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Comments by aball

Go to: We Are Viral From the Beginning

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by aball

This is seriously cool research. I don't have much knowledge of biology and genetics, but this is quite enthralling. I recently read a seriously dodgy sifi novel "Darwin's Radio" where ancient viral DNA in the human genome suddenly triggers our next big stage of evolution. Not so far fetched?

Thu, 21 Jun 2012 11:16:56 UTC | #947940

Go to: Unsung Heroes, Obscure Scientists

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by aball

James Clerk Maxwell for his fundamental equations of electromagnetism (genuinely beautiful work). And Jocelyn Bell Burnell for the discovery of pulsars.

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 13:09:35 UTC | #947197

Go to: Update - Sanal Edamaruku under attack for exposing Catholic "miracle"

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by aball

This story isn't getting much attention in the press - much less attention than those strident, intolerant atheists like RD

Fri, 13 Apr 2012 08:03:54 UTC | #934348

Go to: Britain being overtaken by 'militant secularists', says Baroness Warsi

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 60 by aball

I depise Warsi very much. Everytime she speaks, she manages to utter some inanity. And she is obsessed with religion. She ownly owns her current position of influence because of the tory imperative to look modern, non-sexist, multicultural (whatever that means) and multiracial. She is their token muslim, token Asian and token woman.

And here she is being utterly pathetic! Militiant, totalitarian secularists? What planet does she come from?

Rant over.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 09:57:14 UTC | #917585

Go to: Letter from a Medical Doctor

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 57 by aball

Comment 56 by Quetzalcoatlus :

Of course it is not an offense! Engineering is not religion :) Personally for me , it is just scary to think of a medical doctor that does not understand evolution, and even worst that denies it.

It is for me as an structural engineer that denies the plates tectonic theory. Would you trust her(him) to build your house?

This may interest you:

Strange isn't it? A number of these students may well become doctors.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 10:31:44 UTC | #913378

Go to: Letter from a Medical Doctor

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 55 by aball

Comment 54 by Quetzalcoatlus : I am engineer, and if you want to be a excelent engineer you need to understand firmly sciences. Here a few examples: a) For semiconductor development you need an understanding of Quantum Physics (or at least the influence they may have in the semiconductor).

b) The engineers working on space industry need to understand relativity. Do you know that the GPS system won't work if you are not aware of relativity? c) Another example if you read the book "Darwin's dangerous idea" from Dan Dennett, you will see how a good understanding of evolution theory will give you the upper hand in engineering development.

Yes. I admit I should have been a bit more careful about my reference to engineering. It really depends on the type of engineering you are involved in. And yes, I was aware of the general relativistic corrections used by the GPS system. Sorry if you took this as an offense, it wan't intended.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 10:18:06 UTC | #913372

Go to: Letter from a Medical Doctor

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by aball

Comment 52 by Quetzalcoatlus :

I do not expect my doctor to be an expert on evolution, but I expect that (s)he has a fluent understanding of the principles of evolution and the influence of evolution on medical sciences. I would never consult a doctor that denies evolution. How then he would handle the super bugs that have evolved resistance to any known antibiotic? If (s)he denies evolution (s)he will also deny that the super bugs can evolve, and then (s)he won't look at the new therapies that are also based on evolution.

Doctors are a bit like engineers, they don't need to understand firm scientific principles. They only need to be able to diagnose and prescribe. That's why so many of them get away with being a MD and holding whacky religious beliefs at the same time.

As for your comment about superbugs, isn't that microevolution? The anti-evolution nutters accept that don't they?

As somebody pointed out above, in developing countries like Indonesia, doctors simply won't be as well trained and knowledgeable as they are in the West. I think Richard should humour the guy and give him a proper answer to his questions. He may well be genuine.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 09:34:37 UTC | #913361

Go to: Letter from a Medical Doctor

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 51 by aball

I agree with comment 30 by Starcrash

A doctor is not a scientist and not required to know all the ins and outs of evolutionary theory. Although such ignorance would still be surprising in the West, in highly religious islamic Indonesia it is quite conceivable that he went through many years of education and medical training without any exposure whatsoever to evolution.

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 09:01:31 UTC | #913355

Go to: "Judge For Yourself!"

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 52 by aball


Actually I thought it might have been Ron Weasley's owl. It clearly has similar flying skills.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 09:38:21 UTC | #912993

Go to: "Judge For Yourself!"

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 50 by aball

This is a much nicer story:

No supernatural crap here.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 09:10:00 UTC | #912984

Go to: Living with a theist?

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by aball

Yup. I'm an atheist, my wife is a catholic although not the really hardcore churchgoing type. We tend to accept our differences although we do have bad clashes over whether are children should be inducted into "the faith" or not. So far I have managed to risist this but it is getting difficult now that the in-laws are interfering with requests that they be christened.

So it can be difficult!

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 08:33:19 UTC | #912980

Go to: Student Faces Town’s Wrath in Protest Against a Prayer

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 69 by aball


I certainly hope you are right. She does seem very bright indeed. She's got herself in a real shitstorm though.

Mon, 30 Jan 2012 14:00:47 UTC | #912676

Go to: Student Faces Town’s Wrath in Protest Against a Prayer

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 67 by aball

I can't help but think that the ACLU was a bit irresponsible asking a 16 year old to become plaintiff. We all know what happens to people who dare take on the god fearing religious nut jobs. Presumably she will be needing recommendations from the like of her teachers to get into college later.

Mon, 30 Jan 2012 11:57:51 UTC | #912652

Go to: National Curriculum science content

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by aball

Comment 4 by green and dying :

This might interest you - it's an article written by a physics teacher about the syllabus changes in 2007.

Thanks for the link. It made very sober reading, depressing actually. I have a PhD in physics and, although I have chosen an alternative career, I still love the subject. I remember being blown away by the first lectures on quantum mechanics when I was at University. It is really sad that our school children are missing out on this.

Unless things have changed since 2007, it looks like the social engineers have completely corrupted the science curriculum in our state schools. No wonder we lack scientists and engineers.

Fri, 27 Jan 2012 10:25:09 UTC | #911963

Go to: Worrying developments for freedom of expression in the UK

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 39 by aball

Makes me think of France, and it's commitment to secularism, even in the face of widespread condemnation by the 'freedom of religious expression' crowd. Bravo France.

I can remember Jacques Chirac, the then French President, explaining how the Danish cartoons depicting the prophet were disrespectful and reminding the French press of its duty to respect people's religious beliefs. In fact the government's whole behaviour during this episode was cowardly and shameful.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 11:14:31 UTC | #909476

Go to: Worrying developments for freedom of expression in the UK

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 30 by aball

The mistake Paula Kirby is making is to believe that UK society is free and that free speach rules. This has never been the case. Unfortunately we don't have a written constitution like the US to guarantee such rights, maybe we should do.

Over the last few year, thanks to the closet-Catholic Tony Blair, a fuzzy concept called "religious hatred" has been incorporated into our public order laws (replacing the ancient and never enforced blasphemy law). Quite why religion needed a specific offence is anybody's guess - the UK already had draconian laws covering incitement to violence, racial hatred and the like. In any case, the laws covering this new offence are being routinley enforced to oppress free speach and police peoples thoughts and opinions both by the police/CPS and by public or private bodies. All this is done in the name of tolerance and respect for others. It's frankly despicable.

Recent examples I can think of are: 1) A 15 year old boy arrested because he refused to take down his placard at an anti-scientology demonstration cecause if offensively refered to scientology as a sect (this was dropped but even so the police should never have interfered in the first place). 2) A christian couple owning a B&B were reported to the police by a muslim guest because she felt offended by their comments of the Islam and the prophet in particular. This case went all the way to court. They were not convicted - right decision but for the wrong reason (judge thought the muslim woman failed to prove she was genuinely offended). 3) A man was given an ASBO banning him from being seen in public with literature that could be deemed religiously offensive after he was caught putting up atheist posters in a prayer room at an airport. I have to admit this is quite a dumb thing to do, but should he really have had to go to court and end up with a criminal record for this? 4) A group of 6 men (no doubt extreme rightwing idiots) were arrested for burning a Koran and posting it on YouTube. Strangely, the offense they have been charged with is incitement of racial hatred. This seems to show how in the UK criticism of religion gets confused with racism in the eyes of the law.

There are many other examples. There is a general reflex at the moment to punish even the mildest of religious criticisms with legal harassment. What is stupid is that the new law and order bill is so fuzzily worded that it allows the police and CPS to do this. It has to stop.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 08:10:00 UTC | #909439

Go to: Why is NCSE Now Concerned with Climate Change?

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by aball


Sorry for the confusion. I meant the anti-AGW camp (i.e. AGW deniers).

Tue, 17 Jan 2012 14:08:42 UTC | #909153

Go to: Why is NCSE Now Concerned with Climate Change?

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by aball

There is an article in the Independent today about global warming and the battle of one scientist (Michael Mann) against the powerful fossil fuel lobby in the USA that has done everything possible to discredit him both personally and professionally.

What is particularly depressing is the online comments section that has been overtaken by trolls from the AGW camp. It is rediculously well orchestrated when you consider that The Independent is a minor UK newspaper. It's frankly depressing.

In such a bad climate (sorry for the pun), I think that climate science and global warming should recieve special focus in education.

Tue, 17 Jan 2012 13:23:35 UTC | #909144

Go to: Growing use of Sharia by UK Muslims

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 58 by aball

What I find interesting about this story is that, wherever it has been reported in the UK press, comments have been disabled. Apparently we're not supposed to debate Islam.

Tue, 17 Jan 2012 10:30:22 UTC | #909100

Go to: Shocking news on state-funded religious schools

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 49 by aball

Comment 48 by Border Collie :

Don't you guys in the UK have the some of the most watered down "Christianity" in the civilized world? Move to Texas for a couple of years if you want to know about in-your-face Christianity.

You do have a point. However the crazy evangelical kind of christianity is on the rise here, as is Islam. Presumably once the government gets into the habit of gifting schools to the CofE, it's only a small step to handing them over to the crazier crazies.

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 13:41:45 UTC | #905859

Go to: Shocking news on state-funded religious schools

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 47 by aball

Soon it will be very difficult for people in certain regions to find a non-religious school for their children. The arrogance of this is breathtaking! The government is handing over our state education to religious groups without any form of public consultation whatsoever. I am stunned!

Note that Nick Clegg is an atheist. But I guess that like all politicians, getting votes is more important than standing up for what he believes in.

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 12:41:01 UTC | #905840

Go to: German marine reptile find rewrites fossil record

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by aball

I would have been more impressed if it dated to a period after the big impact.

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 12:10:14 UTC | #905830

Go to: David Cameron says the UK is a Christian country

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 79 by aball

It's very pleasing to see that Richard's excellent letter had such a deep impact on our beloved Prime Minister. What a d..k h..d!!

Mon, 19 Dec 2011 13:19:21 UTC | #900940

Go to: "Give me the boy to the age of seven and I will give you the man"

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by aball

"Don't you think it's time for complete separation of state and religion, at least in Government schools?"

Of course it is. Unfortunately you'll never get the faith heads to accept that. They see themselves as "persecuted". And they have lots of political clout both in Australia and here in the UK and that's the real problem. How do we get our political leaders out of this "religion is important in our society" mindset which is so out of touch with our modern increasingly non-religious populations?

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 10:51:26 UTC | #877734

Go to: Why do people torture each other?

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by aball

I am not sure that people are prone to torture or display cruelty of their own free will (bar the exceptional cases of course). During times of war or under oppressive regimes, brutal and cruel behaviour is made acceptable or even encouraged by the social system in which the individual operates. It would seem that peer pressure plays a large role in this kind of behaviour. We are social animals and aim to please our leaders or seek recognition from our peers.

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 09:41:01 UTC | #877720

Go to: Compulsory GCSE Religious Education

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by aball

Do you know what is taught in this RE class? Is it simply general comparative religion or is it standard CofE christian dogma?

If it's comparative religion, I wouldn't be too bothered by it, although I agree it is irritating that children have to waste time learning this stuff. I certainly feel that making it compulsory at GCSE level is over the top and I would like to know the schools reason for this. Have you asked them why they feel the need to make it a compulsory subject?

Tue, 04 Oct 2011 09:33:54 UTC | #877719

Go to: Faster than light story highlights the difference between science and religion

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by aball

Comment 10 by Polesch :

These measurements are in direct contradiction with other neutrino-measurements, by 600,000%. Let's pray for science, that this isn't true!

On the contrary, let's hope it is true. It'll be another fascinating challenge for physicists. This is what science is all about!

Thu, 29 Sep 2011 11:36:01 UTC | #876279

Go to: [UPDATE 9/14] - VIDEO ADDED - Richard Dawkins on Newsnight, BBC2, Tues 13 Sept 2011

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 119 by aball

Another remarkable performance by that "strident, millitant" atheist RD.

I think I'll purchase the book for my two young children. My son in particular is howing lots of interest in the universe around him.

Thu, 15 Sep 2011 10:24:54 UTC | #871079

Go to: Pope accused of crimes against humanity by victims of sex abuse

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 55 by aball

It is interesting that on the Guardian website where this article is published, the comments section has been disabled. Why am I not surprised?

It's a pity too, I'd love to see all those Catholic faith heads defending their pope and how they justify that defence.

Wed, 14 Sep 2011 13:32:19 UTC | #870776

Go to: Thank God

aball's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by aball

Judging by the location of the crash (Bolivia) and the name of the survivor, he probably comes from one of those deeply catholic latin american nations. Catholicism 101 and belief in Christ our saviour are drilled into the skulls of these people from a very young age. So there is nothing surprising about this story. I don't believe the guy is a fool, he's just been brainwashed.

Mon, 12 Sep 2011 09:15:02 UTC | #869622