News From Around The Blogosphere 12.9.08

December 10, 2008

prayerhardworkIn Detroit, workers are praying for a bail-out - Apparently those car manufacturers didn’t have to get on their private jets and fly to Washington to beg for money after all because Yahweh is on the case. I know what you’re thinking: Phew! That’s a relief!

monkey-frustratedBill O’Reilly wrong on state capitols, wrong on everything – In one of his latest rants against the atheist display in Washington’s capitol, Olympia, Bill-O spoke thusly:

Seattle now rivals San Francisco for secular-progressive nuttiness. The city fathers are allowing public nakedness in city parks, nude bike riding, and in Fremont, a Seattle suburb, they actually put up a statue honoring Lenin, the father of communism.

See if you can find the incredibly awkward mistake.

God vs. Science: will those 2 crazy kids ever get along? – NO. And stories like this exemplify why. Researchers did a study looking at attitudes regarding nanotechnology. Here’s what they found:

They found that countries where religious belief was strong, such as Ireland and Italy, tended to be the least accepting of nanotechnology, whereas those where religion was less significant such as Belgium or the Netherlands were more accepting of the technology.

Do The Bartman - Australian Supreme Court Justice Michael Adams is upholding the child pornography conviction against a man caught possessing images of characters from The Simpsons having sex. I’m with Amateur Scientist:

Look, no one’s arguing that looking at drawings of a naked Bart and Lisa is in good taste, but it has absolutely nothing to do with child pornography. These aren’t children. They’re cartoon characters. They aren’t even people. They’re cartoon characters.

Update on the witch hunts in Nigeria – Self-proclaimed bishop Sunday Ulup-Aya of southeast Nigeria has been arrested for the murders of several children he claimed were possessed by the spirits of witches. Unfortunately, there’s more where he came from.

I’m giving Water Vitalizer Plus a check minus – You might expect to pay up to $0.01 for this product but act now and you can get it for the low, low price of $500. But wait! There’s more!

The Water Vitalizer Plus water is Hexagonal Water.

That’s it. You can’t argue with that logic. . . you really, really, really can’t. They also say this little gem:

It is scientifically proven that when you drink pure water ran through the Vitalizer Plus it goes right into your cells hydating the body immediately,it doesn’t sit in your stomach slushing around undigested, making you nauseous like regular tap water or even bottled drinking water does.

WHAT?!

“I reject your reality… and substitute my own.” - On germ theory denial and other forms of rejecting reality.

A foxhole atheist speaks out

AND NOW A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyObesity Cure? Worms Destroy Their Own Fat – “A previously unknown mutation discovered in a common roundworm holds the promise of new treatments for obesity in humans, McGill University researchers say. Their study was published Dec. 3 in the journal Nature.”

Dogs Feel Envy, Austrian Study Finds – “Dogs can feel a simple form of envy, researchers have found.

Experiments with various species have shown that monkeys often express resentful behavior when a partner receives a greater reward for performing an identical task. Monkeys have been shown to stage strikes, refusing to participate and ignoring what they perceive as inferior compensation. Dogs are capable of similar, though less sensitive, discrimination, report Friederike Range and colleagues.”

Dinosaurs Were Airheads, CT Scans Reveal – “Paleontologists have long known that dinosaurs had tiny brains, but they had no idea the beasts were such airheads.

A new study by Ohio University researchers Lawrence Witmer and Ryan Ridgely found that dinosaurs had more air cavities in their heads than expected. By using CT scans, the scientists were able to develop 3-D images of the dinosaur skulls that show a clearer picture of the physiology of the airways.”

Brain Cells Key To Learning Discovered – “More than a century after Ivan Pavlov’s dog was conditioned to salivate when it heard the sound of a tone prior to receiving food, scientists have found neurons that are critical to how people and animals learn from experience.”

Chupacabra, Skepacabra’s goat-sucking cousin, apparently is in desperate need of a good cleaning:


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.25.08

November 26, 2008

Witchcraft on India’s school curriculum – It’s part of an effort to dispel superstition and stop deadly witch hunts.

Victims of abuse can sue the Vatican!!!

A great blog article by Phil Plait on The Long Tail of Skepticism – It includes another plug for Stop Jenny McCarthy, so I’m happy. I’ve blogged in the past about how skeptics need to start focusing on strengthening the the “Long Tail” and I’m planning on writing a potentially very long essay on the direction I think the skeptics movement should be heading, which expands upon the popular essay by Daniel Loxton “Where Do We Go From Here,” the blog by Tim Farley of “What’s The Harm” that Phil Plait links to “The Long Tail of Skepticism,” and the Skepticamp essay recited on the most recent Skepticality podcast (episode #90). All of these are must-reads for those interested in getting involved in skeptical activism.

Boy did this psychic go to the wrong site – This is hilarious. It’s remarkable to me that “Sean” didn’t see this one coming. . .you know, with all the psychic powers and all.

No atheist ads in Australia – And probably won’t even be in the film, “Australia.” It’s particularly sad because all 3 slogan options were better than the recent ones used in London and Washington:

  • Atheism: Because there is no credible evidence
  • Celebrate reason: Sleep in on Sunday mornings
  • Atheism: Celebrate reason

If they didn’t even go for the last one, then I guess we can forget my slogan idea: “God Is Imaginary. Get Over It.”

A circuit court judge has ruled that Florida’s ban on gay adoption is unconstitutional – Reason wins out. But there’s still Utah, where no unmarried couples are allowed to adopt, be they gay or straight, and Mississippi, which bans gay couples from adopting, but not single gay people.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyMissing Link’ Galaxies Discovered – “Astronomers in two UK-led international collaborations have separately uncovered a type of galaxy that represents a missing link in our understanding of galaxy evolution.”

Flies May Reveal Evolution Of Live Birth – “A species of fruit fly from the Seychelles Islands often lays larvae instead of eggs, UC San Diego biologists have discovered. Clues to how animals switch from laying eggs to live birth may be found in the well-studied species’ ecology and genes.”

HUMOR:

F.U.T.K. - Okay, so this time Toby Keith is being deliberately funny with this “War on Christmas” song from A Colbert Christmas (and it is very funny), but is there any doubt that Toby Keith take the message of the song seriously?

And of course here’s a little piece of unintentional comic gold. Proof that religion rots your brain:


News From Around The Blogosphere 11.23.08

November 24, 2008

Researcher sheds new light on witch-hunting and epidemics of fear

Does secularism lead to evil? Nope. – Yet another study suggests that the more secular a nation is, the less dysfunctional it tends to be all around.

influenza-virus-vaccineDespite a really low turn out so far for Americans getting flu vaccines, this flu tracker shows that there isn’t any flu activity in any particular state, which is great news. In fact, most states show low activity.

Dora The Explorer is The Anti-Christ?!! – OH NO! NOT DORA!

This is potentially the most dangerous and blasphemous cartoon I have yet reviewed for this site.

Yes, they are serious. They are really, really not joking. Proceed to laugh your ass off right about NOW!!!

Not only does this disc promote SATANISM and PAGANISM but it also propagates THE NEW COMMUNISM as an Unholy Trinity. First, Dora, a force for the false belief in cultural relativism and the rejection of GOD’S TRUTH disguised as educational television, is accompanied in her adventures by a TALKING GOAT during her adventures on this DVD. As it says in Leviticus 16:20-22:
“And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.”

The Madonna of Orgasm Church – Yeah, you read that right. Leave it to Sweden to recognize a group called the The Madonna of Orgasm Church as a religion.

“The orgasm is God, the orgasm should be worshiped,” Bebeacua told the Kvällsposten newspaper. . .

. . .The church only has priestesses and its scriptures are called the Catechism of the Orgasm. The only gospel peached is the gospel of sex.

AMERICAN BIGOTRY:

i_dont_want_youA few days ago I blogged about eHarmony’s agreeing to make a separate but equal site for gay singles after having been sued for discrimination. Well now Christians are giving them shit because of their decision. Take this excerpt from an email from a woman named Jan:

I was absolutely shocked that you would cave into the homosexual agenda, by offering date-matching for homosexuals on your “Christian” dating website. They have their own dating websites which I understand to be extremely X-rated.

Yeah, I also understand that on the gay dating sites, their profile pictures all are required to show them having sex with animals while worshiping Satan.

Another lesson in how to get rid of Westboro Baptists – When Glendale Community College in Arizona decided to stage a production of The Laramie Project, a play about Matthew Shepard, in honor of the tenth anniversary of his murder, many secular organizations expected a visit from Fred Phelps’ band of fools with their “God Hates Fags” signs. So an army of supporters of the project showed up waiting for them and effectively reduced the the Westboro Baptists to driving by and shouting that they were going to hell.

Terror Texts: A Musical About the Lesser Known Bible Stories – Apparently this play re-enacts those Bible stories you’ll never hear about in church but will be enjoyed by fans of stories involving rape, incest, and cannibalism. Don’t look at me. It’s not my Holy Book.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

scientist-use-in-case-of-emergencyCould Marijuana Substance Help Aging Brain? – “Ohio State University scientists are finding that specific elements of marijuana can be good for the aging brain by reducing inflammation there and possibly even stimulating the formation of new brain cells.”

New Technique Unlocks Secret Of Plasmas – “University of British Columbia researchers have developed a technique that brings scientists a big step closer to unlocking the secrets of the most abundant form of matter in the universe.

A plasma – or ionized gas – can be as commonplace as in fluorescent light bulbs, or exotic in the extreme, as a thermonuclear explosion. The Earth’s upper atmosphere is a plasma, as are lightning bolts and virtually all stars that light up the night sky.”

Awesome footage of a meteor crashing to the Earth:


“Child-witches” of Nigeria seek refuge

November 11, 2008

Here’s another classic example that shows what’s the harm in believing in nonsense:

Mary is a pretty five-year-old girl with big brown eyes and a father who kicked her out onto the streets in one of the most dangerous parts of the world. Her crime: the local priest had denounced her as a witch and blamed her “evil powers” for causing her mother’s death.

Believe it or not, Mary is one of the lucky ones. She only got thrown out of the house in a dangerous neighborhood. Worse fates have befallen others like her who have been branded as witches:

Before being pushed out of their homes many were beaten or slashed with knives, thrown onto fires, or had acid poured over them as a punishment or in an attempt to make them “confess” to being possessed. In one horrific case, a young girl called Uma had a three-inch nail driven into her skull. . . Many of those branded “child-witches” are murdered – hacked to death with machetes, poisoned, drowned, or buried alive in an attempt to drive Satan out of their soul.

This has been a growing problem in Africa. Who is largely to blame for this mass hysteria so reminiscent of our own Salem Witch Hunts? Take a guess. What kind of sick profession would introduce such monstrous ideas that lead to child torture and murder to an impoverished, poorly educated, and superstitious community only to profit off of it?

The devil’s children are “identified” by powerful religious leaders at extremist churches where Christianity and traditional beliefs have combined to produce a deep-rooted belief in, and fear of, witchcraft. The priests spread the message that child-witches bring destruction, disease and death to their families. And they say that, once possessed, children can cast spells and contaminate others.

The religious leaders offer help to the families whose children are named as witches, but at a price. The churches run exorcism, or “deliverance”, evenings where the pastors attempt to drive out the evil spirits. Only they have the power to cleanse the child of evil spirits, they say. The exorcism costs the families up to a year’s income.

During the “deliverance” ceremonies, the children are shaken violently, dragged around the room and have potions poured into their eyes. The children look terrified. The parents look on, praying that the child will be cleansed. If the ritual fails, they know their children will have to be sent away, or killed. Many are held in churches, often on chains, and deprived of food until they “confess” to being a witch.

The ceremonies are highly lucrative for the spiritual leaders many of whom enjoy a lifestyle of large homes, expensive cars and designer clothes.

There is an estimated 15,000 children branded “child-witches” in Akwa Ibom state alone. Thank you Christianity. Those Islamic fundamentalists got nothing on you.

Okay, so it’s not Christianity’s fault, right? Crazy people are crazy no matter what. After all, it’s not like The Bible told them to do this or anything:

The preacher says that her work is true to the Bible and is a means of spreading God’s word. “Witchcraft is a problem all over Nigeria and someone with a gift like me can never hurt anybody,” she says.

Son of a bitch!!!

So far, The Pope nor any other major Christian authority has condemned this behavior. Last week, the Mormons effectively banned gay marriage in the state of California because they viewed that as an outrage. I have yet to heard any Mormon authority condemn these child-witch hunts.


News From Around The Blogosphere 10.9.08

October 10, 2008

A collection of analyzes of many studies proving Vitamin C doesn’t cure cancer

Mark Crislip rains on ParadeA little over a week ago, I blogged about my intention to write Parade Magazine for a particularly credulous story they ran that recommended acupuncture among other crap-based medicine. Well, I never got around to it. Fortunately Mark Crislip tore them a new one. Great job, Mark!

NY Times endorses dowsing – I hope they got a good price for that journalist integrity. Maybe the subject of this article would care to take the Randi Million Dollar Challenge.

Speaking of Randi, I’m going to get to see the amazing one in person tomorrow in NYC.

And Randi’s annual skeptic’s convention is also the focus of the latest Captain Disillusion video:

Voodoo! – George Ann Mills, a South Carolina voodoo high priestess, is alleging that Annette Kesting, an Atlanta, Georgia county commissioner, tried to pay her to cast curses on a political rival and bounced checks in the process.

WHAT’S THE HARM?

Attempted Witch Burning – Darin Najor, a 20-year-old adult education student in Michigan, has been charged with assault and battery after dousing his teacher with holy water and trying to burn her with a lighter because he thought she was a witch. Amateur Scientist points out:

Nor does he understand how to properly burn a witch. If someone’s wet, you’re going to have a hard time burning him or her. Yes, even if the water is holy.

For more info. on this story, click here.

The Amateur Scientist blog is now banned in China

Campus Crusade For Christ is raising money to buy supplies for the soldiers - So what are they buying? Armor? No. Guns? No. Bullets? Food? No. Medical equipment? Anything even remotely useful? No. Just useless Bibles.

Sydney Atheists doing charity work in the name of reason

ATHEIST DISCRIMINATION:

Those Evil Humanists – The Humanists and Freethinkers of Cape Fear in North Carolina set up a booth about Humanism and Freethinking at an annual street festival. Someone noticed a sign directed right at them at a local church nearby (and God’s a terrible spell checker):

Richard Dawkins named one of the 50 people who wrecked Britain! WOOO!!! – This critical document was produce by some random guy named Quentin Letts, who clearly has been granted special authority on these matters. And to think I didn’t even know Britain was wrecked? Funny, in all my exchanges with friends living in Britain, not one of them has ever mentioned that Britain is wrecked.

Review of The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality by Andre Comte-Sponville

Christian reality dating show – I can’t beat the comment on Skepchick: “Get advice from a twice-divorced Pentecostal minister who plead guilty to assaulting one of his ex-wives! What better source could there be? “

Browse the artifacts of Geek History in Jay Walker’s library – Coolest library ever!

MONKEY NEWS:

Monkey waiters – In America we only have to compete with Indians and Mexicans for jobs. The Japanese are losing their jobs to monkeys! It’s a mad house. A MAD HOUSE! Damn, dirty primates!

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Circadian Clock May Be Critical For Learning – “The circadian rhythm that quietly pulses inside us all, guiding our daily cycle from sleep to wakefulness and back to sleep again, may be doing much more than just that simple metronomic task, according to Stanford researchers.

Working with Siberian hamsters, biologist Norman Ruby has shown that having a functioning circadian system is critical to the hamsters’ ability to remember what they have learned. Without it, he said, ‘They can’t remember anything.’ “

Computers ‘Taught’ To Search For Photos – “A pair of Penn State researchers has developed a statistical approach, called Automatic Linguistic Indexing of Pictures in Real-Time (ALIPR), that one day could make it easier to search the Internet for photographs.”

Genome Of Relapsing Malaria Parasite Decoded – “In research aimed at addressing a global epidemic, a team of scientists from around the world has cracked the genetic code for the parasite that is responsible for up to 40 percent of the 515 million annual malaria infections worldwide, Nature reveals in its October 9 cover story.”


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