Excess Woo – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle?

July 1, 2009 at 3:47 pm (Alternative Medicine, Miscellaneous, Trivial, Woo) (, , , , , , , , , )

Far too much energy is being expended on producing and consuming the bullshit of the counterknowledge industry: nutritionism, homeopathy, and the various forms of energy medicine that rely on vitalism being prime examples of this industry. Worthless remedies are produced, and worthless books and pamphlets are published.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Schadenfreude: The Kindred Agency and Public Engagement

May 16, 2009 at 9:00 pm (Trivial) (, )

The latest Holford Watch post on the Science So What campaign includes details of an FOIA request. It includes this titbit: “Contractor – Kindred Agency”. A previous comment on another Holford Watch post was left by someone who stated that they “work for the agency that helps DIUS run the Science: [So what? So everything] campaign.” I assume that the agency referred to in this comment is the Kindred Agency. Read the rest of this entry »

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What kind of person blogs?

August 20, 2008 at 1:57 pm (Alternative Medicine, Bloggers, Trivial) (, , )

Just a brief, speculative snippet this – rather than a full blog post. Via BPS research digest, I’ve seen the abstract of this paper in Computers in Human Behavior [unfortunately, it’s paywalled]. Read the rest of this entry »

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Blogging the Bible

July 8, 2008 at 8:27 pm (Atheism, Big Bang, Blasphemy, Briffa, Homeopathy, Nutritionism, Patrick Holford, Trivial, Woo) (, , , , , , , , , )

Genesis, Chapter 1; Verses 1, 3 and 4.

1.1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
1.3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
1.4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Firstly – God created the heaven and earth before he created light? Bloomin’ show-off. Somebody should have told him nobody likes a smart-arse. I mean, it wasn’t enough to create the heaven and the earth – he had to do it in the dark. [Hm, actually that gives me an idea for a bumper sticker.] I haven’t figured out how God split the light from the darkness, but I’m going to email the Pope if I can find his address. Apparently he’s infallible, so his answer must be reliable.

Secondly – God created the light and saw “that it was good”? Sounds like pride to me. Which just happens to be one of the seven deadly sins. What’s all that about? If the seven sins are that bad, how come God gets to break them? Still, nobody’s perfect.

And there’s more. Actually, hang on. This is a bit boring really. Isn’t it? Taking the piss out of a 2,000-year-old book that only a few readers actually take as being meant literally, a book that is basically some rather nice bits of poetry and short stories mixed in with a few rules that perhaps made sense to people 2,000 years ago in the Middle-East and some really basic moral rules like “don’t murder people” (and some rules that may have been born of common-sense but probably aren’t all that useful now, though I don’t know enough about 2,000-year-old eating habits so probably shouldn’t comment on the erstwhile usefulness of the Bible’s dietary rules). A book that has just prompted me to write a stupidly long sentence. And a book that has been covered with far more humour by the likes of Ricky Gervais and Bill Hicks than by me. The question is – is there still a point in remarking on the inconsistencies in the Bible. Another question might be – is it still funny to take the piss out of the Bible? Is it as funny as taking the piss out of the Organon. At least that’s only a 200-year-old book of fiction, so it’s more modern than the Bible if nothing else. And the funny dietary advice (restrictions, mostly) in the bible? No dafter that the supposedly scientific dietary advice of Visiting Professors, Medical Doctors and PhD Doctors. Heh, the holy trinity of nutritionism = Holford, McKeith and Briffa. Is it worth blogging about religion on sites like mine unless it is a case of a religion or spokesperson for a religion saying something ridiculous and/or harmful amd that has at least some import (e.g., Frankenstein-type comments from Chimera Fearers pre- the embryo research bill)?

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This Post is Dedicated to…

June 25, 2008 at 1:23 pm (Anti-Vaccination, Big Pharma, Conspiracy, Fun, Miscellaneous, Trivial) (, , , )

Everyone who has been slated by John Scudamore on Whale.to. The pharma gang and shill pages are my favourites. Frankly, I’m a bit gutted that I don’t get a mention – I’ll have to be more vocal in my criticism of JABS and Whale in future. Richard Doll is a shill (as are Ernst and Goldacre) so I don’t think it would be appropriate for someone of my limited talents to be listed on that page, but how about a mention on the ‘pharma gang’ page John? Honestly – it would be like a badge of honour for me. The really interesting thing is that one name on the pharma gang page is John Stone. Is it a mistake or are there ideological differences (and perhaps even ‘trust issues’) in the JABS camp? Just in case it is a mistake and John Scudamore realises his error, I’ve JKN’d the page here.

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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: http://orandath.blogspot.com/, http://www.theipu.com/, http://humbuggery.net/.

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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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Rowan’s Unclarity

February 14, 2008 at 10:31 am (Atheism, Media, Religion, Rowan Williams, Trivial) (, )

I was pleased to hear that Rowan Williams had decided to take responsibility for the unclarity of his words, but a couple of things did occur to me. Firstly, if the Archbishop has such trouble making himself understood then perhaps making public pronouncements isn’t really the sort of thing he should be doing (although Williams seems to think differently – apparently “neither the Archbishop nor his staff regard his speech as mistaken”). Secondly, if he’s going to start apologising for unclarity of words then maybe the bible would be a good place to start. Read the rest of this entry »

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