A woman was recently banned from a commercial flight after she asked airline staff to "stop blaspheming". She was taken off the flight and barred from flying with the airline for 24 hours, according to this item in The Telegraph:
Fiz Thomson, 55, was returning from a trip to Israel where she had been helping war victims, when she heard boarding staff at Stansted airport repeatedly exclaiming "Oh, my God" after a child fell and hurt herself.
She said she politely asked them to stop taking God's name in vain.
The woman explained:
I was very polite and non aggressive, but one of the ladies angrily asked me if I expected everyone to follow my religion and do as I did.
Finally – someone speaks some sense to one of these religious nuts. Blasphemy indeed. Oh sure, let them believe whatever ridiculous nonsense they want, just don’t let them expect everyone else to follow their fairy-tale rules too.
Admittedly there may be a little more to this story than just the blasphemy angle: there is a suggestion the woman was also racist. (She may have made some racist remarks to an Indian employee, although she denies this.) Still, the idea that someone could be called out for expecting everyone else to subscribe to their “don’t make fun of my invisible sky-fairy” requirement, is a positive thing. Of course, this happened in the UK. When something like this happens in the US it really will be time to celebrate.
It never fails to amaze me how much the anti-Genetic Modification (GM) crowd love to gloat at any problems (real or perceived) with GM crops. Reader Paul sent me a link to this Science Blogs Effect Measure article claiming GM cotton resistant to bollworm planted in China, is proving to be “a curse”, since other pests have grown stronger:
Genetically modified cotton resistant to bollworm is a reality and five million Chinese cotton farmers have embraced it. It works, too, killing bollworm larvae that used to kill their cotton. IN the late 1990s it looked like a miracle. Pesticide use was cut by 70%. After seven years, though, the miracle is looking more like a curse because new pests called mirids have rushed into the pest vacuum and taken up shop.
So, this must be a reason to ban all GM crops, right? That’s the obvious conclusion: any problem - ban it all. (It’s what Greenpeace wants.) Well, first perhaps we should look a little closer at what is actually happening. From China Economic Net (all quotes with my bold):
CCAP director Huang Jikun said the Cornell team's conclusions could be based on an incorrect reading of the data.
According to Huang, 2004 had particularly low summer temperatures and more precipitation, so the mirids affected not only cotton but also other conventional crops nearby.
CCAP interviews with the same farmers in 2005 and 2006 showed fewer mirids.
So perhaps things weren’t quite the “curse” they seemed? Still, I agree the growth of a different pest is a concern. So ban them then. End the experiment! Yes? Or perhaps a more scientific idea would be to manage them better. From CheckBiotech.org
Zhang Yongjun, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Plant Protection of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said the rise of the secondary insect problem was mainly due to the poor management of GM cotton growth in China.
Before planting anti-insect cotton, Chinese farmers widely used broad-spectrum pesticides, which killed both bollworms and mirids. But using the pesticides increased costs, caused pollution and harmed farmers’ health.
After planting anti-insect cotton, however, farmers use pesticides only in the final stage of the crop’s growth, when the Bt cotton’s resistance against bollworms is relatively reduced. “But in terms of preventing mirids, it’s too late,” said Zhang.
That situation, coupled with weather factors, eventually led to the outbreak of mirids across cotton-growing provinces in 2004, Zhang explained.
If the proper pesticide had been used at the right time, the mirids could have been controlled in 2004, he said.
When U.S. farmers plant Bt crops, they, unlike farmers in China, are required by contracts with seed producers to plant a refuge, a field of non-Bt crops, to maintain a bollworm population nearby to help prevent the pest from developing resistance to the Bt cotton. The pesticides used in these refuge fields help control secondary pest populations on the nearby Bt cotton fields.
GM crops are not perfect, but then no solution is without costs. For example, before GM cotton was introduced, 400 to 500 Chinese cotton farmers used to die every year from pesticide poisoning. Ban GMOs and you have to consider these costs (and others) that would increase. A better solution would seem to be learn from these developing problems and manage them better. As the Cornell article puts it:
"Research is urgently needed to develop and test solutions."
These include introducing natural predators to kill the secondary pests, developing Bt cotton that resists the secondary pests or enforcing the planting of refuge areas where broad-spectrum pesticides are used.
Of course science doesn’t always get it 100% right first time but that doesn’t mean you abandon a project at the first sign of a problem. And that’s especially true when there are potentially huge benefits to be gained. I realize Greenpeace and the like aren’t interested in scientific explanations and solutions, but I wouldn’t expect a real scientist to dismiss a whole field of science just because something didn’t work out perfectly first time. Which is why I am surprised and disappointed this supposed “Science Blogger” ends his article with the tart:
Maybe this is why the tag line of Pete Seeger's anti-war song, "Where have all the Flowers gone?" is "When will they ever learn?"
When will they ever learn? They? If he’s referring to the anti-GM gloaters, it seems only after “a long time passing”. When will they ever learn indeed.
Good news! Disposing of nuclear waste from nuclear power stations used to be a problem. No more. Pop icon Madonna says it can be cleaned up with a dash of Kabbalah water:
MADONNA and her husband Guy Ritchie have been lobbying the government and nuclear industry over a scheme to clean up radioactive waste with a supposedly magic Kabbalah fluid.
The couple, both followers of the Jewish spiritual movement, approached Downing Street, Whitehall and British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) promoting a “mystical” liquid tested in a Ukrainian lake.
Madonna and other Kabbalahists believe water can be given magic healing powers through “meditations and the consciousness of sharing”. Sure it can. Here’s an example of the meditations and the consciousness of sharing in action:
Undercover reporters who attended a Kabbalah Centre dinner in London described how Madonna and Ritchie were among guests who turned east towards Chernobyl and began shouting its name.
There – and you thought this made no sense. And not only does the magic water clean up nuclear waste, it can also fix gynecological problems in cows and sheep. Is there anything it can’t do? Here’s Madonna with the scientific explanation:
“I mean, one of the biggest problems that exists right now in the world is nuclear waste,” she said. “That’s something I’ve been involved with for a while with a group of scientists — finding a way to neutralise radiation, believe it or not.”
One un-named British official summed this up with the only reasonable response:
“… the scientific mechanisms and principles were just bollocks, basically”.
Well, yes. That was nothing though. If you thought that made no sense, listen to this:
“I can write the greatest songs and make the most fabulous films and be a fashion icon and conquer the world, but if there isn’t a world to conquer, what’s the point?
Madonna has made fabulous films? Now she's really talking bollocks.
has just been posted at the Interverbal
– and this time it’s Awards Night. Despite
the fact that there is nothing there from Skeptico this time, this is still
best skeptical blogging from the past two weeks.
Wow! File this under “I would never have believed it!”
Remember the Gentle Wind Project (GWP) – manufacturer of those magic plastic cards, designed by aliens to cure all problems? Get this:
In a consent decree filed in York County Superior Court last week, the directors of the Gentle Wind Project admitted that they made false claims about their products, which they said could cure anything from alcoholism to paralysis. They admitted making false claims on their Web site, at public appearances and in written literature that the instruments had been scientifically proven to be effective.
Board members also admitted that they breached their fiduciary duty as officers of a charity by using donations for the purchase and upkeep of houses purchased in their own names and for other illegal transactions.
Once the consent decree is approved by a judge, the houses and all other assets will be sold by a receiver, with the money used to provide refunds to any Gentle Wind customer who bought a healing instrument since 2003.
Wow – they’ve admitted their little pieces of plastic do nothing. Not often you get to hear things like that. What’s next? Homeopaths admit their magic water is just placebo? Allison Dubois admits she’s just guessing and playing the odds? Yes I know, I’m dreaming, but it’s just so rare to hear any of these scammers have to admit their stuff is crap.
It’s also good news for Judy Garvey and James Bergin, the ex-members of GWP who were being sued by them. GWP's board members have admitted the truth of most of Garvey and Bergin’s statements, which would seem to end any change GWP had of winning their case. Congratulations to Judy and James.
Technically, it seems the judgment only applies in Maine, but GWP’s admission that their little pieces of plastic (at up to $5K a pop!) don’t do anything, should make it harder for them to claim credibility anywhere else, and in any case the group’s assets anywhere in the US are forfeit.
THE [UK] Government is discussing with airport operators plans to introduce a screening system that allows security staff to focus on those passengers who pose the greatest risk.
The passenger-profiling technique involves selecting people who are behaving suspiciously, have an unusual travel pattern or, most controversially, have a certain ethnic or religious background.
The system would be much more sophisticated than simply picking out young men of Asian appearance. But it would cause outrage in the Muslim community because its members would be far more likely to be selected for extra checks.
Seems to make sense to me – check in more detail the people who appear to be the higher risk. And who could argue most potential bombers aren’t Muslims?
There is a contrary position:
Three days before last week’s arrests, the highest-ranking Muslim police officer in Britain gave warning that profiling techniques based on physical appearance were already causing anger and mistrust among young Muslims. Tarique Ghaffur, an assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said: “We must think long and hard about the causal factors of anger and resentment.
That may be true, but in my opinion, limited resources should be focused on where the problem is more likely to lie. However, simply choosing people based on physical appearance would be problematic because appearance is relatively easy to change. Plus, not all Muslims are of the same stereotypical appearance. But that doesn’t appear to be what they are proposing:
Sir Rod Eddington, former chief executive of British Airways, criticised the random nature of security searches. He said that it was irrational to subject a 75-year-old grandmother to the same checks as a 25-year-old man who had just paid for his ticket with cash.
Philip Baum, an aviation security consultant, said that profiling should focus on ruling out people who obviously posed no risk rather than picking out Asian or Arabs.
Precisely. Subjecting everyone to the same level of security, the same probability of a detailed search, is idiocy in the name of political correctness. But would this new policy cause anger and mistrust among young Muslims in excess of any benefits obtained? Please discuss.
In Monday’s post about a psychobabbler, I said I would soon post about another one. Well, here it is. And unlike Monday’s post, where the guy really wasn’t that bad, this guy is the genuine article: a card-carrying woo of the highest order. And not just that, but a Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) trainer to boot (more on that at the end). Prepare to be amazed. Marvel at the psychobabble word games he most likely uses to effect in his NLP day job – word games he clearly thought would give me what-for. Just make sure you’re not drinking any liquids as you read his emails to me – I will not be responsible for damaged keyboards due to coffee spat out while laughing.
Regular readers may remember my review of Gregg Braden’s book, “Awakening to Zero Point”. Braden’s fans don’t like my treatment of this pseudoscientific book, or my exposure of Braden’s manipulative writing, and several have emailed me over the past four years or so to tell me so. Usually they fold when asked to back up their complaints, but occasionally one goes a couple of rounds with me first. So meet Darrell Brown, who as I discovered, “travelled (sic) into the mountains of Tibet with Gregg Braden” as part of an expedition called "In search of Original Wisdom". Well, talk about being “invested” in being right about Braden… I thought, finally - someone who actually knows Braden and goes on trips with him. Finally I have a worthy opponent. I thought. I was wrong. His complaints turned out to be nothing more than the usual New Age psychobabble. The following is our email exchange – first his email to me that started it all off:
I have only just read your appraisal of Gregg Bradens (sic) book "Awakening to Zero point". (Dec 2002) As it was 4 years ago I was wondering if you were still so (sic) misinformed as the report you wrote then?
As much of what Gregg predicted back then now seems to be proven correct by our own academic institutions it appears science is finally catching up with what most of us intuitively new (sic) then.
The world no longer needs the "sceptic's" (sic) who are holding up our evolution as a species. Especially as we are now in so much trouble. Its (sic) time for you to let go of your need to be right, and start being effective.
But I'm sure by now you know that already (sic),
your family needs you to finally show up - so do we,
Note the “need to be right” maneuver again. (I think I’ll trademark that.) As I pointed out Monday, I don’t have a need to be right; rather I use critical thinking to try to arrive at what is right – a crucial distinction. (There must have been some New Age memo detailing this “need to be right” criticism. I guess I’m not on the list.) Also note the dig about my family. Highly manipulative wording, to be sure. I don’t care though. You’ll note his email contained two claims, namely (1) my review was misinformed, and (2) Braden’s predictions have proven right. Well, I just love claims, and I expect people to be able to back them up, especially when they come from someone who goes on camping trips to Tibet with New Age gurus, so I shot this back to him:
Perhaps you could tell me what parts of my review were "misinformed"? And please show your work.
Also, perhaps you could tell me exactly which of Braden's predictions have proven correct?
Richard aka Skeptico
Pretty easy to do, you would have thought? After all, if he didn’t know the answers to those questions, why would he have made those claims in the first place? Apparently it was too much for him though. After over a week I had had no reply.
It’s at these times that I employ an old rhetorical trick – I flip my opponent’s words around and send them back to him. (You have to make a few minor changes for it to make sense.) The point is to show the other person that his words were vacuous – without any meaningful content. (You can only play this trick if the original words were empty claims; try it with factual wording backed by evidence – it doesn’t work.) So I flipped his words around and played them back at him (with grammatical errors and incorrect apostrophe use corrected):
I have just re-read your comments on my review of Gregg Braden’s book "Awakening to Zero Point". (July 29, 2006.) As this was over a week ago I was wondering if you were still as misinformed as the email you wrote then. I note you have been unable to answer either of my two simple questions relating to your claims. Clearly it’s easier to make claims than it is to back them up. Thanks for playing though.
As nothing of what Gregg predicted in his book seems to have been proven correct by our own academic institutions, and since everything I wrote is still true, it appears science confirms what most of us knew then, namely that Braden’s book is a load of pseudoscientific nonsense.
The world no longer needs credulous “new-age bozos” who are holding up our progress as a species. Especially as we are now in so much trouble. It’s time for you to let go of your need to be right, and start being effective.
But I'm sure you knew that already.
Your family needs you finally to show up – no one else cares.
Richard aka Skeptico
That obviously annoyed him. By return I received this:
What's it like to live with so much anger?
If you were to truly look deeply at the work of Gregg Braden, past all the scientific analysis, the left brain analytical details and past your own scepticism you would reach a place we call compassion.
Like most people in the world of academia Richard you continue to make the same mistake. The answers to the worlds (sic) problems will never be found on a spread sheet. It wont (sic) be until you take you (sic) thinking out of your head and steer it towards your heart that you will lose the scepticism that holds you back.
"Scepticism" is simply a label which for you has become a filter to your world. The observer will always effect what is being observed. Its (sic) the one flaw in your rush to be right. Your (sic) using an ineffective filter.
I obviously hit a nerve in you that has been festering for a while. My invitation to you Richard is to simply ask yourself. "What is the gift in his message that I am yet to recieve (sic)?
love and light
First, note the psychobabble again. There is the opening manipulative comment about my “anger”- the exact same word used by Kaz in Monday’s post. Of course, (as with Kaz’s comment), it doesn’t matter I if am angry or not (actually I was having too much fun to be angry, but that’s just me). Note also the “need to be right” maneuver again, and note the manipulative “I obviously hit a nerve”. Here’s the thing – these were his words used back against him, so if they showed anger, a need to be right, or hit a nerve, then he is describing his own emotions when he wrote his original email to me. What a dummy to fall for that.
The rest of the email consists of various different lame fallacious appeals to other ways of knowing. Darrell’s better method for understanding the world (better than science) seems to involve taking my thinking out of my head. Well, I suppose if your mind is so open your brains have fallen out, that is what you would have to do. I doubt it’s very reliable though. Note also the fallacious appeal to quantum mechanics – “the observer will always effect what is being observed”. Standard woo to invoke poorly understood (read not understood) quantum mechanics to justify any wacky idea they believe in without good reason. You’ll note though, still no answer to my questions about his two claims in his first email.
Wow – so many words; so little content.
Apparently you didn’t notice I used your own words against you – I just made a few minor changes and they applied just as well to you as to me (better actually). So if my words contained “anger”, or if you think you “hit a nerve”, you are describing your own outlook, not mine. Here’s the thing: you can only work that trick with content-free writing; you can’t do it with factual content backed by evidence (try it – it doesn’t work). You started this exchange, obviously thinking you were going to put me down with your lame psychobabble, but you failed: you could not provide one word of why Braden is right or why my review of his absurd book is wrong. How embarrassing for you.
I asked you two questions that arose from your claims. It’s a sign of intellectual honesty to answer reasonable questions that arise from your own claims, so are you intellectually honest, or dishonest? Let’s see. Your two claims were:
The review I wrote was “misinformed”, and
Much of what Braden predicted back then now seems to be proven correct by our own academic institutions.
So, answer my questions: what was “misinformed” in my review and which of Braden’s predictions have proven correct? And please show your work. Answer the questions please or don’t bother to respond – no more drivel.
If your answers continue to display sufficiently good examples of fallacious reasoning I will not bother to reply but will feature them instead on my blog as examples of how not to present an argument.
And this was all I received in reply:
I wish you well on your journey Richard,
love and light
That’s it? This traveling companion of the great Gregg Braden, this Neuro-linguistic Programming trainer and life coach - that’s all he’s got? Despite the snotty email he sent me that he clearly thought would put me in my place, he couldn’t think of one thing – not one sentence – that was wrong with my review of Braden’s book, nor could he think of one solitary thing Braden got right. What a lamer. Well, I think we have the proof that my opinion of Braden was right on the money. Not that we needed any more proof.
Still, I would just like to point out that Darrell’s last reply is an example of passive aggressive behavior: a "pervasive pattern of passive resistance to demands for … performance." (Hey, this psychobabble stuff is easy. And fun!)
Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) is one of many New Age Large Group Awareness Training [LGAT] programs. NLP is a competitor with Landmark Forum, Tony Robbins, and legions of other enterprises which, like the Sophists of ancient Greece, travel from town to town to teach their wisdom for a fee.
Aha – now I do know something of Landmark, having known several people who have been on the courses. I do know these LGAT courses can be highly manipulative, that attendees are often not allowed to question what they are being told, and that group-think is rewarded. Very cult-like.
While it is difficult to find a consistent description of NLP among those who claim to be experts at it, one metaphor keeps recurring. NLP claims to help people change by teaching them to program their brains.
Aha – this is the look “past all the scientific analysis, the left brain analytical details” drivel. Wow – people pay Darrell money to hear him spout this drivel at them.
However, do not contact this organization if you want detailed, clear information about the nature of NLP, or DHE (Design Human Engineering™ (which will teach you to hallucinate designs like Tesla did), or PE (Persuasion Engineering™) or MetaMaster Track™, or Charisma Enhancement™, or Trancing™, or whatever else Mr. Bandler and associates are selling these days. Mostly what you will find on Bandler's page is information on how to sign up for one of his training sessions. For example, you can get 6 days of training for $1,800 at the door ($1,500 prepaid). What will you be trained in or for? Bandler has been learning about "the advancement of human evolution" and he will pass this on to you. For $1,500 you could have taken his 3-day seminar on Creativity Enhancement (where you could learn why it's not creative to rely on other people's ideas, except for Bandler's).
Darrell not only practices this stuff, he is currently designing his own courses in it. I suggest anyone thinking of going on a NLP course, and especially one given by Darrell Brown, should read the above exchange and decide for yourself if you could possibly benefit from anything this lame twit has to tell you.
It seems to me woos are increasingly relying on psychobabble – “language characterized by the often inaccurate use of jargon from psychiatry and psychotherapy” – in place of the actual arguments they don’t have. This post is the first where I examine this form of “argument” – this time from someone who left a couple of (off topic) comments to my Astrology Challenge. (A second example will follow in a day or so.) I do so because (1) it amuses me, but also (2) I think it’s instructive to deconstruct these highly manipulative but ultimately fallacious arguments.
The commenter goes by the name of Kaz. He left this comment that I replied to. He then replied with another long comment that I deleted from the Astrology Challenge as being off topic. (Why do people have such a problem understanding what I am asking for in the Astrology Challenge? Oh well.) His comment is repeated below in its entirety, with my analysis and rebuttals. Here goes:
I really just want to write you a note, as one skeptic/atheist to another.
Kaz may be an atheist, but he is no skeptic. On his Simple Horse blog he states “I'm … an acupuncturist/alchemist by night, and am available for consultations at [phone number]”. I don’t know what he means by an alchemist (although it sounds totally woo), but an acupuncturist? If you real my numerous post on acupuncture you would know it’s mostly placebo. Kaz is no skeptic; he just doesn’t believe in astrology. But a skeptic is not someone who just doesn’t believe in a woo subject like astrology. A skeptic is one who arrives at such a position through the application of critical thinking – reason, logic and the scientific method. And, unlike Kaz, a skeptic doesn’t rely on fallacious reasoning:
I was just trying to point out gently that even if astrology is bogus, it has a natural history that consists of many generations of people - astronomers, astrologers, in the not so distant past these were one and the same - trying to make sense of the world. (Since you seem to like books and references, I will refer you to Richard Grossinger's excellent "The Night Sky"). So the rules of astrology weren't "just made up;" they were accumulated over millennia by people trying to impose meaning on a meaningless universe. It's just that at some point after Newton (who was heavily into the esoteric woo-woo stuff), most scientists discarded the obviously outdated baggage and moved on from astrology to astronomy.
This is the fallacy of equivocation that I wrote about before. Astronomy is not the same as astrology, even if they were practiced by the same people centuries ago. It’s completely irrelevant to whether the rules of astrology were made-up or derived.
But I don't think I need to explain that to you, who know so well the human need to try to understand things. You have seized on reason as the weapon that makes you right every time. Others seize on God.
Of course, science doesn’t make anyone “right every time”, it is just the most reliable method we have for explaining how things are. It’s true that with reason and science I will probably be right more often than people who rely on other ways of knowing. But that isn’t what I want to focus on. The point is, it is here that the psychobabble starts. Note the interesting wording: “the weapon that makes you right every time”. Kaz has reversed the order of things. His argument goes that I have decided astrology is bogus, and have a need to be right about this. I have chosen reason as the weapon to back up my pre-conceived belief - to “make me right”. The corollary is I am “making wrong” anyone who disagrees with me – clearly a pejorative action. It is expressed this way so that it appears my “need” to be right is a weakness, and “reason” is my “weapon” to cover up this weakness. But he has it exactly back to front – it was by using reason and science that I determined astrology was nonsense, not the other way round. Of course, I am trying to find out what is “right” – that is the purpose of critical thinking – but it is not to “make [me] right”, it is to arrive at what is right. That is the crucial distinction that Kaz has (ironically) wrong.
The reason I go into this in so much detail is that I have noticed this type of reasoning – skeptics have a need to be right etc - is utilized a lot by woos to put skeptics down and obscure the fact that the woo has nothing to justify his claim. I’m not sure where it comes from, although I suspect it’s an argument used in woo circles that sounds good so is picked up and repeated without much (any) thought. It’s classic psychobabble. It’s certainly highly manipulative and as used here is fallacious.
Speaking of which, I find that you are a little too quick to call your readers' comments "moronic" etc. Your strident tone reminds me of fundamentalist Muslims and others who have "seen the light" and have a very low tolerance for other people's opinions. You mention that you once believed in astrology. Did you have some kind of conversion experience that left you the strident rationalist that you are now?
Here we have another fallacy - the false analogy. I don’t insist people accept my views on astrology the way that religious fundamentalists insist the world adheres to their religious beliefs. Anyone is welcome to practice astrology to their heart’s content as long as it doesn’t directly affect me (as for example, when a US President consults an astrologer before making decisions). I just post facts about astrology on this blog and ask proponents who visit this site to answer questions and justify their silly beliefs. This is a blog set up to promote critical thinking, so if you’re going to post claims on this blog I am going to ask you to back them up. You can go away and do whatever you want – just don’t expect me to believe in your nonsense.
Finally, re: astrologers vs skeptics, I challenge you to demonstrate why "it matters if it's right or wrong." Or to make it a little easier for you, why you think it's so important, indeed why you even have this website. Will the sky come tumbling down because people believe in astrology? Will an eventual human extinction be avoided because a critical mass of humanity embraced rationality and skepticism a la Skeptico? I severely doubt it. So why does it matter? I think this question gets to the crux of why Skeptico is such an angry and vehement rationalist.
My “moronic” comment was in response to Kaz’s claim “It doesn't matter whether you or the astrologers are right or wrong”. Well, of course it matters. If someone makes decisions based on astrology it matters if astrology is right or not. But it is wider than that. This blog was set up to promote critical thinking – to demonstrate how to apply critical thinking and the scientific method to evaluate claims. If it doesn’t matter if the conclusions of critical thinking are right or wrong then it doesn’t matter if you use critical thinking or not. So for example, it doesn’t matter if an alternative therapy will cure your cancer or not – you may as well take the altie therapy even if in reality you will die without the evidence-based therapy.
Yes, saying it doesn’t matter if something is right or wrong is moronic. And if you disagree then I have a bridge to sell you. Bring your check book.
I am no proponent of astrology, so I will stop here and leave space for those astrologers who wish to enter into verbal fisticuffs with you. But really, why are you so invested in being right? Why the need to lash out at anyone who so much as slightly disagrees with you? I think you should consider the possibility that there are some not-so-rational reasons for your insistent position, and that some psychotherapy, astrological or otherwise, might be in order.
Again note the psychobabble – I am “invested” in being right. “Invested” – an interesting word, implying I have a need to be right – I wouldn’t want to give up an “investment” after all. But as I pointed out earlier, rationality leads me to the right answer, I do not start with an answer that I have “invested” as being right. But the fact that Kaz thinks this is a good argument implies that is the way his mind works – he is invested in this discussion for some reason. So much so he has a need to post a second 400 plus word comment on astrology. Pretty funny for someone who doesn’t believe in it and who claims I have an “insistent position” that might need therapy to sort out. I think he's talking about himself.
Percent Company have an article today eloquently exposing the lunacy of the
war on drugs. Here we have a sting
operation where the owners of convenience stores are being prosecuted for
selling cold medicine, cooking fuel, and (get this) matchbooks – to undercover police officers - because these items
can be used to make crystal meth. And
the penalties could include up to 20 years in prison, forfeiture of their
stores, fines of up to $250,000, and, in some cases, deportation.
Makes you feel good to know your tax dollars are
being spent so wisely.
has just been posted at the Daylight
Atheism Museum of Superstition and Pseudoscience. Dare you plumb the most bizarre depths of the
human imagination? Marvel at the
fascinating beliefs cultures throughout history have dreamed up to explain the
world around them? Up to you, but you’ll
be sorry if you don’t checkout the best skeptical blogging from the past two
Their website explains the basic principles of "Jonism," including the faith's theological foundations. Why is Jon Stewart a God? According to the "Jonsons," it's because, "He is not a man because no man can be consistently that funny. He is not an animal because he is way too articulate. He is not a plant because... well... he moves too fast. He is neither an idol nor is He a statue of any kind although his exquisitely times pauses make us wonder sometimes."
For non-US readers, Jon Stewart hosts the late night “Daily Show” – the fake news show that is more on the money with the stories behind the news than the real news. It is certainly the funniest show on TV and the one I never want to miss. But Jon Stewart is God? How dare they blaspheme against His Noodliness? I’m shocked! Shocked, I tell you!
Still it raises an interesting question. Since The Colbert Report is a spin-off from The Daily Show – its progeny if you will – does that make Stephen Colbert The Son Of God? (AAh, forgive me oh noodly one.)
This Thursday August 3rd, 9 pm, the History Channel (US) is showing “Decoding the Past; Mayan Doomsday Prophecy”. According to this University of Central Florida (UCF) article, it’s going to be a rational article featuring UCF professor Arlen Chase who has been studying the Maya for several decades and has written more than 100 articles about the subject:
Some of the prophecies left behind by the Maya indicate that when a 4,000 year cycle in the Maya calendar closes, Armageddon will be upon us.
“But nothing is going to happen,” Chase said. “The show is very well done, showing different points of view. It’s very interesting and the graphics are fantastic, but that doesn’t change the fact nothing is going to happen Dec. 21, 2012. I think some people are misinterpreting the Maya.”
During the hour-long program, Chase talks about the complex calendar from Chichen Itza, the heart of the Maya civilization deep in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Clear graphics, stunning landscape from several ruins and dramatic re-enactments take the viewer through a lively look at the doomsday myth and potential warnings for avoiding it.
Well, I hope he’s right and that the “show is very well done”, as he says. More often than not these pieces play for the woo ratings; the fact that there is to be “a group of archaeologists, astrologers, and historians to speculate on the meaning of the 2012 prophecy” (astrologers?) is not encouraging. Nor is the program’s title, or the look at ways to avoid “doomsday”. Still, let’s hope this program lives up to its skeptical promise, and that they allow scientists like Chase more than the usual two sentences.
(Note: the Mayan calendar doesn’t “end” in 2012 any more than the western calendar “ended” on January 1st 2000 – the count just starts again. Boring but true.)