Ingersoll Day

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It’s  Ingersoll Day, celebrating “The Great Agnostic” (actually an atheist) born on this day in 1833.

By all accounts a fine man and an unparalleled speaker, the Christopher Hitchens of his time. Ingersoll was one of the most popular orators of his age, when oratory was public entertainment. He spoke on every subject, from Shakespeare to Reconstruction, but his most popular subjects were agnosticism and the sanctity and refuge of the family. He committed his speeches to memory although they were sometimes more than three hours long.

Many of Ingersoll’s speeches advocated freethought and humanism, and often ridiculed religious belief. For this the press often attacked him, but neither his opinions nor the negative press could stop his increasing popularity. During Ingersoll’s greatest fame, audiences would pay $1 or more to hear him speak, a considerable sum for that time.

Here’s a quotation on his belief of the harmony, or lack of, between religion and science which of course is still a contentious debate:

“There is no harmony between religion and science. When science was a child, religion sought to strangle it in the cradle. Now that science has attained its youth, and superstition is in its dotage, the trembling, palsied wreck says to the athlete: “Let us be friends.” It reminds me of the bargain the cock wished to make with the horse: “Let us agree not to step on each other’s feet.”
~ Robert G. Ingersoll, American Soldier, Lawyer, Orator and Politician

Double Star System Eta Carinae

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Imagine slow-motion fireworks that started exploding nearly two centuries ago and haven’t stopped since then. This is how you might describe this Hubble photo of the double star system Eta Carinae’s expanding gases glowing in red, white, and blue. This is the highest resolution image of Eta Carinae taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope…

#Science #EtaCarinae

Oxford Evolution Debate of 1860

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Today in Science History —> On this day in 1860, the 1860 Oxford evolution debate at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History takes place.

This is the debate in which Thomas Henry Huxley supposedly bested Bishop Wilberforce with the remark about the ape and the grandfather: “Huxley rose to defend Darwin’s theory, finishing his speech with the now-legendary assertion that he was not ashamed to have a monkey for his ancestor, but he would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used great gifts to obscure the truth.”

It’s not clear whether that actually was said, but we do know that both Huxley and Joseph Hooker spoke in defense of Darwin’s theory.

#Evolution

Misplaced priorities: Trump administration cuts back on medical research using fetal tissue to please anti-abortionists

The decision is clear either the fetal tissue can be used for scientific research to save lives from such diseases as Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Parkinson’s or be incinerated…

Why Evolution Is True

So much for Republicans and conservatives valuing the sanctity of life! They’d would prefer to have fetal tissue—derived from abortions—destroyed than to be used for medical research that could save lives. Use of tissue: possible saving of lives. Destruction of tissue: no saving of lives. Trump administration decision: Destroy the tissue. Such is the cockeyed logic of religiously-influenced zealots.

According to several sources, including the New York Times and Science articles below (click on screenshots), the Trump administration announced two days ago that they were going to sharply cut back on federal spending on medical research using fetal tissue, i.e. tissue from aborted fetuses that would otherwise be discarded.

The new plan, adopted after a nine-month federal review, includes the following:

  • No scientists working directly for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be able to conduct studies using fetal tissue. There are now only three such projects out of…

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Scopes Trial

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Today in History —> On May 25, 1925, John T. Scopes was indicted in Dayton, Tennessee for violating Tennessee’s Butler Act that prohibited the teaching of human evolution. (Most people think the law forbade the teaching of any evolution, but that is not the case.) After a weeklong trial, Scopes was convicted on July 21 after the jury deliberated for nine minutes, but the conviction was set aside on appeal because of a technicality: the fine, $100, was levied by the judge, and fines over $50 were supposed to be decided by the jury. Above is Scopes one month before the trial.