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Part 2

August 24, 2013

A conspiracy of conspiracists (24/8/2013)
I've been writing stuff again, and the September edition of Australasian Science is in letterboxes and newsstands right now. As usual it has my Naked Skeptic column, and also as usual I'm going to suggest that you either subscribe to the magazine or encourage your newsagent to carry it. It's the best popular science publication in the country (and I'm not just saying that because I write for it) and is written for an intelligent, inquisitive lay audience. Here's my latest effort:

The front page story in the June edition of Australasian Science had the title "Lies, Damn Lies, and Science". It was written by three academics, Stephan Lewandowsky, Gilles Gignac and Klaus Oberauer, and was derived from research they had published about the psychology of conspiracy theorists. I’ve had an interest in this area for a long time, so it was nice to apply a bit of confirmation bias when I saw that research had confirmed one of the things I had noticed over the years – the fact that people rarely if ever confine themselves to belief in only one conspiracy, and that belief in one can be a useful predictor of the person’s position on others. Anti-vaccination campaigners are quite often AIDS deniers and opposed to GM foods; 9/11 Truthers can be relied on to believe that the HAARP project is designed to control weather in conjunction with chemtrails behind airliners; climate change deniers know that it is just part of a wider government plan to destroy capitalism and enforce the hegemony of the UN over governments.

Read the rest here.

See more Argyle Sweater here

AVO update (24/8/2013)
No, not the ongoing saga of the attempt to abuse the legal system in order to silence me, but a related case. You might remember that when Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network (she was the President at the time) applied for an Apprehended Personal Violence Order against me she also applied for orders against two other people. Of the three cases, one was finalised when the defendant accepted the order (he did this without conceding or admitting to anything - he simply couldn't be bothered with the continual court appearances), the application against me was dismissed on April 26 (with that decision going to appeal on September 18), and the third application was dismissed on August 22, with Ms Dorey being ordered to pay $11,000 towards the defendant's legal costs.

What made this a more delicious irony is that Ms Dorey was offered the chance to withdraw her application a few days before and to pay a small amount of Mr Buzzard's legal bill. She countered with a suggestion that she would withdraw with each side bearing its own costs provided that Mr Buzzard promised to do even more than was demanded in her original application. This was obviously rejected, and she ended up being ordered to pay about four times as much.

I assume she will appeal the decision in order to drag the process out further, but the deadline for lodging an appeal is the day after the appeal hearing is scheduled in my case. That will be an anxious week for Ms Dorey.

You can see Mr Buzzard's narrative of his adventures here.

Speaking to Parliament? Oh, really? (24/8/2013)
Purely coincidentally I'm sure, Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network posted this appeal for funds to Facebook the day after she was hit with a big legal bill for the case she lost the day before.

What caught my eye, however, was the statement "Last week, our President addressed the QLD Parliament". As the Qld Parliament was not sitting in the week referred to, I wondered if this was another case of speaking "at" Parliament, not "to", as was once done by ex-Dr Andrew Wakefield. And I was right. Greg Beattie was speaking to a hearing of the Health and Community Services Committee. You can see the agenda at the right of the page.

Speaking to a committee of Parliament is not the same as addressing Parliament, but since when have we ever expected the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth from the AVN?

The submission contained the usual lies and half-truths we have come to expect from the AVN, including the claims that polio has been renamed, smallpox went away all by itself and vaccines don't save lives. It also included the famous graphs that Mr Beattie seems to think should be produced on every possible occasion. (The graphs were apparently going to be offered as evidence in the appeal over whether the AVN should change its deceptive name, although what relevance they could have there is a mystery.)

You can read Mr Beattie's amusing submission here. If you print it out you could put it in the bathroom in case you run out of toilet paper.

Let's spit on the memory of a great man (24/8/2013)
While people are remembering and celebrating the anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Had A Dream" speech, a committee member of the Australian Vaccination Network chose to vomit on his memory by comparing this pack of outrageous child-harmers to him, among others. What sort of hubris does it take to write something like this?

My brother reminded me that we can take heart from all those in history who have been mercilessly persecuted and never gave up; Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Mahatma Ghandi. Their principles and values burned within their hearts and gave them the strength to stand against overwhelming odds, and those same principles burn within you, the AVN and your supporters.

It actually goes beyond hubris, almost to the point of self-centred insanity. The person who wrote it, Tasha David, has a history of being loose with the truth, and you can see her (anonymously) inventing stories about me here. Her latest tirade can be seen here.

The picture at right (click for a larger view) is "The Mourning Of Icarus" by Draper Herbert James. Icarus suffered from hubris, but the difference between him and this vile organisation is that nobody will mourn the death of the AVN. It will be a cause for celebration.

See more Red Meat here

My jaw dropped! (24/8/2013)
Someone is very unhappy about something I had to say about some crooks who committed insurance fraud. They had the hide to sue the insurance company when it wouldn't pay them for submitting fraudulent claims for a service that it specifically said it would not pay for.

Date: Mon, 19 Aug 2013 12:43:23 -0700
From: Jan Lauana Leist
Subject: Re Cavitat

I am astonished at the last article on Cavitat Machines.  It shows how much ignorance you have on jawbone work and dental expertise!!

I don't claim to be a dentist, but I can smell fraud, especially when it's as noisome as this one.

Cavitat machines reveal pockets of infection in the jawbone and other teeth root areas.

So do x-rays, as used by dentists who don't commit fraud. I had just such an x-ray a couple of weeks ago so that the dentist could treat an infection around the roots of a tooth.

 If you do your research and have heard that a 5,000 year old science associating teeth meridians with every organ in the body, you would realize how much this infection in the jawbone area causes illness and affects organs in other parts of the body.

Teeth meridians? That's a form of nonsense that I haven't come across before. Thank you for letting me know about it, and I look forward to being amused when I read more about it.

When the infection is GONE in the bones, the illnesses  clear up.

Yes, medicine is like that. That's why infection is treated.

I KNOW as I have been there. I also know of many others who have done this process and gotten well, so before you go BLASTTING off negative things about Cavitat, I would suggest you investigate alot more thoroughly........

I see you observe the Internet tradition by using the concatenation "alot". Tradition is good, even if this one doesn't go back 5,000 years.

LL, A Health Journalist and Writer

I hope that your health journalism isn't published in any place where people might go to find reliable medical advice. If they follow your advice they could end up having all their teeth taken out and their health insurance claim rejected.

Some light reading (24/8/2013)
One of the constant cries by supporters of quackery is that people have nothing to lose by trying it. This nonsense becomes especially egregious when it is applied to people suffering from terminal illnesses. Whenever I criticise quasi-criminals like Stanislaw Burzynski for stealing the savings of desperate people someone will always pop out of the swamp to tell me that these people have nothing to lose so why not try it. (Apparently spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on worthless "treatment" is not losing anything.)

The British group Sense About Science have put out a booklet on this very topic, and you can read it here.

See more Atheist Pig here

August 31, 2013

Craig and Krauss – religion meets science (31/8/2013)
Yes, that's the boring title of something I wrote for The Skeptic about the recent public conversation between William Lane Craig and Lawrence Krauss in Sydney. This is a short version written to a word limit, but a longer piece might appear when I get time to write it. As you can see by the brevity of this week's update I haven't had a lot of spare time lately.

Physicist Lawrence Krauss and Christian philosopher William Lane Craig held a three-part public conversation in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne during August 2013. The series was promoted by the City Bible Forum under the title "Life, the Universe and Nothing". I attended the Sydney talk, promoted as "Why is there something rather than nothing?", and interviewed the speakers before the event.

Both have well-known public profiles so I didn't expect any surprises from either side, and this is very much  what I found. In fact, in the interviews each was able to accurately predict what the other would later say on stage and the arguments that they would use to address the question.

Skeptics are supposed to look for evidence so I put the following question to both speakers: "What is the best evidence there is no God, and what's the best evidence there is a God?".

You can see the rest here.

You can see the first discussion (Brisbane) here and the third (Melbourne) here. If a recording of the Sydney event becomes available I'll provide a link to that too.

See more Lola here

Where I will be next Saturday (31/8/2013)

World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10. A few friends and I will be walking around a section of the picturesque Nepean River in Penrith as part of Lifeline's "Out Of The Shadows" event on the Saturday before. As Lifeline says: "Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians under the age of 44. Lifeline believes we all have a role to play in suicide prevention". We will be meeting at the old Log Cabin motel in Memorial Avenue at 11am. Please join us, but don't forget to vote.

See more XKCD here

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