Man Bites Dog! Or: Daily Mail Manage Fairly Accurate Headline. Eventually.

June 24, 2009 at 5:14 pm (Media, Religion) (, , , , , )

I complained to the Daily Mail some time ago about some misleading headlines. They failed to respond. I then complained to the PCC. Read the rest of this entry »

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Daily Mail: Is Turin Shroud Genuine?

April 11, 2009 at 10:22 pm (Media, Religion) (, )

Excellent – a possible example of Dr* T’s First Theory in the Daily Fail. The Daily Mail is allowing itself to be used in order to promote the Discovery Channel’s programme tomorrow night. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Promotion of Counterknowledge

March 24, 2009 at 6:09 pm (Alternative Medicine, Anti-Vaccination, Bad Science, Bloggers, Briffa, Conspiracy, Dangerously Wrong, government, Media, Nutritionism, Patrick Holford, Religion, Supplements, Woo) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

[BPSDB] Those promoting Counterknowledge are winning. Possibly because the public actually don’t really care that much*. (Damien Thompson’s book Counterknowledge is available from local libraries in my area, yet I am the first person in the 14 months since it has been in the library catalogue to borrow it.) It is also possible that Counterknowledge is spreading at least partly because people with a measure of influence in society are among those who promote it. Members of the British royal family, politicians, the mainstream media, celebrities, Alternative Medicine practitioners posing as authority figures, members of churches, and even universities have helped to promote Counterknowledge. Not to mention maverick scientists such as Andrew Wakefield. Those with less authority are playing an important part too, though. For example, full-time conspiracy theorists such as the owner of the website are disseminating bullshit that is reproduced on forums such as What Doctors Don’t Tell You, or JABS. Read the rest of this entry »

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Daily Mail Finds Scientist’s G-Spot

March 13, 2009 at 10:33 pm (Belief, Media, Religion) (, , )

As far as misleading headlines go, I would say (immodestly) that the title of this blog post isn’t a bad attempt. I’m not as experienced as professional journalists though, so I apologise if my efforts pale into insignificance when compared with the creative headlines appearing in the Daily Fail on a seemingly daily basis. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Are Woos So ANGRY?

July 18, 2008 at 9:52 pm (Alternative Medicine, Bad Science, Homeopathy, Religion, Supplements, Woo) (, , , , , , , )

David Mabus gets slightly annoyed with atheists

Chiropractic *is* evidence-based...

Despite the cuddly image Alt-Med types like to project, they do seem to get ever so angry when their ideas are discussed. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Atheist Thirteen

June 16, 2008 at 12:31 pm (Atheism, Fun, Religion, Trivial) (, )

Some atheist Q&A (via PJ):

Q1. How would you define “atheism”?
A lack of belief in Gods. The term can also be used to denote a positive belief that there are no Gods or a belief that the existence of a God or Gods is highly improbable, but I’m probably most comfortable with the first definition. It’s simple, it’s inclusive and it makes no claims as to the non-existence of God.

Q2. Was your upbringing religious? If so, what tradition?
Not overtly. One parent is atheist and I could never figure out the other’s religious viewpoint. Probably some kind of agnostic Protestant. As a young child, I thought a lot about whether there was a God – but found it too difficult to work out whether God existed or not. I think part of my problem was that not only did I believe nothing could come from nothing but I also found it hard to believe that God and/or the universe could have always existed. At the time I decided that there was no God, on the basis that belief in God struck me as being quite similar to belief in the tooth fairy and that as one was invented by adults it was likely that the other had been too [not great reasoning I admit, but then I was only about 8-years-old]. As a teenager searching for meaning, I gave supernatural religion another try but it seemed somehow unsatisfactory. I eventually decided that, since there was no good reason to believe in God, the most sensible course of action was not to believe in God until I found good reason to. I’m still waiting.

Q3. How would you describe “Intelligent Design”, using only one word?
Dishonest. [It is creationism, just rebranded and presented as if it were scientific]

Q4. What scientific endeavour really excites you?

Q5. If you could change one thing about the “atheist community”, what would it be and why?
Is there an atheist community? I thought organising atheists was like herding cats.

Q6. If your child came up to you and said “I’m joining the clergy”, what would be your first response?
I tend not to answer hypothetical questions as I am often surprised by how I react to situations.

Q7. What’s your favourite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?
“Nothing can come from nothing” and I suppose my immediate response in that case would probably be to question where God came from.

Q8. What’s your most “controversial” (as far as general attitudes amongst other atheists goes) viewpoint?
Don’t know if this is controversial, but: Dawkins is wrong and religion is not actually a delusion. [A delusion is an erroneous belief that is held in the face of evidence to the contrary – and we don’t have evidence that God doesn’t exist, I therefore consider that believers are ‘thinking wishfully’ rather than deluding themselves]

Q9. Of the “Four Horsemen” (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris) who is your favourite, and why?
Dawkins – those of his books that I’ve read so far have been excellent. Actually, the God Delusion was possibly the least impressive of these, but it was still in a different league to Alister McGrath’s Dawkins Delusion.

Q10. If you could convince just one theistic person to abandon their beliefs, who would it be?

Them’s my answers. Now, I have to name three other atheist blogs that I’d like to see take up the Atheist Thirteen gauntlet:,,

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The Embryo Research Bill (and a little bit about Murphy-O’Connor’s ‘Evil Atheists’ Comments) [UPDATED]

May 9, 2008 at 5:47 pm (Atheism, Bad Science, Dawkins, government, Religion) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

On Monday, there will be a show of support for the Embryo Research Bill outside Parliament. There are concerns that sense may not prevail and the Bill may be defeated by religious objectors. The likely reason for these concerns is the fuss being made in the press by people such as Cardinal Keith O’Brien and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor*. The Times covered O’Brien’s remarks and the Guardian printed a piece with some clarifications. The Guardian piece and two letters to the Independent were published on the Black Triangle blog. One of my favourite opinion pieces on the Embryo Research Bill was written by George Galloway in the Daily Record:

The Bill contains the literally monstrous idea to allow boffins to insert human DNA into animal eggs creating hybrid human-animal embryos. This Frankenstinian proposal allegedly has some Christian ministers parading their double standard consciences

If you want to read more about the Bill, there is some discussion here, taken from the minutes of the Joint Committee on the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill – the report is indexed here: First Report. There was some discussion of the O’Brien comments at the Richard Dawkins Forum here and the Telegraph had a ‘For and Against‘ article. The Times also has some poll results here on PDF.

UPDATE 1: Weirdly, the MRC (Medical Research Council) don’t seem to want researchers to turn up on Monday – they think it would be counter-productive for scientists to come to Parliament and explain their research. Dr Minger has said that he has been encouraged by the MRC’s note – rather than just turn up to the show of support alone, he will be encouraging colleagues to join him. Evan Harris described the MRC note as “rather absurd and paranoid“. Ben Goldacre’s Miniblog had this summary: “Run away, hide, do not engage, do not speak, do not have feelings, do not have opinions, and if you it must let them only be expressed by The Singular Official Voice.”

UPDATE 2: Teek attended the show of support and has blogged it. Part one is here: Embryos and Parliament. Keep an eye out for part two!

*Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor (the Archbishop of Westminster) also said some stupid things about atheists recently. In defence of his comments he later claimed on the Today programme that societies ruled only by reason were like those created by Hitler and Stalin – ripe for terror and oppression. As I wrote last week, my view is that repudiation of liberal ideas rather than repudiation of religious ideas leads to despotism (although I used Lenin and Hitler as my examples).  I think Murphy-O’Connor has made a mistake invoking Hitler and Stalin as examples of the evils of reason, as I don’t think either man was particularly influenced by reason – in my view they were a pair of murderous, power-hungry bastards (and Hitler had some very strange beliefs indeed – well Google seems to think so anyway). There’s a bit more about Hitler the Atheist here on the Richard Dawkins site [according to the BBC’s online report, Dawkins was on Radio 4 earlier discussing Murphy-O’Connor’s remarks] and some discussion of Murphy O’Connor’s comments on the Bad Science Forum.

UPDATE 3: See my comment below for links to more religion/science stupidity where Hawk-Handsaw is looking at some comments made by Nadine Dorries.

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The Dawkins Delusion – Introduction

May 2, 2008 at 8:00 pm (Atheism, Blasphemy, Dawkins, Religion) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Alister and Joanna Collicut McGrath wrote The Dawkins Delusion in 2007 and I’ve just borrowed a copy from my library. Here’s a couple of snippets from the introduction: Read the rest of this entry »

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Google News Wars

March 18, 2008 at 4:51 pm (Atheism, Media, Religion, Trivial) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

To prove a point to myself, I tried googling “atheist violence”; “atheist intolerance”; “religious violence” and “religious intolerance”. The scores were as follows: 0, 0, 43, 120. I thought that perhaps ‘atheist’ was the wrong word to use, so I tried these: “secular violence” and “secular intolerance”. Zero again.

So why do some people claim that religion has nothing to do with violence, war, oppression and intolerance? Or that there are atheist fundamentalists who are intolerant of religion? The arguments made by people like John Gray and Rowan Williams that doing away with religion wouldn’t decrease violence, suffering or war – or that there might be such an entity as ‘atheist violence’ just don’t seem to be justified.

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NSS – what the papers say

March 17, 2008 at 4:49 pm (Atheism, Blasphemy, Dawkins, Media, Religion, Rowan Williams) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

The National Secular Society RSS feed has provided some excellent stories over the weekend: First, Iran’s “Moral Enforcer” was caught, ahem, enjoying the services of a brothel – just the latest example of hypocrisy from a holy man. It’s a shame they are unable to live up to the standards they attempt to impose on the rest of us isn’t it? Read the rest of this entry »

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