News From Around The Blogosphere 5.11.11

May 11, 2011

1. Indians pissed that Hindu goddess appears on skimpy swimsuit – And while I do enjoy me a good blasphemy story, the only real reason I’m posting this is for an excuse to post the pictures of the sexy model in the swimsuit. Now I know what their gods need with all those hands.

2. T-Minus ten shopping days till the Rapture! – Richard Dawkins has perhaps given the best public response in the news media yet to the completely idiotic Harold Camping prediction that the Rapture will occur on May 21, chastising the Washington Post within its own pages for even having the audacity to report on it as if it were real news. And perhaps on a related note, May is Zombie Awareness Month!

3. Simpsons’ actress Nancy Cartwright brings Scientology program to Springfield schools – Cartwright is the voice of Bart Simpson. She’s also a crazy as fuck Scientologist who’s now pushing a learning program based on the unsupported ideas of non-educator L. Ron Hubbard on the students of Springfield, Illinois.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 2.11.11

February 11, 2011
Grainy B&W image of supposed UFO, Passoria, Ne...

Image via Wikipedia

1. Jerusalem UFO video exposed as fake – Okay, so the video looked pretty poor to begin with, giving us nothing but a tiny moving ball of light but it’s still fun to apply more analysis to it anyway. Steven Novella had already done a great critical analysis of the video here where he observed that the video largely consists of a still image with added effects to create the illusion of shaky-cam video footage, but now Phil Plait has found a video posted on YouTube that actually exposes the specific digital editing tricks used to create the illusion of a shaky camera. Unlike other alleged UFO videos, there’s no ambiguity here. This video is a deliberate fake and its been busted cold.

2. Creepy head-mask to punish ‘rude, clamorous” women – Okay, I just thought this story was really cool. This mask was used between 1550 and 1800 to punish women considered to be spending too much time gossiping or quarrelling. When wearing the mask, it’s impossible to speak. Some of these masks, like the one pictured, even had a bell on them to add to the wearer’s humiliation.

3. Robots to get their own internet – European scientists are working on a network that would allow robots to share and store what they discover about the world:

Called RoboEarth it will be a place that robots can upload data to when they master a task, and ask for help in carrying out new ones.

Researchers behind it hope it will allow robots to come into service more quickly, armed with a growing library of knowledge about their human masters.

4. Scientology continues to have a terrible week – I already briefly wrote about the incredible, super-long New Yorker piece by Lawrence Wright on Scientology apostate Paul Haggis, which mentioned that the cult is currently under an FBI investigation for human trafficking. But there are so many highlights to the piece. After finally managing to read the whole article, I got to where Wright talks about fact-checking L. Ron Hubbard’s claim that he was injured during military service and was miraculously healed by the methods now practiced as part of Scientology. After Scientology Spokesman Tommy Davis gave the New Yorker thousands of pages of documents and allegedly admitted that if this Hubbard story didn’t check out, it’d mean all of Scientology was a fraud, Wright and his New Yorker fact-checkers went through the pain-staking process of getting military archivists who are experts in such documents. Those experts concluded that the documents were false, that there was no record of Hubbard’s injuries or of the officer who allegedly signed some of the documents, and that the documents lied about his education and the metals he’d received. Now the New Yorker has even put up a copy of at least one of the documents to show readers precisely how we know it’s a forgery.  Wright has also been turning up on various radio shows to discuss his findings (here and here). It just keeps getting worse for Scientology and they can’t seem to catch a break.

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Dear Scientology, thanks for the invitation but I must regretfully decline

September 21, 2010

As I posted last week, Jeff Hawkin’s, the the ex-$cientologist responsible for $cientology’s marketing in the 80s and their volcano commercial from the 90’s, has just published a book criticizing the cult. But while Hawkins was actually quite good at his job, it seems the latest crop of in-house $cientology marketers seem to suck at it.

The cult is back with a new commercial where they promise immortality and tell viewers they “are invited. Well another former marketing chief for the organization, Steve Hall.thinks he knows why these commercials will fail to win more converts:

The challenge of trying to market Dianetics and Scientology is probably one of the most difficult assignments in the world. They are not thought of well. There’s a lot of suspicion and controversy. Most of that is generated from within because of the way the leader of the church has dealt with people, such as issues to do with internet copyright. They do a lot of lawsuits. They run full-page ads in USA Today attacking Eli Lilly (LLY) [which makes antidepressants, which Scientology opposes]. It makes people stand back. Time magazine wrote them up as a “mafia-like” organization. How do you create a want for that? It’s an almost impossible challenge.

And when the cult’s secrecy was mentioned as an obstacle, Hall responded:

It’s not deliberate. It’s just inept marketing. I think they don’t have a clue what they are doing. I’ve worked at the top ranks of management, shoulder to shoulder. They all worry constantly about the big problem that nobody understands them. But for other reasons they have not been effective at all at communicating what they do, what their beliefs are and so forth. They’re not deliberately keeping it a secret. It’s a more simple problem than that. A lot of organizations that do their own in-house marketing, they eat the product, breathe the product, 24/7, and they lose their objectivity and they don’t know how to connect with people outside. Compounding that, [founder L. Ron] Hubbard wrote in the 1970s and ’80s a few policies on how the church was to do their marketing. There’s nothing wrong with what he wrote, but that marketing know-how is circa 1975. As any creative person knows, marketing has grown by light years since 1975. By today’s standards those methods are terrible.

So thanks for the invitation, $cientology, but no thanks.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 4.21.10

April 22, 2010

1. Russia bans $cientology material – Perhaps taking a cue from the Germans, Russia is cracking down on beliefs it considers detrimental to society and have now banned books and recordings by L. Ron Hubbard a court determined to be extremist. Russia has already banned some texts by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

2. 60 Minutes applies hardcore skepticism to bring down bogus stem cell quack – Lawrence Stowe is a con man with no real medical credentials who has scammed ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease patients out of money with promises of bogus stem cell cures. I am very proud of 60 Minutes for setting up and airing this sting operation in all its uncomfortable glory.What’s really shameful is that every news organization isn’t doing this sort of thing all the time.

3. Oklahoma proposes new insane abortion bill – The bill would allow doctors to withhold test results showing fetal defects and require women to answer intrusive questions.


Another devastating week for Scientology…and it’s only Monday

March 29, 2010

Tonight Anderson Cooper began his week-long expose on $cientology, Scientology: A history of violence. Last year saw a series of exposes on the cult from the local California news on KESQ-TV but those were only about 10 minutes each night. And of course the St. Petersburg Times in Florida has been running a long series of reports for the last several months. But now we’re talking about CNN! And not only that but each installment of Cooper’s series will be hours long.

Additionally, Cooper’s savvy enough to put the focus in the right place, less on all the Xenu stuff and more on the actual reported abuses. The reason this is important is that many people have already heard at least a little bit about the Xenu stuff and a lot of religious moderates and liberals have started to be turned off by the mockery of $cientologists’ “beliefs,” naively thinking the issue is just about a weird, goofy religion. It’s not. $cientology is not a religion and bares virtually no resemblance to one. Alleged $cientology churches look remarkably like office buildings inside and out and no actual prayer or meditation takes place in their “churches. ” $cientology is more of a multi-level marketing scheme that figured out long ago that they can get away with a lot more by wearing the costume of religion. But whenever being a religion is inconvenient such as when religious people accuse them of being anti-Christian or whatever, then they conveniently switch their tactics and insist that it’s all just a self-help program and that members are free to be both $cientologists AND Christians, etc.

But the real story about $cientology is not a religion gone wild (I know. It’s redundant). No, the real story is the slave labor and child labor that goes on in the Sea Org, the psychology denialism, the bogus medical treatments, the disconnection policies, the mind control tactics, the nearly forced abortions, the cruel and unusual punishments to enforce discipline, the whole Orwellian nature of the cult.

And not only will all this including interviews with former members be seen in living rooms across the country (and by tomorrow around the world via the internet) but as I’ve reported before an anti-$cientologist film is getting big press in Germany, where the cult is officially regarded as a criminal organization. In response, $cientology has rather amusingly announced their plans to make a rival film.

But something tells me they won’t be hiring J.D. Shapiro to write the script. Shapiro was the unfortunate individual responsible for writing the origin screenplay for Battlefield Earth. Shapiro, possibly the only non-$cientologist involved in the film, now apologizes for the film and humorously recounts how he got involved in the project, his weird experiences with members of the cult, how he got fired from the project, and how he had little to do with the most objectionable parts of the film. Also included is the transcript of the speech he gave when he bravely accepted the Razzie award for the film.

Oh yeah, and the AP has picked up the story about Marc and Claire Headley’s lawsuit against against $cientology over the treatment they received in the Sea Org.

All this pretty much guarantees that this will be in the hall of fame of worst weeks in the cult’s history.


Scientology vs. everybody

March 28, 2010

Not since Eminem have I seen one party with so many enemies. After decades of pissing off almost everyone now they’ll incur the wrath of Anderson Cooper. CNN has announced Thursday that it will debut the first of Cooper’s four part series – “Scientology:  A History of Violence” on Monday. This series will primarily focus on the recent string of accusations from former members of physical abuse that took place during their time in the Sea Org.

Cooper says he’s already fielded e-mails from church members “complaining about the series, and accusing me of attacking the church, its beliefs, its membership, and its activities.” (He added: “Given that the emails are all very similar in content, I assume this is some sort of organized email campaign.”)

No shock there. A source at CNN tells me: “We have heard from their lawyers.”

And $cientology isn’t the only one who can file lawsuits. Former members Marc and Claire Headley of the Sea Org are suing the cult on charges of slave labor. And these aren’t lower ranking members but people who literally devoted their life for decades to “the church.”

And another high-ranking former Sea Org member in New Zealand, Aaron Saxton, is continuing to speak out and reveal the truth about this mysterious paramilitary force known as the Sea Org.

It seems that $cientology is it’s own worst enemy. It’s an ouroboros swallowing its own tail.


Australian Vaccination Network linked to Scientology?

March 25, 2010

AVN leader Meryl Dorey

It appears that not only is the Australian Vaccination Network anti-vaccine and anti-medicine in general but possibly also L. Ron Hubbard-worshiping cultists.

It’s unclear at this time precisely how large their connection is to $cientology but one thing that is certain is that they’re selling on their website propaganda produced by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), one of the many well-known $cientology front group, which now openly admits their $cientology affiliation.

Specifically, their selling the “documentary” Making A Killing: The Untold Story of Psychotropic Drugging. Here’s what their website says about it:

Psychotropic drugs. Its the story of big money- drugs that fuel a $330 billion psychiatric industry, without a single cure. The cost in human terms is even greater- these drugs now kill an estimated 42 000 people every year. And the death count keeps rising.

Containing more that 175 interviews with lawyers, mental health experts, the families of victims and the survivors themselves, this riveting documentary rips the mask off psychotropic drugging and exposes a brutal but well-entrenched money-making machine.

Features

  • Psychiatry’s Drug Push
  • Disease Mongering
  • The Experiment
  • Peddling To Prescribers
  • Pitching to the Public
  • Side Effects
  • Psychiatry’s Prescription for Violence. This graphic video reveals the disturbing truth behind the wave of violence devastating our homes, shcools and communities.
  • Sounds an awful lot like that other CCHR produced “documentary” Psychiatry: Industry of Death (also the name of their “museum” of alleged mental health atrocities throughout history caused by those evil psychiatrists) :

    To see the rest of that “documentary” [snicker] click here. And you can watch a series of videos debunking that “documentary” here.

    Whether this means that $cientology’s influence over the AVN reaches the very top or if this is just an example of two different cults uniting against their mutual enemy, science, I don’t know. But when $cientology is your ideological ally, you’re in big trouble.

    This is the true face of the anti-vaccine movement, the one they desperately try to hide when the cameras are rolling so that they can pass as rational by insisting all they want are safer vaccines. No, what you want is the tear down all of medical science and replace it with your own nonsense. And this is why you and your friends the $cientologists will be destroyed.