Epicurus VS "The View" - host now believes "no one" came before Christians

"The View" have done it again.

To start with I should remind you that the last time we ran in with the host Sherri Shepard on the view, she was admitting to not knowing if the "Earth was round or flat".

This time it started so promisingly. I totally support chat shows discussing "important" topics. It seems in this episode of "The View" they were talking about the excellent Epicurus - a near enough Atheist, and one of the first incredibly wise writers on why Religion, all in all, was a bit shit.

He said such wonderfully insightful comments as:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is not omnipotent.
Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent.
Is God both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is He neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

-- Epicurus

Why should I fear death? If I am, death is not. If death is, I am
not. Why should I fear that which can only exist when I do not?

-- Epicurus

(Which I took from Jonathan Miller’s excellent ‘A Short History of Disbelief’ - but more can be found here.)

His insight is all the more the impressive when you realise this was 400 years before the birth of Christ.

As such, it makes the conversation that follows even more embarrassing - and after 2400 years of 'progress.'

We've let Epicurus down.

Skeptobot has stolen the Mini-blog idea!

There has not been very many updates lately, as I've been far too busy with the final year of my PhD. But I have seen a number of great links I wanted to post. And I've had a few great things sent in by readers that I haven't had time to post yet - but thanks, I will do it eventually!

So I thought I would ease the drought by stealing Ben Goldacres Mini-Blog idea off his Bad Science Site. I hope he doesn't mind.

It's on the left in a rather small font.

Larry Lessig talking about Copyright is amazing.

Larry Lessig talked at Ted about copyright law. No wait, don't go. It's amazing. It's everything I tried to say but better.

It's so, so good.

It's called "How creativity is being strangled by the law"

Trust me, watch it.

Jesus and Mo is rather good

Jesus and Mo is a great little time waster featuring everyones favorite prophets Jesus and Muhammad and the larks they get up to in their platonic Morecambe and Wise lifestyle. It has existed since long before the Danish Cartoon 'events' and is occasionally printed in The Freethinker journal in the UK. The fact that this has survived an attack when those cartoons didn't is very interesting. Is it the power of anonymity or is it the angle of it's content? Either way it's now reached the impressive milestone of 200 strips.

I've been meaning to pimp it on the site for a while now, but never got round to it, but as the latest one is about homeopathy I couldn't resist:

The one before that was good too:
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It's quite variable in quality, but I can't help but like it.

Woman 'not having' Formal construction of negative integers

'Cold Cash' was a winter themed Scratch card where you were given a temperature (say -2 degrees C) and if you scratched off temperatures lower than that one, you won cash prices. It's had to be withdrawn after people couldn't understand it.

Tina Farrell, 23, complained saying:

"I phoned Camelot and they fobbed me off with some story that -6 is higher - not lower - than -8 but I'm not having it."
Which I think is the first time I've seen someone actively resist mathematical truths. But the fact that this card has had to be withdrawn because of 'player confusion' says something of the selection bias of Scratch card buyers.

Sorry for the lack of updates, work hit a busy patch. Should be back to normal service soon.

Society of Homeopaths: cowards and bullies

The Society of Homeopaths served a takedown notice on the rather brilliant Quackometer blog for his rather critical article I've reproduced below. The original was here and the google cache is still alive as of Tuesday, October 16, 2007.

I'm busy at the moment, so can't explain the events in more detail, but a good overview is at DC science. This is a great example of the new BadScience posse (that Skeptobot has recently become involved in) making a difference - because a number are now repeating the story. If you're unaware of the group, It's simply a big circle of bloggers, with big plans. But it's not just them, over 30 sites are now republishing the story from all over the world. Many of those sites are linked down to the left - please check them out. Sorry to those sites I haven't added to the blogroll yet - I will do as soon as I can.

Anyway, here's the forbidden article:

A censored post of the Quackometer Blog:

The Society of Homeopaths (SoH) are a shambles and a bad joke. It is now over a year since Sense about Science, Simon Singh and the BBC Newsnight programme exposed how it is common practice for high street homeopaths to tell customers that their magic pills can prevent malaria. The Society of Homeopaths have done diddly-squat to stamp out this dangerous practice apart from issue a few ambiguously weasel-worded press statements.

The SoH has a code of practice, but my feeling is that this is just a smokescreen and is widely flouted and that the Society do not care about this. If this is true, then the code of practice is nothing more than a thin veneer used to give authority and credibility to its deluded members. It does nothing more than fool the public into thinking they are dealing with a regulated professional.

As a quick test, I picked a random homeopath with a web site from the SoH register to see if they flouted a couple of important rules:

48 • Advertising shall not contain claims of superiority.
• No advertising may be used which expressly or implicitly claims to cure named diseases.

72 To avoid making claims (whether explicit or implied; orally or in writing) implying cure of any named disease.

The homeopath I picked on is called Julia Wilson and runs a practice from the Leicestershire town of Market Harborough. What I found rather shocked and angered me.

Straight away, we find that Julia M Wilson LCHE, RSHom specialises in asthma and works at a clinic that says,

Many illnesses and disease can be successfully treated using homeopathy, including arthritis, asthma, digestive disorders, emotional and behavioural difficulties, headaches, infertility, skin and sleep problems.

Well, there are a number of named diseases there to start off. She also gives a leaflet that advertises her asthma clinic. The advertising leaflet says,

Conventional medicine is at a loss when it comes to understanding the origin of allergies. … The best that medical research can do is try to keep the symptoms under control. Homeopathy is different, it seeks to address the triggers for asthma and eczema. It is a safe, drug free approach that helps alleviate the flaring of skin and tightening of lungs…

Now, despite the usual homeopathic contradiction of claiming to treat causes not symptoms and then in the next breath saying it can alleviate symptoms, the advert is clearly in breach of the above rule 47 on advertising as it implicitly claims superiority over real medicine and names a disease.

Asthma is estimated to be responsible for 1,500 deaths and 74,000 emergency hospital admissions in the UK each year. It is not a trivial illness that sugar pills ought to be anywhere near. The Cochrane Review says the following about the evidence for asthma and homeopathy,

The review of trials found that the type of homeopathy varied between the studies, that the study designs used in the trials were varied and that no strong evidence existed that usual forms of homeopathy for asthma are effective.

This is not a surprise given that homeopathy is just a ritualised placebo. Hopefully, most parents attending this clinic will have the good sense to go to a real accident and emergency unit in the event of a severe attack and consult their GP about real management of the illness. I would hope that Julia does little harm here.

However, a little more research on her site reveals much more serious concerns. She says on her site that ’she worked in Kenya teaching homeopathy at a college in Nairobi and supporting graduates to set up their own clinics’. Now, we have seen what homeopaths do in Kenya before. It is not treating a little stress and the odd headache. Free from strong UK legislation, these missionary homeopaths make the boldest claims about the deadliest diseases.

A bit of web research shows where Julia was working (picture above). The Abha Light Foundation is a registered NGO in Kenya. It takes mobile homeopathy clinics through the slums of Nairobi and surrounding villages. Its stated aim is to,

introduce Homeopathy and natural medicines as a method of managing HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in Kenya.

I must admit, I had to pause for breath after reading that. The clinic sells its own homeopathic remedies for ‘treating’ various lethal diseases. Its MalariaX potion,

is a homeopathic preparation for prevention of malaria and treatment of malaria. Suitable for children. For prevention. Only 1 pill each week before entering, during and after leaving malaria risk areas. For treatment. Take 1 pill every 1-3 hours during a malaria attack.

This is nothing short of being totally outrageous. It is a murderous delusion. David Colquhoun has been writing about this wicked scam recently and it is well worth following his blog on the issue.

Let’s remind ourselves what one of the most senior and respected homeopaths in the UK, Dr Peter Fisher of the London Homeopathic Hospital, has to say on this matter.

there is absolutely no reason to think that homeopathy works to prevent malaria and you won’t find that in any textbook or journal of homeopathy so people will get malaria, people may even die of malaria if they follow this advice.

Malaria is a huge killer in Kenya. It is the biggest killer of children under five. The problem is so huge that the reintroduction of DDT is considered as a proven way of reducing deaths. Magic sugar pills and water drops will do nothing. Many of the poorest in Kenya cannot afford real anti-malaria medicine, but offering them insane nonsense as a substitute will not help anyone.

Ironically, the WHO has issued a press release today on cheap ways of reducing child and adult mortality due to malaria. Their trials, conducted in Kenya, of using cheap mosquito nets soaked in insecticide have reduced child deaths by 44% over two years. It says that issuing these nets be the ‘immediate priority’ to governments with a malaria problem. No mention of homeopathy. These results were arrived at by careful trials and observation. Science. We now know that nets work. A lifesaving net costs $5. A bottle of useless homeopathic crap costs $4.50. Both are large amounts for a poor Kenyan, but is their life really worth the 50c saving?

I am sure we are going to hear the usual homeopath bleat that this is just a campaign by Big Pharma to discredit unpatentable homeopathic remedies. Are we to add to the conspiracy Big Net manufacturers too?

It amazes me that to add to all the list of ills and injustices that our rich nations impose on the poor of the world, we have to add the widespread export of our bourgeois and lethal healing fantasies. To make a strong point: if we can introduce laws that allow the arrest of sex tourists on their return to the UK, can we not charge people who travel to Africa to indulge their dangerous healing delusions?

At the very least, we could expect the Society of Homeopaths to try to stamp out this wicked practice? Could we?

News Fart: Faith Prisons, UFO larks and Scientology

Once you're graduated from your faith school, and if you fall from grace, don't worry you can now climb back up at a Faith Prison, like Vance in Texasa. Now I've a long list of reasons why I'm against faith schools, and at least some seem to apply to Prisons. The article is full of praise for how much violence has fallen in Vance faith prison, and how much the people their want to achieve, but then buried deep in the article you get this little nugget:

The InnerChange program at Vance is open, on a voluntary basis, to men with less than two years left on their sentences. Sex offenders and inmates with bad disciplinary records are excluded.

Like a lot of Faith Schools, they get to select the 'best' criminals, and then boast how their system works so well.

Though it's tragic, when the benefits of treating Prisoners like humans, and giving them hope and skills for the future, can't be seen directly, and have to be reflected through a magic man in the sky.

Man uses fake UFO to scare crowds. Now this should be against all I stand for as it encourages people to believe in lies. But yet it's so awesome. There is also a great quote from the Police:
"There's no ordinance that says it's illegal to fly a super-double-secret, gyroscoptic UFO in county airspace."

Scientologist's include fake recommendation (and city seal) from San Francisco Major Gavin Newsom in their promotional booklet. Given away when they quote him saying San Francisco is home to "740,000 souls"

If he's a terrorist for buying book off amazon, what does that make you?

As far as I can tell, according to the BBC news article, a 17 year old teenager has been arrested on charges "possession of information useful in the preparation of an act of terrorism" and "possession of material for terrorist purposes" - but no physical materials are detailed, just that he:

"had a copy of the "Anarchists' Cookbook", containing instructions on how to make home-made explosives."
Which is a book you can buy from fucking amazon!
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I've not read the damn thing, but how can that be a crime? More importantly if it's a crime to be in "possession of information useful in the preparation of an act of terrorism" how many chemists, bioengineers, teachers, students, geeks, chemists are guilty?

One of the reasons I got into science, was that chemistry lessons focused, thanks to a series of brilliant teachers, on how to blow stuff up. We even beano comic style events, like when the teacher used too much gun powder to ignite his reaction, it exploded, and we all had to storm out the building covered in soot as a mushroom cloud leaked out of the windows. It was joyous!

Kids get excited by blowing stuff up* - a lot want of kids want to go beyond the superficial treatment by shows like Brainiac - exploring that knowledge, doesn't necessarily make you a terrorist. I don't think any chemist got where they were today without doing something a bit dodgy with stuff that can explode.

Making many people's career, a terrorist crime seems a strange approach to encouraging people into scientific fields. What about my journal access, if I download certain exciting papers, have I become a terrorist? But hey-ho, it's for our "safety".

* Delight a 7 year old by filling half a kinder egg capsule with vinger, half with bicarb, clicking them back together and then throwing in the air. Tada! A grenade that won't get you chucked in jail.

UPDATE - the Yorkshire Post has more info - apparently he downloaded a copy of the book, and had 500g of potassium nitrate and 250g of calcium chloride, and video's including 'the devil's face made in smoke following the 9/11 attacks, beheadings and references to jihad.' Still it's an interesting example that we'll soon have to address when exactly does science become terrorism?

Zero Gravity + Water Bubble + Alka-seltzer = Justified Space Exploration

This makes the world a better place.

Good science today, and an old link to a youtube video. But. I. Do. Not. Care.

Catholic Archbishop claims condoms infected with HIV...

..., you know, intentionally, for larks, by Europe.

The head of the Catholic Church in Mozambique, Maputo Archbishop Francisco Chimoio, claims European Condoms and even anti-retroviral drugs are infected with the HI virus "in order to finish quickly the African people."

This is a country where 16% of the population are HIV positive.

As such, he told the BBC that abstention was the best way to fight HIV/Aids.

I could argue for hours about how the catholic church's viewpoint on contraception has resulted in massive amounts of unnecessary human suffering - because I'm right - but at the end of the day you can believe whatever nonsense you want to.

But when your viewpoint is losing ground, to then spread lies about your opponent is fucking disgusting.

As Ben Goldacre said on his miniblog, if Hell exists this guys just bought himself a one way ticket.

Peanut butter disproves supports evolution

The Metro has, rather sarcastically, reported on the "no new life in peanut butter" argument seen below:

This is an interesting example of using bad science to defend "intelligent design" because it's not really wrong, and is basically a badly thought out version of the Urey Miller Experiment,.

This type of experiment is pretty simple, hell even I managed to demonstrate a version of it for a science show I was once involved in. You just get a air tight tank and sterilize it to remove all traces of life (and anything else). Then fill it with what you think the early Earth had (water, methane, ammonia and hydrogen, and in newer models iron and carbonate minerals). Finally you add a source of energy, which in this case was regular sparks of electricity to simulate lighting strikes and let it run.

If you come back to it a few weeks later what do you have? Obviously you don't have a little ant roaming around like they suggest in the video. But you do get a bunch of organic molecules and even amino acids. Which are the foundation of all life on the planet.

Of crucial importance, is that this is a tiny little experiment running for a week. It has sizes and timescales we can comprehend, as such coming back to it and finding it full of fish is ridiculous, but even so the first building blocks can appear in front of our eyes.

Hows that jump to life made? There lies a noble prize. I'm sure one day we'll work it out.

But now taking into account that it took life 2 billion years to appear on Earth, and Earth has a surface area about 5000 billion times bigger than an experiment of 1 square meter it becomes reasonable to think that the Earth has enough rolls of the dice to do this buy itself.

Because it only has to do it once.

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The man who came up with this idea, Stanley Miller, past away in May 2007 (aged 77), in the picture above he is standing with his experiment, and he's not too different from the creationist with his pot of peanuts. He just thought harder. For longer.

He made this world a better, brighter, place. Carl Sagan went as far as to say that his work was:

The single most significant step in convincing many scientists that life is likely to be abundant in the cosmos.

Miller convinced me, but the peanut guy needs to work on his act.

Science and Religion IN SPACE!

In 2003, as part of a billion dollar arms deal, Russia agreed to send a Malaysian into space. This has lead to an interesting situation where the final two contestants (yes, it appears to have been some sort of 'Pop idol' style contest) are both Muslims.

This article really brings home how Science and Religion both handle the changing world universe.

Where real world morals and methods are clearly part of an ever changing flux, and nothings more delightful than a scientific view being demolished, religious views are often set in stone.

So how does a man pray 5 times a day, when each day lasts only 90 mins? How does he face Mecca when it's speeding past him at ~1600km/h?

As such Malaysia's Department of Islamic Development has had to create a 20 page guide on how to observe Ramadan in space.

This isn't meant to be critical, I just think it's a brilliant example of how Religion will be forced to adapt as our scientific progress continues. If concessions are allowed to be made for space flight, then that paves the way for concessions to be made for other products of the scientific age. Like genetic modification, and stem cell research.

Although, saying that, they do fall down at the end where they say that:

"During the prayer ritual, if you can't stand up straight, you can hunch. If you can't stand, you can sit. If you can't sit, you should lie down"
Which is clearly completely meaningless. Of course he could make standing, sitting or lying motions, near something.

Man, I'm a pedant.

“The View” co-host doesn’t know if the world is round or flat

Fucking hell, this is beyond belief, I can not comprehend a world where people like this can get on TV.

We need a second renaissance. We need a re-enlightening.

Monday; October 8, 2007 - updated the video, thanks to a lovely poster below.

(Nicked) partial transcript:

WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Is the world flat?

SHERRI SHEPHERD: Is the world flat? (laughter)


SHEPHERD: …I Don’t know.

GOLDBERG: What do you think?

SHEPHERD: I… I never thought about it, Whoopi. Is the world flat? I never thought about it.

BARBARA WALTERS: You’ve never thought about whether the world was round or flat?

SHEPHERD: I tell you what I’ve thought about. How I’m going to feed my child–

WALTERS: Well you can do both.

SHEPERD: …how I’m going to take care of my family. The world, is the world flat has never entered into, like that has not been an important thing to me.

ELIZABETH HASSELBECK: You’ll teach your son, Jeffery, right?

SHEPHERD: If my son, Jeffery, asks me ‘is the world flat,’ I guess I would go…

JOY BEHAR: You know, didn’t some person already work this question out? I mean, why are we doing this again? (laughter, applause)

Scores ill after mysterious meteor strike

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1) War of the Worlds style Aliens.
2) Zombies
3) Secret Russian project GONE AWRY!

Fuck, fuck, we are all fucked. Seriously.

A Quack adapts new Science.

Just a quick one, the history of Quackery and pseudo-science, is one of con-artists stealing terms from the latest actual science and re-using them. Something that lead to situation where any Physicist who hears an "Alternative Healer" mention vibrations, energies and quantum mechanics want to punch them in the neck.

Here's a nice little article about the newest intellectual borrowing. This guy Dr. Sha downloads new organs

"Everybody understands software," Sha says. "The soul software download is like a spiritual program that the Divine created. Divine downloads carry divine frequency. This divine frequency can transform the frequencies of our body systems, organs, cells, DNA and RNA. It removes energy blockages, and rejuvenates and prolongs life."

Apparently he's "scientifically and technologically legit."


Awesome Senator Sues God

Oh my, this is good. So I was just talking about how ridiculing Religion is the best way to puncture it's own self importance. Well this man has done it with style.

Nebraska Senator Ernie Chambers has Sued god. Because God is a dick, who promotes terrorism, and strikes us down with natural disasters. Being Omnipresent, then he falls under the jurisdiction of Douglas county, and by being Omniscient he effectively been "served" the suit. Though apparently Chambers tried to get a response by calling out "Come out, come out, wherever you are."

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In the Running for Greatest man of 2007. And thats before you take into account that he looks like a bad-ass black Santa Claus, whos dropped the gut.

Wired are hosting a copy of the actual suit located: here in pdf format. Read it. It's superb. If your lazy, and just want proof, here's the first page converted to GIF.
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

I particularly like Count IV

Defendant has directed said chroniclers to assemble and dissiminate in written form, said admissions [his various crimes], throughout the Earth in order to inspire fear, dread, anxiety, terror and uncertainty, in order to coerce obedience to Defendant's will.

Suck it jesus.

Kathy Griffin is a pretty mediocre american comedian, who through a lot of hard work won an emmy. She said this at her acceptance:

Now the Emmy's decided to censor this funny statement. And in the "aftermath" this is the kind of response the American media has had to this "outrage."

I love that the outrage isn't "stop picking on us" it's "pick on Muslims too." It's divine idiocy to complain about someone of a specific religious background using that religion to highlight how stupid religion in general is.

The reason that these kind of people complain is that they are trying to close critical discussions down - because, deep down, they know their religion is ridiculous. And that they are jealous that if you criticize Islam, you could get a Fatwa. It's just so not fair!!!

The Idiot of Carlisle update. He's still an idiot.

One more quick thing. I meant to point this out earlier - but didn't have chance till now. But as this site is pro-science we actively encourage the changing of opinion when you've realized you are wrong. As such this deserves a full update.

As helpfully pointed out by Robert in the comments, the guys responsible for the "God hates us being nice to gays" comments have issued rebuttals.
Here's one
and the here's the other.

For the sake of fairness here is the main quotes:

The headline in the Sunday Telegraph (July 1st) misrepresents the Bishop of Liverpool. He said “When people lose their lives, others their homes and livelihoods it is important pastorally to say that their disaster is definitely not a judgement of God on them. That is why I refused to use the language of judgement. God has created a world of cause and effect. If we change the climate through profligate use of carbon it is we who bring upon ourselves and others the consequences of reaping what we sow.”

Unfortunately it does seems to be the CoE making him apologize from above with his own views remain unchanged. Here's a long, abridged, extract from his talk on radio cumbria. Which was broadcast on the 8th of July - putting it after the apology. I'll bold the juicy bits.

The earth and its land are placed in our hands, but with a condition. It is that we respect and honour God and live according to his ways. This is entirely reasonable, if God is our creator. Whatever may be said about other nations, in our own nation it is conspicuously true that we are ignoring God. This is very unwise if we want his blessing on the land.

Also in the Bible, God views our lives as all of one piece. So our morality and the harvest of the land belong all together. We read at certain points that things like occult practices, bloodshed and sexual immorality make the land unclean; then it no longer brings to us all the blessings that God intends. What we are as people and what the land yields are all of a piece. If we respect God –he will make the land a blessing to us.

In a similar way our nation is increasingly choosing to support practices which undermine marriage and the stability it gives to children. We all know that we live in a very sexually permissive generation where adultery is almost taken as natural and fun. We are a long way from what God intends.

None of this can be separated from what happens on the land. In the eyes of God our morality and its consequences affect everything. Our respect for God, the land and the climate all belong together. I am certainly not saying that the people of my city, Carlisle, or of Bentley and Tollbar deserve what has happened. I am saying that we need to heed the signs and to seek God and his mercy. This is always a good thing to do.

In the last book of the Bible there is a clear link between rebellion against God, moral collapse, exploitation of others, moral collapse and environmental catastrophe. And what God is looking for is repentance. He wants his covenant with humanity returned to: we enjoy the land and we worship and serve him.

I think that speaks for itself. To summarise, you gay loving, sexual heathens did it. Start fearing God you dicks.

Still at least the CoE are ashamed of him.

News Fart: Skeptobot isn't dead - it's resting. Honest.

Sorry, that holiday has been taking a while. And will for a bit longer still. But after numerous (3) requests to keep posting - I thought I would confirm I'm alive. Just homeless at the moment. Hell, if you know a good 1 bedroom flat for a couple in north london, let me know.

Still to tide you over - here is a News Fart. Some of which is quite old, for which I make no apologies. This is the stuff I was going to do proper updates on but haven't had the time. So it will be sparse and badly written. You'll have to add the angry invective yourself.

Deal or No Deal
The Guardian demonstrates perfectly how belief in nonsense now permeates all corners of the UK - thanks to the 'lens' that is Deal or no Deal.

Christopher Hitchens hating God with old women watching.
Now, I love a lot of what this drunk man says. His American news interviews have to be seen to be believed. But whenever he talks about "enemies" I want to punch him in his rosy alcoholic jaw. That said, I would give this 6 part youtube vid: "Listen to whilst working out of ten"

The power of ridicule.
A security expert takes the piss out of Al-Qaeda

Belgium makes great beers and hates Scientology - whats not to love.
Scientology Faces Criminal Charges: A Belgian prosecutor on Tuesday recommended that the U.S.-based Church of Scientology stand trial for fraud and extortion. Lovely.

Sorry Wright brothers - it was for nothing.
And lastly. Something which beggers belief beyond all measure. Something that reduces your IQ just for reading it.

Nepal Airlines use giant iron birds to fly people into the air to lands you can not see. It is like a magic. So what do you do if you are having problems with the craft?

You sacrifice two fucking goats.


Anyhow - proper service will be asap. But I've got to bugger off now to look at a shit overpriced flat.

P.S. I have very exciting secret plan in preparation still. Very.

Don't get me started - Stewart Lee

Well I'm off on a well deserved holiday for the next week and a bit, so sorry, they'll be no Skeptobot till I return. To tide you over however heres Stewart Lee's "Don't get me started" - a brilliant documentary he wrote about blasphemy, and Religion in the UK today.

I know it might sound a little dull, but I promise you it's brilliant. He's one of the funniest men alive, and for comic book fans, you might be interested to know he interviews Alan Moore, about the sock puppet he worships.

Anyhow, I'm rushing this update at 7am, I haven't slept, and I've got to go pack. See you later.

Creationism In a Nutshell

They did this a while back for Radio 4's "28 acts in 28 minutes" - I was going to do something with for this blog - but couldn't work out what. Anyhow, now I don't have too. It's excellent.

(Cheers to Roger, for sending it in)

News Fart! Lighting, Exorcisms, Scientology and Facebook

God hate's his followers - Religious Book Seller Struck By Lightning.

Dr Pratt fulfills her destiny of Nominative Determinism - British Muslim woman in London wanting contraception is told that she needs an exorcism and christian holy water.

Uri Geller fights reality - claims fake copyright ownership of youtube clips proving he's a fraud in order to censor them. Despite the fack that 1) He doesn't and 2) Even if he did, fair use applies.

Family forced daughter to stop taking "psychiatric" drugs - as against Scientological beliefs. Led to the daughter killing her father and sister, and stabbing her mother.

Facebook censors "Facebook" groups? - to avoid critical groups?

Well that was a depressing News fart. Hey ho.

An Open Letter to Manchester Cathedral and the CoE about "secular digital guidelines"

Following this article. I've decided to send this open letter to the Very Reverend Rogers Govender of Manchester Cathedral about his "sacred digital guidelines."

Dear Very Reverend Rogers Govender,

This open letter is in response to the article located here in the Times, which details four "sacred digital guidelines" you've created for games developers to sign up to. For completeness these rules are:

1. Respect our sacred spaces as places of prayer, worship, peace, learning and heritage.

2. Do not assume that sacred space interiors are copyright free.

3. Get permission from the faith leaders who are responsible for the building interiors you want to clone.

4. Support the work of those engaged in resisting the culture of gun crime and those involved in promoting the work of conflict resolution.

Whilst I agree entirely with number 4, I, and many others, have concerns with the first 3 guidelines. As is often the case with freedom of speech and censorship you have to defend works of little value to protect the rights of those which are of worth. As in defending the puerile and offensive Danish Mohammad cartoons in order that intellectually stimulating works like "Jerry Springer the Opera" and "The Satanic Verses" are also defended. I feel this is the case with the mediocre "Resistance: Fall of Man." Whilst R:FoM did not itseld critique the Church of England, your response would curtail that ability.

As such, I feel it is necessary to reply with this open letter (which will be located on http://skeptobot.blogspot.com) with the following "secular digital guidelines" that I wish the CoE to sign up to when interacting with "new digital media" which includes, but is not limited too, games, blogs, social networks, MMOGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games), online video and podcasts.

These "Secular digital guidelines" are:

1. Respect our right to criticise and ridicule elements of a faith we find offensive or untrue.

To do so is an attempt to close down dialogue that can improve both the secular and religious world views. No one likes being offended by something, but thankfully "not being offended" is not a human right.

2. Do not assume that you own the copyright of your sacred spaces and other historical religious imagery.

Manchester Cathedral (which began being built in 1215) is like most religious buildings in the UK, in that it was constructed during a Feudal system of government and church that exploited and tithed the populace to build such buildings. As such the general public has as much right to the image of the church as any member of the faith. Let alone the idea of copyright lasting 800 years. And this is before any consideration of fair use.

3. Do not assume that people must get permission to recreate and image these religious spaces and works.

Whilst clearly, any considerate artist, composer, writer, blogger, podcaster or designer, should inform you of their intentions, do not presume they require your permission. For example politically critical television shows would fall apart if they had to get permissions for all their satirical works. To require permission from such people effectively acts as a form of censorship.

4. Support the attempts to reduce the conflict, violence, wars and terrorism caused by differing religious beliefs.

Whilst adults playing violent video games may indeed concern you, many secular and religous people, who can distinguish between reality and fantasy, would rather you focus your efforts on the real world violence caused by religion.

This is not meant to be critical of your faith, and in no way ignores the countless good works of the CoE but is just encourage proper interaction in this new electronic landscape of communication, debate and dialogue - where everyone owns a printing press.

I you support this proposal I include a form for you to print, sign and return, as well as a hard copy that will be posted today. If you do not support it, then I politely request an explanation why, that can be included on the site.

Best Regards,


I'll detail any response I receive. If you wish to encourage a response to this letter please digg.


Woman jailed for 'neglected' lawn.

Read this.

Read it.

This, this, was to because she refused to identify herself.

Be sure you have your ID card with you next time you don't water your lawn, public.

The police are your servants. You are not there's.

Manchester Cathedral's virtual desecration of the Freedom of speech.

I am furious!

The Gay blaming Church of England has just manipulated an honest situation for devious ends in such a way that to critize them, only makes yourself look foolish.

But I'll step up to that challenge. I look foolish all the time.

They're trying to get video game manufactures to sign up to new “sacred digital guidelines” to prevent future “virtual desecration.”

Whilst those terms roll around your head and their dubious and insidious nature exposes themselves heres a summary.

PS3 launch game is set in the 1940s UK where aliens have attacked the planet, and we are fighting back. Manchester Cathedral is turned into a hospital. Aliens attack, and you defend it. CoE becomes enraged. Sony apologizes unreservedly. Smelling opportunity thats not enough for the COE.

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Shot at 2007-07-08

This is the list they want publishers to sign up to.

Digital Guidelines code of conduct

1. Respect our sacred spaces as places of prayer, worship, peace, learning and heritage.

2. Do not assume that sacred space interiors are copyright free.

3. Get permission from the faith leaders who are responsible for the building interiors you want to clone.

4. Support the work of those engaged in resisting the culture of gun crime and those involved in promoting the work of conflict resolution.

Let ignoring 4 as thats the carrot they're using to support their proposition. Now the first three look fine at first glance, but lets analyze them.

For number 2 they use the strongest wording they can. They want you to presume that they are under copyright. To presume that you need to obey number 3. Listen CoE - Manchester Cathedral is a great example. Its construction started in 1215. Copyright is not meant to last 800 fucking years. But more importantly your "sacred" building was funded by fucking feudalism. You tithed and bleed generations of poor peasents who lived in hovels to produce that beautiful building. Our ancestors living on the edge of absolute poverty were brainwashed to build that building with promises of enternal bliss, whilst the "Holy Men" who lived there lived in wealth and luxury.

Manchester Cathedral is a beautiful building - but every time you look at it you should see the absolute exploitation that produced it. It should shame you.

As such you can claim no ownership of such a building.

It's the fucking definition of public domain.

What is actually going on here is an attempt to prevent dialogue. They understand the computer games (like Rock and Roll, and cinema, and TV before it) is a new media that can, and will be used to criticize and puncture the pomposity of their faith.

This is an attempt to close that dialogue down.

They want "respect" to mean "don't point out its stupid" - and they're hiding behind pretend violence to do it.

Paranoidbot: Diskeeper, Craig Jensen and Scientology

Here's a hypothetical question - would you install this program on your Windows machine? Here's some features:

1) Its chief CEO is a high ranking Scientologist.

2) It trains it's staff in the L Ron Hubbard Management system

3) It rummages through your entire machine, poking around, pushing, pulling and rearranging your files.

Would you say yes? As you're the kind of person who's found Skeptobot then answer is probably "no."

But yet you almost certainly have. Diskeeper
is a defrag corperation, that is run by, and trains its staff in Scientology nonsense. These people then develop the inbuilt Windows defrag software that you use to neaten up your hard drive, and poke around.

Isn't it slightly concerning that Scientology has such access to the whole of your hard drive?

Back in 2000, good old Germany (which beautifully defines Scientology as a "psycho-group") began investigating Diskeeper as a threat to the Constitution.(wired article)

To which the CoE replied:

"Politicians have this theory that we will invade the government and German firms. This really is a stupid thing. What use would we have for all of this data?"

Now one of the main stages in "Auditing" in Scientology is the "PreClear" folders. It's like Confession, where you tell them all your worst secrets (to weaken the attachment of your alien thetans one would expect), and then they store them for all time. "Securely."

Couple that with the California ruling (about the persecution of ex-scientologists) that states:
"…the Church has in its possession his or her most inner thoughts and confessions, all recorded in pre-clear (P.C.) folders or other security files of the organization, and that the Church or its minions is fully capable of intimidation or other physical or psychological abuse if it suits their ends. The record is replete with evidence of such abuse.

From here - page 8 (pdf).

Now I'm sure that Scientology aren't secretly spying on your machine. But I don't trust them. So I think it's an interesting point to be aware off.

Remember the classic privacy slogan - if you've nothing to hide - you're boring.

Disclaimer: I'm still researching what has and is happening. I know for sure that Diskeeper software is in Windows 2000, and I'm pretty certain it's in XP. I've no idea about Vista. I left that rancid OS brand years ago so I've no access to any Windows machines.

UPDATE: 15/2/2008 According to Wikipedia" The defragmenter program included with the Windows 2000, 2003, XP, and Vista operating systems is based on a basic version of a previous Diskeeper version. 

Virtual Barber Shop

Good science update. Every so often a link to something "good" is needed to keep me getting up in the morning. This is a great use of stereo and suggestion. It's essential you put on a pair of headphones and close you eyes for the full effect. To Wikipedia for a really interesting run down on "Binaural Recording."

P.S. It's weird there's never been a mainstream "audiotube" isn't it?
UPDATE:Download link

Flood Bad/Good

The Governor of Alabama needs to legalise gay marriage asap. His state depends on it. I'll prove it.

Some might say this man has not had a serious think about the world he lives in. But nevertheless his state is suffering serious drought, but he hasn't mentioned Global warming - and begun a dialog on the long term green solutions needed to save his state.
Another Idiot, yesterday. Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Oh no. Mr Riley has instead said that the people of Alabama need to pray for rain to fall from heavens to cope with the drought they are facing.


Look I'll quote the offical announcement

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Bob Riley, Governor of Alabama, do hereby encourage citizens of Alabama to pray daily for rain and proclaim June 30 – July 7, 2007 as

Days of Prayer for Rain

in the State of Alabama. During this time, I encourage all Alabamians to pray individually and within their houses of worship for sufficient rain.

I've just spent the last half hour trying to contact him - but as I'm not American it seems I can't.

So to the Americans who read the site could you please forward him my solution based on Graham Dow's brilliant insight. As such here's my open letter to the Governor.

Dear Governor.
I hear you are having trouble with a lack of rain. Here in the UK we are having terrible floods that have left thousands homeless. Senior Bishop of the Church of England Graham Dow has said that this is retaliation by God due to the recent "civil partnership" act that allows homosexuals to "marry", and that until we change the law and repent it will continue.

As such if your prayers fail, how about legalizing gay marriage in order to anger God into attempting to flood your state?

Once you have enough water, just repent and ask for forgiveness.

It's really easy to fool God that way - well that's what I heard.

Best Regards,

Bad Science Emergency Chat Thread

Shit, so Ben at Bad Science is having problem with his site - as we continue to not help him out fiscally (bad us). Still if it helps anyone from the forum, please feel free to use this thread as a chat thread till we get the forum back - or at least a more suitable alternative. It allows anon comments so your shouldn't have problems.

I'll keep this post updated with whats happening - or wherever else we may have gone (if somewhere more suitable is found).

EDIT: Incase the site goes down again heres the update on the status of badscience.net

Forum temporarily disabled, bandwidth exceeded, website dying, er, “help?”

July 3rd, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science |

Sorry about the very long outage, my host suddenly and without any announcement simply pulled the plug on all CGI (geek stuff) because I was apparently putting too great a strain on their servers, and I’ve had to switch the forum off (at the very least) until I get it sorted. It turns out that I was the hog making everything run slowly: who’d have thought? This blog is back online but only on borrowed time now I’m afraid, to give me a chance to upgrade to Wordpress 2.2.1 and see if that will help reduce the CGI load for a bit. I’ve barely got time to do even that right now.

If anyone could offer help that would be amazing, I need to upgrade Wordpress and phpBB. I really can’t pay for web skills at the moment - must start vitamin pill company instead of giving talks for free in schools and losing train ticket receipts - but I can give love, kudos/publicity, and I know some pretty girls. Might be better to email instead of posting below as the site will probably go down again soon, maybe for quite a while, so ben@badscience.net is the best.

Also unfortunately - with the best will in the world - I guess I maybe now ought to move to a bigger host to speed everything up, and most importantly remove any chance of this kind of thing happening again (the hours wasted already…) so it would be good to get opinions on what hosting can handle a min of 12,000 visitors a day to a mySQL intensive Wordpress and phpBB installation, and run really quickly? Ideally somewhere a step up from my current ten dollar arrangement but a bit short of the proper big money for a dedicated server?

Anyway thanks and sorry for the outage, hopefully going to sort it all out for good this time. Thank god nobody ever goes here or here eh. Look ma, no adverts. No evil drug company funding. Just a broken website. Looks like the web2.0 cashless volunteer ideas economy may not work if you lack time and 3L33t webskillz.

Sticks in my throat. “Help.” Can’t someone please just become my best mate and hold my hand for the web stuff? I really love this website being here, but I just can’t spend hours sorting it out at the moment.

Want to help?
Buy some merchandise
Buy Amazon stuff through here for Badscience to get 5% of the cost.
(I've just checked the paypal donation button doesn't like being hotlinked to - so you'll have to go to the site to make a direct donatation).

A quick return to normal service. Idiot Bishops.

So whilst we have a huge influx of "diggers," don't worry I haven't forgotten the loyal (and significantly smaller) Skeptobot audience. Though if some of you Digg residents fancy sticking around you would be most welcome.

So we've been having a lot of floods at the minute haven't we? Well it appears a group of senior Church of England bishops have decided that it isn't Global warming or even random fluctuations in British weather. Those would be far too sensible.
An idiot, yesterday

Rt Rev Graham Dow, Bishop of Carlisle put it down to us being nice to gay people. Apparently laws that have undermined marriage, including the introduction of pro-gay legislation have provoked God to act by sending the storms that have left thousands of people homeless.

"The sexual orientation regulations [which give greater rights to gays] are part of a general scene of permissiveness. We are in a situation where we are liable for God's judgment, which is intended to call us to repentance."

So rather than face the damage we are doing to the planet he would rather muddy the water by claiming that 1) his God is a dick and 2) whilst he won't directly interfere in anything useful he will use his magic powers to directly ruin the lives of innocent people.

Well done Graham, you've successfully scared me into believing in your completely dickish God. When I die and stand face to face with him, I'll be sure to punch him in the jaw.

(P.S. I've not forgotten the update about threespeech. I'll try and put it up tomorrow.)

Ramp Industry and Threespeech

As this site has now hit the front page of digg (until the iphone sinks it again) I thought I might just do a quick update on what I've learnt about THREESPEACH. I guessed everyone new they were fake - but just in case here's a run down.

Ben Furneaux (one of TS's bloggers) replied to me in the podcast thread with the following:

“I understand in the past Sony has been overtly viral but I can assure you I am not an example of that. Don’t you think they learned from their mistakes? The reason why Three Speech keeps it’s posters anonymous is because they all come from one person!”

Notice the use of "I am" rather than "we are" - it's rather telling.

If you go to the UK site Ramp Industry and navigate the flash you can find (in the "General Idea" section) that they are a company that
[allows] brands to connect and communicate... to fire up conversations...from strategy branding and positioning, to return on investment and customer retention/acquisition.

Which of course is pretty much the definition of viral advertising.

Why is this interesting? Because if you go to the "Ramp Content" section and then the "check out our work" section what do you see?

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Shot at 2007-06-30

This isn't Free speech: How THREESPEECH hides it's censorship.

(2nd UPDATE: It seems the attention this has caused has had some results! At some point between saturday evening and sunday morning, my comment number 79 was uncensored. Also Ben from Threespeech has offered a one on one chat about the events. He seems a nice guy. I'll keep you posted. They've also included an explanation of their moderation system. This was not the moderation system that was in place at the time of my original comments (I'll explain more in detail after I've talked to Ben). This new system still causes the deletion of a comment to never come to the attention of the original poster, which prohibits conversation and is shady. However the moderating system is now transparent and as such thats a huge improvement. And transparency is all I've ever wanted. As I've said before I prefer the PS3 to the Xbox I'm not an "Xbot" like some people are calling me. I just want some honesty from ThreeSpeech, RampIndustry and Sony about how they are marketing their products, and the way they are trying to imply they are something they are not.

I'm now waiting to talk to Ben. I'll let you know how it goes.)

(1st UPDATE: Just in case you don't know the relationship between ramp industry and Threespeech an explanation has been added here.)

Original Article

This is the comments thread to THREESPEECH's first podcast. We all know TS is effectively a sham blog set up by Sony to promote itself, presumably as no one else will.

Firstly, the irony of name withstanding, obviously TS are entitled to remove comments they don't like. But how they do that is very important. Especially as they state:

We won’t censor content so long as this space is used constructively.
But what I've found goes beyond merely deleting negative comments. Here's the long and the short of it:

Short Version: THREESPEECH will delete your "negative" comment (e.g. asking what "semi-offical" means) but from then on maintain a different version of the web site just for you so that you think your post still exists.

Long Version: After reading what Penny-arcade had to had tosay about Threespeech - I listened to their Podcast. It is seedy. As such I posted this on the comments thread:

I’ve just listened to the whole podcast.

The Internet has one commodity. Trust.

The viewers have to believe the creaters. And with this sites ambiguity thats impossible. How about a detailed explanation of the site. Answer these questions:

* Are you being paid by Sony, it’s marketing department, or by others on behalf of Sony to make this site? It seems the answer is yes.

* Are you given free reign to voice your true opinions? It seems the answer is no.

* What are Sony’s aims with this site?

I am ashamed. This site, and the podcast is so “on-topic” that it beggers belief. It’s like a concerted effort to “push” “hard-core” opinion on the Sony Brand products.

At no point did I see a genuine criticism of any of the platforms. And minor criticism was quickly distorted back into something positive.

Sony wins no fans by trying to insidiously promote itself in this way. To try and have it’s cake and eat it.

And I pity those involved. Because it’s clear you have asperations in the games media field and you’ve damaged your CV beyond repair with job.

I want Sony to do well with the PS3. The ability to install Linux (and thus Myth TV etc) will mean I’m far more likely to buy one over the 360. But this kind of marketing is truly offensive.

Comment by Lave — June 28, 2007 @ 4:51 pm

And thought nothing of it. For various boring reasons I have to run two browsers on my laptop. One runs locally. One runs on a machine 5 miles away and unix pipes the window to my machine. After a while my comment was still happily siting on the thread. But then when I happened to visit the site with the different machine's browser it was nowhere to be seen.

Here's a screencap of both browsers side by side. One has my comment the other doesn't.

Link as 1024*768

You can see for yourself. Do the following:

1) Go to the thread and read post 79.

2) Go to the comment field and post something (but please be nice - maybe even a link here... ;) )

For your name put: Lave
For your email put: skeptobotURIGELLER@blogspot.com (remember to remove the fraud's name).
For your website put: http://skeptobot.blogspot.com

3) Reread post 79 and see how my post is back. Their server clearly thinks your me now. And is trying to hide it's censorship from you.

Free Speech indeed.

It's such a strange situation. From the postings of one guy there called Ben who replied to my comments that haven't been deleted - it seems he isn't being paid directly. No doubt he gets free stuff. But that the perk of any journalist. And he admits he has no control over what makes the first page and comments. So he's not much more than a patsy giving them some respectability.

But behavior like this makes it certain (even though it was already) that this is a Sony run site. Which I've no problem with - if they explain what that means, rather than making a blog that is clearly designed to fool people into thinking this is "honest" enthusiasm.

If you want to spread the word please digg...


Paris Hilton isn't news.

I don't know the show. I don't really understand american news apart from what I read on the daily show. But it does make me love the BBC more and more.

Some people say this is staged. Others not. But either way those guys come across like fucking jerks.

An Electronic Future needs a Paper Trail

I love living in The Future. Sure I might not have a flying car, or a rocket pack, and I can't go on holiday to the Moon, but I can spout my dumb ramblings to an entire world (in theory at least). I have a "communicator" that allows me to ring almost anyone, almost anywhere. And I can be on one side of the world one day, and another the next. Or hell, sometimes the previous day.

But The Future isn't always awesome. Especially when it comes to voting. I think old politicians are trying to appear "with it" by modernizing something which doesn't need it.

Watch this.


In Sixty seconds they manage to open a e-voting machine and replace it's ROM. This basically means they've replaced it's memory chip with one of its own. Maybe it will just destroy all the votes cast from then on. Maybe it will make every vote count for "Evil Candidate Alpha." Of course those Ideas are stupid. But in a "First Past the Post" System. You don't have to do either. Just make it register enough votes that you get 51% and you're away. Thankfully this message it's being made clear.

We need a paper trail. We need literally tons of evidence.

No computer is secure. By definition it can't be. It's a device that does only two things. Copy and Edit. And if you're trying to stop it doing that then you might as well try to hold back the sea with your hands.

Copyright is broken.

UPDATE: The link below has updated. Appears that the law he quotes wouldn't apply. As such this "article" I've written below is pretty much bullshit. I'm leaving it up because it's good practice to admit your wrong, and be able to change your mind. Silly me!

This is Brilliant.

The twin daughters of George W Bush made him a mix tape for Father's Day. This guy breaks down what that means - which to summarise is that they've broken "17 U.S.C. §504(c)(2) (2006)" for each track on there. At $150,000 a pop.

Will the RIAA sue them?

Will High Fidelity get banned?

The Law doesn't work. Things need to change.

News Fart!

UK minister evokes Monty Python to defend Rushdie

The Life of Brian was attacked because it ridiculed something that deserved it. I think most of us young'uns won't be aware of the magnitude of these attacks. There was a huge controversy when the film was released. But thats the point. It showed that you were allowed to criticize Christianity out loud. In public. That because some people take a belief very seriously - it doesn't mean you have too as well.

It's this same effect that Muslims worry about now. Though the Satanic verses isn't the book to do it, and threatening death to those that might criticize is just a way to prevent that bubble being popped - in the way Monty Python did so well.

What lot of future hopefuls is a newly launched group" The "Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain" to voice the views of those who have left Islam. Who have said:

"Too many things in the media and government policies have been geared to pandering to the political Islamic movements and Islamic organizations"

"I hope we'll get a lot more attention and begin to change the debate."

But it's not all good, the President of Gambia has used his Magic Medicine (and Allah) to cure 33 people of the HI Virus.

What's also great is that he starts his monologue by boasting that he isn't afraid of touching them. The Cunt.

To read more about this whole debacle go to BadScience.net. Its far to depressing to relate here.

(P.S. Sorry for the lack of pictures recently. I'm working on that...)

No DRM = More sales

Here you go.

Who would have thought, DRM free MP3 downloads, that give you the same rights and abilities as a CD (i.e. the ability to make copies, backups, and lend to a friend) have resulted in increased sales for EMI. Some CDs are up by over 300%!

But it's more easily pirateable! This just doesn't make any sense! Bear is driving how can this be?

Religous-os and Richard Herring

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Sorry for the lack of updates, had a busy few weeks that have kept me from the internet. Richard Herring, who you may remember from "Fist of Fun" has had a little rant on his daily diary. It makes a good read. Here's the start:

I hate religious people.

Well no that's not true. Some of them are OK when they're not talking about religion, but I hate it when they are asked their opinions about important issues and what they say is given equal, and sometimes extra weight to those who are just talking from a basis of fact or common sense.

The way I look at it, if religious people are correct then (for some of them at least) they have all of infinity once they are dead to go on about how right they are, so for the 70 years they are here I think they should just shut up. All I am asking is for 70 years out of infinity where they keep their thoughts to themselves. After that, when they are dead I am happy for them to pontificate for as long as they like. I only want them to keep quiet while they are alive. And 70 years is literally 0% of infinity years, so it's not that much to ask. In return I agree to only say what I think for the time I on earth, but when I am dead I will stay quiet forever, just lying in my grave or burning in Hell, whichever comes to pass."

And heres the rest.

He's a great stand up, and along with Stewert Lee (of Jerry Springer the Opera fame) pretty much created my sense of humour as an impressionable teen. I really recommend you go to Go Faster Stripe and pick up a DVD of theirs. I promise you'll love it.

The BPI are idiots.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Record companies win £41m damages: "British Phonographic Industry"

So CDWOW has to pay £41 million damages for importing cheap versions of Music CDs, paying import tax on them, and then selling them in UK.

So remember, whilst it's CORRECT for a corporation to manufacture goods in the cheapest country possible, it's WRONG for a paying customer to purchase goods from the cheapest country possible.

The Atheist Delusion

Here at Skeptobot we believe that if you can't take any criticism of your ideas then your ideas aren't worth anything. So every so often we dig up something to put us in our place.

This is quite good. And a entertaining 3 minutes of satire. What's better of course is youtube's idiot posters.

It's important to remember that even amongst atheists there is a huge volume of "mentally challenged."

Here's a selection of quotes picked almost at random (names have been removed to protect the innocent):

What scares me the most is that he votes. :-/

if you don't think the bible is written by humans, then you sir, are an idiot.

The BIBLE!?!! That book that was written by primitives that thought the earth was flat and the sun revolved around it? Yeah, THAT'S a credible source. It's also got TWO different creation stories in it. TWO!!! It's full of whacky contradictions and also genocidal crazies. He believes in unicorns too. What more can you say?

So if J.K. Rowling called herself God and said the Harry Potter series was real, you would consider it right to believe it because the book says so, right? There's a difference between the Bible and evolution...evolution can be proven through physical evidence. Prove the Bible with physical evidence and make a video about that.

Wow! I heard better argeuments from stoned High school students....You need to just go check your self into a Mental Ins.

if it's 2000 years old how do you explain people in B.C.? Like Chinese, and don't forget there are other gods so which one can you believe?

ok im gonna write a book that says im god and im 1000 feet tall and my ass is made of noodles does that make it true NO there is no god religion=MONEY SCAM btw u beleive an old book with no proof over science yeah im deluded and your retarded so i win atheists 1 religion 0

Wait, wait a second, did he say that "science and reason have no place in our lives"? What a fucktard, man!


okay if these are the reasons you give me for believing in god, i am going to stay with my deluded atheism. you cant proof a point by saying that you believe in it man....if there is something we need to bann, it is religion!
even if your god exist, i would rather go to hell with einstein dawkins curie and darwin instead of going to heaven with you douchebag!
fuck that i am out of here

LOL! I can't believe he called Stephen Hawking a freak. This dude is a MORON!!! LOL! Just remember man the earth is at the center of the solar system and the universe.

At this point I was about a third of the way through the comments and my will to live was sapping away - so I gave up.


Media Bias on Transgenders rasing "concerns"

Media Bias on Transgenders Raising Concerns | Christianpost.com: "'With more anti-discrimination laws being passed, though, it does seem like things are moving in that direction,' she adds.

Federal legislation on expanding hate crimes to include violent attacks against individuals on the basis of 'gender, sexual orientation and gender identity' is currently being reviewed by the Senate. Christians have strongly voiced opposition to the expansion, arguing that the bill could silence believers who view homosexuality as sinful. That also applies to the transgender."

This is about a transgender woman being in Ugly Betty.

See America, I don't want to be all "holier than thou" - but 1) being against a bill that prevents violent crime is pretty retarded, and 2) in the UK the 2nd largest national soap, Coronation Street, has had - for years - a man "married" to woman-who-used-be-a-man.

Our nation hasn't been destroyed. Kids aren't all turning into differing sexes - and everythings been hunky dory.

And even more telling. That soap is generally regarded as being pretty "safe" and "dull." They are dull, and normal and just get on with life. The Governmentcommended it and people weren't scared and sickened.

Here's the happy couple:
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

You can't have a bias over something that doesn't hurt others.

Get over it America.

Religious people back gay rights - it's just the churches that need to catch up

Religious people back gay rights-Comment-Faith-TimesOnline: "Religious people back gay rights"

A nice little article showing that it's the issues with religion aren't the individual trying to understand the world better. It's the archaic organizations that refuse to update their world views.

Well guys - you can't ignore the people who line your pockets forever.

Sorry about that.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Darwin's letters archived on web

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Darwin's letters archived on web: "Darwin's letters archived on web"

Do you here that? Thats the sound of thousands of creationists rushing to quote him out of context. Mark my words.


YTMND - Crocoduck has a catchy beat

Remember Kirk Camerons 'Crocoduck' (aka weakest argument ever) that CCN thought was newsworthy two posts down?

And also in the HD-DVD post I went on about how fair use allows you to satirize, criticize and ridicule. And that power was now in the hands of all of us rather than the main stream media. This link (with sound!) explains why thats a good thing.

Yes it's silly, yes it's stupid. But it should be commended for that.

BBC reporter losing it! Or more than that?

YouTube - BBC reporter losing it!: "BBC reporter losing it!"

Watch this (it's only 41 seconds long):

Thats not nice is it. You shouldn't shout like that.

But it's a little strange isn't it. It's seems awfully out of context.

Well there is a reason. This is John Sweeney who at the time was filming a documentary about wait for it:


They've been harassing him whilst he's been filming and that was him snapping.

From his explanation of the events on the Beeb's website he says:

While making our BBC Panorama film "Scientology and Me" I have been shouted at, spied on, had my hotel invaded at midnight, denounced as a "bigot" by star Scientologists, brain-washed - that is how it felt to me - in a mock up of a Nazi-style torture chamber and chased round the streets of Los Angeles by sinister strangers.

Back in Britain strangers have called on my neighbours, my mother-in-law's house and someone spied on my wedding and fled the moment he was challenged.

What you've just witness is Scientology try and destroy someone for questioning them.
Watch the video they uploaded again now. It seems so much sinister.

As Scientology uses the new media to try and protect itself the BBC will be using the "old media" to show them for who they are this monday at 8:30pm. I really recommend watching it.

What the Hell america.

YouTube - O'Reilly - Kirk Cameron defending God to atheists: "O'Reilly - Kirk Cameron defending God to atheists"

This is on a news channel?!

"I was poking holes in the Big Bang Theory"

I don't know what to say. It's the perfect demonstration of the pointless of arguing. You craft these beautiful arguments, to explain and inform. And whilst they may not convince your opponent they should at least raise the standard of debate. In the same way that their rebuttals force you to raise yours.

Thats not what this is.

A Challenge to Digg: Stop the Government burying news.

BBC NEWS | Politics | ID card costs rise above £5bn: "Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said: 'It is bad enough that the government seeks to bury bad news behind the camouflage of Tony Blair's announcement.

'Breaking the law to do so breaks new ground even for Tony Blair's Labour Party.'"

I don't like ID cards for lots of reasons. The cards are powered by a huge database of everyone in the country. All your details in one place. And I think thats open to abuse. NO2ID can explain the flaws in more detail.

The Government agreed to announce the offical cost estimates every 6 months, and they are three weeks over due when they got released today. Why? Well it seems the Government have decided to hide the announcement that the costs have risen half a billion quid behind the resignation of the Prime Minister.

Thats rather cuntish.

So I challenge you digg. Spread the word. They may try and hide it, so we just need to shout louder. Visit the BBC article linked in the title. Get the ID card article above the Resignation article in the Beeb's 'Most viewed' and 'Most emailed.'

Cause a fuss. You're good at it.


Best Terrorist Ever

globeandmail.com: Vatican calls verbal attack on Pope ‘terrorism': "“This, too, is terrorism. It's terrorism to launch attacks on the Church,” it said. “It's terrorism to stoke blind and irrational rage against someone who always speaks in the name of love, love for life and love for man.”"
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The man above is a terrorist. His name is Andrea Rivera. He's NOT a host of an open air concert you understand, don't be a fool, He's a terrorist! An evil terrorist that wants to bring about the end of everything good and proper. Would the Vatican's official newspaper lie? Of course not! You just read their biting comment above.

"Why?" I hear you ask, "what evil did he say?"

Well I don't believe in giving EVIL TERRORISTS the oxygen of publicity but I'm going to reproduce it below. I warn you it's hideously offensive... proceed at your own risk... This is true terrorism....

“The Pope says he doesn't believe in evolution. I agree, in fact the Church has never evolved,”

What the hell! Now I've heard that vile filth I know for sure that the Vatican is definitely NOT talking ABSOLUTE SHIT.

Surely he couldn't have said anything else.... But wait! There is more!
“I can't stand the fact that the Vatican refused a funeral for Welby [a campaigner for euthanasia who was paralyzed with muscular dystrophy] but that wasn't the case for [Chilean dictator Augusto] Pinochet or [Spanish dictator Francisco] Franco,” he said between musical acts at the open-air concert.

You've heard it here first people. Well reasoned personal opinions on the actions of the Catholic church being used to inform others - thats TERRORISM to the Catholic faith.

And strangely - I agree with them.

In Science, or Art, or Design, or Politics, or Comedy, or Music, or Wikipedia, or Culture, or Architecture - fields that are in a state of constant development - when people criticise things, 9 times out of ten that discussion leads to things getting better.

To Catholicism that very act of self improvement is terrorism.

This is the perfect example of why most Religion's as they stand today are dead forces. They are fundamentally opposed to improving itself. They define themselves as perfect. They judge everything else through a lense of their own perfection. I work in Astronomy at the moment, and day after day you see people trying to disprove their heros. To push forward, to learn, to better themselves. Of course human vanity is always there - but you still get the 60 year old established professor at the peak of their field who will throw away their life's work because an upstart PhD student stumbled on some new data that proves them wrong.

And do you know what? These guys, who life's work is now wrong (but never wasted), are happy. Because today they are closer to truth than yesterday, and maybe tomorrow they will be closer still.

And that is inspiring.

But sitting in an ivory tower, saying no one can ever know more than we know now, and if you so much as mock us we will call you a terrorist.

That is not.


News Fart!

Imams refuse to play woman priests in Oslo soccer match

- Haaretz - Israel News
: "'Some say that bodily contact is the problem. It leads to special feelings that can lead to something forbidden,'"

"The match was to have followed talks meant to build bridges between faiths in Norway."

Piss up in a brewery fellers? I respect peoples right to have so little faith in themselves that they believe that touching a woman during football is going to produce uncontrollable lust. I can't force you not to be morons after all. But fucking hell guys if you can't organize a footy match what chance do your silly faiths have in getting along about important things.

PBS TV Stations to Air Three-Part Documentary on Atheism -- 04/30/2007: "Conservative Christians are criticizing a plan by Public Broadcasting Service stations to begin showing later this week a three-part television documentary series on atheism, calling it 'demagogic and propagandistic.'"

Whenever anyone wants to prevent you from seeing something - then you can be pretty certain they are always, always in the wrong. (I've seen the show in question, which was made by the BBC, It's superb.)

Atheists Celebrate, Christians Lament Lawmaker's Stance on God -- 03/14/2007: "U.S. Congressman has caused a stir by becoming the first member of the legislative body to declare himself not to believe in God."

The coming of "The Dark Times" have just been pushed back a fortnight.

Though the same people who complained about the tv show about atheism - Concerned Women for America - complain again:

"It is unfortunate in a society that is going down the path of godlessness and making right wrong and wrong right, that we continue down this path by celebrating one member of Congress who denies that God exists altogether,"
Concerned Women for America Director of Legislative Relations Mike Mears

Mike Mears? What? But then these Concerned women seem so old fashioned that they would need a man to lead them...

USA vs Satan II: Sin Harder

Daily Herald - Convention ends with Satan and immigrants: "Utah County Republicans ended their convention on Saturday by debating Satan's influence on illegal immigrants."

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Sometimes, like in the case of HD-DVD's and our fair-use rights I feel like I need work a little to make my case. I need to demolish straw men, I need to refute lies, I need to prove truths.

Sometimes all you need to do is ctrl-c, ctrl-v the important parts:

Don Larsen, chairman of legislative District 65 for the Utah County Republican Party, had submitted a resolution warning that Satan's minions want to eliminate national borders and do away with sovereignty.

Illegal aliens are in control of the media, and working in tandem with Democrats, are trying to "destroy Christian America" and replace it with "a godless new world order -- and that is not extremism, that is fact," Larsen said.

At the end of his speech, Larsen began to cry, saying illegal immigrants were trying to bring about the destruction of the U.S. "by self invasion."

"If the Democrats take over the country, we will be dead, and we will have abortion and partial-birth abortion and the Republican Party will go into extinction," [Larsen] said

This got a standing ovation.

Pimp my HD-DVD

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That number had 35,000 hits on google yesterday.

It has 350,000 today. It's already on my blog. It's on countless others no doubt. It's on homepages, it's on boingboing, It's on countless ytmnds. No doubts it's being twittered. There's a facebook group. Hell it's probably got a myspace page. That a society speaking.

I know this is a skeptical blog. About bad science and silly religions. But I think Skeptical means it can extend into free speech and the media.

So I'm going to talk about that number. And no, I'm not a fucking pirate.

And I'm going to do something stupid. I'm going to do an analogy.

An analogy about cars.

I'm a fucking fool.

But hopefully avoiding getting into the "but you wouldn't steal a car" nonsense piracy debate. This is about the media industries perceptions.

There are three stereotypes for car users.

1) The largest group is "The average joe" who buys a standard car, takes it to the shop to be repaired and doesn't think much about it.
2) A much smaller group is the "The hideous thief" who uses his technical knowledge of cars to steal them - which is different to copying media remember
3) The guy who buys a car, and fiddles with it, makes it run on a different engine, replaces the wheels, the suspension, the bodywork. Pimps it. Improves it. Changes it. Joins groups of like minded people who also love this true ownership of their cars. They work together to improve and modify. Sharing ideas and methods.

Now, nobody would say that because people use technology to steal cars. IR door openers. Jimmy sticks, hotwiring, that owner number 3 should be stopped from playing. No one can stop Number 3 from improving his car. You can't claim copyright on the bonnet and stop him from painting fire stripes on it. Or claim that he can't mess with the exhaust, or sparkplugs.

The movie industry see consumers the same way.

1) The average joe.
2) The pirate - who is different to a thief - but thats a different debate, and we can all agree that not supporting the developer of an IP you consume and enjoy is very bad and leave it at that.
3) The fringe. who want to watch films from a different region that haven't been released in theirs. Who want to timeshift, want it to run on linux, their homemade myth tv box, want to make funny trailers as though film x was actually genre y. Wants to put it in his class presentation. Wants to rip it to their hard-drive to take on holiday. Want to satirize, want to inform, want to make a funny gif. Want to screen grab for their blogs review. Want to screen grab so they can write "THIS IS SPARTA!!!!"on it in a big font and use it on a forum.

But like the car industry they cant ban #3 just because #2 exist!

The existence of pirates should not - and cannot stop the fair use of material

Regardless of what the law says, nothing I listed in 3) is wrong - you should be able to do all those things. And a good citizen shouldn't refrain from doing it - just because a law says you cant. They should shout. They should complain. And they should be disobedient.

And crucially in our day and age - more people fit into section 3 than is realized. I think the older generation miss this shocking fact. Unlike the car industry most people, at least young people, are in #3.

It's my 60 year old mum wanting to watch an American DVD. It's my professor wanting to put his bought itunes on his non-ipod. It's an early adopter wanting to actually use his 'outdated' HDTV. It's my dad not wanting to leave his genuine cds in the car. It's my grandma wanting to tape a tv show to watch at a later date. It's a Linux user wanting support they won't provide. It's a lecturer wanting to add a clip of a film they are discussing into a presentation.

That list is not a list of criminals. It's real people living a real life.

But bring this up and their argument in return seems to be. "That all well and good - but I think you are a pirate, and you're using fair use as an excuse." - which we are fucking not.

So don't be a pirate, but use your media, own your media.

We live in a world where taking a clip of a film, and changing the music, and editing the characters, is a feasible way to comment on the film. Even if it's just to ridicule it.

That makes the world a more colourful, better place.

It isn't wrong.

That number gives people back the rights they should have from the start.