Thursday, 23 November 2017

Malaria - Good News for Creationists as Trump Helps God!

World-wide incidence of malaria
(Note: the USA is mamaria-free)
The US President's Malaria Initiative, Plasmodium falciparum transmission and mortality: A modelling study

At last something for creationists of the ID persuasion to celebrate!

Remember, creationists believe that their intelligent (sic) designer is the god they claim is the maximally good giver of morals who always acts to maximise the good in a world which runs perfectly according to his omni-benevolent, omnipotent and omniscient plan.

If you doubt that this is what creationists believe, then let's run through the logic again. Tell me where I go wrong:
  • The intelligent designer (God) created everything
  • God is omniscient and omnipotent and everything it creates works perfectly and exactly as intended.
  • God loves his creation and creates a maximally good world. God defines 'good' and whatever God does in morally good.
  • Preventing or hindering God's plan is morally wrong.
  • God created the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.
  • God knew Plasmodium falciparum would make people sick and die and created it for that purpose.
  • Making people die from malaria was part of God's plan to maximise the good in the world.
  • Killing people with malaria is morally good.
  • Preventing people from getting malaria is morally wrong.
It follows therefore that they think the perfectly designed malarial parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, harms and kills people, including many children, for some ultimate greater good or that killing people is a moral good in itself.

It also follows that this intelligent (sic) designer's modifications to this parasite to help it overcome the anti-malarial drugs human science has produce was deliberate and intended to thwart human efforts to thwart its own plan.

Now we see how the President of the USA that these same fundamentalist Christians helped elect and whom they unswervingly support is helping to achieve their god's aim to keep on killing people with malaria but cutting the funding to the eradication program known as the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) started by his predecessor. The budget is to be cut by 44%.

Perhaps they should be campaigning to have all funding cut, and not just to this area of public health, so that their god can get on with making people sick and die.

No! This is not a joke! According to a piece of research published a few days ago in PLOS Medicine, reductions in funding to PMI could lead to large increases in the number of malaria cases and deaths, damaging global goals of malaria control and elimination. A reduction in funding of 44% would lead to an additional 67 million cases and 290,649 deaths over the next 4 years.

Author summary

Why was this study done?
  • The United States contributes a significant proportion of the global budget for malaria control in the form of foreign aid through the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI).
  • Due to proposed cuts to US foreign aid and PMI funding, it is important to demonstrate the impact and cost-effectiveness of PMI.

What did the researchers do and find?
  • We used an established malaria transmission model to investigate the impact of PMI funding for malaria control.
  • We estimated the past impact of PMI funding on malaria-related cases and deaths and the potential future impact if PMI funding were to be cut.
  • PMI funding is highly cost-effective, averting an estimated 185 million cases and saving 940,049 lives since it was set up in 2005.
  • A reduction in funding of 44% would lead to an additional 67 million cases and 290,649 deaths over the next 4 years.

What do these findings mean?
  • Ongoing support from PMI is critical to maintain recent advances in malaria control and progress towards malaria elimination goals.
  • PMI has proven to be a highly cost-effective means by which US foreign aid can be invested to reduce malaria burden.


The projected impact of PMI funding on past and future global malaria trends.

The (A) past trends (median estimates) in the global incidence of P. falciparum malaria given funding as occurred (black line) and estimate of the counterfactual trend had PMI support not existed (light blue line). The shaded area represents the cases averted due to PMI funding and (B) shows the associated estimates of death averted each year due to PMI funding. Projected estimates of the additional cumulative numbers of (C) cases (and 95% CrI) and (D) deaths (and 95% CrI) that would occur if PMI funding was reduced by 100% (dark green bars) or 44% (light green bars) over the 4-year period 2017–2020. PMI, President’s Malaria Initiative

Background

When it was launched in 2005, the goal of the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) was to reduce malaria-related mortality by 50 percent across 15 high-burden countries in sub-Saharan Africa through a rapid scale-up of four proven and highly effective malaria prevention and treatment measures: insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs); indoor residual spraying (IRS); accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs); and intermittent preventive treatment of pregnant women (IPTp). See PMI Technical Guidance [PDF, 2.4MB] to learn more.

Source: PMI About
So this has to be good news for the American fundamentalist Christian creationists who put Donald Trump in power to do God's work, doesn't it? He's now helping to hinder our attempts to prevent their putative intelligent (sic) designer increasing the amount of 'good' (as they define it) in the world by killing an additional almost 300,000 people over four years with the malaria parasite he created and intelligently (sic) designed specially for the purpose.

But just look at all those additional deaths that it could cause if only funding to the PMI were to be cut entirely! How much more fundamentalist Christian 'good' would that bring to the world?

Look! Don't blame me! I don't have these repugnant beliefs or hideous idea of what constitutes a moral good. I'm a Humanist and believe we should try to reduce suffering and cure sickness, not create ways to make it happen or prevent efforts to alleviate it. I'll leave that to people who think creating an evil like malaria was the act of a maximally good god - just so long as it does it to someone else.

'via Blog this'

The Brutal Despot and the Catholic Priest


Robert Mugabe.
"God has saved his life" - Fr. Mukonori
Photo credit: AP
Zimbabwe: Who is the Catholic priest behind Robert Mugabe? | Christianity today

As we say goodbye to the tyrannical psychopath who has run Zimbabwe for the last 30 years and the Zimbabwean people celebrate, let's look at the role of the Catholic Church and in particular the Catholic priest who was his confidante and most loyal supporter - Fr. Fidelis Mukonori.

Fr. Mukonori is a Jesuit priest and has been a friend of Robert Mugabe since before he came to power. During the independence struggle as ZANU-PF led by Mugabe and ZAPU led by Joshua Nkomo waged a guerilla war against the illegal white supremacist government under Ian Smith, Fr. Mukonori travelled around Zimbabwe - then called Rhodesia - under the cover of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Rhodesia, gathering information about the progress of the liberation struggle and passing it on to Mugabe.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Another Victory for Humanism Over Faith-Based Barbarity


Ratko Mladić, mass murdering war criminal
Ratko Mladic jailed for life over Bosnia war genocide - BBC News

Ratko Mladić, devout Orthodox Christian, the Butcher of Bosnia, has been found guilty by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague of crime against humanity for his part in the Bosnian Genocide in the early 1990's.

He has been on trial since 2012 since when he has been held at the Scheveningen prison in The Hague where he spends his days playing chess against his compatriot, coreligionist and fellow genocidist, Radovan Karadžić, former president of Serbia, who was convicted of genocide in 2016. The third member of the murderous regime that took over Serbia following the break up of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milošević, escaped conviction by dying during his trial.

Mladić, aged 74, has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

The crimes were committed in the series of wars which followed the break-up of former Yugoslavia when Orthodox Christian Serbia tried to exert control over neighbouring Bosnia and Croatia to create a 'Greater Serbia', maintaining the traditional Serbian domination of Yugoslavian politics.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Christians and Jews Unite to Defend Paedophilia

Rabbi Noson Shmuel Leiter, director of Help Rescue Our Children
Speaking in Birminham, ALabama in support of Roy Moore
New York rabbi lends support to Roy Moore at Birmingham rally | Southern Jewish Life Magazine.

Following close on American Christian fundamentalists discovering that their religion permits lying, sexually assaulting women, adultery, cheating, fraud and bullying when they discovered that Donald Trump represented all the values they stand for, they now seem to have realised what good and moral things paedophilia, sexual assault on and non-consensual sex with a minor are, with the Roy Moore affair.

Now we learn it's not just extremist Christians who have these conveniently flexible morals and an imaginary friend who approves of every abuse of power and antisocial, divisive and abusive policy you can think of when it suits your selfish ambitions. Some extremist Jews have the same flexibility it seems.

Evangelical Christian preachers seem to be vying for the best Bible-based apologia for Moor's alleged sexual abuse of young women including a fourteen year-old girl some years ago. It not only does not debar him from holding elected public office, but is makes him eminently suitable as a good Christian - apparently. They have just discovered that the Bible is full of child molestation and non-consensual sex (or 'rape' as we now call it) all done with the tacit approval of God or even on his orders. Why, even Jesus's own mother was a minor!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Evolving Creationists!

Old Order Amish, evolving - naturally
Why these Amish live longer and healthier: an internal ‘fountain of youth’ - Northwestern Now

Shocking news for creationists yesterday!

Fundamentalist Christian creationists have been caught evolving and breaking one of the sacred creationist dogmas - that all mutations are harmful and degenerative. This was discovered in a group of appropriately-named Old Order Amish from Indiana, USA.

Due to a mutation, they are living 10% longer compared to those members of the same Amish group without the mutation.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Two 'World Views'

Kingston University study reveals how food poisoning bacteria Campylobacter uses other organisms as Trojan horse to infect new hosts - News - Kingston University London

I heartily dislike the term world view. It's nothing more than an attempt to pretend that an opinion which isn't supported by the evidence is the equal of one that is. And that's a very convenient way to justify demanding the right to be taken seriously on any subject without bothering to learn anything about it.

A 'world view' that either eschews scientific evidence or actively rejects it is not an opinion based on an interpretation of the data; it's an opinion that ignores it.

But let's play this 'different world view' game that creationists play where they pretend they have looked at all the evidence and simply arrived at a different conclusion based on their 'world view' not the scientific 'world view' - which, so they would claim, is no more valid than their own!

A Victory for Human Decency in Australia

Australians celebrate victory over religious bigotry
Australians back gay marriage in non-binding vote - BBC News:

Great news from Australia!

In a non-binding 'advisory' postal vote, Australians have voted 61.6% in favour of legalising same-sex marriages on a 79.5% turnout. Unlike normal Australian voting where voting is compulsory, this referendum was voluntary, which makes this turnout even more remarkable.

On a regional basis, only 17 of the 150 electorates voted against the proposal "Should the marriage law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?" Australia's chief statistician, David Kalisch said, "This [turnout] is outstanding for a voluntary survey and well above other voluntary surveys conducted around the world. It shows how important this issue is to many Australians".

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Be Upstanding For Jesus

Paseka 'Mboro' Motsoeneng of the Incredible Happenings Ministry.
Photo credit: Sandile Ndlovu
Pastor demands footage of him reviving parishioner's erection be shown on TV | Metro News

A South African pastor is proclaiming a miraculous cure for impotence and demanding it be shown on Soweto television.

Pastor Paseka ‘Prophet Mboro’ Motsoeneng, of the Incredible Happenings Ministry in Katlehong, South Africa, will already be familiar to readers of this blog for his amazing powers (and amazing wealth). Only last July, on God's instructions, he went into Hell and killed Satan according to his announcement on his Facebook page (that was mysteriously taken down soon after it appeared - which had nothing to do with a very large number of complaints, obviously).

We can be sure this is true because Prophet Mboro is a Christian and it is forbidden for Christians to bear false witness, i.e., lie!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Religion Is Not Natural


The Camino de Santiago de Compostela
source: Wikipedia (CC-BY-SA 3.0)
Why do we believe in gods? Religious belief not linked to intuition or rational thinking, new research suggests

Are people born with the propensity to be religious, as some studies seem to have shown?

It is even claimed in some religious apologetic circles that somehow being religious is the natural state, either an evolved genetic predisposition, or, in fundamentalist creationist apologetics, that God intelligently designed us to be religious (obviously it couldn't have evolved, that would be heretical!).

Strangely, this god intelligently designed us to be religious but couldn't make us all have the 'one true religion'.

Of course, the bottom line is that somehow, atheism is unnatural, even perverse and definitely not something God intended.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

'Missing Link' in Abiogenesis Found!

Scientists find potential 'missing link' in chemistry that led to life on Earth

You know, sometimes I get carried away and fantasise about creationist frauds like Ham, Comfort and Hovind hearing the tune Aproaching Menace by Neil Richardson as they read yet another scientific paper showing how science is closing in on one of their sacred dogmas - that only God can create life.

But then I come back to reality and remember that they don't do science and evidence, so none of this makes any difference to them. They'll still claim it's impossible, knowing they can rely on their willing dupes not to check just in case.

Only three days ago I reported here on the work of a team from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA who are homing in on one of the pre-biotic precursors of one of the fundamental cell processes. Just a day later we had this paper published in Nature Chemistry showing how another fundamental process could similarly have arisen pre-biotically. The process is that of phosphorylation, i.e, adding a phosphate group to three key components of cells.

Human Kindness - In Bonobos!

Close primate cousins with whom we share 99 percent of our DNA, bonobos will help strangers even when there is no immediate payback, and without having to be asked first.
Photo credit: Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary.
Bonobos Help Strangers Without Being Asked | Duke Today

Bonobos and humans share some 99% of their genes so it's hardly surprising that we share some behavioural traits too.

As this news item from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA explains:

A passer-by drops something and you spring to pick it up. Or maybe you hold the door for someone behind you. Such acts of kindness to strangers were long thought to be unique to humans, but recent research on bonobos suggests our species is not as exceptional in this regard as we like to think.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Oh Creation! Now An Intermediate Short-Necked Giraffe!


Reconstruction of Decennatherium rex sp. nov.
A, skeletal reconstruction; B, life reconstruction of an adult female; C, life reconstruction of the head of an adult female.
Illustration by Oscar Sanisidro.
A new giraffid (Mammalia, Ruminantia, Pecora) from the late Miocene of Spain, and the evolution of the sivathere-samothere lineage

Another gap filled; another 'intermediate form' found!

So, do creationists give up with their disinformation, misrepresentation and downright lies? What do you think?

Of course not! It's just one more thing to misrepresent and lie about. A literal interpretation of the Bible says it shouldn't exist, so it doesn't exist! End of! FACT!

Anyway, back to the real world.

According to this report in the New York Times:

A near-perfect fossil unearthed close to Madrid appears to be an ancient European ancestor of giraffes, representing a new species in the family and one that had two sets of bony bumps on its head rather than the single set of modern giraffes.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Ancient Wisdom And Genetic Diversity

Neanderthal family group
Photo credit: Nikola Solic/Reuters/Newscom
Ancient genomes show social and reproductive behavior of early Upper Paleolithic foragers | Science

Two papers published a few days ago in the same edition of Science show that hunter-gatherer people, both modern human and Neanderthal, had evolved cultures which minimised the genetic risks inherent in inbreeding in the small bands of which these groups consisted.

Small groups consisting only of related extended families would have a very high probability of consanguinity and inherited recessive genes unless they had strategies for regularly introducing genetic material from other more distantly related groups.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Gene Duplication Gave Us Spiders

Common house spider, Parasteatoda tepidariorum
The house spider genome reveals an ancient whole-genome duplication during arachnid evolution | BMC Biology | Full Text

For creationists still trying to get away with the absurd claim that mutations are always harmful and that no new information can arise in the genome because of the second law of thermodynamics, this is another of those bad news stories.

No! I'm not joking! They really do claim that! Creationists think nothing of claiming an observable thing can't happen, knowing that their willing dupes won't go and check. They'll no doubt continue to claim it even after this paper showing how the scorpions and arachnids have evidence of whole genome duplication in a common ancestor about 400 million years ago.

The Chemical Origin of Life


Accretion of SSU rRNA as illustrated by helices 7–10/es3 from species of increasing complexity. A four-way junction at the surface of the common core, formed by helices 7–10, has expanded by accretion. Accretion adds to the previous rRNA core, leaving insertion fingerprints. (A and B) Secondary (A) and 3D (B) structures are preserved upon the addition of new rRNA. (C) Superimposition of the 3D structures highlights how new rRNA accretes with preservation of ancestral rRNA. (D) A characteristic insertion fingerprint is shown in red and blue boxes. In all panels, the rRNA that approximates the common core is blue. An expansion observed in both archaea and eukaryotes is green. An expansion that is observed only in eukaryotes is gold. An additional expansion in higher eukaryotes (mammals) is red.*
History of the ribosome and the origin of translation

A team of scientist from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA believe they are close to solving one of the mysteries of how living systems first arose from chemical precursors. They believe they have identified a small section of the ribosome which is so fundamental that it is common to all living organisms, from the simplest single-celled organisms to the most complex multicellular plants and animals

In short, this looks to be the starting point for life and a structure that was present in LUCA and maybe before it.

Rather than the bottom up approach where scientists have attempted, with limited success so far, to reconstruct the fundamental units from which living systems could have arisen, the team took a top down approach by reverse engineering the cell organelle common to all living cells and therefore almost certainly present from the first moments, maybe even before something that could be called 'living' existed, the ribosome.

Ribosomes are composed of a tangle of RNA and proteins and are fundamental to living cells in that they only perform one task - they translate the code in DNA and construct proteins from amino acids. They differ from one species to another only in the 'ornamentation' present on their surface, and this gave the clue to the method of reverse engineering the team used.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Nasty Design; Nasty Designer?

Mosquito feeding
Credit: Mircea Costina / Alamy Stock Photo
Malaria parasite makes mosquitoes more likely to suck your blood | New Scientist

Continuing with the theme of exposing creationism's putative designer as a malevolent thug, full of evil intent and far from the benevolent, maximally good father figure god they purport to believe in, here is an an example from the mosquito-malaria 'design', published a few days ago in Biorxiv.

Abstract
Whether the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum can manipulate mosquito host choice in ways that enhance parasite transmission toward human is

Friday, 3 November 2017

Cultural Woolly Mammoths

A mammoth tusk on Wrangel Island.
Credit: Patrícia Pečnerová
Male mammoths more often fell into 'natural traps' and died, DNA evidence suggests -- ScienceDaily:

Elephants are well known for the cultural organisation in which a matriarchal group, led by a older female who acts as a repository for group knowledge such as where the water may be found during a drought, etc. This group consists of females with their young but males, when they reach a certain age, generally fend for themselves in smaller groups or as solitary individuals often associated with but not members of a matriarchal group.

This, of course, deprives males of the protection of the group and of the knowledge and wisdom of the matriarch.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

A New Species of Orangutan and More...

Orangutans in Sumatra's Batang Toru forest are now officially a new species:
Pongo tapanuliensis.

Credit: Maxime Aliaga/SOCP-Batang Toru Programme
Newly discovered orangutan species is also the most endangered : Nature News & Comment

Not only is there great news about a new species of orangutan but the article in Nature announcing it quite casually shows how different strands of science all confirm current scientific understanding of evolution.

Firstly, the newly discovered orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis).

Well, it's not exactly newly discovered so much as newly identified as a new species. It was first reported by western scientists about 50 years ago when they heard rumours of a population of orangutans living in a the Batang Toru forest in a remote part of the island of western Sumatra. However, it was not until anthropologist Erik Meijaard, that discovered the paper in the mid-1990s that scientists actually went looking for the population. They found the remains of a female, evidence of nests and a male killed by local people in 2013. From these, it was possible, using genetic evidence, to show not only that this was a new species, but how it relates to the other orangutans.

Animals Refute Creationism By Rational Thought

Cameron Buckner, assistant professor of philosophy at UH, says empirical evidence suggests a variety of animal species are able to make rational decisions, despite the lack of a human-like language.
Do Animals Think Rationally? - University of Houston

Do animals other than humans think rationally?

Cameron Buckner, assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Houston, think some at least do and believes he has evidence to support that view. His article is published a few days ago Philosophy and Phenomenological Research sets out his reasoning.

Regrettably, it sits behind an expensive paywall but a News release by Jeannie Kever of Huston University explains his findings:

"These data suggest that not only do some animals have a subjective take on the suitability of the option they are evaluating for their goal, they possess a subjective, internal signal regarding their confidence in this take that can be deployed to select amongst different options," he [Cameron Buckner] wrote.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Chimps More Like Us Than We Thought

Co-operating chimpanzees
Credit: Christopher F Martin
Chimpanzees shown spontaneously ‘taking turns’ to solve number puzzle | University of Oxford

A new study by researchers from Oxford and Kyoto universities and Cincinnati Zoo has revealed a new level of co-operative behaviour not seen before in other than humans. The chimps were shown to be spontaneously taking turns co-cooperatively to complete a task, a form of behaviour believe to be basic to effective communication where timing cues are taken from one another.

As Dr Dora Biro, co-author of the study from Oxford’s Department of Zoology, said:

Coordinating behaviour is an essential component of many social situations and can enable groups of individuals jointly to solve problems. In communication, coordination often takes the form of turn-taking, where one individual takes cues from the other to decide on the timing of their own input. This can allow for the efficient exchange of information.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Web Analytics