We all know that "millennium" comes from the Latin words "mille" and "annus" and means a thousand years. The word "millenium" comes from the Latin words "mille" and "anus" and means something else. This web site is devoted to the millenium of sites which don't deserve a place on the Web. We are not putting them on a pedestal - we are offering them a stool.
|Offending the offensive since 1999|
August 3, 2019
After 80 years, Australasian Science magazine has ceased publication. I thoroughly enjoyed writing for the magazine over the last 16 years and never felt that I was wasting my time. I'll miss both the contributing experience and the always interesting content in the rest of the publication.. This follows closely on the closure of Embiggen Books, Australia's only bookshop dedicated exclusively to books supporting science and reason. I hope this doesn't mean that a new Dark Age is coming, but the loss of these outlets for sense is not a good sign. Did I mention that a politician near my place has called for schools to "teach the controversy", not only meaning creationism instead of actual science but teaching both sides in the climate change "debate". The fact that there is no debate on either issue among real scientists who know what they are talking about can probably be ignored by the ideologues.
My first ever column for the magazine in April 2003 was a bit of a rush job, because I was called in almost at the deadline when the regular correspondent had run out of time. The title of that piece was "Truth and Fiction" and in a sense that's what I wrote about for the next 16 years. The job of science is separating the two, and it is a job that will need doing until the end of time or we know everything there is to know, whichever comes first. Both are a very long way away.
My final column in the July/August 2019 edition dealt with another recurring theme, conspiracies, where people misinterpret evidence much in the style of religious apologetics, where the evidence is interpreted to support preconceptions and beliefs rather than as telling a true story. We all suffer from confirmation bias, but I've always said that as a skeptic I like my facts to be correct. Sadly, a couple of outlets for facts have been silenced.
Unfortunately, one of the things that was still hanging around like a neighbour's nasty cat when this site got back from its sabbatical was Stan Burzynski and his continued theft of the life savings of desperate people. Stan's fans are famous for jumping into Twitter and only posting using the hashtag #Burzynski (they post on nothing else) and usually disappearing after a couple of posts. You could almost think the number of actual posters was less than the number of screen names, but that would be impolite. And politeness matters.
Here is an example of the politeness shown by supporters of the crook. It was a drive-by posting to Facebook by something which deleted its profile immediately. (It called itself Woit Zakski.) Usual caveats about the cowardice and uselessness of anonymous posters apply.
Did I mention that Burzynski is a liar and a thief? I wouldn't want anyone to think otherwise.
When people make jokes about selling ice to eskimos I always think that the job would be made easier if the ice were to be labelled "GMO free" and "Organic". You could then charge more for the ice.
I know this is just some meme invented by an anonymous Facebooker, but the part about the higher price is true. That higher price is just a form of voluntary taxation, a choice made by people who are quite free to spend more than they need to to buy food. The reality is, however, that without the productivity and profitability of modern farming practices we would all be paying far more for our food and there would be a lot less of it to go around.
There's a class of people, including some academics whom one would think would know better, who keep suggesting that some accommodation should be given to anti-vaccine views and comments. Apparently treating the vermin like the vermin they are is unkind and unhelpful. We should listen to their ravings and nod sagely, as if we are listening to something worth hearing.
Here are three examples of anti-vaccination thinking (I use the word loosely) which have come across my desk in the last few days.
The first is a posting to the Facebook page that some friends of mine set up in memory of their child who died of whooping cough. They have been solidly campaigning ever since to raise awareness of the results of not vaccinating (their son was too young), and as a result have been continually targeted with abuse (with even suggestions that their son never existed). This is a mild example of what they have to endure.
I know its name isn't Kell Bell (cowards always hide their names), but I'm happy to publish its real name any time it likes to identify itself.
We have long had to control the gag reflex when anti-vaccination liars appropriate the Holocaust to support their agenda, but this is a new one. Now they want to jump on the civil rights bandwagon. Of course Rosa Parks had no choice about the colour of her skin, unlike the choice people have about vaccination, but even if this fact managed to leak into the atrophied brain of whoever made this meme it would make no difference. And Rosa couldn't lie about her skin colour to get around restrictions.
And then there's just the simply batshit crazy.
July 27, 2019
I'm a regular blood donor. Because I live in a small country town I do my donating in a semi trailer unit that comes to town every three months and parks in a laneway behind the shops.
The last time I went to donate my hemoglobin level was just below the level allowed for donation, and a subsequent test by the blood bank people showed that my ferritin level was quite low. This is all asymptomatic, and nothing had changed in my diet or lifestyle to cause me to be low on iron. After some more tests my doctor put me on iron supplement tablets and further investigation was ordered. Part of this investigation included a gastroscopy and colonoscopy to see what was happening inside me. These procedures require me to have a general anaestheic and to stay in hospital overnight for observation. The gastroenterologist only gets to use the hospital facilities on Fridays and only at the big hospital in Bigtown, 50 kilometres from where I live.
So why am I sarcastically thanking anti-vaccination liars? Well, as I mentioned the doctor has limited access to the hospital so it takes time to coordinate procedures and hospital beds. I was all set to go in a few weeks ago but had to cancel because someone had brought their measles-ridden spawn into another hospital on the day that I was in the ED for something minor. (To make sure of spreading, the child was taken to the hospital ED on two days and to a local GP on another.) As my immune status was unknown it was decided that I probably shouldn't go near any hospital until I was out of the incubation period and declared safe.
I was ready to go in yesterday after two days of almost no food when it was again cancelled because the hospital has no free beds. There is a flu epidemic going on, with many people being so sick they require hospitalisation. (I suppose I can consider myself lucky that the event was cancelled before I had done the "bowel prep" cleanse.)
So not only inconvenience to me but also to the doctors and hospital staff that need to keep rescheduling everything. And all caused by two diseases that can be easily prevented by a safe and effective procedure. A procedure which is lied about in an insane agenda against public health.
I am not happy.
I opened up the emailer and what did I see?
Itís Rebecca from Heaven Sent Healing in Columbus.
Iíd like to be able to refer customers to you, so Iíve added you to my network on Alignable, a site exclusively for business owners to network with each other.
It came from ex-Dr Rebecca Carley, famous for being officially insane.
While there's nothing I'd like more than to network with a certifiably mad anti-medicine kook (she calls in "mediSIN") who likes to rub excrement over herself, my attempt to get networking was thwarted.
The good news is that ex-Dr Carley's web sites no longer exist, making us all a little bit safer.
This popped up on Twitter:
I'm sure this decision has nothing to do with Facebook's stated intention of removing anti-vaccination and medical quackery pages. Just a coincidence, surely. Of course, as Mercola can't open his mouth without a lie coming out, nobody should believe this until his Facebook presence disappears. Also of course, his wife would probably still be around with her own brand of madness and mendacity to act as a proxy.
I have a book written in 1998 warning of the dangers of vaccination. The lies in it are still told today on a daily basis, because like everything else in the alternative to medicine world, once something is said it is true forever and no amount of evidence can overturn it.
Here's something I wrote in 2005.
Vaccines and foetuses (23/7/2005)
In 2003 the anti-vaccination liars joined forces with the anti-abortionists to request a ruling from the Catholic Church about this use of the products of abortion, with the obvious expectation that they would receive an immediate knee-jerk condemnation of the practice and would therefore be able to threaten vaccinating parents with an eternity in Hell. What really happened was that the Church spent a long time considering the matter and talking to scientists and people who might know what they are talking about. The Pontifical Academy for Life has just released its findings. No, the Church does not like the use of anything to do with abortions and recommends that alternatives be sought, but that doesn't mean that Catholics can't vaccinate their children. This is how the ruling finished:
To summarise the summary, it says that while the Church does not like it, in the absence of any alternative it is permissible for Catholics to continue to vaccinate their children because of the overarching responsibility for the welfare of children. That is what the words "morally justified as an extrema ratio due to the necessity to provide for the good of one's children and of the people who come in contact with the children" mean. And are the anti-vaccination liars lying about this? Of course they are. That is what they do. The Australian Vaccination Network issued a media release with the deceptive title 'Vatican says, "Parents must oppose vaccines from human foetal remains"'. Other liar sites have similarly misrepresented the Church's ruling.
Yet another person wrote to me during the week trying to claim that the anti-vaccination liars are not opposed to vaccinations. That person was mistaken. There is nothing that is too evil for these people to do in the pursuit of their deranged objective of placing every child in the world at risk of death or serious injury. It is almost incomprehensible to sane people that anyone could hate children so much.
Here is the latest version of this lie. Strangely, the year cited changes from time to time. Well, not so strangely when you remember that truth means nothing to these people so why would a small inconsistency between versions of the story matter?
July 20, 2019
2019 is a big year for 50x anniversaries, with Woodstock turning 50 next month and November seeing the 150th anniversary of the publication of On The Origin Of Species. (Miles Davis brought out Kind Of Blue 60 years ago but I celebrated anyway. His July 1969 contribution was In A Silent Way.)
But today ....
On July 20, 1969 something marvelous happened. I wrote about it for Australasian Science magazine ten years ago.
During July it was hard to miss the hype about the fortieth anniversary of the first moon landing.
In July 1969 I was in the army stationed at Holsworthy, west of Sydney, and on the day in question most of the battalion were somewhere else, with only a skeleton crew left behind. My job that day was to man the boom gate at the entrance to the camp in case the Viet Cong advanced down Heathcote Road. Suddenly the word went round the camp that we were all invited to the Sergeants' Mess to watch something on television. It had to be something very special, because there is strict segregation of social activities in the army and this was a building exclusively for the use of non-commissioned officers. We were a bit out of touch with world news at the time and I imagine that some of us would have secretly hoped that we were going to see the Prime Minister announce that the war and conscription were over and we could all go home.
What we saw instead was something so amazing that it I can't imagine how anybody could forget where they were when they saw it. We saw incredibly brave men do what no human had done before - stand on the surface of some place in the universe other than Earth.
But were we being told the truth? Was what we saw on television real? Was it just another clever piece of science fiction presented as truth by the media, like Orson Welles' famous 1938 radio play, The War of the Worlds? Could it have even been something more sinister - a government plot to deceive the Russians and to raise the spirits of the American population by letting them know that John Kennedy's 1962 promise to do the hard things had been fulfilled?
Almost as soon as those blurry images appeared on television there were those who claimed that the whole thing was a hoax, a conspiracy maintained until this very day to deceive everyone. It was a very good conspiracy, too, because it required the continued silence of approximately half a million people who worked on the Apollo project in some capacity. Presidents Nixon and Clinton must have wished that they had been as successful in keeping secrets, but as every conspiracy theorist knows there are some secrets protected by levels of security beyond even those available to the President of the United States.
The most commonly proposed location for filming the hoax television show is the famous Area 51 in Nevada. I have my own theory which involves large subterranean chambers carved as part of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, but discussion of that option can be left for another day. As I am drinking coffee from an Area 51 mug even as I type I will stick with the conventional theory.
So what arguments have been offered to counteract the hoax theory? Let's look at three anomalies pointed out by the moon landing skeptics and see what the scientists have to say.
The first one is the waving flag. Everyone knows that there is no air on the moon, so what makes the flag flap after it is positioned? The flapping must have been caused by a breeze, so the flag planting must have happened on Earth. Well, say the scientists, with no air to damp the inertia of the flag material it would keep moving for a while even in a vacuum.
The next two have to do with photography, and both are illustrated by the famous photograph of a suited Neil Armstrong taken by Buzz Aldrin. Where are the stars in the dark sky behind Armstrong? If they are in space there should be stars. Scientists offer some weak explanation about exposure times and taking photographs in bright light. Then there's how Armstrong's suit is brightly lit but there is no shadow of the photographer. The scientists ramble on about "infill" and something about how the surface of the moon is so reflective that you can read by the reflected light 350,000 kilometres away.
In the latest attempt to refute the skeptics, NASA has released some photographs allegedly taken from something called the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and supposedly showing the remains of the Apollo lunar lander on the Moon, plus some photographs of footprints.
The immediate reaction of the "skeptical" community was to point out the capabilities of the software program PhotoShop, but this is a case where the skeptics are definitely wrong. I have it on good authority that budget cuts at NASA have rendered PhotoShop too expensive, so these pictures were made using Corel PaintShop Pro. You can trust me on this because I read it on the Internet. And I have this Area 51 coffee mug ...
I've had some things to say about my contempt for moon landing deniers too, and here is an example.
Good work, Buzz! (14/9/2002)
Contrasted to these heroes is a group of idiots who claim that nobody has ever gone to the moon. On September 9, 2002, one of these clowns, Bart Sibrel, accosted Buzz Aldrin and demanded that Aldrin swear on a Bible that he had really been to the moon. Buzz decided that an appropriate response to some lunatic coming up to him in the street and calling him a liar was to settle things quickly because there was nothing to discuss, so he punched Sibrel's lights out and then went on his way. Sibrel (who is 37) is now whining to anyone who might care that a 72 year old man beat him up. Fortunately, nobody is caring. I usually don't condone violence as a means of settling arguments, but in this case I will make an exception. I didn't think I could have a higher opinion of Buzz Aldrin but now I have. He should be congratulated.
And the truth (21/7/2019)
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