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January 6, 2007

Happy New Year (6/1/2007)
If it isn't new year in your culture you shouldn't feel too disappointed. Have this one for free and then have another one when yours comes around. I'm not as psychic as I was when I was young, but I predict that 2007 will see a continuation of people wishing that I will go away and a corresponding failure of their wishes being fulfilled. Children will still die of preventable diseases because of the actions of people with a bizarre ideology, people will continue to be killed for having the wrong imaginary friend in the sky (or for worshipping that friend in the wrong way), nobody will win a Nobel Prize for finding a universal cure for cancer, nut cases will continue to deny the reality of the Holocaust, 9/11 and the moon landing, multi-level marketing companies will continue to lie about their products and opportunities, quacks will keep claiming miracle cures without bothering to provide any evidence, aspartame and dental amalgam will still be available in 2008, ... In the words of a spokesman for a multi-level marketing company when he heard that the judge who had found the company to be operating an illegal pyramid scheme had died, it will be "business as usual". There is still work for me to do.

Wakefield – the hole just gets deeper (6/1/2007)
The big story this week, and the one which has been filling my inbox with messages letting me know about it, is that Dr Andrew Wakefield has been found to have been even further into the cookie jar than everyone thought. It has been known for some time that he received £55,000 as payment for creating some fraudulent research supposedly showing that MMR vaccine causes autism. (Britain has had its first fatality from measles for 14 years as a result, and I am sure that the parents of the dead child would like to thank Dr Wakefield for his work in preventing the child from developing autism.)

It now appears that the amount of money that Wakefield was paid to find what he and the lawyers wanted found was understated by at least one order of magnitude (and perhaps two). A Freedom of Information request by a London newspaper has revealed that Wakefield personally received almost £500,000, and that there was a lot more money which went to people and entities associated with him. To make matters worse, the money didn't come from the lawyers or the people who were employing the lawyers to employ Wakefield – it came from the UK taxpayers via legal aid. Wakefield is claiming that he donated the money to the hospital where he was researching, a claim that is being met by skeptics with "Yeah, right!" and by the hospital's accountants with "When? How did we miss this?" In a remarkable example of coincidence, Wakefield has dropped defamation suits against a television station and a journalist who exposed his actions. (The action was dropped after a court gave the television station access to certain documents.) And what are the anti-vaccination liars saying about all this? Would it surprise you to find that they think it is just another chapter in the witch hunt against this great man?

Numerology (6/1/2007)
In November last year I wrote to the President of the Australian Vaccination Network with my own question about a question she was proposing as a seminar topic. Her topic question was "Overvaccination – Are 50 vaccines by school age too many?", and I wondered where she got the number 50 from. Over the Christmas break I have been practising my skills in certain arcane arts, and I have discovered the answer to my question through numerology. Here is the derivation of the number 50 when used to count vaccines given before a child reaches school age.

Number of occasions on which vaccines are administered:7
Number of injections in the complete schedule:23
Number of unique vaccines:8
Number of diseases vaccinated against:12

Death imitates art (6/1/2007)
The execution of Saddam Hussein has provided another opportunity to observe how religious mania really is a mania – it makes people mad. Exultation and despair have divided Iraq along sectarian lines, with Sunni Muslims wanting to kill Shiites in revenge and because they are Shiites while the Shiites want to kill Sunnis in celebration and because they are Sunnis. And why would one branch of a religion declare war on another? Because of something which might or might not have happened 1300 years ago, and which, if it happened, might have been important or irrelevant at the time but which means nothing now. Apparently, Shia is heresy and Sunni is the truth according to Allah, but a difference which makes no difference is no difference at all. Osama bin Laden is a Sunni and Hezbollah (the "Party of God") is Shia. The lunatic Khomeini was Shiite, but apparently this didn't detract from the authority of his fatwas.

If there was a schism in physics between the wave-theorists and the particlists and they turned to killing each other whenever there were no handy biologists to murder then the rest of the world would think that they had stopped being scientists and had become deranged, but for some reason you are allowed to criticise someone's science but you have to respect their religious fantasies.

All of this reminded me of a passage from one of my favourite works of literature, Gulliver's Travels. It is tragic that what Swift was ridiculing four centuries ago still needs ridiculing today:

He began with compliments on my liberty; said he might pretend to some merit in it. But however, added, that if it had not been for the present situation of things at court, perhaps I might not have obtained it so soon. For, said he, as flourishing a condition as we may appear to be in to foreigners, we labor under two mighty evils: a violent faction at home, and the danger of an invasion, by a most potent enemy, from abroad. As to the first, you are to understand, that, for above seventy moons past, there have been two struggling parties in this empire, under the names of Tramecksan and Slamecksan, from the high and low heels of their shoes, by which they distinguish themselves. It is alleged, indeed, that the high heels are most agreeable to our ancient constitution; but, however this may be, his majesty hath determined to make use only of low heels in the administration of the government, and all offices in the gift of the crown, as you cannot but observe: and particularly, that his majesty's imperial heels are lower, at least by a drurr, than any of his court (drurr is a measure about the fourteenth part of an inch). The animosities between these two parties run so high, that they will neither eat nor drink nor talk with each other. We compute the Tramecksan, or high heels, to exceed us in number; but the power is wholly on our side. We apprehend his imperial highness, the heir to the crown, to have some tendency towards the high heels; at least, we can plainly discover that one of his heels is higher than the other, which gives him a hobble in his gait.

Now, in the midst of these intestine disquiets, we are threatened with an invasion from the island of Blefuscu, which is the other great empire of the universe, almost as large and powerful as this of his majesty. For, as to what we have heard you affirm, that there are other kingdoms and states in the world, inhabited by human creatures as large as yourself, our philosophers are in much doubt, and would rather conjecture that you dropped from the moon or one of the stars, because it is certain, that an hundred mortals of your bulk would, in a short time, destroy all the fruits and cattle of his majesty's dominions. Besides, our histories of six thousand moons make no mention of any other regions than the two great empires of Lilliput and Blefuscu. Which two mighty powers have, as I was going to tell you, been engaged in a most obstinate war for six-and-thirty moons past. It began upon the following occasion: It is allowed on all hands, that the primitive way of breaking eggs, before we eat them, was upon the larger end; but his present majesty's grandfather, while he was a boy, going to eat an egg, and breaking it according to the ancient practice, happened to cut one of his fingers. Whereupon the emperor, his father, published an edict, commanding all his subjects, upon great penalties, to break the smaller end of their eggs. The people so highly resented this law, that our histories tell us, there have been six rebellions raised on that account, wherein one emperor lost his life, and another his crown. These civil commotions were constantly fomented by the monarchs of Blefuscu; and when they were quelled, the exiles always fled for refuge to that empire. It is computed, that eleven thousand persons have, at several times, suffered death, rather than submit to break their eggs at the smaller end. Many hundred large volumes have been published upon this controversy, but the books of the Big-endians have been long forbidden, and the whole party rendered incapable, by law, of holding employments.

Retirements (6/1/2007)
Two sections of the RatbagsDotCom site have been retired. The Ragtag Posse of Snake-oil Vigilantes started off as a joke in 2000 and, like any other joke, stopped being funny when it had been told too many times. I have kept the most useful part, the songbook, and you can still enjoy that here. The other retirement was Full Canvas Jacket, which chronicled the more insane insanities of Usenet newsgroups. This simply became too hard to keep up to date without a disproportionate amount of work, and I felt that my time was better spent doing the stuff which visitors really wanted to see.

Wikipidiocy (6/1/2007)
One of the triggers for the retirements mentioned above was that a friend of mine was mentioned on the Ragtag Posse site and this was affecting his ability to continue as an editor at Wikipedia. It turned out that being in a list of names which included Dr Stephen Barrett from Quackwatch reduced his credibility when commenting on such matters as alternative medicine and disgusting personal attacks on Dr Barrett. He also resigned as moderator of a mailing list which examined the wilder claims of altmed because being involved with such a list apparently impaired his ability to apply a Neutral Point of View when discussion quackery. It seems that being an expert (or maybe even knowing something) about a subject disqualifies someone from being a contributor to Wikipedia – after all, if you know that something is true and the opposite is rubbish it must be difficult to only argue for truth and not be biased against the nonsense.

I looked over some of the discussion threads at Wikipedia which led up to his asking for his name to be taken off my site and what stood out was the almost universal anonymity of the people who were worried about the Wikipedia rules and culture. Of course, you can only be outed as an expert if people know who you are, but if people don't know who you are then how can they know that what you say has any connection to reality? This anonymity was also a feature of my last experience with Wikipedia, where Mr William P O'Neill of the Canadian Cancer Research Group had created an entry and the administrators wanted it deleted. There was a wonderful moment of bizarrity when it was deleted (by Mr O'Neill) as soon as the first complaint was raised but was then restored (by an anonymous administrator) because no vote had been taken to remove it. The only people in the entire discussion who used real names were me and Mr O'Neill.

Never let a chance go by (6/1/2007)
When they were building the facilities for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney a path was created using commemorative bricks. People who worked on the project were invited to have bricks laid with their names on them and the general public could buy bricks for a small donation to charity so that they could have a permanent record of their families' involvement and interest in this significant event. My friend Richard Saunders was walking through the main Olympic park recently and came across this brick. Sometimes it is a pity that vandalism is a crime, even if it is to undo another form of vandalism.

My holiday reading (6/1/2007)
The Christmas break provides an opportunity to catch up on some reading. Here are four books which have spent some time on my bedside table over the last couple of weeks.

And if you think I spend all my leisure time doing science and critical thinking things, the five CDs I acquired over Christmas were Modern Times by Bob Dylan, The Very Best of Cream, Phillip Glass's soundtrack for the film The Hours, the original Broadway cast recording of Hair and Still the Same: Great Rock Classics of Our Time by Rod Stewart. Feel free to speculate about my age group.

January 13, 2007

The 2006 Millenium Awards (13/1/2007)

  • Anus Maximus Award – Joseph Mercola
  • Quote of the Year – The otherwise anonymous MaxC
  • Highly Commended
    • The Scientific Proof of God
    • Gentlebirth/Spontaneous Creation
  • Encouragement Awards
    • Vaccinations Harm Psychic Abilities
    • The Lesbian Studies Institute
    • Annwn Publications – Gnosticism, Evil, Aliens, Ufos, Prophecy, Conspiracy

See the citations here.

Anus Maximus Winner – Joe Mercola (13/1/2007)
One of the headlines on Joe Mercola's alternative medicine web site when these awards were being judged said "Red Hot Chili Peppers May Cure Type 1 Diabetes" It was followed by the words "A breakthrough discovery could lead to a natural cure for a disease previously thought to be incurable. ...". The link led to a page on the Mercola site with the same heading where Mercola reported on a study of mice where injection of capsaicin (or a related peptide) into the pancreases of specially-bred mice resulted in temporary reversal or inhibition of some of the precursors of diabetes. Please note that these mice are designed to get diabetes, they did not consume "red hot chili peppers" in any form whatsoever, and they were mice, not humans. The research was not looking for a cure for diabetes by injecting a chemical derived from capsaicin – the objective was to examine the role of certain pain-detecting pancreatic cells in the development of diabetes.

In Mercola's comments he starts off by saying "Nearly 75 million Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes, and while only 5 percent have the Type I version, its supposed incurability makes it by far the more challenging form of the illness. So this new research is potentially great news for Type I diabetics. Type 2 diabetes, of course, is already virtually 100 percent curable with natural methods frequently described on my site". It goes without saying that there are no methods described on the site which provide a "virtual 100 percent" cure for diabetes. He then goes on to suggest that the discovery of capsaicin and its action on pancreatic pain cells will not be good news for the pharmaceutical companies, using the words "However, the good news is that this may end up having nothing to do with the drug companies. Seems like once the protocol is worked out, it may be something the average lay person will be able to implement". Yes, that's right – the average person will be able to extract a peptide from peppers and inject it into his own pancreas. Oh, by the way, capsaicin "can also be useful for preventing and treating cancer". Of course it can. It's natural.

You might think that I am biased against Mercola just because he tells lies about diabetes cures, but let's look at his "causes" of autism.

I could go on, but what's the point? Mercola is prepared to push any form of lie, nonsense or quackery if it can help him to sell things. At least he's consistent about something.

I am challenged, but not very much (13/1/2007)
As well as my regular checks on the quality of the links going out from this site, two or three times each year I do a search for sites which link inwards. Some of these can be a bit surprising (I found a highly complimentary reference once on a site devoted to neurolinguistic programming, for example), but most are in the sort of places I would expect to find them. As well as the link search, I also do an "ego surf" for mentions of my name. Not all of them are actually me, of course – there is a band in England, some famous soldier from a century or so ago, an elected member of a municipal council, another person coincidentally in the software business, someone who minds trees for a government forestry department, and, of course, the person (with the same middle name as well) who got juiced up and decided to tackle a policeman's tackle at a football match.

A foolWhen I did my last search, I found an open letter to me from Jock Doubleday (winner of a Highly Commended award in the 2006 Millenium Awards). Jock is famous among anti-vaccination liars for a ridiculous "challenge" which is supposed to terrify doctors to the extent that they won't take it up because it might kill them. Jock's letter to me started off with the words:

[PERMISSION IS NOT GIVEN to Peter Bowditch or to his agents/associates/affiliates/fans/supporters to 1) post this letter or any part of this letter (excepting Peter Bowditch's quotes) on the web site or on any web site with which Peter Bowditch is ideologically or otherwise affiliated; 2) reproduce/publish/distribute this letter or any part of this letter (excepting Peter Bowditch's quotes) in any media, in perpetuity.]

Of course I will respect Jock's wishes and go right ahead and post the letter. You can read the letter and my response here. It is comforting for me to note that Jock thinks that I am immortal. I must be, because he offers $75,000 to any doctor who will swallow his mixture of "poisons" but doesn't want anyone to take him up because he doesn't want their death on his conscience, but he won't pay me anything (except 1 cent) if I take the challenge because he doesn't want me to spend the money to support this site. I can only assume that this means that he thinks that I would survive without any damage, and this can only be because I am not like other humans (perhaps due to my lizardly Illuminati blood protecting me). Or maybe Jock thinks that I might actually take him up on his absurd offer and show what a farce it is. Oh, and just in case I forget –

[PERMISSION IS NOT GIVEN to Peter Bowditch or to his agents/associates/affiliates/fans/supporters to 1) post this letter or any part of this letter (excepting Peter Bowditch's quotes) on the web site or on any web site with which Peter Bowditch is ideologically or otherwise affiliated; 2) reproduce/publish/distribute this letter or any part of this letter (excepting Peter Bowditch's quotes) in any media, in perpetuity.]

A disappointment! (13/1/2007)
Not for me, for Mr William P O'Neill of the Canadian Cancer Research Group. In January, 2006, Mr O'Neill appeared in a television show which clearly demonstrated his poor regard for the truth. Mr O'Neill was not pleased and put on his GAL mask to tell the world that the television station was being sued. He even pointed to a page on the CCRG web site which talked about the lawsuit and hinted that the TV people might even have obtained some of their information from me. The video record was taken off the CTV site for a while, and there was a bit of gloating about how this was a result of being sued. Here is an email from CTV:

Thank you for your e mail.

This story was removed from the site in December. At years end, many stories are removed from the site in order to make room for the new seasons episodes. Realizing now that this story is still very much in the public interest, we have decided to repost the story and it will now be available again for viewing.

Malcolm Fox
Executive Producer
CTV Inc.

See the CEO of CCRG being careless with the truth. Enjoy!

Speaking of GAL ... (13/1/2007)
There has been a breach of security at the GAL laboratory at the Picoencephalism Research Institute. One of the experimental subjects managed to get to the office computer before anyone could get a dart gun cocked and it was able to send some messages about me to Usenet newsgroups. As these messages ranted about my family, my state of unemployment and my criminal record I didn't have much trouble working out where they came from. It annoyed the office staff at PRI because Dell told them that they couldn't decontaminate the keyboard in an autoclave and would have to order a new one, but the lady who does purchasing is off with the flu.

January 20, 2007

Schadenfreude corner (20/1/2007)
In more good news this week, creationist Kent Hovind (or "Dr Dino" as he likes to be known) has been sent to prison for 10 years for refusing to pay income tax. Perhaps Kent wasn't aware of it, but one of the things which is expressed in almost the same words in three of the Gospels is Jesus' admonition to "render … unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's". (Matthew 22:21, Mark 12:17, Luke 20:25) If Hovind had been found guilty on all charges and sentenced to serve his sentences consecutively he would have been looking at 288 years in prison. I imagine that this would have worried him, as it is almost 5% of the age of the universe. Read about it in the local paper.

Sort of apology (20/1/2007)
There is a heatwave going on where I live (40+°C, paths too hot for bare feet and even noticeable through shoes, bushfires closing major roads, ...) and my cable Internet connection has been behaving erratically because the wires are above the ground. The little boxes which sit up the poles and hold the electronics that manage the signals are painted a nice shade of black to more effectively catch the rays and keep the chill off the circuit boards inside. Murphy's Law has dictated that the connection will go away whenever I try to look up anything that I need for this week's update to this site (and when I try to upload the changes to the server, of course). Because of this, this week's update will be truncated, attenuated, short and brief. There is a bright side, however – no spam or viruses are getting near my computer and the electricity is still arriving so the green bottles of Dutch beverage in my office refrigerator are keeping in good condition. While they last, of course.

I have some good news and I have some bad news (20/1/2007)
The good news is an announcement by the WHO that global measles deaths declined by more than 60% between 1999 and 2005. (See the announcement here.) The decline is attributed to successful and widespread vaccination campaigns. The bad news is that this still means about 1,000 children dying every day from this preventable disease.

More good news is that WHO now feel confident that the deaths can be reduced by 90% over the period from 2001 to 2010. As measles can only be transmitted between humans, we are looking at total eradication of this disease within the lifetimes of many of the people reading this. More bad news is that the opposition to measles vaccination doesn't look like going away. The WHO media release only went out last Friday so there hasn't been much time for the anti-vaccination liars to start coordinated fabricating, but one of them has told me that the report of a lowering of deaths from vaccination can be rejected because it came from "organised medicine" and the CDC is mentioned as one of the parties involved and everybody knows about the "vested interests" of that organisation. And someone once said that I was being harsh when I said that some anti-vaccination liars are insane.

Listen to the WHO tell the good news

Not quite Schadenfreude, but funny (20/1/2007)
Remember Uri Geller? Apparently, the aging clown is still occasionally pulling out the old spoon bending trick and pretending that it is something special. For some reason or other I was reminded of Uri when I saw this video by a couple of my favourite actors.

Creationist buffoonery (20/1/2007)
In 2005 I wasted a lot of time attempting to debate some creationists in a contest organised by a newspaper. I realised before I started that I wasn't going to convince anyone on the other side that science is better than superstition, but I was unprepared for the outright lies that my opponents fell back on. That debate was mentioned in a creationism forum recently using the words "the ludicrous Australian Skeptics (whom we demolished in even combat, available as a booklet)". The writer then went on to refer to well-known fraud perpetrated by creationists which was exposed years ago. In the fine creationist tradition of ignoring any evidence or counter-argument supplied to them and then lying about its existence, this fraud is still being promoted as fact.

Someone told me about what was being said (I was unaware that the particular forum existed) so I posted a message in which I said "I hope that the booklet is being given away for free. I would not like to think that something I wrote half of was being sold and I wasn't being paid for it". (My message was edited by the forum moderator, without mentioning the edit, by removing a comment about how the person I was responding to had the signal distinction of being the only person ever to be banned from contributing to the Sydney Morning Herald's blog.) An answer came directed, its hypocrisy expected, Sarfati 'twas that wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:

Both sides had three 1500-word essays to make their case. It is hardly our fault that the Skeptics chose to waste theirs on alleged contraditions in the Bible, relying on an older English version not the Hebrew. And we have it in writing that we could publish the debate in booklet form.

You may note that my question about being paid for my work was not answered (Having permission to print the booklet is not the same as having permission to print it, sell it and not pay me a share.) I responded:

I really must apologise for that. I was relying on the King James version of the Bible. I was unaware of any later Hebrew version.

So I expect that you will shortly respond to my question about whether [the booklet] is being given away for free, and if it isn't, what arrangements are being made to pay me a share.

A week later and my message has not been released by the moderator, although several later messages from other people have appeared. Perhaps someone is still trying to locate that Hebrew version of the Bible which has replaced the King James English version as the canonical Christian sacred book. Or perhaps the moderator doesn't like the deceit and idiocy of one of his friends being exposed.

AIDS denial lunacy (20/1/2007)
You might think that an organisation calling itself "The Treatment Information Group" could be a place to go for information about a treatment of some kind, but like the equally ill-named National Vaccine Information Center, any information will almost certainly be dangerous to public health. TIG is an AIDS denialist group, and their latest effort is to file a "59-page draft bill of indictment at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, in which we apply for the prosecution of TAC leader Zackie Achmat on a charge of genocide for his direct criminal role in the deaths of thousands of South Africans". Zackie Achmat is a true hero, someone who refused antiretroviral drugs for his own HIV (which he could easily afford personally) until the drugs were made available to everybody with HIV in South Africa.

It is obvious to any sentient being that the AIDS deniers are just as mentally unbalanced as the anti-vaccination liars, but seldom do the lunatics provide such clear evidence of their madness. Most readers would have given up long before getting to page 58 of the 59-page "bill of indictment", so they wouldn't see this:

In view of the scale and gravity of Achmat's crime and his direct personal criminal culpability for 'the deaths of thousands of people', to quote his own words, it is respectfully submitted that the International Criminal Court ought to impose on him the highest sentence provided by Article 77.1(b) of the Rome Statute, namely to permanent confinement in a small white steel and concrete cage, bright fluorescent light on all the time to keep an eye on him, his warders putting him out only to work every day in the prison garden to cultivate nutrient-rich vegetables, including when it's raining, in order for him to repay his debt to society, with the ARVs he claims to take administered daily under close medical watch at the full prescribed dose, morning, noon and night, without interruption, to prevent him faking that he's being treatment compliant, pushed if necessary down his forced-open gullet with a finger, or, if he bites, kicks and screams too much, dripped into his arm after he's been restrained on a gurney with cable ties around his ankles, wrists and neck, until he gives up the ghost on them, so as to eradicate this foulest, most loathsome, unscrupulous and malevolent blight on the human race, who has 59 plagued and poisoned the people of South Africa, mostly black, mostly poor, for nearly a decade now, since the day he and his TAC first hit the scene.

Just in case you missed it, this is supposed to be a legal document. That must be why it calls Achmat the "most loathsome, unscrupulous and malevolent blight on the human race", and suggests that he suffer "permanent confinement in a small white steel and concrete cage, bright fluorescent light on all the time to keep an eye on him, his warders putting him out only to work every day in the prison garden to cultivate nutrient-rich vegetables, including when it's raining", and that drugs be "pushed if necessary down his forced-open gullet with a finger, or, if he bites, kicks and screams too much, dripped into his arm after he's been restrained on a gurney with cable ties around his ankles, wrists and neck". And yes, this was written by a lawyer. A very mad lawyer.

(Thanks to reader Simon Hindley for alerting me to this and to Ben Goldacre for encouraging me to persist until I got to page 58 of the "indictment".)

Vaccination sense (20/1/2007)
A "Thank you" goes to regular reader Richard Scheffler who has alerted me to an excellent article about vaccination in the Wall Street Journal by Dr Paul Offit from the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia. I tried to get permission to republish it from the WSJ and they told me to contact the author, so I have written to Dr Offit, and I hope to have the article here soon. One of the most attractive things about Dr Offit is that he is universally despised, demeaned, denigrated, derogated and dismissed by the anti-vaccination liars. Anyone hated so much by these people must be doing something right. (You can see the article here.)

January 27, 2007

It looks like being a very good year (27/1/2007)
January is not yet over, and already it appears that this year's crop of mail from dissatisfied customers will provide much for me to think about. You can see the collection so far here, and here are some samples:

From: "K Turner"
Subject: new site
Date: Mon, 08 Jan 2007 14:45:32 +1000

Dear ratbag,

I stumbled across your website today. eeewww What a self-conceited, Hate lover you are!! It doesn't matter why I was there, so I won't get into it right now – but I will say that I have found you are spouting off about 'exploiting the misery of others and giving them false hopes', when YOU are IN FACT, exploiting the misery of others and I can't say that you are giving them false hopes but you are certainly destroying their hopes. Which is worse? You are in the same category ratbag. hahaha I bet you think you are above fitting into any category now don't you. It might pay to kick back for a while, you know...get to know yourself a little, what you think, what you like and dislike, what you know and would like to do. That kind of stuff. Then you might not be such a contradictory person my friend.


It was so pretty that I had to leave it in the original type. And it came from my grandmother, too!

From: "Stan Giles"
Subject: philosophy
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2007 21:25:18 -0600

I'm glad I read your sophistry er ah, I mean philosophy before I decided to write you. It's refreshing to know that a well educated, articulate wordsmith like yourself can still make a boffo career out of being an advocate for ignorance. Really, how can you ignore factual scientific information in favor of highly phrased popular pseudoscience. You bore me.

Stan Giles

From: "Therese Mackay"
Subject: you are the rat bag
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2007 20:24:28 +1100

Just go jump in a lake...whichever toxic lake you it full of mercury, fluoride or any heavy metal of your choice...have you read a book called "The triumph of the airheads"? Iif not you shoul... its all about you!

Have a noicee dayee you fluff ball of humanity.


And one minute later!

From: "Therese Mackay"
Subject: amalgams
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2007 20:25:24 +1100

And wny has California banned the use of amalgams do you reckon dickhead?

If California had banned amalgams I might be able to answer the question, but they haven't so I can't.

Creationist honesty update (27/1/2007)
I mentioned last week that I had been dragged into a conversation with some creationists and that a week had passed since I had submitted a message to a forum where I responded to the statement "It is hardly our fault that the Skeptics chose to waste theirs on alleged contraditions (sic) in the Bible, relying on an older English version not the Hebrew" by saying "I really must apologise for that. I was relying on the King James version of the Bible. I was unaware of any later Hebrew version". Another week has gone by and the page is still telling me that "Your comment is awaiting moderation". I wonder what is taking them so long. Could it be that the post-1611 Hebrew translation of the Bible has been taken out of the library and the borrower has forgotten to take it back? Or could it be that creationists are behaving like creationists and being deceptive?

Deadline approaching (27/1/2007)
Nominations for all Nobel Prizes for 2007 close on February 1. I have been encouraging people with guaranteed cures for cancer to get themselves nominated for the Physiology or Medicine Prize for some time now, but for some reason they are all too shy to enter the contest. You would think that in the 2459 days since I first offered to help that someone would have accepted my kind offer. I know that if I had the guaranteed cure for all forms of cancer (and you can see four people who make this claim here) I would want the recognition regularly given to orthodox doctors and researchers who do such trivial things as can be seen in the list here. (I except Dr Otto Warburg, of course, because every quack knows that he won more than one Nobel for curing cancer, and also Drs Paul Greengard, Eric R. Kandel and Günter Blobel who all proved that Mannatech products work but for some reason want the courts to order Mannatech distributors to stop using their names.)

Perhaps all the alternative medicine practitioners who can cure cancer really are modest. Perhaps they don't need the money (because having the cure would make them already rich beyond anyone's dreams). Or perhaps they are lying charlatans who can't cure cancer at all but like taking money from sick people who believe their lies.

Things move a bit slowly around here (27/1/2007)
During the week a four-page publication called The Australian Fluoridation News appeared in my letterbox. It started off by talking about how the Australian Dental Association had rejected fluoridation. Talking about an ADA publication, the newsletter said:

I was a bit surprised by this, because there seems to be rather comprehensive support for fluoridation on the ADA's web site. I wondered if things had changed recently and the ADA had simply given up and not bothered to update their site now that they had admitted defeat. The newsletter went on to talk about how other dentists, dental bodies and academics had publicly renounced and denounced fluoridation, plus the usual warnings about fluoride being rat poison, pesticide, carcinogenic and an industrial waste product (although now it seems to be a waste from pesticide manufacture, not aluminium production). Unless the writer of the newsletter lives in some other parallel universe it looks like we are all in big trouble, and it is probably only the droughts across Australia that are stopping us from drinking too much poisoned water. Then I looked at the date on the top of the newsletter:

It looks like my theory about a parallel universe might have some basis in fact. Perhaps the newsletter writer was abducted by aliens in 1997 and has just returned from Alienia. That could explain another mystery. The newsletter was printed on paper which is 320mm high and 420mm wide, which folds to a four-pager. The width of the folded page is the same as A4, but the height is not standard for any system of paper sizes anywhere in the world. Perhaps it is a standard size in whatever measurement units are used in the alien civilisation. (Yes, I know that you can get SRA3, which is 320x450, but that is to allow for what printers call "bleed" and is supposed to be trimmed back to A3 after printing.)

Or perhaps these scaremongers think that they can tell the same stories as they did ten years ago and nobody will notice that we aren't all dead yet. And nobody has ever said that tooth decay has been "conquered".

Sometimes I need a laugh (27/1/2007)
One of the books added to the bookshop this week is I'm No Quack, a collection of doctor cartoons drawn for the New Yorker by Danny Shanahan. Here's one that caught my eye, and to avoid charges of copyright infringement I am obliged to tell you that this is fair use for the purpose of review and you will have to buy the book to see the rest.

"Our integrated approach to medicine skilfully combines an array of holistic alternative treatments with a sophisticated computerised billing service"


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