Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Poland and the rape of human rights

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 6, 2010

A polish singer faces a fine and up to two years in prison for…..blasphemy! Yeah, she does not hold the Bible in high regard and made the, possibly very correct, remark that “it is hard to believe in something written by people who drank too much wine and smoked herbal cigarettes.” And that got the Christians really, really, upset and they’re looking to burn her, not literally, but you get the point.

“It is clear that Doda thinks that the Bible was written by drunkards and junkies,” said Ryszard Nowak, chairman of the Committee for the Defence Against Sects, an organisation dedicated to protecting Christian values. “I believe that she committed a crime and offended the religious feelings of both Christians and Jews.” If found guilty the pop star faces a two-year jail sentence or a hefty fine under Polish blasphemy laws.

No dear, Ryszard whatever the freak your name is, you and your buddies are the ones committing the crime here. You have tackled human rights to the ground, and are raping and pissing all over them. Your retarded sensibilities and your arrogant sense of righteous indignation are on par with the most vile, islamic terrorist, bullshit hurt feelings. You are a bunch of idiots and assholes, who value a 2,000 year old book written by people who drank too much wine and smoked all kinds of weed, more than a person’s right to free speech. Not only are you stupid, but you want to legislate stupidity so other people can’t call you out on it. Well guess what assholes, welcome to the Streisand Effect. Congratulations, you’ve just managed to take something that most people probably didn’t even remember and turned into an internet phenomenon. How many more people will refer you your book of fairy tales as something written by people who drank too much wine and smoked herbal cigarettes now?


Up yours, BCA!

Posted in Skepticat by Skepdude on April 1, 2010

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT SKEPTICAT

This morning the British Chiropractic Association got what they deserved from the Court of Appeal: a judgment against them that was about as emphatic as it could be and it was delivered by England’s two most senior judges, the Lord Chief Justice of England and the Master of the Rolls, together with Lord Justice Sedley who is one of the most respected judges on the Court of Appeal.

Back in April 2008, Simon wrote a piece for the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ colunmn entitled Beware the Spinal Tap. It appeared during the BCA’s ‘Chiropractic Awareness Week’. Here’s the relevant extract:

The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.

I can confidently label these treatments as bogus because I have co-authored a book about alternative medicine with the world’s first professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst. He learned chiropractic techniques himself and used them as a doctor. This is when he began to see the need for some critical evaluation. Among other projects, he examined the evidence from 70 trials exploring the benefits of chiropractic therapy in conditions unrelated to the back. He found no evidence to suggest that chiropractors could treat any such conditions.

The BCA objected to the first paragraph above, which they interpreted as an accusation of deliberate dishonesty on their part. They (still) describe it as “a serious attack on the reputation on the BCA”. Despite claiming to have a “plethora of evidence” for the claims made, they turned down the Guardian’s very reasonable offer of a right of reply and decided to sue Simon instead — a decision that the Lord Chief Justice himself said he was “baffled” by. Responding today, the BCA said they turned down the Guardian’s offer because it fell short of their expectations, “not least because the original libel would have remained uncorrected”.

But…but…surely if they had a plethora of evidence, all they needed to do was write a nice little piece pointing to it and that would have given the lie to Simon’s allegation and the BCA’s reputation would remain intact? Mais non! Apparently Simon Singh is so revered and the effect of anything he writes is so powerful that he just had to withdraw his comments and apologise — nothing less would satisfy the fragile egos in charge of the BCA. And as Simon Singh was not only right about the lack of evidence (the so-called ‘plethora’ was swiftly demolished outside the courtroom) but is also comparatively solvent, he wasn’t about to do what most people would be forced to do in such circumstances and bend right over for the BCA.

Last May, I attended the preliminary hearing of the BCA v Dr Simon Singh, held to determine the meaning of the words used in Simon’s article. There I heard Simon’s lawyers argue that the paragraph the BCA didn’t like was an opinion — a comment — rather than a statement of fact and that this was clear from the context. Mr Justice Eady dismissed this argument out of hand. He’d apparently already made up his mind and prepared his judgement before even entering the courtroom and his judgment was that the passage was a statement of fact and that the words Simon used imply a deliberate intention to deceive. Eady placed the onus on Simon to prove that the BCA were being deliberately dishonest, should the case go to full trial. In other words, the burden of proof for something he didn’t claim or intend to imply in the first place was placed on the defendant.

This was, as Jack of Kent put it, an astonishingly illiberal ruling that seemed to designed to intimidate anybody from standing up to the threat of libel even when they know they are in the right, as Simon did. The BCA said in their statement today,

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT SKEPTICAT

Stand up, stand up, against Jesus

Posted in News by Skepdude on November 6, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT THE GUARDIAN

Religious teachings promise us much — eternal life, spiritual salvation, moral direction, and a deeper understanding of reality. It all sounds good, but these teachings are also onerous in their demands. If they can’t deliver on what they promise, it would be well to clear that up. Put bluntly, are the teachings of any religion actually true or not? Do they have any rational support? It’s hard to see what questions could be more important. Surely the claims of religion — of all religions — merit scrutiny from every angle, whether historical, philosophical, scientific, or any other.

Contrary to many expectations in the 1970s, or even the 1990s, religion has not faded away, even in the Western democracies, and we still see intense activism from religious lobbies. Even now, one religion or another opposes abortion rights, most contraceptive technologies, and therapeutic cloning research. Various churches and sects condemn many harmless, pleasurable sexual activities that adults can reasonably enjoy. As a result, these are frowned upon, if not prohibited outright, in many parts of the world, indeed people lose their lives because of them. Most religious organisations reject dying patients’ requests to end their lives as they see fit. Even in relatively secular countries, such as the UK, Canada, and Australia, governments pander blatantly to Christian moral concerns as the protection of religiously motivated refusals to provide medical professional services demonstrates.

In a different world, the merits, or otherwise, of religious teachings might be discussed more dispassionately. In that world, some of us who criticise religion itself might be content to argue that the church (and the mosque, and all the other religious architecture that sprouts across the landscape) should be kept separate from the state. Unfortunately, however, we don’t live in that world.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT THE GUARDIAN

Back ‘cures’, a brave scientist and an epic court battle: How Britain’s libel laws are threatening free speech

Posted in News by Skepdude on July 2, 2009

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE MAIL ONLINE

With his round, John Lennon-style specs and nerdish good looks, physicist Simon Singh is an unlikely hero.

As one of the country’s most acclaimed science writers, he has spent much of his 45 years cloistered in his Home Counties study penning Number One bestsellers on mathematical conundrums, code-breaking and the Big Bang theory.

Turning his hand to alternative medicine, last year he published a book called Trick Or Treatment? that included a chapter on the history of chiropractic therapy (the manipulation of the spine to realign the back), which was invented by grocer and spiritual healer Daniel David Palmer in 1890s America.

Inspired by the ‘miraculous’ recovery of a deaf man whom he treated by manipulating or ‘racking’ his back, Palmer said that 95 per cent of all diseases are caused by trapped vertebrae.

SIMON SINGHTargeted: Dr Simon Singh has criticised chiropractors

Suddenly, the therapy (which takes its name from the Greek word for hand) became a near-religion, with Palmer boasting he was a successor to Christ and Mohammed. He even practised vigorous ‘racking’ on his own children, which led to him beingrrested and jailed for cruelty.

Palmer’s ideas caught on and, in 1925, the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) was set up and several clinics opened specialising in the treatment. Chiropractors were able, it seemed, to cure a myriad of ailments and began to broaden their therapies.

Recently, the association has said that even children suffering from colic, eating problems, ear infections and asthma can be helped.

However, many in the traditional medical profession view the therapy with deep suspicion. Though the General Medical Council and the Royal College of General Practitioners advocate its use  –  especially for back pain  –  some scientists say there is no evidence that chiropractic spinal manipulation is better than other forms of back massage.

This has led to widespread debate in the medical world, with some doctors refusing to refer patients to chiropractors, claiming the treatment does not work and can even cause harm.

In his book, Dr Singh questioned whether chiropractors could really achieve the results they claim. Later, in a column in the Guardian newspaper, he went further, saying the therapies for children were ‘bogus’.

Chiropractor with patientSome scientists say there is no evidence that chiropractic spinal manipulation is better than other forms of back massage

Unsurprisingly, he came under an avalanche of criticism and the BCA demanded an apology and a retraction. When it received neither from Dr Singh, it decided to sue him personally for libel.

Dr Singh’s battle serves as a frightening example of what happens when a ruthless body tries to crush anyone who questions its power or expertise.

The ensuing row has also shone a light on English libel law, raising the question of whether it acts as a barrier to critical comment and public debate.

On Singh’s side are some of the country’s most illustrious and influential luminaries of science, the legal profession and showbusiness.

They include former Government chief scientist Sir David King, the geneticist Steve Jones, biologist Richard Dawkins, leading QC Baroness Kennedy, the actors Stephen Fry and Ricky Gervais, and comedian Harry Hill (a former doctor).

Pitted against them is the BCA, which won the preliminary round with a judgment last month in the Royal Courts of Justice by Mr Justice Eady, the country’s most senior libel judge, who is responsible for a series of controversial rulings.

Justice Eady’s critics accuse him of creating, almost single-handedly, a privacy law in Britain as a result of his interpretations of the 1998 Human Rights Act, in which he invariably seems to give more weight to privacy than to freedom of expression.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE MAIL ONLINE

Singh Will Appeal – Keep Libel out of Science

Posted in Neurologica by Skepdude on June 4, 2009

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT “NEUROLOGICA”

Also, to put this in perspective we need to examine the English libel laws, which are themselves a scandal. The person accused of libel is guilty til proven innocent, and bears the burden of proof that their statements were true. Worse than this, however, is the fact that in English court the expense of defending a libel case in often in the tens of thousands of dollars, or more. Even if one successfully defends a libel case, it can be financially ruinous. Therefore, the threat of libel is an effective intimidation tactic. Strategically, it is much better to just settle (which means being silenced) that to incur the outrageous court costs.

Even worse, English courts will and have claimed jurisdiction over libel cases, even if the author is from another country, published in another country, and the target of their criticism is from another country. All that is necessary is for someone in England to have read the material. In the age of the internet this means that we are all potentially affected by the ridiculous English libel laws. This has lead to so-called libel tourism, where claimants will try to get their libel case heard in English courts.

Simon has decided to take a significant personal hit in order to pursue his defense for two reasons. The first is to stand up for his criticism of the BCA and their “bogus” treatment of childhood medical conditions with manipulation. The second is to urge the British government to reconsider their libel laws.  They really are anti-free speech and anti-science. They are a menace to free-speech throughout the world.

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT “NEUROLOGICA”

Whoring for Islam European style

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on March 27, 2009

Or put it another way, spineless, cowardly body oks call to curb religious criticism.

GENEVA (AP) — The U.N.’s top human-rights body approved a proposal by Muslims nations Thursday urging passage of laws around the world to protect religion from criticism.

The proposal put forward by Pakistan on behalf of Islamic countries — with the backing of Belarus and Venezuela — had drawn strong criticism from free-speech campaigners and liberal democracies.

A simple majority of 23 members of the 47-nation Human Rights Council voted in favor of the resolution. Eleven nations, mostly Western, opposed the resolution, and 13 countries abstained.

The resolution urges states to provide “protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions and incitement to religious hatred in general.”

Which is all nice and dandy. After all we all are opposed to acts of hatred, discrimination and coercion. So I wonder what sort of defamation are they after to abolish anyway.

Muslim nations have argued that religions, in particular Islam, must be shielded from criticism in the media and other areas of public life. They cited cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad as an example of unacceptable free speech.

“Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism,” the resolution said.

And if anyone ever claims this is not about stifling all criticism and free speech when religion is concerned needs to shut up. Just refresh my memory who was committing the violence and acts of hatred after the Muhammad cartoons were published? Why yes, the muslims were! So, let me get this right they want us to do away with our freedom of expression so that they don’t have to act violent in retribution. Talk about a logical pretzel. Talk about giving Islam a bad name. No wonder they want to hide as much of that as possible.

Opponents of the resolution included Canada, all European Union countries, Switzerland, Ukraine and Chile.

“It is individuals who have rights and not religions,” Canadian diplomat Terry Cormier said.

Absolutely right, even though from the point of view of the islamic countries this is about human rights, more specifically their right not to be offended or criticised, even when they want to incinerate and kill everyone else. The Right not to be Offended. Wow!

India, which normally votes along with the council’s majority of developing nations, abstained in protest at the fact that Islam was the only religion specifically named as deserving protection.

Of course why not. Why should Islam get special treatment? All delusions should be protected to the same extend from warranted criticism.

Esther Brimmer, Obama’s nominee for the job of Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizational Affairs, told a Senate hearing Tuesday that the council was a “major disappointment, diverted from its mission by states with some of the worst human rights records.”

Indeed Esther, indeed.

Thank Xenu I’m not in the UK

Posted in Evolved and Rational by Skepdude on March 9, 2009

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT “EVOLVED AND RATIONAL”

Scientology is a dangerous cult.

Now, saying this in the UK could result in an IRL V&:

The Crown Prosecution Service has decided that anyone who attacks Scientology can be prosecuted under faith hate laws.The move will for the first time provide the controversial Church of Scientology – described by some as a cult – the same protection as other mainstream religions.

Apparently the sensibilities of a dangerous cult (with the big $$$) is more important than freedom of speech. Big surprise there.

It means that any alleged offenders who ‘abuse’ or ‘threaten’ the Church of Scientology can be charged under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006.
It is understood the decision was made this month after the Police Diversity Directorate asked the CPS to clarify its position on the organisation.

It follows the arrest last summer of a 15-year-old boy for calling Scientology a ‘dangerous cult’ during a demonstration outside the Church’s £23million headquarters in London.

Just…RRRAAAGGGEEEE!!!

I don’t like protestfags, but I would never want them arrested for protesting against a dangerous cult. Freedom of speech is a fucking human right, and it speaks volumes for the lunacy and misguided political correctness of a society when criticism of a mere belief is made illegal.

What is so different about faith/religion/adacadabra that makes it so different from anything else that is open to criticism? How have people been made to unquestioningly accept that religious faith should be immune to criticism is open to debate, but if this trend is left unchecked, we are headed into dangerous waters.

Ian Harris, founder of the Cult Information Centre, said last night: ‘Scientology has always wanted to be recognised as a religion but it doesn’t even have a God. This decision is news to me and it is frankly quite upsetting and shocking.

No, stupid! The reason the cult of $cientology should not be offered the benefits of religion is not because they don’t have a god (by certain definitions, Xenu could be considered a god, but let’s not get into semantics here). The real reason should be because they are – as over 9000 people have pointed out – a dangerous cult. They actively endanger their own members. They separate families, destroy lives, abandon their sheep when they have sucked every drop of $$$ they can out of them, and the worst thing is that they have been complicit in the deaths of their own followers. They should be classified as a criminal organization, but as in various other cases, the $$$ and blatant corruption makes a huge difference.

Graeme Wilson, public affairs director for The Church of Scientology in the UK, said last night: ‘Scientology is the chosen religion of millions of people around the world, a point which has been recognised by numerous governmental bodies.’

Lying about your numbers again? Awww…just what I expected from a Scilon.

Yes, Scilons have every right to believe in Xenu and thetans as Christards have to believe in their zombie god. However, when a so-called ‘religion’ actively endangers (and kills) its own followers, this does not call for legitimization. It calls for a fucking investigation

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT “EVOLVED AND RATIONAL”

Geert Wilders interview on CNN about FITNA & freedom of speech

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on March 3, 2009

UN anti-blasphemy measures have sinister goals, observers say

Posted in News by Skepdude on February 27, 2009

UNITED NATIONS – Islamic countries Monday won United Nations backing for an anti-blasphemy measure Canada and other Western critics say risks being used to limit freedom of speech.

Combating Defamation of Religions passed 85–50 with 42 abstentions in a key UN General Assembly committee, and will enter into the international record after an expected rubber stamp by the plenary later in the year.

But while the draft’s sponsors say it and earlier similar measures are aimed at preventing violence against worshippers regardless of religion, religious tolerance advocates warn the resolutions are being accumulated for a more sinister goal.

“It provides international cover for domestic anti-blasphemy laws, and there are a number of people who are in prison today because they have been accused of committing blasphemy,” said Bennett Graham, international program director with the Becket Fund, a think tank aimed at promoting religious liberty.

“Those arrests are made legitimate by the UN body’s (effective) stamp of approval.”

Passage of the resolution is part of a 10-year action plan the 57-state Organization of Islamic Conference launched in 2005 to ensure “renaissance” of the “Muslim Ummah” or community.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “CANADA.COM”

Skepquote of the day

Posted in Skepquote by Skepdude on February 20, 2009

Freedom of speech has limits, it has to in order for it to work. The point is though, that any limits need to be kept to a minimum, and it can usually be kept to just one, namely, any speech that incites people to commit crimes. You can say you dislike  someone, or that you hate them for whatever reason, but as soon as you encourage people to harm them, or kill them, or commit crimes against them, you are stepping out of the boundaries of freedom of speech. It is for these reasons that I do not support banning the Bible or the Qur’an for their content, but rather make sure that the content can be critised in every medium available, and why I support the right of the WBC to say what they do about homosexuals, atheists, muslims, etc. As long as I have my right to say what I think in return, then we have no problems. It is when you suppress freedom of speech, as the UK government has done in the cases of Geert Wilders and the WBC, that the entire system becomes worthless. We might as well not have freedom of speech in this country if our government can decide what is and what is not acceptable on the fly as it appears they currently think they can do.

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