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Category Archives: Skeptic

Recently the speaker of the house of representatives in our humble country of Australia has called for public debate in relation to the lord’s prayer in Australian parliament. My thought on this is, good! We do need to start to separate church and state more in Australia as currently god is mentioned in our constitution and apparently in our taxation systems (I am going to look this up, but it was mentioned in a few articles. I would assume it is in reference to Church tax exemptions).

Here is the first couple of sentences in the Preamble of the Australian constitution:

Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to blah blah blah blah Et caetera, et caetera.

Not only does this set a religious climate in the government and country at large, but it also alienates anyone who isn’t christian! Oh, and it obviously references the Queen, that decrepit old tradition that is based on the king/queen being appointed by GOD himself…anyway where was I? Oh yeah… I would have to say thank the flying fairy in the sky that someone in government is actually speaking out about this and not guiding us with a little nudge on the slippery slope towards a retarded “secular” government such as the USA’s today. I would like to think that a large amount of Australians hold secular values, whether or not they are religious or otherwise, and I am glad that we are starting to be represented. Let’s hope that this leads us to a truly secular nation that we can all be proud of.

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Well it’s about that time again Carlos fans. The Skeptics of Carlos blog carnival has rolled into town once more for your skeptical entertainment.

Oh, by the way, recently I have been trying to analyze topics and issues from a “true-believer” start point. This is mainly because the other day a Mormon tried to convert me with his “techniques that he could try out on me” (or so his colleague whispered to him before they approached me). So I will be writing this carnival post from the view point of a true believer. *clears throat* Heh hem.

Have you ever gone to the doctors when you’re sick? I haven’t, prayer is all I need, but if I were to I wouldn’t be taking any advice from a doctor such as Karen Stollznow over at the skepbitch! She doesn’t even condone the use of popular “alternate” medicines such as homeopathy and chiropractic! Every time I get a cold I take homeopathic tablets and I’m better in 2-3 weeks, see it works! She must be nuts…and to talk to her mother that way? She must be an atheist. Oh and be very wary of the evil lesbian/sexually confused ghost, Klara that haunts Dr. Stollznow. We should probably perform an exorcism on that evil haunted house, she doesn’t believe it is haunted but I know it is! Armidale sounds like a dreadful place.

Next up is Naontiotami from Homologous Legs. He shows his obvious evil atheism and devil worship as he tries to pull the wool over our eyes about creationism in his article, Institute for Creation Research: Evolution: Real Science or Nonsense? Doesn’t he know that it is fact? And where does he get off slandering the good natured Christians at the ICR, they put a good twenty minutes into their research and he could at least give it the time of day and take it seriously.

Oh and there appears to be a new non-believer/infidel podcast doing the rounds. Gary Curtis and Tim van Gelder have decided to burden us with more sin as they delve into critical thought and logical fallacies. Again the foul atheists bow and scrape to their God of science and critical analysis. If you want to learn about debating why not find some of Kent Hovind’s debates, those are real eye openers plus I am pretty confident…No I am convinced that he would wipe the floor with these non-believers! Humbug indeed.

Andy (Dawkin’s and Randi’s lap dog) over at Thinking Is Real seems to think that us believers need saving. Well I have some “good news” for him, he is the one that needs to be saved. He seems to think we have a reason for why we are skeptical of something, but he is wrong, some things just make sense! For example, we are skeptical of evolution because it goes against Gods word right? Look around you! God made all of it, it’s so obvious! Where was I? Oh yeh, anyway, Andy is fighting for what he believes in (or is it what he doesn’t believe in? I can never tell with these atheists) so at least I can give him a small amount of credit.

Hm, the Podblack Cat? Is that even a real name? I don’t think so. And her tardiness would seem to indicate that she has not been touched by the Lord as she doesn’t care about other peoples time or feelings (:P)! But moving on from that. In her latest post she has written a short run down on skeptical films for people to watch and enjoy. I almost liked this article until she showed her obvious racist tendencies when she referred to the film Magicians, calling it a “black comedy”. Those damn non-believers always have to have a stab at someone!

Well, thanks so much for tuning in for another Skeptics of Carlos. Oh and if you are interested in a complete and utter heathen who is trying to indoctrinate the youth of Australia, you should read more of Skelliot’s blog. You can even submit your own articles to the web site he is building, The Young Australian Skeptics, which will be going live soon!

Check out this article on Sarah Palin. Speculative, anecdotal and ridiculous but I wouldn’t put it past her saying something like this.

Huffington Post

“Palin said “she had seen pictures of human footprints inside the tracks,” recalled Munger”

Really? No…really? What pictures? Did she draw them with her crayons in grade 2? WHERE?! WHEN!? WHAT!? I’m hungry.

It’s now spring and for some reason my immune system finally decides to shit itself and tell viruses to invade my body and give me a cold. Lame.

I was coming home from a friend’s place the other day when I decided to drop into the pharmacy to get some cold and flu tablets to ease my symptoms. I generally frown upon these sort of tablets because they don’t really do anything to actually get rid of the cold, but today I thought I would give it a try so that I wasn’t sick for a whole month, like last time.

So I entered the pharmacy and headed for the front desk where I asked the sales assistant if she could help me with some cold tablets. She handed me a pack of tablets and I promptly told her I wanted to have a read of the packet before I purchased it. With cold and flu medicine I worry that the ingredients might be homeopathic. Some tablets are herbal but I am afraid that some companies tend to blur the lines between herbal and homeopathic. I’m not great with chemical names so I gave up pretty quickly and took the medicine to the counter.

“Erm, I was just wondering… Are these tablets homeopathic?”

I asked.

The woman looked at me and said,

“No, do you want those? We have them and I can get them for you.”

I explained to the woman that I was just checking if the tablets were homeopathic because I wanted actual REAL medicine and that I could “get water out of the tap” if I wanted to. She smiled and laughed (being the charismatic devil that I am) and declared that she agreed with me. I found this interesting because she was so quick to offer homeopathic woo woo in place of real science-based medicine even though she completely disagreed with it. Seems like the customer is always right. This made me wonder how many people actually use homeopathic and other alternative medicine(credited: Jovial and Jocular) quackery when they get colds. This was in no way a scientific study, but from this I could see how likely it is that a substantial amount of people must request homeopathic remedies during the winter season.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. The assistant explained to me that the homeopathic remedies are kept in a completely different section to the real medicine, so at least they aren’t mixing it in and misleading their customers completely. I was tempted to ask her more questions about the homeopathic and alternative medicine products they sold but I didn’t want to harass her. However, I did leave the shop feeling a whole lot better knowing I had put my brain to use before buying medicine!

Ah skepticism, will you ever do me wrong?

Skelliot.

An orchestra of car horns blew as my brother slid across the bonnet of a Mercedes. He landed, cat like, on the other side and sprinted onto the side walk towards the Asia centre. I stumbled behind him followed closely by his good friend Kat, cars screeching to a halt as we failed to get out of the way of them. I saw my bro in the distance standing at the door of the Asia centre casually leaning against the wall. I felt obligated to get to the auditorium on time so I sucked in a large breath of air and bolted up to the building.

Took your time didn’t ya? We are going to miss the start of the talk.

Chuckled Josh.

We barrelled down the stairs and found a seat in the auditorium, luckily there were some fantastic seats right in front of the stage. We sunk into our seats gasping for breath.
Normally I don’t think we would have been this eager to get somewhere, but this was something special. It is National Science Week and we were off to see Michael Shermer and Lynne Kelly.

We were not disappointed. First was the Shermernator with his talk, Why Darwin Matters. Needless to say Shermer was fantastic. He lashed the key note with humourous asides and the core focus of the talk was highly persuasive. Well, persuasive to someone with an open mind. There was one old chap who stood up and disagreed with everything Shermer said. This on its own is fine, but when every argument he put forth was the same old creationist/religious apologist pre-debunked crap it kind of felt like he was trying to have a pissing contest. He brought out Shannon’s law (obviously completely misunderstanding how we measure information) and also reused the old Letters in a box analogy. It was a veritable shotgun blast of challenges that he most likely knew Shermer wouldn’t be able to address in full.

All in all it was a great talk and was very funny.

Next up was Lynne Kelly of the Victorian Skeptics. Her talk on Taromancy didn’t disappoint. She focused on cold reading and her personally made “Ancient Chinese” Tarot cardesque form of cold reading which used “masks”. She showed us how she works with a client and how even the most skeptical mind can be fooled if the cold reader is clever enough. The talk took a sombre note when she explained how psychics and pseudo-science can harm people with a truly sad story about a Melbourne couple who chose to forgo science based medicine at the advice of a psychic, ending in the death of a child.

This was definitely one of those talks that you wish you could take a non-skeptical friend or family member to. I hope in the future that we can have many more events like this and keep spreading scepticism and the scientific method. To continue the Science Week trend, later this week I’m going to the Melbourne museum to try and get into the fossil archives to take some photos for YAS.

Oh, I almost forgot, make sure you get your Young Australian Skeptic submissions in soon! The first articles are coming in now from people such as:- The Skepbitch, Podblack and Naotiotami! Your article can be about anything you want (as long as its science based or attempts critical thought) it can even be a video if you wish, or a sound bite. So hurry up!

When a Christian says that creation proves that there is a Creator,..[atheists].. dismiss such common sense by saying “That’s just the old watchmaker argument.”

– Ray Comfort

I thought I would start this post off with a sparkling gem of wisdom straight from Ray Comforts blog, the jarringly humourously named, Atheist Central. Oh we are soooo jived, we should slink away now while we have the chance! I like this quote. Yeah that’s right, I like it. The reason I like it so much is because it is just so god damn dishonest and as a result, funny.

Let’s take a look at this “common sense” and try and see it for what it obviously is, dishonesty. Firstly, let’s look at the glaringly obvious false dichotomy, usually when we see a creation there is a creator. I would think most rational people understand this. I see a building, there was obviously a builder. When I was a kid playing with my Lego and Meccano (I saved duplow for the kids who played in the corner, like Ray Comfort, with the soft skulls), I was the creator. What Ray said however, I will assume, was an attempt to rationalise that god is the creator of all life – you, me, your dog etc. I guess it’s fine to believe this if you believe Santa is real and still put teeth under your pillow at night, but we live in the real world here and we need evidence to support our claims. A building and a living breathing organism are two very different things. I guess in a round about way Ray is correct, we were created, just not by an almighty overlord who floats in the sky wearing a cape and sporting a beard (because this explains nothing!). Our creator was evolution by natural selection.

So yet again here is the unsinkable rubber duck, back with avengeance – shitting in our bath water. Why is it that these people see what they say as common sense? Common sense to whom? Any honest person can see the fallacious logic of what Ray (and others) says instantly! I wish I could, through divine intervention perhaps (?), kill this argument forever right here and now but we all know that it will be around for a long time to come.

Rays latest blog post has a great image (drawn in crayon and smeared with clag) which shows his unending logical dishonesty. Check out the link and have a giggle for yourself. Poison the well much? Oh and isn’t it blasphemy to suggest a mere construction worker is in some way equal to god in his power!?

So hopefully I helped sink the rubber duck, I won’t hold my breath but lets all “pray” to the great Spaghetti Monster in the sky that the little yellow bastard stays down this time. That being said, I will leave you with this quote from Rays latest post.

Actually, it’s not me that says that every building has a builder and that logically leads to the truth that creation therefore proves that there is a Creator. God’s Word makes the intellectual condescension to make the obvious comparison. It says, “For every house is built by some man; but he that built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4).

Oh…Right…God said it, great argument!

Today I was browsing Homologous Legs and found an interesting link.

Oooh, The Atheist Experience (blog link)

I said, clearly impressed.

I then clicked on the link kindly provided by Mr Naontiotami and waited while the site loaded. A few seconds went by and the anticipation of more logical content had my juices flowing wildly (gross).

Yes, here it comes!

I exclaimed (in my mind of course, as I was in the library and people would of thought it strange that I was so excited by a particular website).

I sat on my chair dismayed moments later when I was faced with this screen.

Double You Tee Eff!

I didn’t expect a site regarding atheism to be banned by the tafe but, alas, it was. I was about to close the window and move on when I looked towards the bottom of the page and noticed this!

The warning signs to the onset of unstoppable rage set in as my eyes scanned the screen time and again. Occult. What the flying FUCK. The first image that came to my mind was some barry bowl cut blonde haired bible basher (alliteration, awesome) sitting at his computer at head office sucking on his cross and stroking his tiny IQ/epeen thinking he has won another battle for jebus by blocking atheist content from students.

I quickly googled “Christian” and clicked on the first couple of sites that came up. They all loaded quickly and with no blocks. My favourite one was the site proclaiming “God makes sense!”. I want to go on a rant about how atheism is the complete opposite of occult but because you are reading this blog I will assume you already agree with me there.

The madness doesn’t stop there. The Skeptics Guide to the Universe and Geologic podcast sites are also blocked from view by the same asshat at head office. In closing, YAY FOR EDUCATION.

I am still without an internet connection, but to tide this blog over I thought I would post an email conversation between my mum and my older brother.

My mum is a gorgeous person who always wants to believe the best about everyone she comes in contact with and is fascinated with the paranormal. My brother is similar but has learned the painful (for him) lesson that his eagerness to believe in the paranormal means that it is necessary to apply critical-thinking and the skeptical toolbox when confronted with extraordinary claims to avoid being sucked into anything and everything.

This is the email from our mum to my brother Josh (not his real name) edited to remove private details:

Hi Josh ,

I am just about to set off to go, but before I go I thought you would be interested in chasing up on the web these two guys: Bruce L. Cathie and Frank Scully, you may know of them already! Bruce Cathie is a fascinating guy and reminds me a bit of you (very generous). They write about Harmonics/natural reality, UFOs , Anti-gravity, electro-magnetic fields and the energy grid etc. Frank Scully’s forte is flying saucers.

Let me know what you think. Perhaps we could meet up for lunch next week to discuss. Love you.

Mum x

My brother’s reply:

Hello,

I tried to find stuff about what Bruce is saying – it’s not easy. The only thing that turns up is prompts to buy his books. The books look cool! Very much like many I’ve read before, although those are clearly labelled for what they are – science-fiction.

I found a forum thread where people were discussing his work but the comments were laughable. Stuff about the moon can only be explained by it being artificially created and the like. That’s how it’s obvious that those folks were scientifically illiterate. They will say “science doesn’t know *everything*” as if that means that “science doesn’t know *anything*”. We know all about moons!

This is the only thing I have to go on regarding the sorts of things Bruce is selling, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now and say that those forum comments are not indicative of his claims. However, it does say something about the type of people who are interested in purchasing his books.

Maybe Bruce is not such a good science-fiction writer so he needs to spread his potential demographic to the scientifically-ignorant in order to turn a profit. This seems quite likely from what I have seen. I’m sure there is a line of argument that I should read a book before I comment further – but then again, if he had any useful claims to make then they would be in the public domain by now.

I’d like to see what you found interesting about his claims – did you have a specific link you can send me please? All I could find was his revenue raising endeavours. What’s with the L. in the name – I guess he wants it to be memorable?

Regarding Frank Scully. Ooo, the Roswell myth – this is a fun one! It’s a fascinating story in myth-making. As you know, I’ve been interested in this since I was a kid. Very hard to get to the facts because they are well hidden amongst the multi-billion dollar industry of woo woo that has built up around it, but it’s not impossible once you know where to look. Joe Nickell (now there’s a truly fascinating person for you to look up) – an investigator of paranormal claims with CSI ( http://www.csicop.org ) – has thoroughly flushed out the facts on this one.

It didn’t take long to find out who Frank Scully was. He’s a guy who, in 1950, wrote a book about the government having “flying saucers” and aliens in their possession. The book was based on a story told to him by two men. It turned out later that the men were hoping to sell him a device which detected petroleum and was based on alien technology, so they fabricated the story using bits from a science-fiction movie “The Flying Saucer” that came out a year earlier, and which keyed into the confusion that snow-balled from the so-called “Roswell incident”.

Frank’s book was very successful. People were eager to be excited by his story, and those who were willing to accept such extraordinary claims at face-value took the story and ran with it – feeding the creation of what now is one of the most profitable franchises in the world.

Was there anything in particular about Frank’s books you found interesting? Any link you want to send me to look at? You are right – it’s all really interesting.

Josh. x

In our discussions, I told my brother that I worry that mum thinks we just shoot down whatever she says regarding the paranormal and that it seems like she maybe wanted to find common ground on this subject. Josh agreed but said he thinks it is great that she is willing to discuss these things with us despite knowing we are “evil skeptics”. Maybe some part of her is beginning to see that hearing the other side of an issue might not be such a bad thing?

My brother said this to me, which I think is a useful point to remember when talking to loved ones who you think would benefit from a little more knowledge about skepticism:

I want to show her that skepticism is all about being interested in paranormal stuff. That is the common ground.

Baby

In the future we will have flying cars, pet aliens, erotic robots and REAL virtual reality video gaming, and you know who is going to make all this totally kick arse awesome stuff? The young people of today. Yes, soon all of you old people will die and anarchy will ensue in the shape of a kid nation (except the kids won’t be kids anymore they will be adults…that is confusing).

I think it’s about time society started thinking about, well, me. By me I mean, the youth. I say this because my generation is the immediate future. The people who are currently at university in a lecture while I’m at home wagging tafe, the people who are actually at tafe while I’m wagging tafe. These people will be one day running our country, our businesses and our education system, and that day is not that far away. In a few years, this will happen, we will literally rule the world and it is ours and societies responsibility to educate Generation Y.

Thats why I am doing my part by building The Young Australian Skeptics website. The Young Australian Skeptics is all about educating and entertaining young skeptical minds as well as spreading awareness of the scientific method to young people. Construction of the site starts soon, but to begin I need content. When I publish the site I plan to use my own content as well as articles written by you! So send me your skeptical, educational and motivational articles. They can be about anything, science, religion, pseudoscience, meetings…anything!

So don’t dilly dally. Head over to the Young Australian Skeptics submission page (found at the top of the site) and submit your articles today!

Oh, and while I’m at it, take a look through my blog roll for naontiotami’s blog, Homologous Legs. He is another young skeptic who writes mainly on creation science. Make sure to check out his youtube channel also which can be found on his site. Keep your eyes open for other young skeptics on the net and make sure you support our future!
Skelliot

Welcome to the world of tomorrow! Blogs are old news, the age of the podcast has begun and in honor of the dawning of this new age I thought I would do a skeptical podcast run down of the casts that I currently (or have in the past) listen too!

Geologic Podcast
http://www.geologicpodcast.com/

Do you want to laugh? Well, if you do, then listen to George Hrab on his podcast. The show consists of sketches, his mother rapping, religious morons and many of his absolutely side splitting characters (all played by him). He even has cameos by famous pod caster Soccer Girl! (A podcast I have not yet listened to by the way.) I am not kidding when I say Mr Hrab is funny, all I can say is go check it out for yourself and then send me (or George, preferably me) money for finding it for you. It is recommended that you listen to episode 31.1 if you want to catch up and get in on the “in” jokes.

Skeptics Guide to the Universe
http://www.theskepticsguide.org/

No self respecting skeptic skips this weekly podcast. Hosted by Steven Novella, an academic neurologist and full time skeptic, and the skeptical rogues, Robert Novella, Jay Novella, Rebecca Watson (the Skepchick) and Evan Bernstein. The SGU is a must listen for any skeptic, or non-skeptic for that mater, in their weekly rounds of the podcast scene. In the show they discuss current topics in the news and skeptical community as well as devastating break downs of pseudo-science and woo. Their regular interviews are truly entertaining. The Amazing Guru of skepticism James Randi also has a regular section called Randi Speaks where he attacks certain issues head on. If you love knowledge, and who doesn’t, tune into the SGU and join its already huge (35,000 last time I heard?) listener base!

Skepticality
http://www.skepticality.com/index.php

Again, a must listen for any self respecting skeptic. Join Derek and Swoopy as they delve into a specific issue each week. Generally their show consists of an interview with a prominent personality in skepticism or science but their older shows were more like SGU in structure. My favourite recent episode was the No Intelligence Allowed! interview with Professor Richard Dawkins and Dr. Michael Shermer about the new ID movie Expelled.

Are we alone? – SETI Podcast
http://radio.seti.org/

Are we alone? Who knows! But damn it’s fun to speculate. That’s what the SETI podcast is all about… well, not really, they explore deep into different scientific issues as well as the astrobiology topics it is based on. Each podcast focus’ on one or two topics and consists of interviews and fantastic banter between the two hosts. Seth Shostak is the senior astronomer at the SETI institute.

Scientific American
http://www.sciam.com/podcast/

This is a podcast that I don’t listen to regularly, but when I do listen I enjoy it thoroughly. The podcasts are usually fairly short and consist of mainly scientific topics (duh). My recent favourite episode was their interview with Mark Mathis who they proceeded to basically rip apart. It was hilarious to listen to him back peddle when met with a difficult question.

Cj’s Skeptical World
http://tcradiolive.com/cjskeptical.php

Unfortunately CJ’s no longer makes his podcast, but what he has made so far are highly entertaining. Listen to CJ as he spews mind bending rants about Woo and science in the American and world media. He even gives this blog a fleeting mention.

I hope this quick run down has helped you to decide on what you want to listen to. With each packet of knowledge I receive I come closer to world domination, please help me in that goal by commenting and posting your favourite Podcasts.