7-25-16 Universal ancestor of all life on Earth was only half alive
Universal ancestor of all life on Earth was only half alive
The identification of genes likely to belong to the common ancestor of life suggests its biochemistry was incomplete, forcing it to cling to undersea vents. Many of the genes in our cells evolved billions of years ago and a few of them can be traced back to the last common ancestor of all life. Now we have the best picture yet of what that ancestor was like and where it lived, thanks to a study that identified 355 genes that it probably possessed. “It was flabbergasting to us that we found as many as we did,” says William Martin of the University of Dusseldorf in Germany, who led the study. The findings support the idea that the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) lurked in hydrothermal vents where hot water rich in hydrogen, carbon dioxide and minerals emerged from the sea floor. “It’s spot on with regard to the hydrothermal vent theory,” Martin says. He describes LUCA as half-living, because it may have depended on abiotic reactions in the vents to produce many of the chemicals it needed.(Webmaster's comment: Zeroing in on where life began.)
6-29-16 Most Americans Still Believe in God
Most Americans Still Believe in God
About nine in 10 Americans say they believe in God, and one in 10 say they do not (and that probably means they are Atheists). However, when presented with more than a "yes or no" option, about eight in 10 say they believe and one in 10 say they aren't sure. Belief in God, regardless of how the question is phrased to Americans, is down from levels in past decades. (Webmaster's comment: The poll shows that there are between 28 and 35 million Atheists in the United States. That's a lot of people! We are not alone!)
- 89% of Americans say they believe in God
- In a separate poll, 79% say "believe in God" and 10% "not sure"
- All measures of belief in God show declines from previous decades
5-26-16 U.S. Religious Groups Disagree on Five Key Moral Issues
U.S. Religious Groups Disagree on Five Key Moral Issues
Americans' religious faith greatly shapes their views of whether moral issues or practices are acceptable or not. In general, Jews and those with no religious preference are more liberal than Protestants, Catholics and Mormons in their views on various moral issues. These differences are most apparent on abortion and, to a lesser extent, doctor-assisted suicide and animal cloning. Catholics join with Jews and nonreligious Americans in saying gay-lesbian relations and out-of-wedlock births are morally OK.
- Jews, nonreligious tend to be most liberal on morality
- Catholics say out-of-wedlock births, gay-lesbian relations moral
- Only Mormons view premarital sex, gambling as immoral
Moral Issues on Which Major U.S. Religious Group Disagree
Percentage saying each is "morally acceptable"
|Having a baby outside of marriage
(Webmaster's comment: It's really obvious who are the true friends of liberal, progressive causes. And it's not the Catholics, Protestants, or Mormans. But amazingly of those the Catholics are the most liberal and progressive.)
Hate Groups Operating In The United States
All data from the Southern Poverty Law Center
|All hate groups operating in the U.S.
|Ku Klux Klan groups
|Black Separatist groups
|Racist Skinhead groups
|White Nationalist groups
|General Hate groups
|Christian Identity groups
|Radical Traditional Catholicism groups
|Holocaust Denial groups
|Racist Music groups
Note that many of these hate groups are Christian Based.
But there are no Muslim or Jewish Based Hate Groups.
Sioux Falls Free Thinkers is Home for all those of Free Thought with Open Minds! This group includes Atheists, Agnostics, and Humanists, those interested in science and Scientists, those who love animals and Zoologists, and Feminists and those wanting to help abused women, but all those with open minds are welcome. Free Thinkers are those that want a world without rules and controls on thought, without mental borders and boundaries. A world where anything is possible.
Free Your Mind! There Is No Spoon!
(From the movie, The Matrix)
The one thing the writers of the Freethinker definition seem to have forgotten is the idea of having an Open Mind, the basic concept behind what made Freethinking possible in the first place. We at Sioux Falls Free Thinkers reject this closed-minded rigidity of thought, so, even though we agree with and endorse much of the Freethinking definition, we took the word Freethinking back to its original roots and call ourselves "Free Thinkers" to symbolize Open Minds, Free Thought, and true Free Thinking once again.
Our meetings and social gatherings are posted at Sioux Falls Free Thinkers on Meetup.com. Sioux Falls Free Thinkers Upcoming Events can be seen on the Meetup.com Calendar.
You can see the billboards for our Sioux Falls Scientists campaign at: 2016 Scientists Billboards, and can see how they play out on the digital billboards and as seen from the street at: 2016 Scientists Billboard Animations.
So far this month over 4,900 Scientists and over 4,900 Free Thinkers website pages have been read, and over 20,400 pages have been read on all 5 websites, more than in any previous month. And we still have 5 days left to go.
7-8-16 How NASA restored my faith in humanity
How NASA restored my faith in humanity
This week, NASA's Juno spacecraft entered into orbit around Jupiter, after a 1.7 billion–mile journey. Juno arrived just one second off its scheduled arrival time after five years in space, traveling at 165,000 miles per hour — the fastest human-built object ever. Where in everyday life, or in government, do we see such sheer competence? In modern science, miracles are routine. Physicists have hurled beams of protons at each other with such primordial force that they revealed the elusive Higgs boson that serves as glue for all matter. Astrophysicists have detected gravitational waves produced by the collision of two black holes more than a billion light-years away, by creating antennae of such exquisite sensitivity they register infinitesimal ripples in space-time. Molecular biologists are figuring out how to re-engineer genes. Computer scientists keep shrinking the size of chips and doubling our devices' computing power. None of this is to say that scientists are gods, or that they are immune to the shortsightedness and egotism that plagues our species. Underneath their hyperdeveloped cerebral cortexes, even the most brilliant people have a lizard brain, pulsing with primitive impulses. But they provide proof that not all humans are imbeciles, and that's consolation enough.
The Sioux Falls Free Thinkers group will never have any dues. Membership is not required to attend our meetings. This group will probably never have any formal rules except treating other members and their opinions with respect, and giving everyone equal time to speak. This group will never purge members for expressing their opinions or for forming their own group of open-minded people. The only loose requirement is that members, and those attending our meetings, have an interest in one of the subjects of our five websites.
Of Special Interest
6-22-16 Tough gun laws in Australia eliminate mass shootings
Tough gun laws in Australia eliminate mass shootings
Study finds legislation effective in wake of 1996 massacre. In 1996, Australia initiated a program to purchase and destroy certain types of long guns, including semiautomatic weapons. Over the next four years, the country collected more than 650,000 guns. Australia has seen zero mass shootings in the 20 years since it enacted strict gun control laws and a mandatory gun buyback program, researchers report June 22 in JAMA. Key to this success is probably the reduction in people’s exposure to semiautomatic weapons, Johns Hopkins University health policy researcher Daniel Webster writes in an accompanying editorial. “Here’s a society that recognized a public safety threat, found it unacceptable, and took measures to address the problem,” Webster says. (Webmaster's comment: This works! Why can't we do this? Americans believe they need the right to kill other people with firearms as it is a necessary part of freedom and liberty. They believe they must watch their children, family and friends die as it is a necessary part of freedom and liberty. They've formed a violent and primitive culture which much of the rest of the civilized world left behind where it belongs, in the stone age.)
5-5-16 Photo of woman defying neo-Nazi march in Sweden goes viral
Photo of woman defying neo-Nazi march in Sweden goes viral
A photograph of a woman with her fist raised defying a uniformed march of neo-Nazis in Sweden has gone viral. Activist Tess Asplund took part in a counter-demonstration during a Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) rally in Borlange on Sunday. She has been widely praised on social media, including by Harry Potter author J K Rowling, who has called her "magnificent". The anti-racism activist told Swedish P4 radio station that her act was an impulse, as she thought the neo-Nazi demonstration should not be being held there. (Webmaster's comment: Women and Decent Men all over the world need to make a public stand against Racist Pigs like these.)
4-9-16 Americans are skeptical of God but think heaven is real
Americans are skeptical of God but think heaven is real
Since 1980, the number of Americans who believe in God has decreased by half and the number who pray has declined five-fold. Has America lost its faith? The United States formally separates church and state, but it's hard to deny that America is inundated with religious innuendo, from its controversial pledge of allegiance all the way down to its Judeo-Christian courthouse displays and faith-espousing legal tender. Yet fewer Americans pray or believe in God than ever before, according to a new study in the journal Sage Open. Researchers found that the percentage of Americans who claim they never pray reached an all-time high in 2014, up five-fold since the 1980s. Over the same time period, belief in God and interest in spirituality appears to have similarly declined, especially among young adults. The findings suggest that, "millennials are the least religious generation in memory, and possibly in American history," says Jean M. Twenge, psychology professor at San Diego State University and coauthor on the study, in a press statement. "Most previous studies concluded that fewer Americans were publicly affiliating with a religion, but that Americans were just as religious in private ways. That's no longer the case, especially in the last few years." (Webmaster's comment: The chances of a great evil United States Christian Religious Dictatorship are coming to an end! Thank the youth of America!)
4-7-16 Parental leave - San Francisco v rest of world
Parental leave - San Francisco v rest of world
As any mother or father will tell you, having children is wonderful but it's not cheap. Now San Francisco is taking steps to try to relieve some of the financial strain on new parents. The city has become the first in the US to approve six-weeks of paid parental leave for full-time workers. It is not a lot by the standards of other Western countries, but it's a lot more than parents get at the moment. (Webmaster's comment: The rest of the United States you mean. The rest of the world has up to over a year of employer/government-paid maternity and paternity leave by law. The average in Europe is 22 weeks and increasing. See Paid Maternity Leave in Developed Countries)
4-1-16 Crossing Over: How Science Is Redefining Life and Death
Crossing Over: How Science Is Redefining Life and Death
Can death be reversible? And what are we learning about the gray zone between here and the other side? After toddler Gardell Martin fell into an icy stream in March 2015, he was dead for more than an hour and a half. Three and a half days later he left a hospital alive and well. His story is one of many prompting scientists to question the very meaning of death. Death is “a process, not a moment,” writes critical-care physician Sam Parnia in his book Erasing Death. It’s a whole-body stroke, in which the heart stops beating but the organs don’t die immediately. In fact, he writes, they might hang on intact for quite a while, which means that “for a significant period of time after death, death is in fact fully reversible.” In Arizona cryonics experts maintain more than 130 dead clients in a frozen state that’s another kind of limbo. Their hope is that sometime in the distant future, maybe centuries from now, these clients will be thawed and revived, technology having advanced to the point where they can be cured of whatever killed them. Linda Chamberlain, co-founder of the Arizona-based cryonics company Alcor, hugs the container where the body of her husband, Fred, is frozen in the hope that someday he can be thawed and revived. She plans to join him in cryo limbo when her time comes. Fred’s last words, she says, were “Gee, I hope this works.” (Webmaster's comment: I'm signed up at Alcor. The only one in the state. Ignorant anti-science twits have attacked me for doing that. But the writing is on the wall. Science will win in the end and beat death. And so will I. Join me anyone?)
3-21-16 Weather records broken as world faces alarming levels of change
Weather records broken as world faces alarming levels of change
The lowest extent of Arctic winter sea ice and highest ocean temperatures were among many records broken last year around the world. Last year broke weather records left, right and centre, according to a new statement by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on the status of global climate in 2015. This included the highest level of ocean warming on record and the most extensive melting of winter sea ice in the Arctic. A billion people in South Asia also suffered an unprecedented killer heat wave. “The alarming rate of change we are now witnessing in our climate as a result of greenhouse gas emissions is unprecedented in modern records,” said Petteri Taalas, secretary-general at the WMO. The WMO says that new temperature records are already being set this year, with average global air temperatures in January and February the highest for those months on record. “The startlingly high temperatures so far in 2016 have sent shockwaves around the climate-science community,” said David Carlson, head of the WMO’s World Climate Research Programme. (Webmaster's comment: We're cooking! The pot is beginning to boil!)
3-14-16 The immortalist: Uploading the mind to a computer
The immortalist: Uploading the mind to a computer
While many tech moguls dream of changing the way we live with new smart devices or social media apps, one Russian internet millionaire is trying to change nothing less than our destiny, by making it possible to upload a human brain to a computer, reports Tristan Quinn. "Within the next 30 years," promises Dmitry Itskov, "I am going to make sure that we can all live forever." It sounds preposterous, but there is no doubting the seriousness of this softly spoken 35-year-old, who says he left the business world to devote himself to something more useful to humanity. "I'm 100% confident it will happen. Otherwise I wouldn't have started it," he says. (Webmaster's comment: Science is going to beat death. It's only a matter of time.)
2-19-16 Americans' shortened life spans
Americans' shortened life spans
The life expectancy of Americans is lower than that of people living in other high-income countries, and a new study explains why: We're inflicting earlier death on ourselves with self-destructive behavior. Car accidents, gun violence, and drug overdoses kill 100,000 people in the U.S. each year, which helps explain why American men and women die about 2.2 years earlier than residents of Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, according to a new study by the National Center for Health Statistics. American men and women have a life expectancy of 76.4 and 81.2 years, respectively, compared to 78.6 and 83.4 years for their peers abroad. "It seems staggering that we get two fewer years just for living here,"study author Andrew Fenelon tells the Associated Press. Gun deaths, car crashes, and overdoses are responsible for half that difference, with the other lost year the result of higher infant mortality, health problems related to diet, and other factors. (Webmaster's comment: That's just the price of Liberty and Freedom according to Libertarians and Conservatives. Well those other countries have lots of Freedom and Liberty too, even more, but it doesn't kill them early. Maybe we could learn something from them by studying their governmental systems and laws.)
The Gun Facts:Canada's gun-related homicide rate (0.5 per 100,000) is about seven times lower than the United States' (3.5 per 100,000). However, it is higher than many of its peers, including Japan (0.01 per 100,000) and the United Kingdom (0.06 per 100,000). (Webmaster's comment: Canada - 1/7th the U.S. gun homicide rate, United Kingdom - 1/58th the U.S. gun homicide rate, Japan - 1/350th the U.S. gun homicide rate. Our interpretation of our constitution has not guaranteed our freedom and liberty, it has guaranteed a high death and violence rate! Think about the tens of thousands of innocent dead people, grieving family and relatives, and terrorized children every year compared to other nations! Mention this to conservatives and they will have no answer!)
1-18-16 Oxfam says wealth of richest 1% equal to other 99%
Oxfam says wealth of richest 1% equal to other 99%
The richest 1% now has as much wealth as the rest of the world combined, according to Oxfam. It uses data from Credit Suisse from October for the report, which urges leaders meeting in Davos this week to take action on inequality. Oxfam also calculated that the richest 62 people in the world had as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population. It criticised the work of lobbyists and the amount of money kept in tax havens.
12-28-15 Clinton Most Admired Woman for Record 20th Time
Clinton Most Admired Woman for Record 20th Time
Americans again name Hillary Clinton (13%) and President Barack Obama (17%) the woman and man living anywhere in the world they admire most. Both win by wide margins over the next-closest finishers, Malala Yousafzai (5%) for women and Pope Francis (5%) and Donald Trump (5%) for men. (Webmaster's comment: In spite of all the hype Trump's a loser!)
12-24-15 Iran hostage crisis: Victims 'to be compensated' 36 years later
Iran hostage crisis: Victims 'to be compensated' 36 years later
The US victims of the Iran hostage crisis are to receive compensation 36 years after their ordeal, reports say. Each of the 53 hostages or their estates will receive up to $4.4m (£3m), according to a US spending bill passed last Friday. (Webmaster's comment: Yet America refuses to compensate the Japanese-American citizens imprisoned in American prison camps during WWII, the victims of American Government and Military run medical experiments, the American victims of forced sterlization against their will, the American victims of forced genital mutilation against their will, the victims of American torture programs; the list of American attrocities against the innocent and violations of Human Rights is very long and hardly anyone is ever compensated.)
12-23-15 ISS crew receives Christmas delivery
ISS crew receives Christmas delivery
A Russian cargo vehicle carrying food and supplies has docked with the International Space Station - just in time for Christmas. It launched on Monday from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Progress 62P vehicle docked automatically with the Pirs compartment of the ISS at 10:27 GMT on Wednesday, after its two-day transit. Once the crew completes leak checks, the hatches will be opened, allowing them to unload the cargo. (Webmaster's comment: And who makes the Christmas delivery to the ISS? The Russians of course! They are the only ones who can do so reliably.)
12-16-15 US Muslims reel at Trump supporters' hostility
US Muslims reel at Trump supporters' hostility
Surrounded by banners proclaiming Islam's respect for America and promotion of tolerance, freedom and democracy, they talked about the violence, the backlash and about Donald Trump. The Republican presidential candidate responded to the killings in San Bernardino by proposing the suspension of all Muslim immigration to the US, a statement that sent chills up Muslim spines. Such language, he argued, would "fan the flames of hate and lead us down the very path that our enemies want to see us go". There is a weary feeling here about the cycle of events; a violent attack followed by an expectation that the Islamic community will publicly restate a commitment to peace. "It is just inconsistent," he says, "we're not mentioning it when people are being gunned down by white supremacists, by people with distorted ideologies in this country who go into the theatres, who go into the schools, who go into the abortion clinic, who went into the church." In other words, why are such killers rarely referred to as Christian extremists, even when they claim to be driven by Biblical teachings?"We would be safe if we just referred to criminals as criminals, murderers as murderers without putting religious titles on them," says Mr Seifullah who argues that Mr Trump's response to San Bernardino has "given people approval" to be racist and bigoted, "to think that it's OK to discriminate against one group of people over another." Half a century after "intense civil rights struggles," he warns, "we can go back to that. There are people who are embracing his rhetoric and that's frightening."
12-4-15 Mass Shootings This Year
Mass Shootings This Year
There have been at least 351 mass shootings in the U.S. in the first 334 days of this year, defined as incidents in which four or more people, including the gunman, are killed or injured by gunfire. There were at least 12 in the previous week alone, including the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting. Having access to a firearm almost doubles one’s chances of becoming the victim of a homicide, and triple’s one’s likelihood of killing him or herself. And we know that states with the highest rates of gun ownership have the highest rates of gun murders. The same is true of countries—more guns equal more gun deaths. The incidence of mass shootings has tripled over the past four years, a period that coincided with 37 states’ loosening their restrictions on owning and carrying guns. Of the 372 mass shootings in 2015 (final FBI total) less than 2% involved shooters with Muslim beliefs and less that 4% involved women shooters. More than 80% of the shooters were white males. At least 60% of those claimed to be Christians.
11-11-15 Could an atheist win the White House? It's not as crazy as you might think.
Could an atheist win the White House? It's not as crazy as you might think.
These are pretty good times for non-believers. Our ranks are growing rapidly, with nearly a quarter of Americans now claiming no religious identification. Even if most of those don't emphatically declare themselves atheist, but say their religion is "nothing in particular," there are surely plenty of people who call themselves Catholics or Jews or something else but whose belief in an all-knowing, all-seeing god is tenuous at best. The number will keep growing, because religiosity and age are strongly correlated today, with older people being the most religious while a full third of millennials claim no religion. It's no longer considered scandalous in many, if not most, places to say that you aren't a believer.
Our "slogan" above comes from the following quote:
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent!
But above all Be Your Own Heroine, Be Your Own Hero. You achieve nothing for yourself by living vicariously off the skills and achievements of others. It's What You Do That Matters. Cheer and applaud your own skills and achievements and be proud of them, Be Proud of Who You Are and What You Do.
Don't Just Think You Are Right, Know You Are. Don't hesitate, don't be unsure, don't let others doubts cloud your judgment, your power of reason. Others will constantly try to manipulate you, control you, dominate you, intimidate you, tell you that you must do this or can't do that, Ignore Them! Your mind, your own thoughts are the only thing you can be sure of, trust your thoughts instead of theirs.
Your mind, your conscious mind is the most powerful tool ever evolved.
Trust it, act on what it tells you. Be positive! If you think you're right
Then Know you're right and Follow What You Think is the best course.
Break Free! There Is No Spoon!
We look forward to seeing you at one or more of our events and meetings!
We have member websites for Atheists, Agnostics, and Humanists, for those interested in science and Scientists, for those who love animals and Zoologists, and for Feminists; for those who wish to help abused women, and for abused women themselves. Check out these other websites at Member Websites.
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Welcome Sioux Falls Free Thinkers!
Welcome Open Minds!