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 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.

Image Hosted by
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

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

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 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.)