Rationality -2 Asparagus – 0

8 03 2010

Just a quick not to point out that ludicrous English mystic Jemima Packington who claims to predict the future with asparagus (!) – see earlier vegetable garden post below –

Do Not Trust This Asparagus

has completely failed in her predictions for the Oscars, despite taking the safe bet and picking the Golden Globe winners she already knew – she predicted Clooney and Mirren to win when in fact it was Bridges and Bullock. Take that vegetables !!

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UK Roundup 27/07/09

27 07 2009
Geller Jacko

Close Personal Friends

Uri’s Story: Uri Geller, well known source of amusement for many, has squeezed the last few drops of fame by association  out of his ‘close personal’ friendship with Michael Jackson by appearing in a documentary on the UK’s ITV channel. An almost evangelical sounding Geller waxed lyrical over his time spent with Jackson, pausing to break down in tears from time to time. He peppered his dialogue with references to ‘energy’, managed to squeeze in a reference to his attempt to help Jacksons broken foot while confessing he was ‘not a healer’ and even got in a spoon bend. Most amusing moment was when MJ left a message on Geller’s answering machine expressing his heartfelt desire to be the first pop star to moonwalk on the actual moon – at least he wasn’t a lunar conspiracy theorist. Hopefully this shoddy, hastily thrown together and frankly weird programme will be the last we hear of him for a while, although somehow I doubt it. If it’s shown in NZ I’d recommend it for amusement value only.
Hatch ‘n’ Match
The Church of England have upset almost everyone (again) by launching a new service that combines baptism and marriage in a sort of ecclesiastical buy one, get one free offer, with the aim of increasing church attendances.  Conservative christians are upset that the new scheme acts as tacit approval of sex before marriage, while most non-religious commentators found themselves unable to stop laughing.
Meanwhile the UK police force proves it is an equal opportunity employer, and sensitive to the needs of its officers by allowing pagans in the force to have their own allocated days off (summer solstice etc). Apparently there are more than 500 pagan police officers in the UK. A representative of the Police Association said “This is nothing to do with black magic, or devil worshipping.Witchcraft is not the hocus pocus, puff of smoke, turning people into frogs stuff you see on the TV.” PC Andy Pardy, of Hertfordshire Police, a Heathen who worships Norse gods, said the public had nothing to fear. Which I think we can all agree, is good news.





UK Roundup 17/07/09

17 07 2009

In Ireland this week some labourers discovered an image of the Virgin Mary holding a baby in the remains of a tree trunk that they had just felled. The grain of the willow tree revealed by the chainsaw cut left the vague shape of Mary, enough to impress locals who immediately started a petition to turn the stump into a permanent shrine. Now these things happen every so often, and there is certainly no doubt that having a full time shrine would bring a bit of money into a fairly rural area of Limerick, which I’m sure was a consideration for some of those signing the petition.

However it was the reaction from the church that caught my attention. Father Willie Russell, the parish priest, said: “There’s nothing there, it’s just a tree. You can’t worship a tree. A tree is a tree. A person with imagination is a person with imagination.” While Father Paul Finnerty, the spokesman for the Limerick Diocese, said: “The Church’s response to phenomena of this type is one of great scepticism. While we do not wish in any way to detract from devotion to Our Lady, we would also wish to avoid anything which might lead to superstition.” On one hand this reaction is encouraging, however a Catholic priest ‘wishing to avoid anything which encourages superstition’ strikes me as somewhat strange. Perhaps he is working from a different definition of ‘superstition’ than I am.

As the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landings hits the news, so do the large numbers who believe the whole thing was some sort of cosmic hoax. It’s quite amazing that people are so willing to believe in conspiracy theories that fly in the face of such overwhelming evidence and basic common sense. Without going into the seemingly interminable arguments over whether the flag should have been waving, or the lander should have made a bigger impression etc etc it seems to me that to perpetrate such a hoax would have been a bigger achievement than actually going to the moon. The fact that the Russians didn’t immediately debunk such a cover up, and the sheer number of people who would have been in on the scheme in the US seems to me pretty conclusive, given that government ministers today can’t even claim a few extra quid on expenses without being discovered.





UK Roundup 07/07/09

8 07 2009

Richard Dawkins managed to get on the front pages this week by helping to subsidise the UK’s first ‘Atheist Camp’ for 8-17 year old children. Created as an antidote to traditional faith based camps run by various churches and the Scouts (didn’t realise the Scouts were particularly religious but apparently they pray from time to time) the camp will teach critical thinking and evolution alongside the usual activities such as canoeing, getting sunburnt and being stung by wasps. Sounds like a great idea. In fact Dawkins hasn’t really got that much to do with it – he just put up some money to help out, but that didn’t stop the usual torrent of abuse in his direction. I imagine he’s pretty used to it by now.

In other news The Sun, that erstwhile bastion of truth and light, has surveyed 1000 of it’s readers and found that 60% of them had visited a medium, 40% believed their star signs and 90% believe in ghosts. It also said 72% believed they had psychic powers themselves. Not sure if this is depressing or just confirms my suspicions about Sun readers.

Meanwhile in Melbourne, a nightclub that has been getting a lot of bad press due to violent incidents taking place there (including two murders, brawls etc etc) has sorted out its problems by calling upon a psychic to ‘banish evil spirits’ from the venue. Apparently five separate malign forces were discovered and sent packing. Although as one wit noted in true Aussie style, they would probably be better off blacklisting all the w**nkers who go there in the first place.





War crimes and Alternative medicine

25 07 2008

Good news this week when Radovan Karadzic, (the political leader of the Bosnian Serbs during the war back in the early 1990’s), was captured in Serbia. He is likely to be handed over to the War crimes tribunal in the Hague, in the Netherlands, to face up to the terrible deeds against humanity he is accused of masterminding.

I couldn’t help but chuckle though when I read about the fact that he has been working as a practioner of Alternative medicine for a large part of the time he was on the run.

Now I know there is no linkages between being a perpetrator of war crimes and practicing Alternative medicine and it would be a logical fallacy to argue otherwise. However I can’t imagine he is going to be used as the poster boy in any advertising for his chosen brand of complementary medince anytime soon. 🙂

It also got me thinking about other brutal and nasty leaders who believed in wacky pseudo-scientific ideas. Now again I am not saying the two are linked in anyway but if certain people can link great men like Einstein to wacky ideas why not play the same game in reverse?





Welcome to Evidence Based Thought

20 06 2008

Welcome to the Evidence Based Thought blog. A skeptical blog authored by a group of like minded individuals in New Zealand that will look to discuss some contemporary issues from a position of scientific skepticism that relate to their home country and abroad.

The principal contributors to this venture are Ian Luxmoore, Grae O’Sullivan, Damon Coursey, Tony Andrews, and Christiaan Barnard. For a brief summary of their background and qualifications (or lack thereof!) please have a look at the About the Authors section.

While no subject will be off topic, it is anticipated that subjects that will be tackled will be principally be about the paranormal and alternative medicine. In an effort to balance things out some of the positive scientific developments will also be discussed.