May 6, 2009

WILL LESBIANS TURN THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY GAY?

Martin of The Lay Scientist has been hanging around the Daily Mail web site, so that we don't have to. The level of his sacrifice can be judged by a recent article which featured a reconstruction of the first modern European human, who arrived from Africa and looks kind of, well, black. It seems that the BNP supporting types don't like being reminded that humanity evolved in Africa and that white skin is a relatively recent mutation.

Rubbish. Europeans did not come from Africans and never could. This is just more anti-European propaganda, of as much real scientific merit as Piltdown Man.

Others don't like the idea that we evolved at all, and in their comments demonstrate that they never got past the single-celled stage:

We are all descended from Adam and Eve, who were most probably had brown skin and were from the middle east no more than 10,000 years ago.

Daily Mail Readers in Revolt over Black AncestorsThe Lay Scientist, 5th May 2009. Headline courtesy of the Daily Mail-o-matic.

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March 2, 2009

The Observer's Book of Bollocks

Amanda Gefter is a book reviews editor at New Scientist, and this week she has written her own guide to spotting bollocks disguised as science.

When you come across the terms "Darwinism" or "Darwinists", take heed. True scientists rarely use these terms, and instead opt for "evolution" and "biologists", respectively. When evolution is described as a "blind, random, undirected process", be warned. While genetic mutations may be random, natural selection is not. When cells are described as "astonishingly complex molecular machines", it is generally by breathless supporters of ID who take the metaphor literally and assume that such a "machine" requires an "engineer". If an author wishes for "academic freedom", it is usually ID code for "the acceptance of creationism".

In related news, 80% of the UK population disagree with creationism.

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December 23, 2008

Nearly a third of science teachers incompetent

United Kingdom: Today's Grauniad is quite a terrifying read. As well as the Pope's anti-LGBT hate speech, we also learn that over a quarter of science teachers would teach creationism as if it were science:

The Ipsos/Mori poll of 923 primary and secondary teachers found that 29% of science specialists agreed with the statement: Alongside the theory of evolution and the Big Bang theory, creationism should be TAUGHT in science lessons

And they clearly don't mean discussing it as a way of demonstrating that it's superstitious bollocks, not science:

The Ipsos/Mori poll also canvassed support for the more hardline position of only mentioning creationism in the context of dismissing it. It found that only 26% of all teachers and 46% of science specialists agree with Professor Chris Higgins, vice-chancellor of the University of Durham, who is quoted as saying the only reason to mention creationism in schools is to enable teachers to demonstrate why the idea is scientific nonsense.

The poll did not ask if astrology should be taught at the same time as children learn about the planets, nor if alchemy should be given equal time in chemistry lessons.

Would you Adam and Eve it? Quarter of science teachers would teach creationismThe Guardian, 23rd December 2008 (note The Guardian making its own contribution to the misunderstanding of the word theory) .

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November 18, 2008

Darwin Award nominee of the day

England: A Portsmouth man has died after his imaginary friend told him not to seek treatment for a minor injury to his foot.

Russell Jenkins injured his left foot treading on an electrical plug at his home.

The wound later became infected, but the 52-year-old shunned conventional treatment, saying his 'inner being' told him not to go to hospital.

Instead he tried treating it with honey, an ancient remedy for the treatment of infected wounds.

He refused treatment even when an enormous ulcer developed.

Healer dies after failing to treat a foot woundThe News, 17th November 2009.

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September 23, 2008

Creationism in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland: In these days of peace building, the DUP (a.k.a. Ian Paisley's lot) have mostly been presenting themselves as a respectable political party committed to the peace process. But, it seems, they still have a lunatic fringe, including one that is campaigning for creationism to be taught in Northern Irish schools.

Continue reading "Creationism in Northern Ireland"

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September 16, 2008

Creationism updates.

United Kingdom: A Royal Society representative who, in his official capacity, appeared to support the teaching of creationism in science classes has resigned.

The had issued a clarification suggesting Reiss meant when young people ask questions about creationism in science classes, teachers need to be able to explain to them why evolution and the Big Bang are scientific theories but they should also take the time to explain how science works and why creationism has no scientific basis. It was felt that the whole affair, misinterpretation or not, had diminished the reputation of the Society.

Meanwhile, Ken MacLeod has found an extremely interesting 'science' site—one where there is no doubt as to the creationist sympathies of its author. Check out the chemistry lesson Ken picked out for us.

'Creationism' biologist quits jobBBC News, 16th September 2008.

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September 11, 2008

Science expert calls for the discussion of pseudoscience

United Kingdom: The Royal Society's Director of Education thinks that discussing pseudoscientific bollocks in science lessons will interest children in science.

The Rev Prof Michael Reiss, director of education at the Royal Society, said that excluding alternatives to scientific explanations for the origin of life and the universe from science lessons was counterproductive and would alienate some children from science altogether.

He said that around one in 10 children comes from a family with creationist beliefs. My experience after having tried to teach biology for 20 years is if one simply gives the impression that such children are wrong, then they are not likely to learn much about the science, he said.

I think he'll find that more children come from households where astrology is treated as credible, but I don't see him calling for that to be taught. Reiss, it turns out, is an ordained minister. The Guardian quickly found a couple of actual working scientists to point out his folly, both suggesting that religious studies classes were a more appropriate place to be discussing religion:

Science lessons are not the appropriate place to discuss creationism, which is a world view in total denial of any form of scientific evidence, said Dr John Fry, a physicist at the University of Liverpool.

He said challenging evolution scientifically was appropriate in school science classes. But he added: Creationism doesn't challenge science, it denies it.

Personally, I think if we want to interest children in science, we should show them episodes of Mythbusters., especially the ones where they blow stuff up. If you want to be really scientific, you can show the ones where they re-visit myths as a result of criticism. Ideally with large explosions.

Teachers should tackle creationism, says science education expertThe Guardian, 11th Spetember 2008.

September 8, 2008

Somewhere over the rainbow

It all started when Failblog featured this amusing little conspiracy video:

Surely a joke? I prodded further, to try and find out more about it. ~ The Rainbow Conspiracy ~ CRAZY, NEVER BEFORE SEEN FOOTAGE!!, and Conspiracy are definitely parody, as is this response, but then I spotted a term, and did a search for 'chembow'.

But none of these link the mysterious rainbows to the Gay Agenda. I'm most disappointed!

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August 19, 2008

Off-topic Bargain of the Day: a male grooming product

We usually only feature unusual religious products on the Prattle, but while flicking through a copy of QXMen (don't click that link if you have a crap job and are at work!), I noticed a most interesting offer amongst the pictures of nude and scantily clad men at it with one another. It was for a male grooming product, but those of you in the aforementioned crap jobs should leave reading the rest of this entry until you are safely at home.

Continue reading "Off-topic Bargain of the Day: a male grooming product"

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July 3, 2008

A list of schools to avoid

United Kingdom: University admissions tutors might be interested in a survey conducted by More4 News, which found that at least 40 British schools are teaching ancient mythology instead of science. The programme also noted that not all of the schools concerned were in the private sector. Andrew Copson, the British Humanist Association's Director of Education and Public Affairs commented:

It is appalling that there are thousands of children in Britain who are being taught that evolution is a myth and creationism a fact. It is even worse that almost 1,000 of those children attend schools funded by taxpayers, which teach creationism despite national guidance that it has no place in the science classroom. We are glad that the government is currently producing new guidance on how to deal with creationism in schools but it is crucial that school inspectors are also trained to check faith schools rigorously for the teaching of creationism or intelligent design.

Humanists “appalled� that creationism taught in 40 UK schools British Humanist Association press release, 2nd July 2008.

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March 26, 2008

Bargain of the Day: Good stuff, for a change.

Englandshire: Dr. Who fans could find themselves a bargain as the memorabilia collection of Simon White goes on sale after he swapped science fiction for fantasy.

The collection, which Mr White estimates is worth nearly £7,000, was built up over a number of years but is to be cast aside because of his religious beliefs.

Dr Who and his materialistic obsession with it represents the greatest lie that Satan ever told according to Mr White...

He said: God delivered me from the evil that is Dr Who.

Don't offer too much now. We wouldn't want to reward him for his sinfulness now, would we?

Dr Who Tardis on sale on eBayWiltshire Times and Chippenham News, 21st March 2008.

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March 14, 2008

A quickie

I get to use a category with both meanings: Ken MacLeod on creationism.

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February 5, 2008

Typo du jour

England: The UK's biggest planetarium is due to be opened in Winchester soon, and Terry Pratchett will be doing the honours. But I don't think that a Hampshire Chronicle journalist really meant it when they said the centre will feature a variety of astrology shows, including presenter-led displays for schools, licensed pre-recorded films and movies on topical space events.

Pratchett to open planetariumHampshire Chronicle, 5th February 2008.

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Just wondering...

...how do intelligent design advocates explain male nipples?

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January 21, 2008

More staff cuts at the Arkham Asylum

Publishing a story about religious pseudoscience in Russia seems to be bait for loons, for lurking in the spam trap was a comment plugging a religious book. I'm not going to give spammers publicity, so identifying details have been removed.

THE NEW DISCIPLINE!

Things will never be the same in academia after this.

There is a new discipline on the scene: physical science, the old science of cause and effect.

Against the backdrop of a nation embroiled in debate and legal battles over whether creationism or evolution, or both, should be taught in the classroom, [Redacted] proclaims a

DAY OF VICTORY!

[Redacted], a series of seven textbooks designed for the public schools, represents the ultimate marriage between an in-depth knowledge of biblical phenomena and natural and physical sciences. As a result, the several volumes have accomplished that which, heretofore, was deemed impossible: to level the playing field between those who desire a return to physical science in the classroom and those who embrace the theory of evolution. [Redacted] turns the tide by providing an authoritative and en- lightening scientific explanation of natural phenomena which will ultimately replace the unprofitable Darwinian view.

The backbone of Darwinism is not biological evolution per se, but electronic interpretation, the tenet that all physical, chemical, and biological processes result from a change in the electron structure of the atom which, in turn, may be deciphered through the orderly application of mathematics, as outlined in quantum mechanics. A few of the supporting theories are: degrading stars, neutron stars, black holes, extraterrestrial water, antimatter, the absolute dating systems, and the big bang, the explosion of a singularity infinitely smaller than the dot of an �i� from which space, time, and the massive stellar bodies supposedly sprang into being.

The philosophy rejects any divine intervention. Therefore, let the philosophy of Darwinism be judged on these specifics: electron interpretation and quantum mechanics. Conversely, the view that God is both responsible for and rules all the phenomena of the universe will stand or fall when the facts are applied. The view will not hinge on faith alone, but will be tested by the weightier principle of verifiable truths ďż˝ the new discipline.

[Redacted] is not only better at explaining natural phenomena, but also may be verified through testing. As a result, the material in the several volumes will not violate the so-called constitutional separation of church and state. Physical science, the old science of cause and effect, will have a long-term sustainability, replacing irresponsible doctrines based on whim. Teachers and students will rejoice in the simplicity of earthly phenomena when entertained by the new discipline. You will not want to miss the adventure of a lifetime that awaits you in Volume 1 of [Redacted].

All those question marks are because the author, whose name is on the comment, has managed to write a series of books without being able to read, and so copied and pasted his comment straight from Microsnot Turd.

If you really want to know more, I'm sure Googling on some of the choice phrases here will prove productive. I dread to think what will happen in comments to the same story over at Newsvine.

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Barking Russian ID article.

Russia: The Soviet Union was never that fond of Darwinian evolution, preferring the Lamarkian model, most notable for the idea that acquired characteristics could be passed on. Not a lot has changed since then, although the excessive influence of the church means that deliberate pseudoscience is preferred these days. If you need an article to demonstrate the sheer silliness of "Intelligent Design", the Pravda can help. Even though the article has been translated by someone who does not have English as their first language, I don't think it can be misunderstood. It's first argument is that, as we can build machines to build other machines, we must have been designed. Really.

Imagine finding a planet where robots are programmed so that they can make other robots just like themselves from raw materials.

Now, imagine an alien scientist visitor coming to the planet and, after many years of studying these robots, the alien scientist visitor comes to the conclusion that since science can explain how these robots work, operate, function, and reproduce there's no reason to believe that there was an ultimate intelligent designer behind them.

The analogy above certainly is not perfect but it is sufficient to reveal the fallacious thinking of those who attack intelligent design behind life and the universe.

It's five pages long, and your brain will hurt before you've finished the first. He again asserts that, because we understand genetics enough to tinker with it, we must have been the result of such tinkering ourselves.

Think about it! If humans must use intelligence to perform genetic engineering, to meaningfully manipulate the genetic code, then what does that say about the origin of the genetic code itself!

Yet then comes up with a refutation of his own argument -- humans haven't created life from scratch:

Contrary to popular belief, scientists have never created life in the laboratory. What scientists have done is genetically alter or engineer already existing forms of life, and by doing this scientists have been able to produce new forms of life. However, they did not produce these new life forms from non-living matte

So, if I follow the author's previous logic, this means that as we can't do it, then neither could some other being. Ah, no, apparently this means the opposite of all the earlier assertions and our inability to intelligently design an organism is now evidence against evolution.

The rest of it is strip-mined from creationist propaganda, with clichés about tornados in scrapyards making 747s and all the other bollocks with which you will be familiar if you read Pharyngula. One more example:

How, for example, were animals breathing, eating, and reproducing if their respiratory, digestive, and reproductive organs were still incomplete and evolving? How were species fighting off possibly life-threatening germs if their immune system hadn't fully evolved yet?

Like most creationists, the author deliberately does not mention God and tried to pretend that what he thinks is purely scientific in origin. Pity the extended byline gives away his motives and lack of any genuine qualifications:

The author, Babu G. Ranganathan, is an experienced Christian writer. Mr. Ranganathan has his B.A. with academic concentrations in Bible and Biology from Bob Jones University.

Meanwhile, Tasmanian Devils appear to be evolving resistance to the cancer that's been killing them off (via Red Wolf).

Understanding intelligent designPravda, 21st January 2008.

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January 15, 2008

Bruce the Astronaut

Australia: There's a great big red mountain in the middle of Australia. The indigenous people there regard it as sacred and would rather we called it Uluru, but most of us know it as Ayers Rock. But, the site is Special to some other people too, according to Pravda, and they believe a rather unusual story is told by the rock art in the area:

The UFO Area website says the astronauts are represented in rock paintings in Central Australia.

Once upon a time, in a distant past, a huge red 'egg' had difficulties to safely reach the ground and crashed, the story reads, under a picture of Uluru. Out of the 'egg' emerged white-skinned beings, followed by their children, it says. The adults had problems adapting to the Earth's atmosphere and died. The children managed to survive. Later they painted drawings of the adults in honour of their parents.

The article to which Pravda refers is almost certainly Ancient Astronauts of Uluru at UFOArea. That has since been followed up by another article, Strange Ancient Structures In The Australian Desert: Natural Rocks Or Artificial Structures? Both are available only to members of the site, which costs money, alas. If the articles are plugging a book, that's a bit of a failure really.

Aliens land in Australia to create humansPravda, 14th January 2008.

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December 27, 2007

More commentary on the creationist theme park

One of the stated aims of the AH Trust's proposed Creationist theme park is that it will provide an alternative to binge drinking for young people. David Mills ponders this in the Guardian's Comment is Free section:

Although the trust correctly identifies that there is a drinking problem endemic in the culture of young people today, to believe that by providing religion as an alternative so that youngsters will put down the White Lightning and pick up a bible, seems quite naive and out of touch.

What's more, he wonders whether the Bible is really good for young people.

To correct the wrongs of society, perhaps the theme park - using its multimedia to maximum effect - will tell the story of how Lot was prepared to give up his daughters to the Sodomites and eventually slept with them himself? Is it appropriate moral guidance to show how Abraham was going to kill his son because God ordered him to? Will it also tell the story of Cain killing his brother Abel? How will tales of rape, incest, infanticide, fratricide and mass homicide become the antidote to binge drinking and a society that watches too much sex and violence on television? Theologians would say they are not meant to be taken literally but how are they meant to be taken? Are these the kind of family models we want "our youth" to look up to?

Taking children for a rideComment is Free, 23rd December 2007.

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December 24, 2007

Creationist trust confused about everything

England: Plans to build a creationist theme park have moved on, with a site near Preston now favourite, although the trust behind it seems to have no firm plans

[Trustee Peter Jones] said: We have a number of sites in mind, which have different restrictions, but we are looking at an area in the North West, in a triangle of Lancaster, Liverpool and Manchester.

They also seem confused about what it is that they want to build, or perhaps they are simply lying to planning authorities. Some choice quotes:

Trustees of the AH Trust Fund, which is proposing the £3.5m project, have looked at sites around the city with a view to opening the country's first ever multi-faith tourist attraction....

Quickly followed by:

From our research we found there is a great demand for a Christian theme park - a place where you can go and relax and provide a place for people to listen to God

Then back to:

as well as being a meeting place for leaders of all different religions.

And then an utter whopper:

He said the trust ... was non-denominational and covered all religions, including Christian, Catholic, Muslim, and Hindu.

So Catholics are apparently not Christian, according to the charity, and the Trust's objects are really completely different from those listed by the Charities Commission's records:

TO ADVANCE THE FAITH OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PUBLIC IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE STATEMENTS OF BELIEF APPEARING IN THE SCHEDULE THE ADVANCEMENT OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH MAINLY, BUT NOT EXCLUSIVELY, BY MEANS OF BROADCASTING CHRISTIAN MESSAGES OF AN EVANGELISTIC AND TEACHING NATURE. TO ADVANCE THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN DEMONSTRATING THE LOVE OF GOD TO ALL PEOPLE FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PUBLIC THROUGH THE HOLDING OF PRAYER MEETINGS, LECTURES, PRODUCING AND/OR DISTRIBUTING LITERATURE ON BIBLE SUBJECTS TO ENLIGHTEN OTHERS AND TO HELP THEM TO A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST.

So, presumably multi-faith, inter-denominational and covering all religions simply means that they harangue everyone, regardless.

The AH Trust's most recent annual report notes that they have a grand total of £310 in the bank.

Religious 'theme park' would cost £3.5mLancashire Evening Post, 22nd December 2007 (via The High Weirdness Project). See also At least Disneyland admits it's fantasyPagan Prattle, 16th December 2007 and More on the Creationist theme park planPagan Prattle, 16th December 2007.

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December 16, 2007

More on the Creationist theme park plan

United Kingdom: Commenters on Pharyngula have been looking into the AH Trust (The Assembly Hall Trust, according to the record at the Charities Commission), the charity behind the creationist theme park proposal, and it seems to be a little devoid of substance.

One particular comment from "tacitus" sums it all up quite nicely:

First, he examined the testimonials page on the company's website, and found a pile of extracts from rejection letters.

If you take a look at their Testimonials page, there appears to be an impressive list of British companies-Boots, B&Q, BAA, Thomas Cook, BAE, etc.

Wow, not a bad list from a company that appears to have no money. But here's one of those "testimonials":
We wish you every success with your activity and hope that you are successful in securing support from other sources. - Boots Group plc

Calling that a testimonial is a joke. There is no doubt that this is a quote from a rejection letter. They were turned down flat.

The whole page is full of such rejections, with a handful of positive comments from people you've never heard of at the end, including the founder of the trust himself!

Next up for examination was the Annual Report, which reveals that

They have no funding, no backing, no coherent plan, and they're are woefully out of touch with the sentiments of the British public on religion and moral issues. They haven't even been able to replace the three trustees who resigned from their board over a year ago.

The annual report states that they have a grand total of £310 in the bank. That should go a long way. And then something really scary, should you feel like helping them out of their financial predicament:

Their "Make a Donation" page accepts credit card details and then promptly sends them in the clear across the Internet.

Personally, I find the single item under "News" amusing:

The Church in this country is in crisis, and many Church Leaders living in Australia, America and Canada have openly proclaimed that God has left the Church in England. A view which we find amusing and disturbing. Evolution has falsely become the foundation of our society and we need
the television studio to advocate Genesis across this land in order to remove this falsehood which
presently is destroying the church foundation.

One hopes their books are not written with a similar standard of English.

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Posted by Feòrag in Science Fiction at 18:46 | View blog reactions

George Galloway proves he's a nutter

England: It seems that fundie nutcases have got at what remains of politician George Galloway's brain.

But this week Galloway took a further step towards full-blown fanaticism, when he came out as a creationist. This is what he said on his TalkSport radio rant, in trying to rebut a caller who defended atheism and science: I was looking at my little six month old baby today beginning to take his first steps crawling across the hall of the Methodist Central Hall today, and it doesn't look like an accident to me. He doesn't look like an accident of evolutionary chance to me. I'm not really prepared to believe that from the bottom-dwelling slugs of the pond came the voice of Pavarotti. I'm not really prepared to believe that Albert Einstein and a spider are really the same thing, that they just took a different evolutionary path.

Galloway comes out as a creationistOpen House, 7th December 2007.

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At least Disneyland admits it's fantasy

United Kingdom: Christian businessmen plan to set up their own fantasy theme park in Lancashire.

The latest salvo in creationism's increasingly ferocious battle with evolution is about to be fired in Lancashire. Not in a fiery sermon preached from the pulpit, but in the form of a giant Christian theme park that will champion the book of Genesis and make a multi-media case that God created the world in seven days.

The AH Trust, a charity set up last year by a group of businessmen alarmed by the direction in which they see society heading, has identified a number of potential sites in the north west of England to build the ÂŁ3.5m Christian theme park.

At least one town has told them to bugger off. This is, of course, evil Christianophobia in action.

The theme park's anti-evolution bias and its emphasis on Genesis has raised eyebrows among planning officials, according to Jones, who originally wanted to build the park at the site of an old B&Q store but was refused permission by the council.

'Wigan council slammed the door in our faces. You mention the C [Christian] word, and people don't want to know,' Jones said.

Creationists plan British theme parkThe Observer, 16th December 2007.

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December 1, 2007

Dying on the cheap

Today is World AIDS Day and Ben Goldacre has written an AIDS Quackery International Tour. Many of his examples are from developing nations where access to medicine is limited, but one is more embarrassing:

Before you feel smug and superior, the Society of Homeopaths are holding a conference in London today featuring the work of Peter Chappell, who also claims he can make an immediate impact on the Aids epidemic using music encoded with his Aids remedies.

Right now, he says, Aids in Africa could be significantly ameliorated by a simple tune played on the radio. Damningly, contemptibly, not one single person from the homeopathy community has spoken out to criticise this lunacy.

The BBC has more details of some of the original thinking being presented at the conference.

One of the speakers believes that the treatment, involving flower essences, can be used to halt the AIDS epidemic.

Aids quakery in Africa, and nearer homeThe Guardian, 1st December 2007; Concern over HIV homeopathy roleBBC News, 1st December 2007.

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November 7, 2007

Bampottery, live and direct.

Finland: News is breaking of a school shooting in Finland, and the alleged murderer is, as you might expect, a bit of a loon. But, Pekka-Eric Auvinen is (or was) not a religious loon. Indeed, the fundies will cream themselves, because this particular loon claims to be acting in the name of natural selection. From his manifesto [Word document; the same, in Finnish?]:

Pekka-Eric Auvinen, taken from his own websiteToday the process of natural selection is totally misguided. It has reversed. Human race has been devolving very long time for now. Retarded and stupid , weak-minded people are reproducing more and faster than the intelligent, strong-minded people....

Life is just a meaningless coincidence... result of long process of evolution and many several factors, causes and effects. However, life is also something that an individual wants and determines it to be. And I'm the dictator and god of my own life. And me, I have chosen my way. I am prepared to fight and die for my cause. I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human race and failures of natural selection....

No mercy for the scum of the earth! HUMANITY IS OVERRATED! It's time to put NATURAL SELECTION & SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST back on tracks!

His taste in music tends towards the industrial (which, to the media, will be the same as goth), so Auvinen warns against the usual goth-blaming and, refreshingly, takes full responsibility for his actions:

And remember that this is my war, my ideas and my plans. Don’t blame anyone else for my actions than myself. Don’t blame my parents or my friends. I told nobody about my plans and I always kept them inside my mind only. Don’t blame the movies I see, the music I hear, the games I play or the books I read. No, they had nothing to do with this. This is my war: one man war against humanity, governments and weak-minded masses of the world!

He has also posted notice of his intentions to YouTube [Update: this video has now been removed. See the BBC News link below for a description] as well as in another Word document, posted yesterday on his website:

ATTACK INFORMATION

Event: Jokela High School Massacre.
Targets: Jokelan Lukio (High School Of Jokela), students and faculty, society, humanity, human race.
Date: 11/7/2007.
Attack Type: Mass murder, political terrorism (altough I choosed the school as target, my motives for the attack are political and much much deeper and therefore I don’t want this to be called only as school shooting).
Location: Jokela, Tuusula, Finland.
Perpetrator's name: Pekka-Eric Auvinen (aka NaturalSelector89, Natural Selector, Sturmgeist89 and Sturmgeist). I also use pseydonym Eric von Auffoin internationally.
Weapons: Semi-automatic .22 Sig Sauer Mosquito pistol.

Fatal shooting at Finnish schoolBBC News, 7th November 2007 (thanks, Tef). A list of mirrors to Auvinen's materials is being maintained at this entry to a blog about the shootings.

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November 2, 2007

Science education improved; fundies of many stripes upset

South Africa: It seems that, up till now, evolution has not been taught in South Africa's schools. But it is to be included in the national school curriculum from next year, leading to allegations that it is teaching Satanism!

Godly Governance Network provincial secretary Sipho Mengezeleli said the introduction of evolution was a revolution against God and Christianity.

Mengezeleli, who has started canvassing other religious organisations in an effort to mount a united front against the department, said: This course is aimed at eroding God from people's mind. It's satanic by its very nature because it's against creation and against God.

And it's not just insecure Christians getting into the act. Some Hindus's beliefs are so shallow and fragile that they cannot tolerate their children even knowing of the existence of other viewpoints:

Hindu Society chairperson Gino Vassan said the concept of evolution goes directly against Hinduism and should not even be an option. We don't believe in evolution --we believe in reincarnation, said Vassan. We would not want something that goes against our belief to be taught to our children.

Fury rumbles over 'satanic' school courseDaily Dispatch, 31st October 2007.

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October 29, 2007

Creationism Will Turn You Into a Serial Killer?

United States: The creationist loons may have scraped the bottom of the barrel when it comes to digging up testimonials for their cause.

Between 1978 and 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer murdered at least 17 men and boys. His murders included gruesome acts and he was sentenced to a lifetime in prison.

But during his sentence something changed, and before his death, Dahmer went on MSNBC with his father. When asked what contributed to his new accountability, he told his father, Thanks to you for sending that creation science material.
Continue reading "Creationism Will Turn You Into a Serial Killer?"

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October 23, 2007

Catching up

Some stories I missed, or didn't get round to writing about:

  • A woman who falsely accused her father of raping her as a child after undergoing recovered memory therapy on the NHS has reached an out-of-court settlement with Tayside NHS. The treatment is responsible for a number of claims of Satanic abuse, though this case had no such elements. Settlement for bogus abuse womanBBC News, 20th October 2007.
  • It seems that it's not only the Roman Catholic Church which has been covering up child sexual abuse by its clergy. The Church of England has a similar problem. C of E child abuse was ignored for decades The Daily Telegraph, 22nd October 2007. (Thank you to Andrew Ian Dodge.)
  • OMFG!!!!! A fictional character is a poof! That should upset the fundies even more. Rowling Says Dumbledore Is GayNewsweek, 19th October 2007. (My favourite quote from J.K. Rowling on the matter is in the BBC News version of the story: Oh, my god, the fan fiction.)
  • The case of a Christian magistrate who resigned because his bigotry restricted his ability to do his job has reached an industrial tribunal. Christian JP forced out over gay adoption cases, tribunal hearsThe Guardian, 22nd October 2007. See also WWJD?: Lies and Blackmail!Prattle, January 26th 2007.

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October 15, 2007

Fundies caught trying to pervert abortion review before it even begins

United Kingdom: A inquiry reviewing abortion law has warned scientists presenting evidence that they must disclose links to faith groups after it was found that religious organisations were trying to influence the result surreptitiously.

At least eight submissions of written evidence have come from medical professionals who have not disclosed their membership of Christian groups opposed to abortion on faith grounds. Six of the doctors are members or activists with the Christian Medical Fellowship, an organisation that has given its own evidence to the inquiry.

Suspicion that contributors had not been transparent about their affiliations has led the clerk of the committee to take the unusual step of writing to all those who gave evidence asking them to disclose their links to any relevant organisations...

Some on the committee are worried that unless witnesses are transparent about their affiliation to anti-abortion groups the inquiry will not be able to properly assess their evidence.

Evan Harris MP, the Liberal Democrats' science spokesperson, said: This inquiry is specifically about the scientific evidence not moral or religious arguments and our witnesses need to be evidence-led not ideologically or theologically driven. The CMF risk undermining the inquiry by getting people called as expert scientific witnesses when they are not.

Two witnesses who will give evidence today, Chris Richards, a paediatrician and honorary clinical lecturer at Newcastle University, and John Wyatt, a neonatal paediatrician at University College London, are members of CMF, but did not disclose that on their original submission.

Abortion inquiry asks scientists to disclose links to faith groupsThe Guardian, 15th October 2007.

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September 26, 2007

Scientists, theologians agree: Intelligent Design is dishonest bollocks

United Kingdom: The British government has issued the promised guidelines for teaching creationism in school, and they make it perfectly clear that the only place it has is in the science curriculum is to explain why it's not science.

After explaining the place of science and religious education in the British national curriculum, the guidance document unequivocally states: Creationism and intelligent design are sometimes claimed to be scientific theories. This is not the case as they have no underpinning scientific principles, or explanations, and are not accepted by the science community as a whole. Creationism and intelligent design therefore do not form part of the science National Curriculum programmes of study.

Apparently with Truth in Science's materials in mind, it recommends, Any resource should be checked carefully before it is used in the classroom. If resources which mention creationism or intelligent design are used, it must be made clear that neither constitutes a scientific theory.

The guidance document explains that although it is inappropriate to teach creationism, it is not necessarily inappropriate to teach about creationism as an ideological movement and philosophy.

It says: Any questions about creationism and intelligent design which arise in science lessons, for example as a result of media coverage, could provide the opportunity to explain or explore why they are not considered to be scientific theories and, in the right context, why evolution is considered to be a scientific theory. ... Science teachers can respond positively and educationally to questions and comments about creationism or intelligent design by questioning, using prompts such as 'What makes a theory scientific?', and by promoting knowledge and understanding of the scientific consensus around the theories of evolution and the Big Bang.

The guidance suggests that the proper place for religious ideas about the origins of life is in the Religious Education curriculum, but some Christians disagree—they think it's a load of bollocks in theological terms too:

[Simon Barrow, co-director of the UK Christian think-tank Ekklesia] commented: Creationism and Intelligent Design are not legitimate scientific theories. They are constructs based on discredited ideas about biblical texts, a misunderstanding of the idea of creation (which is an understanding of the world process as gift, not a theory of origins in competition with evolution) and a god-of-the-gaps approach rejected by serious theologians....

Pupils seeking to acquire an understanding of religious and other life stances need to understand how and why fundamentalist world views emerge, said Barrow. But they also need to know why they are rejected by mainstream theologians and scientists. Likewise, as the government rightly says, creationism and ID have no place in school science classrooms.

Government issues guidelines to teachers on creationism and IDEkklesia, 26th September 2007; Creationism teaching guidance—Teachernet.

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July 31, 2007

Religious vandalism in the Netherlands

The Netherlands: A Dutch channel is broadcasting David Attenborough's Life of Mammals, but something is odd about it, as Martin Wisse explains:

However, something strange has happened with that series when it crossed the Channel: for some reason the Dutch version only has nine episodes, while the original has ten --and that's not the only difference.

It turns out that the EO has deliberately removed all references to evolution from the series, as demonstrated by the three videos below. Which is not too surprising, considering the EO is after all a fundamentalist Christian broadcaster and adhers to the doctrine of the literal truth of the bible. What exactly the EO has censored in Attenborough's series is now documented in several youtube movies, uploaded by somebody called Odurodon:

As Martin observes, despite their obvious lunacy, the broadcaster receives public money, and suggests it would show greater integrity to have simply declined to broadcast the series. As they have exclusive rights, no other Dutch broadcaster may show the series, and the Dutch who want to see an unbutchered version will have to resort to their legendary language skills.

Dutch broadcaster censors David Attenborough on evolutionWisse Words, 30th July 2007.

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Posted by Feòrag in Censorship and Science Fiction at 09:54 | View blog reactions

June 11, 2007

June 1, 2007

CofE education boss: teach myths in science class

England: The normally moderate Church of England has appointed a complete lunatic as their new head of education. Rev. Jan Ainsworth has said that the myth of Creation should be taught in science classes in Church of England schools (which are state funded), rather than in religion. To her credit, she does suggest that it be part of the history of science.

Her bosses have already started to distance themselves from her statements.

Intelligent design has place in science lessons, says CofEThe Guardian, 1st June 2007.

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April 24, 2007

Something in the air

UFOs are in the news again. First up is a lump of black rock found near Seattle, which some claim fell from an alien spaceship, and others claim came from a B-25 which crashed while carrying an alien spaceship. Possible alien stone found near SeattleEarth Times, 24th April 2007; Is strange rock from UFO or just a piece of poppycock?Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 22nd April 2007

Then there's a magic mountain in Argentina, where UFOs are said to gather, and which is claimed to have healing powers. But its special effects can only be felt if you know how to kid yourself: Books about the Uritorco are available in several languages because the hill's positive forces cannot be felt without some basic knowledge of its "spirituality reactor," a vendor explains behind a thick cloud of perfumed smoke rising from huge joss sticks. The languages available are clearly all dialects of Bollocks. Argentine magic mountain attracts UFO- and esoteric freaksJurnalo, 24th April 2007.

Finally we learn that Mick Jagger claims to have had a UFO encounter in the 1960s: In 1968 he went camping in Glastonbury with his then girlfriend, singer Marianne Faithful, and encountered a rare, luminous cigar-shaped mothership. Around the same time Mick had a UFO detector installed at his British estate. The alarm kept on going off whenever he left home, indicating the presence of strong electromagnetic activity in the immediate area. Of course, this all took place in the late 60s—a time when rock musicians never, ever took drugs. Sir Mick Jagger had close encounter with aliens in the 60sLondonNet, 23rd April 2007.

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March 20, 2007

Kids think critically; teacher sacked

United States: A teacher has been fired after just eight days in the job for pushing creationist nonsense instead of teaching.

During his eight days as a part-time high school biology teacher, Kris Helphinstine included Biblical references in material he provided to students and gave a PowerPoint presentation that made links between evolution, Nazi Germany and Planned Parenthood.

In his defence, Helphinestine claimed that he only wanted to get the students thinking critically about biased information. The school board did not believe him, and he doesn't seem to have made it clear to his students that that was his intention.

Parent John Rahm told the newspaper that he became concerned when his freshman daughter said she was confused by the supplemental material provided by Helphinstine.

He took passages that had all kinds of Biblical references, Rahm said. It prevented her from learning what she needed to learn.

Ore. Teacher Fired Over Bible ReferencesThe Guardian, 20th March 2007.

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March 9, 2007

Another miscelleny

March 2, 2007

What would Jesus poo?

We've discussed Christian colonic irrigation on the Prattle recently, but we're going to do so again. I mean, you'd be upset if we neglected to link to a site which includes the words Jesus also explained how to make and do a colonic irrigation. Jesus said that unless you eliminate Satan from your intestines, you can not have perfect health. That statement can be found on the web site of Moinhos Velhos, an holistic health retreat in Portugal.

Obviously Jesus didn't mention colonic irrigation in the Sermon on the Mount, or in anything considered to be canonical, but in an Essene text The Gospel of Peace of Jesus Christ. It is discussed further on the fasting and detoxification page, where the following is attributed to Jesus:

Think not that it sufficient that the angel of water embrace you outward only. I tell you truly, the uncleanness within is greater by much than the uncleanness without. And he who cleanses himself without, but within remains unclean is like tombs that outwards are painted fair, but are within full of all manners of horrible uncleanness and abominations. So I tell you truly, suffer the angels of water to baptize you also within, that you may become free from all past sins, and that within likewise you may become as pure as the river's foam sporting in the sunlight.

We are then told the passage (heh) continues with instructions. Unfortunately, I couldn't find it in the linked copy of the book.

Finally, do not click this link.

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Posted by Feòrag in Science Fiction at 23:15 | View blog reactions

February 12, 2007

Bargain of the Day: God up your bum

Sometimes I will encounter something of interest while browsing a totally unrelated site. Today was one of those days. How could I possibly expect that innocently reading Pharynugla's commentary on Gillian McKeith, could possibly lead to a Christ-centered, health education ministry offering wholeness of body, mind and spirit?

It all started with a comment by Zeno: You may have years of "unexpressed" meals in your digestive tract, but never fear! Vierra will give you a Christian colonic.. My ears pricked up, naturally, and there was a link: Garbage in, garbage out!. And so, eventually, with the help of a well-known search engine, I found my man.

Welcome to Modern Manna online, the official website for Danny Vierra—founder of the Almighty Cleanse. We are a Christ-centered, health education ministry offering wholeness of body, mind and spirit. We offer a 10-day live-in program at BellaVita Lifestyle Center. We also offer the building blocks for excellent health, the latest information from articles, books, audios and DVDs for simple, alternative health remedies, which include lifestyle changes, vegetarian cooking, detoxifying and cleansing, juicing and more...

Optimal health starts with a seasonal cleanse. Almighty Cleanse™ is a powerful yet gentle 2-part system to help regulate and purify your digestive tract. This easy-to-use cleansing system helps expel impurities and fecal matter that build-up on your intestinal walls. One of the most concentrated natural purification systems available, Almighty Cleanse can work in only 7 days.

Yes, Almighty Cleanse. It's really called that. Once your digestive system has been dosed in this holy water, Modern Manna can help you keep it sparkly with herbal concoctions, including Anti-Plague Formula.

The recipes look pretty good, though. There again, you can say that about Gillian McKeith.

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February 4, 2007

Sunday miscelleny

A handful of stories from the last few days which I was too lazy to write about at the time:

  • Teachers get advice on how to spot signs of ritual abuseThe Guardian, 2nd February 2007. Note the word being repurposed to mean the abuse of children by Christians who believe the child to be possessed or a witch. Many of the signs are a bit crap, and others would apply to more mundane forms of child abuse too.

  • Brought to book: the poo lady's PhDThe Guardian, 3rd February 2007. Ben Goldacre find Gillian McKeith's PhD thesis:
    There are lots of grand statements about research, with nice superscript numbers relating to references in the back. But when you chase to the back of the book to see what these academic documents are, they include such august periodicals as Delicious, Creative Living, Healthy Eating, and my favourite: Spiritual Nutrition and the Rainbow Diet.

    Some of it is plainly absurd. As we get older, she explains, the levels of RNA/DNA decrease. Okay. If you do not have enough RNA/DNA, she goes on, you may ultimately age prematurely. Stress can deplete your DNA, but algae will increase it. And that's not all. Chlorophyll within the algae is a powerful oxygen generator for human beings. Back to GCSE Biology: it'll only make oxygen if there's light inside me, Gillian ...
    I found You are What you Eat frustrating and full of errors—it cited the safe drinking levels which were revised upwards in the early 1990s, for example. There are some good recipes in there, but often they are made needlessly complicated, and use exotic ingredients which would put it out of the price range of mere mortals.

  • New Conspiracy: Israeli Genocide Against Lebanese — With Poison BalloonsThe MEMRI Blog, 1st February 2007. This sort of panic is well recorded, and has a long history. There are examples of similar panics during the First World War, but this one seems to have the added legs of organisations willing to exploit it for political reasons.

  • An indictment that the liberal left is oblivious toThe Guardian, 3rd February 2007, isn't on the web site, presumably due to intense embarrassment about the ungrammatical title. Oliver Kamm alleges that a mysteriously monolithic liberal left puts the rights of religious organisations over that of the individuals they oppress:
    In the past century, material betterment and the steady diminuation of discrimination advanced progressive goals. Much of the left have [grr...—F.] yet to come to terms with this achievement. At the extreme, some who were once on the left have adopted the language and outlook of the right. They argue for what by any objective standards are reactionary positions. These include promotion of religious obscurantism in place of secularism; segregation of the sexes at public events; abridgement of free speech in deference to the sensibilities of those who claim themselves victims of Islamophobia; and, most pernicious, the resurrection in political debate of some highly traditional motifs of anti-semitic conspiracy theory.
    If you can get yourself to the library, it's on page 31.

  • Tolerating intolerance is still this country's besetting sinThe Guardian (Comment Is Free), 4th February 2007. More comment on a related matter to the above.

  • Muslims are now getting the same treatment Jews had a century agoThe Guardian (Comment Is Free), 2nd February 2007. One major difference, which is mentioned, but not dwelled upon, is that 19th century radicals-who-happened-to-be-Jewish were not fighting to impose Judaism on the populace as a whole, nor were they the ones wearing traditional Jewish dress as they had pretty much rejected religion. The tiny minority of violent Islamist fundamentalists claim to be fighting for their faith.

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January 13, 2007

Cattle mutilating space aliens go veggie

United States: Ah, the Weekly World News, such a wonderful publication bringing us exciting tales from all over the universe. Recently we were told of an interesting development of the cattle mutilation theme.

It was as if someone had taken a scalpel to the takeout box, Weald said of his mutilated order of steamed tofu. Neighboring containers of soy sauce and low-calorie dressing were unharassed.

High levels of radiation were found in the freezer, so the Weekly World News asked a suitably anonymous expert for their opinion.

However, NASA researchers believe that the tofu mutilators' origin may be otherworldly.

There have been increased reports of crop circles in soybean fields, and of UFO sightings near the star Vega, a NASA source revealed.

So there you have it - it was space vegans. Another story from a couple of weeks earlier, Health Food Stores Particularly Vulnerable to Alien Attack, supports this hypothesis.

Tofu Mutilations Blamed on Aliens from VegaWeekly World News, 4th December 2006 (via drieux).

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January 9, 2007

No matter how loud you shout it, it doesn't make it true

I was too busy reading Polly Toynbee's piece this morning to notice the other interesting article in today's Grauniad—a whine by Richard Buggs from "Truth" in Science promoting Creationism and pretending it's scientific. The fun is in the comments.

Intelligent design is a science, not a faithThe Guardian, 9th January 2007 (via Release the hounds! The fate of ID creationists in an educated worldPharyngula, 9th January 2007).

Posted by Feòrag in Science Fiction at 17:34 | View blog reactions

January 2, 2007

ID put in its place

England and Wales: At first the headline Creationism gains foothold in schools might seem a little disturbing, and "Truth" in Science seem strangely happy about what is proposed. They clearly are not able to read English, for the government is, indeed, examining how intelligent design can be discussed in schools, but only as part of the Religious Education syllabus.

The response from the Church of England is most interesting:

Opponents in the Church of England dismiss it as fantasy. Colin Slee, the Dean of Southwark, said: Everything needs to be explored, so that children can ask sensible questions. Though I see no huge difficulty with exploring intelligent design or creationism or flat Earth, they happen to be misguided, foolish and flying in the face of all evidence. I see no problem with Darwinian theory and Christian faith going hand in hand.

Canon Jeremy Davies, Precentor of Salisbury cathedral, said: I don't see why religious education should be a dumping ground for fantasies.

Because, my dear Canon, it fits in perfectly with all the other fantasies that fill the RE curriculum. Now, if someone could just teach the Times subs the difference between theories, hypotheses and religious fantasy...

Creationism gains foothold in schoolsThe Times, 31st December 2006 (thanks to Pastor Best OPI).

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December 19, 2006

Playing at science

New Scientist this week has a short article looking at creationists' latest tactics to convince lay people that their religion is really science. It mostly involves doing some work which is published in a peer-reviewed journal, and then (afterwards) claiming this is evidence in favour of a creator, even though all the results have shown nothing of the sort.

Fersht says he did not at first know about the Discovery Institute's support for ID. People do work in labs on external funding. Basically he [Axe] had a fellowship from what I thought was a bona fide research institute, he says. When another researcher in his lab pointed to the Discovery Institute's agenda and suggested that Axe be asked to leave, Fersht refused. I have always been fairly easy-going about people working in the lab. I said I was not going to throw him out. What he was doing was asking legitimate questions about how a protein folded.

In 2000 Axe published a paper about protein mutations (Journal of Molecular Biology, vol 301, p 585). The paper itself makes no mention of ID, but William Dembski, a philosopher and senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, cites it as peer-reviewed evidence for ID

By 2002 it was becoming clear that Axe and Fersht were in dispute with each other over the implications of work going on in Fersht's lab. At the time Fersht was preparing to publish a retraction of a paper in which he and three colleagues had claimed to have caused one enzyme to evolve the functionality of another (Nature, vol 403, p 617). Axe interpreted the fact that problems had surfaced with the result as evidence that there were problems with the theory of evolution. I described to Alan preliminary results of mine that seemed to challenge the ability of spontaneous mutations to produce proteins with fundamentally new structures, and I suggested that the struggling projects under his direction might actually be pointing to the same conclusion, Axe told me in an email. Fersht disagreed with the suggestion. The problem result didn't show anything of the sort, he says. It showed there were inadequacies in our knowledge.

An editorial in the same issue compared the creationists' use of science with that of another industry:

In using science to this end, the movement would be following a tactic previously employed by the tobacco and oil industries.

Intelligent design: The God LabNew Scientist, 15th December 2006; Editorial: It's still about religionNew Scientist, 16th December 2006.

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December 1, 2006

Little blue men

Scotland: Pictish symbol stones have been the subject of much debate over the years, with many hypotheses put forward to explain their unique iconography. Stan Hall has come up with possibly the most surprising one, suggesting that the Newton Stone in Aberdeenshire depicts a planetary catastrophe, and that something was around to witness it.

I recognised that on the Newton Stone it shows two planets breaking away from each other…The double disc and z-rod pictographs…record for posterity the actual birth of Jupiter from Saturn.

Hall believes that this break-up of Saturn — which must have been an extraordinary cosmic moment — has been recorded in the myths of all ancient people.

The Greeks talk of the night of the falling stars — all major civilisations have records of major interplanetary catastrophes. They're found in old nursery rhymes, which have found to be Sumerian, like 'Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle' which shows the planets rushing together.

But whilst Hall believes that our mytho-history records these turbulent disruptions, he is unsure whether humans would have been around to witness the events depicted. Which leads to Hall to question who first set down the information? Just who might have been around to see the birth of Jupiter?

If you are even slightly familiar with the contents of Chariots of the Gods, you can guess who.

Out of this world solution to a Scottish standing stoneThe Scotsman, 28th November 2006 (via Warren Ellis).

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November 27, 2006

Unintelligent Education

United Kingdom: A few weeks ago, we reported on a creationist group which had sent literature to British schools urging them to teach superstition instead of science. The Department for Education and Skills made a statement that neither intelligent design nor creationism are recognised scientific theories and they are not included in the science curriculum, and even the Prime Minister had something to say on the matter when he was interviewed by New Scientist:

[The teaching of creationism] can be hugely exaggerated. I've visited one of the schools in question and as far as I'm aware they are teaching the curriculum in a normal way. If I notice creationism becoming the mainstream of the education system in this country then that's the time to start worrying.

One correspondent wrote to point out that he was being somewhat complacent, and warned I'm sorry, Mr Blair. If we do reach that stage it will be too late, and another, James Williams Falmer of the University of Sussex School of Education, repeated the warning, with more detail:

Mr Blair's statement about his visit to the Vardy Foundation's King's Academy indicating that, as far as I'm aware they are teaching the curriculum in a normal way is surprising since Vardy schools have publicly accorded equal importance to creationism and theories of evolution. Indeed Stephen Layfield, the head of science at another Vardy academy - Emmanuel College Gateshead - backs lessons on creationism that contain factual errors and unscientific ideas on the relationships of living organisms. That is not at all what I would call normal science curriculum teaching. He is also a Director of the newly instigated Truth in Science movement, that appears to have sufficient funding and determination to distribute thinly disguised six-day creationist teaching materials to all secondary schools, masquerading as science lessons. They clearly intend to make creationist teaching in science mainstream.

So is the Prime Minister lying again, or merely mistaken? You see, it seems that some schools have not immediately binned the Truth in Science materials, and have even been using them!

Dozens of schools are using creationist teaching materials condemned by the government as not appropriate to support the science curriculum, the Guardian has learned.

The packs promote the creationist alternative to Darwinian evolution called intelligent design and the group behind them said 59 schools are using the information as a useful classroom resource...

...The DVDs were produced in America and feature figures linked to the Discovery Institute in Seattle, a thinktank that has made concerted efforts to promote ID and insert it into high school science lessons in the US. Last year a judge in Dover, Pennsylvania, ruled that ID could not be taught in science lessons. Intelligent design is a religious view, a mere relabelling of creationism, and not a scientific theory, he wrote in his judgment.

That judge is not the only one to see the materials as nothing more than religious propaganda.

But leading scientists argue that ID is not science because it invokes supernatural causes. "There is just no evidence for intelligent design, it is pure religion and has nothing to do with science. It should be banned from science classes," said Lewis Wolpert, a developmental biologist at the University of London and vice-president of the British Humanist Association.

And Phil Willis, a Liberal Democrat MP was also worried:

I am flabbergasted that any head of science would give credence to this creationist theory and be prepared to put it alongside Darwinism, he said. Treating it as an alternative centralist theory alongside Darwinism in science lessons is deeply worrying.

Except Intelligent Design is not a theory, which requires substantial evidence, testing and to be useful as a predictive tool—at most it might be an hypothesis (assuming there was any way of testing it). But even the Grauniad seems to have difficulty understanding that.

Revealed: rise of creationism in UK schoolsThe Guardian, 27th November 2006; Combating creationismNew Scientist Web Letters, 25th November 2006; Combating creationismNew Scientist Letters, 25th November 2006; Interview: Tony Blair on scienceNew Scientist, 4th November 2006.

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Posted by Feòrag in Science Fiction at 01:36 | View blog reactions

November 23, 2006

Now science is 'the occult', too

United Kingdom: It's long been noticed that censorware used to limit internet access seems to reflect the subjective opinions of (often religious) company owners, and their tendency to block sites on feminism, religions other than evangelical Christianity, and lgbt issues. Has a correspondent to New Scientist's Feedback column fallen victim to more religious censorship?

HAVE creationists seized control of the UK's net filters? After buying Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion, Eliot Attridge thought it worth visiting Dawkins's website from the school where he works.

Unfortunately, the school has installed a net filter called Netsweeper which, Attridge discovered, blocks access to www.richarddawkins.net on the grounds that it is an occult site.

Amazed - as Dawkins is possibly the man least likely to be a proponent of occultism - Attridge decided to check his rating with another net filter called Sonicwall. This described Dawkins's site as religious, a categorisation Dawkins would probably find even more disturbing than the occult one. It all looks very suspicious.

Feedback: Richard Dawkins and the occultNew Scientist, 25th November 2006.

September 25, 2006

Minitrue

United Kingdom: A group of creationists have set up a website to persuade parents to campaign for the teaching of astrology creationism instead of science in schools. And they were clearly inspired by George Orwell in the naming of their site: Truth in Science. Where 'truth' means 'lies', of course. The rhetoric is so familiar, it's surprising they managed to translate the spelling into British English.

The move is the latest attempt by opponents of Darwinian theory to 'teach the controversy’'by claiming equivalence for non-scientific theories of origins often derived from fundamentalist interpretations of Christian scripture.

Truth in Science asks, Are you aware of what your child is being taught, and have you ever discussed this with his or her science teacher? It says that a 'free resource pack' is being sent to school heads of science in September 2006.

I hope they've warned local councils to make an extra collection from paper recycling bins. Not all the resource pack is recyclable, so a correspondent for Ekklesia suggests some teachers may have already used the DVDs to scare birds from their vegetable patch.

Even though they have put together their proposal for the teaching of superstition at GCSE level, the Department of Education is unlikely to pay any attention:

But former UK schools minister Jacqui Smith has declared categorically that the government is against the teaching of creationism and ID in science lessons in British schools – a position reiterated by Alan Johnson.

The list of supporters includes a predictable collection of ministers of religion, but they also rank among the critics. Rev. Michael Roberts, an Anglican vicar and geologist, has been examining Truth in Science's site and is not impressed. Some of their directors are, well, a bit daft:

Another director is Steve Layfield, head of science at Emmanuel College, Gateshead, who fervently supports teaching creationism in schools, even suggesting that the Fall of Adam resulted in lunar craters and thus should be taught as science...

All the fifteen mentioned on the website are Young Earth Creationists, and connected variously with Biblical Creation Society, Answers in Genesis and other groups.

He did not have the space to demolish the website's claims in his short article for Ekklesia, so he provided a single example of the organisation mendacity:

There is an air of superficial plausibility about this, which is apparent in four lesson plans on Irreducible Complexity (Intelligent Design's catchphrase), the Fossil Record, Homology and Natural Selection. As a geologist I will only comment on the Fossil Record Lesson Plan, where Pupils are introduced to the three theories currently used to interpret the fossil record: Phyletic Gradualism, Punctuated Equilibrium and Phyletic Discontinuity. These three are, of course, Darwinian gradualism, PE and essentially Six Day Creation. Both scientists and theologians contend, with massive evidence that it is disingenuous to present the last as a scientific theory.

Roberts' concern is that the Church of England's inaction on this matter is making them look like idiots, and giving us excuses to take the piss:

The result will be to confuse students, to increase the antagonism of non-believers, and to raise opposition to faith schools of any kind...

Far too often the opponents of this pseudo-scientific nonsense are atheists, who then use this to ridicule faith. Will the church now wake up?

UK anti-evolutionists seek to lure parents with new websiteEkklesia, 25th September 2006; Creationism distorts truth in science, says vicarEkklesia, 25th September 2006.

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August 28, 2006

Vatican to retreat further into Dark Ages

Vatican City: Rumours suggest that the Pope wishes to firmly demonstrate that the Roman Catholic Church should not be taken seriously in the 21st century by endorsing pseudoscience.

There have been growing signs the Pope is considering aligning his church more closely with the theory of intelligent design taught in some US states.

It should be pointed out that Intelligent Design is not a theory, as its principal idea, that there is a creator, is not able to be falsified though empirical observation or experiment. Nor can Intelligent Design be used to predict future similar observations. As it cannot be tested, it's not even an hypothesis. No doubt they will also be endorsing astrology in future, as a valid alternative to godless astrophysics.

Pope prepares to embrace theory of intelligent design The Guardian, 28th August 2006.

Posted by Feòrag in Science Fiction at 10:24 | View blog reactions

August 22, 2006

A weird night?

England and Norway: Last night saw two separate aerial phenomena leading to UFO reports. The first was seen over Shropshire at around 9pm:

Two mystery UFOs were seen racing silently across the sky by amazed onlookers in Shropshire. The unusual bright lights were seen at about 9pm last night by people in two areas of the county.

Policeman Richard Emery saw the lights from Bayston Hill at 8.55pm. They appeared to be flying over the A49 in the Dorrington or Leebotwood area.

Security guard Robert Picken saw what he believes were the same lights above a wood just north of Craven Arms at 9pm.

Two hours later, a more dramatic phenomenon was seen over Norway (which is an hour ahead of UK time).

Observations were reported from Finnsnes to Trondheim. The main search and rescue station in northern Norway (Hovedredningssentralen Nord-Norge) reported that calls also came from crews on board ships off the northern coast, according to Dagbladet.

It was colored white, green and gold, and lights seemed to blow off it like it was a sparkler, said one observer, Andre Grønmo. It looked like it was a comet, and it was around four- to five times larger than a plane, and it flew much faster.

Slettli said others described a green, lighted ball with a tail that flew low. He said neither the Defense Department's radar station or its rocket facility at Andøya, nor the tower at Evenes airport, which serves Harstad and Narvik, had picked up the object. Slettli said calls came from people in Narvik, Vesterålen and Lofoten among other places, just before midnight on Monday.

A flurry of reports also came over the Coast Guard radio, and from an SAS flight and a Hurtigruten (Coastal Voyage) passenger ship.

Astronomers believe this sighting to have been of a meteorite, at least two of which have hit Norway recently. Knut Jørge Røed Ødegaard explained:

When they enter the earth's atmosphere and meet the air, they warm up and can light up in a second. This one's contents, the astronomer said, could explain why it seemed to change color as it flew through the night sky, which only recently has started getting dark again after the summer's midnight sun.

'UFO' frenzy over mystery lightsShropshire Star, 22nd August 2006; UFO lit up northern skiesAftenposten, 22nd August 2006.

Posted by Feòrag in Science Fiction at 13:28 | View blog reactions

March 22, 2006

Religious? Unhappy? www.prattle.net

United States: A religious organisation which makes the ridiculous claim that it is possible to convert from homosexuality to heterosexuality is upset that people naturally take the piss out of them. So terrified were Exodus International that the Liberty Counsel sent blogger Justin Watt a cease-and-desist letter asking him to remove an image parodying the organisation's snake oil advertisements.

Fortunately, the ACLU is on Watt's side, along with their lawyers, who argue that the parody image is constitutionally-protected free speech, and fair use.

[Straight? Unhappy? www.gay.com]The moment I saw the billboards last September, I was deeply offended. The inspiration for the parody I created came to me instantly. How would straight people feel if their very being, their sense of self was being so overtly disparaged? said Justin Watt, a blogger from Santa Rosa, California. Their response was to try to intimidate me into taking the image down. It’s troubling that an organization as big as Exodus would go to such great lengths to silence its critics.

The billboard, sponsored by ex-gay ministry Exodus International, read, Gay? Unhappy? www.exodus.to. After seeing a photo of the billboards online, Watt posted an altered version reading, Straight? Unhappy? www.gay.com on his website, Justinsomnia.org. Liberty Counsel, an anti-gay legal group representing Exodus, sent Watt a cease-and-desist letter earlier this month claiming the parody violated Exodus’s intellectual property rights and threatening legal action if the parodies were not removed. In a response sent today to Liberty Counsel, the ACLU’s cooperating attorney, Laurence Pulgram of Fenwick & West, LLP, called upon Exodus to drop its attempts to censor Watt, pointing to case law holding parodies to be Constitutionally protected speech.

Parodies like Justin’s are protected by the First Amendment as a form of political commentary. His point was to make a comment on a very important issue he has strongly held beliefs about: that Exodus’s tactics are wrong, that there’s nothing wrong with being gay, and that being gay doesn’t make you unhappy, said Ann Brick, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. Just as a group like Exodus has a Constitutionally protected right to say whatever it wants to about gay people, even when that view has been roundly condemned by every major psychological and medical organization, Justin has a right to use parody to voice his opposition.

ACLU Defends Blogger's Right to Parody "Ex-Gay" GroupACLU Press Release, 22nd March 2006.

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March 21, 2006

Archbishop: teach science, not religion, in science classes

England: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has strong words to say about teaching creationism in schools.

I think creationism is ... a kind of category mistake, as if the Bible were a theory like other theories ... if creationism is presented as a stark alternative theory alongside other theories I think there's just been a jarring of categories ... My worry is creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it, he said.

In the interview at Lambeth Palace, Dr. Willams also criticised Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, accused of inciting violence against Muslims.

Archbishop: stop teaching creationismThe Guardian, 21st March 2006.

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March 13, 2006

Arrrrggghhh!

England and Wales: Regular commenter G. Tingey managed to contact the Prattle Towers Temporary Irish Encampment with news from home. The message consisted of the word Arrrrggghhh! and a link to this story: Creationism to be taught on GCSE science syllabusThe Times, 10th March 2006.

February 5, 2006

Where's ET?

You know, you might be wandering down the street, and you can't be sure, but you think there might be aliens in the area. Well, you can now clarify the matter with help from India Daily's simple experiment to find out if an extraterrestrial UFO is in your vicinity .

If you really want to know if an extraterrestrial UFO is really near you, look at the animals and yourself. It is now scientifically proven that super high intensity of electromagnetic flux makes all living beings depressed. Our living soul is electromagnetic energy and it cannot tolerate an influence of an external very high intensity of electromagnetic flux that is uncontrolled by our soul. So all living beings become depressed and the thinking process gets difficult in the presence of extraterrestrial UFOs. When you find all animals are lethargic and you also feel the same, the possibilities are very high that one or more UFOs are near by.

A simple experiment to find out if an extraterrestrial UFO is in your vicinity India Daily, 5th February 2006.

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December 20, 2005

Pennsylvania Judge Boots ID Out

In a delightful example of common sense, Judge John Jones of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled that intelligent design — which bills itself as a scientific theory and states that life shows signs of being the work of an intelligent designer — is in fact reworked creationism.

The decision comes after 11 parents sued the Dover High School Board of Education for requiring that biology students be read a statement that cast doubt on evolution and endorsed intelligent design. Eight of the nine school board members were voted out of office in November, but the case continued in the court.

In his decision, Jones systematically dismantled the arguments of the proponents of intelligent design. Jones said that the history of intelligent design shows that it is essentially creationism with explicit references to God and the Bible removed. As such, it is primarily a religious theory, not a scientific one, and cannot be taught in US public schools, which are prevented from promoting religion.

Jones also said that language in the school board statement that evolution is only a theory is misleading. It confuses the scientific and colloquial meanings of theory. And by singling out evolution from all other scientific theories it suggests that there is some special doubt about the truth of evolution.

The judge stated that intelligent design cannot be considered science for a number of reasons. By depending on a supernatural cause it violates the basic ground rules of science that have been in place since the 16th century.

He also found that intelligent design relies on the false dualism that if evolution can be disproven, then intelligent design is proven. In any case, he found that intelligent design's criticisms of evolution have been largely refuted.

I'm deeply amused by the wingnuts who are pimping intelligent design as a valid scientific theory, when past attacks on the theory of evolution have been over their misunderstood use of the word theory in the first place. Perhaps this whole mess could have been avoided if somebody just handed the idiots a dictionary. Oh, that's right, they aren't permitted to think or learn for themselves.

Judge rules against 'intelligent design' in classNew Scientist, 20th December 2005.

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November 20, 2005

Robertson Threatens Pennsylvanian Town With Disaster

United States: The good citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania know stupidity when they see it. After all, these are the people who booted out their moronic school board when the idiots went all swoony over creationism. But while the rest of the world is applauding the town's good sense, I suspect that no one is surprised to hear that Pat Robertson is calling down a hail of toads and spanners. Or whatever it is that loony fundie psychopaths threaten the intelligent with when they throw a hissy fit.

I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city, Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, The 700 Club.

And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there, he said.

And people wonder why church attendances are falling.

Robertson warns Pennsylvania voters of God's wrath - Reuters, 10th November 2005 (via Warren Ellis).

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October 25, 2005

Space aliens are fag hags

United States/United Kingdom: Singer Robbie Williams believes that San Francisco is under the special protection of extraterrestrials.

The pop heartthrob has revealed he used to have a recurring dream that the US city, which has a history of devastating earthquakes, was being destroyed and he had to save it, according to entertainment portal femalfirst.

Robbie has now confessed the premonitions have stopped and he has been told that extra-terrestrials prevented the potentially fatal disaster.

He told Britain's Times 2 magazine: Latest news about San Fran is aliens fixed it. That's seriously what I heard - they fixed the fault.

Robbie Williams' alien savioursNew Kerala, 25th October 2005.

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October 23, 2005

Anti-Alien Device Found in Home

United States: Moving is a stressful business. Finding that the previous tenants of your new home left something behind can make it even more stressful. Usually that little something extra comes in the form of hidden red wine strains on the carpets and an oven with an inch thick layer or grease and scudge. For new tenants in Iowa, the abandoned item was a device designed to scare off aliens living underground.

Continue reading "Anti-Alien Device Found in Home"

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Posted by Red Wolf in Science Fiction at 01:32 | View blog reactions

September 19, 2005

The space aliens did it

India Daily's technology section is a remarkable source of interesting information on UFOs, free energy, weather manipulation and other unusual topics so, naturally, I was drawn to it to see if they had any insights relevant to The Great Hurricane Katrina Conspiracy List. Strangely, they haven't, but I did learn of exciting evidence supporting a 'theory' that the earth, and the life upon it, were designed by space aliens. It seems that this planet is a perfect dynamo and that If Earth's dynamo fails, all life forms will die except some primitive ones. The dynamo was designed to support intelligent life forms in which life can recycle. Obviously, this situation could not arise by chance.

But what is amazing according to some scientists is that the dynamo of the earth is just perfect — a total marvel of engineering in terrestrial standard. That is the kind of technology perfection you can expect from a type III or type IV alien civilization.

Evidence for deliberate design arises from the delicacy of the dynamo's power output and long-term stability. If Earth's dynamo were just a little weaker, the magnetic field it generates would be inadequate to shield life. If it were much stronger, it would cause deadly magnetic storms...

...The dynamo of the earth is so perfect that it is a real engineering and technological marvel. It seems the dynamo is custom tailored to support intelligent life on the earth while rest of the solar system and perhaps the nearest vicinities in the universe are total wacky places for intelligent life to prosper.

It is perhaps designed, built, monitored and maintained by a type III or type IV civilization to recycle ZPEs or Zero Point Energies — the life forms from the Hyperspace.

With this level of proof, and in the interests of 'teaching this controversy', surely this must be given equal time in US science curricula, alongside Intelligent Design and Flying Spaghetti Monsterism?

The perfect dynamo of the earth provides further confirmation that it is made to support intelligent life or ZPEs by advanced extraterrestrial alien civilizationIndia Daily, 31st August 2005.

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July 23, 2005

UFOs, Coming Soon to a State Near You

United States: Seeing as his recent attempt to call down UFOs on Las Vegas went so swimmingly, Prophet Yahweh, Seer of Yahweh has issued a new proclamation:

Beginning August 7, 2005, Prophet Yahweh, Seer of Yahweh, will start his 50 State UFO Summoning Tour 2005. During this time, UFOs will appear on Prophet's signal for radio or television news and talk shows to film and photograph.

The Prophet got a bit miffed at the local Las Vegas media outlets taking the Michael and is doing the national tour with UFOs on command for all. Yay!

Continue reading "UFOs, Coming Soon to a State Near You"

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May 23, 2005

HUD

United States: Prophet Yahweh, Seer of Yahweh has issued an announcement that will interest all fans of bad science fiction:

For only 45 days, starting June 1st until July 15, 2005, Prophet Yahweh, Seer of Yahweh, will be calling down UFOs and spaceships for the news media to film and photograph. During this time, a spaceship will descend, on Prophet's signal, and sit in the skies over Las Vegas, Nevada for almost two days.

The Prophet claims a talent for this kind of thing and, if you are not sure what to look for, the press release helpfully explains more:

There is a difference between UFOs and spaceships. UFOs are usually small flying objects: glowing orbs, metallic spheres, satellite-type flying machines, etc. And, their flight patterns suggest that they are not of this world.

But, spaceships are large futuristic vehicles that are clearly designed to carry passengers in like you see in the movies.

And his promises are very precise.

Prophet is in direct telephatic contact with his space being friends. They have revealed that they will send UFOs as soon as Prophet starts asking for them to appear.

Also, before the 45 day summoning period has ended, a spaceship will descend and sit in the skies over Las Vegas on Prophet's signal.

The spaceship will hover in the sky, not far from Nellis Air Force base, for almost two days. All Las Vegans will be able to see it, day and night, before it goes back up into space.

MEDIA ALERT: Spaceships Will Appear Over Las Vegas On My Signal - Prophet Yahweh press release via PRWeb, 23rd May 2005.

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April 19, 2005

Tsunami caused by Aliens (again)

The Great Tsunami Conspiracy List continues to grow. The latest addition concerns the shocking discovery that it was not a natural disaster!

Geologists and Physicists are perplexed at some new data analysis of a phenomenon that is well known for many decades. For the first time it is shedding some light on a the fact that many UFO researchers believed for many years -- Extraterrestrial UFOs control the tectonic movements and the resultant earthquakes as well as resulting Tsunamis.

The phenomenon in question is that of "earthquake lights" - strange lights which are sometimes witnessed before major tectonic movements.

There are some beliefs that these earthquake lights are created by earth's electromagnetic flux during such high release of energy during tectonic movements and earthquakes. Researchers now have found that these lights do not occur in all tectonic tremors. The lights are seen only in non-harmonic tremors (signifies non volcanic tremors) and in many cases they are just not there if the length of the tremor period is considerably less.

The new findings point towards artificial electromagnetic flux trying to create or more like prevent large tectonic movements. In many cases the lights point towards a focused concentrated electromagnetic flux application on a specific spot to accelerate or prevent the tectonic movements.

The scientific evidences point towards extraterrestrial UFOs manipulating the tectonic plates through focused application of electromagnetic flux. Eventually in the next fifty to hundred years, some physicists believe that terrestrial technologies will also advance to control earthquakes and Tsunamis in a very similar way.

All perfectly logical.

Evidence of extraterrestrial UFOs controlling tectonic movements, earthquakes and Tsunamis through electromagnetic flux - India Daily, 18th April 2005.

Bampot tags: , .

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February 20, 2005

Aliens ban moon trips.

India: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced that it is to send an unmanned mission to the moon, rather than a crewed one as expected. Speculation is rife as to why this might be:

The sudden reverse turn in India's plan and action is interesting. According many international space research think tanks, American and Russians were told by the Extraterrestrial world body of the Universe that they should not send any human beings to moon. Many even go to the extent of suggesting that Apollo 11 never landed on the moon. Some have suggested that Apollo 11 did land on the moon only to find UFOs and other advanced civilizations using moon as a space station.

ISRO announcement provides some light on the fact that there were several reports in the media that UFOs and Extraterrestrial civilizations were contacting Indian Government. Several UFO sighting still continue in the Himalayas region. There are also reports of underground UFO bases in Indo-China border areas.

India announces no manned lunar mission -- like in Russia and America did Extraterrestrial UFOs tell India not to go to moon with humans on board? - India Daily, 19th February 2005.

February 3, 2005

A funny thing happened on the way home from the pub

United Kingdom: The new Freedom of Information Act is being used in an entirely predictable manner by the Independent--to obtain files relating to UFO sightings. Last year, the Ministry of Defence's UFO unit was contacted regarding 88 instances of someone seeing something they did not recognise in the sky:

A report from Devizes in Wiltshire on 24 September last year records an object that: Looked liked a big ball of fire coming down from the sky with a tail and sparks coming off the end of it. Another, from Somerset the week before, states: The object looked like a great bright light and was really intense, like a ball of fire coming down from the sky, rapidly moving towards the ground.

Although such reports might be discounted as meteor showers or other astronomical phenomena, other sightings are not so easy to dismiss. A report from Surrey on 20 May last year describes a UFO as having grooves and windows but no room for humans. Even the MoD inspector notes that the witness had seen the object so clearly.

Many of the other sightings refer to UFO's changing colour, speed and shape. The most common colours are yellow, orange or black.

In a moment of creative genius, the newspaper referred to the documents as X-files.

The truth is out there: declassified reports of UFO sightings reveal 88 sightings last year - The Independent, 3rd February 2005.

Posted by Feòrag in Forteana and Science Fiction at 18:09 | View blog reactions

February 1, 2005

Tsunami conspiracies run and run

The Great Tsunami Conspiracy List has been frequently updated since it was first posted, and the most recent additions required a whole new category: Future tsunamis in the making. You see, not only was the tsunami the work of evil governments, an experiment gone wrong or aliens, but they either plan to do it again, or their activities will inevitably lead to a repeat performance.

India Daily reports on two possible scenarios. Firstly, the aliens are working on sub-tectonic experiments in the Indian Ocean. Strong aftershocks and UFO sightings are evidence of this nefarious activity:

According to some experts, these are signs of possible experimentation with tectonic plates by some entity. People in Nicobar island complaints something is going on under the ocean -- deep underground -- many miles below the water surface.

The pattern of aftershocks is also strange. Normally on plotting the same they show a gradual decrease in the moving average of Richter scale reported. This time no pattern can be found. After one large aftershock, a considerable time lapses before the next one. It seems someone is controlling the after shocks and making sure plates are not over stressed.

And in addition, anecdotal evidence suggests that boats are mysteriously disappearing in the area:

A sailor in the Shipping Authority of India Limited who also sailed in transatlantic shipping routes says, this part of the Indian ocean resembles now Bermuda triangle region.

A week later, and another hypothesis emerges concerning the pattern of aftershocks: someone is building a tunnel under the Indian Ocean, towards the Himalayas. The method by which this has been determined is a little like that for finding ley lines.

When the epicenters of these quakes are joined with a straight line, it seems that the aftershock epicenter is moving along this line. The aftershocks are between 5.2 and 6.2 in Richter scale. After a series of aftershock there is approximately 78 hours of gap before the next series appears.

They do not indicate which map they used, or if the curvature of the Earth has been accounted for.

Red Wolf had better beware, for Sydney is due to be destroyed by earthquakes and tsunamis fifteen days ago.

UFO Sighting and Strange Signals reported again in Indian Ocean sub tectonic experiment? - India Daily, 24th January 2005; Eight more quakes in Andaman-Nicobar -- aftershock epicenters moving northwards -- someone building tectonic plate level tunnel towards Himalayas? - India Daily, 31st January 2005.

January 25, 2005

UFO flap caused by airliner

Japan: A number of residents rang the Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory to report a UFO in the sky. And what was it? an aircraft vapor trail that had been lit up by the late afternoon sun:

Observatory officials said vapor trails can suddenly be cut off due to the amount of moisture in the air, creating the appearance of a comet tail.

Fukuoka residents mistake vapor trail for UFO - Mainichi Shimbun, 24th January 2005.

January 11, 2005

Ignore those gods, it was aliens.

The Turkish press has a summary of conspiracy theories concerning the recent Tsumani. Take this one, recently published in India Daily (which seems to be going the Pravda route):

Recent alien contacts have been reported with the South Asian Governments especially India. UFO sightings have been rampant over the region affected, [Sudhir] Chadda wrote.

Some in Nicobar Island say that it was an experiment conducted by the alien extra-terrestrial entities to correct the wobbly rotation of the earth. And some of the Indian scientists are actually seeing that wobbly rotation of the earth has been corrected since the massive underwater earthquake and Tsunami.

And, according to an India Daily editorial, the aliens tried to warn people about this:

Was it a coincidence? Lots of people now from the Tsunami and earthquake hit areas are reporting about strange Unidentified Flying Objects they saw a few days before the mega quake and Tsunami. People in Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar Island as well as many in Indonesia were reporting for some time about strange flying objects in the sky

Conspiracy theorists see dark forces behind tsunami disaster - Turkish Press, 6th January 2005 (or 11th January 2005); An enormous number of UFO sightings before Tsunami and earthquake in South and Southeast Asia – were they trying to warn? - India Daily, 31st December 2004 (check out that site's 'technology' section for more tsumani conspiracies).

Posted by Feòrag in Conspiracies and Science Fiction at 19:02 | View blog reactions

December 30, 2004

Little Green Men bored with Iraq, move next door.

Russian and Iran: The Russian and Iranian authorities have agreed to start a joint study of UFOs after weird lights were spotted over Iran.

This comes in the wake of a skywatching mania that struck Iran amid state-media reports of sightings of flying objects near Iran’s nuclear installations.

The Resalat news agency reported shining objects in the sky near Natanz, where Iran's uranium-enrichment plant is situated. One of those objects is said to have exploded, prompting panic in the region.

Tehran's air force was ordered to shoot down any unknown or suspicious flying objects in its airspace, amid security concerns for its nuclear plants.

Flights of unknown objects in the country's airspace have increased in recent weeks... [they] have been seen over Bushehr and Isfahan provinces, the Resalat daily reported. Nuclear facilities are located in both provinces.

Russia Joins Iran in Fighting UFO's - MosNews, 30th December 2004.

Posted by Feòrag in Forteana and Science Fiction at 21:40 | View blog reactions

December 14, 2004

'UFO' explodes over city.

China: An Unidentified Flying Object has caused a bit of a flap in Lanzhou, when it passed over the city and appeared to explode in the suburbs.

The unusual sighting of two bright trails of light, reported by several witnesses, took place last Saturday shortly before midnight, the China Times reported.

Police, working on the theory that it was a meteorite, went to investigate the matter, but as of today they had found no evidence of what caused the nightly phenomenon, an officer told AFP by telephone.

UFO passes over China, explodes in suburbs - China Daily, 14th December 2004.

Posted by Feòrag in Forteana and Science Fiction at 08:12 | View blog reactions

October 9, 2004

Another UFO hoax comes to light

England: An artist has revealed that his well-known UFO photo was nothing but a schoolboy prank.

In February 1954 a picture resembling a UFO floating over Coniston, taken by 14-year-old Stephen Darbishire, from Torver, caused a national sensation.

The teenager claimed he had been on the fells with his cousin when he photographed a UFO.

Now Mr Darbishire, a 63-year-old well-known South Lakeland artist, says it was all a hoax.

At the time, confronted by the national media, he was too terrified and went along with the deception.

Hoax UFO sighting to be recreated for art - North West Evening Mail, 9th October 2004.

Posted by Feòrag in Forteana and Science Fiction at 20:31 | View blog reactions

August 12, 2004

A device which is exploding

Siberia: Researchers in Siberia claim to have found the cause of the Tunguska explosion back in 1908 - an alien spacecraft!

The press service of the Evenkiya republic administration reported the expedition worked in the western part of the region in the summer of the current year. The mission's itinerary was based on the results of the space footage analysis. Explorers believe they have discovered blocks of an extraterrestrial technical device, which crashed down on Earth on June 30th, 1908. In addition, expedition members found the so-called deer - the stone, which Tunguska eyewitnesses repeatedly mentioned in their stories. Explorers delivered a 50-kilogram piece of the stone to the city of Krasnoyarsk to be studied and analyzed.

Needless to say, the press has paid considerably less attention to this large lump of rock.

Explorers find UFO fragments in Tunguska meteorite area - Pravda, 10th August 2004.

October 19, 2003

Slow news day

Tanzania: There mustn't be much going on at the moment, as the Sunday Observer has had to go out and ask a few people what they think of astrology to fill space. Having already dismissed those who think it superstious as extremists, Patrick Kisembo seeks out some more reasonable views:

Hashim Madege of Kunduchi-Mtongani doubted whether astrology was acceptable in religious circles. In his view, astrology was a form of devil worship.

He also noted that the problem is that the practice is much carried in towns and cities but not in the villages.

He said the practice was bad because it killed the creative spirit of the believers, who surrendered their whole lives to stars.

But what do the astrologers think?

A popular astrologer, Sheikh Yahya Hussein, was reluctant to comment much on the subject when contacted by this reporter, arguing that it was an old debate dating back to the 1960s.

On why predictions differed from one astrology to another, he said that Those (other astrologers) are small kids with whom it was beneath his integrity to enter into an argument.

Astrology is controversialSunday Observer, 19th October 2003.

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April 20, 2003

Dictionary corner

This week's New Scientist letters page features a useful note from Brian Myres which explains the difference between a hypothesis and a theory, and observes how fundies take advantage of people not having paid attention when it was explained to them in school. The letter was inspired by the fact that the writer of a recent article hadn't been listening either, and neither had the sub-editors:

He tells us that Adam Heller proposed a radical theory, when all Heller is doing is hypothesising. He has no data. Yet scientific theories must have data to support them. Lawton then goes on to say that there's reason to believe this isn't just a clever theory. Now there's grist for Jerry Falwell's mill. Falwell is the minister who travels the US telling everyone that evolution is just a theory, and Lawton has now validated that stupid statement.

Theories aren't guesses - New Scientist, 19th April 2003.

Posted by Feòrag in Jerry Falwell and Science Fiction and Whatever at 11:45 | View blog reactions

March 21, 2002

Cowards

Google has caved in to a threatening letter from the "Church" of Scientology, the dangerous psychological cult founded by hack science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. The cultists used the DMCA as a stick to force the search engine to remove links to sites critical of their business. Here's the site that upset them the most: Operation Clambake - the fight against the Church of Scientology on the Net. But if linking to this site contravened the CoS's copyright, then linking to the organisation's own site certainly does. Will Google remove links to official Scientology sites, just to be sure?