Category Archives: Science

My privilege is showing.

What I am about to write is important to me, and I think it’s very important to my blog for me to take note of my biases, my privileges, my experiences. I live with scientists, and have been posing the question to them recently: does your personal experience, your bias, your privileges, your experience, do these things factor into how you interpret or accept new data?” This is important to the field of science. And, turning it inwards, I note: this is important to life.

My background is not very interesting, nor is it very significant. I am a white female, born into an almost-middle-class, Southern Baptist family. The first year that my class was administered governmental standardized end-of-year tests (first grade, I believe?) I was the only student to score in the 99-percentile range (all of my scores were in the 99-percentile range). From this point on, I was treated as an intelligent child, which cushioned me from many of the hardships that children face from struggling with academics and being chastised for it. I was never treated as less capable (especially in math) because of my sex-chromosomes, though I did witness this happening often to other cis-females in the class. In fact, I was often asked to give private, after class tutoring to other girls who were struggling in math (never the boys, however). While I lived in very close proximity to a low-income city until I left for college, I actually lived in a city which is considered to be much safer, more quiet, more calm than its adjacent, surrounding neighbors. The most opposition I ever faced was some light bullying from older girls in Elementary School (stopped when my sister bravely stood up to them for me) and then again when I was teased for dressing like a boy in Junior High (from the same girl from before, again stopped when I mentioned that my same sister was currently serving time in a juvenile corrections facility. Apparently this implied threat of her eventual presence was more than enough). My own mind is what gave me more opposition in my life than any other person.

While I have faced incidences of relative injustice in my life (all very light, all very small) I have to admit that I have been very, well, privileged. I was born without fear of racism or racial discrimination, I was born without and have never experienced physical handicap, I was insulated from much gender discrimination by virtue of being considered “smart” (something with implications that is infuriating, of course), I was born outside of and have never lived in poverty, and my relative heterosexuality (I’m very queer and much more than incidentally attracted to women, though most people don’t know this because I have never acted on it) has insulated me from personally experiencing homophobia. Honestly, the only aspect of myself that puts me into a minority of any kind is the fact that I am an atheist, and it’s not like puts me at any threat of bodily harm, generally. Also, while I have faced some instances of being discriminated against due to mental-health-related issues, this has had very little effect on me.

I don’t even need to say that my life has been easy, relatively- it has been easy, and that’s that. Obviously I have faced difficulties in my life, but any sort of discrimination is not something that I come face-to-face with on a daily basis.

The fights and battles that I am interested in fighting are, largely, not my own. I fight for reproductive rights, because I believe that, without adequate reproductive rights, the people who are hurt the most are people who are of color, live in poverty, and have fully-functioning vaginae and uteri. I fight for queer rights, because there is no reason to discriminate against somebody based on their sexual/gender identity, their sexuality, or anything else that makes them supposedly “other.” I fight for people of color, not because they need a white person on their side, but because the inequalities have not been erased, because we still live in a society and a judiciary system that still perpetuates the problems and the stereotypes that give people of color more to fight against. I fight for disability rights and against ableism, because everybody should have equality of opportunity, and because the need is still there. I fight against poverty, nationally and globally, because it is a travesty on the part of the human race, and because it is connected to everything. I fight for education, because I think that it is the key to change and to progress.

I fight because I care. I fight because I am a humanist. I fight because it’s moral and ethical and true to my values.

But I have to understand- though I am willing to fight, I first have to listen.

So I invite people to share their stories. Their own experiences, the prejudice they have faced, their own privileges. I meant it when I said that education is the key to change and to progress, and it starts here.

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The Grand Misunderstanding

Professor Stephen Hawking in Cambridge, UK.
Motherfucking BAMF

As per the request of my friend, I decided to listen to the aforementioned apologetics podcast. This particular podcast is titled Just Thinking and is from OnePlace.com. The particular one that I happened to listen to (the first one iTunes downloaded for me) was about the new Stephen Hawking book The Grand Design, and its intent was to downplay the importance of the book and its assertion that the laws of physics (gravity in particular) can account for the creation of the universe. I suggest that you listen to the podcast first before you see the extensive notes that I took to counter the assertions made in the podcast.

Continue reading The Grand Misunderstanding

God and Pseudo-Science

Today I discovered GodandScience.org, a very extensive website that claims to hold the correct interpretations of the Bible that will leave any atheist quaking in their cruelty-free boots. Interestingly enough, this is the first website that I’ve encountered that spoke to my specific original question, the question of why it appears that God created the sun after he created plants. As in explained in their page “Does Genesis One Conflict with Science? Day-Age Interpretation,” GaS.org believes that the sun, the moon and the stars were created initially, and a layer of “clouds and gases” were periodically lifted as the creation story goes on.

It appears that this website tries to use science to back up the Bible, and logic to show that Biblical teachings aren’t as crazy as an atheist would have you believe. I was almost with their logical approach until I saw a few more pages- one that explains (with some dubious studies?) that atheists are immoral, and one that explains how the human race will surely degenerate into complete sexual immorality to the point of having sex with robots.

Man, now I can’t have sex with robots? Religion takes the fun out of everything.

Daily Grind – 07/01/10

I thought that I should sporadically start sharing daily links to amazing news articles about science and religion, or whatever I see fit. Good to wake up and drink your coffee to (thus the name).

This Is Your Brain On Meditation: Mingyur Rinpoche Describes The Science Of Happiness

Mingyur underwent brain imaging scans to test the effects of meditation. The studies found that the brain changed significantly during meditation. “The result”, said Rinpoche, was that my gamma synchronicity was very high. They told me they had never seen this level of synchronicity before.” Gamma synchronicity is the synchronicity of gamma rhythms that represent different populations of neurons “working together” in a network, in order to carry out cognitive functions.

‘Sea monster’ whale fossil unearthed

“We immediately saw that it was a very large whale and when we looked closer we saw it was a giant sperm whale with huge teeth.”

The teeth were more than twice the length and diameter of those found in modern sperm whales and they were on the upper and lower jaws.

Most Efficient Quantum Memory for Light Developed

An Australian National University-led team has developed the most efficient quantum memory for light in the world, taking us closer to a future of super-fast computers and communication secured by the laws of physics.

What Makes Us Human? Studies of Chimp and Human DNA May Tell Us

The genetic codes of  and humans are 99 percent identical. Measured by differences in DNA, the chimp, Pan troglodytes, is the closest living relative to our own species, Homo sapiens. The comparison to an ape might make a few people squirm, but researchers now are happily comparing chimps and humans more closely than ever before.

North America’s First Peoples More Genetically Diverse Than Thought, Mitochondrial Genome Analysis Reveals

In a report published online in Genome Research, researchers have found that the diversity of the first Americans has been significantly underestimated, underscoring the importance of comprehensive sampling for accurate analysis of human migrations.

And finally, some food for thought:

Is it wrong for a Christian woman to wear trousers?

Essentially, modesty does not draw attention to the individual. As Christians we are in this world to point people to Christ. The Lord said that we are to let our light shine so that men may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (Mt. 5:16). Clothing designed to attract attention to the person or a portion of the body, whether male or female, is inherently immodest.

I sense a future “Why I am going to hell” coming up…