What guys are really saying when catcalling women (Video)

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I was talking to my wife last night about catcalling because she had said someone was doing it to her on her lunch break and we wondered if guys really thought that would work.

I joked about never meeting a couple who had the story about meeting when, “I was walking down the street and he yelled to me from his car about my ass and we have been together ever since.”

Catcalling is such a disgusting display of misogyny yet I see it almost everyday when I am walking anywhere in downtown San Diego, I see guys yelling from their car, or across the street or just trying to stop girls who are walking around and I have to wonder what is happening in their head.

Well BuzzFeed posted this video to Facebook today and I just had to share it.

Has Richard Dawkins become a liability to the atheist community?

In a recent piece by Kimberly Winston of the Religion News Service, Winston asked if Dawkins is an asset or liability to the atheist community.

“Regretfully, I think Richard Dawkins has become a liability,” atheist activist and author Greta Christina said in an email to Winston.

The article by Winston was fueled mostly by the reaction to a recent tweet by Dawkins on the subject of rape:

Now, I didn’t agree with this tweet in the sense that I think saying this comes off as far too insensitive to rape victims, but I don’t necessarily think Dawkins is wrong, and I understand the point he is making.

He is not endorsing rape, and some things are worse than others, however something like rape should not be scaled so simply, as the “worse than” idea implies someone raped by a friend should be less traumatized than someone raped by a stranger. The idea of “worse” can only be the in the mind of the victim, no one can tell someone else their rape was “worse.” Let’s never trivialize victims in this way, and I don’t necessarily think this is what Dawkins was meaning to do.

But that’s not really what I want to talk about. I am more interested in the question, is Dawkins a liability to atheism? Is Christina right in saying he is?

No, I don’t think so. Dawkins is a voice in the movement, just as I am, and many of you are, Dawkins may have a bigger platform to stand on and bigger audience listening to him, but that doesn’t make him the leader, spokesperson or as Winston put it, “the godfather of the modern atheist movement.” Nor do I think he thinks of himself that way.

We let the idea that Dawkins can be a liability when we allow outside groups to make him those things above, when we let Christian Rights groups call him our “god”, or let the media portray him as the leader. Even some atheists are guilty of deifying “celebrity” atheists such as Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris and making them these faux leaders in rolls they have never accepted or endorsed.

In reality, if Dawkins says something we don’t like, we can simply say we don’t agree, have a conversation about it and he, or others like him can either apologize, or better explain what they meant, or simply ignore us and move on. We cannot make him or anyone else fall inline with our views.

I have met Dawkins on a few occasions and he does seem larger than life, I mean he is the reason many of us are atheists or are atheist activists, but it doesn’t take more than a quick conversation to be reminded that he is just one of us, doing what he can in a movement he cares deeply about.

Dawkins has also shown he has the ability to learn from his own mistakes and correct them as he just did with his now infamous, “Dear Muslima” post when he criticized fellow atheist Rebecca Watson for her blog pieces about sexual harassment she suffered at an atheist conference.

“There should be no rivalry in victimhood, and I’m sorry I once said something similar to American women complaining of harassment, inviting them to contemplate the suffering of Muslim women by comparison,” Dawkins wrote.

I know for many, including myself this was an apology we had hoped for, for a very long time and were happy to see finally happen. It is also further proof that Dawkins, like the rest of us are human and can make mistakes, and just like the rest of us, we often learn from those mistakes.

Anti-science crowd fails to understand latest Homo floresiensis findings

The popular “Hobbit”, better known to scientists as Homo floresiensis may not be a different species of Homo at all.

According to a new study published this week in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS) H. floresiensis was possibly a human with Down syndrome.

The bones found inside a cave and dated to be about 18,000 years old were one of a kind and deemed at the time as a separate lineage of the genus Homo, yet tests now conducted reveal this could be the earliest known case of Down syndrome known to exist.

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The anti-science crowd is championing this finding as a blow to science and to evolutionists as they so often calls evolutionary scientists. David Klinghoffer of the Discovery Institute, one of the world leading anti-science “research” centers says of the study:

What’s true of professional scientists is also true of science journalists: they are not Olympian deities gifted with extraordinary objectivity, somehow above the failings of lesser men. It falls to the rest of us, then, to critically examine what they say rather than taking it all at face value.

If you hear something repeated often enough, like the Hobbit of Flores story, it’s hard to resist the impression that it must be true. Credulousness, however, is a very human shortcoming, virtually a diagnostic trait.

Klinghoffer fails to see the most important piece of this study though, that it is a huge win for science and the scientific method, that science is self correcting and never simply accepts something because another scientist says so. Klinghoffer himself spoke out against peer-review just a few weeks ago.

If the study is confirmed and the Hobbit is just another Homo sapiens then so be it, it does nothing to hurt the theory of evolution or science. It simply means we found something new, something we didn’t know existed 18,000 years ago and could unlock new answers to the origins of things like Down syndrome.

So while it may be sad to see the end of Homo floresiensis we can greatly rejoice in another victory for the scientific method.

Modern Office: Christina Hendricks highlights workplace inequality (Video)

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This is excellent, Christina Hendricks of Mad Men fame appears in a new skit by Funny or Die to highlight women’s inequality in the workplace.

The statistics cited in the video are eye opening for anyone who is unaware of just how much workplace inequality still exists in the US:

Hendricks: In the U.S., women make 23% less than their male counterparts. Did you know in the make-up 70% of the minimum wage workforce is female? But only 15% of Fortune 500 CEO’s are?

Co-worker: Well, that’s depressing.

Hendricks: So, I figure if we are going to run our businesses like it’s the 1960s, I’m going to act like it.

Simply brilliant.

Rand Paul tries to deny running from DREAMer activist (Video)

Everyone saw the hilarious video of Rand Paul running away a DREAMer immigration activist at a fundraiser this week, earning him the name Run Paul, yet Paul denies this happened. According to PoliticalWire:

“Within moments of Erika Andiola introducing herself as a ‘Dreamer’ immigration activist to Paul and Rep. Steve King at an Iowa fundraiser on Monday, the Kentucky senator and likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate made a hasty exit… With a head nod from aide Sergio Gor, Paul wiped his mouth and departed while still visibly chewing, leaving behind his half-eaten hamburger.”

To which now Paul replied to Business Insider:

“Now you know my life. You know my life on the campaign trail. About five minutes before that — or two minutes before that — the video doesn’t show that — another reporter came up and said, ‘Will you do an interview?’ I said, ‘I need to take a couple more bites and we’ll do an interview.’ And then I was told we need to leave,” Paul said.

The funny thing about video is though, it makes pretty good evidence and Run Paul will have to do a lot more than blame his aide for running from an activist to hide from this embarrassing blunder. You can view video of the event here:

A response to Ken Ham’s erroneous accusations

367px-KenHamIn a recent series of tweets, I called out Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter for the proposed $18 million in tax incentives the project applied for in an effort to help fund breaking ground on the long delayed project.

The Ark Encounter is an amusement styled park owned by Answers in Genesis, the same organization who runs The Creation Museum, and the park is based around the biblical myth of Noah’s Flood.

Ham plans to recreate the ark for tourists to walk through and learn how a 600-year old man built a giant boat that housed all the animal species in the world while God killed everyone else in a massive genocidal flood.

Yet my beef is not with their message, as they have the right to believe in whatever crazy foolishness they so please. My issue is with their purpose of avoiding paying while proselytizing to park visitors.

When one visits an amusement park, you do not expect that they will indeed try to convert you to one religion or another, or shove their beliefs down your throat. Any organization that wishes to do such business would be a church, not a for-profit amusement park.

Yet the Ark Encounter is not a church. They pitch themselves as a tourist attraction that will bring in millions of dollars in revenue to the state of Kentucky, but why should anyone believe this claim?

The Creation Museum does not accomplish this task and instead the museum barely manages to bring in guests at all and has long operated just above the red, so says City Beat Magazine in 2012:

On its 2011 federal income tax return, Answers in Genesis reported a 5 percent drop in museum revenue to $5.1 million. Worse, AIG slumped to its first-ever financial loss — $540,218. As of deadline for City Beat’s print edition, AIG hadn’t provided financial results for fiscal 2012, which ended June 30.

Nearly 250,000 visitors is not a massive economy boost, to put that into perspective, the San Diego Zoo brings in nearly 5 million visitors a year. Of course, San Diego is a much nicer location for tourism, but one must not forget San Diego has its own creation museum and it brings in roughly 10,000 visitors annually, a rather large failure to the local economy.

So what proof do we have that Ham’s new attraction will bring any visitors at all? There seems to be very little public interest in the park and they have failed to garner the donations needed to build the attraction on their own.

So what does Ham have to say about all of this?

It started with this tweet from Ham in response to an MSNBC story on the Ark Encounter to which you can see my reply.

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And Ham is correct; the state is not handing over $18 million to the project, at least not upfront. What Ham ignores is what he is not going to be paying the state $18 million dollars in taxes on profits the organization brings in.

Ham believes I am lying about the tax incentives though:

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Yet I flat out asked him and he said my statement is untrue, yet then wont take the incentive application off the table. He sticks to “no taxpayer money” but that was never my claim, or my question. Why avoid the actual question Ken?

His own team said they could not break ground until they knew if they could get this tax incentive, so wouldn’t it reason that you do need this to make the project happen? So tell the taxpayers again why they wont see a massive influx of tax revenue from your attraction, yet you are not “taking” anything from them.

So Ham asked of me:

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Interesting that he thinks I am against the state getting millions of more dollars while he has no issue pocketing $18 million. If he cares so much providing millions of dollars to the state, I know where he can start.

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Now Ham wants to know why I am anti-employment, yet employment has never come up. Yet I wonder if we should be worried about employment, The Creation Museum runs the Careers page for the Ark Encounter and the page says that they require all applicants to submit a letter stating their belief in the creation myth, will the park allow anyone of any faith to work there?

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So Ham states they will follow all the laws, yet their employment page says different. For a position that is being filled for the Ark Encounter for CAD Technical Designer, the job page says this:

Our work at Ark Encounter is not just a job, it is also a ministry. Our employees work together as a team to serve each other to produce the best solutions for our design requirements. Our purpose through the Ark Encounter is to serve and glorify the Lord with our God-given talents with the goal of edifying believers and evangelizing the lost.

How is this not a clear violation of an Equal Opportunity Employer and a clear violation of the separation of church and state? State tax incentives will be given to an organization with a clear message that they only hire those who are there to serve their lord “with the goal of edifying believers and evangelizing the lost.”

Ken Ham lied about following all the laws when it comes to hiring and they are already in clear violation of said laws for any for-profit business in the US.

Now Ham thinks I am applying what he calls a double standard to my thinking because I am not attacking the Kentucky Speedway for their tax incentive.

Well, lets look at that.

The Kentucky speedway is part of NASCAR, a multi-billion dollar industry and without question will bring in even more millions during races throughout the season and other events it hosts, but more importantly, when you enter the speedway, they will not be asking that you give their religious beliefs a try or cram any ancient mythology down your throat.

Ham also believes I am only biased because this is a Christian project, this is right and it is wrong. I don’t care what religion it is, the project is meant to proselytize to the public one particular religious belief and therefore is not eligible for special state or federal tax incentives. So I am biased that Ham is trying to use secular tax incentives to push his beliefs.

Ham says of the tax incentives:

The Kentucky Tourism Development Act states, “This landmark legislation, the first of its kind in the nation, provides a sales tax incentive program for tourism development projects.”

The Tourism Development Act is actually a brilliant move by the state of Kentucky to bring tourism dollars into the state.

The Act does not discriminate against a project just because it has a Christian purpose–and, of course, it would be wrong to do so under the Constitution of the United States.

Again, yes the Act would be wrong to discriminate based solely on the fact it is a religious organization, yet it would not be wrong to do so if the organization was planning to use the incentives to push a particular religious agenda on visitors, employees, etc.

Ham’s go to argument here is always to call evolution a religion and claim that secular museums are proof of the government funding religion. That would take an entire other blog post to explain to Ken that evolution is not a religion, but I think he knows this and is only pandering to his audience.

But this is what Ham misses about the whole project, if he wants to claim this entire park is not one big endorsement of the Christian Bible he would be a flat out liar. If he wants to claim this park is not being created for the sole purpose of proselytizing his beliefs, he would again be an outright liar. So I ask now, “Ken, is your parks purpose to educate the public about your religious belief in a Great Flood story?”

I’ll await his answer, but this park serves one purpose only, and don’t let Ham fool anyone into thinking it’s about tourism, state revenue or jobs, it is about his faith and his message.

He purposefully misrepresents my position against his foolish park as being anti-Christian, is it nothing but another attempt to play his persecution card, but the only card I am playing is the constitutional one that built the wall that separates church and state.

Ham had some advice about this post when he heard I was drafting it:

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Yet again, the anti-Christian persecution card being played. Sorry Ken, but I am anti-Christianity exploiting tax dollars for it’s own benefit the same as I am for any religious organization. I am not anti-Christian because that would be purely xenophobic and would make as much sense as being anti-cancer-patients because I hate cancer.

So no, I am not anti-Christian, I know and love many Christians, in fact Ken, I would probably like you when we are not discussing religion, but that doesn’t mean I would be anymore sympathetic to Christians exploiting the American people for their own means.

I hope that Ken will continue this discussion and will admit that his projects purpose is to push his Christian faith and at least stop pretending it is anything else. He has invited me to visit him at the museum, a trip I hope to make one of these days and I have reached out and invited him as my special guest to Apostacon, to which the promoters have said they would give us a platform to sit down and discuss these differences.

Should the US military be handing out Bibles at recruitment centers?

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Writing for The Blaze, editor Billy Hallowell asked if Bibles have a place in the military.

I think the answer is yes and no, as I believe if a soldier wishes to bring a Bible with them to boot camp or when deployed that they of course have every right to do so.

However the military has no place in handing out Bibles to either new recruits of already enlisted men and women.

A letter that The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent to the U.S. General Services Administration and the National Guard, the group is demanding action against a recruitment center in Missouri that is displaying and giving away copies of The Gideon Bible.

The letter states:

“In July 2014, our client enlisted in the National Guard at the U.S. General Services Administration in St. Louis, Missouri.”

“During the swearing-in process, our client observed the government offering the aforementioned New Testament Bibles for free to military recruits.”

This is a clear violation of the first amendment as the military, a government entity is not to endorse any particular religion at all, so having the Bibles available is a clear violation of the separation of church and state.

The government has two weeks from the date the letter was sent, August 4 to act by removing the Bibles or face legal action.

Just what you wanted, another atheist blog!

Well hello and welcome to Danthropology! I am very excited to join the team at Patheos and bring my blog to the awesome readers of the site.

For those who do not know me, my name is Dan Arel and I am an author and freelance journalist and you will see my work often on AlterNet, Salon and The Huffington Post.

My book, Parenting Without God, How to Raise Moral, Ethical and Intelligent Children, Free From Religious Dogma will be out later this year on Dangerous Little Books.

This blog will be sort of an extension of my pieces for AlterNet and Salon where I often write more essay style pieces, this blog will be usually shorter pieces on current events as they are happening, and updated daily as I see fit.

One of my main points of interest in evolutionary anthropology, hence the title of the blog and I will often write about evolution and often about the battle versus creationism and particularly the battle in the public school classroom.

I hope you visit and comment often and leave me feedback on stories you like or types of stories you would like to see more of. I will be bringing on guest bloggers and hopefully some regular contributors as well as the blog grows in an effort to mix up some content and perspectives and though I wont make it a regular occurrence to ask for donations, I have set up a Patreon to help bring in some extra income so I can pay writers for their time. But more on that later.

First I would like to just get you familiar with the site and myself.

Thanks for visiting!

Did the creation vs. evolution debate hurt science?

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It happened. Bill Nye faced off against Ken Ham to discuss evolution versus creation. Though this had been strongly advised against, it carried on as planned. Of course, it should have because the fallout of pulling out a debate would have been worse than the debate itself.

So what happened during the debate? Did it hurt evolution? Not at all. Nye presented a powerful and strong case for why the theory of evolution is the best explanation for the diversity of life on this planet. He presented understandable slides that show geological evidence for the age of the earth and explained how species diverged over billions of years.

Ham presented one piece of evidence all night, the Bible. This was mistake number one seeing as how the Bible is a claim, not evidence. Ham also attempted to present two types of sciences, historical and observational. He also attempted to redefine the definition of evolution, claiming secular scientists hijacked the word. This presented a strong weakness in his case for creation because his case cannot be made using words already defined by dictionaries around the world and without splitting science in two and creating his own fields of science.

All science is observational. Of course, I cannot go back in time and observe with my own eyes as Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis) walked the earth and watch as each newborn slowly diverged into another species over millions of generation, but I can look at fossil records and DNA to put together a predictable and testable hypothesis, one that has been tested, and tells us how this happened. I can also use that same method to recreate this in the lab with fruit flies, plants, and many other species. I can observe how this works. Creationism cannot offer the same.

Ham’s own argument would set every murderer and rapist free who did not have an eye witness account because all the evidence against them is useless because you were not there to see it. Ham missed this glaring obvious misstep in his argument.

Nye was easily able to break down Ham’s claims about the great flood and Noah’s ark, using such great evidence and observations that Ham had no ground left to stand on other than claiming he still had faith such a boat could exist, and then turned to the creationist handbook to discuss “kinds,” the very unscientific term used to describe species while avoiding any evolution. Ham offered up a beautiful fairy tale of there being “kinds” on the ark, not species, as we know them today. One has to wonder if creationist like Ham simply makes up creation stories on the fly.

What Ham did get however was close to one million people listening to him proselytize them about the Bible and his faith. This is what most people feared would come from this debate. It was a mistake to allow him this opportunity to ignite a fire under the creationist’s movement. This platform offered them legitimacy as a worldview worth debating.

Just look around Facebook and Twitter and you, predictably, will find creationists rejoicing in Ham’s victory. A fictitious victory yes, but the creationists now feel energized, they truly believe their argument won out and they will now take this fight further. They will use Ham to the fullest to market creation as a viable worldview in courts and in school board meetings around the globe.

Nye walked all over Ham. This was obvious. Ham deflected any question put to him to supply predictable hypotheses from the Bible. Nye also was unafraid to say, “we don’t know” and be proud of it. If science didn’t have an answer, he was honest and that helped win him the debate. Ham had an answer for everything, the Bible. Nye could not answer how matter came into existence, Ham could. Ham was wrong, and offered no evidence. He simply said God did it and moved on, again using nothing more than a claim as empirical evidence.

What really lost this whole debate for Ham was the question, “what would change your mind?”

Nye listed all the things that would change his mind, and it all revolved around evidence, and not far-fetched stuff. Honest scientific evidence that would unravel the timeline and Nye would change his mind. Ham’s answer was in short, “nothing.”

How can you have an honest worldview and claim to care about evidence when nothing can change your mind? This showed that Ham was not interested in the truth at all. He cared about one thing and one thing only, his opinion. Ham shined here as the charlatan that he is.

So the aftermath, was this debate a mistake? Yes. Regardless of how well Nye did, and he did better than many predicted he would, Ham still got airtime. Ham still stood in frond of more people than he can normally grab on his own and espoused his gospel and Ham still ignited his base. There is very little doubt donations will be pouring into Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum over the coming weeks and months.

Let’s not end on that note, though. Nye presented a great case. The evidence was on his side and he answered questions with confidence and honesty. He understood the arguments that Ham came prepared with and was able to combat every creation claim put in front of him. For that, Nye deserves to be commended.

And maybe, just maybe, a handful of kids around the world were inspired by Nye and his presentation and will look at the world a little differently and question the beliefs that are being jammed down their throats. Maybe a child being raised in a creationist environment can watch this debate and become the next great scientist of their generation.

This article appeared in The Huffington Post.

Photo credit: YouTube screen capture