All posts by Noah Deer

An open letter to Pauline Hanson.

Pauline Hanson was recently voted into the senate and as such she was given the opportunity to make a speech. Details are pauline_hanson_438351804_croppedhere Pauline Hanson says Australia is in danger of being ‘swamped by Muslims’ in Senate speech

Well Pauline, here is a rebuttal to some of the xenophobic diatribe you’ve been spilling out since you changed your tune from Asians to Muslims.

Dear Pauline,

Refugees do not receive more Centrelink payments than Australian citizens;

Response to Outlandish Claims About Benefits to Refugees: Update

“Sharia” dominated “No go zones” do not exist in Europe…nor America;

Debunking the Myth of Muslim-Only Zones in Major European Cities

According to Sharia, Australian Muslims are expected and obliged to observe and adhere to Australian law. Judicial sharia law (or fiqh) is not implicit to Islam in Australia;

Islamic Australia? What place is there for sacred law in a secular land?

hsp_at_king_kebab_house_campbelltown_1Europe is not being “overrun” by Muslims;

Dispelling The Myth of Eurabia


Muslims have repeatedly condemned the actions of ISIS and other extremist appropriations of Islam;

Muslims Around the World Speak Out Against Terrorist Attacks in Paris

Muslims Worldwide Denounce ISIS Terrorism

Paris Terrorist Attacks: Muslims, Iranian And Arab Leaders Condemn ISIS Violence In France

“Not in my name” – Muslims speak out against Paris attacks conducted in the name of Islam

Muslims are speaking out but no one is listening

versus2The Qur’an is no more “violent” than any other religious text (it is a select interpretation of the text, not the text itself, which is exploited by radical elements);

Which is more violent, the Bible or the Quran?

There is no singular universally accepted authoritative interpretation of Islam. Like most of the world’s major religions, Islam exists as a conglomerate of disparate sectarian ideologies. Radicalism exists on the periphery of every ideological system and Islam is no different, but to suggest that all Muslims are radical extremists is plainly ridiculous;

Are All Terrorists Muslims? It’s Not Even Close

How many Muslim extremists are there? Just the facts, please.

…and so it continues. The arguments used by One Nation and associated hate groups simply do not hold up to serious scrutiny;

The notion that Mohammad was a “paedophile” overlooks the obvious implications of historical context;

The truth about Muhammad and Aisha

Bible: Child Marriage in Ancient Israelite times – Paedophilia?

Age of Consent in European & American History

Culture of child marriage in medieval Europe

Without reference to historical context and the particular circumstances relating to the age of consent, the foundations of the entire modern and ancient world could be seen to have been founded by a litany of paedophiles and assorted sexual deviants (if we are to judge them by our contemporary standards).

62af25f81c167f8ea25cadb2f7fd6928Child marriages in our modern world are not exclusive to, or inherent to, any specific religious group;

Child brides and the quran – Dispelling the misconceptions on international women’s day

Child Marriage A CFR InfoGuide Presentation

The simple fact is that while child marriage is prevalent among some Muslim majority states, child marriage is not restricted to Islam, and it’s prevalence is influenced more by socio-economic factors and cultural influence than religious affiliation.

…neither is FGM an exclusively Islamic based problem;

Fact-checking Reza Aslan on Bill Maher’s ‘not very sophisticated’ rant on Islam/

FGM is a cultural practice which predates Islam. It’s practice is influenced more by geographical location than religious affiliation. Christian majority nations and areas which follow various animist traditions also have high rates of FGM.

The claims that Halal Certification is a “tax” which funds terrorist islam-halal-logoorganisations is also a misnomer. The ACC and other government agencies have repeatedly stated that there is no link between halal certification in Australia and terrorist groups (either here in Australia or overseas);

No direct link between halal certification and Islamic terrorism, Senate inquiry told

It’s interesting to note however that the current discourse surrounding halal certification in Australia borrows extensively from a similar campaign against kosher certification in the USA which was initiated by the KKK over 20 years ago;

The “Kosher Tax” Hoax: Anti-Semitic Recipe for Hate

The argument against halal certification in Australia is multifaceted, however all the arguments presented against this certification scheme are seemingly unfounded.

Halal Certification has not resulted in any additional cost to the consumer but has lead to reduced consumer prices in Australia and contributed to maintaining manufacturing viability for Australian owned and/or operated businesses;

Food industry bites back at anti-halal groups

Ag minister Barnaby Joyce says food in Australia would cost more without halal certification

Many commentators have suggested that halal slaughter in Australia is particularly cruel. This idea seems to be based on examples from unregulated overseas markets rather than here in Australia. While there are religious exemptions from prior stunning in Australia, the vast majority of these exemptions apply to Kosher slaughter not halal slaughter (the vast majority of halal slaughter in Australia is conducted using the same mushroom bolt stun that is the preferred option for non-halal slaughter also, while all Kosher slaughter in Australia is conducted without any prior stunning whatsoever);

Halal slaughter in Australia is worth billions of dollars in revenue to the Australian economy, it allows the market to remain viable. The only alternative to halal slaughter in Australia is live export into unregulated markets where animal welfare cannot be guaranteed;

‘A duty to be kind’ in halal slaughter

There is also concern from a small segment of the Australian e52e93e6095ec4e2ee6270d80fbea1acpopulation that the cultural traditions implicit to Australia could be threatened by Muslim immigration. This concern is seemingly based on urban myths suggesting that institutions such as Christmas and Australia Day celebrations could be under threat;

Have Christmas lights been banned in Cardwell, Australia, due to complaints from Muslim residents?

Hoax won’t dim Cardwell’s Christmas lights

Australia Day Name Change Hoax Targets Prime Minister Gillard

I look forward to your rebuttal I can be contacted at noah at


Evolution? Or Evilution?

There is debate in some circles regarding the acceptance of the idea of evolution, which some say is not widely accepted and they prefer the idea of “intelligent design”.

So, lets look into this and see if we can come to some sort of rational conclusion on the matter.

First of all, lets determine what is meant by “evolution” and “intelligent design”.

Evolution” is the change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations.   It is the idea that small changes over many generations lead to bigger differences, eventually to the point that the offspring are noticeably different to the original.  People who prefer this often cite biological and fossil records as evidence of their viewpoint.

Intelligent Design” is the idea that an intelligent designer (most often a God or other supernatural deity) designed each species of animal and plant.  People who prefer this often claim that it makes more sense to them than evolution, also claiming that the theory of evolution is still open to debate.

Darwin Fish

“More than four in 10 Americans continue to believe that God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago, a view that has changed little over the past three decades. Half of Americans believe humans evolved, with the majority of these saying God guided the evolutionary process. However, the percentage who say God was not involved is rising.” – Source:

So, what makes people prefer one explanation for the wide variety of flora and fauna over the other?

Well, this is where we need to wade into some psychology, so we can gain a better understanding of the arguments and why people make them.

Confirmation bias has been described as an internal "yes man", echoing back a person's beliefs like Charles Dickens' character Uriah Heep.
Confirmation bias has been described as an internal “yes man”, echoing back a person’s beliefs like Charles Dickens’ character Uriah Heep.

First of all, we have to learn about “confirmation bias“. Confirmation bias has been described as an internal “yes man”, echoing back a person’s beliefs like Charles Dickens’ character Uriah Heep. Experiments have found repeatedly that people tend to test hypotheses in a one-sided way, by searching for evidence consistent with their current hypothesis.  Confirmation bias, also called myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, or prioritize information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias  and a systematic error of inductive reasoning.

The other important psychological idea for us to understand is called “cognitive dissonance

"The Fox and the Grapes" by Aesop. When the fox fails to reach the grapes, he decides he does not want them after all. Rationalization (making excuses) is often involved in reducing anxiety about conflicting cognitions, according to cognitive dissonance theory.
“The Fox and the Grapes” by Aesop. When the fox fails to reach the grapes, he decides he does not want them after all. Rationalization (making excuses) is often involved in reducing anxiety about conflicting cognitions, according to cognitive dissonance theory.

, which is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.  Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals tend to become psychologically uncomfortable and are motivated to attempt to reduce this dissonance, as well as actively avoiding situations and information which are likely to increase it

These two psychological concepts are the main reasons why people often find it difficult to change their mind on this topic.

So, now that we know what is meant by “evolution” and “intelligent design”, and we have an understanding of why people tend to find it difficult to accept information that is contrary to their belief or understanding on a topic, we can now move on to a better understanding of the two sides of the argument.

Watchmaker analogy
Watchmaker analogy

First of all, lets look into the theory of intelligent design:
One of the biggest arguments for intelligent design is the idea of Irreducible complexity, that certain biological systems are too complex to have evolved from simpler, or “less complete” predecessors, through natural selection acting upon a series of advantageous naturally occurring, chance mutations.  Biochemistry professor Michael Behe, the originator of the term irreducible complexity, defines an irreducibly complex system as one “composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning”.  It is the “watch maker” analogy, which argues that if you found a mechanical watch, it would be silly to think that such a complex thing had not been designed by an intelligent creature of some kind, and the argument is made that the world around us is the same – that it is too complex to have not been created by an intelligent designer.

Next, lets learn about the theory of evolution:

Pierre Louis Maupertuis
Pierre Louis Maupertuis

The proposal that one type of animal could descend from an animal of another type goes back to some of the first pre-Socratic Greek philosophers, such as Anaximander and Empedocles.  In the 17th century the new method of modern science  sought explanations of natural phenomena in terms of physical laws which were the same for all visible things.  Maupertuis wrote in 1751 of natural modifications occurring during reproduction and accumulating over many generations to produce new species. Buffon suggested that species could degenerate into different organisms, and Erasmus Darwin proposed that all warm-blooded animals could have descended from a single micro-organism (or “filament”). The first full-fledged evolutionary scheme was Lamarck’s “transmutation” theory of 1809 which envisaged spontaneous generation continually producing simple forms of life that developed greater complexity in parallel lineages with an inherent progressive tendency, and that on a local level these lineages adapted to the environment by inheriting changes caused by use or disuse in parents.

Charles Darwin in 1868
Charles Darwin, photo taken in 1868 by Julia Margaret Cameron

The critical break from the concept of fixed species in biology began with the theory of evolution by natural selection, which was formulated by Charles Darwin. Partly influenced by “An Essay on the Principle of Population” by Thomas Robert Malthus, Darwin noted that population growth would lead to a “struggle for existence” where favorable variations could prevail as others perished. Each generation, many offspring fail to survive to an age of reproduction because of limited resources. This could

Alfred Russel Wallace in 1895
Alfred Russel Wallace in 1895

explain the diversity of animals and plants from a common ancestry through the working of natural laws working the same for all types of thing.  Darwin was developing his theory of “natural selection” from 1838 onward until Alfred Russel Wallace sent him a similar theory in 1858. Both men presented their separate papers to the Linnean Society of London. At the end of 1859, Darwin’s publication of “On the Origin of Species” explained natural selection in detail and in a way that led to an increasingly wide acceptance of Darwinian evolution. Thomas Henry Huxley applied Darwin’s ideas to humans, using paleontology and comparative anatomy to provide strong evidence that humans and apes shared a common ancestry. 

Gregor Mendel
Gregor Mendel

In 1865 Gregor Mendel reported that traits were inherited in a predictable manner through the independent assortment and segregation of elements (later known as genes). Mendel’s laws of inheritance eventually supplanted most of Darwin’s pangenesis theory.   August Weismann made the important distinction between germ cells (sperm and eggs) and somatic cells of the body, demonstrating that heredity

August Weismann
August Weismann

passes through the germ line only. Hugo de Vries connected Darwin’s pangenesis theory to Weismann’s germ/soma cell distinction and proposed that Darwin’s pangenes were concentrated in the cell nucleus and when expressed they could move into the cytoplasm to

Hugo de Vries
Hugo de Vries

change the cells structure. De Vries was also one of the researchers who made Mendel’s work well-known, believing that Mendelian traits corresponded to the transfer of heritable variations along the germline.   To explain how new variants originate, De Vries developed amutation theory that led to a temporary rift between those who accepted Darwinian evolution and biometricians who allied with de Vries.  At the turn of the 20th century, pioneers in the field of population genetics, such as J.B.S. Haldane, Sewall Wright, and Ronald Fisher, set the foundations of evolution onto a robust statistical philosophy. The false contradiction between Darwin’s theory, genetic mutations, and Mendelian inheritance was thus reconciled.

James D Watson
James D Watson

In the 1920s and 1930s a modern evolutionary synthesis connected natural selection, mutation theory, and Mendelian inheritance into a unified theory that applied generally to any branch of biology. The modern synthesis was able to explain patterns observed across species in populations, through fossil transitions in palaeontology, and even complex cellular mechanisms in developmental biology. The publication of the structure of DNA by James Watson

Francis Crick
Francis Crick

and Francis Crick in 1953 demonstrated a physical basis for inheritance.  Molecular biology improved our understanding of the relationship between genotype and phenotype. Advancements were also made in phylogenetic systematics, mapping the transition of traits into a comparative and testable framework through the publication and use of evolutionary trees.  In 1973, evolutionary biologist

Theodosius Dobzhansky
Theodosius Dobzhansky

Theodosius Dobzhansky penned that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”, because it has brought to light the relations of what first seemed disjointed facts in natural history into a coherent explanatory body of knowledge that describes and predicts many observable facts about life on this planet.

Since then, the modern synthesis has been further extended to explain biological phenomena across the full and integrative scale of the biological hierarchy, from genes to species. 

So, are you any closer now to deciding which you think is the more rational conclusion on the matter.  No?

Well, I’ll conclude this with a little more information, and let you draw your own conclusions.

Computer assisted reconstruction of a rotavirus particle
Computer assisted reconstruction of a rotavirus particle

Viruses are living organisms, with a short lifespan, but they replicate both very quickly, with a high number of offspring, and importantly with a relatively high genetic variation.  Thus, in a 24 hour period, one individual virus organism, may become many tens of thousands, of which that original single virus could be regarded as the great-great grandfather of them all.  Now, not all of those ‘new’ virus organisms will be exactly the same as the original, as said above, there will be a fairly high genetic variation.  This is what makes fighting viruses such as influenza (also known as the flu) so difficult, not just for the human bodies natural immune system, but also for the medical profession who try to limit it’s spread with vaccinations.  Now, none of this is a guess, we know this from observation, from repeatable experiments.  This is all fact.  So, does it sound reasonable to you that an intelligent designer is altering the virus almost every time it replicates, which could be quickly as every few minutes, in every person and animal infected with the virus at the time (which could easily number in the millions).  Or does it sound more likely to you that it’s a natural process of evolution, which doesn’t require intervention?

Title image – “Evolution-des-wissens” by Johanna Pung made this for Wikimedia Deutschland – Wikimedia Deutschland. Licensed under Creative Commons