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Oklahoma School District To Adopt Hobby Lobby President’s “Bible Curriculum”

Disinformation - 1 hour 1 min ago

A future in which the fanatical billionaire heads of our nation’s largest retail chains dictate what is taught in schools. Religion News Service reports:

The Mustang, Okla., school board voted Monday to adopt the first year of the Museum of the Bible Curriculum, an ambitious four-year public school elective on the narrative, history and impact of the Bible developed by Hobby Lobby president Steve Green.

In September 2016, Jerry Pattengale, head of the Green Scholars Initiative, which is overseeing its development, hopes to place it in at least 100 high schools; by the following year, “thousands.”

If successful, Green, whose family’s wealth is estimated at upward of $3 billion, would galvanize the movement to teach the Bible academically in public schools, a movement born after the Supreme Court banned school-sanctioned devotion in the 1960s but whose steady progress in the last decades has been somewhat hampered.

The Green curriculum ”is like nothing we’ve seen before,” said Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center and editor of a booklet sent out to all schools by the U.S. Department of Education in 2000 on teaching religion in public schools. “It’s unique in its ambition and its scope and its use of the latest technologies. I think school districts far from Oklahoma will take note.”

In an award acceptance speech last April before the National Bible Association, Green expressed hope that such courses would become mandatory, whereas now they are usually elective.

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Diabolus Rex - 1 hour 30 min ago
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The Birth of a Conspiracy Theory

Disinformation - 1 hour 48 min ago

Watch LIVE as a conspiracy theory is born (courtesy of Andrew Rosenthal in the op-ed section of the New York Times):

If you spend enough time on the Internet you’ll eventually encounter a conspiracy theory. If you watch closely enough, sometimes you can actually see one being born.

For years now some on the right have speculated that the Obama administration is trying to politicize the national census. Yesterday, Noah Rothman argued on Mediaite that the theory was proven correct by a New York Times article about changes in the way the Census Bureau plans to ask about health insurance coverage.

The idea is that the new questions will show a reduction in the number of uninsured people starting in 2014, which may make it seem as though the Affordable Care Act is working better than it really is. The change in questions will also produce a “break in trend” within the census surveys and thus make it impossible to statistically compare 2013 and 2014 with earlier years.

Therefore, the White House must have ordered this sinister change to promote President Obama’s signature domestic initiative.

But the article that Mr. Rothman cites, by Robert Pear, doesn’t support the theory. Mr. Pear reports that census statisticians had been trying to change the questions about health insurance for more than a decade (in other words, before Mr. Obama was president) because … wait for it … the old questions were not accurate…

[continues at the New York Times]

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Stefan Molyneux On How Cryptocurrencies Can Curb Unsustainable Government Growth

Disinformation - 12 hours 31 min ago

The Next Web catches up with Stefan Molyneux to discuss Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and their impact on government and society:

Via The Next Web:

TNW: To what extent will Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies even things out, taking power back from governmental bodies?

SM: One of the most important aspects of cryptocurrencies is the degree to which they deny inter-generational debt, deficit-financing, and the easy money required for imperialism and war.

As a species, we generally consider ourselves to be very considerate and thoughtful towards the young. Unfortunately, that does not find reflection in our governmental policies, which burden the unborn with staggering debt, none of which would be possible with cryptocurrencies.

The power of the state to create money out of thin air, control interest rates, and pretend that it is providing value to the population, when it is merely debasing their currencies and lowering them into a chasm of debt, will face a serious challenge from Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Keep reading at The Next Web.

The post Stefan Molyneux On How Cryptocurrencies Can Curb Unsustainable Government Growth appeared first on disinformation.

Google X Looked Into Building a Space Elevator

Disinformation - 14 hours 31 min ago

PIC: Superborusk (CC)

Richard DeVaul, the head of Google X’s Rapid Evaluation Team told Fast Company that the secretive lab had made some serious inquiries into the feasibility of building a space elevator:

Via Fast Company:

“It would be a massive capital investment,” he said in this month’s issue of Fast Company. But once this hypothetical machine was built, “it could take you from ground to orbit with a net of basically zero energy. It drives down the space-access costs, operationally, to being incredibly low.”

Unfortunately, our current technological landscape has its limitations:

The team knew the cable would have to be exceptionally strong– “at least a hundred times stronger than the strongest steel that we have,” by ­[Google X researcher Dan Piponi]‘s calculations. He found one material that could do this: carbon nanotubes. But no one has manufactured a perfectly formed carbon nanotube strand longer than a meter. And so elevators “were put in a deep freeze,” as [Google X researcher Mitch Heinrich] says, and the team decided to keep tabs on any advances in the carbon nanotube field.

Read the rest at Fast Company.

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Scientific Study Says the US is an Oligarchy (In Other Breaking News: Water is Wet!)

Disinformation - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 15:00

Pic: PD

The Daily Kos has reported on a new study (courtesy of researchers from Princeton and Northwestern) which claims to demonstrate, via science, that the US is an oligarchy:

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.”

This news shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has been paying the least bit of attention, though it is encouraging to see that more people are beginning to wake up and acknowledge these facts.

Another disturbing aspect which the author points out:  ”the data used for this study was drawn from study of public policy 1,779 instances between 1981 and 2002. Did you get that….2002…In other words the closing set of data PRE-dates the years most of us would say were when the oligarchs truly built steam. Think of what’s unaccounted for: the Iraq War, OWS, drones and the NSA, Citizen’s United and now McCutcheon. One has to think if the last 13 years had also been accessed, the conclusions would be much more dire than even they already are.”

Continue reading here.


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The (Unintentional) Amazon Guide to Dealing Drugs

Disinformation - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 14:00

Some fantastic data mining detective work is revealed by Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic:

One day, some drug dealer bought a particular digital scale—the AWS-100— on the retail site, Amazon.com. And then another drug dealer bought the same scale. Then another. Then another.

Amazon’s data-tracking software watched what else these people purchased, and now, if you buy the AWS-100 scale, Amazon serves up a quickstart kit for selling drugs.

Along with various scale-related paraphernalia, we find:

[continues at at The Atlantic]

The post The (Unintentional) Amazon Guide to Dealing Drugs appeared first on disinformation.

The Way People Think And Act Is Affected By Ceiling Height

Disinformation - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 13:00

Is your mental range of possibility being stifled by the ceiling above you? From a little while ago, via ScienceDaily:

Recent research by Joan Meyers-Levy, a professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, suggests that the way people think and act is affected by ceiling height.

“When a person is in a space with a 10-foot ceiling, they will tend to think more freely, more abstractly,” said Meyers-Levy. “They might process more abstract connections between objects in a room, whereas a person in a room with an 8-foot ceiling will be more likely to focus on specifics.”

The research demonstrates that a higher versus a lower ceiling can stimulate the concepts of freedom versus confinement, respectively. This causes people to engage in either more free-form, abstract thinking or more detail-specific thought. Depending on what the task at hand requires, the consequences of the ceiling could be positive or negative.

The post The Way People Think And Act Is Affected By Ceiling Height appeared first on disinformation.

Police Called Over “Homeless Jesus” Sculpture Installed In Wealthy North Carolina Town

Disinformation - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:00

Here’s what would happen if Jesus were to return to Earth and land in the affluent Bible Belt suburbs. Via NPR:

The statue depicts Jesus as a vagrant sleeping on a park bench. St. Alban’s Episcopal Church installed the homeless Jesus statue on its property in the middle of an upscale neighborhood filled with well-kept townhomes.

The reaction was immediate. Some loved it; some didn’t. “One woman from the neighborhood actually called police the first time she drove by,” says David Boraks, editor of DavidsonNews.net. “She thought it was an actual homeless person.”

That’s right. Somebody called the cops on Jesus. Some neighbors feel that it’s an insulting depiction of the son of God.

“It gives authenticity to our church,” Rev. David Buck says. “This is a relatively affluent church, to be honest, and we need to be reminded ourselves that our faith expresses itself in active concern for the marginalized of society.”

The post Police Called Over “Homeless Jesus” Sculpture Installed In Wealthy North Carolina Town appeared first on disinformation.

Philatelists’ Delight? The Gay Bondage Stamps of Finland

Disinformation - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 08:36

Courtesy Itella Posti Oy; original image: Tom of Finland Foundation

You have to hand it to the Finns: they may have singlehandedly created a whole new generation of philatelists. Slate reports on the new gay bondage stamps designed by Tom of Finland:

The United States has some pretty cool stamps and, once the Harvey Milk stamp is released next month, at least one commemorating an openly LGBTQ American. But it’s difficult to imagine a future where America’s stamps are as amazingly, graphically gay as Finland’s. This fall, the country will begin selling stamps that feature the “confident and proud homoeroticism” of Tom of Finland, an artist renowned as “beyond question the most influential creator of gay pornographic illustration.”

Itella Posti Oy, the Finnish equivalent of U.S.P.S., boasts that Tom of Finland—also known as Touko Laaksonen—is “considered one of the most well-known Finnish artists around the world”:

His emphatically masculine homoerotic drawings have attained iconic status in their genre and had an influence on, for instance, pop culture and fashion. In his works, Tom of Finland utilized the self-irony and humor typical of subcultures. … The drawings on the stamp sheet represent strong and confident male figures typical of their designer.

The release of the stamps will coincide with an exhibition of Laaksonen’s work at Finland’s Postal Museum. To select which of Laaksonen’s more than 3,500 drawings would appear on the stamps, Posti consulted graphic artist Timo Berry as well as Susanna Luoto, the Finnish representative of the Tom of Finland Foundation, which is “dedicat[ed] to protecting, preserving and promoting erotic art.”…

[continues at Slate where you can view the other stamps]

The post Philatelists’ Delight? The Gay Bondage Stamps of Finland appeared first on disinformation.

New York Measles Outbreak Traced to Fully Vaccinated Woman

Disinformation - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 01:00

Pic: CDC (PD)

“Measles Mary” had been fully vaccinated against the disease, yet still managed to contract it and spread it to others. (They should have know that was going to happen. I mean, her name is “Measles Mary”. Come on…)

Via Science:

Get the measles vaccine, and you won’t get the measles—or give it to anyone else. Right? Well, not always. A person fully vaccinated against measles has contracted the disease and passed it on to others. The startling case study contradicts received wisdom about the vaccine and suggests that a recent swell of measles outbreaks in developed nations could mean more illnesses even among the vaccinated.

When it comes to the measles vaccine, two shots are better than one. Most people in the United States are initially vaccinated against the virus shortly after their first birthday and return for a booster shot as a toddler. Less than 1% of people who get both shots will contract the potentially lethal skin and respiratory infection. And even if a fully vaccinated person does become infected—a rare situation known as “vaccine failure”—they weren’t thought to be contagious.

That’s why a fully vaccinated 22-year-old theater employee in New York City who developed the measles in 2011 was released without hospitalization or quarantine. But like Typhoid Mary, this patient turned out to be unwittingly contagious. Ultimately, she transmitted the measles to four other people, according to a recent report in Clinical Infectious Diseases that tracked symptoms in the 88 people with whom “Measles Mary” interacted while she was sick. Surprisingly, two of the secondary patients had been fully vaccinated. And although the other two had no record of receiving the vaccine, they both showed signs of previous measles exposure that should have conferred immunity.

Keep reading at Science…

The post New York Measles Outbreak Traced to Fully Vaccinated Woman appeared first on disinformation.

Montana Man Licks Cop’s Eyeball While Resisting Arrest At ‘Pisser’s Palace’

Disinformation - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 21:00

Pic: Booking photo (PD)

Mistake One: Hanging out at a place called “Pisser’s Palace“.

Mistake Two: Calling the cops to report a crime when there’s a warrant out for your arrest.

Mistake Three: Licking the eyeball of the cop who responds to your call. You don’t know where that cop’s been.

Via The Smoking Gun:

Police encountered Hiatt after he called 911 to report a theft. After discovering that Hiatt had an active arrest warrant from a neighboring county, officers sought to arrest him. According to investigators, Hiatt struggled when cops sought to handcuff him.

As officers subsequently tried to stuff Hiatt (seen above) in a patrol car, he allegedly licked one of the cop’s eyes. The licking occurred in front of Pisser’s Palace in Walkerville, a Butte suburb.

Wipe your cryin’ eyes and keep reading.

The post Montana Man Licks Cop’s Eyeball While Resisting Arrest At ‘Pisser’s Palace’ appeared first on disinformation.

Is Air Pollution a Risk Factor for Suicide?

Disinformation - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 19:00

PIC: Joseph Herman Bolduc: (PD)

John Upton writes at Pacific Standard:

Saying “it’s so smoggy I could kill myself” may seem as flippant as uttering “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”

But it’s not.

Four years ago, Asian researchers reported links between air pollution and suicide rates in South Korea; and between air pollution, asthma, and suicides in Taiwan. Now, University of Utah scientists say they have uncovered similar links in pollution-prone Salt Lake County.

Delegates who have gathered in Los Angeles for the American Association of Suicidology’s annual get-together will hear this evening about the unpublished research, which compared the timing of 1,500 suicides in the Beehive State with air quality data.

Suicide can be difficult to talk about, but it’s America’s 10th leading cause of death. It’s the eighth-leading cause in Utah, home to some of the nation’s smoggiest cities. Earlier this year, the pollution problem prompted a 5,000-person protest outside the state’s capitol building. (Fun fact: The biggest air polluter in Salt Lake Valley is a copper mine operated by Rio Tinto—and an executive of that mine chairs Utah’s air quality board.)

“We found an association between air pollution exposure and suicide risk,” says Amanda Bakian, an assistant professor in the university’s psychiatry department who was involved with the research. “Our study wasn’t designed to test for causality. It was designed to assess whether or not there is a correlation.”

Bakian and her colleagues found that the odds of committing suicide in the county spiked 20 percent following three days of high nitrogen dioxide pollution—which is produced when fossil fuels are burned and after fertilizer is applied to fields.

They also found that Utahans were five percent more likely to kill themselves following three days of breathing in air laced with high levels of fine particulate matter, also known as soot.

“To our knowledge, this is the first U.S. based study to identify a link between transient air pollution exposure and suicide risk,” the scientists wrote in an abstract for the conference. “A similar relationship may exist in U.S. populations but has yet to be examined.”

Read more here.

The post Is Air Pollution a Risk Factor for Suicide? appeared first on disinformation.

Grave-Robbing Cannibal Brothers Arrested – Again

Disinformation - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 17:00

Pic: PD

Pakistani brothers Arif and Farman can’t seem to be able to control their ghoulish appetites. They were arrested in 2011 for disinterring and eating parts of 150 corpses, and after a stay in a psychiatric hospital, they’re back at it again. While it wasn’t reported in any of the press, I’ve heard that between feasts they’re doing some modeling for a promising Bostonian artist named Richard Upton Pickman

Via The Express Tribune:

BHAKKAR: Two brothers who were previously found guilty of cannibalism and detained by the police have now returned to eating human flesh and an FIR has been registered against them on the charges of terrorism, Express News reported on Monday.

Arif and Farman, who are from the small town of Darya Khan in Bhakkar district, were first arrested in April 2011 after they were found to have disinterred corpses in the local graveyard for the purpose of eating them.

It was reported that the brothers had dug up and devoured parts from upto 150 bodies before they were finally caught.

Today, the police conducted a raid at their house and recovered the head of a boy. According to DPO Bhakkar Ameer Abdullah, Arif has been arrested and he admitted to eating human flesh while his brother Farman is still on the loose.

Put down that drumstick and read the rest of the story…

The post Grave-Robbing Cannibal Brothers Arrested – Again appeared first on disinformation.

How America Created a Minefield Twice the Size of New York City in Afghanistan

Disinformation - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 15:00

Abby Martin reports on the issue of undetonated munitions, highlighting the rising death count of children in Afghanistan exposed to unexploded land mines, as well as the over 100,000 deaths that have occurred since 1975 from similar munitions in Vietnam.

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The Legacy of The Colbert Report: The Joke’s On You!

Disinformation - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 14:02

Pic: Promotional photo (C) Comedy Central.

As you have most likely already heard, Stephen Colbert will be taking over for David Letterman as host of The Late Show. Some are lamenting this decision, while others are rejoicing. Colbert has said that he will be hosting The Late Show as himself, so as he prepares to retire his much-loved alter-ego at the height of his show’s popularity, perhaps now would be a good time to reflect on the legacy of both the character and the show…

Few there are who seem able/willing to question the wit and integrity of either Colbert or Stewart, which is why this brutal Baffler essay by Steve Almond is so incredibly refreshing! Almond completely eviscerates the two and puts them both in their place, refusing to apologize for what he views as mindless mollification and mediocrity for the masses.

The entire essay is well worth the read, though here are a few highlights that are particularly poignant, resonating with a righteous fury:

Stewart and Colbert’s net effect is almost entirely therapeutic: they congratulate viewers for their fine habits of thought and feeling while remaining careful never to question the corrupt precepts of the status quo too vigorously…We have come to accept coy mockery as genuine subversion and snarky mimesis as originality.

Rather than targeting the obscene cruelties borne of greed and fostered by apathy, they harp on a rogues’ gallery of hypocrites familiar to anyone with a TiVo or a functioning memory. Wit, exaggeration, and gentle mockery trump ridicule and invective. The goal is to mollify people, not incite them.

Stewart can score easy points by playing the humble populist. But he’s as comfortable on the corporate plantation as any of the buffoons he delights in humiliating…The queasy irony here is that Stewart and Colbert are parasites of the dysfunction they mock…They aren’t just invested in the status quo, but dependent on it.

Why take to the streets when Stewart and Colbert are on the case? It’s a lot easier, and more fun, to experience the war as a passive form of entertainment than as a source of moral distress requiring citizen activism…In times of national crisis, instead of challenging the prevailing jingoistic hysteria, they induce smiles.

Colbert’s own flag-fellating routine often bends toward unintended sincerity. His visit to Iraq in June 2009 amounted to a week-long infomercial for the U.S. military. Soldiers, by Colbert’s reckoning, aren’t moral actors who choose to brandish weapons, but paragons of manly virtue whose sole function is to carry out their orders—in this case “bringing democracy” to a hellish Arab backwater. This is an utterly authoritarian mindset.

Stewart once dared to opine that President Harry S. Truman was a war criminal for ordering the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. Two days later, he issued an on-air apology. This mea culpa was not spurred by a media uproar or a corporate directive (as far as we know) or any apparent reexamination of Truman’s decision, which (for the record) led to the deaths of an estimated 250,000 Japanese, most of them civilians. It was, more revealingly, the result of Stewart’s inbred aversion to conflict, to making any statement that might depart too dramatically from the cultural consensus and land him at the center of a controversy.

Bill Hicks understood that comedy’s highest calling is to confront the moral complacency of your audience—and the sponsors.

“There’s a reason education sucks, and it’s the same reason that it will never, ever, ever, be fixed,” George Carlin once said, though not on The Daily Show. “The owners of this country don’t want that. I’m talking about the real owners now. The real owners, the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t.”

Stewart and Colbert are adept at savaging the safe targets—vacuous talking heads and craven senators. But you will never hear them referring to our soldiers as “uniformed assassins,” as Twain did in describing an American attack on a tribal group in the Philippines.

Their shows air on Comedy Central, which is owned by Viacom, the fifth largest media conglomerate in the world…yet South Park is far more radical than its polished stablemates for the simple reason that it is willing to confront its viewers.

In Stewart’s daffy formulation, pundits and politicians are the ones who prey on an otherwise noble citizenry. But it’s us citizens who watch those pundits and elect those politicians. We’ve chosen to degrade our discourse. Stewart and Colbert make their nut by catering to those citizens who choose to laugh at the results rather than work to change them.

The reason our discourse has grown vicious, and has drifted away from matters of actual policy and their moral consequence, isn’t because of some misunderstanding between cultural factions. It is the desired result of a sustained campaign waged by corporations, lobbyists, politicians, and demagogues who have placed private gain over the common good.

Stewart and Colbert’s clever brand of pseudo-subversion guarantees a jolt of righteous mirth to the viewer, a feeling that evaporates the moment their shows end. At which point we return to our given role as citizens: consuming whatever the quacks serve up next.

Continue reading at The Baffler

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The Less Americans Know About Geography, The More They Favor Overseas Military Invasions

Disinformation - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 13:00

Today’s looming evidence that we are living in the Idiocracy, via the Washington Post:

Our results are clear, but also somewhat disconcerting: The less people know about where Ukraine is located on a map, the more they want the U.S. to intervene there militarily. Even controlling for a series of demographic characteristics and participants’ general foreign policy attitudes, we found that the less accurate our participants were, the more they wanted the U.S. to use force [and] the greater the threat they saw Russia as posing.

On March 28-31, 2014, we asked a national sample of 2,066 Americans what action they wanted the U.S. to take in Ukraine, but with a twist: we also asked our survey respondents to locate Ukraine on a map as part of a larger, ongoing project to study foreign policy knowledge. We wanted to see where Americans think Ukraine is and to learn if this knowledge (or lack thereof) is related to their foreign policy views.

About one in six (16 percent) Americans correctly located Ukraine, clicking somewhere within its borders. Most thought that Ukraine was located somewhere in Europe or Asia, but the median respondent was about 1,800 miles off.

Does it really matter whether Americans can put Ukraine on a map? Previous research would suggest yes: Information, or the absence thereof, can influence Americans’ attitudes about the kind of policies they want their government to carry out and the ability of elites to shape that agenda.

The post The Less Americans Know About Geography, The More They Favor Overseas Military Invasions appeared first on disinformation.

“Mocassins on the Ground”: Lakota Resistance Against Keystone XL Pipeline

Disinformation - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 11:30

PIC: Owe Aku flyer (c) Click to visit the site.

Via Warrior Publications:

Here’s an excerpt of a recent statement by the Lakota grassroots organization Owe Aku:

“We do not want kxl, we do not want tarsands in our lands, the tarsands must stay in the ground, the extraction and its aftermath is killing humans and all of life up there, and wasting precious water… Please take a moment to help get our words, thoughts, and prayers out to the world, all over Unci Maka, that Lakota People, and many other Red Nations people, we have painted our faces. Our allies up north have painted their faces. For sacred water, for Unci Maka, for our generations.”

The Lakota people and their allies are preparing in case it should be necessary to put “Moccasins on the Ground” and protect sacred land and water from the threat of KXL.

A solid way YOU can support Lakota grassroots resistance to KXL is by chipping in a few bucks to fund the ‘Moccasins on the Ground’ activist training series. Its coming up soon (April 25-27), and more funding is needed. Please click here: www.everribbon.com/oweaku

The three-day training provides the skills necessary to be on the front lines of environmental justice and sacred water protection work. For more info, check out www.oweakuinternational.org

The post “Mocassins on the Ground”: Lakota Resistance Against Keystone XL Pipeline appeared first on disinformation.

Cosmos: Creationist Version

Disinformation - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 11:00

If you’ve been watching the new version of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, now presented by Neil deGrasse Tyson, you’ll have noticed that Tyson goes out of his way to put down creationism’s idea that the universe is 6,000 years old, evolution is false, etc. It’s not exactly balanced in its approach, so Funny or Die decided to set that right and make a creationist version of Cosmos:

The post Cosmos: Creationist Version appeared first on disinformation.

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