By Phil Plait | May 9, 2012 8:49 am

My willingness to fight has seen some major impediments in the past few weeks. The increase in antireality nonsense seems like a growing tsunami. Antivax health threats. Global warming denial on a major (and heavily funded) scale. The ugliness yesterday in North Carolina.

And even though we’ve had some great victories, it’s still an endless road, always uphill, always against the wind. Despair seems inevitable.

But then, but then, this:

Made for the Canadian Paralympic Committee, that may be the single greatest ad ever made. I suddenly find myself able to stand, dust myself off, and get back on the road.

Unstoppable. As we must be.

Tip o’ the starting gun to Laughing Squid.

MORE ABOUT: commercial, Paralympics

Comments (46)

  1. Kim

    The ad also makes the comment that there are a lot of people supporting the visible leaders. Not all of us are outspoken, but we’re doing what we can.

  2. BT

    Absolutely love that banner image.

  3. Adrian

    Can you point me in the direction of some conclusive evidence that global warming is man made? I am not a troll it’s a serious request, my search for something which concludes the debate has so far been fruitless and I am currently on the fence.

  4. theoncomingstorm

    Just wait until someon from the far right complains about the money that was spent on that ad should of been spent on tax credits for the oil sands.
    Great ad but just be ready.

  5. Chris

    I wouldn’t worry too much about North Carolina. The vote was during a contested Republican Primary and uncontested Democratic Primary which skewed the results in the right wing’s favor. The general population attitudes are shifting and I fully expect that within 10-20 years gay marriage will be legalized. We just need to be patient.

  6. Lee from NC

    Also, most of the large population centers in NC did defeat the amendment. Ten or twenty years ago, there would have been no counties that voted it down. So…small comfort indeed but it is indicative of progress.

  7. Red

    Don’t forget the paraplegic woman who ran in the London marathon with the aid of a “bionic” suit.


    I’m pretty much a total loser compared to these folks.

  8. @Chris,

    I agree. When they broke it down by age, the older population was overwhelmingly for Amendment One/against gay marriage but the younger population was overwhelmingly against Amendment One/for gay marriage. The same sex marriage opponents won a battle, but by the younger generation rejecting their views, they are losing the war.

  9. Besomyka

    @Adrian Seriously? You can’t just type “man made global warming” into google scholar and start following the links to research?

    Here’s a shortcut: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=man+made+global+warming&btnG=Search&as_sdt=0%2C44&as_ylo=&as_vis=0

    If you prefer your knowledge in summary and video form, I suggest starting with: http://www.youtube.com/user/greenman3610

    Good luck!

  10. @Adrian (#3), I take it that you have not looked very hard.

    May I suggest this answer at the Skeptics StackExchange: http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/41/do-human-activities-contribute-to-climate-change

  11. shawn connelly


    Adrian’s question is reasonable and I am not speaking about him or his question, however, in general your Google scholar link (while fantastic IMHO) is no good for the average climate change denier. That Google scholar link includes all kinds of krazy sciency stuff and deniers don’t trust scientists. Unless their paster or FOX news tells them otherwise, they will believe nothing to the contrary.

    Tried to write this as funny sarcasm but there really isn’t anything funny about this form of ignorance (again… this is NOT directed at Besomyka and his question).

  12. Ron1


    The major push on reality is simply the last, dying gasp of the wing nuts and authoritarians as they realize that the world is moving on, without them.

    Reality is fighting back and the anti-reality forces respond by doubling down and getting crazier. In short, they know they’re losing and they don’t like it.


  13. Dylan

    Yeah the campaigns against reality are really quite overwhelmingly out of hand. Glad you have found some spirit to keep fighting the good fight. Live life with cause!–but, don’t tire yourself out waiting for the results, because it simply may not be the right time. Maybe I am wrong, but that’s the way I see it.

    Thanks for your awesome blog!
    Montreal, Canada

  14. Chris

    @3 Adrian
    I would suggest looking at http://forecast.uchicago.edu/
    It explains global warming for non scientists, has models you can play with and also you can freely view the lectures from the class. It’s a good place to start.

  15. frankenstein monster

    The major push on reality is simply the last, dying gasp of the wing nuts and authoritarians as they realize that the world is moving on, without them.

    I don’t see any such movement. Perhaps movement in their direction, if there is any…

  16. mike burkhart

    Kind of reminds me of The Six Millon Dollar man,I loved it as a kid. Ron 1 Don’t count your chikens before they hatch. Even thro we get rid of one anti-reality idea ,others will popup. This is because part of being human means we all have an imagnation and are creative. If we din’t we would not have : Art,Books or even Science for that matter. The only thing we can do is keep up a good fight ,but know that there are many who just want to live in a dream world and we should let them so long as there not causeing any harm that is.

  17. Turnout here in NC was not spurred by a hotly contested GOP primary, as someone suggested. The contested primary was on the Dem’s side. Once upon a time, the GOP thought the Presidential primary here would be contested, but that didn’t pan out for the Tea Partiers.

    The amendment also outlaws civil unions/legal partnerships by *anyone*. Opponents thought people would vote against it once they understood its wide reach, well beyond targeting the rights of gays. I suspect that more people understood that than they imagine and voted for the amendment because they also don’t approve of civil unions, etc. I.e., it’s sinful unless you’re married.

    The fact that it’s right-wing theater intended to enthuse their base and raise money was exposed weeks before the election when the state’s GOP legislative leaders admitted it wasn’t necessary and was sure to be repealed in 10-20 years.

  18. josie

    I love this ad.

    For a long time now, whenever I feel lazy and want to blob on the couch, my conscience chimes in and says “Hey, what if you HAD to sit in this couch because you couldn’t walk?”

    Then I go outside to take care of an enjoy the body I am blessed with (that means exercise).

    I’m not religious but I love the saying, “There but for the grace of god go I” appreciate what you have while you have it.

  19. I’m a big fan of http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php for helping convince deniers.

    If that doesn’t work, they don’t value evidence and reason and there’s really no reaching them and I move on.

    More specifically for Adrian: http://www.skepticalscience.com/its-not-us.htm

    It has Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced explanations.

  20. Rick J

    Nice post Phil! It helps to bring things back into perspective. Why do we have to fight for common sense to win out? It is disheartening by times. Keep fighting the good fight!

  21. Ron1

    @16. Frankenstein Monster

    Exactly. The fast paced push into the wingosphere is because the extremists know the demographics do not favour their longevity. That is exactly why Republican efforts are strongly underway to dis-enfranchise Democrat supporters through voter ID laws, re-drawing electoral boundaries to favour Republicans, and a host of other activities to lower voter participation.

    Republicans know that a majority of American youth are progressive, they support marriage equality for gays and lesbians, they are non-religious and they have a much more worldly view of reality than their parents. Further, Republicans have really angered voting women with their over-reach on women’s reproductive rights. They’ve also annoyed non-white voters with their racial attacks.

    Taken together, the elections of 2010 appear to be an aberration that let the loonies out to play. People are waking up to the extremist ‘s anti-science, anti-woman, anti-poor, etc agenda and they are starting to fight back. Consider, for example, OWS. Also, scientists like Michael Mann, and a host of others, are now publicly pushing back against the deniers and their money’d supporters. Heck, even Conservatives (ie. Charles Johnson , David From , Dick Lugar) etc are speaking out against the crazies whom they feel have hijacked the GOP.

    Granted, the crazies make a lot of noise, but they are not the majority. Have patience.


  22. Ron1

    @17, mike burkhart

    I agree, and I strongly suspect that a good number of those dreamworlders are starting to wake up, and theiy’re not happy that they were impoverished while they slept.

    Regardless, let’s keep fighting the good fight.


  23. Ron1

    @14 Dylan

    Again, please don’t despair. While it looks like the crazies are winning, and they have certainly caused damage, change for the better is afoot. It’s an uphill battle, but it’s still winnable as long as reasonable people, like yourself, are willing to stay in the game and fight.

    As I mentioned in 22, things are changing. Corporations are starting to pull their money from extremist groups that are damaging Corporate images. Take for example the Susan G. Koman foundation and their implosion after their over-the-top handling of Planned Parenthood. Massive corporate withdrawal from Rush Limbaugh and, of course, corporations abandoning the Heartland Institute as they try to protect their brands.

    Corporations and other donors don’t take these actions without a reason, and the reason is that extremist activities are now toxic in the US.

    The tide is beginning to change. Have hope.


    ps. Take a second look at yesterday’s events in France and Greece; common people CAN stand and prevail against the predations of the wealthy and powerful. In France, in particular, the new President has publicly stated that he reads (Paul) Krugman and was elected because he agreed that austerity is wrong and stimulus is the way to go, counter to Conservative belief. My point, rational thought prevails against belief.

  24. Good ad, does it’s job perfectly.

    As for the North Carolina thing, I don’t think it matters much. This state by state silliness really doesn’t accomplish anything except keeping the issue in the headlines.

    What will really matter is this issue getting to the supreme court. My guess is in 2014. All the arguements against gay marriage are religious, and so can’t even be heard by the supreme court. From a strict constructionist point of view there is no arguement against it. Some religions are against it, some favor it. Any law banning it violates both the establishment and free exercise clauses.

    To the state marriage is just a contract. No supreme court is likely to say that limiting who can enter a contract by gender is legal.

    There will continue to be religious objections, but no one outside those religions should really care about that. Do we care that Catholics don’t recognize Mormon marriages, or that Baptists don’t recognize Wiccan marriages? Should anyone care what a religion they don’t believe in thinks of their relationship?

  25. CoryT

    There is a lot of human nature in people, which speaks to both this ad and the ruckus in North Carolina.

  26. MKS


    when did you get initiated into this movement and how’s the pay grade? :3

  27. Tribeca Mike

    “There can be no question, my dear Watson, of the value of exercise before breakfast.” — Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of Black Peter

  28. Wzrd1

    For the first two things, I recall that it’s an election year and the GOP is REALLY good at polarizing things to the point of a near armed revolt. The Democrats aren’t so far behind in THEIR misleading statements, even IF their premier leader, the president, doesn’t reflect their shenanigans.
    As for North Carolina, their STATE constitution is nothing, as the US CONSTITUTION IS KING. If they need another lesson about supremacy of the US Government, the US Army will happily administer another lesson.
    Today, the president followed US Supreme Court case law. He followed the various other federal court case law. He stated that he backs that case law. Nothing more or less. North Carolina seems to think that a STATE overrules the NATION.
    They made that mistake a century and change ago, to their great damage.
    Now, they wish to make a religious law NATIONAL law or overrule the NATION. Won’t happen.
    And to be blunt, there were contingency plans already long in place for a repeat of the last civil war, there’s plenty of room at GITMO and other offshore facilities.

    VinceRN, you are beyond wrong in the SCOTUS cannot hear an argument that is religious in nature. It CAN hear it. It must then REJECT it in favor of secular, constitutional law. At the heart and soul of this matter, EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW. To decide otherwise is to risk re-admission of slavery, as protection is for a few, not all.
    In short, screw the religions, because I have a REALLY big gun. It’s called the constitution and it’ll be fired away every microsecond of the day. ūüėČ
    It blows EVERY local, county, state or regional nonsense out of the water.

    Now, want to read some interesting history, read into US legal history and how the SCOTUS can either decide that a previous decision should ride, “sleeping dogs lie” view OR reconsider an error of the court (though, NOT called an error, as the SCOTUS is “ALWAYS” right, even with Dred Scott).

    @Red, nice article. I missed that one and I try to keep up to the minute on such research! I’ll have to look into the applied technology of that device, it seems close to what I’ve been toying with.
    Thanks for that information!

  29. bbmcrae


    “Phil, when did you get initiated into this movement and how‚Äôs the pay grade? :3”

    The “Act like a thinking, caring human being” movement? Yeah, that’s one scary conspiracy.

  30. fernando

    a percentage of people simplifying the understanding of things down to absurdity and posing as a counter force is guaranteed forever, but nature is stubborn and science will always prevail

  31. SandraL

    I wholeheartedly agree that antireality nonsense needs to be fought.
    So in that regard I offer this from Dr. Gerard Nadal:

    “A core reason for marriage is the universally recognized need of children to have a biological mother and father, each of whom brings their complementary strengths to bear on the formation of their new human beings. Modern research has overwhelmingly borne out the truth that children do best when raised by their biological mother and father, who both reside with the child under the same roof. The pathologies in children increase in proportion to the degree to which the biological parents drop out of the child‚Äôs life. That‚Äôs not conservative talking points. That‚Äôs well-established social scientific data.

    Part of the pathology of gay/lesbian marriages (and most divorces in heterosexuals) is the belief that a child can do just fine without a mother or a father. At least in divorce the reality of one-parental involvement is a tragic consequence. In gay and lesbian unions it is a principled and celebrated world-view.

    Worse still is the implicit validation of what some in the homosexual community call heterosexuals aloud: breeders. Gay men who donate sperm for IVF and surrogate motherhood merely use women as barnyard livestock. (So do the heterosexuals who pioneered and grew this beastly industry.)


    Lesbian couples seeking sperm donations for either insemination or IVF do as much with men: Stud animals.

    The entire affair signals the collapse of Western/Christian Civilization. We have lost sight of who we are, what our children require, and have subordinated their needs to our narcissistic and hedonistic obsessions.”


  32. Alex

    I really wish these debates didn’t get so politicized and polarized. Global warming denial, vaccines, etc. are global problems and the arguments are not limited to those of US republicans or democrats. Reading from outside the US, I can see that many, important points are not being made, because they do not concern the current electoral farce. The whole thing has become a battle of ideologies, not facts and arguments.
    For example, I strongly support vaccination against deadly and/or contagious disease, however I never have and never will get a “flu vaccine”, whatever that means. My country spent millions on bird flu, swine flu, unicorn flu, etc. vaccines and as a result 70% of them expired. Nobody died. Medical and pharmaceutical professionals are just as corrupt as everybody else.

    Global warming is a very real and present danger, however thousands of “eco” NGOs and political parties profit from it through racketeering and extortion. Countries were strongly commited to solving the problems and in Kyoto they came up with carbon credits? Really? Carbon credits?

    It is the job of the science loving community to steer the conversation towards reality and practicality, not ideology.

    “When I hear a person talking about political solutions, I know I am not listening to a serious person.”
    George Carlin

  33. Climate denial is heavily funded? Well in that case: Sign me up! You should be careful to advertise that :-)

  34. Nigel Depledge

    Adrian (3) said:

    Can you point me in the direction of some conclusive evidence that global warming is man made? I am not a troll it’s a serious request, my search for something which concludes the debate has so far been fruitless and I am currently on the fence.

    On the assumption that you are not a troll, but that you are instead incapable of using Google, and incapable of reading the comment threads in previous BA posts that address or touch on AGW, here’s just one line of evidence that AGW is anthropogenic indeed:

    Carbon isotope ratios in the additional atmospheric CO2, which have been measured and show that the additional CO2 in our atmosphere comes from fossil sources such as oil and coal.

  35. mike burkhart

    Let me say something about the anti-vacers ,frist the claim that vacines cause artisum was based on a flawed study that has since been discredited ,second Those parents who fail to get there kids vacines are risking there children geting cripling diseases like polio that cripels for life .I like to ask these people if you don’t vacinet your child ,and your child gets polio , when they grow up how are you going to explain why you cose to let them sufer.

  36. Damon


    You should have prefaced that quote with “…in my opinion.” Sorry, but none of that sounds very true to me. Dr. Nadal needs to stop drinking his party’s kool-aid and get with the times.

  37. Mark

    Some excellent science on this site. Love some of the stuff the author does, but for the life of me I cannot understand why politics are part of this. I try to read good science in an attempt to get away from politics, but especially with this guy it can’t. How does sexual orientation politics get entered into an astronomy blog? Maybe its just me. Its bad for science IMO for scientists to get political. One shouldn’t be surprised of ‘skepticism’ from the public on scientific ideas when the scientists (the messengers really) do everything they can to put their findings in doubt. Some scientists continue to go down this path and shoot themselves in the foot. Politics are so damaging, they turn regular calm individuals into orating lunatics when their pet issues are discussed. This emotional part of us needs to be separated from scientific findings. Just my opinion.

  38. Ron1

    @38 Mark

    Sorry, but the cat is already out of the bag; scientist MUST take a pro-active stand on the side of reality otherwise the forces like Heartland will continue to rule via propaganda.

    Remember, scientists did not start this war. Further, publicly refuting Heartland’s propaganda is not political, it is simply promoting truth, explaining the data.

    Further, please explain how scientists ” do everything they can to put their findings in doubt.”

    As for your comment , “Politics are so damaging, they turn regular calm individuals into orating lunatics when their pet issues are discussed”, be careful about gross exaggeration, false equivalence and projection. Compared to the deniers (you call them skeptics), Mike Mann, for example, has, at his loudest, been civil, calm and rational in his (now) public battle with his critics. His critics, on the other hand, generally fit your description of orating lunatics.

    As for your failure to understand why Phil includes politics in his blog, well, perhaps it’s because this is not JUST a science NEWS blog, Rather, it’s blog about reality as defined by science. It’s about context, nuance, and issues of complexity in a world of the soundbite funded by Citizen’s United.

    Regardless, there is nothing wrong with emotion in any debate. Rather, the problem is truth, or lack there of. Your post indicates that your world view needs more depth and breadth, which, should you chose to go there, is a wonderful thing.


  39. Ron1

    @37 Damon.

    Nice retort.


  40. Adrian

    @ everybody who responded to my request for info

    It’s not a matter of not being able to find info on global warning, every article I read by a “leftie” seems to have a perfectly reasonable response from a right-winger, and vice versa. Maybe I am thick, or maybe I don’t have the gene everybody else has that makes them blindly left or right wing.

    Thanks for the links.

  41. Adrian

    Oh and I forgot to say, most of you are arrogant, condescending and just as closed-minded as the people you hate so much. I would imagine it’s too late for you to grow out of this unhealthy state of mind. The rest of you are OK.

  42. PeteC


    If you go through the points, you’ll see that most of the denialist points have either already been answered. It’s a bit annoying to see things like “but temperatures have consistantly fallen for the last decade!” get pulled out right after you explain that the line jiggles up and down a bit but that temperatures have gone consistantly up for a century, and almost all of the years of the last decade were warmer than the hotest year of the previous decade. But then a denialist, who has no interest at all in the reality of the issue, will announce “Ah, but temperatures have consistantly fallen for the last decade!”

    The difference is that the majority of denialists are driven by either fundamentalist religion – “The Christian God wouldn’t do that to us!” which, considering he’s supposed to have exterminated pretty much the entire planet’s population with a flood, has always surprised me, or they’re driven by the entire bundled social/religious/political/issue linking that Americans seem to have (can someone tell me why you have to be strongly in favour of no gun controls if you’re Christian, or whyyou can’t believe in fiscal responsibility and huuman rights at the same time, or why they’re also supposed to believe in free outsourcing of labour and minimal regulation on the financial industry and low taxes on high earners and disbelieve in global warning?) It’s being part of a group. A Christian Republican *can’t* believe in global warming and still be a proper Christian Republican, it makes you a RINO and not to be trusted.

    I think one big mistake you’re making – or proof that you’re just a troll, poking us for effect – is that you say “every article I read by a ‘leftie'”. It’s not “leftie”‘s who discovered or promoted the issue of global warming (Oh, and remember that this is a global issue, not just a US Republicans and Democrats one). Global warming was discovered by Climate Scientists. It’s a tricky science – the climate is a massively chaotic system – but it’s a real one with big, complex mathematical models and lots of computer modelling. When 97% of scientists in a field come to a common conclusion, then it’s probably worth taking as the default until better evidence comes along. Oh, I know that there are some who’ll claim that there are secret societies pumping hidden billions into research grants, but to be honest, when it comes to having funding, evil left-wing university climatology departments probably don’t do quite as well as oil, gas and petrochemical companies.

    Of course, accepting that global warming is real and accepting the “carbon credits” trading nonsense as a solution are not the same thing. At all.

    In the end, the scientists are searching for the truth – it’s the basis of science. Nobody gets a Nobel prize for “He wrote an essay that said exactly what Newton did!” They look at the evidence and search for an explanation. The denialists start with the answer. Any evidence that contradicts that answer must be dismissed.

  43. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    This is so infuriating:

    “I am not a troll it‚Äôs a serious request,”

    Yeah, right, it always is: “every article I read by a ‚Äúleftie‚ÄĚ seems to have a perfectly reasonable response from a right-winger, and vice versa.”

    It is “arrogant, condescending and just as closed-minded” to take the ignorant and quite frankly stupid position (in the face of all facts to the contrary) that recognized science = politics. Very few scientists are politically motivated as it impedes their carriers most of the time.

    And this is again a keen reminder that “not a troll” means a troll.

  44. Adrian

    @PeteC thanks for your response, it has been helpful and I actually agree with you, although I see the bundled social/religious/political/issue linking just as prevalent on the left as the right. OK maybe I should not have used the term leftie but the debate seems to be very political to me with the left taking one side and the right the other. I am not religious and I do not confine myself to the narrow definitions of left and right.

    @Torbj√∂rn I don’t have to justify myself to you, you go ahead and be as infuriated as you want and throw tantrums all over the internet. It’s no skin off my back although getting angry about things which are out of your control probably has bad implications for your health. Perhaps you couldstart taking regular exercise, cutting down on alcohol and other stimulants, I hear meditation can be helpful too or even professional help. Or if it makes you feel better to call people stupid on the internet then sure, whatever blows your hair back.


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