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Category Archives: Woo


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!

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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!

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.

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.

Human culture holds many old traditions that we have entertained for thousands of years. While some of these cause no harm at all, others have become out dated and some are just dangerous to begin with.

Lets just say that everyday for thousands of years my ancestors went hunting in the forest to catch a deer, boar or some other tasty looking critter or to forage for some vegetation. Back then this practice would have been considered necessary to survive and prosper. Many of these traditions still stand today as something that we continue, and with good reason. For example, agriculture is a tradition that advanced the human race a huge amount. Hunting is another skill and tradition that benefited our ancestors. While it is important that we remember tradition and record it we shouldn’t always keep practicing a tradition.

Some traditions are so outdated they actually do harm. I could point out religion for this quite easily but instead I wanted to bring up the topic of “Scientific research”.

I’m not talking about legitimate research. I’m talking about the slaughter of innocent creatures under the guise of tradition and an outright lie distorting the scientific method. I am talking about the Japanese whalers.

Today the whalers returned back to port in Japan after continued harassment by the activists that lurk around their hunting grounds in the Antarctic. While they slaughtered many innocent animals (551 Minke Whales) their efforts were severely hampered by the men and women who braved the freezing oceans to stop the massacre.

These magnificent creatures are like humans, victims of tradition. Only they aren’t the ones who practice it. They are just on the receiving end. Just because Japanese culture has been killing whales for a few hundred years they think they can just continue it due to tradition even with no real necessity?

Tradition can be a dangerous thing when left unchecked. Maybe it’s time we started re-evaluating our ancient ways.

RIP to all the whales killed in the name of tradition.

Skelliot.

Computers are cool

It’s Friday afternoon 6:30pm, and on a piss stained seat on a bustling locamotive sits a young boy. His feet swing slowly back and forth as he peruses a newspaper. His innocent and youthful eyes flit over the articles of the paper until he finds something that catches his interest. His vibrant blue saucers widen with horror as he locks onto a frightening article. It reads –

“Gaming’s autism link.”

Shocked, the boy reads on.

“Obsessive computer game playing has been linked to a rare form of autism.”

The young boy snaps out of his shock and puts on his skeptical hat and examines the article more closely.

Ok, so as you have guessed the young boy is me. I wasn’t really shocked and awed when I saw the article but I was angry. As I read on it was apparent that the news paper had obviously either blown a study out of proportion or reported on a scientific study that is flawed. The article goes on –

“Doctors say hours spent on your console could give you the same negative character traits associated with Asperger’s syndrome.”

Right, so first the article says that gaming is linked to a rare form of autism now its referencing “doctors” who say that it can cause character traits similar to Asperger’s syndrome. Firstly, just because something is like something doesn’t mean it is that same thing. A cold is caused by a virus, but when you get a cold you don’t say, “Hory shit mang! I got a minor case of the AIDs!”. No, you don’t. That would be silly.

The kicker of the article was that it stated that –

“according to Dr John Charlton…In total, 3 per cent of those questioned (out of 400 gamers) during the study had signs of being addicted to game playing.”

3 per cent. Wow. So basically this study detected noise and if it did detect anything it detected that video game playing is very very mildly addictive to some people…like pretty much everything else. (Smoking, alcohol, drugs, sex etc.).

It is obvious that it was a slow news day in the MX news room on Friday so they had to fabricate a story that would seem scary in order to shock the mindless masses coming home from work at the end of the week.

This is exactly what we need (SARCASM DETECTOR ACTIVATED!). Not only do vaccinations seem to cause autism, now our beloved video games cause it to! RUN FOR THE HILLS! Heres hoping that this little gem flies under the radar and isn’t picked up by the autism/vaccination proponents who seem to latch onto any little thing that comes their way.

So basically what I want to say is, Go die in a fire MX news paper. They know their target market and they continue to push brain dead anti-science at them.

coffee

Most charities, religious or not, do a fair amount of good work on the planet Earth. But sometimes the inner workings of charities and organisations go awry or completely barking mad. You see, Mercy Ministries, an evangelical christian group, have been doing their “best” to help poor women who suffer from mental health problems. The ministry works in conjunction with another well known christian group called Hillsong Church as well as coffee chain Gloria Jean’s. On the Mercy Ministry website they claim to be

“providing homes and care for young women suffering the effects of eating disorders, self harm, abuse, depression, unplanned pregnancies and other life controlling issues.”

A noble pursuit one would say, that is until you remember that these people believe in a literal heaven and hell, demons and angels and are probably the last people you should go to to help with mental health issues, let alone unplanned pregnancies. You see, three young women who broke away from the group have claimed that Mercy Ministries have been blaming their problems on “demonic possession” and even performed exorcisms that allegedly left the young women suicidal. Of course, Mercy Ministries have been quick to combat these claims in a letter that can be found on their website, here. Notice that none of the claims have actually been addressed in the letter which is written in a very loose manner and seems to dodge the main issue, that the organisation performs exorcisms.

This is another great example of religious-based “healing” having an ill effect rather than a positive one. What is the point of going to a form of “healing” that is considered alternative when you can take advantage of a science-based treatment that is demonstrably effective? Remember that there is medicine and then there is the rest, the alternative really isn’t an alternative. So next time a person walks towards you in a time of hardship with a Gloria Jean’s coffee in one hand and a cross in the other, punch them in the face*.

For further reading check out these links:-

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/03/17/2191256.htm

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2008/03/16/1205602228832.html

http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/they-prayed-to-cast-satan-from-my-body/2008/03/16/1205602228826.html

http://www.mercyministries.com.au

http://www2.hillsong.com/pages/default.asp?pid=170

P.s. Now for something completely different (kind of). Check out this site (link sent in by Leopold). It’s by a guy named TED! who claims he is the second coming of Jesus or some crap. Anyway, I got over it in the first couple of sentences and you will see why when you check it out. Give it a read and see if you can get further than me!

* (Disclaimer: Do not punch people in the face. It hurts them and you might go to gaol where worse things will happen to parts of you that you don’t want them to happen to. 🙂 )