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September 7, 2013

Meryl Dorey's commitment to free speech (7/9/2013)
I turned on Facebook on September 6 to find that I was not automatically logged in. I had been logged out of the system for committing a grievous crime against "community standards". When I entered my username and password the following appeared.

When I hit "Continue" I got this:

Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network had been on a rampage over the previous couple of days, submitting whines to Facebook every time someone mentioned her name. The fact that she chose the anniversary of her ridiculous attempt to use the courts to silence me to yet again try to stop me from talking shows that she completely lacks any form of irony gene.

Ms Dorey's attempt to silence me through the courts was dismissed on April 26, but she has appealed that decision. The appeal will be heard on September 18, and I intend to publish something about Ms Dorey's war on children's health on my blog every day between now and then.

Here are the first three episodes:

See more PhD Comics here

Homeopathy. Crazy or just insane? (7/9/2013)
Every so often someone tries to tell me that there is some science underlying homeopathy. It often seems to me that this science is much like the study of unicorn biology or the physics of ghosts passing through walls, but then some really sciencey stuff comes along. Here is someone explaining how the homeopathic properties of elements are influenced by their positions on the Periodic Table. I won't quote it all, just until I can't control my hysteria.

Experiences with the Periodic Table
David A. Johnson
Hpathy Ezine, February, 2010 | February 15, 2010

This paper discusses the author's experience in using elemental compounds from the periodic table in practice. It also explores the use of Scholten's themes, that is, looking at related themes running across and down the table, as well as the use of lanthanides.

During my time in homeopathy school, while trying my best to remember Latin names of different remedies, our class was introduced to the use of mineral salts. Grounded in the indications learned through provings and clinical experience, we saw how a mineral compound of two elements could be further understood through the synergism of the individual elements. In other words, if a history seemed to fit a common  compound such as natrum muriaticum, we'd explore the patient's history to see if certain nuances fit more closely with natrum phos, natrum carb, natrum sulph, etc. Similarly, if a calcarea carbonica theme was evident throughout the history, and yet other facets of the history pointed to sulphur, phosphorus or silica, then the salts of calcarea (eg., calcarea sulph, calcarea phos, etc.) could be considered. At the time this approach was thought to be stretching the bounds of classical practice, yet our results were improved by "fine-tuning" remedy choices in this manner. Michael Quinn at Hahnemann Labs in California remarked that another consequence was an immediate scramble in the homeopathic pharmacies to keep up with the new demands!

Jan Scholten's book "Homeopathy and Minerals" is often considered to be the first exploration of these mineral salts, yet these same ideas were debated over a century ago (see: In Scholten's book he outlines themes of well-known elements, and is able to describe some potential dynamics when two elements are combined. For instance, if natrum tendencies include reserve and closed grief, and phosphorus themes include sociability, the dynamic theme might fall along the lines of "To what extent shall I interact with others and to what extent shall I retreat?"  My experience has been that Scholten's themes for each mineral compound are just a starting point, as there are many potential facets of interaction between any two elements. But the attempt to further understand how two elements interact should not result in poorly conceived prescriptions, so how can one learn to accurately recognize these salts?

Many homeopaths have noted a particular language of structure and performance found in the histories of those needing remedies from the mineral kingdom.  Order, sequence, logic, goal-setting, and "refined performance" are all representative of what can be found in a "mineral history". After it's clear that a client is using mineral "language", one "side" of the mineral salt (eg., cation or anion) usually reveals itself more easily, and a more subtle presentation of the other element (anion or cation) eventually makes itself known. For example, a client could give a history which includes fears of dark, ghosts, disease, insanity, and others seeing witnessing their lack of competence or confusion, and it sounds very much like calcarea carbonica. Yet as the client continues, they may gradually reveal fears of doing something wrong (or being perceived as doing something wrong), being accused, blamed, persecuted and punished. In this case, one could consider prescribing Calcarea bromatum.

Below are selected examples of basic themes of the more commonly known elements:

Left side of table (eg., cations):

Natrum = reserve, closed, private; holding on to unprocessed hurt or grief; averse to consolation; holding on to relationship vs. broken relationship; desires strong 1:1 relationship or otherwise needs time alone.

Magnesium = averse to conflict including conflict between others, when it occurs in the immediate environment – prompting mediation and peacemaking; forsaken feeling and fear of abandonment; search for identity: "I please others but in the process lose myself and a sense of my needs and boundaries".

Kali = relationship to rules, order, family, community, right and wrong, "black and white" (concrete and somewhat inflexible) beliefs and solutions to life's challenges.

Calcarea =  fear of vulnerability; horrible stories affect profoundly; protection within a structure; fear of being observed or others seeing their confusion.

Right side of table (eg., anions):

Sulphur = desire to be acknowledged and appreciated; tendency to run warm; tendency towards disorder; censorious; theorizing

Phosphorus = fear of thunderstorms, ghosts, darkness; vivid imagination which may also include imaginary fears; lack of boundaries: social, intuitive, clairvoyant; sympathetic, affectionate; bleeding problems; love for animals.

Nitrogen = desire for freedom vs. fear of losing control; fear of narrow places vs. one's impulses; fear of heights, running late; may like or dislike surprises; themes of crisis, urgency, sudden, emergency, out of control; obstinate (dislike of control by others)

Carbon = issues of self-worth and value; energy and "value" increasing and decreasing; productivity (eg., work, metabolism) with associated expenditure and depletion."

Because our instructors had employed mineral compounds for many years in practice, it wasn't difficult for us to accept that they were valid and useful.  However, Scholten's ideas took an even bigger step when he described the possibility of themes of life running across and down the periodic table.  For example, in the 4th, 5th and 6th horizontal rows of the periodic table (which include copper, silver and gold, respectively) each of these rows or series was described in terms of specific performance themes: "task" in the 4th row (copper series), "creative expression" in the 5th row (silver series), and "heavy responsibility and influence" in the 6th row (gold series).  Similarly, the vertical columns from the left towards the middle of the table were progressive states of aspiring to peak performance (peak performance represented by the elements nickel and copper in the 4th, palladium and silver in the 5th, and platinum and gold in the 6th) followed by progressively declining performance represented by remedies towards the right side of the table

That's enough. You can read the rest here.

See more Hypnocrites here

Quintessence Nook (7/9/2013)
With a new government in Australia apparently infested with climate change deniers, people opposed to "useless" research such as that done in the Humanities departments of universities, and those who want to turn away refugees, I thought it was time to wander over to the Quintessence Nook at Ratbag Castle and check out some of the wondrous things buried in my old Quintessence Of The Loon web site. Here are three of them.

Tachyon – The Source of All Frequencies
Well, I'll be bifurcated! I've been working towards my Nobel Prize for physics in my spare time and I've had a little trouble with the last few equations I need to link my Grand Uniting Theory (GUT) to my Theory Of Everything (TOE) and with writing the last few instructions in my computer simulation of the universe, the Knowledge of Nature and Existence Engine (KNEE). Now I understand the significance of the final words in that great cinematic epic "Magnum Force", uttered just after Dirty Harry has multifurcated his boss with a bomb: "A man's gotta know his limitations". I have been limiting myself by naïvely assuming that the speed of light is not only a constant but also a limitation. The final irony is that I have been doing my programming in C++, a language whose very name shouts (to those who will listen) that there is something beyond "C".

Speaking of the Nobel Prizes, the author of this site must be in the running for the Physics, Chemistry and Physiology & Medicine awards. If they can sell this stuff the Economics prize must be assured, and there is enough fiction there to make the Literature prize a possibility. Unfortunately, the site itself says that Tachyon won't bring world peace so a clean sweep of the awards may not be possible.

The Hieros Gamos Part 1: Exorcising Bitter-Sweet Hystery
Easter was a couple of weeks ago, so I thought I would say something about it. (Alright, I should have done it then, not now. Stop nagging.) Here is a page in a wonderful ecofeminist site that gives a complete history of mankind. Oops! I meant "hystery" (or "hystory" or "herstory"). Oops! I meant personkind. Apparently, biodiversity is being threatened by the recent introduction of patriarchy into societies. Back in the olden days when women ran everything and men were just kept for hunting wild vegetables, breeding, killing spiders and putting the garbage out on Monday nights, there was a lot of biodiversity and rainforest. Since men invented meat eating, football and hysterectomies the world has been going downhill fast, and men don't know how to fix things because they won't ask for directions. It's good that women are taking over again. I may have misunderstood what this site is saying, but then, after all, I am just a man and not imbued with the goddess spirit. Merry meet to you all.

"And when is he going to mention Easter?" you say. I did get a bit sidetracked, but the connection is where the word "Easter" came from. On this page you can find a link to the "99 Names of Eostre". I would have spelled it "Oestre", but I'm just a man. Merry meat to your barbecue.

Above Top Secret – Uncovering Government Conspiracies
Shhh! Don't tell anyone about this site. It contains secrets so secret that even the Secret Service and Victoria's Secret don't know about them. In fact, this site is so secret that you must promise to forget everything you see after you go there. Even that picture of an anti-gravity-powered plane over there is so secret that you haven't really seen it (of course, being a stealth plane, you weren't meant to see it, even if it were not so secret). I find the idea of a parallel government apparatus quite plausible, because when you look at politicians and bureaucrats it is obvious that they couldn't run a keg party in a brewery so someone else must really be in control.

You may wonder how the author of this site knows all this secret stuff and why nobody has come around to disappear him. Well, I am going to reveal for the first time that this site is a hoax, a coverup of the real truth which is that there is a THIRD parallel government, sorry, gubmnt whose apparatchiks are pulling the levers, levers so secret that only I and a handful of others know about them. Remember you read it here first. If I or the Quintessence of the Loon site disappear you will know we are dead. Inquire no further or you will join us.

September 14, 2013

Counting down!! (14/9/2013)
There's not much happening here this week because I'm getting everything together for the court appearance on Wednesday. For those who are new here, forgetful or out of the loop, this is the appeal lodged by Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network against the dismissal of her ridiculous attempt to have an Apprehended Violence Order placed on me. (People in other parts of the world might call these things "restraining orders".) You can see the history of the action here.

She chose the anniversary of the application (yes, it has been going on for more than a year) to whine to Facebook and get me suspended from posting, so from that that date until the court date I have been republishing a daily selection of articles about the AVN and her on my blog.

Here are the episodes so far:

Phil Selby and his blog seem to have disappeared,

Good scams never die (14/9/2013)
In August 2010 I mentioned a scam promoting fake and expensive listing in a telephone directory, where the scammers pretended to be something to do with Yellow Pages. In April 2011 I reported how the scammers had been fined a large amount of money for this.

Fast forward to 2013 and it's back, run by a different company (in Hong Kong) and with a more blatant theft of the real Yellow Pages logo.

It's still not exactly the same, so the lawyers in Hong Kong probably think they can get away with theft of a trademark. There must be at least some profit in this, because the scammers do their promotion by fax which isn't free, even if it only costs a fraction of a cent for each delivery. You can see the deceptive fax by clicking here, but you might also like this communication I received from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, the people who managed to have a fine ordered last time.

I like to be helpful.

Another mystery found on Facebook. If anyone knows who I should acknowledge, please tell me.

A blind man looks at this web site (14/9/2013)
One of the things I do for a living is search engine optimisation, which is finding legal and acceptable ways to have search engines deliver links on the first two or three pages of search results. Sometimes I can get too good at this, and when I was taken to court by a pyramid scam operator in 2005 one of their complaints was that a search for their company name at Google showed my page about them higher than their own corporate web site. Yes, they actually tried to tell the court that I was conspiring with Google or gaming their search results!

Every day or two I get spam emails offering to apply magic SEO skills to my various web sites, usually offering the undeliverable guarantee of a position on the first page of search results. These emails get deleted, but sometimes one is so hilarious that I have to let it through just for the laughs. The one below is one such hilarity. What makes it so hilarious is that the person has found a page on this site about someone and then assumed that I own the page linked to, in this case the web site of the legally-insane anti-vaccination liar Ex-Dr Rebeca Carley. Yes, this clown is offering to help me get better ranking for the lunatic's site, not my site. I don't think I need to do business with someone who doesn't know what he's looking at. And I'm certainly not going to be paying someone to create fictitious links on Facebook.

From: Nick Grey
Date: Sat, 07 Sep 2013 10:48:45 +0700


My name is Nick Grey, and I am a professional social media manager. I have something to offer that might interest you. Would you like to extend your reach online? Would you like to promote your products and services directly to your target audience? In todays world, interaction between companies and their potential and existing customers is carried out through social media. Googles software engineer, Matt Cutts, has confirmed reports that Google uses social signals, such as links from Facebook and Twitter, as a ranking factor. If you want your website to get a high rank in Google searches, your site should have a lot of links on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

You can see the current number of links/Likes to your website DRCARLEY.COM on Facebook:

I want to help you improve your link popularity on Facebook and as a result, increase its ranking in Google searches! I can place more than 2,000 Facebook links/Likes from your country on your website for $60. For this offer, you dont even need a Facebook account or fanpage. Plus, I work without prepayment: payment is made after all the work is done! If you have any questions, please send them to me. I will try to answer them in the shortest time possible.

I also have other offers: additional followers for Twitter channels, additional Likes for Facebook fanpages, additional do-follow SEO-links, and much more. If this does not interest you, I'm sorry to have bothered you! Have a good day!

Nick Grey

September 16, 2013

A gurgle from the plughole (16/9/2013)
The following release went out to journalists and media outlets today.

Meryl Dorey and the AVN – Another loss in court

Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network has failed in another of her attempts to use Apprehended Violence Orders to silence her critics.

In September 2012, Ms Dorey applied for three Apprehended Personal Violence Orders against people who had been critical of her anti-vaccination activities. One of the applications was settled with the consent of the defendant, who just wanted it to go away. The second was dismissed on August 22, with Ms Dorey ordered to pay significant costs to the defendant.

The third application, against Peter Bowditch, was dismissed in Lismore Local Court on April 26 this year, after no fewer than seven mentions in Ballina and Lismore Courts. Ms Dorey appealed to the District Court to have that decision overturned.

The appeal was withdrawn today in Lismore District Court, fifty-four weeks after the initial application was lodged and two days before the hearing was scheduled. This means that Ms Dorey has effectively delayed a resolution of this matter for almost four additional months. The withdrawal will be ratified when the Court sits on Wednesday, September 18.

From the start Ms Dorey had been misusing the AVO process to try to achieve something for which it was not intended. AVOs are to protect people from violence, not to prevent people from speaking. The hypocrisy of her position is obvious when you consider her frequent claims to be a suppressed champion of free speech. To her, speech should be free provided that she is doing the speaking, but she wants to deny that freedom to others.

A timeline for the matter plus copies of the parties' submissions to the Court can be found at

September 21, 2013

It's all over. Or is it? (21/9/2013)
I received the following from Lismore District Court this week.

Amid all the congratulations a message rolled in from Ms Dorey's great friend Tim Bolen, spokespustule for cancer quacks, insurance fraudsters and dentists who sexually molest patients.

poor peter:

I'd say, off hand, that she made a decision to to not further pursue you because someone told her that you just weren't important enough in the scheme of things.

Tim seems to think that prefacing every message to me with "poor peter" is either some form of funny joke or is an attempt to annoy and embarrass me. Wrong on all counts. What a sad man.

See more Argyle Sweater here

I'm in the paper! (21/9/2013)
A nice article in the Sunday Telegraph.

Meryl Dorey speaks at a rally. Picture: Glenn Barnes Source: News Limited

Anti-vaccination lobbyist Meryl Dorey drops AVO appeal
Jane Hansen
September 21, 2013

THE head of a controversial anti-vaccination group has again failed to silence her critics by using Apprehended Violence Orders.

Meryl Dorey, of the Australian Vaccination Network, has withdrawn her appeal to a court decision that threw an AVO out against Peter Bowditch.

It comes after her court loss last month against Stop the Australian Vaccination Network (SAVN) campaigner Dan Buzzard. Ms Dorey wanted the men banned from making online comments in "any derogatory manner".

"From the start, Ms Dorey had been misusing the AVO process to try to achieve something for which it was not intended," said Mr Bowditch, who is also a SAVN member.

Ms Dorey wrote on her blog about dropping her appeal: "If by silencing my opposition, SAVN and the Australian Skeptics mean that I wanted to stop them threatening, harassing and stalking me as they have done for so long and prevent them from inciting others to do the same, then I admit that's what I was trying to do."

You can read the original here.

And the backlash! (21/9/2013)
It didn't take long. On September 21 Meryl Dorey published a blog post with the rather ironic title of "Silencing the opposition", in which she defended her actions to try to silence her opposition. She also had a lot of things to say about bias in the courtroom. It's a bit long for the front page, but you can read an annotated version of what she wrote here.

As she had so much to say about corrupt magistrates, I thought the state Attorney General should be informed of her concerns. Here is my email to him.

Attorney-General of New South Wales
Mr Greg Smith

Dear Mr Smith,

I emailed you in June about the way that Meryl Dorey, past president of the Australian Vaccination Network, had been abusing the AVO process in order to silence some of her critics. (Thank you for the informative reply from your office.) At almost the last minute, last week she withdrew an appeal against the dismissal of her AVO application against me. Her appeal added almost four months to the time taken to resolve this matter, with the final dismissal of the appeal occurring almost fifty-four weeks after the original application was lodged.

Ms Dorey has now published comments about the case (and her two other applications) in which she explicitly accuses the judicial officers involved of bias. Here are some quotes from the article:

"I believe it is my involvement with the AVN which has influenced the courts against me, causing them to be decided on the personal preconceived opinions of the magistrates involved, rather than on the merits and the evidence presented."

"I still believed it was possible to get justice from the courts, and that magistrates would pass judgment without allowing their personal preconceived biases to interfere. I was a babe in the woods in that regard."

"It is my firmly held belief, based on the evidence from both cases that actually went to trial, that my losses had nothing to do with the evidence presented to the courts. Based on that evidence alone – APVOs should have been granted without question. But both magistrates showed a strong disapproval for the work that I have done for the last 20 years with the AVN and I feel that they were unable to separate Meryl Dorey the mother, woman and victim of institutionalised and long-running abuse, from Meryl Dorey, ex-President of the AVN and vaccine rights advocate."

I should like to point out that in the hearing of the case against me, Magistrate Denes said "I make it very clear again. This case is not about vaccination, pro or otherwise. This case is not about the AVN, this case is not about someone's ability to challenge that online". She then went on to discuss how the evidence presented should and would be evaluated strictly in accordance with its relevance under the legislation covering AVOs.

You can see Ms Dorey's comments at

I'm not sure what, if anything, can be done to stop Ms Dorey defaming judicial officers and impugning the integrity of the court system, but I feel you need to at least be aware of what she is saying.

Thank you.

(A copy of this email has been forwarded to the Shadow Attorney General and the Registry at Lismore Courthouse.)

While I was in a writing mood, I thought I should advise Getty Images that the blog post featured one of their copyrighted images, one that has to be paid for.

A copyrighted Getty image appears on the web page at with no acknowledgment of the source.

As the page is defaming both me and certain legal officers I would not be surprised to find that the author showed the same disregard for intellectual property as she does for defamation and contempt laws and simply "borrowed" the picture without bothering to ascertain ownership and publication rights.

Thank you.

I like to make sure people are informed. And I'm sure Ms Dorey agrees with me that freedom of speech is all about keeping people informed of things.

See more Abstruse Goose here

How did I miss this? (21/9/2013)
The month's almost over, and now I find I should have been joining chiropractors in celebrating Subluxation Awareness Month. People certainly have to be wary of subluxations, which are non-existent conditions in the spine that can't be detected (or even defined properly) but which can provide continuing income for chiropractors.

See more Atheist Pig here

An offer I almost couldn't refuse (21/9/2013)
This came in:

Date: Fri, 20 Sep 2013 18:58:50 +0500
Subject: Kidney for Sale...

Respected Sir,

i want to sell my kidney , i need the money financial problem. if any person intrested of my offer please contact me

US doallar Rs: 20,000/-

i'm healthy person My Blood Group is ( A +ve )

my contact number is +99999999999
i'm living in Pakistan

Unfortunately it's not my blood group, otherwise I would get it for a spare. I have space in my freezer.

September 28, 2013

Chiropractors in the news (28/9/2013)
Chiropractic has been getting its share of publicity lately, and to my great pleasure this attention has been focused on the uselessness and dangers of this particular form of medical charlatanism. In July Australia's premier television science show had a look inside the profession, and this week two expos's have appeared. The first is an article in the Sun Herald newspaper.

Image from a chiropractor's Facebook page
Abuse happened at North Eastern Community Hospital, Adelaide

Call for age limit after chiropractor breaks baby's neck

Julia Medew, Amy Corderoy
Published: September 29, 2013

A baby's neck has been broken by a chiropractor in an incident doctors say shows the profession should stop treating children.

The injury was reported to the Chiropractic Board of Australia, which closed the case without reporting it to the public and allowed the chiropractor to keep practising as long as they undertook education with an ''expert in the field of paediatric chiropractic".

The Sun-Herald has also seen evidence that chiropractors have been entering Sydney hospitals, including neo-natal intensive care wards and surgical wards, to treat patients without the required permission.

You can read the rest here.

This story is disturbing for several reasons, but the title and the first three paragraphs provide a good summary.

  1. Chiropractors have no business touching children of any age. (I would be happy if the minimum age for treatment by one of these quacks were to be legislated to be 120 years.) There is nothing that they can provide that can increase the well-being of infants. Adults might get a placebo effect from hearing pops from their backs but babies won't and should not be exposed to the dangers of this unregulated form of sympathetic magic.
  2. I have written before about the uselessness of the Chiropractic Board of Australia, which only exists to provide a veneer of respectability to chiropractic so that its practitioners can say "See, we are just like real doctors". In a clear case of negligence and inappropriate treatment leading to severe injury the best they can (or will) do is hide the problem and tell the quack to get advice from another quack. The expression ''expert in the field of paediatric chiropractic" is precisely analogous to ''expert in the field of unicorn metabolism" or ''expert in the field of exorcising ghosts". When the discipline is meaningless expertise means nothing.
  3. Real doctors and other medical staff have to jump through many hoops before they are even allowed to go near patients in hospitals, and this even applies to relatives. Nobody is allowed to treat children without undergoing police checks; nobody can treat any patient without the institution's permission and without it being part of a treatment plan (and an emergency creates its own plan); nobody can just walk in, no matter what expertise they have, and start work even if everything they might need to know is on the documentation at the end of the patient's bed. Nobody! Not doctors, not nurses, not specialist doctors, not ambulance paramedics. Nobody. Except chiropractors, who lie that they are just visiting someone.

You might think that this last point is something that happens rarely, but my friend Peter (who prefers to be called Reasonable Hank to protect his privacy and shield him from attack) has done a comprehensive analysis of chiropractors' Facebook comments and pages and has found that the practice seems to be widespread. It also seems to be condoned by the Chiropractors' Association of Australia, which is hardly surprising given that members of the various CAA committees admit to this sort of unethical behaviour.

See Reasonable Hank's article here

People have said that the Chiropractic Board of Australia should do something about this, but why would anyone expect it to do more than hand waving and platitudes. It's not there to regulate or control chiropractic, it's there to give the "profession" a professional appearance. Its response to a child with a broken neck shows what it finds acceptable. People have said that the Chiropractors' Association of Australia should do something about this, but why would anyone expect a club for charlatans to try to do anything about its members following its leaders' example.

There is only one way to fix chiropractic, make it safe and force practitioners to behave ethically. That is to close it down completely and consign it to the rubbish bin of history along with blood-letting, cauterising and the four humours. It was invented in 1897 and became obsolete three minutes later. Why is it still here?

And if you think it can't be silly as well as dangerous and useless, here is picture from a chiropractor's Facebook page showing him adjusting a turtle. Please remember that the turtle's shell is part of its spine and the plates in it are totally unmovable.

Late breaking news (28/9/2013)
The CAA has responded. By some strange stroke of fate this media release appeared on the Facebook page of the Australian Vaccination Network.

Found on the web. If anyone knows who I should acknowledge please tell me.

Are you smarter than a 5th grader (in a Catholic school)? (28/9/2013)
I Australasian Scienceam frequently told by extremist atheists that nobody with any smarts at all could possibly be a religious believer. I realise it's only anecdote, but I know a lot of believers who appear to be quite intelligent – our disagreements are about the boundary between knowledge and belief. Finally, however, someone has rounded up enough grant money to do some actual research and the results are either underwhelming or outstanding, depending on your cognitive bias. I whipped off my clothes and wrote a Naked Skeptic column for Australasian Science about this. (Luckily the weather was warm at my place that day.) As usual, I urge you to subscribe to the magazine or nag your newsagent to carry it. Or both.

Fides et Ratio – Faith and reason.

I spend a lot of my time talking with and about religious people, but I don't usually write about it here because I am somewhat of a moderate NOMAist – that is I generally subscribe to Stephen Jay Gould's "Non-overlapping magisteria" concept, which is that science and religion are different things for different purposes. I make exceptions, as did Gould, in cases where religions make testable claims about matters which are properly the concern of science (such as the age of the universe or the exact instant when a human foetus becomes viable) and also in cases where scientists try to perform such mental gymnastics as proving the non-existence of gods. Usually, however, I manage to compartmentalise myself into the atheist commentator on religious matters and the science commentator with a BA (but which did include science subjects, plus history and philosophy of science).

You can read the rest here.

See more Dilbert here

Glad I could help (28/9/2013)
Two weeks ago I mentioned that an old scam had reappeared. As the last people to try this on were heavily fined I notified the appropriate authorities. This came back:

From: Infocentre
To: Peter Bowditch
Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2013 14:04:07 +1000
Subject: ACCC Response

 Dear Mr Bowditch

Thank you for your email of 5 September 2013 to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) about scams. Your reference number for this matter is 515323.

What you described has characteristics that are common of a scam. We cannot investigate most scams, but the information you have provided will help us educate the public about how to recognise and avoid scams. You can find out more about this scam on our website. You can also keep yourself informed about emerging scams by signing up to receive alerts from the SCAMwatch website.

Please see our website for more information about the ACCC.

I hope the above information is helpful.

Yours sincerely

It turns out that the ACCC already knew about the latest resurrection, but it never hurts to add to the pile of complaints. They were a bit late telling me about the SCAMwatch site though, because it's been listed at The Green Light since 2006.

I get mail (28/9/2013)
I'm not sure how I got on this mailing list, but I received the following, sent as an image, not text.

Date: Tue, 24 Sep 2013 10:14:27 +0000
From: "Enigma Publications"
To: Me and 70 other people (sender hasn't heard of BCC)
Subject: My Welcome to a New Season of the Enigma Channel

Mr Everard's web site is a throwback to the days of Geocities (including a block of text containing a large number of irrelevant words designed to attract search engines – the sort of thing that Google has ignored for years) and seems to be a representation of the author's chaotic mental state. You can download his free book here, but make sure you've got the Ventolin handy for the laughter-induced asthma attack and have one of those gel wrist pads on the desk so that you don't hurt yourself when you bang your head on the furniture.

Note: I've linked to the download on Mr Everard's site for two reasons: 1)  I'm not wasting my bandwidth on it, and 2) Mr Everard expressly forbids anyone else from distributing it.

[In April 2014 I found that Mr Everard was no longer providing a link to his wonderful book. Luckily, I had saved a copy so you can now download it from here. I'm sorry of this upsets Mr Everard because of his "no distribution" rule. Really sorry.]

There's this expression you often see on the Internet: "Batshit crazy". Sometimes it seems so inadequate.

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Louis Pasteur (28/9/2013)
September 28 is the anniversary of the death in 1895 of Louis Pasteur. This date usually brings out a plague of quackery supporters lying that he recanted his belief in the "germ theory" of disease on his deathbed. Did I say "lying"? Good, because that is what the claims are. Here is something I wrote a few years ago about this attempt to smear a hero and claim him for the other side.

Pasteur's Last Words

Louis PasteurPseudoscience has few heroes. There's Immanuel Velikovsky and Nicola Tesla, of course, and perpetual motion frauds like John Keeley, but nothing like the pantheon of genius that real science can point to. One way of redressing this imbalance is to adopt real heroes and show how they were right when others around them were wrong (Galileo and Semmelweiss, for example), as if all it takes to be right is to have people say you are wrong. They also like to point to failed predictions by famous people, apparently to convince us that because, for example, Bill Gates was wrong in 1981 about how powerful personal computers would become that scientists could be wrong when they say that homeopathy, mind reading or faster-than-light travel are not possible. Another tactic is to discredit real heroes by suggesting that the heroes themselves have recanted and admitted that their work was a fraud. One target of this kind of attack is Louis Pasteur.

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