Archive for March 16th, 2007|Daily archive page

Heads Up: Mark CC=Woo Killing?

Mark Chu-Carroll has an excellent post up over at Good Math/Bad Math.

He manages to roll a precise and coherent definition of tautology together with an anti-creationist smackdown, an explanation of why all scientific theories can be described to be tautologies and a personal explanation of why all this means so much to him.

Perhaps the best part is how well he points out the fallacy of using tautologies to attack evolution.

The theory of gravity? If you let go of something, it will fall – therefore, if you let go of something, it will fall.

Relativity? Light bends when it passed through a gravitational field – therefore, if I shine a light through a gravitational field, it will bend.

Evolution? The things that survive to reproduce are the things that survive to reproduce.

All true statements and the last, a classic creationist canard.

The question is about trying to describe why and how things survive and not simply claiming they have survived. The theory of gravity isn’t as much about saying that something will fall but rather in predicting how it will fall.

But creationist attack scribblers like Casey Luskin or ‘Dr’ Michael Egnor don’t ever seem to understand this. I present medicine á la Dr. Egnor. If you give a patient a remedy, they will get better, therefore, if you give the patient the appropriate medication they will get better. (Saves research costs – just give the patient what they need to get better.)

Why are you still here? You should be there reading his stuff.


Heads Up: Daniel Jackson Bashing?

Oh, Oh. Bill Poser is going to need to put on something warm.

His recent post at the Language Log about the linguistic origins of Stargate the movie is really going to irritate obsequious Daniel Jackson fangirls.

Soon after the team arrives on the planet, they climb up over a sand dune and are met by a bunch of the inhabitants, who prostrate themselves and cry out [natʃuru]. I understood this immediately, as would, I think, anyone who has ever learned Egyptian. One of the first and most common words that one learns is nt̠r [ntʃr] “god”. (Egyptian writing did not represent most of the vowels.) The masculine plural is formed by adding [u]. That the people were crying out “gods!” seemed pretty obvious to me. Yet Daniel Jackson doesn’t understand this at first. It seems very odd that the makers of the film would set up such an obviously Egyptian context, characterise a character as a genius at linguistics and decipherment, use a word that is just what we would expect in a relative of Egyptian, and then have that character fail to understand it.

She will probably overlook the gaffe though. After all. In the movie it was the überwimp James Spader and not the far more hunky Michael Shanks from SG1.