence that the enemy we face is not a “tiny minority” of Muslims, let alone a rootless philosophy unconnected to Islam entirely. It’s not just the thousands of westerners now attempting to join ISIS. It’s millions of Muslims who support their general goals, even if they don’t support the group itself.

France. A new, widely-covered poll shows that a full 16% of French people have positive attitudes toward ISIS. That includes 27% of French between the ages of 18-24. Anne-Elizabeth Moutet of Newsweek wrote, “This is the ideology of young French Muslims from immigrant backgrounds…these are the same people who torch synagogues.”

Britain. In 2006, a poll for the Sunday Telegraph found that 40% of British Muslims wanted shariah law in the United Kingdom, and that 20% backed the 7/7 bombers.Another poll from that year showed that 45% of British Muslims said that 9/11 was an American/Israeli conspiracy; that poll showed that one-quarter of British Muslims believed that the 7/7 bombings were justified.

Palestinian Areas. A poll in 2011 showed that 32% of Palestinians supported the brutal murder of five Israeli family members, including a three-month-old baby. In 2009, a poll showed that 78% of Palestinians had positive or mixed feelings about Osama Bin Laden. A 2013 poll showed 40% of Palestinians supporting suicide bombings and attacks against civilians. 89% favored sharia law. Currently, 89% of Palestinians support terror attacks on Israel.

Pakistan. After the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the Gilani Foundation did a poll of Pakistanis and found that 51% of them grieved for the terrorist mastermind, with 44% of them stating that he was a martyr. In 2009, 26% of Pakistanis approved of attacks on US troops in Iraq. That number was 29% for troops in Afghanistan. Overall, 76% of Pakistanis wanted strict shariah law in every Islamic country.

Morocco. A 2009 poll showed that 68% of Moroccans approved of terrorist attacks on US troops in Iraq; 61% backed attacks on American troops in Afghanistan as of 2006. 76% said they wanted strict sharia law in every Islamic country.

Jordan. 72% of Jordanians backed terror attacks against US troops in Iraq as of 2009. In 2010, the terrorist group Hezbollah had a 55% approval rating; Hamas had a 60% approval rating.

Indonesia: In 2009, a poll demonstrated that 26% of Indonesians approved of attacks on US troops in Iraq; 22% backed attacks on American troops in Afghanistan. 65% said they agreed with Al Qaeda on pushing US troops out of the Middle East. 49% said they supported strict sharia law in every Islamic country. 70% of Indonesians blamed 9/11 on the United States, Israel, someone else, or didn’t know. Just 30% said Al Qaeda was responsible.

Egypt. As of 2009, 87% of Egyptians said they agreed with the goals of Al Qaeda in forcing the US to withdraw forces from the Middle East. 65% said they wanted strict sharia law in every Islamic country. As of that same date, 69% of Egyptians said they had either positive or mixed feelings about Osama Bin Laden. In 2010, 95% of Egyptians said it was good that Islam is playing a major role in politics.

United States. A 2013 poll from Pew showed that 13% of American Muslims said that violence against civilians is often, sometimes or rarely justified to defend Islam. A 2011 poll from Pew showed that 21 percent of Muslims are concerned about extremism among Muslim Americans. 19 percent of American Muslims as of 2011 said they were either favorable toward Al Qaeda or didn’t know.

In short, tens of millions of Muslims all over the world sympathize with the goals or tactics of terrorist groups – or both. That support is stronger outside the West, but it is present even in the West. Islamist extremism is not a passing or fading phenomenon – it is shockingly consistent over time. And the West’s attempts to brush off the ideology of fanaticism has been an overwhelming failure.

A more recent poll says that 13% of Syrian refugees support Islamic State:

A first-of-its-kind survey of the hordes of Syrian refugees entering Europe found 13% support the Islamic State. The poll should raise alarms about the risks posed by the resettlement of 10,000 refugees in the U.S.

The poll of 900 Syrian refugees by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies also found that another 10% of the displaced Syrians have a lukewarm, but not entirely negative, view of the terror group. That means 23% — or almost 1 in 4 — could be susceptible to ISIS recruitment.

It also means as many 2,500 of the 10,000 Syrian refugees that the Obama administration is resettling inside American cities are potential terrorist threats.

Now contrast those facts with the views of Barack Obama and his allies in the mainstream media.

That video is from The Weekly Standard, here’s the text:

President Obama told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that 99.9 percent of Muslims reject radical Islam. He made the comments in response to a question about the White House avoiding using the phrase “Islamic terrorists.”

“You know, I think that the way to understand this is there is an element growing out of Muslim communities in certain parts of the world that have perverted the religion, have embraced a nihilistic, violent, almost medieval interpretation of Islam, and they’re doing damage in a lot of countries around the world,” said Obama.

“But it is absolutely true that I reject a notion that somehow that creates a religious war because the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject that interpretation of Islam. They don’t even recognize it as being Islam, and I think that for us to be successful in fighting this scourge, it’s very important for us to align ourselves with the 99.9 percent of Muslims who are looking for the same thing we’re looking for–order, peace, prosperity.”

So Obama denies all of these surveys, and instead invents a view of the world that is consistent with his feelings. A true man of the secular left.

This gap between belief and reality explains why he is now bringing 200,000 Syrian Muslim refugees into America, keeping Syrian Christian refugees out of America, and generally underestimating Islamic State (ISIS / ISIL) because he cannot believe that radical Islam is anything for us to be concerned about.

Is the government capable of vetting Syrian refugees to find threats?

Not so much:

The administration argues that it’s conducting interviews with Syrians at camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. But without security forces on the ground in Syria who can verify details, there is no way to back-check a refugee’s story to see if he is telling the truth and is, in fact, not a security threat.

Even when we had people on the ground in Iraq to screen refugees, terrorists got through the safety net.

In 2011, for instance, two Kentucky immigrants who had been resettled as Iraqi refugees were busted for trying to buy stinger missiles for al-Qaida.

It turned out that their fingerprints matched those linked to roadside bombs in Iraq. It was a major red flag that should have barred their entry, but U.S. screeners failed to take note. And the terrorists slipped into the U.S.

The administration’s vetting process for the massive influx of Syrian refugees is completely unreliable, admits the FBI official in charge of such security background checks.

“It’s not even close to being under control,” warned assistant FBI director Michael Steinbach.

We should not be believing the man who promised us that we could keep our doctor, keep our health plans, and that our health insurance premiums would go down $2,500. He is either lying, or he likes to speak on matters where he is not competent to know the truth of the matter.

UPDATE: ECM sends me this video from Ben Shapiro:

Awesome!

New study: vocational training graduates more likely to be employed

College students puking in toilet
College students puking in toilet

The Stream reports on a new study of interest to young people who want to maximize the revenue from their future job, while minimizing the cost of their higher education.

Excerpt:

Conventional wisdom says that students need a four-year degree to make it in today’s economy. But do the numbers back that up?

According to a new study released by the Department of Education, students who pursue an occupational credential (an education that is career-centered) are more likely to be employed than those who get an academic credential.

[…]The study uses data from the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS), which tracked students who had enrolled in college for the first time.

Researchers surveyed students starting in 2003 and tracked their progress through 2009. By the end of that six-year period, the study found that a greater proportion of students who earned an occupational credential were employed.

Additionally, 74 percent of those employed students with an occupational credential were in jobs related to their field of study, compared to just 53 percent of employed students who earned an academic credential.

These data illustrate the need for change in the way policymakers think about higher education. With college tuition at an all-time high and with over 3.6 million students defaulting on their student loans, students need alternative options for upward mobility now more than ever.

The author Mary Clare Reim notes:

This suggests that recent efforts to encourage more individuals to pursue college (President Barack Obama said that all Americans should have at least some postsecondary education) may be misguided. The data also suggest that the administration’s antagonism toward more career-focused educational tracks — often provided by for-profit trade schools and community colleges — is misplaced.

On this career guide web site, I found the top 10 trades and technical careers ranked by median annual salary.

  1. Elevator Installers and Repairers $70,910
  2. Electrical and Electronics Repairers $65,230
  3. Boilermakers $54,640
  4. Construction and Building Inspectors $52,360
  5. Electricians $48,250
  6. Pile-Driver Operators $47,860
  7. Brickmasons and Blockmasons $46,930
  8. Plumbers $46,660
  9. Structural Iron and Steel Workers $44,540
  10. Sheet Metal Workers $41,710

Of course those are the median salaries, if you are clever and hard working, you can make much more.

Consider this story from the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Justin Friend ’s parents have doctoral degrees and have worked as university lecturers and researchers. So Mr. Friend might have been expected to head for a university after graduating from high school in Bryan, Texas, five years ago.

Instead, he attended Texas State Technical College in Waco, and received a two-year degree in welding. In 2013, his first full year as a welder, his income was about $130,000, more than triple the average annual wages for welders in the U.S. In 2014, Mr. Friend’s income rose to about $140,000.

[…]Mr. Friend, who is single, typically works 72 hours a week, usually including at least one day of the weekend, often on an overnight shift. His base pay is more than $25 an hour, up from about $22 when he started in 2012. He gets overtime after 40 hours a week. Pay is doubled on Sundays and tripled on holidays. He receives health insurance, a 401k retirement plan and paid vacation.

With little free time, expenses are low. He rents a one-bedroom apartment for $1,080 a month in a building with a pool and gym. To stay in shape for mountain-climbing trips, he sometimes runs up and down steps wearing a weighted backpack.

[…]The long hours mean “it’s hard to have a life,” Mr. Friend said. Eventually, he said he may pursue an advanced degree in metallurgy and research welding materials and techniques. For now, he’s building up his savings.

He’s debt-free, and probably didn’t even need student loans for this program. You couldn’t say that about most college students these days – and the ones in non-STEM fields will never be able to pay their loans back. What causes people to go into programs that don’t produce a return on investment? I think I know why. I think that many Americans have the idea that life should be about personal fulfillment, and not about doing things that don’t feel right to them. Hard work doesn’t “feel” right to many young Americans. They want work to make them famous, and to make them happy. Well, work isn’t supposed to be like that. Work is about making money, and very often the most difficult degrees and jobs are the least fame-making, and the least happiness-inducing.

Indoctrinate U

So why do people go to university and college to study non-STEM, non-trade, disciplines that produce lower employment and lower salaries?

I think that the Democrat Party has an interest in running up the national debt to $20 trillion in order to make college indoctrination cheaper, but as the debt grows, it gets harder and harder to provide public sector adult day care jobs to all the students who have no marketable skills. Government makes it easy for lazy students to spend 4 years drinking and having promiscuous sex at taxpayer expense. The combination of an immoral lifestyle with indoctrination and high student loans is usually enough to make a Democrat for life – or at least until the little brainwashed drones start to pay taxes (if ever).

Here is a quote from progressive president Woodrow Wilson about the purpose of higher education:

The purpose of a university should be to make a son as unlike his father as possible. By the time a man has grown old enough to have a son in college he has specialized. The university should generalize the treatment of its undergraduates, should struggle to put them in touch with every force of life.

That’s the real purpose of non-STEM degrees – to make a Democrat voter, and not to make a worker who can earn money and be independent of government programs. If all you have learned to do in college is roll your eyes like a jaded reptile and complain about “sexism” and “racism”, then you’re only qualified to sit in a safe space, not to provide a customer with anything of value. Welfare programs and government jobs (but I repeat myself) work while there is money to borrow, but when the debt hits a certain level, reality rises back to the surface.

Communist Cuba’s violent suppression of dissenters under Fidel Castro

Communism in action: Cuban government arrests dissenter after a beating
Communism in action: Cuban government arrests dissenter after a beating

My mother was watching CNN on Saturday, and she called to tell me that Sanjay Gupta was talking about the great healthcare in Cuba. Now, I know that CNN hires a lot of Marxists like Gupta and Zakaria, but many people may not realize how far left they are, and how that bias affects what they say on air. Let’s see what Cuba is really like using some evidence for a change.

The Daily Signal has the numbers on Cuba’s treatment of dissidents from a respected source:

As for the dissidents, the Obama administration has abandoned them. Many have told me they feel betrayed by our president, and by extension, by the United States. Guillermo Fariñas, especially, has a reason to feel betrayed, as Obama promised him personally at a meeting in 2013 that he would take no step toward re-establishing relations with Cuba without prior consultations with the opposition. This did not happen.

And dissidents have suffered the consequences. Political arrests have intensified since December of 2014. Throughout 2015, there were more than 8,616 documented political arrests in Cuba.

And in 2016? There already had been over 8,505 political arrests during the first eight months, and they are expected to top 10,000. This represents the highest rate of political arrests in decades and nearly quadruples the tally of political arrests throughout all of 2010 (2,074), early in Obama’s presidency.

These figures come from the Cuban Committee for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which is recognized by Amnesty International, Freedom House, and other major human rights groups.

Shutting down communication with the outside world to cover up the arrests, the torture, the human rights abuses, the poverty, and the horribly ineffective health care:

And because Cuba’s communist leaders cannot allow Cubans to be in free contact with the outside world, internet connectivity has dropped. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has something called the Measuring the Information Society Report, which is the world’s most reliable source of data and analysis on global access to information and communication.

Last year, the International Telecommunication Union dropped Cuba’s ranking to 129 from 119. This means that Cuba actually has lower internet connectivity than some of the world’s most infamous suppressors of the internet, including Zimbabwe (which is 127), Syria (which is 117), Iran (91), China (82), and Venezuela (72).

What about Cuba’s health care system and economy? Didn’t Castro’s communist reforms make that better?

Investors Business Daily explains:

Before the revolution, Cuba had the 13th-lowest infant mortality rate in the world. It was lower than France, Belgium and West Germany. Today, it ranks about 40th. That still looks respectable, until you consider how it was accomplished: Cuba has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. At the first sign of any trouble when a woman is carrying a baby, it is aborted — regardless of the parents’ wishes.

That’s why their infant mortality rate isn’t even worse.

But surely health care for all is a major accomplishment, right?

No. As has been noted in many other places, Cuba has three separate health care systems. One for paying customers from places like the U.S., who go to Cuba for discount treatments of cosmetic surgery and the like.

There’s another for Cuba’s ruling Communist elite, also a good system. This is the health care system visiting journalists are taken to see, and that they later glowingly report on.

But there’s still another system for the rest — the average Cubans. It is abysmal, and even that might understate how bad it is.

“Cubans are not even allowed to visit those (elite) facilities,” according to the Web site The Real Cuba. “Cubans who require medical attention must go to other hospitals, that lack the most minimum requirements needed to take care of their patients.”

It goes on: “In addition, most of these facilities are filthy and patients have to bring their own towels, bed sheets, pillows, or they would have to lay down on dirty bare mattresses stained with blood and other body fluids.”

As for doctors, well, they make an average of about $25 to $35 a month. Many have to work second jobs to make ends meet, using substandard equipment. Drug shortages are rife. As a result, one of Cuba’s ongoing problems is that doctors leave as soon as they can for other countries, where they can make a decent living.

The country has over 30,000 doctors working overseas officially. Why? Out of kindness? No. The Castro regime earns an estimated $2.5 billion a year in hard currency from doctors working elsewhere, which means Cuba’s poor must go without decent care or access to doctors.

As for “universal literacy,” please. Primary and secondary schools are little more than Marxist indoctrination centers, where students are taught only what the state wants them to know. That’s how they keep people quiet.

Then there’s  Cuba’s higher education, in which “universities are training centers for bureaucrats, totally disconnected from the needs of today’s world. To enter the best careers and the best universities, people must be related to the bureaucratic elites, and also demonstrate a deep ideological conviction,” notes Colombian journalist Vanesa Vallejo, of the PanAm Post, a Latin American news site.

Nor is it “free.” In fact, those who graduate from college must work for a number of years for the government at a substandard wage of $9 a month. They are in effect slave labor. As with most “free” things the socialists offer, the price is very high and nonnegotiable.

In sum, Castro took a healthy country and made it sick. Those who glorify him deserve the scorn they get for propagating such a longstanding lie.

Regarding health care in Cuba, here are a couple of videos that were smuggled out of the actual health care system used by  ordinary Cubas:

And:

So, that’s the truth about Cuba – very different from what the regime itself and its wealthy supporters in Hollywood and the far left mainstream media want you to believe.

I’d really like to read what Mary Anastasia O’Grady has to say about the death of Castro in the Wall Street Journal, and I hope she writes about this story soon.

LeadPages shuts down #anywhereButTarget web site to promote “diversity”

One sexual assault lawsuit should finish off Target for good
One sexual assault lawsuit should finish off Target for good

This story is from the The Stream.

Excerpt:

A conservative corporate watchdog group’s effort to galvanize conservatives against Target’s restroom and changing-room policies was shut down on Thanksgiving Day by the server company hosting its website, because the campaign allegedly violated the company’s effort to “create an inclusive workplace” respectful of “diversity.”

In an e-mail, Leadpages Director of Operations Doug Storbeck ordered 2nd Vote to take down its #AnywhereButTARGET website. According to Storbeck, “at Leadpages, we strive to create an inclusive workplace that upholds the dignity of all people. We value, respect, and celebrate everyone’s individualities and honor their unique strengths from all different walks of life.”

2nd Vote’s campaign encouraged conservatives to shop #AnywhereButTARGET because of the company’s policy that allows males who identify as females to use the restroom and changing room of their choice. Conservatives have boycotted the retail giant, though Target executives said in August that a stock drop and an investment in single-sex restrooms was unrelated to the backlash.

Storbeck continued:

We believe that embracing diversity of thought and perspective encourages collaboration that leads to product innovation, diverse products and a successful business. Staying true to our core values is something we take very seriously and we feel this is reinforced in our Terms of Service. Specifically, and according to our Acceptable Use and Conduct policy (to which you have agreed), we prohibit any content which: “(g) is hateful or discriminatory based on race, color, sex, religion, nationality, ethnic or national origin, marital status, disability, sexual orientation or age or is otherwise objectionable, as reasonably determined by Ave. 81;”

For the reasons stated above, I am respectfully requesting that you to take down your #AnywhereButTarget landing page upon receipt of this notice, but no later than 8:00am CST on Thursday November 24, 2016.

Storbeck’s LinkedIn page says that he lives in the Minneapolis area, which is also where Target’s headquarters are located. The Stream was unable to determine whether this played a role in Leadpages’ decision.

The actual-email is linked in the Stream article, so you can see for yourself how someone can invoke diversity and inclusion to shut down a viewpoint that they disagree with. You need a college education in the liberal arts to call acts of censorship “diversity and inclusion”.

Fox 10 News reports on some of the diversity and inclusion that the Target CEO and Doug Storbeck celebrate:

An O’Fallon, Missouri man was arrested on April 23, 2015 after allegedly secretly filming women in a Target dressing room.

Matthew Foerstel, 26, faces felony charges for invasion of privacy in the second degree and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Foerstel has a plea hearing on Monday, May 2, 2016.

The Brentwood Police Department arrested Foerstel on April 23 after he allegedly held a camera phone under a dressing room door while a female shopper tried on swim suits at the Target store in Brentwood.

An officer went to Ranken Technical College to place Foerstel under arrest and reportedly found him in possession of a loaded handgun.

In 2013, Foerstel was convicted of invasion of privacy in St. Charles County for “knowingly and intentionally” filming an 11-year-old girl while she was partially nude inside a department store dressing room.

In case you are wondering, the CEO of Target, Brian Cornell, still thinks that men dressed as women should be allowed to use women’s bathrooms.

NewsMax explains:

Target CEO Brian Cornell defended the company’s transgender bathroom policy decision to shareholders while also denying that the $10 billion in losses suffered since had anything to do with the controversial decision, Breitbart reported.

The new policy, instituted seven weeks ago, allows transgender men and women to use the bathrooms and changing rooms of the gender they identify with at all Target stores.

That decision has been the impetus behind a boycott of Target by about 1 million Americans.

“We’re a company that believes strongly in diversity and inclusion,” LifeSiteNews quoted Cornell at Wednesday’s shareholder meeting in Costa Mesa, Calif. “We’re a company that is very guest-centered.”

All these people on the corporate left like to throw around words like “diversity”, “tolerance” and “inclusion”. But they don’t know what those words even mean.