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Profile for Gary S. Hurd > Reviews


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Gary S. Hurd "Dr.GH" RSS Feed (Dana Point, California)

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "Patriot?", July 1, 2015
This is not "patriotism." Is is profoundly disrespectful.

But, you all knew that already.

Tomb of Torture
Tomb of Torture

4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, January 27, 2015
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Best watched in a chemically induced altered state of consciousness.

It is just bad enough to be funny.

Temple Wood: A Quest for Freedom [HD]
Temple Wood: A Quest for Freedom [HD]
Price: $5.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just bad., January 27, 2015
I knew it was bad before I watched. But, would it be bad enough to be good?

Sadly, it was just bad.

Bowanga Bowanga
Bowanga Bowanga
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This was really really bad, March 16, 2014
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This was an ultra cheap flick made of equal parts news reel footage, and a a few weekends shooting in Palm Springs, Topanga Canyon, and Simi Valley.

"Africa" has orangutangs, rhesus monkeys, plus a tiger, a moose or two, and California mule deer. The background vegetation included Coastal Live Oak, Eucalyptus, willows and mesquite. My working hypothesis was that the producers wanted to hire a lot of girls to have sex with between shots. That would fit the plot as well.

You don't need to be stoned to watch this movie, but I think it might help.

If You Don't Stop It, You'll Go Blind
If You Don't Stop It, You'll Go Blind
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It exceeded expectation., February 27, 2014
These are old old jokes. Some are probably older than written language. There is a reason they have been told down the centuries.

They are funny.

They are not all funny to the same people all of the time, but they are all funny to some people some of the time.

The Myth of Junk DNA
The Myth of Junk DNA
by Jonathan Wells Ph.D.
Edition: Paperback
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21 of 59 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Junk DNA, and Junk Creationism, December 17, 2012
This review is from: The Myth of Junk DNA (Paperback)
Soon after the discovery of how DNA stored sequences used to replicate proteins there began a bidding war for research funds to specify the DNA sequences and identify their function. In the battle, non-coding sections were called "junk DNA" since there was no obvious function that could be intuitively connected with a particular gene. A protein coding sequence clearly had a function, even if what the protein did was unknown at the time. Since building a sequence data base was then extremely expensive (and boring), the argument against deciphering non-translated "Junk DNA" won out. But, the possible functionality of "Junk DNA" was raised in the late 1970s. The argument was simple: there was an evolutionary cost to making copies of useless DNA. Since this cost was being paid, the "Junk" must have a function. The human genome project was conceived after the discovery of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 1983. Many researchers were still objecting to spending scarce research money on non-coding sequences as late as 1989.

Some likely functions of this "junk" were discovered by geneticists in the late 1980s, reaching journal publications by the early 1990s. The development of automated sequencing machines around 2000 finally eliminated the last objections to sequencing "junk."

AD Riggs (1990) "Marsupials and Mechanisms of X-Chromosome Inactivation".
Australian Journal of Zoology 37(3) 419 - 441 (Suggested that "junk DNA" would not be preserved without some function, identified control functions specifically as promoters of spreading).

J Brosius and S J Gould (1992) "On "genomenclature": a comprehensive (and respectful) taxonomy for pseudogenes and other "junk DNA"" PNAS November 15, vol. 89 no. 22 10706-10710 (They propose that "junk DNA" is evolutionarily significant by providing raw material for future functions, is implicitly the source for current gene functions, and preserves the evolutionary history of organisms. Received 1991).

Emile Zuckerkandl, 1992, "Revisiting junk DNA" Journal of Molecular Evolution Volume 34, Number 3 / March, 1992 (Received 1991) (Suggested that "junk DNA" would not be preserved without some function, speculated that there were control functions).

What did the creationists have? ... The best they can do is a 1998 article by William Dembski. In an article for the Christian magazine "First Things," he noted the discovery of functionality by scientists (not by creationists) in portions of the human genome that had been considered as uninteresting "junk DNA" by many. Specifically, Dembski quotes Bodnar et al's 1997 abstract from, "Deciphering the Language of the Genome." To a competent reader, Dembski is defending creationism's position from scientific advances by attempting to co-opt them.

Bodnar, JW, J Killian, M Nagle, S Ramchandani (1997) "Deciphering the Language of the Genome." Journal of Theoretical Biology Vol 189, Issue 2, 21 November 1997 Pages 183-193).

Dembski, William A. (1998) "Science and Design" First Things 86 (October 1998): 21-27.

The ENCODE project began releasing reports with 30 articles published in the first week of September this year. They generated a great deal of excitement, and controversy. The first highly controversial topic was how they chose to define "functional" for DNA sequences. Basically, any segment of DNA that was transcribed by RNA was anointed as "functional." The directors of the project are already walking back from that claim. They weakly explained that the "public" might have been confused. Days later, a key project leader, Ewan Birney, Ph.D., was trying to justify using "80% functionality" in his press releases. His answer was to redefine "functional." In practical terms, "functional" became anything they could find that could bind somewhere. For what Birney admitted most people think of as "functional," the percentage falls hard to ~20%.

Here is a portion of his self commentary;.

"Q. Ok, fair enough. But are you most comfortable with the 10% to 20% figure for the hard-core functional bases? Why emphasize the 80% figure in the abstract and press release?
A. (Sigh.) Indeed. Originally I pushed for using an "80% overall" figure and a "20% conservative floor" figure, since the 20% was extrapolated from the sampling. But putting two percentage-based numbers in the same breath/paragraph is asking a lot of your listener/reader - they need to understand why there is such a big difference between the two numbers, and that takes perhaps more explaining than most people have the patience for. We had to decide on a percentage, because that is easier to visualize, and we choose 80% because (a) it is inclusive of all the ENCODE experiments (and we did not want to leave any of the sub-projects out) and (b) 80% best coveys the difference between a genome made mostly of dead wood and one that is alive with activity. We refer also to "4 million switches", and that represents the bound motifs and footprints.

We used the bigger number because it brings home the impact of this work to a much wider audience. But we are in fact using an accurate, well-defined figure when we say that 80% of the genome has specific biological activity."

At this point, Birney has about as little credibility as Wells.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 21, 2014 6:34 PM PDT

Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design
Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design
by Stephen C. Meyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.47
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152 of 257 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Obsolete, Misleading Cut n' Paste, November 13, 2010
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Regarding the grossly false creationist claims in "Signature in the Cell," I would first point out one of the things that most irritated me.

From about page 223 to 226, we have a cut n' paste with only trivial alterations from an 1998 article Meyer wrote, "DNA by Design," published in the prestigious biological journal "Journal of Rhetoric & Public Affairs." (Yes, that was sarcasm). Text from "DNA by Design" appears quite often in "Signature." The most irritating feature is that in ten years between that early text and "Signature," Meyer had not even bothered to update critical references, let along his outdated thinking. Most obvious was that in both publications, a footnote (#21 in "DNA") appears with nearly identical citations as the 1998 article. I'll quote it below, because if illustrates another problem with Meyer's so-called scholarship.

(from Meyer 1998, which appeared with trivial alteration as footnote 10-15 in Meyer 2009) 21. L. C. Berkner and L. L. Marshall, "On the Origin and Rise in Concentration in the Earth's Atmosphere," Journal of Atmospheric Science 22 (1965): 225-61; R. T. Brinkman, "Dissociation of Water Vapor and Evolution of Oxygen in the Terrestrial Atmosphere," Journal of Geophysical Research 74 (1969): 5354-68; Erich Dimroth and Michael M. Kimberly, "Pre-Cambrian Atmospheric Oxygen: Evidence in Sedimentary Distribution of Carbon Sulfur, Uranium and Iron," Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 13 (1976): 1161-85; J. H. Carver, "Prebiotic Atmospheric Oxygen Levels," Nature 292 (1981): 136-38; H. D. Holland, B. Lazar, and M. McCaffrey, "Evolution of Atmosphere and Oceans," Nature 320 (1986): 27-33; J. F. Kastings, S. C. Liu, and T. M. Donahue, "Oxygen Levels in the Prebiological Atmosphere," Journal of Geophysical Research 84 (1979): 3097-3102; Kerr, "Origin of Life: New Ingredients Suggested," 42-43; Thaxton et al., Mystery of Life's Origin, 73-94.

How did this vary in Meyer's "Signature?" Well, the publication dates, and journal data were all removed to a bibliography. But aside from formatting, Meyer added a two additional outdated references, Towe (1996), and Kasting (1993).

What did Meyer use this group of citations to support? That the late-Hadean, early-Archean had an oxygenated atmosphere, and that without "intelligent intervention," which in IDC speak means "goddidit," all chemical reactions on the primitive Earth result in "biologically irrelevant compounds-chemically insoluble sludge." (Meyer 2010, pg 226).

Meyer, in 1998, might have been justified in thinking that scientific opinion was divided among geochemists regarding the Earth's early redox state. After all he is not really a geologist, nor a chemist. But, even though his under-graduate geology degree was from a religious school, his continued ignorance was not justified in 2008-2009.

Publications, several by the very people Meyer has cited, since 1998 have conclusively made the case for a late-Hadean / early-Archean reduced atmosphere, or at most a neutral atmosphere with common, strongly reducing oasis. Even articles readily available prior to 2008 make this obvious, and subsequent research has "capped" the argument.

(For example, Catling, David C., Kevin J. Zahnle, Christopher P. McKay 2002 "Reply to Towe (2002)" Science letters v.295 (5559):1419a

Genda, Hidenori & Abe, Yutaka 2003 "Survival of a proto-atmosphere through the stage of giant impacts: the mechanical aspects" Icarus 164, 149-162 (2003).

Holland, Heinrich D. 1999 "When did the Earth's atmosphere become oxic? A Reply." The Geochemical News #100: 20-22

J. F. Kasting, J. L. Siefert,
2002 "Life and the Evolution of Earth's Atmosphere" Science 296:1066

Pavlov, Alexander, James K. Kasting, Jeninifer L. Eigenbrode, Katherine H. Freeman
2001 "Organic haze in Earth's early atmosphere: Source of low-13C Late Archean kerogens?" Geology v.29 no. 11:1003-1006

Ricardo, A., Carrigan, M. A., Olcott, A. N., Benner, S. A.
2004 "Borate Minerals Stabilize Ribose" Science January 9; 303: 196 (in Brevia)

Tian, Feng , Owen B. Toon, Alexander A. Pavlov, and H. De Sterck 2005 "A Hydrogen-Rich Early Earth Atmosphere" Science 13 May; 308: 1014-1017; published online 7 April 2005

And most recently,

E. T. Wolf and O. B. Toon 2010 "Fractal Organic Hazes Provided an Ultraviolet Shield for Early Earth" Science 4 June 328: 1266-1268 [DOI: 10.1126/science.1183260] (in Reports). Read their references for background.

Further, the late Stanley Miller's last posthumous publication, Cleaves, H. James, John H. Chalmers, Antonio Lazcano, Stanley L. Miller, Jeffrey L. Bada 2008 "A Reassessment of Prebiotic Organic Synthesis in Neutral Planetary Atmospheres" Orig Life Evol Biosph (2008) 38:105-115

makes the entire redox issue moot. The prolific natural production of complex biomolecules can take place in neutral to even slightly oxic atmospheres. And this was published in plenty of time to have been included in Meyer's thinking- if only he had been thinking.
Comment Comments (151) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 30, 2012 8:14 AM PDT

The End of Darwinism: And How a Flawed and Disastrous Theory Was Stolen and Sold
The End of Darwinism: And How a Flawed and Disastrous Theory Was Stolen and Sold
by Eugene G. Windchy
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.99
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30 of 46 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worse than I expected., February 14, 2010
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"The End of Darwinism" would have disappeared as another self published creationist screed had not Pat Buchanan puffed it on WingNutDaily. There have been a half dozen science bloggers who have taken Buchanan's piece apart, but I waited until I could read Mr. Windchy's book myself.

If anything it is worse- much worse.

Windchy states that he worked on this book since 1993. I find this very strange as his basic errors of fact should have been corrected with a few minutes of internet search. The errors begin immediately and they range from minor factual mistakes to gross mistakes in fact and scholarship.

One example of a minor error of fact is on page 14 when Windchy claimed that, "The German Darwin (Ernst Haeckel, gh) was convicted of fraud by a faculty court at the University of Jena, his employer in Prussia ..." This is not true. In fact, there was never a "faculty court" in the first place. This particular creationist lie has been repeated in their echo chamber so often that it occasionally has appeared in the popular press. This has been pointed out by Klaus Sander, and Roland Bender writing in Science (1998) 281:349.

Haeckel was accused of publishing drawings of embryos that were fraudulently presented, or altered to make his theoretical argument appear better supported. In only one instance did Haeckel need to issue a retraction. This was in his illustration of the "sandal stage" of "dog, chicken, and turtle" embryos in his first edition (1868) of "Natürlich Schöpfungsgeschlichte." These were actually the same woodcut, apparently of the chicken embryo at this stage of development, that had been repeated. (To see the illustration in question, look at Fig. 7.12 of "The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought" by Robert J. Richards, 2008). This particularly outraged Ludwig Rütimeyer, and Wilhelm His. Haeckel corrected this in the second and later editions. The point he had been making was that embryologists could not tell one species from another at that early stage of development, which was certainly true at the time, and had been earlier remarked on by other scientists such as von Baer well before Darwin ever wrote about evolution. In another instance it was the accuser, Arnold Brass, who had to retract his false claims of fraud in 1908-1909.

Haeckel's pet theory of "recapitulation" or "biogenesis" was totally wrong and forms no part of evolutionary theory. He proposed that as organisms underwent embryonic development, the stages of the embryos replicated each of the adult forms of their evolutionary predecessors. However, his observations that embryonic development is more similar the more closely the species are related, and that the earlier development of vertebrate embryos are all very similar, were substantially correct. With our new ability to track the fate of individual cells in embryos, these observations are even stronger today than they were in 1870. Windchy has obviously not bothered to become informed about Haeckel, or his contributions to science, or what modern embryology is about.

After supposedly spending 16 years, one would expect better. Instead, he regurgitates creationist lies and slanders- using century old controversies to try and obscure that science of evolution is the most successful explanation of life available.
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 27, 2010 8:09 AM PDT

Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party
Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party
by Max Blumenthal
Edition: Hardcover
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Theocracy Rampant, November 6, 2009
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I have just finished reading "Republican Gomorrah" and I recommend it without reservation.

There are roughly speaking two sections to the book, the first drawing the links between between the anti-democracy theocratic cause founded by R. J. Rushdoony, which was supported and augmented by such well known right-wingers as Jerry Fallwell, Tom McClintock, James Dobson, Chuck Carlson, Gary North, and a devils squadron of others. One name less known is the extremist sugar-daddy Howard Ahmanson Jr. From these men, a web of "institutes" and "foundations" funnels money into ultra-right political candidates.

The second section focuses on the particular obsession the far-right has with homosexuality, often exposed as caused by their repression of their own homosexuality. The recent cases are too familiar to need mentioning here.

I have a single quibble, and that is with the subtitle, "Inside the movement that shattered the Party." Sadly, the Republican Party is not shattered, it has been dominated by religious extremists. The Republicans of Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Eisenhower are long gone and buried. Nixon was too liberal for today's religious-right Party. Even the Republicans of Goldwater, or Reagan are in the past.

Blumenthal has burrowed deep into the belly of the new Republican Party- the new Theocratic Party.

Additional highly recommended reading:

Barbara Carroll Forrest, Paul R. Gross
2004 "Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design" Oxford University Press

Hedges, Chris
2008 "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" New York: Free Press.

Phillips, Kevin
2006 "American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury" New York: Viking Press

Mooney, Chris
2005 "The Republican War on Science" New York: Basic Press

Sharlet, Jeff
2008 "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power" New York: Harper Collins
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 17, 2010 6:46 PM PDT

Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off
Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off
by Fazale Rana
Edition: Hardcover
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21 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "Face Off" is a Hollow Mask, September 18, 2009
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Faced with mounting evidence in support of evolutionary biology coming from scientific fields from genetics to paleontology, the origin of life has become an obsession with creationists who assert that science's failure to create life de novo is "proof" of supernatural creation. The first book-length argument of this sort was published in 1984. Written by Charles B Thaxton, Walter L Bradley and Roger L Olsen, "The Mystery of Life's Origin" argued that there is a scientific "crisis" in origin-of-life research, the Miller-Urey experiment was actually a failure, the early earth was oxidized and thus incapable of supporting amino acid synthesis, scientists are "dogmatic materialists" and manipulate their experiments to produce their desired results, and the second law of thermodynamics requires that order cannot appear spontaneously. There is even the introduction of a language model of DNA coupled to an "information entropy" argument.

One of the goals of "Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off," according to the introduction, is to update "The Mystery of Life's Origin." Fazale Rana has a chemistry PhD from Ohio State, and Hugh Ross has his PhD from the University of Toronto in astronomy. Together, they are leaders of Reasons to Believe (RTB), an old-earth creationist organization founded by Ross. Their strong arguments regarding the age of the earth are welcome antidotes to young-earth dogmas promoted by such outfits as Answers in Genesis. Rana and Ross are most certainly creationists, however, asserting that the biblical God actively intervenes in biology to "... create each and every new species of life on Earth"; in particular, "God supernaturally and miraculously created Adam from the 'dust of the earth' ..." ([...]). (See Numbers 1993 and Scott 2005 for a discussion of the various flavors of American creationism.)

The errors begin immediately. There are errors of fact, logic, and scholarship. There is a standard dose of quote mining mixed in as well. The creationists' current favorite scientists to quote-mine on the origin of life are Robert Shapiro (a creationist's favorite since his 1986 book), Peter Ward (paydirt from the 2000 book "Rare Earth" co-written with Donald Brownlee), and Hubert Yockey (possibly the mother lode, with half a dozen citations). "Origins of Life" also offers ample cheap innuendo that scientists lack integrity, are "desperate," and "... are keeping quiet ..." about the so-called research failures Rana and Ross claim to expose. All this before the end of chapter 1.

More importantly, the "RTB Model" predictions offered by Rana and Ross are not and cannot be differentiated from the predictions of modern origin-of-life research when they are testable at all. The creationist face of the subtitle's "face off" is a hollow mask. The proffered predictions from this "biblical model" appear on pages 43-4. Due to space restrictions, I will focus on the first three:

1. Life appeared early in Earth's history while the planet was still in its primordial state.
2. Life originated in and persisted through the hostile conditions of early Earth.
3. Life originated abruptly.

Predictions 1-3 are identical with those of origin-of-life research. From geochemistry, it is known that the chemical signatures of life are present in the earth's oldest sedimentary rock (Rosing 1999, which is actually cited by Rana and Ross). A decade earlier than Rana and Ross, and well before Rosing's confirmation, Antonio Lazcano and Stanley Miller predicted that life appeared in as little as 10 million years following the establishment of favorable conditions (Lazcano and Miller 1994, 1996). Part of the second RTB prediction is trivial -- life today began at some point and then persisted. The rest -- the notion that the early earth was particularly hostile to life -- is absurd. Modern life is found from alkaline to acidic conditions, from below freezing to near boiling temperatures, from harsh sunlight to total darkness, from alpine lakes and hyper-salty lagoons to the driest sands, in solid rock miles beneath the surface, and in forms dependent on molecular oxygen and in others destroyed by it.

The origin-of-life model offered by Rana and Ross fails to offer anything new. Logically it fails on two grounds. First, their biblical model slips in considerable scientific material without acknowledgment, and they then failed to present any evidence for those parts that are original. Second, they have offered a caricature of origin-of-life research in their so-called "naturalistic predictions." The greatest difference of course is that science never appeals to divine intervention to do the heavy lifting.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 21, 2012 5:55 PM PST

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