The Millenium Project
"And I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it, And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it"

We all know that "millennium" comes from the Latin words "mille" and "annus" and means a thousand years. The word "millenium" comes from the Latin words "mille" and "anus" and means something else. This web site is devoted to the millenium of sites which don't deserve a place on the Web. We are not putting them on a pedestal - we are offering them a stool.

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August 30, 2014

Anti-vaxxers celebrate (30/8/2014)

Because people showed concern when I announced that I had been injured, I published a photograph on Facebook showing what my face looked like. It took almost no time for this to appear.

The thing posting it, "No Vaccines Australia", is of course anonymous, and it was posted in a forum where I am banned from responding. (Note: Jo, Meleese, and Fiona are real-life friends of mine.) Why I should be "Not so Skeptic now" is a mystery, and when asked why it had posted this idiocy it replied "Because I'm a fun guy".

This is a perfect example of the respect that anti-vaccination liars have for anyone who doesn't subscribe to their insane agenda. They don't care how many children die from preventable diseases, or how many are disabled by the diseases, they don't care if their children infect others, they don't care how many women die from cervical cancer, they don't care about people lying in order to get government benefits to which they are not entitled, they don't care how many people they might offend by comparing vaccine researchers to psychopaths like Mengele (yes, Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination(-skeptics) Network did that just this week). Why should anyone be surprised that they think someone being injured is a joke?

And in case you think I'm exaggerating about the Mengele comparison, that nobody could be that insensitive -

The words quoted were written in 1967 and refer to research done years before that. It is because of this attitude that the ethical boundaries around clinical trials are much stronger now than they were five decades ago. But why would you expect anti-vaccination liars to recognise that anything has changed? And remember that they are constantly clamouring for vaccines to be tested in double-blinded placebo controlled trials, where all subjects would be exposed to infectious disease but only some would be give the real vaccine. If they are going to quote Rivers but want vaccines tested to the standards of the Tuskegee and Guatemala syphilis trials it simply indicates the extent of the hypocrisy that they apply to their attitude towards human life.

The more I see of anti-vaccination liars, the more I'm convinced that they want to see more dead children. And people who think like that should be locked away for the protection of society.

See more Abstruse Goose here

I review a book (30/8/2014)

A Little History of PhilosophyI've been reading and writing and talking a lot about philosophy lately. (Examples - writing for Australasian Science, speaking at Philo Agora, speaking at SkeptiCamp) One thing I have noticed is that philosophy is very much misunderstood so I've been looking out for books which provide an introduction to the breadth of philosophy without requiring the reader to spend some years at university enmeshed in difficult discussions about difficult topics.

One book that I have found useful for years is Mel Thompson's  from 2003. This covers the major topic areas and because it's part of the Teach Yourself series it is designed for beginners and leads you through the learning process.

My local council public library has a section labelled "Philosophy" and I always check it whenever I'm passing. Unfortunately the Dewey classification for the subject seems broad enough to include all sorts of woowoo nonsense and self-help books plus a smattering of weird religions, but there is the occasional nugget among the dross. One such book is by Nigel Warburton. I've written a review of this book and you can read it here.

To make life a little easier I've added a Philosophy section to the Millenium Bookshop. Not all books listed are specifically about philosophy, but they all touch on certain aspects of it.

Speaking of philosophy ... (30/8/2014)

See more from Judy Horacek here

I write a book (30/8/2014)

Continuing the process of releasing books written by me, the third one this year is now available. It's a travelogue, telling the story of my trip to speak at The Amazing Meeting in 2004.

In January 2004, at the invitation of Mr James Randi, I was a speaker at The Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas. At the time I was Vice President of Australian Skeptics and I went as a representative of that organisation, accompanied by the other Vice President. Also in the party was SkeptoBear, a bear of little repute, who insisted on coming as a neutral observer. This is the story of the trip around the bottom left-hand corner of the USA and the top left-hand corner of Mexico.

Get your copy from Amazon.

August 9, 2014

God's wrath (9/8/2014)

While attending The Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas in 2004 I suffered an injury to my foot. A different injury prevented me from participating in the 2011 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney with my friends from Sydney Gay Atheists (I am an atheist who lives in Sydney, so two out of three ain't bad). At the Global Atheist Conference in 2012 I suffered a recurrence of the injury from 2004, and I broke my ankle coming home from SkeptiCamp in Sydney later that year. When I spoke at Skeptics in the Pub earlier this year a glass of beer was spilled on my laptop computer, killing it for all eternity.

On Thursday. August 7 this year, I attended Skeptics in the Pub in Sydney and mentioned this sequence of coincidences that suggested that God did not approve of me going to such events.

On the way home He decided to escalate the displeasure and flung me with some force into the steps of the car park where I had left my car. Following a trip in an ambulance I spent the remainder of the night in hospital, where various people did tests to see if I had suffered concussion or maybe even more serious brain damage. Right now I still have headaches, my left eye is very black from the outside and presenting blurred images from the inside, my teeth on that side of my head hurt, my left wrist doesn't like going through its usual range of motion, and I have sore fingers on my right hand (not helped by the torn nail on my thumb).

I will be talking to more doctors in the next few days, but I suspect (and hope) that everything will work itself out without any major drama. Luckily, my phrenologist keeps good records so he will be able to tell if any of the bumps on my head have been rearranged.

Normal transmission will be resumed shortly.

July 26, 2014

He talks to people (26/7/2014)

On Saturday, July 19, I spoke at SkeptiCamp in Brisbane. I have to congratulate the organisers for putting on one of the best conferences of any kind I have ever been to. The model for SkeptiCamp was changed to that of a conventional conference, with a published list of speakers and a timetable, and reservations were taken for attendance. The $0 entry fee, the free food, and the cupcake competition were retained. Special mention has to go to the way the audio-visual matters worked. All speakers were set up with a lapel microphone well before going on stage so there was no microphone tapping and "Is this thing on?", all PowerPoint shows were loaded onto a single computer before the event so we were spared the tedium of watching speakers trying to get their own laptops to communicate with the world, and everything worked just as it should. I have been to some very expensive conferences which could learn a lot from how this one was run. I could thank individual people but I would inevitably leave someone out, so I'll just send a generic "Thank you, and congratulations".

I only had two problems - I spoke just before the meal break and by the time I disentangled myself from people who wanted to continue the Q&A almost all the food had been eaten. There was however a pristine bowl of crunchy things, still with its clingwrap covering, that had obviously not appealed to anyone. Perhaps it was because of the sign saying "Gluten free and vegan". The nuggety things were delicious (and not just because I was hungry) but don't tell anyone about the sign or my credibility will be in smithereens. (Please note that I have never said that gluten-free or vegetable-only food tastes bad. I just object to faddishness, self-diagnosis of disease, and high-horse and self-congratulatory justification.) The second problem was the volume of the band in the after-event Skeptics in the Pub. They were reasonably good musicians and played songs that might have only been familiar to old folk like me (I did point out to someone that the last time I had heard "Folsom Prison Blues" in a pub I was one of the people singing it), but it was a pub, not a football stadium. Their rendition of "Khe San" was pretty ordinary, but most singers aren't Jimmy Barnes and anyway it was late so the crowd were either not paying attention or were deaf.

The next day several of us agreed to meet at the Coffee Club only to find that there are several such establishments within a small radius in Brisbane. This wasn't so much a problem as a confusing and amusing adventure. Perhaps we should have arranged to meet at the coffee shop across the street from the hall where the conference was held. There was plenty of parking available, if you had a Range Rover (and no, I'm not going to repeat the old riddle about the difference between a Range Rover and an echidna). Interstate visitors have been informed that when they come to Sydney in November for the Australian Skeptics' convention we will all be getting together at McDonalds.

So what did I talk about? Continuing my tradition of delivering something at SkeptiCamp that I haven't talked about before I spoke about the impact of moral philosophy on the practice of science. You can read it here, but unfortunately you won't be able to see my slideshow or my joke about being a journalist, or to hear Depeche Mode deliver a rebuke to some foolish scientists.

Some prominent scientists such as Stephen Hawking, Lawrence Krauss, and Neil deGrasse Tyson have recently declared that philosophy is dead and provides nothing that scientists need to know or worry about.

One problem is that people misunderstand and misquote philosophers. I used the expression "philosophy is dead", which might remind people of Nietzsche saying "God is dead". This was not a statement of atheism, it was a statement about morality – as people tended to base moral decisions on the teachings of religions, would it be a problem to establish a moral framework in the absence of directions from some assumed deity? (The old "Atheists have no moral compass" and "Good without God" arguments.) Karl Popper didn’t say that scientists spend their time trying to falsify what everyone else was doing, he was talking about the demarcation between science and pseudoscience. Thomas Kuhn didn’t say that science progresses like a form of punctuated equilibrium with revolutions occasionally throwing over the consensus and totally new theories replacing old ones, he was saying that even well-accepted theories might not explain everything and there can come a time when the unexplained anomalies reach a mass where a different explanation is required.

Read the rest here

See more Close to Home here

He writes stuff for people (26/7/2014)

I was going to condense my SkeptiCamp talk down to the 800 word limit for my next column in Australasian Science, but apart from the problem of cutting it in half and still making sense I realised that I had written about a similar topic earlier this year. The drawing board was dusted off and I wrote about something else entirely. One unfortunate aspect of the change of plan was that I was originally going to write it in Brisbane where the weather was perfect for getting into Naked Skeptic character but instead I had to do the work back here in the Blue Mountains where it's cold enough to make jokes about freezing things off billiard tables. It won't be in the newsstands for a few weeks but you can read a sneak preview here.

I’ve written here before about the hijacking of the word "skeptic" by people who should properly be called "deniers". It was even adopted by an anti-vaccination organisation when they were forced to change their deceptive name. They, like climate change deniers, insist that they are the true skeptics because they question the orthodoxy that is supported and promoted by the majority of scientists. They love to point out that science isn’t a democracy or a popular vote, that Ignaz Semmelweis was ignored, and that "they all laughed at Galileo". None of this changes the fact that they are misusing the word "skeptic".

Read the rest here

My car has been fixed (26/7/2014)

See more of Cectic here.

He gets ready to talk to more people (26/7/2014)

Radio RatbagsI'm back in the studio working on the resurrection of the Radio Ratbags podcast, because the world does not have enough podcasts. Relaunch date will be announced soon. In the meantime I've got to relearn the recording and editing software (thank you, Adobe, for your vertical learning curve), test and calibrate a couple of microphones, build a new web site, plan out some interviews and topics, and generally do all the other stuff that listeners probably think happens by magic.

See more of Freethunk here

Look who's coming to town (26/7/2014)

James Randi will be making what could possibly be his last visit to Australia in December 2014 for screenings of the film "An Honest Liar". Following the film there will be an interview and a Q&A session. Dates are:

  • Wednesday 3 December – Perth | Octagon Theatre
  • Thursday 4 December – Brisbane | BCEC
  • Friday 5 December – Melbourne | MCEC
  • Sunday 7 December – Sydney | Enmore Theatre

See more at:

Here's a trailer of the film.

You can click here to see everything that has previously appeared on the front page.

Book of the Week

200% Of Nothing : An Eye-Opening Tour Through the Twists and Turns of Math Abuse and Innumeracy 200% Of Nothing : An Eye-Opening Tour Through the Twists and Turns of Math Abuse and Innumeracy by A. K. Dewdney. One of the common threads through racism, medical quackery and pseudoscience is the abuse of statistics. Sometimes this is deliberate, sometimes it is just an indication of the ignorance of the speaker, but always it is a means of confusing or deceiving the listener. This guide to the absurdities of some mathematical claims helps to level the playing field.

New and featured books

Here are the thousand links to places I don't like
The Stars
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Last updated August 31, 2014
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