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October 3, 2009

I HATE JUNKIES!!! (3/10/2009)
Plans for writing lots of stuff about homeopaths claiming that research which shows no effect for homeopathy demonstrates that homeopathy works, well-known anti-vaccination liars being cited as evidence against the concept of shaken baby syndrome and the vile, disgusting way that anti-vaccination filth has exploited the death of a child have had to be put off for a few days while we wait for the forensic people to come to collect fingerprints and take photos following the burglary at the house we are renting for a short holiday. The only things stolen seem to be a couple of mobile phones and two credit cards, but the inconvenience and waste of time are considerable. Did I mention that I hate drug addicts who steal stuff? As I am a charitable, forgiving and tolerant person I hope that the next needle used by the thief is absolutely saturated with HIV and several varieties of hepatitis as well as something that causes immediate, rapid and painful necrosis of the injection site. Just for a start ...


That HCCC complaint (3/10/2009)
I have been asked how the complaint to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission about the Australian Vaccination Network is progressing. The situation is that the HCCC have agreed that investigation of AVN falls within the HCCC charter. This doesn't mean that anything has been done yet, just that something might happen in the future. AVN is of course squealing like a vaccinated baby about the attack on their freedom of speech and making specious claims about witchhunts and the evil conspiracy against them, but I'm holding off buying the Moët and sending out the invitations to the celebratory party until I hear the shovelfuls of dirt hitting the top of AVN's coffin.


A chiroquactor quacks (3/10/2009)
Speaking of the HCCC, a chiropractor has lodged a complaint to the organisation about Australian Skeptics. Before going any further about the nature of the complaint I should point out that this is an Atlas chiropractor. That means that he apparently believes that it isn't the whole spine that causes and cures all dis-ease but just the ball-joint where the spine connects to the skull. It seems that adjusting this joint is all that is necessary to fix everything that ails you. It is worth noting that a really skilled hangman can't break this joint, no matter how carefully he constructs the knot and calculates the drop for the executee. Somehow, however, a chiropractor can get his fingers and thumbs in there. Put another way, Atlas chiropractors are on the fringe of the fringe. This one also likes to be called "Dr" as if this will make him into a real medical practitioner.

The complaint is apparently founded on the idea that Australian Skeptics are offering medical advice, The basis for this is that Simon Singh's article from The Guardian is reproduced on their web site. (It's here too!) This is the article that had the British Chiropractic Association reaching for lawyers when the "science" behind their treatments was questioned. Think about the mental processes behind the complaint to HCCC - someone reproduces a newspaper article critical of some form of quackery and this is seen as offering medical advice. If I didn't already suspect (from the chiropractor's advocacy of the Atlas idiocy) that the complainant had a poor grasp on reality then the wording of the complaint would convince me.

I will leave it up to the committee of Australian Skeptics to respond to the chiropractor and the HCCC, but here is my Kind and Gentle email to him:

Dear Mr Ierano,

I have been informed that you have lodged a complaint with the Health Care Complaints Commission over Australian Skeptics republishing Simon Singh's article from The Guardian about the lack of a scientific basis for chiropractic, although why you would think that the words of a British journalist published in a British newspaper would be of any interest to the HCCC eludes me.

I have also republished the article, and you can read it at http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/history/2009/07july.htm#28chiro. I assume that you will want to file a complaint with the HCCC about me as well, and I would appreciate it if you could tell me when this is likely to happen so that I can block out the time needed to write my response. I will be busy over the next few weeks so advance notice would be appreciated. One of the things that I will probably be doing to keep me busy is lodging a complaint to the HCCC about a chiropractor who has the clear and ludicrous implication on his web site that chiropractic can be useful in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis. Oh, that's right - that would be you.

As is my normal policy this email and any response from you will be displayed on my web site at http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/, where, by coincidence, both of your web sites have been listed since 2001.


Bloggin' it (3/10/2009)
By a remarkable coincidence my latest article for the Yahoo!7 News blog was about atheism and it Yahoo! 7appeared on International Blasphemy Day. In it I specifically asked people not to tell me that Hitler was an atheist and that this is why he did all those awful things. In the true spirit of true believers there was a reflex action where people told me that Hitler was an atheist. One person even went as far as to tell me that Hitler's conversion from Catholicism to evil genocidist was a direct result of his reading Darwin's Origin of Species. Of course there were the usual "atheists have no morals because they come from nothing" stuff. The responses weren't as unhinged as the 911Truthers' reaction to my previous article, but there was certainly some indication of not reading what I had said but having something to say about it anyway. You can see the article and the responses here.


Jesus and Mo
See more Jesus and Mo here


Illinkeracy (3/10/2009)
I just did my monthly check for broken links on this site. I would like to thank CSI (not the TV show - the old CSICOP) for reorganising their site so that all my links to there were broken. I would also like to congratulate them for the search facility on their site which gave me very many irrelevant suggestions whenever I tried to find the new locations of what I had been linking to. (I particularly like the way that if you mistype a search term, "ohn edward" instead of "john edward" for example, the whole thing disappears if you try to correct the error and you have to type it all again.) It also seems that there are now parts of the site that visitors have to pay to see. Good work, CSI. I like progress.

Wikipedia gets a special mention for somehow blocking the system I use for link checking and returning a "403 Forbidden" response to every test. This has been fixed by the simple process of replacing all links to Wikipedia definitions with links to other sites. Places like Robert Carroll's Skeptic's Dictionary are possibly more reliable anyway. At least I know who wrote the definitions.


An email (3/10/2009)
This just in. You can see more about the almost unbelievable CRA scam here.

From: "hdueck"
Subject: Fw: science?
Date: Fri, 02 Oct 2009 21:34:54 -0700

Hi ! To whom it may concern
Personnally I have excellent results from being treated by a cra practitioner. I am not a scientist, but when I read from 2 mds comments about science in medicin, than I wonder, what drives their different opinions? Where lies the reason? Is it just open mindednes? When someone talks about alternative (natural medicin) being unscientific, what does he mean? Isnt scientific meaning knoledge. As a layperson do I need a medical doctor to tell me that drinking clean water is better than dirty water. has it not been proven ( scientifically) ? Just imagin we would need an md to give a prescription for water, than coca cola would make it for us and pfizer would clean it for us. Makes sense? No. But that is as senseles as I see a discussion about alternative MEDICIN not being scientific. Thank you


I'm having a few days off work (3/10/2009)

A holiday!!!
See more PhD Comics here

October 14, 2009

Simon Singh wins leave to appeal in BCA libel case (14/10/2009)
Here is the latest chapter in the battle between journalist Simon Singh and the British Chiropractic Association. See my original comments about this here, and the words which so upset the Bogus, sorry, British Chiropractic Association here.

A court ruling today affirmed science writer Simon Singh’s right to free expression. It grants him leave to appeal Mr Justice Eady’s ruling against him in a libel action brought by the British Chiropractic Association, reports Padraig Reidy Popular science writer Simon Singh has been granted leave to appeal in the libel action brought against him by the British Chiropractic Association.

In a scathing rebuttal of Mr Justice Eady’s previous judgement in the case, Lord Justice Laws said Eady had risked swinging the balance of rights too far in favour of the right to reputation and against the right to free expression. Lord Justice Laws described Eady’s judgement, centred on Singh’s use of the word "bogus" in an article published by the Guardian newspaper, as "legally erroneous".

Laws also pointed out that Eady’s judgement had conflated two issues — the meaning of the phrases complained of, and the issue of whether the article was presented as fact or fair comment.

Laws said there was "no question" of the "good faith" of Singh in writing the article, as the matter was "clearly in the public interest".

Speaking after the judgement, Singh told Index on Censorship this was the "best possible result".

"But I try not to get my hopes up," he continued. "We have only won leave to appeal. Now we must convince the court of appeal on the issue of meaning. There is a long battle ahead. Reform of English libel laws, particularly the right to a public interest defence and a fairer costs structure, are vital."

The BCA was not represented at this morning’s hearing.

Additional reporting Síle Lane

From Index on Censorship

October 15, 2009

AVN responds to HCCC (15/10/2009)
The Australian Vaccination Network has responded to the complaint made about its activities to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. In a moment of confusion, the AVN asked the HCCC to keep the response confidential and then published it on their own web site and talked about it in a newsletter.

As they don't seem serious about confidentiality I thought I would give it wider distribution, so you can read it here. (Please note: The original document published on the AVN web site included a covering letter to the HCCC. The content of this letter could have been defamatory of certain persons and might be the subject of legal action. The covering letter has been removed from the document here.)

I counted three "misunderstandings of the truth" in a brief glance though it (not counting "AVN is not anti-vaccine"). Feel free to see how many you can find. Here are my three:

  1. "all research into drugs and vaccines is funded, in part or in whole by the drug companies who will profit from their use" - While much research is funded by manufacturers (as it should be) there is a significant contribution by charitable trusts and governments.
  2. In citing the court case Bailey Banks vs the Department of Health and Human Services as evidence of a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism, the AVN response quotes a lying press release from Generation Rescue as if it accurately represents what the court actually declared.
  3. AVN cites the case Hannah Poling v. Secretary of HHS as evidence that vaccination causes autism. The court did not find this. Hannah Poling suffered from a mitochondrial disorder which can only be genetic, not caused by a vaccine.
  4. "There is currently an omnibus proceeding awaiting trial in the US whereby the parents of over 5,300 children who became autistic after vaccination are awaiting their day in court to present their cases" - The plaintiffs were asked to provide their best three cases to determine if the omnibus action should proceed. None of the three showed any connection between vaccination and autism so the remaining thousands of complaints have been rejected as well.
  5. "Dr Wakefieldʼs study was only the first of many to indicate a very strong and, in some cases clinically verifiable connection between vaccination and the development of ASDs" - Wakefield's study has been revealed as a fraudulent attempt to bolster a legal case against vaccine manufacturers (for which Wakefield was paid a very large amount of money), and as a secondary concern an attempt to promote a vaccine developed by Wakefield.

Oops! I got carried away there counting to three. That's what happens when you see lie after lie in a written document.

October 17, 2009

I can have a holiday, can't I? (17/10/2009)
For our first holiday for some years, Her Majesty and I set off for a few days by the beach. We shared a house right on the water with relatives from three other households, but it was a large house and there was room for all. In fact there was so much room that while we were watching television some thieves were able to break into the house and steal stuff. (The television show was Midsomer Murders and the episode was largely about housebreaking. It's just as well I hadn't packed my irony meter or it would have exploded.) HM's mobile phone and credit cards were taken (although we found the cards scattered in nearby bushland the next day). My daughter lost her phone, driver's licence and CentreLink benefits identification card. (We guessed that the thieves were not new to thieving because they took the time to take the SIM card out of the phone so it couldn't be tracked.) To add to her misery, not only did she have to fight the bureaucracy at CentreLink over the stolen card but they had stopped paying her because of some paperwork problem which could only be fixed by a doctor several hundred kilometres away.

We weren't the only place robbed in the area that night and as it was a bit remote from centres of civilisation we had to wait for a day-and-a-half for the forensic cops to work through the crime wave and get to us to tell us that there were no useful fingerprints because the thieves were obviously good at their jobs. Meanwhile my laptop computer had decided to suffer PTSD from being almost stolen and dropped its speed to only be able to process a keystroke every ten seconds. There went the plans to do some writing and some scripting and audio editing for an upcoming podcast. Still, there was always the beach. Except there wasn't because it had disappeared under very large unsurfable waves driven by freezing 90 kmh winds. And it rained. Freezing, sleety rain. At least the local pub was warm inside, the food was hot and tasty and the beer was cold.

You know how it is good advice to unplug all unused electrical appliances before you go on holidays? This a very good idea. What is not a good idea is to unplug the freezer instead of the washing machine, especially if you plan to heat up some frozen TV dinners after the long car trip home.

Despite all this, there are two patches of brightness. The first is that even the most disastrous holiday is still a break from work and it's even better when you get to spend some time with the family. The second is that I have used up all my bad luck for the year and can now confidently buy lotto tickets and back horses knowing that I am relying on skill and a reservoir of unused good luck.

Now, back to work!


Lola
See more of Lola here


I might disappear (17/10/2009)
I have risked my life and been injected with the deadly swine flu vaccine. Not only did it contain the dreaded thimerosal preservative but I have it on good authority that it contains microchips which will be used to track my every movement and potentially make me eligible to be included in the great cull that is coming to reduce the world's population from 6 billion to 500 million. (There is a possibility that my Illuminati connections may help me avoid the cull.) To make matters worse, at the same time I had a booster injection of acellular diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine. With all this in me the best I can hope for is a dose of autism, but I might of course be killed by the vaccines before the microchip program kicks in.

Now let's get serious. One of the lies told about the swine flu vaccine is that people are not given any information about it. You can see the pamphlet I was given here; this is given to every person in Australia who gets the vaccine. If you can get an anti-vaccination liar to admit that any information is given out they will almost inevitably say that no possibility of any adverse reaction is mentioned. That must be why the pamphlet contains the following:

So nobody is warned about effects?

I'm more worried about the Boostrix dTpa vaccine, because it contains the deadly aluminium and antifreeze and has only been used since 2000 so I am a guinea pig for an untested product. And how do I know this? Because I found the super secret information sheet that is completely hidden from the public because Big Pharma doesn't want you to see it. It's lucky we have underground sites like GlaxoSmithKline to reveal these secrets, and you can see the information sheet here. Sorry, I stopped being serious there for a moment.


Where does the time go? (17/10/2009)
As well as spending time looking at policemen with little brushes, rugging up against wind and rain and tempting fate by injecting poisons, I have been writing stuff. A new article has been sent off to Australasian Science magazine reminiscing about the last ten years of skepticism. It will be here as soon as it appears in print. I've also written another article for the Yahoo!7 News blog, this time having a go at the anti-vaccinators. I had thought that this might attract even more vitriol than my previous pieces about 9/11 idiocy or atheism, but the anti-vaccination liars seemed reluctant to participate, even though it was publicised in several places including the Australian Vaccination Network's mailing list. (The person who mentioned it there was immediately suspected of being some sort of spy because he didn't comment on it and they hadn't heard much from him before. Suggestions were made that he might be other people, perhaps even me. He had to explain that a list with more than 700 members will inevitably have a large proportion of lurkers who read but don't speak, and he had already explained earlier that day that he was there to get information, not offer opinions.)

The reaction to the AVN list member was just one example of paranoia. Perhaps the funniest response was someone who said that he never goes to web sites owned by "pharmanuts". When it was pointed out to him that it was unlikely that I owned Yahoo! he replied that it was still probably some sort of trap and he wouldn't be looking at it. Another person said that I had told at least twenty lies, but when invited to list them in the Yahoo! discussion he declined and created a web page instead, telling me that Yahoo! doesn't get enough traffic to bother saying anything there. Strangely though, I am disseminating mass propaganda by writing there. Nobody ever said these people were capable of coherent thought. Speaking of coherent thought, I loved being told that I was lying when I said that there are no mind-control microchips in vaccines. Vying with my ownership of Yahoo! for funniest comment was someone pointing to the photograph below. Apparently that was all that was needed to refute everything I had said.

Dick Smith and me. Shock! Horror!


A night out with the atheists (17/10/2009)
A good time was had by all who attended the talk by Christopher Hitchens at the Sydney Opera House on Saturday, October 3. For those of you unfortunate enough to miss it and for those that were there and want to relive the experience, here it is, courtesy of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.


A quick sample of the talk


The full one-and-three-quarter hour version


Homoapathy
See more Freethunk here

October 24, 2009

So she could cure cancer, could she? (24/10/2009)
When überquack Hulda Clark died, her acolytes claimed that the death was due to a spinal injury. I've got a copy of her death certificate and, guess what? - they were lying. The woman who had "The Cure For All Diseases" and the "Cure For All Cancers" also had multiple myeloma and its associated hypercalcemia.

Multiple myeloma

Multiple myeloma is cancer of the plasma cells in bone marrow. Normally, the body makes as many plasma cells as it needs. When a person has multiple myeloma, too many plasma cells are made. This causes overcrowding in the bone marrow, which prevents adequate numbers of normal blood cells forming.

The abnormal plasma cells produce antibodies called M-protein (often called Bence-Jones protein or paraprotein). At the same time, the formation of normal antibodies is reduced making a person less able to fight infection.

Multiple myeloma spreads from the bone marrow into the bone. This can result in deposits in the bone called lytic lesions or can cause the bone to become thin, weak and more likely to break (osteoporosis). The breakdown of the bone can cause an increase in the level of calcium in the blood (hypercalcaemia). It can also affect the kidneys so that they cannot filter and clean the blood properly.

Ding dong the bitch is dead

So she couldn't cure her own cancer but she was prepared to take money to cure other people. Any infinitesimal possibility that I might have felt a twinge of sympathy over her death has been washed away by the fact that she must have known for some time that she had a form of cancer herself. As I said to her supporters when they told me that her ashes were to be scattered at sea, I hope they filled in the correct forms for permission to dump toxic waste into the ocean.

You can get a clearer view of the certificate in this .pdf file.


Warnings for idiots (24/10/2009)
We are all familiar with those "idiot warnings" on food and products - "Caution, contents might be hot" on coffee, "Warning - may contain traces of nuts" on almost all packaged food, "Do not immerse in water" on electric room heaters (raising the question of whether anyone stupid enough to do this would understand what "immerse" means), "Do not drive or operate heavy machinery" on infant medications, ...

I do believe, however, that a world leader in such warnings is the one overprinted on the death certificate above - "Not a valid document to establish identity". I have a vision of a scrawny youth going in to a liquor store and asking for a case of vodka. The shopkeeper asks for proof of age and the customer whips out a death certificate and says "See - it says here that I was born in 1943". The shop owner asks why he needs so much booze and the kid replies that he is having a house-warming party at the flat he has just rented using the certificate as ID and adds that he will be travelling soon using his new passport and credit cards.


Who's a naughty girl, then? (24/10/2009)
When I reported last week that Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network had apparently included several "misunderstandings" in her response to the complaint lodged against AVN with the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission, I deliberately avoided any comment on the scurrilous claims made in the document about Ken McLeod, the author of the complaint to the HCCC. I did this because I wanted to give Ken the chance to respond himself. He has now done so, and in an email to me he said:

Meryl Dorey's response to the HCCC regarding my complaint to them went far beyond addressing the matters I had raised; she went on to make the most scurrilous defamatory untrue allegations against me personally. I regard the worst defamation to be her claims that I threatened her and her family with violence. This is indeed a very serious allegation, and I will not let it rest.

I completely support Ken in this. You can read the full text of his response here.


Misdirected marketing (24/10/2009)
I received the following email spam during the week. It was addressed to a ratbags.com email address, and I have reproduced the first few paragraphs in all their typographical glory,

How to get your psychic business to the top of Google free search results in less than two weeks (great screen shots)

Imagine if there was a way to get all of those people in your area who were desperately looking for a psychic to give you a call?

  - this could be you at work!

Well there is and it’s called ... Google Maps.
WARNING: Dramatic screen shots follow so be sure to download these pictures...

From the desk of Phil Mathieson, Bondi Junction, Sydney.

Hi,

I'm sure you'd agree. Having the phone ring off the hook all day with people wanting to pay you for your psychic or holistic services is a good problem to have. But it cost's too much to advertise your business on Google Adwords, TV or in the latest gossip magazine.

Did you know that over 85% of Americans who are looking for a psychic service will look for your business on Google? If they can't find your business it's like you're saying "I'd love to do business with you but I don't know you're looking for me".

But imagine if you could get your psychic business to appear on the top of Google everytime someone in your city was looking for a psychic? Business would boom and you'd be pulling in some serious dough!

I usually don't bother reading spam, but in real life the company I work for advises clients about search engine optimisation (how to get web sites well placed in search results at Google, Bing, Yahoo! etc) and also offers database management and services for email marketing.

The first mistake with this message is that it was sent to a place which is highly unlikely to be wanting to advertise psychic services. I have no idea why they picked me, because this site doesn't come up at the top of any search using the term "psychic". Perhaps they are psychic themselves and just knew of my interest.

The second and third mistakes were to try to sell me something that I do for a living (and do quite well - check the first page of Google or Bing results for "Meryl Dorey" or "Australian Vaccination Network") and to do it in such a hideous and amateurish fashion. Perhaps they aren't psychic after all.


WTF, OMFG, LOL, FFS, ... (24/10/2009)
I was really at a loss for acronyms when I discovered that the light from Saturn has homeopathic qualities. That's right - the reflected light from a planet can cure things. You might think I'm making this up or I read it at The Onion or some other satire site, but no, this comes from Interhomeopathy, "an international internet journal for the promotion of Homeopathy". It must therefore be true.

Saturnus - a powerful medical treatment

Before I start I should explain that a homeopathic "proving" is the testing of something to see what symptoms it produces. Once this has been established it can then be used in homeopathy to treat those symptoms. As examples, homeopathic house dust can be used to treat asthma and homeopathic ethanol can be used to treat hangovers and injuries from car accidents. I do not want to be part of the "proving" trial which "proves" that cyanide causes death and so is a useful homeopathic resurrection remedy.

Here is what this international homeopathic journal had to say about the proving:

1. Introduction
The remedy was made by exposing powdered milk sugar to a powerful telescope in Boston, Massachusetts while it was focused on the planet Saturn during April 2009.
The remedy was triturated to a 3C on July 25, 2009 by a group of 7 people in Buffalo, New York.
Six of the 7 ground and scraped the milk sugar while one person took notes.
Two knew what the substance was; the rest did not.
The provers were:
four white females: ages 24, 38, 54, 54
three white males: ages 18, 19, 24

2. Saturn in astronomy, myth, and astrology
As a homeopath and astrologer, I have been fascinated by the homeopathic application of the planetary lights (Venus) and other celestial remedies such as Luna, Sol, and Polaris, as well as the astrological overlap with homeopathic Uranium, Neptunium, and Plutonium.
The first planet I could get my hands on, as it were, was Saturn – very visible this past spring in the night sky and one of my favorite astrological subjects. I was very interested to see if there were an overlap between the astrological meanings and the homeopathic ones, since that has been the case with the other celestial remedies.

To avoid the risk of brain damage, I will leave out the discussion of astrology, other esoteric matters and the results of the proving and cut directly to the conclusion:

Conclusions
It is interesting that the trituration proving reflected some themes of Saturn that appear in myth and astrology. (The spontaneous drawing of the Horned Pan figure is of course amazing!)
From a homeopathic point of view, both the physical symptoms that appeared and the content of the discussion during the proving suggest that this remedy might be effective for accident-related trauma, bone and nerve damage. The Titan-like quality of strength, survival and endurance seems connected; perhaps an ability to survive disasters is part of this remedy. This remedy may also be effective for allergies, in light of all the itching that occurred.
Emotionally, we see the ‘lighter’ side of Saturn less a sense of weightiness and more of an emphasis on eroticism and fun. (The trituration itself had some saturnalian elements!) This could be because it is a planetary light. Towards the end of the trituration, we saw some of the more serious aspects of Saturn emerging, although throughout the proving and underneath all the silly banter were some heavier themes – most notably the accounting and recounting of history and disasters.

If you are brave enough you can read the whole thing here. When you have done that, come back and tell me that homeopathy isn't the greatest load of idiocy that has ever pretended to be some form of medicine.


Bible not good enough? Write your own (24/10/2009)
Just when you think that religious loonies can't get any sillier, they resurface the bottom of the barrel so that the scraping can continue unabated. The latest manifestation of religious madness is something called the Conservative Bible Project, which is a plan to rewrite the Bible to remove all those "liberal" ideas introduced during the 16th century by the leftist translators employed by King James. Here is how the idiocy starts off:

Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations. There are three sources of errors in conveying biblical meaning are, in increasing amount:

  • lack of precision in the original language, such as terms underdeveloped to convey new concepts introduced by Christ
  • lack of precision in modern language
  • translation bias in converting the original language to the modern one.

Experts in ancient languages are helpful in reducing the first type of error above, which is a vanishing source of error as scholarship advances understanding. English language linguists are helpful in reducing the second type of error, which also decreases due to an increasing vocabulary. But the third -- and largest -- source of translation error requires conservative principles to reduce and eliminate.

As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:

  1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
  2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, "gender inclusive" language, and other feminist distortions; preserve many references to the unborn child (the NIV deletes these)
  3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level
  4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms to capture better the original intent; Defective translations use the word "comrade" three times as often as "volunteer"; similarly, updating words that have a change in meaning, such as "word", "peace", and "miracle".
  5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as "gamble" rather than "cast lots"; using modern political terms, such as "register" rather than "enroll" for the census
  6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
  7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
  8. Exclude Later-Inserted Inauthentic Passages: excluding the interpolated passages that liberals commonly put their own spin on, such as the adulteress story
  9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
  10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word "Lord" rather than "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" or "Lord God."

Thus, a project has begun among members of Conservapedia to translate the Bible in accordance with these principles.

I am attracted to Item 3 "Not Dumbed Down". I recently mentioned some other translations of the Bible, so I thought I would see what this version did with the story of Mary being told that she was going to have a baby from Luke 1:26-38:

  1. In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to Nazareth, a city near the Sea of Galilee,
  2. to a virgin named Mary, who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David.
  3. The angel came to her, saying, "Hail, Mary, for the Lord favors you and is with you. You are blessed among women."
  4. When she saw him, she was trouble, unsure of the manner of this news.
  5. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, for you are favored by God.
  6. And you shall become pregnant, and bear a son, and his name shall be Jesus.
  7. He shall be great, and shall be called the the Son of the Lord, and the Lord shall give him the throne of his ancestor King David.
  8. And he shall reign over Israel forever, and his kingdom shall have no end."
  9. Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have not been with a man?"
  10. The angel answered, saying, "The Divine Guide shall be alight on you, and the power of the Lord will overshadow you, so that the holy child you shall bear will be called the Son of God.
  11. Your cousin Elisabeth, who was called barren, is also pregnant in her old age, and has been for six months.
  12. With God, all things are possible."
  13. So Mary said, "I shall be the servant of the Lord; let his will be done to me." And the angel departed.

I don't know about you, but that certainly sounds dumbed down from the poetry in the King James Version. For example, was it really necessary to change verse 37 from "For with God nothing shall be impossible" to "With God, all things are possible"? I suppose to a fundamentalist they mean the same thing, but to anybody with a concept of prose style the original is actually a more forceful statement.

I do have to agree with the conservative translators on one thing though. Just look at verse 29 where it says "she was trouble". She was just about to become an unmarried pregnant teenager, and every conservative knows that women like that are always trouble. If it hadn't been a few centuries before Sir Walter Raleigh's time the tart would probably have been smoking tobacco. In fact, if you look at John 2 you can see how much trouble she could become, encouraging her son to provide alcohol to drunks. Shocked, I am!


Speaking of Bibles ... (24/10/2009)
Lot and the angel-rapersIt's not just right-wing nutcases who are having problems with versions of the Bible. Artist Robert Crump has released an illustrated version of Genesis. GenesisApparently, Mr Crumb's illustrations contain material of a sexual nature and this is causing heart palpitations and distress to people who seem to think that without pictures there is nothing in the Bible that could possibly cause offence to anyone. I have heard that one of the illustrations giving most offence shows Lot's daughters fornicating with their drunken father. For some reason, writing about incestuous rape is acceptable but pictures of it could cause people to have sinful thoughts. I might have some sympathy with this view if there had also been complaints about the picture of Lot offering his daughters' virginities to a pack of angel-rapers who were outside his door demanding to "know" the two attractive young men who were inside the house.

Still, I suppose that if some Christians didn't have double standards they wouldn't have any standards at all.


Breast cancer empathy (24/10/2009)
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month all over the place, and anybody with a hint of compassion would think that this is a good cause to support. But what would happen if a volunteer telemarketer randomly rang the number of the Australian Vaccination Network soliciting a donation to this worthy cause? Well, if you can believe the message to the AVN mailing list which can be found at http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/AVN/message/40204 (and why wouldn't you believe it?), then they might get a less than friendly reception. Here is AVN President Meryl Dorey on how to handle someone asking for money to research cures for one of Buy a badgethe biggest killers of women in the world:

I think they end up being sorry that they ever called me because I don't just say no, I tell them why :-) I say that I work for a children's charity that is involved in preventing cancer and that in 50 years, the cancer council and other bodies have done nothing. Cancer is more prevalent today then it was when they started to supposedly research and if I am going to be making a donation, I want it to go to a good cause, not just to line the pockets of some researcher who has no interest in actually seeing their research come to fruition rather than just keeping themselves in a job. They don't know what to say... But hopefully, it makes them think that maybe there is more to this cancer stuff then they were told?

Here's some news for Ms Dorey - AVN is not "a children's charity" and is in no way involved "in preventing cancer". In fact, you are implacably opposed to a vaccine which is specifically targeted at preventing a cancer, the vaccine against HPV, and some of the ludicrous claims you have made about the danger of this vaccine would lead people to think that you want women to die of cancer. And I can tell you what the person on the phone thinks - it is that they managed to randomly ring someone who talked nonsense and insulted them for no good reason.


And on the lighter side ... (24/10/2009)
Caution - very rude!!
Some very rude pareidolia
Those poor dinosaurs!

October 31, 2009

Quick, call Guinness! A new world record! (31/10/2009)
When I wrote last week about the homeopathic use of reflected planetary light I thought I had reached the limit of woowoo stupidity. Then I saw this. The stupidity here is so dense that it bends light. Sort of like if you condensed all the mass in the universe down to the size of a bowling ball, therefore making it irrelevant in equations about the universe.

I had to stop watching. I had the distinct feeling that Dr Werner had herself collapsed to the maximum density possible in the universe. No, not a neutron star but something even denser, a moron pulsar, spinning on her axis every 1.33 seconds and emitting blinding flashes of unimaginably hot stupid.


Life imitates art (31/10/2009)
Reader Reginald PerrinSimon Hindley recognised the photograph of the man with two telephones in last week's story about the people offering to get my psychicness more exposure in Google. It was Leonard Rossiter playing the fictional character Reggie Perrin from the 1970s television show The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. One of Reggie's schemes was a company called Grot which used the slogan "Grot has lots of things that aren’t of any use, some of them are red, some of them are green and some of them are puce". Here is something from a Grot media release:

March was the most successful month yet for Grot. We launched our new silent LP 'Laryngitis In Thirty Lands', featuring the silence of Max Bygraves, Des O'Connor, the Bay City Rollers, the Sex Pistols and Rolf Harris - it has sold millions. Some pub landlords are even playing it as background silence. We have also introduced upright models of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, leaning models of the Eiffel Tower, and rubber razor blades for nervous shavers. However, April promises to be an even better month. In store for the British public are such treats as porous waterbeds, heat-resistant saucepans, Teas-Not-Made, mousetraps made entirely of cheese, and the ideal gift for the motorist you don't like - the elastic tow-rope.

It seems remarkably prescient of a company to use an image from a show about useless products in their promotion when they are offering to assist something as useless as a psychic.

But Grot gets even better. Here is what looks remarkably like a proposal to sell homeopathic pills (from Season 2).

Reggie:
Jolly good. Now we have a sales campaign for a new innocuous white pill. Your findings, Esther?

Esther:
32% of people over 55 in the Wirral, & 2.1% of the people under 43 in the Gorbals liked the idea. 23% of those under 35 in the Wirral & 7.6% of those over 52 in the Gorbals thought it possible. 23.6% found it difficult to swallow. 26.9% of the replies in the Gorbals were rejected by the computer which suffered two fuse blowouts.

Reggie:
Yes, well that's fine. Splendid. Jolly good.

David:
I'm sorry... I might be a bit slow on the uptake...

Reggie:
Yes?

David:
...But why should anyone buy a pill that doesn't do anything?

Reggie:
Because it comforts them, David. It has no effects whatsoever, therefore it has no side-effects, you don't need to keep it out of the reach of children, and Catholics can take it. Alright? Morris, any ideas on that one?

Morris:
Ah, well, how about, off the top of the head, toss it in the seed tray, see if the budgie bites: how about 'Perrins Pills - They don't look good, they don't taste good, they don't do you any good."


By George, I think he's got it (31/10/2009)
George Mamouzellos, who claims to be a pharmacist, achieved his fifteen minutes of fame with a widely distributed email telling lies about the dangers of the swine flu vaccine. George also runs a Facebook group called "Australians against the swine flu vaccine" where anybody offering the slightest amount of common sense (or any sense at all if my latest perusal of the page is any indication) is immediately banned.

George became unhappy with me when I questioned his statement that thimerosal and squalene were both vaccine adjuvants, as anybody saying this must have slept through his classes in pharmacy school. As an aside, a friend of mine questioned George's status as a registered pharmacist in the Northern Territory where he lives and was told that the local Pharmacy Board had never heard of him but would be mentioning his name at the next Board meeting. Here is a statement from George's MySpace page which seems to suggest that he is dispensing pharmaceuticals, perhaps without benefit of registration. It also gives an insight into his attitude towards women. George was not happy that I posted it to his Facebook page.

You know what really pisses me off? The Pill. Everytime I give out the pill, I imagine shagging that girl (not always a good thing btw, theres some UGLY people out there having sex...brrrrrr ech yuk bleh) and it makes me realise that no matter how many chicks im shagging, theres yet another one I havnt shagged, and I get all insecure. wtf is up with that? I dont know.

George immediately banned me from the Facebook group and then proceeded to engage me in a private conversation within Facebook. He should have read what it says on the About page of this site before he started expecting that the correspondence would remain private.

You can read the message exchanges here.


And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre (31/10/2009)
To listen to the disciples of deceased quack Hulda Clark you might think that she didn't really die but has instead been the second case of assumption directly to heaven, as Catholics believe happened to Mary. Reproduction of the death certificate on this site and others has been rejected as proof on the basis that such documents can be easily forged using programs like PhotoShop. Some who accept that she might have died reject the cause of death on the certificate as it does not agree with what was announced at the time of her death. Any acceptance of the fact that she died of a form of cancer is accompanied by claims that oncologists die too, so what is the problem. (The problem is, of course, that oncologists don't publish books telling people that they have guaranteed and cheap cures for all cancers or run expensive clinics in Mexico.)

No truth. No Courage. No value.My favourite reaction, however, has come from our old friend, the Gutless Anonymous Liar. GAL has not only rejected the existence of the death certificate but has announced legal action against me if I reproduce it. (The extract from GAL's drool below has been edited to remove references to another target of Mr O'Neill's wrath. The full message is on the GAL correspondence page.) I have pointed out to GAL (as far as I can respond to an anonymous coward) by suggesting that he informs Mr William P O'Neill of the Canadian Cancer Research Group that the CCRG "research" is barking up the wrong tree because Clark had all the answers.

Liars Bowditch & Polevoy claim to possess an authenticated copy of Dr. Hulda Clark's death certificate. Even more interesting is their collective taunt that they will be publishing it on their respective websites any moment now.

No "will be" about it.

Polevoy has been boasting that Clark died of "multiple melanoma", a disease that does not exist. There is, however, "multiple myeloma" of which Dr. Clark did not die.

Oh, yes she did.

One would think that a qualified and trained physician would know there is no disease "multiple melanoma". One would also think that if they possessed a genuine death certificate and were literate they would get it right.

I didn't make the mistake. I got it right.

Bowditch, while admiring his recently aquired "pony tail" in the mirror, failed to notice Polevoy's cock-up. (Pony Tail? How many midlife crisis has this dickhead had so far?).

In any event, should either of these giants publish an "alledged" death certificate for Dr. Clark, they will face both civil and criminal complaints....and this won't be the first time for either.

Bowditch was charged in the '80's with aggravated assault, spent time in the slammer and a couple of years ago was found guilty of defaming ACN.

I have never been charged with aggravated assault, never spent time in prison and have never been found guilty of defamation, but why should GAL start telling the truth now?

I've always loved the story about me being charged with assault. Mr O'Neill discovered this back in 2006 and it has been a staple of his and others' attacks on my reputation ever since. You can read about Mr O'Neill making a fool of himself here.


Speaking of Hulda ... (31/10/2009)
TherePB's book is a 1988 book that I would like to read to prepare for a conference and as I had a few minutes to spare after finishing the day at my TAFE teacher refresher course I hit the college library and used the state-wide online catalogue to see if TAFE happened to have a copy. They did, but of course it was at another campus, although I will probably be driving through that town a week or so before the conference so all is not lost.

I noticed that the library had a quackery section so on a hunch I searched the catalogue for books by Hulda Clark, and found that across the entire state of New South Wales the largest training organisation in Australia had just one copy of The Cure For All Diseases. Something made me type my own name into the "Author" search field and I found that TAFE has thirteen copies of my 1997 book How To Connect To The Internet. Quack 1 - PB 13. I quite like that score, but I think I will have to take steps to reduce Clark's count.


Australasian ScienceWriting stuff (31/10/2009)
The campaign to educate the world with my words continues. The latest edition of the Yahoo!7 News blog talked about some of the madder forms of alternative medicine, things which you would think that no sane person could believe but which many actually do. You can see the article and comments here.

The November edition of the excellent magazine Australasian Science is on the newsstands. I recommend that you subscribe to get the full feeling of Australia's best popular science magazine, but you can read my reminiscences about a decade of fighting nonsense and woowoo here. It is just as well that I am an optimist or I might be reaching for the St John's Wort to dampen down the depression caused by the apparent lack of progress over the ten years. No, I think I'll just stick to one of the oldest plant-based medications in the world, the one that was just about the earliest transformation of Yahoo! 7plants and herbs into something useful to humans. I will toast the future with some of this cool, brown liquid with a layer of foam on top. Ahhh! I feel better already.




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