From Wikipedia: "Ol' Lonely, or "the lonely repairman", is a character in Maytag advertisements, created for Maytag by copywriter Vincent R. Vassolo of the Leo Burnett advertising agency. His character was initially played by Jesse White, who retained the role until 1988."
8 January 2011
He favoured intelligent design and talked about it, and one superior didn’t like that.David Coppedge is an information technology specialist and system administrator on JPL’s international Cassini mission to Saturn, the most ambitious interplanetary exploration ever launched. A division of California Institute of Technology, JPL operates under a contract with the federal space agency. Coppedge held the title of “Team Lead” System Administrator on the mission until his supervisors demoted and humiliated him for advancing ideas that superiors labeled “unwelcome” and “disruptive.”
There was no workplace policy that forbid discussing private opinions at work, and claims that Coppedge harassed fellow employees proved unsubstantiated.
Here’s columnist David Klinghoffer on the case:
What did Coppedge do to get himself in trouble? He occasionally chatted with interested colleagues about the scientific case for intelligent design, he passed around a couple of pro-ID DVDs, which made good sense since JPL’s officially defined mission includes the exploration of questions relating to the origin and development of life on earth and elsewhere. His supervisor severely chastised him for this, humiliated and demoted him.
Now he’s been fired. JPL claims it was a cost-cutting measure. … The truth will emerge when Coppedge’s lawsuit comes to trial, but the appearance here certainly suggests a final strike at Mr. Coppedge for his offense of introducing fresh ideas to co-workers.In the light of this case and the recent, similar Martin Gaskell case, one hardly knows what to make of doubt that Ben Stein was right. There is an Expelled factor. Today, you can doubt anything except Darwin, and you must contrive not to know about or speak of the growing mass of evidence that contradicts the stuff government forces students to learn in tax-funded schools.
But there is no freedom for adults either, it turns out. Darwinism today has nothing to do with the science and everything to do with protecting the cultural status of an icon that has given government everything from compulsory sterilization to scientific racism to … the right of tax-funded institutions like JPL to run inquisitions powered by devotion to that icon.
Sadly, Klinghoffer writes,
It’s bad enough when private universities clamp down on the free exchange of ideas. But public institutions have often seemed to be the worst offenders of all in this respect, and that is something taxpayers have every right to protest.Klinghoffer suggests that Americans phone: 202-358-1010 or e-mail Charles Bolden, firstname.lastname@example.org Yet will they?
I’ve covered ID stories for about a decade now, and on the way, I learned something interesting: What is keeping Darwinism alive right now is not evidence; the evidence is leaning sharply against Darwin’s “information for free” mechanism.
What keeps Darwinism alive is the awful passivity of the taxpayers who doubt it, yet continue to fund its long, persecutory march through the institutions.
Christians are the worst, incidentally.
They see naked Darwinism in all its hideous glory, watch fellow Christians harassed and fired (often by people who make no pretense to be anything other than anti-Christian, using “science” as a vehicle).
And then? They turn on the Glory Hallelujah! Show, featuring “our spirit-breathed hostess Fluffelle”? Or at best they go to a big meeting with Harry Hi-Power about it and thus dissipate any useful energy they could have otherwise exercised.
It’s escapism. True motivation comes from within! Every citizen who is aware and cares already has the power to change things, without listening to a single burble from Fluffelle or Harry Hi-Power. Harassing Darwin doubters at work should cost bureaucrats their jobs and lawmakers their seats because it offends basic principles of justice.
Spend no money. Just read responsible sources on a case like this and then pick up the phone. If you are an American, I think it is already your right, at least so far.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.On the other hand, the people who wrote those lines did not think that “our brain are shaped for evolutionary fitness, not for truth.” Make no mistake; as Darwin’s boys win by default, it becomes a different world.
Note: Forty-five years ago when I was young, Christians really did organize to fight segregation. And it was a highly effective, law-abiding movement – as long as traditional Christians were the bulk of the activist leaders. I should know because I was a local organizer at a high school in Toronto (a multicultural city even then) where institutional racism was as popular as a crushed glass Sundae. But later, Christians retreated to various entertainments, worried that some people would say bad things about them if they exercised their rights as good citizens, and society took some very different turns all round. This is one.
If you are even reading this, you like to think for yourself. Either speak up now or don’t expect any help when your turn comes.
Not that the Weather Channel is any better at what they do...
Anyway, now and again the Astrobiologists get to "find" alien life forms on a meteorite and it just happened to be about time for another such "find..."
Alien Life in Meteorites Claimed 03/06/2011
March 06, 2011 — After scrutinizing rare meteorites for over a decade, a NASA astrobiologist decided to go with his announcement: he may have found alien life. Fox News began his story, “We are not alone in the universe – and alien life forms may have a lot more in common with life on Earth than we had previously thought. That’s the stunning conclusion one NASA scientist has come to, releasing his groundbreaking revelations in a new study in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology.”
There are only about nine CI-1 carbonaceous chondrites known. In the ones Dr. Richard B. Hoover has cracked open and studied, he has found “fossilized remains of micro-organisms not so different from ordinary ones found underfoot – here on earth, that is.” That’s one of the strange things about this story. If these are organisms that originated independently of earth, why would some of them be recognizable as “generic species here on earth”? Another problem is that the samples contain no nitrogen, an essential ingredient in life as we know it. All amino acids and DNA contain nitrogen.
Hoover tried to be extremely careful with his samples, and expected a hotbed of controversy. He has invited scrutiny of his work by 100 experts, and wants thousands of scientists around the world to weigh in on its validity. Some, like David Marais, another NASA astrobiologist, are taking a wait-and-see attitude: “These kinds of claims have been made before, he noted – and found to be false.” Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute doesn’t rule out the possibility but recognizes the controversial claim will have far-reaching implications. He speculated that this might support panspermia of some sort: “It would suggest, well, life didn’t really begin on the Earth, it began as the solar system was forming.” That raises other questions of how and where environments in the early solar system could have been more conducive to life than planet earth.
Rob Sheldon, a colleague of Hoover’s and an advocate of intelligent design, mentioned Hoover last December in his blog response on The Procrustean responding to the arsenic-life claim (12/02/2010). He indicated that Hoover probably would have expected alien life to be very different biochemically from earth life.
On a different but related story, New Scientist and the BBC News speculated that “Meteorites ‘could have carried nitrogen to Earth’” in the form of ammonia carried on chondrites, chips of asteroids. Aside from questions left begging about whether these “missing ingredients for life” had anything to do with the origin of life, that story appears contradictory to Hoover’s, who found no nitrogen in his samples. “If someone can explain,” Hoover said, “how it is possible to have a biological remain that has no nitrogen, or nitrogen below the detect ability limits that I have, in a time period as short as 150 years, then I would be very interested in hearing that.”
Is this another claim in the tradition of the Martian meteorite ALH 84001? Is NASA trying to get more funding (01/07/2005) for astrobiology? Possibly. They’ve probably learned how to be more careful by now and give the appearance of honest skeptical inquiry. In the early stages of controversial announcements, the Marais wait-and-see response is wise. The best advice is to look carefully at the raw data, check assumptions, and ask the right questions. The first question is to verify if this really is fossilized living material. The second is to rule out contamination. The third is to avoid jumping to conclusions and to consider all the possibilities.
With the Martian meteorite, the similarities to cells were superficial and never widely accepted as anything more than coincidental shapes. Years after the huge flurry of media hype, after scientists found other ways the shapes could have been generated chemically, the hubbub died down. Now only a few scientists believe it (12/14/2000, 11/20/2001, 03/18/2002, 05/15/2002, 01/30/2004, 03/23/2006, 09/01/2009).
Maybe this time things will be different. Hoover seems more cautious than McKay. What if the majority confirms that this was living material? Does it mean life evolved in outer space? No; it could have been created somewhere else, or it may be earth life that got here by a round trip. Creation scientist Walt Brown has a theory that asteroids and comets were ejected from earth at the time of the Flood, when hyper-pressurized water shot into space from the fountains of the great deep, carrying rocky material from the continental margins with it. It’s a speculative idea, but it’s one possibility to have life get out to space and back. As for the Fox News lead-in that “We are not alone in the universe,” good grief; this is about the solar system, not the universe (see extrapolation).
Materialists will undoubtedly hype evolution, but the details revealed so far should be as puzzling to them as to their critics. No nitrogen, but similar to earth life? Astrobiologists have long tried to argue that life found elsewhere is bound to be very different from ours, but from the photos, these structures look remarkably similar to known bacteria. Nothing in creation science or intelligent design requires life only to be found on earth anyway (see initial thoughts by ID advocate Denyse O'Leary on Uncommon Descent). And why are these structures found only in a very rare class of meteorites, instead of all of them?
Further speculation is unwise till the claim goes through the scrutiny of skeptical scientists. This commentary should only caution readers that healthy skepticism of spectacular claims is always in order, and to beware of being led down the primrose path by the media to answers without first asking the questions.
Already Fox News’s exclusive story is echoing around the world on other news sources and blogs. Undoubtedly there will be more to say later about this claim. Have your Baloney Detector tuned and ready.Watts Up With That asks when "Science by press release" will be again replaced by real science?
Next headline on: Solar System • Origin of Life
opinions by Ryan Maue
While we breathlessly await the publication of “critical reviews” from the soon to be defunct Journal of Cosmology, experts from a variety of fields are crawling over each other to denounce the claims of Dr. Hoover, who claimed to found definitive proof of alien life from extraterrestrial meteorites (Meteorite Alien Life). It would be an interesting exercise to compare the immediate broad-spectrum skepticism of this study to, let’s say, the Nature flood papers or the contrived Union of Concerned Scientists snowjob conference call. But, one could describe the reception of pro-global warming literature, whether peer-reviewed or not, as quite partisan in nature. So what has triggered this inherent skepticism of Dr. Hoover’s research, which is grandiose and ground-breaking, or something?
As mentioned in the Gawker blog post by Adrien Chen yesterday, Fox News apparently had the “exclusive” first crack at breaking Hoover’s research paper. You can set your watch by this — whenever Fox News is mentioned in the first few sentences of an article or blog posting, expect biased and vitriolic language to follow — even in this new era of civility. Dr. PZ Myers, a University of Minnesota biologist, accurately and more than adequately disassembles the claims of Dr. Hoover with humor and wit. I’ll snip and encourage you to read his own blog.
Fox News broke the story, which ought to make one immediately suspicious — it’s not an organization noted for scientific acumen. But even worse, the paper claiming the discovery of bacteria fossils in carbonaceous chondrites was published in … the Journal of Cosmology. I’ve mentioned Cosmology before — it isn’t a real science journal at all, but is the ginned-up website of a small group of crank academics obsessed with the idea of Hoyle and Wickramasinghe that life originated in outer space and simply rained down on Earth. It doesn’t exist in print, consists entirely of a crude and ugly website that looks like it was sucked through a wormhole from the 1990s, and publishes lots of empty noise with no substantial editorial restraint. For a while, it seemed to be entirely the domain of a crackpot named Rhawn Joseph who called himself the emeritus professor of something mysteriously called the Brain Research Laboratory, based in the general neighborhood of Northern California (seriously, that was the address: “Northern California”), and self-published all of his pseudo-scientific “publications” on this web site.In this instance, the gratuitous reference to Fox News in the first sentence immediately soils the otherwise readable post. Obviously, Dr. Myers does not have the ability to separate the hard news and opinion shows on Fox News, since there is little evidence of how this NASA discovery exclusive is evidence of any bias. It simply detracts from a very good article, and turns off readers who do not watch MSNBC or wrap their dead fish with the NY Times editorial pages.
He brings up near the end a very cogent argument on how science matriculates, and ideas are vetted:
While they’re at it, maybe they should try publishing it in a journal with some reputation for rigorous peer review and expectation that the data will meet certain minimal standards of evidence and professionalism.I agree completely. And, whenever the Union of Concerned Scientists or World Wildlife Fund marches to the podium with some obvious politically tinged research, I’ll expect the same level of skepticism from both sides of the proverbial aisle. The hair trigger response to a “Fox News exclusive” has brought out the armchair experts, who have unloaded a salvo of rhetorical firepower at the listing Journal of Cosmology. Unfortunately, in their zeal to score a partisan political point, most neglected to see the rest of the media reported the same exclusive story. This is called “science by press release”, and it has to stop.