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Author Topic: Expelled anyone heard about this?  (Read 5471 times)
BTM
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« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2008, 04:52:20 PM »

You'd think in a world supposedly driven by knowledge and intelligence that you wouldt need to be winning popularity contests, but, I guess not. 

DOH!!!  That should say "wouldn't".  I fixed it, but just in case you saw the original...

Gotta learn to proofread...

:)
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« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2008, 04:55:40 PM »

By the way, at one private school where I taught, I had a class that gave me a little bit of trouble.  The faculty gave me a little bit of trouble, too, not understanding why my class was so "hard."  At the end of the semester, after the Final Exam, the students of that class presented me with a card that said "Thanks.  You are the best teacher we've ever had, because you showed us that even though it is hard, we can do it.  Everyone else, when it got hard, thought they had to make it easy for us to do it."

Wow, that is so awesome!  Can't imagine how great that must have felt to receive that.

(And I'll refrain from getting into the private vs public school debate thing.)

Still though, I would have been showing that card to my colleagues, be like, "Hey!  How many of these did YOU get?" 

(Well, okay, probably not, but its fun to think about...)

 
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« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2008, 06:24:14 PM »

Not to venture too far into the fray on the subject of the origins of All That Is, but I will say that some of the most closed-minded people I've known happened to be scientists.
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« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2008, 04:55:39 AM »

The problem that exists is that to many, some very prominent, scientists, science has been elevated to the level of a 'belief system.'  It's easy to hide behind "oh, it's just testing," but the reality is science has become a world-view to these folks that holds as it's basic, central premise the deification of self.  This "religion" even has a name - scientism; it has also been called the "religion of Self God."  It is a subset of ontological naturalism that holds that the only CORRECT way to view ANYTHING in the world is through the lens of science.

The point is not to claim Evolution is false or ID is good science.  The point is emphasize that absence of broad world-view objectivity in the contemporary science community.  Evolution is a theory, and no theory explains everything at all times.  However, partially by fallacious appeals to popularity and partly due to the "Self God" element of modern naturalism, Evolution is very often presented, especially to lay people, as a settled deal.  "No debate necessary."

Is ID good science?  Some of it might be.  Behe's complex structures are but one example.  Essentially, the sin in the church of scientism Behe committed is that he began his discussion with the assumption that there may be things science cannot explain.  You and I don't have to accept HIS explanation for those things, but essentially he is simply stating that "the Modern Theory cannot account for this....maybe no testable theory can.  What do we do now? "  You cannot say that in this church, you cannot even hint that there might be things "out there" bigger than Man's Brain.

So, what do good zealots do when they have no rational, thought-out answer?  They ridicule, denigrate and berate.  In all the debate on complex structures that I have read, not one single person has ever suggested "How can the Theory Be Modified/Improved to account for this?"  If that IS out there, I've not seen it and it certainly is not what is being put out for public consumption.


I agree that there are very deep, philosophical questions regarding ways to perceive and understand the universe. Yes, the scientific method can be misconstrued into "scientism," and there are jerks in science as well in any other aspect of life. However, any argument regarding the scientific method versus other methods of thinking about and perceiving the world should be met head on. The reason that the debate between Intelligent Design and Evolution is not a good example of this argument is because of the weakness of the Intelligent Design hypothesis. It's like pitting Glass Joe against Muhammad Ali.

To take your specific example, examples of Behe's "irreducible complexity" have been refuted or shown to have alternate pathways well within evolutionary theory. (The wikipedia article.) No doubt there has been ridicule, but all the real work and research is presented in papers and journals. Unless you are a hardcore scientific journal aficionado, you miss most of this and only get popularized representation of debate, which are often trumped up for "story." Journal articles are generally dry as a bone.

I agree with the assertion that usage of the scientific method should not devolve into "scientism." All data should be taken into account lest we start denying the existence of meteors, to use Robert Anton Wilson's example. I also agree with peter johnson's point that even the very way we can think about the world are constrained. For example, how well could we develop hypotheses regarding disease before we had the tools (optics) to recognize the existence of germs? What questions are relevant today that we don't even have the knowledge to even think about asking?

That is an interesting debate. Intelligent Design is not. It is a trojan horse and a bad example of both science and religion.

And, yes, modern evolutionary theory is a "settled deal," at least as far as any theory (in the scientific usage of the term) can be. The overall thrust of speciation by natural selection has been accepted, what is left to figure out is all the specific hows and whys. It is not the case that if you invalidate a small part of it (Behe's "irreducible complexity") then the whole system breaks down. The theory will be modified/improved to account for the new data, which is the real work being done today by researchers on countless fronts.
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« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2008, 07:51:49 AM »

"And, yes, modern evolutionary theory is a "settled deal," at least as far as any theory (in the scientific usage of the term) can be. The overall thrust of speciation by natural selection has been accepted, what is left to figure out is all the specific hows and whys. It is not the case that if you invalidate a small part of it (Behe's "irreducible complexity") then the whole system breaks down. The theory will be modified/improved to account for the new data, which is the real work being done today by researchers on countless fronts."

So no matter what criticisms, flaws, or fallacies one discovers within evolutionary theory, the theory will simply adapt and ignore them?


Look, I believe in a Creator and make no bones about it.  Scientists can theorize all day long, but the universe is a little too darned orderly to be one great big accident.  Can I accept evolution as one of the tools God used to shape life on this planet?  No problem.  Can I accept that everything I see around me is an accident, the result of nothing more than random genetic mutations scattered across millions of years, and that human consciousness is nothing more or less than a biological accident?  NEVER!!!!


Here is one of my favorite quotes:

"No credible scientist rejects evolution.  Why?  Because a scientist who rejects evolution loses all credibility!"
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« Reply #20 on: March 15, 2008, 09:14:51 AM »

Mofo,

I think it is very dangerous, from a purely objective, truly scientific standpoint, to label ANY theory as "settled."  Evolution is no exception.

Albert Einstein stated that once we think we KNOW something, all UNDERSTANDING ceases.

That's what I have observed on the Evolution side in the ID vs Evo debate.  A superiority of knowledge, ALL knowledge, based on the apparent success of the Theory of Evolution.

I say "apparent success" due to a thought model called "Einstein's Watch."  In a nutshell, this model exemplifies how we can theorize how something in the universe works, but we can never KNOW that is the ultimate reality.  Scientists that elevate theories and models to 'reality' are crossing a very important line.

Again, we would not be having this discussion about the philosophy of Science vs Scientism if it were not for Intelligent Design.  THAT is the reason ID is important.  True, we CAN discuss this without ID, but we WEREN'T.  ID helped bring all these notions of Self-God to the forefront, and make no mistake, this is not just a few, isolated cases in the 'science community.'  It's rampant, especially in academic science.  Shoot, a friend of mine in grad school even called the environment in which we worked a 'church,' long before ID was in the pop press.

The key problem with many (I've not read them all) of those 'refutations' of Behe's complexities is a logical fallacy called Begging the Question.  They assume Evolution is correct, the right theory to explain that, and then use Evolution to explain how complexity is a purely evolutionary process.  You cannot do that.  You are using your conclusion in your premises, but this is a mistake very often made by biologists.

Let's put it this way.  I am not arguing the scientific merit of the Theory of Evolution.  I am arguing for open discussion about it's gaps, it's holes.  Not the missing links, the real causal gaps.  As a scientific Theory, it is a good one - but it is FAR from "perfect."  No theory is.  But, the best theories are only based on the facts at had at the time the theory is formulated/modified.

Let's play Einstein and do a thought experiment.  Suppose while out digging next week, Indiana Smith here finds a bone that by all analysis, absolutely cannot be made to fit the Theory of Evolution.  What would happen?

The first thing that would happen: Indiana's credibility would be attacked because he is a Christian as well as a Scientist.  The claims of hoax would ring loud and clear, especially in the pop press.  Ad Hominem's would abound.

Do you doubt that?  Do you argue that the 'science community' would quietly take this bone, analyze it some more, debate it, organize conferences to discuss it (Heck, let's jump in with a Conference to Openly Discuss ALL Problems with the Theory of Evolution)? Do you think any proposal to a federal funding agency would meet success if it focused on this bone and how it's very existence contradicts the pet doctrine in the Church of Scientism?

If you DO think science would operate as it is supposed to in this circumstance, I'd invite you to examine the current funding trends for studies on global warming or "climate change." 

To summarize, consensus in science is not only a farce, it is also dangerous to the very objectivity science requires to function properly. True, we cannot operate solely outside our cultural context, but we can be open to data when we see it.

Behe's discussion of complexity should have sparked only a scientific debate, not ridicule.  Instigation of a designer is fair game in OPEN scientific discussion, especially if we use that term abstractly.  You keep calling ID the worse kind of science - maybe as it's represented in the pop press, that appears true - but the discussion of the issues real ID attempts to solve really ARE fair discussion in science. 

What started this whole thing was a movie that 'exposes' the ridicule, the lack of funding, the lack of tenure that scientists who disagree with the "Church" receive.  I defy to you to tell that this is NOT happening, has not happened.  Sorry, but you won't convince me - I've seen it with my own eyes.

I got shouted down by at least three members of the audience at a talk once discussing coral death and global warming.  I had asked the speaker a question about deep ocean carbon sinking mechanisms, like the production of methane-hydrate, that are poorly understood.  My question was "could these carbon sinking mechanisms, which are not included in the current carbon cycle models, make the predictions about global sea temperature rise inaccurate?"

The speaker did not know about these deep ocean "unknowns," so I tried to explain a little - what little *I* knew - for the context of the question.  As soon as I mentioned "things not currently understood or well explained," three people in the audience proceeded to literally SHOUT at me "we know all we need to know - the models are good ones, and they are right."

Does that sound like science to you?

And not to put too fine a point on it, everytime I hear someone say Evolution is a done deal, or it's "right," that's what I think of.  What will we discover tomorrow that MIGHT invalidate the whole shebang?  Well, in the current scientific climate - nothing.  A simple theory about adaptation and natural selection has become doctrine, and a religion will fight very hard to hold onto its doctrines.  I get that...I get that people don't want to face the possibility that they might have been wrong about a belief they cherised very closely.

Evolution is the best theory we have TODAY to explain biodiversity.  But that does not mean it is RIGHT.  It does NOT mean it should not be discussed from the the premise that it is NOT correct.  Good science is not afraid to be wrong.

The more I think about this stuff, the more I think you just don't see this sort of think as much in chemistry and physics - so-called hard sciences.  As a matter of fact, based on my observation at least, most of the scientists that are standing tall AGAINST Scientism are physicists. 

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« Reply #21 on: March 15, 2008, 09:31:21 AM »

Ulthar, you're my hero.  If I find a mosasaur bone with an arrowhead stuck in it, you'll be the first one I call!
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« Reply #22 on: March 15, 2008, 11:35:38 AM »

I have read through this, (may have missed some of the finer points, I got interrupted a couple times) and now I'd like to add my thoughts on this Creationist/I.D. vs Science and the Scientific Method.
I, like Indianasmith, have no problem believing in what science has found out about the origins on the universe, the solar system, and life on earth, I don't believe this was an accident, I see the hand of God in all of this, this is my faith, but it is not science. Religious faith and scientific believe are not mutually exclusive, one attempts to answer the why of existence and the other the how. I don't think that we would have been given free will, intellect and curiosity if it was not intended for us to find out as much as possible about this marvelous universe we live in. May sound childish, but I'm basically a 56 year old kid anyway. Having said that, I want to say that religious philosophy should not be taught as science any more than science should be taught as religion.
The problem I see with any sort of debate about religion, science, creationism, theory, etc. is that with very few exceptions the people involved on both sides of the issue, what ever it may be, have made up their minds and anyone who disagrees is obviously wrong. This has been a consistant human failing throughout history, while it's understandable, no one likes to admit that they may be wrong, or that some one else may be right, it's unfortunate, and it's been the cause of a lot of suffering.
We need to approach life with an open mind and a willingness to learn new things.
 
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« Reply #23 on: March 15, 2008, 01:58:07 PM »

Mofo,

I think it is very dangerous, from a purely objective, truly scientific standpoint, to label ANY theory as "settled."  Evolution is no exception.

Albert Einstein stated that once we think we KNOW something, all UNDERSTANDING ceases.

Then we are in agreement. I'm not denying scientists can often be jerks and close-minded; it's often stated that "science progresses one funeral at a time." But do we call all science and scientific theories into question because of that, regardless of evidence?

Evolution is often presented as if it were a house of cards and if one small portion can be questioned then the whole thing falls down. The theory of evolution wasn't just drawn out of a hat one day, it was originally formulated to fit the observations of Darwin on his now famous (infamous?) voyage. Over the ensuing 150 years, it has been tested and retested, reams of new data have been gathered from a multitude of disciplines, and the theory has been strengthened under vociferous criticism.

Certainly, if one were to find evidence that refuted the theory, it would have to be discarded and replaced. It may be an error to accept something as "true," but how much greater an error to deny something as true because it may possibly one day in the future be refuted? Especially if there is scads of evidence supporting it today. I might conceivably win the lottery tomorrow, but I'm not quitting my job today.

I don't ask anybody to take my word for it. Examine the evidence. Then examine some more. Then read some arguments both pro and con and the literature from both sides and examine the evidence again. The theory of evolution has been affirmed time and again from many different angles.

My problem with Intelligent Design (and I'm sorry we keep coming back to this because I think we are in agreement about many of the other issues that have arisen) is that it strains at gnats in order to prove a foregone conclusion. Take Behe's argument: put simply (and I'm aware of the pitfalls of this) it says "This particular structure is so complex that I can't think of a way that it can be broken down into something simpler without it falling apart, therefore there is an Intelligent Designer." That is also "begging the question." The response to that has ranged from ridicule to quiet articles in journals, but basically it is "Think harder."

As far as a theory being "right," how do you feel about adherents to the theory of gravity? It is dangerous to accept any theory as absolutely settled, but it is also dangerous to deny overwhelming evidence simply because it does not fit a preconceived notion. This is the accusation Intelligent Design levels at evolution while practicing it almost exclusively itself.

I agree with you on many points, especially in that the "church of scientism" is a serious error that must be guarded against, but Intelligent Design is not the issue to back in this debate. It's a figurehead used so that schools can be forced to teach religious thinking (one particular brand of religious thinking at that) as part of their curriculum. If you're going to castigate evolutionary science for this, why allow another institution to do the same thing in its place?
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« Reply #24 on: March 15, 2008, 10:03:44 PM »

Ah, the beauty of intellectual debate...the finding of common ground.   Cheers


Evolution is often presented as if it were a house of cards and if one small portion can be questioned then the whole thing falls down. The theory of evolution wasn't just drawn out of a hat one day, it was originally formulated to fit the observations of Darwin on his now famous (infamous?) voyage. Over the ensuing 150 years, it has been tested and retested, reams of new data have been gathered from a multitude of disciplines, and the theory has been strengthened under vociferous criticism.


The ONLY problem I have with the Theory of Evolution is how it is used, by SOME, to argue "there is no God."  I don't think that is any more a part of that theory than ID, as it's generally portrayed, is considered good science.  My issue, as I've mentioned, is focused on the substitution of one God for another - the latter being "Self" in the guise of "with science, I can understand EVERYTHING."

That said, I do think the dangerous point is to consider the theory "settled," where I take that term to mean "no modification needed, ever."  Behe's complexity is but one example that at least challenged the theory, and I argue that such challenging is GOOD for science.  Again, it's neither here nor there whether one accepts BEHE'S conclusion about a designer, so long as one accepts the challenge openly and allows, if the need arises, the theory to be modified, or if need be scrapped.

You mention 150 years of testing and refinement for the Theory of Evolution. Let me only remind the 1500 years that Ptolemy's version of the structure of the universe was consistent with the data at hand.  Only after Tycho Brahe did a lifetime of work with meticulous experiments at levels of precision completely unheard-of at that time did Copernicus' alternate explanation have the weight of empirical evidence to support it over Ptolemy.

Note that often this is taught completely wrong in schools....For many years, both Ptolemy and Copernics were "correct;"  Copernicus' contribution was not offering the "right" theory, but an alternative that was equally consistent with the data.  It was the first recorded instance of such a dilema, where someone, Tycho Brahe, deliberately set about experiments to decide between two competing theories; 1500 years is 10x more than 150, so if something like that can happen once (it's happened other times, too), it COULD happen again.  The best that can be said for the Theory of Evolution is that it is the best theory we have given our current data set.  That could change tomorrow - in one swoop or by incremental modification.

Quote

My problem with Intelligent Design (and I'm sorry we keep coming back to this because I think we are in agreement about many of the other issues that have arisen) is that it strains at gnats in order to prove a foregone conclusion.


Because the importance of ID transcends the specifics of it's conclusions.  The importance of ID, as I've stated, is that it represents but one challenge to evolution, and yet it is consistently ridiculed.  The strict adherants to ID, those not also aligned with fundamentalist Christianity, contend that 'designer' is an abstraction - basically abstracting any forces/mechanisms we don't currently understand.  It is THAT challenge that is important to grasp, and celebrate. 

We've got to take a step back from the debate to see this...to not get wrapped up in who/what the designer is or might be and not focus on HOW design occurs.  The important lesson here is to recognize that ANY objection, right or wrong, to the Theory of Evolution is suspect from the outset, no matter what it's scientific merit might be.

Quote

[Behe's conclusion] is also "begging the question."


Agreed.  But again, we don't have to accept Behe's conclusion to examine the importance of how complexity plays into Evolution.  And, complexity is but one example of such challenges.

Quote

As far as a theory being "right," how do you feel about adherents to the theory of gravity? It is dangerous to accept any theory as absolutely settled, but it is also dangerous to deny overwhelming evidence simply because it does not fit a preconceived notion.


Agreed.  Indeed, I was thinking of this exact example as I typed my earlier response.  The truth is that if evidence were found to tomorrow that the Law of Gravity was fundamentally flawed, I would like to believe that I would take the side of the new evidence....given proper vetting, of course.  There's one main difference, here though, that I alluded to in my earlier post.

The Law of Gravity is a mathematical law that can be measured directly.  So far as I know, the Theory of Evolution has no such fundamental formulation.  In other words, one is a Law and the other is Theory.

In my classes, I taught the scientific method of Aristotle vs the 'cute' version we usually see today. Aristotle's method was

(a) make many observations
(b) organize the data
(c) formulate a simple summarizing statement of the data as a whole

A Law is step (c): a simple, summarizing statement that has never been observed false.  That last clause is the important part of a Law.  It is based on observation.

A Theory is an explanation as to why some set of observables happen.  Law: mass attracts other mass - gravitation.  Theory: there's a particle that can be exchanged via a mass-only selection rule, the graviton.  Evolution is not a Law, it is a Theory.  It is man's explanation for a set of observations, but  (here is the important part)

Evolution is not the summarizing statement of the observations themselves.

So, we really cannot compare Evolution to Gravity.  Apples and Oranges.  Explicitly in the definition of Law is that it is something that has never been observed to be false.  Just like F=ma, or Conservation of Mass-Energy.

A Theory, like evolution, on the other hand, is by definition fluid.  Or should be.

Quote

If you're going to castigate evolutionary science for this, why allow another institution to do the same thing in its place?


For what it's worth, I don't argue that ID's conclusions should be taught in science.  But, at the same time, I do argue that when Evolution is taught, the questions raised by such notions as complexity and information quantification (eg, inherited information) IS taught.  They are real scientific issues.  If complexity is solved by evolution, fine - there's a science lesson there.  The official stance of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Center for Science Education seems to be about just that - limiting free discussion in the classroom if such discussion has anything to do with questions about that validity of the Theory of Evolution.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2008, 10:40:28 PM by ulthar » Logged

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« Reply #25 on: March 16, 2008, 11:16:07 PM »

Going back a bit here, but Panspermia most definitely DOES present itself as another alternate Evolutionary theory, in that modern Evolutionary theories at least all make a nod toward the business of Origins, be they divine or bio-mechanical --
Well, Panspermia sidesteps this by postulating that Life As We Know It came from outer space on meteors.  So . . . like, Dude! . . . where did the life on the meteors come from? . . .

Also, there is argument re. Punctuated Equilibrium within the Evolutionary theorist community -- I specifically invoked that one to demonstrate just that point:  That there is NO such thing as a monolithic "Neo-Darwinism" at large in the scientific community, therefore not a monolithic "Doctrine" at all -- re.  You cannot meaningfully speak of a "Neo-Darwinist" orthodoxy within science, as all aspects of this are being questioned and challenged - within limits(!) - all the time.

On topic, we see the recent passing of Dr. Fred Hoyle --- passed over for deserved Nobels & etc., in part because he stood with Ponamperuma & a few others as lunatic bastions against the orthodoxy of a "Big Bang" Universe, never mind the Panspermia.

Personally, I think the Catholic Church did away with the necessity of this argument long ago, when they decided that whatever we discover about the nature of physical reality is well and true, and that the Divine enters into the origins of the Human at a point when they, the Human, can absorb it.  As one trained in Anthropology, I see this theme repeated in the Origins stories of different cultures from Time Immemorial:  We, as The People, had our origins in base matter, be it clay, dust, seaweed, bird poop, fruit, buffalo horn, or any number of other postulated substances.  At some point, there was an Intervention from The Other that spurred our growth onward, with results either heroic or tragic.

Personally, I love the diagrams from Paleontology that demonstrate how parts of the jawbones on one specie of proto-amphibian eventually became part of the ear structure of that of another, many millions of years down the pike.  Transitional evidence has been around for about as long as people have been studying fossils, much strident commentary notwithstanding.  The main objection to the evidence of Evolution from the religious side of the aisle has always been a moral one,  not a physical one.  The implication has always been that if we, as a specie, evolved from base material without a Divine Intervention, then we have no basis for moral action, or moral behaviour, because we lack the threat of Hell to motivate our good behaviour.  Without the threat of Eternal Damnation, then we have no motivation not to rape or murder or steal from our bretheren willy-nilly.  Never mind the fact that moral behaviour, or social beneficial behaviour, and its opposites, have always been observable in the animal realm for as long as anyone's been bothered to observe.  For whatever reasons, mutually beneficial social behaviour does seem to be hard-wired into successful societies and successful species. 

In modern Western Civilization, a lot of the argumentation comes out of the ongoing mystery as to what we do with Christ in all this.  Is Fallen Humanity a point in Space and Time, as Dr. Francis S. Schaeffer always insisted, or is it part of a meta-symbolic Origins Story that should best be understood as saying that we are all of us always Fallen and in need of Saving? 

As ulthar says, it behooves the multiple sides in such debates to try to search their own origins of argument & be honest & not falsely portray what they perceive as the "other side".  We are all products of our time and our society & must come clean with one another as to what it is we actually object to or actually seek.

peter johnson/denny crane


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« Reply #26 on: March 17, 2008, 02:11:56 PM »

Coincidentally, the Breaking News section in today's Fortean Times online, www.forteantimes.com, cites a news story from the British journal Nature Geoscience in turn citing Danish research that points to a possible correlary between large meteor falls and jumps in evolutionary behaviour and the appearance of hitherto unknown mollusks.  While not promoting Panspermia directly, it does posit a correlary between meteors and the origin of species, whether by chemical reaction with the hot meteor & chemicals already present, or coming from the meteor itself, either way Dr. Hoyle would be curious . . .
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    FROM THE BADMOVIES.ORG ARCHIVES
    ImageThe Giant Claw - Slime drop

    Earth is visited by a GIANT ANTIMATTER SPACE BUZZARD! Gawk at the amazingly bad bird puppet, or chuckle over the silly dialog. This is one of the greatest b-movies ever made.

    Lesson Learned:
    • Osmosis: os·mo·sis (oz-mo'sis, os-) n., 1. When a bird eats something.

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