News From Around The Blogosphere 4.2.10

April 2, 2010

1. Researchers find aging gene in worm

Scientists funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) at the University of Birmingham have discovered that a gene called DAF-16 is strongly involved in determining the rate of ageing and average lifespan of the laboratory worm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) and its close evolutionary cousins. DAF-16 is found in many other animals, including humans. It is possible that this knowledge could open up new avenues for altering ageing, immunity and resistance to stresses in humans.

Of course it will be years before any practical application to humans comes out of this, if ever, but it’s cool none the less.

2. Exorcist discovers Satan behind media’s accurate coverage of Catholic sex scandal – We’ve already gotten one exorcist to claim that Satan was possessing the Church leaders into performing the rapes in the first place. Now another exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth, has publicly stated that the media’s desire to inform the public of these crimes, particularly at the New York Times, was ‚Äúprompted by the devil.” I could have told you that. I mean, really, when was the last time the media was sincerely interested in honest journalism?

And speaking of demonic journalists. . .

3. Simon Singh reports once more in The Guardian – After winning his appeal, Singh wants to remind people that the battle for libel reform in the UK is only just beginning.

4. Filipinos celebrate this Zombie Weekend by crucifying themselves – This is an annual tradition in the Philippines on Zombie Weekend where many Filipinos choose to re-enact Jesus’ zombie-fication by actually nailing themselves to wooden crosses.

The Catholic Church disapproves of the annual ritual of devotion but says it cannot stop people in Asia’s largest Roman Catholic country from being voluntarily nailed to a cross or flagellating themselves, only educate them that it isn’t necessary.

Yes, the Catholic Church would much rather they celebrate in a more traditional fashion, by raping young boys and covering it up.

5. Scientists discover gene and part of the brain controlling gullibility, the WTF1 gene – And if you believed that then you have the WTF1 gene. April Fools!

Now speaking of April Fools. . .

6. Shroud of Turin is back in the news – Despite the fact that the face merely looks like the male model who happened to pose as Jesus in Renaissance paintings and despite its total debunking as a several hundred year old forgery, somehow someone has resurrected (hehe, see what I did there) the debate. And it couldn’t come at a more perfect time as it perfectly coincides with my April Fools piece in the Gotham Skeptic about the discovery of Jesus’ face in a Rorschach Test. Check it out.


News From Around The Blogosphere 3.11.10

March 12, 2010

1. School cancels prom to turn students against gay teen – Constance McMillen was planning to wear a tuxedo and attend the prom with her girlfriend in a small town in Itawamba County, Mississippi. And after the ACLU stopped the school from denying her right to attend the prom the school got even by canceling the whole thing and making the student body know it was McMillen’s fault. And the town’s mayor chimed in, supporting the school. Because that’s just the kind of classy folks they have in Itawamba County, Mississippi.

2. Zimbabwe anti-vax religious sect gets 100 killed – Who needs vaccines when you’ve got prayer? Except, you know, if you actually want people to live.

3. Pope’s exorcist finds the devil isn’t in the details but in the Vatican – Rev. Gabriel Amorth has the silliest resume on Earth. He’s been the chief exorcist for the Vatican for 25 years. His favorite movie? You guessed it. It’s The Exorcist. He alleges to have treated over 70,000 cases of demonic possession and sadly, I have no reason to doubt that claim.

But even the fearless priest becomes still, his voice grave when asked whether the devil can strike inside the Vatican City.

//

“He has tried already. He did it in 1981 by attacking John Paul II by working with those who armed Ali Agca. And also now with the attack on Christmas Eve night when the crazy woman pushed down Benedict XVI.”

. . .

Amorth confesses, “The devil resides in the Vatican.”While admitting that it is hard to prove, he says the consequences of the devil’s work are evident: Cardinals who don’t believe in Jesus, bishops who are linked with the devil. As early 1972 Pope Paul VI talked about the “smoke of Satan” that hovered in the Vatican, but it is more recent events like the pedophilia scandal the church is confronted with and the grisly murder by a Swiss guard of his commander and wife that Amorth uses as evidence of the devil’s presence.

Apparently humans can’t do anything against the Church without it being attributed to the devil.

4. More child abuse for Catholics to downplay – Two ex-Vienna choir boys have come out with accusations that they were raped by Church officials. But remember. It’s really the devil that’s doing it.

5. Robert Kennedy Jr. spreads false, malicious rumor in the Huff Po – The media has wised up to the anti-vaxxers, so the only source willing to take them is the Huffington Post due to its total lack of anything that could even remotely be considered by anyone on planet Earth as journalist standards. So now the anti-vaxxers got their man, RFK Jr. to push their libelous accusations about Dr. Poul Thorsen. Of course not a single word of it has any basis in fact. But then again, when have the anti-vaxxers or the Huffington Post ever care about facts?

But here’s one interesting story posted at the Huff Po:

6. Buying ghosts in a bottle – I have to at least give credit to the scammers for creativity. And it’s nice to see such witty skepticism expressed in the MSNBC clip embedded on the page.

7. PZ Myers eats your god with vegemite:


Pope. Kettle. Black.

March 23, 2009

After telling the continent of Africa that they should avoid AIDS by no longer using condoms, he continues his tour of Africa by insisting, seemingly without any sense of irony, that they need to oppose superstition. I love how PZ Myers says it:

The man who heads an institution with an official top exorcist is asking Africans to “shun witchcraft”, and to reject fear-mongering talk of evil entities‚Ķ

In his homily, he urged his listeners to reach out to those Angolans who believe in witchcraft and spirits. “So many of them are living in fear of spirits, of malign and threatening powers. In their bewilderment they even end up condemning street children and the elderly as alleged sorcerers,” he said.

Next week, I look forward to listening to The Pope explain that warewolves don’t exist after getting off the phone with his official vampire slayer. Ugh!


Beware of ghosts

January 31, 2009

Haunted hospital calls in exorcist – Am I the only one frightened by the thought that a hospital, a place where people rely on the most modern science to save lives every day, could be full of staff members with such primitive superstitions as fear of ghosts and exorcisms? Okay, good. I’m not the only one.

Seriously, this is one hospital I will never, ever visit. Not because I’m afraid the scary ghosts will come out from under my bed and get me but because I’m terrified of being operated on by doctors who actually think an exorcist has magical powers to remove demons. I think Steve Novella says it best:

Consider the possibility that perhaps you are dealing with a psychological and not paranormal phenomenon. Chances are it is witless belief that is driving these sightings, not the sightings that are driving people witless.


Pope declares ‘holy war’ against himself?

January 14, 2009

Pope Ratzinger declares ‘holy war’ against people who falsely claim to have seen the Virgin Mary – No, seriously. This is a real news story. Unlike like The Bible, you couldn’t make this shit up:

Benedict XVI plans to publish criteria to help them distinguish between true and false claims of visions of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, messages, stigmata – the appearances of the five wounds of Christ – and weeping or bleeding statues.

Of course the logical fallacy here is the unstated major premise that there’s such a thing as a true vision of imaginary literary characters.

In some cases exorcists will be used to determine if a credible apparition is ‘divine’ origin or ‘demonic’.

Oo, bring on the exorcists! But why stop there? Why don’t you call The Ghostbusters. I saw this documentary where they thwated the plot of the demonic lord Vigo. So surely they can help. But beware, wherever there’s a demonic false vision of the Virgin Mary, The Blair Witch, Jason Voorhees, and Darth Vader won’t be far behind.