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First off, classifying Pluto as a planet was always contentious. The more information gathered about it the harder it was to justify that classification. Deciding to remove that classification is reasonable based on the standards that have been in effect for generations.

Secondly, excellent post. It can never be brought to the conversation too often that the decisions in Science are often as not made by the Political heads of Research Groups, Gubmint Projects, and University Departments.

Quite often what the actual researchers and notable scientists really think are suppressed in the name of PC and FUNDING!!!

Solid Surfer


Great to hear from you! Thanks for the kind words. Now that you mention it, it does make sense to classify Pluto separately from the other planets, since its orbit crosses that of Neptune and it's much smaller than the other planets. I guess it just seems weird to do it, though, since we all learned it was a planet growing up.


You've got to be delusional. In the same breath you promote "intelligent design" theory, which is based on nothing more than the highly speculative inference that biology is to complex not to have been designed, and yet you disparage the considerable evidence that human activity is altering the global climate.

Here's what's not in dispute: Solar radiation hits the planet, and some of it is reflected off into space. The layer of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere captures some of the radiation being reflected off the earth's surface.

Human activity is producing unprecededented amounts of greenhouse gas. You put more of that in the atmosphere, and less solar radiation is reflected back into space.

And we're seeing the results. Glaciers are melting. The Yukon tundra is turning to slush. We're getting super-hurricanes because there's less cold water to slow down storm systems.

There is no dispute that the planet is warmer lately than it has been since these things have been recorded. The only argument is that the sample size of the years where climate and temperature data have been recorded is too small to prove a trend, and that this may be an ordinary climate fluctuation.

However, in light of the rapidity of the temperature change, and the remarkable correlation between increasing temperatures and increasing emissions, and given what we know about what these gases do in the atmosphere, the inference that human activity is contributing to global climate change is backed by sufficiently strong evidence to justify significant efforts towards reducing air pollution.

I don't see how the reclassification of Pluto has any bearing at all on the question. Science isn't about certainty, it's about drawing conclusions from the evidence and testing them.

I can't understand the sort of ideology that would lead a person to scoff at scientists suggesting that you shouldn't feed pesticide to kids, or that air pollution is bad. You are a sick individual.

Solid Surfer


Before you start hurling insults at me, you should pay more attention to my words, so you don't continue to misunderstand them.

First, I never said intelligent design wasn't speculative in itself. None of us were here when the earth was created, and so any probing of the distant past (whether the theory of evolution or intelligent design theory) is, by definition, speculative. In line with this principle, I certainly don't advocate dismissing evolution outright; rather, like any theory, it should be subject to continued testing. But the same also goes for intelligent design; as a theory of our origins, it should be considered and evaluated, and my criticism is of any scientist who dismisses it outright without doing so.

Furthermore, I never said that global warming doesn't exist. Rather, I only said that global warming is not humanity's greatest threat. Compared to the threat of Islamic jihad, which is a clear, proven, and immediate danger, global warming is a speculative possibility that may or may not harm humanity in the future. And so, if we had to choose between the two for where to put our resources, I'd advocate funding the fight against jihad terrorism, because global warming won't matter an ounce if, heaven forbid, Western cities are destroyed by terrorist nukes.

Finally, you are mistaken with regards to DDT. Contrary to what was previously thought, DDT has been proven safe in moderate doses, and it can actually save millions of lives by preventing malaria: http://www.malaria.org/DDTpage.html
You can think I'm "sick" for advocating it all you want, but DDT is a lifesaver.


Intelligent design is not science precisely because it is untestable. And evolution is extremely thoroughly proven. It can be observed in fossil records, it can be observed in single-cell organisms where thousands of generations can be observed in a controlled environment. It's been observed in Galapagos finches, which manifest noticable changes in only a few generations.

Meanwhile, there is nothing empirical that supports intelligent design. It's just religion packaged in rhetoric.

And if the ice shelf on Greenland slides into the ocean like a big chunk of the Antarctic ice shelf did recently, you're going to see how relevant and how serious it is, because the East River is going to be in your living room.

While the phenomenon can't be connected to individual storms, warmer weather lengthens the hurricane season because hurricane systems feed on warm waters. So Katrina may have been caused by global warming, and if global warming continues unabated, storms like that will become very frequent.

Jihadists are capable of inflicting death and destruction in high profile acts, but they clearly lack the ability to do so with any frequency. Al Quaeda was the only terror organization that was really operating on an international scale, and their operational capacity at this point is extremely limited. These are the same rubes who have been trying to kill Salman Rushdie for 30 years.

And terrorists don't have nukes.

Solid Surfer

I'm not going to argue the merits of intelligent design, as that has been done elsewhere such as this website: http://www.privilegedplanet.com/

But true evolution, as Darwin defines it, has never been observed. Sure, we have observed traits already present in a species become predominant over other traits. But we have never ever observed one species flat-out transform into another species. Darwin's theory of this can only be speculated and not proven.

As for your other point, terrorists may not have nukes now, but they sure as heck are trying to get them. That's why we absolutely need to stop them first.


It's like you live in a universe without logic. Every domesticated animal has been modified to bear little resemblance to its wild ancestors, and this has happened over the course of only a few hundred years.

We turned an ancestral bovine similar to a cape buffalo into the modern dairy cow. We turned an animal similar to a European wild boar.

The diversity of form that man has achieved in dog breeding is remarkable.

The argument against Darwinism is that the changes in species we have observed and, in fact, induced through selective breed in will somehow fail to aggregate ion ways that will, for example, turn a dinosaur into a bird.

However, we can observe millions of years of evolution through the fossil record, and we can observe the same gradual, incremental changes that turned a wolf into a Pekingese turning a deinonychus into an archaeopteryx, into a modern avian.

Maybe if you'd taken a class in evolutionary biology, you'd understand the flimsiness of the creationist objection to Darwinism. But actual insight, erudition, or enlightened commentary is a lot to ask from you, isn't it?

Solid Surfer

Sure, we have done all these things. But achieving diversity in dog, cow, and other animal breeding is not the same as changing them into new species. There are hundreds of breeds of dogs out there. But they're all still dogs. We have never turned a dog into something else entirely.

And I have indeed taken a class on evolutionary biology. I just don't think it's premise is correct.


It doesn't magically turn into something else entirely. If you can get something as different as a German Shepherd and a Pomeranian from the same proto species in a few hundred years, think about how different those two populations would be if you isolated them geographically and allowed them to change in a progression of the same small ways for ten million years. Do you think that the mechanism just stops somewhere?

Yes, if a scientist could observe 50,000 generations of a complicated animal under different sets of evolutionary pressures in a controlled environment, that would conclusively prove what's happening. But that's impossible.

What we can do is figure out the extent to which diversity is possible, and we can trace ancestry through the study of the genome and of the fossil record.

Everything that paleontologists are finding in the ground, and everything that geneticists are finding under electron microscopes and everything that biologists and naturalists are observing in the wild fits together to support the theory of evolution.

And the counter-argument to the mountain of evidence is exactly what you've stated. "I don't think it's premise is correct." Well, good for you.

Solid Surfer

Sure it's theoretically possible that the animals could turn into separate species over the course of 10 million years, but we certainly don't know this for sure. We can't prove it and therefore it's still speculative.

And to clarify what I said earlier - I'm not dismissing the possibility that evolution has occurred. What I don't believe is the concept of *Darwinian* evolution, i.e. that everything on the planet evolved randomly. I take issue not in what occurred, but with how and why.

Plenty of scientific findings may support the fact that some sort of species change occurred (which, it can be argued, is not incompatible with Biblical creation - see this website, for example, for more info: http://www.geraldschroeder.com/ ), but it's still completely speculative to assume that it all occurred randomly. This is the part of evolutionary biology that cannot be proven scientifically, and hence I disagree when people try to say otherwise.

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