Climate change, evolution, and irrational scientism

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Climate is what we expect. Weather is what we get. — Mark Twain

I believe in climate change — at minimum, the climate in Georgia where I live changes four times per year. I call the phenomena “seasons.”

However, I don’t consider “climate change” as something humans understand anywhere near well enough to control.

Neither do I believe the sky is imminently about to fall because of human consumption of fossil fuels. Oil and natural gas seem to exist for a reason. Why shouldn’t we efficiently put our natural resources to good use?

As someone with a couple of decades worth of experience and formerly considered as something of an expert in the field of software development, I can say with complete confidence that only sheer hubris allows climate science experts to insist with any degree of certainty that their computer models can predict the future. The problem is simply too complex. There are far too many unknowns.

For example, the forecast in Atlanta today is calling for between 3 and 7 inches of snow…quite a margin of error, wouldn’t you agree? Now if the weather experts can’t even accurately forecast how much snow is going to fall later today, how can they possibly say with total confidence they know what the weather will be like several years into the future?

The butterfly effect is part of the chaos theory of mathematics. The term was coined by Edward Lorenz to describe his discovery that very slight changes to the input data for his weather models could produce a significant variations in the outcome, as if the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in a remote part of the world several weeks earlier had managed to redirect a hurricane.

Couple my personal experience and knowledge of computers with a few basic but important observations of current events, and the reasons for my skepticism that “climate change” represents some dire threat to humanity should become very clear.

There seems to be an inverse relationship between the complexity of a given system to be modeled and the ability of a programmer to even identify all the variables that might affect that system, much less accurately forecast what values should be assigned to them.

And in the case of climate modeling, it seems that raw data is never used. Personally, I don’t care how “expert” the human being involved may be, or how much integrity he or she has. Once manipulated data has been substituted for real raw data as input, there is garbage going into the model, so the output will naturally be garbage as well.

Of course, programmers have an acronym for this — GIGO, short for Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Chicken Little

Chicken Little

There are two types of “experts” involved in long term climate change modeling–there are sincere, dedicated, professionals who don’t behave like Chicken Little.

These people truly believe that the problems associated with heavy consumption of fossil fuels are causing significant harm to the environment because they trust their own work, and they know that the manipulations of the raw data have mostly been done to improve the reliability of the input to produce more accurate, higher quality output.

However, even the “good guy” climate scientists don’t want to give up their private planes. Nobody likes to fly commercial anymore. Then there are the corrupt charlatans, the hypocrites who see huge dollar signs in the form of new “carbon taxes” designed to do nothing but inflate the cost of energy, which of course, always hurts the poor and lower classes the most.

But now there is a brand new, HUGE credibility problem for the climate change fear mongers that has currently been underreported by the mainstream media.

Investors.com has reported that a recent press conference in Brussels, U. N. official Christiana Figueres revealed that the “goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from calamity but to destroy capitalism.

So the next time someone calls me a “climate denier”, I will reply that they are mistaken; I am a capitalism defender.

I don’t refuse to believe in good science. I’m simply refusing to be fleeced with the rest of the sheep.

At this point you might be wondering — what does climate change have to do with scientism, or being irrational? Well…wouldn’t it be irrational for me to believe that humanity is at great risk from “climate change” when one of the U. N.’s top officials involved in this movement has admitted the real motive for creating international panic is to cause the destruction of my way of life?

This morning’s little tirade on climate fraud was inspired by reading an article published in the Washington Post by Joel Achenbach titled, “Why Science is so Hard to Believe.

Achenbach’s somewhat lengthy piece appeared to chastise “nonbelievers” in certain scientific theories by conflating fear of chemicals like fluoride in water, or concerns that childhood vaccines could cause autism with skepticism about “climate change” or evolution theory, as if every belief deserved equal merit.

Since Achenbach talked about climate change as one of his so-called “facts” of science that people struggle to believe, it seemed reasonable to begin there, especially considering there has been this recent revelation by Ms. Figueres to say the whole scheme called “climate change” or “global warming” is actually a massive fraud focused on the destruction of capitalism.

Further responding to Mr. Achenbach’s somewhat disjointed but impersonal accusations: I believed in vaccinating my children. I also believe that my grandchildren should be vaccinated to prevent certain diseases — like measles, for example. I drink bottled water because I prefer not to drink chlorine, which is bleach I normally use in my laundry. Not because I’m afraid of fluoride, which is also conveniently in my toothpaste. I believe it’s safe to say that logic and observation both have heavily influenced my system of beliefs.

As a result, I also believe in evolution — at least in it’s vaguest definition, which simply means “change.” However, extrapolating Darwin’s observations of changes in offspring produced via sexual reproduction to say humans “evolved” from sea animals is not only counter-intuitive, as Mr. Achenbach suggested, it is downright stupid.

The “theory” can’t be stopped there, either. Darwinism must be extrapolated even further if it is to be used to explain the existence of every living organism on Earth. You’ll also have to cross the boundaries between biology and botany to include plants, trees, and fungi as well.

Your distant cousin?

Your distant cousin?

If life is related by descent, then all life must be related by descent. If that is really true, then consider your distant cousins, the mushroom and the mosquito.

With all due respect, to Mr. Achenbach, he was wrong to claim that “evolution theory” is the foundation for all modern science — that foundation would actually be DNA and genetics.

The study of genetics and application of the scientific method could theoretically establish that all life is related by descent, but that would mean beneficial mutations have accumulated enough over eons of time to the point the mushroom in this picture and you are related through sex.

The problem is the observational aspect of the scientific method — we don’t live long enough to witness such spectacular shape-shifting due to the limitations of time.

We can only assume this degree of physical metamorphosis is possible, even though current observations strongly suggest that it isn’t, because the alternative, which is design, implies the existence of a Designer, which is another way of saying “God”, and the atheistic advocates of scientism simply can’t have that.

So alternatively given enough of this magic ingredient called Deep Time, what we know is impossible in the short term simply becomes inevitable in the long term.

Human beings will always give birth to human babies…except sometime way back in the past, creatures that were not human gave birth to “Adam” and “Eve.”

We should also assume, if descent is truly the best explanation for how humans, seaweed, scorpions, and turtles came to exist, that two human beings will one day mate and give birth to a new species that is no longer human. Unfortunately, none of us will live long enough to see this spectacle before our own demise, because Deep Time is a cruel creator, indeed.

However, it seems that DNA analysis could just as easily lead one to an infinitely more logical conclusion: that design is a much better and more statistically probable explanation for how humans, apes, oak trees, and mushrooms came to exist on the same planet. Unique organisms deliberately shaped for some unknown reason, by a supernatural intelligence well beyond human comprehension.

Because all seem to form some sort of function in the world we observe. Trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, which humans breathe. Humans exhale carbon dioxide, which is food for plants.

In fairness to Mr. Achenbach, his article also included the following concession to truth, when he wasn’t insisting that climate change and evolution theory are indisputable facts:

“Science is not a body of facts,” says geophysicist Marcia McNutt, who once headed the U.S. Geological Survey and is now editor of Science, the prestigious journal. “Science is a method for deciding whether what we choose to believe has a basis in the laws of nature or not.” [emphasis added]

Quid est veritas? What is truth?

I can accept the concept that I’m related to a fish in the context of a grand design in a Big Picture. We both seem to serve some purpose with our existence, even though we may not know what that purpose might be.

I doubt that I’m ever going to believe that I’m literally related to the trout and flounder by descent, because it simply doesn’t make any sense and the evidence that’s argued to support descent actually supports the idea of design even better.

Metamorphosis, to any meaningful degree, is quite frankly unobservable, and therefore highly speculative. Therefore, it is quite irrational to believe humans, angler fish, rose bushes and tapeworms could all be related by descent.

Is such a relationship theoretically possible? Perhaps. But is it plausible, logical, or an absolute fact? Not just no, but hell no.

As I’ve documented in my Counterargument for God, we can set aside any religious beliefs we may have. If we simply accept most of what the scientists have told “us” on face value, soon we are able to recognize and potentially correct the following common misconceptions:

  • Evolution theory does not “destroy” the idea of a creator. Life cannot evolve until it exists.
  • The alternative to belief in God is not science, but belief in extraordinary good luck.
  • Atheistic beliefs rooted in science are far less logical than belief in a supernatural creator. Scientism becomes a belief in magic without a Magician.
  • Something, in fact this universe, came from nothing.
  • Inanimate matter became animated, simply because of chemical reactions.

Once the Big Picture becomes clear, the choice between a supernatural intelligence we can rightfully call “God” and unbelievable good luck gets rather easy to make. Of course, we never turn a blind eye to new evidence, that might make such stupid good luck look a little more appealing.

You know what I have the most difficulty understanding?

How people like Mr. Achenbach can be so gullible.

The very talented Chris Conley

Future NFL Stud WR        Chris Conley

Future NFL Stud WR
Chris Conley

Before my friend Kevin Weakley got me thinking about Georgia Bulldog wide receiver Chris Conley’s performance at the NFL Combine, I probably would have said “Star Wars” if pressed for one word or phrase to describe this most impressive young man.

Conley is bright, articulate, and extremely talented — a young man as famous for his directorial skills and devotion to the Star Wars movie series as for his achievements on the football field.

Another word that comes to mind when thinking about how best to describe Chris Conley is underappreciated.

During his four years in Athens, the “worst” play I can remember Conley making was a pass he actually caught — the last second, deflected pass from Aaron Murray in the 2012 a few yards short of the goal line. It was hardly Conley’s fault — a wide receiver’s natural instinct is to catch any ball thrown in his direction.

I know this, because I was once a slow, very short receiver. But I had good hands. Based on personal experience, I believe it’s very safe to say in the same situation, I would have caught the ball, too.

Only a human brain that could process information as fast as a computer would have been able to analyze that situation and determine the best option was to knock down the ball instead of catching it. Because I’m not ready to declare Chris Conley to be superhuman, I’m not ready to say he should have known better than to catch that pass. It would have been one of the few he dropped over his career that I can remember, because Chris Conley was known for being reliable.

Our “speed burner” receivers who stretched the field were supposed to be Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley. Both young men are exceptionally fast; it’s true.

However, our “possession” receiver who most reliably helped the offense move the sticks, allegedly the third fastest Bulldog receiver, ran a sizzling 4.35 forty yard dash at the Combine, the third fastest time recorded for any wide receiver there.

But that wasn’t all.

As Kevin reminded me, only 300 college players are invited to the NFL Combine each year, almost 10,000 total participants since the event began in 1982.

On the standing vertical leap, Conley jumped higher than any other wide receiver in the history of the Combine, 45 inches. Only one other player, a safety, has ever jumped higher.

Conley’s broad jump of 11 feet, 7 inches was also the best for any wide receiver and tied the Combine record for any player at any position.

The Force was indeed strong in this one.

Conley’s performance at the Combine was so impressive, my friend Kevin got worried. He thinks some UGA fans will complain that Mark Richt failed to push Conley to achieve his full potential while playing between the hedges in Sanford stadium.

Sometimes, I think Kevin worries too much. Conley had to share the ball with several other outstanding WRs, several outstanding TEs, and a stable of running backs that included the likes of Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb, Keith Marshall, and Sony Michel.

Bulldog fans are going to need a better descriptor for this now-former Bulldog great — future NFL All Pro wide receiver.

 

Black racism

Emmett Till

Emmett Till

As a general rule of thumb, I’ve tried to avoid questioning the wisdom of my critics. I try to accept criticism as meant to be constructive feedback from engaged readers, and I appreciate it whenever anyone takes the time and goes to the trouble of expressing their thoughts about my work, both positive and negative.

However, there are exceptions to every rule. When James L. “Jimmy B.” Bradbury recently posted a rather inflammatory comment in response to my article on Brian Bell and the bizarre death of Kendrick Johnson, I decided the gravity of his very serious accusation warranted and even mandated a rebuttal.

Mr. Bradbury strongly implied that I became an accessory after the fact in a murder when he wrote:

Dear John,
Either you haven’t done your homework or you have some personal interest in helping
cover up this murder. Unless you’re just a complete moron you have to give some credence to the very suspicious happenings surrounding the videos, the two autopsy’s [SIC], the fact that the Bell brothers refuse to speak to investigators, the missing body parts, the police incompetence in gathering the physical evidence and all the other elements involved. This is a real mystery and that’s why the government is investigating. It took the Police 3 month to close the case, Why is it that the Federal Government has already taken 16 months, If nothing was wrong they would have closed their investigation long ago. Nice try, Jimmy B.

That is a very powerful accusation, indeed.

It is my intent to go well beyond merely responding to”Mr. B.’s” somewhat insidious accusations about me to address a much larger issue, which is racism in modern American society.

First, let me address the specific charges against me. That I “haven’t done my homework” is simply a ludicrous accusation, as the majority of this article will demonstrate.

That I “have some interest in helping cover up this murder” [emphasis mine] is the most outrageous and unsubstantiated accusation made by Mr. Bradbury. Considering the fact I’ve never met any of the parties involved in this case, it would be interesting to see what evidence he would offer in defense of his libelous claim. The only possible reason for making such an unreasonable and unjustified charge is obviously to intimidate me into silence.

Good luck with that.

Now it is true that for most of my life, I’ve been woefully ignorant of the reason why Mr. Bradbury, and a small but vocal group of black people seem to be so angry, and distrustful of white people in general. For example, I didn’t know enough about that dark period of American history between the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

I haven’t always known about the story of Emmett Till. I didn’t know about the incomprehensible and unconscionable murders of a pregnant woman and three other adults at Moore’s Ford bridge in 1946.

Black lives matter.

Nobody should ever get away with murder. Nobody. In 1955, fourteen-year-old Emmett Till was brutally murdered by two white men for the “crime” of whistling at a white woman. He was a mere child.

There is no defense or excuse for what happened to him. Not only did two white men literally get away with murder, they even reaped a reward for their despicable crime when Look magazine paid Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam $4,000 to print their confessions.

Legal protections against double jeopardy  allowed two vicious killers to mock the judicial system that so badly failed young Emmett Till. Falsely accusing an innocent young man of murder won’t correct an old injustice, however.

Suggesting Brian Bell is somehow responsible for Kendrick Johnson’s death is not only egregiously wrong, it is inherently evil to do so at this point, in light of known evidence readily available in the public domain. Brian Bell was in Macon weighing in for a state wrestling tournament when videotape evidence showed Kendrick Johnson was still alive in Valdosta. Apparently some 37 different witnesses have corroborated this information, eliminating the possibility of mistake to the point of absurdity. In other words, either a conspiracy of epic proportion conveniently provided Brian Bell with an ironclad alibi for a murder he had no real motive to commit, or you’ve got to be nuts to insist Bell is responsible for something he could not possibly have done.

In my rarely humble enough opinion, it is a grotesque insult to the memory of Emmett Till to compare his brutal murder to what obviously appears to have been a tragic accident.

Brian Bell is white. Kendrick Johnson was black. The Johnson family obviously believes Brian Bell murdered their son in a racially motivated crime. However, every publicly available scrap of known evidence flatly contradicts their belief.

Though I’m not actually a private detective, I do write detective novels, so a big part of my job is to think like one. I like the practice.

So give me a list of names, I don’t mind doing a little research.

Let me get right to the point, Mr. Bradbury…is Reverend Floyd Rose part of your conspiracy? And SCLC investigator Leigh Touchton, is she also corrupt?

Because their reputations and track records strongly suggest otherwise — they are two long time, dedicated and long suffering civil rights advocates who certainly deserve and command our respect.

No offense, but your name only shows up online in connection with Kendrick Johnson. If asked to choose between Reverend Rose, Professor Touchton, and the opinion of “Jimmy  B.”, why should anyone choose to listen to you over two people known to have devoted most of their adult lives to civil rights issues? For that matter, where are Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson? Why aren’t they leading your protests, Jim?

You have asserted that I don’t do my homework. That is laughably untrue. Please take note…

For example, when I read a long list of alleged black “victims” of violent crime who suffered a similar fate to Kendrick Johnson at one of the pro-family websites, I took a few notes and did a little investigating on my own volition.

When Emmett Till’s name appeared on a list of names that someone in the “Kendrick Johnson was murdered” camp posted online, it immediately caught my attention because Till’s story was so fresh in my memory. If you were trying to offend me by insinuating I would have turned a blind eye to the vicious murder of Emmett Till, you succeeded beyond your wildest expectations, I’m sure.

Oh, I am offended! Sadly for you, offending me does not make me timid. It gives me motivation.

Comparing the case of Kendrick Johnson to Emmett Till is a disgrace and an insult to the memory of Emmett Till. You might as well go spit on young Mr. Till’s grave while you’re at it.

But I’ve got an idea — why don’t we look at some of the other names that were on their ‘victims’ list?

Trayvon Martin — teenager shot in famous altercation with George Zimmerman. Why the cases are not comparable: There was clear and incontrovertible evidence that Martin died from gunshot wound and Zimmerman was responsible, but claimed self-defense. Zimmerman was tried and acquitted of murder charges. The Johnson family has hired Benjamin Crump, former attorney for the Trayvon Martin family. That particular attorney is about all the two cases share in common.

Jordan Davis — unarmed black teenager murdered at a Florida gas station by a white man named Michael Dunne, for allegedly playing music too loud. However, Dunne was convicted and sentenced to life in prison plus 90 years. Justice has been served.

Oscar Grant — an unarmed black man shot in the back and killed while allegedly resisting arrest in Oakland, California. A white police officer involved claimed that he reached for his Taser and pulled his service revolver instead. The policeman was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Again, justice was served.

Marlon Brown — Florida man accidentally run over by a patrol car while fleeing from police. The officers involved were disciplined and policies changed after the tragic death, but it apparently was an accident. No evidence suggests the officers deliberately ran over Mr. Brown with their vehicle.

Andrew Joseph III — Florida teen who died after being accidentally struck by a car while crossing a highway. There were some rumors that the young man had been ejected from the Florida State Fair that evening due to his alleged involvement in a “wilding” incident, but the actual cause of death was clearly an accident and not in dispute.

Rodney Mitchell — Florida man shot and killed by police during a routine traffic stop. Mitchell allegedly tried to run over one of the police officers while attempting to escape arrest. The family is disputing whether or not Mitchell was actually trying to run over the officer or merely attempting to evade capture, but the official ruling was justifiable homicide.

D’Quan Armstrong — Florida teen killed in a hit-and-run accident. The cause of death was obviously accident, and the race of the other driver is currently unknown. In other words, the only connection between Armstrong and Johnson’s cases are that both involve dead black teenagers.

Michael Brown — Ferguson, Missouri teenager shot and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson after Brown robbed a local store and physically assaulted the uniformed officer. The grand jury refused to indict Officer Wilson. Unless you are in a small minority of people who think it would have been preferable for Officer Wilson to allow young Mr. Brown to beat him to death using only his bare hands, the ruling of justifiable homicide seems appropriate.

Tamir Rice — Young teenager tragically shot and killed by police in Cleveland after pulling a toy gun from his pants and pointing it at uniformed officers. The tell-tale orange safety features that identified the gun as a toy had been removed. Sad, tragic, and unfortunate, yes. But murder? No way.

Sidney Bivinskilled by another black man who was subsequently acquitted of murder charges. The 2009 shootout occurred in a Valdosta housing project. An obvious case of black-on-black violent crime — I was mildly surprised to find it mentioned on the list. But apparently the details of each individual’s cause of death were less important than creating the impression that young black men are being routinely murdered for no reason, correct?

Jared Little Whiteman — alleged drug dealer killed for drugs and money by three non-Caucasians who were subsequently charged with his murder. No discernible comparison to Kendrick Johnson. Yet another name thrown on this “list” for no apparent reason, except the story involved the premature death of a young black man.

Khamiyah Newsome — three-year-old child struck and killed in a tragic accident when she ran in front of a moving car. Once again, no discernible comparison to Kendrick Johnson.

Lloyd Morgan, Jr. — four-year-old accidentally killed in a housing project in New York City by a stray bullet when a fight broke out between several thugs after a basketball game. No discernible comparison to Kendrick Johnson. The distortion of the truth gets worse with every new name, yes?

George Kemp — his death has been described by officials as a gang-related shooting. The suspect in his murder has been identified as a black male between 17 and 19 years old. Once again, no obvious comparison to Kendrick Johnson, other than the race of the victim.

Tinoris Williams — man with thirty arrests on his record who was shot and killed while allegedly struggling with a sheriff’s deputy for the officer’s gun. This guy is supposed to elicit our sympathy?

O’Shaine Evans — car burglar shot and killed by police when he pointed a gun at them. Seriously?

Lee Weathersby — California teen shot and killed on New Year’s Day in 2014. His murder is unsolved. Okay, this is a tragedy, for sure. But where is the evidence that the shooter was white?

Kendall Dawn — assuming this actually refers to Kendall Dawn Sidle, she was a twenty year old white woman who was killed when she was ejected from her vehicle in a single car accident. Who killed her…Ted Kennedy?

Hadiya Pendleton — Chicago teen shot in the back and killed by two black gang members. Should we be outraged at this stupid murder? Absolutely. But why shouldn’t we blame the people actually responsible?

Gabriel Jackson — California man killed in an ATV accident. The relevance to the case of Kendrick Johnson completely escapes me.

Karvas Gamble, Jr. — Florida man killed by police officers investigating a complaint about drugs when he allegedly pointed a gun at them. At some point, we are beginning to wonder what might constitute ‘reasonable force’ in the mind of Mr. Bradbury and those supporters of Kendrick Johnson responsible for compiling this list.

Tiphne Hollis — Florida teen killed in a Jacksonville neighborhood known for gang activity when several shots were fired at the car in which she was a passenger. The vehicle was a former police car with dark tinted windows. Evidence seems to suggest the shooting was random, and the intended victim was suspected of being a police officer.

Alfred Wright — allegedly died of an accidental overdose. A black drug dealer was charged with crimes related to his death. Mercifully, we’ve finally reached the end of this sordid list.

After investigating every name on it to the best of my ability, I discovered only one of them had been a black person actually murdered by a white man — the case involving Jordan Davis.

Six of the alleged victims on the list obviously died by accident. At least five cases involved black-on-black murders. In fact, there didn’t seem to be any rhyme nor reason for the names included on that list, except the list’s authors apparently believed all the victims were black.

That doesn’t mean these deaths weren’t tragic and lamentable– it just means that someone else shouldn’t be held responsible for a murder they didn’t commit. Nor should a tragic death be used as an excuse to foment race-based hatred.

Mr. Bradbury, if you’re going to persist in your beliefs that Kendrick Johnson was murdered by Brian Bell, you’re going to need better evidence if you hope to convince others of a racist conspiracy.

With all due respect, lacking such evidence makes it appear that you are the only racist participating in this debate.

Here are a couple of names I’d like you to investigate, Mr. Bradbury: please research the tragic, pointless murder of Kiaja Smalls, because black lives do indeed matter.

Also while you’re reading, please learn about the stupid, senseless murder of Keith Passmore.

Because white lives matter, too.

Or do you only care about the deaths of young black people that you believe can be blamed on whites, in order to further divide people by race?

Education versus indoctrination

Scott Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Recently Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was visiting London when a reporter tried to sandbag him, asking if he was “comfortable” with and accepted the theory of evolution.

Walker apparently sensed the question was intended to be a trap. So he replied that he was going to punt the question, cleverly adding that it was a topic on which politicians shouldn’t be asked to give an opinion. Uber liberal Democrat Howard Dean then tried his best to turn Walker’s non-answer into an advantage for his political party on CNN’s Morning Joe.

Dean said that because Walker dropped out of college his senior year and refused to say that he believed in evolution theory, he should be considered “uneducated” and therefore unqualified to be elected President of the United States in 2016.

Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough accused Dean of taking a cheap shot at Walker, who had dropped out of Marquette to take a lucrative job with the American Red Cross.

Scarborough correctly pointed out that people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg were merely a few examples of extremely successful businessmen lacking college degrees.

Dean tried defending his comments. He stammered, “Evolution is a widely accepted scientific construct. People who don’t believe in evolution easily, easily either do it for hard right religious reasons or because they don’t know anything.”

Screaming Howard Dean

Screaming Howard Dean

Really?

Howard Dean has a medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University after receiving his undergraduate degree in political science from Yale University.

So I won’t insult his intelligence by suggesting Howard Dean doesn’t know anything. However, I’m relatively certain that I know a lot more about evolution theory than he does.

The title of my first published book was Divine Evolution, in fact. Because I am not running for political office, I will state for the record that I have serious doubts about successfully extrapolating Darwin’s theory beyond the boundary of species.

Recently Greg Gutfeld of Fox News Channel’s The Five astutely pointed out, “College has changed. You are no longer taught how to think. You’re told what to think.”

When I went to college, I was taught that evolution theory was actually an undisputed fact. Neo-Darwinism was considered so far beyond the point of reasonable doubt that the only appropriate response to any questions about the legitimacy of the theory was scorn and ridicule.

Objections to Darwinism were simply assumed to be born from religious dogma, not the product of logic or intelligent thought.

Yet that’s exactly where my objections originated, after Richard Dawkins suggested that a computer was intelligently designed, but the human brain on which that design was crudely based, was not.

Humans simply don’t live long enough to observe the sort of metamorphosis required for humans, apes, and dolphins to share common ancestry. But we can observe severe constraints on the reproductive capabilities of modern species to cast significant doubt on the ability of sexual reproduction to explain common ancestry between man, apes, and the bananas we both like to eat.

Counter_cover_smAs I tried to make emphatically clear in my book Counterargument for God, the debate is often falsely cast as creationism versus evolution. The argument for evolution theory defies logic an common sense.

Before evolution can even be said to be possible, miraculous creation has already occurred.

The universe was created from absolutely nothing, in an event a physicist named Fred Hoyle once derisively called The Big Bang as an insult to the theory.

Living organisms were somehow created by the animation of matter in an alleged chemical process described by a hypothesis called abiogenesis.

So, the “argument” isn’t science versus religion. It most certainly isn’t “scientific fact” versus the “myth of creationism.”

The best way to frame this debate is to crystallize the question down to two possible options: design versus descent. Or, if you prefer, the debate is over the possibility of a supernatural God versus rather unbelievable good luck.

Life cannot evolve until it exists.

When I was indoctrinated to believing in Darwinism, I was persuaded by the bandwagon fallacy of scientific “consensus” the theory was true. I trusted my professors. They were authority figures.

I wasn’t there to get a biology degree. There was no point in challenging my biology professor. I was in school to learn how to write computer software.

Mission accomplished, I forgot all about evolution theory that fateful night when I watched biology professor Richard Dawkins being interviewed on The Colbert Report.

Dawkins was on the show to promote his book The God Delusion. His brash confidence made me quite curious as he declared cars, computers, and cell phones were all intelligently designed, but human beings were not.

I wasn’t considered an expert on cars or cell phones, but computers were another matter entirely.

It took several years of research before I fully realized how horribly wrong Dawkins was about virtually everything he’d written in his book as a rant against divine intervention.

I wrote Divine Evolution and especially my book Counterargument for God to explain exactly how I know he’s wrong.

Greg Gutfeld also said,  “Howard Dean is proof that a college diploma doesn’t correspond with IQ.”

True fact. Indoctrination does not create intellect.

It creates a virtually useless form of artificial intelligence.

The only way we get smarter is to read, and then learn to think for ourselves.

The worst contract in American sports

coach Mark Richt

UGA coach Mark Richt

[Hat tip to Kevin Weakley for sending me the link to the article that inspired this blog.]

The worst contract in American sports — that’s what Sports Illustrated magazine’s Andy Staples called the National Letter of Intent, a document that commits a high school athlete to a scholarship from a particular university. Upon signing the Letter of Intent, that athlete forfeits one year of college eligibility in the event he or she fails to enroll in that school.

In contrast, the school doesn’t really have to honor the scholarship offer to the athlete. As Staples points out,

Sure, the NLI claims to guarantee a scholarship, but that simply isn’t true. That is contingent on the player being admitted to the school and on the football program staying below the 85-scholarship limit. A school can dump the player at any point between Signing Day and preseason camp, and he would have no recourse. This guarantee is no different than the one on a conference-approved financial aid form, but it costs the player something the financial aid agreement does not.

This situation drew national attention when highly sought linebacker Roquan Smith verbally committed to UCLA in a ceremony televised on ESPN, but news broke revealing the primary recruiter who gave Smith his very first scholarship offer and cultivated a relationship with the player over three years would be leaving to take a coaching job in the NFL, working for the Atlanta Falcons.

Had Smith signed the letter of intent and faxed it, he would have forfeited a year of eligibility unless UCLA granted him an unconditional release. Given the fact the coaches at UCLA were pressing to get the signed document faxed before the story broke, that scenario seems highly unlikely.

The NCAA has said the “Roquan Smith situations” put college teams in a bad position.

Oh yeah? What about the athletes?

Smith was lucky. Ask Ohio State signee Mike Weber if he’s happy his position coach left the Buckeyes for an NFL job immediately following signing day.

Georgia coach Mark Richt has a reputation granting his players their unconditional release if a player no longer wants to be a Bulldog. Most recently, running back J. J. Green announced his transfer to arch-rival Georgia Tech after Richt granted his unconditional release.

Not every player is so lucky. Contrast that considerate treatment of his player to how Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy reacted when quarterback Wes Lunt announced he wanted to leave the Cowboys.

Perhaps before the NCAA decides to rely on the integrity of its member institutions, they should take a closer look at the train wreck down at Florida State.

Apparently the school can pull a scholarship offer to a committed player the night before signing day, with impunity, and the player is left with few or no options.

In fact, the NCAA’s reaction to the problem has been completely tone deaf, which isn’t exactly a surprise. The official response to the clear evidence of chicanery on the part of coaches at UCLA, Florida, Ohio State, and several other schools offers the athlete little hope for legitimate recourse:

As for deceiving a kid into signing, this is something that institution needs to deal with and if the NLI signee asks for a release due to this reason, the institution should consider the circumstances.

So, if I’m reading that right, the athlete who has just been manipulated and fooled must appeal for mercy and a release to the very same institution whose representatives deceived him?

Good luck with that.

I’ve got a better idea…why not designate one or two members of the coaching staff as the primary recruiters of the athlete, and if they leave school without coaching the athlete for at least one year, the NCAA would void the Letter of Intent and allow that athlete to reopen his or her recruitment?

At least that would level the playing field between the players and the coaches a little bit, so the student-athletes won’t  be completely powerless.

It’s a real shame teenagers can’t count on grown men in positions of responsibility to be completely honest with them.

 

The American worker versus H1-B visa employees

StarsandStripesI’m asking…no, I’m begging you. If you read this post, please share it with everyone you know. This information must become viral, if the economy of the United States is going to survive in the long run.

This is a call for action. PLEASE, call the office of your representative in Congress, and your state’s senators.

The layoffs of 400 IT employees at the utility company Southern California Edison has finally caught their attention.

The time for action is now. PLEASE — call every politician you know. The only power the American worker still holds is their vote. The politicians need them.

The corporate terminology used to describe this sordid business of laying off qualified American employees is called a reduction in force. As in, when you now get the pink slip, you say “I just got RIFFed” instead.

Here is the obscene lie — the workforce isn’t being reduced. They’re probably bringing in three or four foreign employees to replace one American worker, because they are that much cheaper than experienced American talent.

Those numbers are empirical evidence, observed through personal experiences, not from some “study.”

The unemployment rate for American-born workers as a percentage of the workforce is at an all time high. Uber-rich businessmen and women have convinced Congress that their businesses cannot flourish without importing wave after wave of technically skilled people from India, China, and other sources of cheaper labor.

So they literally bring in these people, have them trained by the U.S. employees, and then lay off the American worker. Once upon a time, I had a really good technology job that paid somewhere around $85k about ten years ago.

A bunch of the people in my team decided to leave for another opportunity. I hadn’t liked my job really, until everyone else quit. Because they all left at the same time, I turned down an offer for an interesting opportunity, because in part, I knew the company for which I currently worked would not be able to continue supporting the product for which we were responsible.

Partly out of a sense of loyalty, I stayed, so that product would continue to exist.

The company brought in foreign workers to join our severely understaffed team. I trained them. I taught classes on the product.

When the new people had been in the group about a year, my boss announced one of the people I had trained would now be the team leader.

More people were brought over from India. Eventually the work environment became such that one set of rules existed for everyone else who reported to the boss, and a second set of rules only for me.

Everyone else enjoyed a flexible schedule in which they could come and go as they pleased. I was counseled in a disciplinary session that included the Human Resources representative and told in no uncertain terms my assigned schedule would be from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day.

It wasn’t difficult to see the career path the job offered me — there wasn’t one. They didn’t want me there. I can take a hint, so I resigned.

I was burned out software development by that point, so my wife and I made the ill-fated decision that I would become a real estate investor, only about two or three years before the market crashed.

Fortunately, my lifelong yearning to become a professional writer then became a reality. I now love what I do.

Unfortunately, if my family tried to survive on my writing income, we’d have starved to death about five years ago.

Because I have a wonderful, brilliant wife who happens to be a very talented IT professional with both extraordinary technical skills as well as superb management abilities, we has pursued my dream.

When we met more than 25 years ago, we both worked for the same company, but in different offices. She taught a class in UNIX system administration, which I took mostly so my boss couldn’t send me out of town over Christmas. It was the luckiest break of my life.

Over time, Lisa’s technical skills and achievements won her the respect of her peers and appreciation of her bosses. She became an IT director for a small financial software company that flourished for a dozen years under superb management and with an excellent assemblage of American employees.

Three years ago, a larger but much less efficient company managed to acquire the company where my wife worked in a hostile takeover. Immediately, the most upper management and “non-essential” or “duplicate” employees were RIFFed.

My wife’s position was deemed so invaluable that she was offered a significant retention bonus, to be paid upon completion of a two-year period after the takeover. Her team gradually shrank through attrition to the point where my wife worked roughly 60 to 80 hour workweeks on a routine basis, and she literally performed the work of five people that used to work for her.

A few months ago, she found out she was going to lose her job because the company sent her a request to approve the hiring of five people in India who are going to try to replace her. Management termed it “global optimization.”

I was never worried about us. I know how good my wife is at what she does. She’s been my primary editor for six books now, and she started a new IT management job today. We’ll be fine.

However, I am worried about the millions of Americans who’ve been forced to give up, because this process that has been going on for more than a decade continues unabated.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants H1-B visa immigration to increase. Mark Zuckerberg wants it.

What they want is NOT in the best interest of American workers. Please, call your congressional representatives. Call your senators.

We must unite and insist they stop this nonsense. Make your voice heard.

Unsolicited advice for Roquan Smith

Roquan Smith

Roquan Smith

Dear Roquan Smith:

We’ve never met, in case you might be wondering.

My letter is addressed to you, but I’m posting this on the internet in the hope it will catch your attention, as well as those of others who might find my advice beneficial.

This advice would probably be equally useful to any other young athlete who faces a tough decision about which school to attend…I am not speaking as a college football fan, but as a grandfather.

I am a grandfather. My intention is to speak to you as any grandfather would speak to his grandson, with no disrespect intended to your actual grandparents.

I want to offer you the exact same advice I plan to give my own grandson, if he works hard enough and grows into an athlete talented to be offered similar opportunities to those you currently have.

But before going any further, in the spirit of full disclosure I must tell you that I am a Georgia Bulldog fan, plain and simple. My opinions are often jaded. I shall make every effort to not show any favorable bias towards UGA in this open letter directed to you, but you should know that it naturally exists.

However, I don’t know or speak for Mark Richt, nor do I represent the university in any official capacity.

I do love UGA, graduating in 1983 with a degree in Management Information Systems from the business school that has served me very well in my professional career. For twenty years, I helped develop computer software that did everything from making an electronic deposit into your checking account to encrypting your PIN after a device captured it, and all sorts of other interesting problems that have been solved or simplified using computers. I got the opportunity to do a lot of pretty cool stuff. Those experiences included travelling the world on an expense account, spending other people’s money to see exotic places such as Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Paramus, New Jersey. But it wasn’t quite as glamorous as that might sound. A lot of hard work was involved.

Then I “retired” early from my career in software development to become a professional writer. I’m currently working on my seventh book, the fourth novel. Clearly, UGA was the right school for me.

But it may not be what’s best for you.

What worked out wonderfully for somebody else may not be the best decision for you.

My uncle wanted to be a civil engineer, so he graduated from Georgia Tech.

If you really want to study marine biology, make absolutely sure the school you choose has a reputation for success producing graduates with that degree. Please never forget, you will eventually want to have a career plan so you can support your family to the degree you want, even if you plan to play professional football beforehand. You’ll still “retire” well before you’re forty years old. You’ll need a plan for what comes next.

As Jerry Glanville famously said, “NFL” really means “Not For Long.”

So, as much as it pains me to admit it, UGA may actually not be the best school for you. Only you know that.

Listen to your family. Your parents raised you to become the person you currently are, a marvelous athlete in high demand. They surely have your best interests at heart. If your choice is made for the right reasons, I suspect they will fully support you, even if your choice causes you to move several thousand miles away from home. They care more about your happiness than you do.

So trust your mother and father, or whomever happens to be the primary caregiver that brought you to this day.

When I read how your Coach Larry Harold defended you in the AJC this morning. I wanted to give the man a standing ovation. Your coach obviously loves you. Listen to him. Trust him, certainly more than you would trust a total stranger. Coach Harold clearly showed that he also has your best interests at heart. The last people on earth from whom you should get advice are these overgrown children on the internet that I’ve seen literally begging you and other uncommitted or unsigned prospects to come to their school. Please don’t bend to pressure from people who aren’t really your peers.

I’m very sad to say they haven’t all been Bruin or Wolverine fans, either. When these people aren’t pathetically begging you to come to their school, they act as if what they want is best for you.

I cringe whenever I see an alleged fan of college football making a highly critical remark about somebody they’ve never met, someone who happens to be struggling with an incredibly difficult decision — something which quite possibly they’ve never had to do themselves.

For example, UCLA was never an option for me…but only because I wasn’t offered a scholarship there, or anywhere else.  My options at the time were considerably more limited than yours.

You’ve been blessed with a unique opportunity not many people have. I think you’re being exceptionally smart to think about your decision and try to do what is best for you.

The only reason my advice to you is better than that of any other idiot on the internet is because my advice is that you not to listen to me. Listen to yourself. Listen to your family. Listen to Coach Harold.

I don’t know any more about you than you know about me except in your case, your reputation as a football player precedes you.

On the other hand, life is a lot more than football. You won’t play football forever. Never forget, there will be life after football.

So take all the time you need. Choose wisely.

Brian Bell and bizarre death of Kendrick Johnson

a_Kendrick_Johnson

Today is national signing day for college football scholarships. It is a big day for a select group of young men who live in the state of Georgia.

Valdosta, Georgia is a small city with a population of roughly 54,000 people down in the heart of south Georgia farming country.

Valdosta is located only about 35 miles from Tallahassee, Florida, the home of Florida State University. It so happens that I personally know the city of Valdosta fairly well.

My wife was a cheerleader at Valdosta high school.We still have family who live down there, including our daughter and grandchildren.

Compared with metropolitan Atlanta, the crime rate in Valdosta is fairly low, and violent crime even more so. It may not be paradise, but it isn’t a bad place to grow up.

Valdosta is more or less known for two things: farming, and high school football.

For a very long time, Valdosta has had a reputation for developing high school football talent, and Valdosta High School was a football powerhouse, claiming an incredible 23 state championship titles in their program’s history that dates all the way back to 1913.

In more recent years, the balance of power shifted more to arch-rival Lowndes County High School. The Vikings football program didn’t exist prior to 1966. yet they have won 5 state championships of their own.

Georgia Bulldog fans will remember Buck Belue, quarterback of the 1980 national championship team, played high school football for the Wildcats.

More recently, Jay Rome and Malcolm Mitchell came to Athens by way of Valdosta.

James Eunice

James Eunice

Another young man named James Eunice had been accepted into the football program as a preferred walk-on, but tragically he drowned in an boating accident before ever getting the opportunity to play in Sanford stadium.

But on January 11, 2013, Valdosta became famous for a much uglier reason — the bizarre, mysterious death of Kendrick Johnson.

Members of Johnson’s family now allege that his death was murder. They have hinted of a conspiracy with racially-charged overtones. The body was found in a rolled-up gym mat, but they rejected the coroner’s ruling that the cause of death was accidental suffocation.

Let me stop here for a moment to express my sympathy for Johnson’s parents.

Their son is dead. I am truly sorry for their loss. But what they are trying to do to avenge their son’s death just isn’t right.

Kendrick Johnson was a healthy young man, in the prime of his life. He shouldn’t be dead. It doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t seem to make any sense in the big scheme of things.

But nobody ever claimed that life is supposed to be fair.

James Eunice shouldn’t be dead, either. He was too young to die. Neither loss is any more or less tragic than the other.

Accidents happen. We just seem to understand them better when cars and alcohol are involved.

No one disputes that James Eunice died in an accident. However, Kendrick Johnson’s parents want someone to blame and hold accountable.

They have even decided who should suffer for their son’s death, engaging in a vicious social media campaign to punish the people they believe are responsible — but not in a court of law. They seek justice in the court of public opinion.

They also want money in compensation for the loss of their son.

Now please let me express my sympathy for Brian Bell.

Brian Bell

Brian Bell

Brian Bell is a high school athlete with notable talent, a football player. But at one point in time, he and his brother had been publicly identified as targets of a grand jury investigation into Kendrick Johnson’s death.

That was all Johnson’s family needed to believe Bell was guilty of their son’s murder and go on offense. It apparently doesn’t matter to them that Bell has been completely exonerated by multiple statements from independent witnesses, who verified beyond any reasonable doubt that he was competing at a state wrestling tournament and not even in Valdosta at the time of their son’s death.

In the absence of evidence that an almost incomprehensible conspiracy of epic proportion has been devised and executed for no apparent reason other than to help a guilty young man escape justice for his crime, we ought to be able to safely assume that Brian Bell is completely innocent in regard to the death of Kendrick Johnson, and could not possibly have committed his murder.

After all, unless that young man has secretly invented a means of teleportation and withheld it from the world, it is physically impossible for him to have caused the death of Kendrick Johnson and wrestled in the tournament, because the two events took place several hundred miles apart.

Yet one of the lawyers representing Johnson’s family produced travel reservations and suggested Bell didn’t leave Valdosta until 4 p.m., in spite of the fact multiple witnesses have sworn that Bell was with them when the team left town at noon. This one particular attorney, Chevene King, apparently has a bit of a reputation for misrepresenting facts to the media.

However, local NAACP representatives investigated and found no evidence to support the accusations about Bell or this ludicrous conspiracy theory coming from Johnson’s family.

Perhaps their failure to accept the official cause of death is related to the lawsuit for $100 million dollars the Johnson family filed against Bell and some 27 co-defendants, but that is speculation on my part. Johnson’s parents clearly don’t seem to be seeking justice.

They’re seeking a lot of money from an innocent kid who’s just graduating high school.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has investigated the case. The agency would have to be collaborating in this fantastic conspiracy that no one believes, except for Johnson’s family and their attorneys. Even the federal authorities have investigated.

But Benjamin Crump, the same lawyer who represented the Trayvon Martin family, has gotten involved in the case.

In other words, this story won’t be going away until the lawsuit has been adjudicated.

Now you may be wondering…how does the tragic story of Kendrick Johnson tie in with national signing day?

Well, morning the media reported on the eve of signing day that Brian Bell’s scholarship offer to play football at Florida State University will most likely be withdrawn due to pressure put on the school by Johnson’s family.

The irony that Florida State, of all schools, now apparently won’t honor their scholarship offer to Bell is priceless. The university police, the school itself, and even the Tallahassee police routinely turn a blind eye to egregious behavior from their student athletes, most notably star quarterback Jameis Winston. The irony of this story would be hilarious, if an innocent young man wasn’t about to suffer terrible consequences for an apparently non-existent crime that he could not possibly have committed. Perhaps Bell”s innocence was a deterrent for Florida State, and he wasn’t controversial enough for them.

More than likely, though, Florida State saw him as a “three star” athlete with limited potential, and that made the young man expendable.

Screw the human being. He didn’t play a skill position.

 

Are NDE accounts all full of Malarkey?

HeavenIsForRealCritics of my nonfiction work are well aware that I believe that some NDE accounts may hold key evidence which could settle for good the question of whether our consciousness ceases to exist the same moment our physical brain/body dies.

That answer would seem to be “no.”

Corroborated veridical NDE perceptions, refers to new memories created by the individual in question while they were in a documented medical state of emergency which might be most accurately described as “somewhat” near death.

To be honest, I’m not really interested in generic claims of an NDE or knowing every story behind every claim.  In fact, there is only one aspect of any potential NDE claim that actually intrigues me at this point.

I’ve seen and heard enough of them about heaven to believe in the possibility that heaven exists. I’ve also seen and heard enough NDEs that claimed to have occurred in hell to accept that possibility as well. The fact that NDEs can result in either heaven or hell suggests that the experience is not dismissible as a euphoric hallucination caused by chemical reactions in a dying brain.

It doesn’t really matter to me about the “degree of death” involved, meaning whether or not a medical professional had technically declared the individual in question to be dead at some point, assuming they recovered after recovery became unexpected.

My foremost interest is knowing whether or not this person claims to have learned new information while incapacitated, and whether that evidence can be investigated and corroborated or debunked by an independent third party. If not, no big deal. One more story wouldn’t change my mind.

The most popular claims stemming from NDEs, such as the sensation of travelling through a dark tunnel toward a bright light, or meeting dead relatives, etc. — those claims don’t constitute useful information, at least not in my opinion.

That sort of claim cannot be tested or investigated.  To the non-observer, these tales should be considered nothing more than interesting anecdotes. In my opinion, that is.

Essentially corroborated veridical NDE perceptions contain information that while in a physical state of critical illness or severe near-fatal injury, the traumatized individual reports learning new information that can be independently investigated and verified to be true.

I only want to know two things: does this person make any claims that can be investigated? Does he or she claim to have modified their lifestyle after the experience, and if so, how? I’m interested in information that can both be investigated and potentially authenticated.

For example, during her famous “Operation Standstill” experience, while heavily sedated and with her eyes taped shut, Pam Reynolds was allegedly able to create a new memory of “seeing” the specialized tool being used to cut a hole in her skull well enough to accurately describe it later.

Pam also allegedly “heard” a conversation between her neurosurgeon and a cardiovascular surgeon tapping her femoral artery in order to drain all the blood from her body while nodes placed in her ears were making clicking sounds to distort her ability to hear.

NDEs are described by skeptics as nothing more than pleasant hallucinations caused by chemical reactions in a dying brain that ease the transition into death.

That hypothesis fails to take into account the fact her “new” memories formed while her brain was completely incapacitated were independently investigated and found quite accurate.

Another alternative scenario suggested that Pam had experienced anesthesia awareness. The problem is that sort of speculation only works if one ignores the statements by her neurosurgeon, Dr. Robert Spetzler. Nine minutes and fifteen seconds into this video, Dr. Spetzler appears to completely rule out the possibility of anesthesia awareness as an explanation for Pam’s new memories.

Pam’s NDE claims are remarkable, but not unique.

Accounts of corroborated veridical NDE perceptions or events become even more intriguing when that individual claims to have learned information from location “A” while their body was provably in location “B”.

For another example, while in critical condition and undergoing emergency neurosurgery to save her life, Michaela Roser claims to “remember” her two grandmothers sitting in the hospital cafeteria with her parents, and both grandmothers uncharacteristically leaving to smoke a cigarette with her father.

What makes this corroborated veridical NDE evidence so important? Well, if this evidence could ever be proved true, it would completely destroy the strict materialist worldview, which is coincidentally the typical atheist worldview.

The main reason I no longer actively seek new NDE stories is because I’ve heard more than enough and seen ample evidence that convinces me.

Either Pam, Michaela, Colton Burpo, and all the others with scrutinized claims of corroborated veridical extra sensory knowledge must be liars all collaborating in a bizarre conspiracy for no discernable reason, or most or all of them could be telling the truth.

While it would certainly be nice and charitable to conjure up some pleasant compromise and pretend these people were being honest if their experiences can be proved false, but unfortunately we don’t have that luxury. 

And remember, our pool of witnesses in many cases include doctors and family members, often including people that lack easily discernible motives for lying to support a false claim. If we’re going to dismiss their claim of having corroborating evidence and assume what they are saying is a lie, we must also assume the lie is deliberate.

If we assume these people are all lying, then the question to ask immediately becomes, cui bono?

Who benefits from this lie? What is their motive? Certainly the author of a bestselling book has a decent motive to lie, especially if the lie can help turn a mediocre book into a bestseller with millions of copies in print, every author’s dream.

But what about Pam, Michaela, and all those others who have claimed to experience an NDE and offered corroborating veridical NDE evidence in support of their claim, but failed to write a book to capitalize on the lie?

When Alex Malarkey recanted his alleged NDE described in the New York Times bestseller The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, it didn’t bother me in the least because I hadn’t read his book.

The news that his account was a fabrication didn’t affect my worldview one bit. Nor did it diminish the evidence for corroborated veridical NDE events even slightly.

The irony that the phrase “full of malarkey” means replete with foolish words or ideas did occur to me. And writing deliberate lies in a nonfiction book in order to turn it into a bestseller is a really deplorable thing to do.

There’s a category of literature called ‘fiction’ that exists specifically for this purpose. As the author of two award-winning nonfiction books that aren’t bestsellers, let me agree wholeheartedly with those who might say Mr. Malarkey was full of malarkey.

So if I never had any interest in Mr. Malarkey’s story, why am I writing about it now?

Well, apparently I’m not the only one who believes people giving an NDE account must either be lying or telling the truth.

For example, my atheist friends cannot afford for any alleged evidence of corroborate veridical NDE perceptions to be deemed true without suffering serious damage to their worldview.

As if to illustrate my point, one of these atheist acquaintances rather gleefully re-posted a link to the story on Facebook, making sure he tagged me so I’d see what he described as “more B.S. coming from another liar for Jesus.”

However, Alex Malarkey didn’t “lie for Jesus” — he lied for personal gain. He lied to get attention. He lied to sell books.

His motive was painfully obvious.

Contrast that thought with this little tidbit of information: Christianity as a religion clearly wouldn’t exist today, if Jesus’ disciples hadn’t continued preaching his message after his crucifixion. Yet with the exception of John, all of them were martyred for their efforts. The question is, why?

Cui bono?

Thoughts on the movie American Sniper

20141003_AmericanSniper1

Bradley Cooper in American Sniper

Instead of watching President Obama’s recent State of the Union Address, my son and I paid some of our hard-earned cash to see American Sniper.

In retrospect, I’d have to say our money and time were wisely spent.

It’s probably a little too soon for me to write a full review of the film…to be perfectly honest, at the moment I’m tempted to declare it the best movie ever made in the history of Hollywood.

That degree of adulation may be a tad premature. Only time will tell, after the impact of watching the movie fully sinks in. I’d really like to see it at least one more time before going completely overboard with my praise.

It surely jaded my opinion that we were watching American Sniper in IMAX, which seemed to turn what would normally be just an emotionally draining ordeal into an absolutely surreal experience.

As of this writing, my emotions are simply still too raw.

If I may borrow a line from the movie, “I guess I just needed a minute” or more accurately in my case, a couple of days to recover.

Even so, I can offer a few of my thoughts on the film with anyone who might be interested.

For example, there is no doubt in my mind that Chris Kyle was truly an American hero. End of debate. The cruel irony that Kyle survived four tours of combat duty serving in Iraq only to be murdered by a fellow veteran he was trying to help recover from post traumatic stress disorder has been a bitter pill to swallow.

I can easily say that American Sniper may be the very best movie I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen quite a few over the years. I actually know a little bit about the art of filmmaking, having taken several courses on cinema in college.

American Sniper definitely bumped Saving Private Ryan and Patton from being the top contenders for best “war” movie of all time. Unbroken was excellent as well.

But those films simply don’t compare.

Right now I can already say American Sniper will fit somewhere in my list of the top five films of all time, ranked with true classics like The Princess Bride, Memento, and As Good As It Gets.

Furthermore, I can safely say that Michael Moore is a complete idiot.

However, I knew that a long time ago, when I watched his ridiculous faux “documentary” of revisionist history titled Fahrenheit 9/11.

Chris Kyle

Chris Kyle

To be brutally honest, Michael Moore doesn’t deserve to even be mentioned in the same article as Chris Kyle, but he opened his big mouth and described all snipers as cowards that shoot people in the back — and that merits rebuttal.

I would like to point out that Mr. Moore would not be able to denigrate the memory of brave soldiers if these men didn’t risk their lives to preserve our freedom. If Moore had actually bothered to watch American Sniper, he’d know that men like Chris Kyle have suffered when they have been forced to kill to save a fellow soldier.

They don’t take death lightly, nor do they take pleasure from ending the life of another human being.

But these men and women were sent to Iraq to defeat evil men known to brutally torture and murder innocent children using cordless electric drills.

Just try to wrap your mind around that incomprehensibly horrible thought for a moment. Think about that, and then try to remember it because that’s the exact same sort of evil our troops will be fighting against, when they eventually confront ISIS.

Before this article turns into an anti-liberal rant against Hollywood elitists like Michael Moore and Seth Rogenlet me just make a couple of brief observations about this cinematic masterpiece and be done.

First, let me say that my perception of Bradley Cooper as an actor has been completely reversed from his days in the Hangover movies, and light romantic fare such as Silver Linings Playbook — which I didn’t even bother watching.

He will never again be considered a lightweight actor with limited range that one typically expects to see in mostly forgettable, “fluff” movies, at least not in my esteem.

Cooper previously captured my attention in American Hustle, which starred Christian Bale at his very best and featured a stellar cast including Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence.

But if it hadn’t been for a dazzling lip synch performance by Lawrence, Cooper would have stolen the movie, wearing his hair in curlers.

In a cast loaded with talented actors, Bradley Cooper’s performance in American Hustle stood out.

And now American Sniper will turn Cooper into a superstar, assuming he wasn’t one already. He absolutely blew me away.

People like me — movie goers who care more about talent than seeing a pretty face — will take Bradley Cooper very seriously going forward, as a lead actor not only capable of starring in a film, but carrying it if necessary.

I predict he’s about to become the one guy in Hollywood that you can’t wait to see in his next movie.

Second, the “controversy” over the fake baby used relatively early in the film is simply absurd nonsense. The not-very-lifelike doll was on-screen less than a minute, a few seconds at most. It’s much ado about nothing, really.

If the doll’s appearance hadn’t been blown completely out of proportion with a barrage of snarky public comments by media types, I seriously doubt I would have paid any attention to it during the movie — even in IMAX.

The explanations that have been offered why director Clint Eastwood chose to use the prop instead of a live baby more than satisfied me — according to some reports, stupid legal restrictions that would have adversely impacted scheduling when the infant hired to fill the role became sick and was unable to “work.”

Such snarky criticism smacks of desperation in those who look for something to complain about.

The anti-American Michael Moore

The anti-American Michael Moore

Finally, I should say one other thing about critics of the movie, or those who would impugn the character of Chris Kyle, which is this: If it weren’t for people like Chris Kyle bravely serving in our military, bloviating know-nothings like Rogen and Moore wouldn’t have the freedom to criticize our country that has allowed both of them to become wealthy men.

Ungrateful bastards.

In short summary, I haven’t said that American Sniper is the best movie of all time. At least not yet. Not until I’ve seen it again.

But I can most enthusiastically recommend that you go see it.

Then you can decide for yourself.