News From Around The Blogosphere 7.20.11

July 21, 2011

Okay, it’s been awhile so this is going to a long one.

1. Campus Crusade for Christ is changing their name – In an attempt to change their image, the CCC has finally decided to get rid of that pesky “Crusade” in their name to avoid offending people and are now calling themselves the very inoffensive “Campus Holocaust for Christ.” Just kidding. From now on they’ll be known as the “cru”, cause strange lowercase acronyms are hip, chill, and groovy with the kids these days. Though if they really want to be more popular with the kiddies, maybe they should just call themselves Lady Gaga, and then put out announcements that Lady Gaga is coming to their campus. Can I solve image problems or what? I expect my check in the mail later this week.

2. Deepak Chopra, the videogame! Rated M for Moron – You know, for years I’ve listened to Jack Thompson shamelessly blaming video games for just about every atrocity in human history from the Crusades (probably) to the Virginia Tech shootings. But now Deepak Chopra is making me realize video games really can be harmful to society due to his new game called “Leela” (I’m assuming because he’s a huge Futurama fan) involving “seven different interactive exercises based on the seven ‘chakras,’ the points along the body that Chopra says serve as energy centers. No, Chopra has no background in actual human anatomy; I guess this is what he means by willing things into existence. If you believe in nonsense long enough and you can invent your own biology. In related news, Phil Plait has penned an short piece published in Playboy magazine that chastized Chopra for massacring science with his mouth.

3. Ireland vs. Vatican

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny condemned the Vatican for continuing to downplay the rape and sexual torture of children in order to protect the image of the Catholic church.

Kenny’s condemnation comes in response to last week’s release of the Cloyne report, a scathing expose of current and ongoing Vatican efforts to cover-up the ever-present sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy.

Kenny claimsthe Cloyne report “tells us a tale of a frankly brazen disregard for protecting children;” and, “exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an Inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago, not three decades ago.”

PZ Myers also wrote about this story here. And retired Bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, has been in hiding since the Cloyne report exposing his poor handling of child sex abuse allegations was published.

And speaking of the Catholic Church…

4. Catholic bishop bans fund-raising for breast cancer research

A bishop from Toledo, Ohio will not allow parishes and parochial schools to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation (which helps fund the fight against breast cancer) because there’s a chance they may one day fund embryonic stem-cell research.

Glad to see they have their priorities in place.

5. Austrian officials allow Pastafarian to wear colander in drivers license photo – Austrian Niko Alm is being given permission to wear a colander, the official headwear for Pastafarians, on the license, which is clearly a far superior fashion statement than the Jewish yarmulke. Blessed be the Flying Spaghetti Monster and his noodly appendages.

6. Child Holocaust-denying nazi musicians renounce much of their former beliefs – The Olsen Twin look-alikes who form the Hitler-admiring pop band Prussian Blue have now publicly rejected the views that made them famous and for which their band was named after.

7. Jesus appears on Walmart receipt – Either that or Charles Manson, though that’s not really a very meaningful distinction.

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Sam Harris & Michael Shermer crush Deepak Chopra & Jean Houston on Nightline

March 23, 2010

Although PZ Myers thinks watching the latest Nightline debate is a waste of time, I highly recommend it, particularly because Sam Harris in particular simply demolishes Deepak Chopra and the other woman. Actually, aside from a few needlessly drawn out stories that go nowhere, Jean Houston was almost nonexistent in this debate and I almost even liked her.

The real debate though was between Sam Harris and Michael Shermer against Deepak Chopra, who couldn’t have made more of a fool of himself. Even a guy in the audience during the Q & A session exposed Chopra’s ignorance.

The common theme in the debate seemed to be exposing Deepak as hack who incorrectly co-opts terminology from both science and religion in order to formulate his own brand of meaningless New Age gibberish. The debate was about whether or not the god concept has a future and Deepak refused to actually address the very topic he was invited to discuss, ignoring the god concept that 99.999999% of the world means when they talk about god in order to promote his own “god” in name only that has no resemblance to what almost everyone on the planet would consider “god.” So then why did you agree to the debate in the first place, Deepak?

This is like if I were invited to debate free will versus determinism and instead demanded that we discuss homeopathy, which I renamed “determinism.”

Deepak was also frequently corrected on his constant misuse of quantum physics as a justification for his incoherent magical claims.

Anyway, it’s a fun debate to watch, so check it out. Here’s the first part:

Oh, and check out Shermer’s post-debate debate with Chopra here. No, I didn’t accidentally type “debate” twice. Chopra and Shermer have continued debating a particularly idiotic claim Chopra made on their blogs.


Billy Zane or inzane?

March 19, 2010

Holy crap! Mr. Zane, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone watching this video is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may the Flying Spaghetti Monster have mercy on you.

I haven’t heard incoherent rambling like that since Miss North Carolina:

I mean good Zeus. Did anyone understand what the hell Billy Zane is talking about? And are there even lead characters in film and television who aren’t going through transitions in their lives? That’s sort of the definition of drama and narrative, Billy. But bravo on that vacuous answer to the god question. There’s a whole lot of brain dead morons out there who eat that stuff up.

This also makes a great example of what’s the harm in nonsense. Billy Zane helps only one charity and it’s going towards total garbage that helps no one. Good job, Billy.


Deepak Chopra: ‘Only Spirituality Can Solve The Problems Of The World’

March 3, 2010

Deepak Chopra has written another fluff piece in the Huffington Post called “Only Spirituality Can Solve The Problems Of The World.”

How you might ask?

If there is anything that will at this moment heal our wounded planet with its immense problems of social injustice, ecological devastation, extreme economic disparities, war, conflict and terrorism, it is a deeper experiential understanding and knowledge of our own spirit.

How you might ask again?

If there’s anything that WILL heal this planet? I would like Deepak to name one problem in the world HAS BEEN solved by spirituality. Just one will do. Then I’d like him to explain how spirituality will give us practical solutions to human trafficking, third world poverty, heart disease, the sky-rocketing unemployment rate, the AIDS crisis in Africa, the crisis in Haiti, or any of the millions of real problems we face in this world.

Sorry Dee, but the answer to our problems is science, reason, and education. Science delivers the goods, not ancient superstitions repackaged as New Age Mysticism.

If ever I doubted the fact that Deepak Chopra has no clue how to address the practical concerns we face in our modern world and is nothing but a life-sized fortune cookie handing out a bunch of trite, easy answers, I will never doubt this again.


Dr. Oz returns to my shit list

March 2, 2010

The great and powerful Oz decided to have both Deepak Chopra and Joseph Mercola on.

Now I can forgive him for Chopra, who while delusional, isn’t all that dangerous. But Mercola is a total quack and a disgrace to the medical profession, far more than Mehmet Oz.

After all, Mercola is a supporter of some of the most blatant quackery out there. The worst example of his support of quackery occurred when he promoted the cancer quackery of Dr. Tullio Simoncini, the Italian “oncologist” who believes that all cancer is caused by fungus and that he can cure it using baking soda. He’s also claimed that baking soda can cure H1N1, making it the all-purpose cure-all. Add to that Mercola’s support for homeopathy and anti-vaccine views, and Mercola is rapidly approaching Mike Adams territory.

Ozzy might as well have invited Andrew Wakefield on too while he was at it.


News From Around The Blogosphere 2.25.10

February 26, 2010

1. A new study suggests acupuncture is good for depression in pregnancy. . .or does it?

In other words, acupuncture specific for depression produced an effect that was not different from that of one of the controls. But by creating a group that combined non-specific acupuncture (ineffective) with massage (effective), they were able to create a composite that was ineffective, and then they compared the experimental group with the composite. But that doesn’t change the fact that acupuncture for depression was no better than massage.

Have the authors shown that acupuncture specific for depression is effective for treating depression in pregnant women? I don’t think so. If it offers no advantage over massage, we can forget about acupuncture and simply offer depressed pregnant women a day at the spa. It is no less effective and probably far more enjoyable.

2. Smile or Die:  How positive thinking fooled America and the world – In her new book, Barbara Ehrenreich presents the evidence of numerous studies demonstrating that positive thinking has no effect on survival rates. She also provides testimonies that suggest that possibly great harm comes from this false hope.

Pity, for example, the woman who wrote to the mind/body medical guru Deepak Chopra: “Even though I follow the treatments, have come a long way in unburdening myself of toxic feelings, have forgiven everyone, changed my lifestyle to include meditation, prayer, proper diet, exercise and supplements, the cancer keeps coming back. Am I missing a lesson here that it keeps re-occurring? I am positive I am going to beat it, yet it does get harder with each diagnosis to keep a positive attitude.”

New Age mysticism may sound harmless enough but here is a great example of how dangerous such irrational beliefs are.

3. A gene mutation is linked to autistic symptoms in mice – Once again, this is research that would not exist if J.B. Handley, Jenny McCarthy, and their anti-vaccine cohorts were making the decisions because they have zero interest in exploring the genetic basis for autism.

4. Stem Cells restore sight to blind mice – I feel like this news story is a rerun. Anyway though, once again this is research that might not have existed if George Bush was president.

An international research team led by Columbia University Medical Center successfully used mouse embryonic stem cells to replace diseased retinal cells and restore sight in a mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa. This strategy could potentially become a new treatment for retinitis pigmentosa, a leading cause of blindness that affects approximately one in 3,000 to 4,000 people, or 1.5 million people worldwide.


News From Around The Blogosphere 2.4.10

February 5, 2010

1. 1000 rabbis warn against gays in the military – Their claim is that gays in the military will lead to more natural disasters. Well, considering that natural disasters have occurred throughout human history, that seems like a pretty unfalsifiable claim. Are they suggesting then that if gays are kept out of the military that there will never be another natural disaster again? I’d love to see them put their nickel down on that claim. Ugh! Silly rabbis. Trix are for kids. But I am curious. Do you think if a 1000 rabbis were typing on a 1000 typewriters, they could reproduce the Bible?

Alternate title: How to profit off friends and kill people

2. Motivational speaker James Arthur Ray, guru of The Secret, has finally been officially charged with manslaughter over the three people who died after a northern Arizona sweat lodge ceremony he led last year.

Ray has built a multimillion-dollar empire as a self-help superstar who teaches people about financial and spiritual wealth, and uses free seminars to recruit followers to more expensive events. He soared in popularity after appearing in the 2006’s Rhonda Byrne documentary “The Secret,” and he promoted it on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Larry King Live.”

The Oct. 8 sweat lodge ceremony was intended to be the highlight of Ray’s five-day “Spiritual Warrior” event at a retreat he rented near Sedona. He told participants, who paid more than $9,000 each to attend, that it would be one of the most intense experiences of their lives.

Well, he can’t be sued for false advertising. It was intense all right.

About halfway through the two-hour ceremony, some began feeling ill, vomiting and collapsing inside the 415-square-foot structure. Despite that, Ray urged participants to push past their physical weaknesses and chided those who wanted to leave, authorities and participants have said.

Two people – Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, N.Y., and James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee – passed out inside the sweat lodge and died that night at a hospital. Liz Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, Minn., slipped into a coma and died a week later. Eighteen others were hospitalized.

According to his attorney, this was all just a freak accident, an isolated incident. Yeah, I bet.

3. Anti-evolution bill in Mississippi proves unfit for survival

Mississippi’s House Bill 586, which if enacted would have required “scientifically sound arguments by protagonists and antagonists of the theory of evolution” to be presented in the state’s schools, died in committee on February 2, 2010, according to the legislative website. In 2009, the bill’s sponsor, Gary Chism (R-District 37), introduced a bill, HB 25, requiring biology textbooks in the state to include a hybrid of two previous versions of the Alabama evolution textbook disclaimer; that bill also died in committee.

Suck it, creationists!

4. More Catholic child buggery – Only a few short months after the final report came in about the Catholic conspiracy to cover up decades of child rape in a Catholic-run reform school in Ireland, now comes news of numerous accounts of child rape in a top German school run by Catholics:

Almost 30 alleged victims have come forward with claims against three Jesuit staff, saying that they were abused in the 1970s and 1980s at Canisius college in Berlin, alma mater of some of the country’s political, business and academic elite.

Peter Riedel and Wolfgang Stab left the school in 1981 and 1979 respectively while the third alleged perpetrator, named as Bernhard E (70), was suspended from the Jesuit order yesterday after admitting one case of sexual abuse.

Stab (65), a former gym teacher, now living in Chile, has confessed to the allegations and last week wrote an open letter of apology, while Riedel has denied the allegations.

You’re telling me that a guy with a name as innocent-sounding as “Stab” has committed heinous crimes? I’m shocked. Again, I’m forced to wonder how the world would respond to Coca Cola Co. if hundreds, if not thousands of its employers were found to have raped children? Why is the Catholic corporation treated any differently?

5. Lancaster, California Mayor claims to be “growing a Christian community” – Both Muslim and atheist groups have condemned Mayor R. Rex Parris’ comments:

Parris made the remarks last week during his annual state of the city address before an audience of mainly clergy and their spouses.

“We’re growing a Christian community, and don’t let anybody shy away from that,” he said, according to the Antelope Valley Press. Parris is also promoting a ballot measure that supports prayer at public meetings with reference to a specific deity such as Jesus.

Someone has already come up with an awesome name for a website critical of him:  www.parrisites.com.