Witchcraft!

Thursday, 13 October 2011 14:10
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
This was in the news the other day:

SAFA 'owe' sangoma R90 000
2011-10-11 14:09

Johannesburg - A sangoma [witchdoctor] claims the South African Football Association (SAFA) owes him R90 000 for providing the "magic" to beat France in the 2010 Soccer World Cup, the Daily Sun reported on Tuesday.

S'bonelo Madela said Bafana Bafana would not win any matches until he got his money, hinting he was responsible for the team's failure to go through to the Africa Cup of Nations finals on Saturday.

"If the national soccer team want to start winning, the SAFA bosses must settle their debt with me first," Madela was quoted as saying.

SAFA vice-president Mwelo Nonkonyane confirmed it had used Madela's services, but said he had already been paid.

"We are going to open a criminal case against this guy," Nonkonyane said in the report.

Neither Nonkonyane nor SAFA spokesperson Morio Sanyane and Gary Mojela could be reached for comment.

Source: Sport24
So SAFA actually used a witchdoctor, and paid him for his services?!!! *boggles*

(And before you lot in First World countries point and laugh, remember that the NHS pays for homoeopathy and other quackery in hospitals, and the US has its fair share too).

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Monday, 29 August 2011 12:15
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Tuesday, 26 April 2011 12:00
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Friday, 14 January 2011 12:00
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  • Thu, 19:32: Best thing about getting back from holiday to work on a Thursday is that it's just one day, and it's Friday already! #fb
  • Fri, 06:13: RT @gussilber: Shocking news: your zodiac sign may have changed. This will explain the odd shifts in your behaviour. http://t.co/Ep5C6tu #fb

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  • Thu, 15:47: RT @phaezen: But Power Balance does work - for the easy identification of fools :-P
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Wednesday, 27 October 2010 12:02
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  • Mon, 18:38: RT @bengoldacre: Homeopathic belladonna teething tablets turn out to contain belladonna: children poisoned, oops http://dlvr.it/7ZX1C
  • Tue, 05:59: @BridgetRegan In defence of cars, at least they go where you point them and don't take you under low branches. In my experience, of course.
  • Tue, 07:44: Singer Bryan Adams will be the voice of Jock in the upcoming Jock of the Bushveld 3D movie. #fb
  • Tue, 08:37: Top 10 tech tricks we're sick of seeing in movies - CNET News: http://bit.ly/9G0OBB #fb
  • Tue, 09:30: RT @laurenbeukes: Non-South Africans know that District 9 was one gigantic in-joke about the most sinister creatures in Joburg, right? h ...
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
XKCD nailed this one perfectly: The economic argument on quackery.



It's along the lines of something I've argued: if something works, it changes the way things are done. Sterilisation worked in medicine, so it got used. Antibiotics worked, so they got used. If faith healing worked, it would be part of all hospitals' standard procedures.
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

I think numerology is daft, just like reading tea leaves or using the innards of animals. Humans have evolved to read patterns in things, and we read patterns even in many things that are not designed to have patterns. Thus people read number sequences or read meanings into particular numbers even when there's nothing to support it at all.
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
I read a rather interesting post on the topic of "subjective validation", which is the term for why people are more vulnerable to suggestion when they are the subject of conversation - and thus more vulnerable to falling for biorhythms, iridology, phrenology, numerology, tarot, and astrology.

The Misconception: You are skeptical of generalities.

The Truth: You are prone to believing vague statements and predictions are true, especially if they are positive and address you personally.


Subjective Validation )

Dowsers

Tuesday, 22 June 2010 22:21
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
So nice that dowsers are getting nailed for fraud; it's a pity, though, that many people had to die because of these dowsing devices. I think the police should track down anyone involved in authorising their use for the military or police.

Police raids expand bomb detector probe

Page last updated at 18:40 GMT, Tuesday, 8 June 2010 19:40 UKE

Police investigating the sale of suspected fake bomb detectors to countries including Iraq have searched premises linked to three businesses.

Sites raided were linked to Global Tech, of Kent, Grosvenor Scientific, in Devon, and Scandec, of Nottingham.

Cash and hundreds of the devices have been seized, and a number of people are due to be interviewed under caution on suspicion of fraud.

The boss of another firm that sold detectors remains on police bail.

Jim McCormick, 53, of ATSC Ltd in Sparkford, Somerset, was originally arrested in January on suspicion of fraud by misrepresentation.

A BBC Newsnight investigation alleged that millions of pounds worth of the company's ADE-651 detectors sold to Iraq did not work.

The UK government banned the export of the ADE-651 device to Iraq and Afghanistan earlier this year, saying tests showed the equipment was "not suitable for bomb detection".

There are concerns that the hand-held detectors have failed to stop bomb attacks that have killed hundreds of people.

It has since emerged that other bomb detectors remain on the market.

Officers from City of London Police's Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit (OACU) carried out five search warrants on three homes and two business premises on Tuesday.

The unit is investigating whether the devices' abilities have been fraudulently misrepresented, and whether sales overseas are linked to bribes.

OACU head Det Supt Colin Cowan said: "We are concerned that these items present a real physical threat to anyone who may rely on such a device for protection.
"It is for this reason that we are seeking to raise awareness of this threat and obtain assistance from the public."

Police appealed for anyone with information about the devices' manufacture, sale or distribution to call 020 7601 6969 or e-mail OACU@cityoflondon.police.uk

Source: BBC

Psychics

Friday, 21 May 2010 22:27
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
From [livejournal.com profile] cuddlycthulhu, today:

To say that I am skeptical of anyone claiming to be a psychic is a bit of an understatement, that I have a low opinion of them is equally understated, and that the people who give them their money get exactly what they deserve. However, I do have to applaud the sheer audacity of some of the schemes because the claims some of these people make would make P.T. Barnum blush.

For instance, there Nancy Marks, a self-proclaimed psychic out of Colorado. Now, not content to just give palm or tea readings, Nancy decided to take it up a notch by telling her clients that their money was evil and that they should give it to Marks so she could punish it.

Their money. Evil. And she would punish it. AND PEOPLE BELIEVED HER.

Apparently, she was going to punish nearly three hundred thousand possessed dollar bills. Do you know how many spankings that is? At least three hundred thousand!


I LOLed. I think this is a tax on the gullible...
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
The 5 most fraudulent psychics of all-time

Obviously, they're all frauds, but I think these are the best known.
5. John Edward (I've mentioned him before).
4. Sylvia Browne. She's evil; she has caused some real pain to people seeking help.
3. Miss Cleo
2. Mina Crandon
1. Uri Geller
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)


I've just finished reading Ben Goldacre's book, Bad Science, and it's a fascinating insight into the bad aspects of (mostly medical) science, like nutritionists, pharmaceutical companies, alternative medicine and homeopathy, anti-vaccination campaigns, antioxidants, and suchlike, and the influence of the media in promoting them. He discusses those specifics, but delves into how many trials and studies are done and how they should be done, showing how study statistics are manipulated to meet certain agendas. He also has a chapter in the most recent edition of the book on the HIV/AIDS scandal in South Africa, where quack Matthias Rath influenced then-President Thabo Mbeki and his sidekick, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, into denying that HIV led to AIDS, and directly and indirectly leading to the infection and deaths of hundreds of thousands.

Some of the problems Goldacre touches on include stuff like press releases that talk about relative improvements instead of absolute improvments (e.g. "50% improvement" when talking about a difference between 0.4% and 0.6%, i.e. a 0.2% absolute improvement), presenting to the media instead of publishing in medical journals, deliberate faking of figures (e.g. Andrew Wakefield and the MMR vaccines), and comparison of treatments with placebos instead of with the current best treatment.

Highly recommended; this book is an eye-opener.
claidheamhmor: (Aes Sedai)
I'm glad to see the UK parliament is recognising that homeopathic remedies are merely placebos.

While I have no objection to people buying such remedies or other placebos with their own money, I don't believe the government should be funding the purchase of water with taxpayer money, and I do believe that such remedies should be clearly marked. Of course, if the manufacturers of homeopathic remedies want anything different, they should subscribe to the same efficacy and safety testing as normal medicine.

Homeopathy 'merely a placebo'
2010-02-22 22:10

London - Britain's National Health Service (NHS) should stop funding homeopathy, which was merely a placebo, a UK parliamentary committee recommended on Monday.

A placebo is customarily a pharmacologically inert substance - such as a sugar pill - given to patients with the assurance that it will make them better.

In a report released on Monday, the science and technology committee also said homeopathic product labels should not be allowed to make medical claims without evidence of efficacy.

The committee said it had found a "mismatch" between the evidence on homeopathy and government policy.

Though the government acknowledged there was no evidence that homeopathy worked beyond the placebo effect, where patients got better because of their belief in the treatment, it did not intend to change its policies on NHS funding.

Deception

"In the committee’s view, homeopathy is a placebo treatment and the government should have a policy on prescribing placebos," the committee said.

Prescribing placebos, which usually relied on some degree of deception of the patient, was not consistent with informed patient choice, which the government claimed was very important.

"Beyond ethical issues and the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship, prescribing pure placebos is bad medicine," the committee said.

"Their effect is unreliable and unpredictable and cannot form the sole basis of any treatment on the NHS."

It said the product labelling for homeopathic products under all current licensing schemes failed to inform the public that homeopathic products were sugar pills containing no active ingredients.

'Material substances'

Public mass overdose of homeopathic remedies has forced the New Zealand Council of Homeopaths to admit openly that their products do not contain any "material substances".

Council spokesperson Mary Glaisyer admitted publicly that "there's not one molecule of the original substance remaining" in the diluted remedies that form the basis of this multi-million dollar industry.

Homeopathic remedies are prepared by repeatedly diluting substances, and giving the result - which may not contain any of the original substance - to patients.

Part of the dilution involves repeatedly striking the container against a firm surface, known as "succussion", a process which historically used to be done against a Bible.

More esoteric homeopathic remedies allegedly include diluted essence of x-rays, sunlight and thunderstorms.

Last month a group of sceptics in New Zealand staged a public "overdose" of homeopathic medicine, and reported no ill effects.

- SAPA

Source: News24
claidheamhmor: (Cylon Raider)
Highveld Stereo had the supposed medium John Edward on their show this morning, gullibly gushing over him. One person, a Matilda, had won a competition to get a free reading from him, so that's what happened.

John Edward is a charlatan, but he's a very successful charlatan, despite not being very good at it.

Matilda wanted to hear from her recently deceased mother. John Edward did the usual cold-reader thing, throwing out comments and questions till he got hits, then trying to expand on those. Problem was, he wasn't getting many hits. He didn't guess right on the mother's illness or cause of death (no, it wasn't cancer); he tried to link in another death, guessing at a young man who died in a car accident (not exactly an uncommon thing, yes?), and after racking her brains, Matilda remembered a schoolfriend who'd died in a car accident - but there was no link between this person and her mother. Edward also mentioned barking, indicating a dog that had died (also not exactly uncommon), and talked about twins (Matilda said she or someone close to her (I didn't catch that) had had a miscarriage, and John Edward speculated about that being twins, stating they were boys in response to a question (safe guess, huh?)). He totally blew it on his guesses about a father - no, a father figure - no, an older man related by blood - but scored no hit at all.

He rambled on about energies that he picks up, but that's a common thing from such people who use "energy" as a catch-all for invisible stuff they can't explain. Such "energy" would be fairly easy to detect or evaluate.

Frankly, I wasn't impressed; he didn't get very much right, and the things he got right were both common incidents and had tenuous connections.
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
So, it finally dawned on someone that the less-primitive-looking dowsing rod being used in Iraq to detect explosives doesn't work. What a surprise.

The military personnel responsible for approving and buying this "gadget" should be court-martialled, and the creator should be hammered by the law as far as possible. This device, by essentially being a non-functional mock-up, has been responsible for people dying in Iraq.

Bomb detector may be useless )
claidheamhmor: (UnderworldEvolution)
Faith healers
I read the headline of the article below, and for a moment, thought the quack faith healers were doing something useful by cleaning the country's roads. Sadly, it appears that they're slaughtering chickens and putting snuff and beer on the roads instead.

Faith healers cleanse city's dangerous roads )

A night in the shop
This was amusing: shoppers at a department store in Britain were trapped by snow, and spent a lovely night in the bedding department. Sounds like the kids had a lot of fun. Nice going by the store management!

Trapped shoppers take it lying down )
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
So, here are the results of a 10year, $2.5 billion study on the efficacy of alternative medicines:
They don't work.

To wit:
"Ten years ago the government set out to test herbal and other alternative health remedies to find the ones that work. After spending $2.5 billion, the disappointing answer seems to be that almost none of them do.

Echinacea for colds. Ginkgo biloba for memory. Glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis. Black cohosh for menopausal hot flashes. Saw palmetto for prostate problems. Shark cartilage for cancer. All proved no better than dummy pills in big studies funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The lone exception: ginger capsules may help chemotherapy nausea.

As for therapies, acupuncture has been shown to help certain conditions, and yoga, massage, meditation and other relaxation methods may relieve symptoms like pain, anxiety and fatigue.

However, the government also is funding studies of purported energy fields, distance healing and other approaches that have little if any biological plausibility or scientific evidence.

Taxpayers are bankrolling studies of whether pressing various spots on your head can help with weight loss, whether brain waves emitted from a special "master" can help break cocaine addiction, and whether wearing magnets can help the painful wrist problem, carpal tunnel syndrome."
Source: USAToday, Associated Press

The whole article is a pretty interesting read.
claidheamhmor: (Vendetta 2)
This was a pretty interesting and insightful article:

Boost for alternative medicine )

Some interesting points raised:
  • "Dietary supplements do not have to be proved safe or effective before they can be sold. Some contain natural things you might not want, such as lead and arsenic. Some interfere with other things you may be taking, such as birth control pills." "Fifteen years ago, Congress decided to allow dietary and herbal supplements to be sold without federal Food and Drug Administration approval."
    In other words, alternative medicine does not have to be demonstrated to be safe, never mind proven to work. I remember passing a "health shop" in Sandton City a few years ago, and they were asking people to sign a petition to have herbal remedies excluded from pending legislation that would have required all such medicines and remedies to undergo testing for safety. I couldn't figure out why anyone would want something like that able to be sold with no safety testing at all.

  • "But more than $2.5bn of tax-financed research has not found any cures or major treatment advances, aside from certain uses for acupuncture and ginger for chemotherapy-related nausea. If anything, evidence has mounted that many of these pills and therapies lack value."
    Well, yes, no surprise there. Something I've often seen from alternative medicine fans is that the big money-grubbing pharmaceutical companies are trying to shut down the little herbal/homoeopathic suppliers; of course, it should be obvious that if any of the remedies did actually work, the money-grubbing pharmaceutical companies would have got hold of the remedies, patented them, and would be trying to sell them.

  • "Even when the ingredients aren't risky, spending money for a product with no proven benefit is no small harm when the economy is bad and people can't afford health insurance or healthy food. But sometimes the cost is far greater. Cancer patients can lose their only chance of beating the disease by gambling on unproven treatments. People with clogged arteries can suffer a heart attack. Children can be harmed by unproven therapies forced on them by parents who distrust conventional medicine."
    There have been some cases recently of people dying or being at great risk of dying because they (or their parents) resorted to alternative remedies instead of medicine. (Let's not even get started on Jenny McCarthy, whose anti-vaccination campaign has led to several deaths from things like measles).

claidheamhmor: (Default)
This sort of thing really pisses me off.

Here we have a deluded mother who essentially killed her child because of her own religious beliefs.

Mom expected divine healing )

And then, we have the Daniel Hauser case, where Daniels parents stopped cancer treatment in favour of vitamins. Now, I'm all in favour of people making their own life decisions, but Daniel is 13, and his parents' version of home schooling has left him illiterate (he apparently cannot recognise the word "the"). He simply is not capable of making such a life-changing decision; his parents are effectively letting him die. Now, there's obviously no guarantee that chemo will actually save his life - but vitamins definitely won't.

Mother, son missing in forced chemotherapy case )

How can parents be so deluded as to do this to their children? I truly don't understand it.
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
This sort of thing really pisses me off.

Here we have a deluded mother who essentially killed her child because of her own religious beliefs.

Mom expected divine healing )

And then, we have the Daniel Hauser case, where Daniels parents stopped cancer treatment in favour of vitamins. Now, I'm all in favour of people making their own life decisions, but Daniel is 13, and his parents' version of home schooling has left him illiterate (he apparently cannot recognise the word "the"). He simply is not capable of making such a life-changing decision; his parents are effectively letting him die. Now, there's obviously no guarantee that chemo will actually save his life - but vitamins definitely won't.

Mother, son missing in forced chemotherapy case )

How can parents be so deluded as to do this to their children? I truly don't understand it.
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
I found this article amusing. Nice to see one of these frauds having her advertising shut down.

Clairvoyant did not see the Advertising Standards Authority coming )
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
My post which mentioned acupuncture a few days ago generated quite a few interesting responses. Today I came across a related article in the latest eSkeptic newsletter:

Puncturing the Acupuncture Myth )
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
When it comes to spotting and countering what I like to call "quackery", a touchstone I like to use is what I think of as the "real life test". I don't remember where I first saw it (probably James Randi's column), but this is how it goes:

If some or other paranormal phenomenon actually existed, then it would have had certain obvious real world effects. Where are these real world effects?

For example:

Homeopathy:
If homeopathy actually worked, we'd expect certain real world effects. For example, the pharmaceutical giants would be selling it, after having had it tested and approved by the FDA. Homeopathy would be incorporated into all pharmacy courses at university. Doctors would all be trained in homeopathy, and there would be prescribed dosage tables. None of these have happened...

Mediums: Beyond the grave
If mediums (even a very small percentage of people) could really speak to those who have died, there would be some obvious real world effects. For example, to a large degree, detectives might become redundant, because a medium could simply ask a murder victim who the killer was (or provide description or circumstances, etc.). There would be legal mechanisms for admitting statements by mediums in court cases. Mediums would be able to assist in very specific queries - like finding out from the deceased where he put his will, or his house keys, or whatever. So, where are these services?

Psychics: Mind-readers and clairvoyants
If psychics could really do what they claimed, some of the real world effects could be: all police services would employ psychics to use in investigations and interrogations (after all, imagine an interrogator who could read minds). The CIA and MI6 would employ clairvoyants for spying and investigations. Private investigators would employ psychics (or would *be* psychics). Madeleine McCann would not still be missing.

Astrology
If astrology worked and claimed, you would see things like astrologers being very wealthy, thanks to repeatedly winning race betting or lotteries. (In fact, such things of chance would probably be killed off very quickly). Relationship counsellors and psychologists would be astrologers. Astrology would be offered as a course at all universities. Most celestial bodies would be discovered by astrologers. FEMA would employ astrologers to plan for future natural disasters. Investment banks would employ astrologers in order to manage stock market fluctuations. All babies born in the same hospital at the same time would have very similar personalities, so many hospitals would keep birth records for people to be able to track down their soulmates years later. Yet somehow, astrologers are relegated to newspaper and magazine horoscopes, and writing fuzzy (and inaccurate) books on relationships.

Alternative medicine: Acupuncture, phrenology, reflexology
While alternative medicine might provide a placebo effect, if it actually worked, it would be a requirement in all medical degrees, the big pharmaceutical and medical supplies companies would be selling the equipment in bulk to hospitals, and there would be clearly defined guides to needle/foot locations used by all medical practitioners.

Conmen

Thursday, 11 September 2008 15:45
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
I heard on the news on the radio yesterday that the ex-cop Danie Krugel with his amazing quantum-powered DNA GPS locator has agreed to help in the search for a South African woman who went missing in Dubai. The report went on to say Krugel had been involved in a number of high-profile missing persons cases, including that of Madeleine McCann.


Danie Krugel


The operative phrase there is "involved in". You see, Krugel has not actually found any of those people. He's just provided vague but unhelpful hints and wasted people's time. There's a testimonial on Krugel's own website that shows how it works. It goes along the lines of "The family heard their son was in Knysna. They contacted Krugel who said his machine was indicating that the son was in Knysna. A week later the family got a cellphone message saying the son was going to Port Edward. They contacted Krugel, and he said yes, his machine was showing movement toward Port Edward". Even The Observer has had to retract positive comments they made in a credulous article.

Conmen like him make me sick.
claidheamhmor: (UnderworldEvolution)
Loved this article...

Kansas Outlaws Practice Of Evolution
November 28, 2006 | Issue 42•48

TOPEKA, KS—In response to a Nov. 7 referendum, Kansas lawmakers passed emergency legislation outlawing evolution, the highly controversial process responsible for the development and diversity of species and the continued survival of all life.

"From now on, the streets, forests, plains, and rivers of Kansas will be safe from the godless practice of evolution, and species will be able to procreate without deviating from God's intended design," said Bob Bethell, a member of the state House of Representatives. "This is about protecting the integrity of all creation."

The sweeping new law prohibits all living beings within state borders from being born with random genetic mutations that could make them better suited to evade predators, secure a mate, or, adapt to a changing environment. In addition, it bars any sexual reproduction, battles for survival, or instances of pure happenstance that might lead, after several generations, to a more well-adapted species or subspecies.

Violators of the new law may face punishments that include jail time, stiff fines, and rehabilitative education and training to rid organisms suspected of evolutionary tendencies. Repeat offenders could face chemical sterilization.

To enforce the law, Kansas state police will be trained to investigate and apprehend organisms who exhibit suspected signs of evolutionary behavior, such as natural selection or speciation. Plans are underway to track and monitor DNA strands in every Kansan life form for even the slightest change in allele frequencies.

"Barn swallows that develop lighter, more streamlined builds to enable faster migration, for example, could live out the rest of their brief lives in prison," said Indiana University chemist and pro-intelligent-design author Robert Hellenbaum, who helped compose the language of the law. "And butterflies who mimic the wing patterns and colors of other butterflies for an adaptive advantage, well, their days of flouting God's will are over."

Human beings may be the species most deeply affected by the new legislation. Those whose cytochrome-c molecules vary less than 2 percent from those of chimpanzees will be in direct violation of the law.

Under particular scrutiny are single-cell microorganisms, with thousands of field labs being installed across the state to ensure that these self-replicating molecules, notorious for mutation, do not do so in a fashion benefitting their long-term survival.

Anti-evolutionists such as Hellenbaum have long accused microorganisms of popularizing "an otherwise obscure, agonizingly slow, and hard-to-understand" biological process. "These repeat offenders are at the root of the problem," Hellenbaum said. "We have the fossil records to prove it."

"No species is exempt," said Marcus Holloway, a state police spokesman. "Whether you're a human being or a fruit fly—if we detect one homologous chromosome trying to cross over during the process of meiosis, you will be punished to the full extent of the law."

Although the full impact of the new law will likely not be felt for approximately 10 million years, most Kansans say they are relieved that the ban went into effect this week, claiming that evolution may have gone too far already.

"If Earth's species were meant to change over successive generations through physical modifications resulting from the adaptation to environmental challenges, then God would have given them the genetic predisposition to select mates and reproduce based on their favorable heritable traits and their ability to thrive under changing conditions so that these advantageous qualities would be passed down and eventually encoded into the DNA of each generation of offspring," Olathe public school teacher and creationist Joyce Eckhardt said. "It's just not natural."

Some warn that the strict wording of the law could have a deleterious effect on Kansas' mostly agricultural economy, since it also prohibits all forms of man-made artificial selection, such as plant hybridization, genetic engineering, and animal husbandry. A police raid on an alleged artificial-insemination facility outside McPherson, KS on Friday resulted in the arrest of a farmer, a veterinarian, four assistants, one bull, and several dozen cows.

Agribusiness leaders, who rely on evolution science to genetically modify crops, have voiced concerns about doing business with Kansas farmers.

"If Kansans want to ban evolution, that is their right, but they must understand that we rely on a certain flexibility in the natural order of things to be able to deliver healthy food products to millions of Americans," said Carl Casale, a vice president with the agricultural giant Monsanto. "We're not talking about playing God here. We are talking about succeeding in the competitive veggie-burger market."

Source: The Onion
claidheamhmor: (Time enough for love)
Those who read science fiction will probably have read some of Orson Scott Card's books. I've read a few, but wasn't way keen on any apart from "A Planet Called Treason".

In his spare time, he's a conservative writer who writes a lot on Mormon topics. Here's his latest offering, on the topic of gay marriage:

State job is not to redefine marriage )

Card is definitely more than a little nutty. There are so many instances of faulty thinking, poor logic, and a desire to control the private practises of others that I hardly know where to start in commenting on it. Look at some of these excerpts, for example:

There is no branch of government with the authority to redefine marriage. Marriage is older than government. Its meaning is universal: It is the permanent or semipermanent bond between a man and a woman, establishing responsibilities between the couple and any children that ensue.

Now bear in mind that Card is a very active member of the the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which until 1890 practised polygamous marriages, until forced to stop by a law redefining marriage. Is anyone seeing the irony here?

The laws concerning marriage did not create marriage, they merely attempted to solve problems in such areas as inheritance, property, paternity, divorce, adoption and so on.

Well, duh. So, should there not be laws that solve these same problems in the case of gay relationships?

There were a whole bunch of comments on his article at Speaker-For-Himself. I especially liked this one:
As someone said, I think in some ways these closet cases are actually reasoning pretty rationally, they just start from false premises. The reasoning seems to go something like this:
  • I am a normal heterosexual guy

  • I constantly crave cock and only have sex with my wife due to social pressure

  • Without that social pressure, all us normal heterosexual men would ditch our wives and head straight for the gay bathhouses

  • Therefore, strong social (and legal) pressure is necessary for the human race to keep reproducing
You can see how it makes sense to them.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:01 AM on July 30
claidheamhmor: (Vendetta 2)
So, the Texas Supreme Court has ruled that it's OK to abuse children, provided it's a regular occurrence at a church.

Dallas attorney David Pruessner said no one should think Friday's ruling would give protection to a church leader accused of abusing a child - except that that is exactly what has happened here.

[livejournal.com profile] pharyngula has a nice commentary.

Court sides with church in demon case )

This comes a few days after the debacle in Louisiana, where Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a law that will permit the use of supplementary materials in the classroom for the "discussion" of certain scientific theories - basically, a backdoor into promoting Creationism in science classes in Louisiana. I certainly hope that teachers who want to "challenge theories" will start with theories of gravitation and germs, preferably on themselves.

Sue the psychic

Wednesday, 18 June 2008 12:06
claidheamhmor: (Vendetta 2)
[livejournal.com profile] herne_kzn made a post about a woman in Canada who was investigated for abuse of her autistic daughter because a psychic reported it (by telling an educational assistant at the school that a child whose name started with "V" was being abused). Luckily the mother, because she was unhappy with the school already, had equipped her daughter with a voice-recording GPS-tracking device, nullifying the allegations.

As [livejournal.com profile] herne_kzn said, these frauds don't only separate people from their money - they can cause real harm to people and families! The "psychic" should be sued by the mother, and she should also be criminally charged for making unsubstantiated or malicious allegations.

Quackery

Tuesday, 10 June 2008 22:53
claidheamhmor: (Pentagram)
I wandered past the Gem and Mineral Fair at Cresta last week, and it was interesting, as always, to see all the different types of gems, semi-precious stones and minerals on show. Something that disturbed me was that almost every exhibitor had books or pamphlets or displays taking about the different magical properties of the various gems or crystals. Now, surely there are enough amazing things about these minerals without having all this absolute rubbish? Can't we be impressed about how good crystals look, and how they were formed, without having to see a book by some quack rambling on about how agate is good for the blood or whatever?

On the topic of quackery, while I was sick at home today, I was listening to prank calls made by Whackhead Simpson. For those who don't know, Darren "Whackhead" Simpson is the 94.7 Highveld Stereo radio station's resident prankster. He phones up random people, celebrities, or whomever, and plays pranks on them. (If you want to hear some of his stuff, do a search for "Whackhead" on YouTube - many of his better ones are there).

Anyway, here's one where he phones up a psychic/fortune-teller. Apart from the sheer pleasure of doing this to one of these people, it demonstrates, I think, how these scam-artists are either seriously deluded about their psychic abilities, or are greedy vampires preying on the credulity of other people.

Cut for video/audio clip )


And on the topic of gullible people, Whackhead here phones up not only a 419 scammer, but also one of the scammer's victims.

Cut for video/audio clip )

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