Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Skepnews – 8/15/08

Posted in Skepnews by Skepdude on August 15, 2008

  • Australian priest charged with sexual assault – The 65-year-old clergyman was arrested Thursday. He is accused of assaulting 18 boys between the ages of 11 and 17 during the 1970s and ’80s while he served as the priest at a church in Newcastle, 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Sydney.
  • Yet another age reversing device, this one for your face What it claims to do: The manufacturer, Hanna Ibes, Inc., says the Flex-Away facial exerciser gives the face and neck muscles the “workout they need to stay fit and healthy.” It promises users will see their “down-turned lips become rounded and lifted, giving the entire face a younger appearance” and “lower cheeks appear hollower for a classic sculptured look. What the experts say: Dr. Anthony Youn, a Michigan-based, board-certified plastic surgeon and msnbc.com contributor, says I shouldn’t feel bad about that my Flex-Away didn’t revitalize my aging face. There’s never been a study that’s shown that flexing the muscles does anything,” he says.
  • Hunters claim to have found Bigfoot – Named Rickmat in honour of Rick Dyer and Matthew Whitton, Bigfoot hunters who claim to have bagged the 500lb ’corpse’ during an expedition in the US state of Georgia, it was being hailed today as potentially the “greatest discovery of the millennium” – by its finders, at least. Photographs of Rickmat lying crumpled and apparently decapitated in a chest freezer drew so many visitors to one website today that it crashed under the pressure. But Dyer and Whitton’s own website – bigfoottracker.com – appeared well prepared for the onslaught, advertising opportunities for the public to take guided tours in the footsteps of Rickmat for $499 a time, and selling T-Shirts declaring: “Bigfoot for President.” “We have located a family of Bigfoot and besides the clear photo and video we have something even more shocking, A BODY. Please bear with us at this time. We have hired legal help. History is in the making,” they stated on their site. Ben Radford, managing editor for Skeptical Inquirer magazine, said: “It’s smelling to high heaven like a hoax.”
  • Judge led prayer in court – An Alabama judge who once wore the Ten Commandments embroidered on his robe has been accused of violating judicial ethics for ordering a group in his courtroom to hold hands and pray. The ACLU complaint said McKathan dropped to his knees and prayed aloud during a court hearing in February. He told the 100 people in the courtroom that he was not afraid to call on the name of Jesus Christ, witnesses said, and ordered all to join hands and pray, according to the complaint filed soon after the hearing. In response to the complaint, McKathan told the Mobile Press-Register for a story Thursday: “Whatever comes of all that, I’ll continue to have peace.” Quoting Romans in the King James version of the Bible, the judge added: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.”
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The rebellion of the child-brides

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on August 15, 2008

Late last year, a tiny little ten year old girl turned up alone at the court in Sana, Yemen, and declared: “I have come to get a divorce.” This hadn’t happened before. According to the Yemen Times, in some parts of the country the average marriage age is ten, and some 50 percent of marriages are to underage girls. But Nujood Ali was unique in escaping to a court door, pleading for help.

Nujood explained how her father had married her off to a thirtysomething motorcycle courier. On their wedding night, he ordered her to share a bed with him. She ran out of the room, so he dragged her back and raped her.

Read the rest of this entry at The Independent Blog.

Killing humanitarian workers

Posted in Rationally Speaking by Skepdude on August 15, 2008

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT “RATIONALLY SPEAKING”

In an open society the question of the balance between individual rights and the need for security is perennially relevant, and one that does not admit of simple answers. Except, I think, under extreme circumstances, when people willfully kill innocent victims out of a distorted sense of cultural persecution and religious fervor.

No, I’m not talking about the 9/11 attacks, but about a much smaller and more recent assault on our sense of human decency. On August 13, three women and one man working for the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian organization, were killed on the road near Kabul, Afghanistan, by a group of Taliban supporters. The word “taliban” means student, something that hardly squares with vicious murderous actions. Ironically, the three women, Shirley Case, 30, Nicole Dial, 30, and Jacqueline Kirk, 40, where involved in education programs for children (the man, Mohammad Aimal, 25, was their driver). Apparently, the Taliban consider the education of children a crime against their backward religion, and do not hesitate to kill in order to avenge such an affront.

The Taliban in question, should they ever be caught, should be wiped off the face of the earth. People like that simply do not deserve to share the planet with the rest of us. Readers of this blog should know that I am certainly no “hawk,” and that I tend to question the use of violence because it is much more often than not a way to suppress dissent or further repress minorities and the weak. But I am no pacifist (in the sense of someone who is against war at all costs) either, and I truly think that even open societies have to draw the line when they are faced with people who reject democratic institutions and resort to violence simply in the name of their crazy ideas of how the world should be run. And no, I’m no postmodernist either, so I think I can make a darn good case that in this instance we are right and the Taliban are dead wrong.

I feel strongly about the people who work at the IRC in part because it hits close to home: my wife is the Director of Emergency Response at the organization, and she knew one of the women. While I am here safely blogging away in Brooklyn, she is in Georgia, where the Russians keep advancing with their tanks and hope to squelch another democratic country with their bombs (not that the Georgians are completely blameless in this either, but that’s another story). George W. once famously said of Vladimir Putin: “I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul.” What a load of crap, can our moronic President tell us where the hell is Putin’s soul now?

Of course, part of the fault here rests with the Bush administration, which has diverted resources and personnel to Iraq rather than where the real 9/11 problem was: Afghanistan (well, there is Saudi Arabia too, but that’s yet another story). The area where the IRC staff members were ambushed should long ago have been secured by the allied forces and by a well established Afghan government, and the Taliban should have been pursued well into Pakistan, and could have been completely eliminated in a matter of weeks. Instead, years later, things are going slightly less badly in Iraq — a place where we created the security problem to begin with — and are steadily worsening in Afghanistan. Innocent women trying to help children lost their lives because a group of religious zealots keeps acting with impunity while the most powerful man on earth spends his time patting the back of the US women’s beach volleyball team for “good luck.” A more sad and infuriating contrast could not have come across the news wire this week.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT “RATIONALLY SPEAKING”

God on The Bible – Genesis 38:6-10

Posted in Sins, Stuff God Hates, The Bible by Skepdude on August 15, 2008

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT “STUFF GOD HATES”

Prepare thyself, he who reads this, to tremble and quake before the Incredible Word of God, as written by THE LORD HIMSELF!

Witness now the glorious truth of MY DIVINE WORD:

6 For his first son Er, Judah got a wife whose name was Tamar.

7 Er’s conduct was evil, and it displeased the LORD, so the LORD killed him.

8 Then Judah said to Er’s brother Onan, “Go and sleep with your brother’s widow. Fulfill your obligation to her as her husband’s brother, so that your brother may have descendants.”

9 But Onan knew that the children would not belong to him, so when he had intercourse with his brother’s widow, he let the semen spill on the ground, so that there would be no children for his brother.

10 What he did displeased the LORD, and the LORD killed him also.*

This passage makes very clear My passionate feelings on the subject of spilling sperm. I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll say it again; EVERY SPERM IS SACRED! If a man wastes his precious semen by spilling it just anywhere, I will certainly punish him.

Now there are varying degrees of punishment for this sin. For example, as this verse demonstrates, if you disgrace your dead brother by refusing to ejaculate inside his recently widowed wife, and you instead selfishly spill your seed on the ground, I will be very angry and smite you with a painful death.

Or let’s say you do something truly satanic and spill your seed into a disgusting, dirty public toilet, I will be furious and smite you with a slow and extremely painful death.

But the punishment is not always this severe. If, on the other hand, you just spill your seed into a bunch of wadded up tissues because you were bored, then the punishment is only a swift and mildly painful death. Like a sudden heart attack while you’re jerking it. –>

However, it is acceptable to pull out at the last second and spill your seed onto a woman, as long as you make sure to do it on her chest or face in a way that totally degrades her.

I WARN YOU MORTALS! OBEY MY SEMEN LAWS OR I WILL KILL YOU!

* Interesting followup to that story…after I killed Onan, his father Judah later accidentally slept with Er’s widow Tamar. But this was okay because he thought she was a prostitute and also came inside her.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT “STUFF GOD HATES”

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Skepquote of the day

Posted in Skepquote by Skepdude on August 15, 2008

As for the ‘making atheists look bad’ claim, are you shitting me? If atheism is now a godless church where everyone must now adhere to an imaginary standard of what makes us atheists look ‘good’ or ‘bad’, I must have missed the memo. Atheism is simply the lack of belief in a god/gods. Nothing more, nothing less. The claim that an atheist blogger posting on a imageboard makes atheism look bad is an absurd claim that lacks any justification. Who made you the judge of what looks good and what looks bad for atheism, anyway?

Evolved and Rational.

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$30M in Fines for Scam “Created by a Teacher”

Posted in Denialism by Skepdude on August 15, 2008

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT THE “DENIALISM” BLOG.

The FTC has piled on Airborne, one of the most annoying consumer scams in the market. The vitamin pill was advertised to prevent colds. And it was created by a teacher! But the FTC concluded:

…there is no competent and reliable scientific evidence to support the claims made by the defendants that Airborne tablets can prevent or reduce the risk of colds, sickness, or infection; protect against or help fight germs; reduce the severity or duration of a cold; and protect against colds, sickness, or infection in crowded places such as airplanes, offices, or schools.

If you’ve ever bought Airborne, you can collect on the settlement by visiting http://www.airbornehealthsettlement.com/.

One interesting aspect of the FTC settlement is that at least one of the agency’s five Commissioners thinks the remedy is too weak. Commissioner Rosch wrote in a dissenting statement that:

…I believe that the Order provision allowing the defendants to deplete their existing inventory of paper cartons and display trays until October 31, 2008 will continue to perpetuate misperceptions about the products’ ability to prevent or reduce colds…I also believe that the Complaint and the Order should address claims on the current packaging that assert that the product has “immune-boosting” qualities. Finally, and most importantly, it is my opinion that the only way to effectively remove these lingering misperceptions about the qualities of the Airborne Health Products would be to require the defendants to engage in corrective advertising. Therefore, I respectfully dissent.

Amen! Why let them continue to sell off their bogus products? And I wonder whether $30 million is enough to discourage this behavior? They very well could have made more than that on the unsubstantiated anti-cold claims.

Now it’s time to go after Airborne’s scam competitors, Walgreen’s Wal-Borne and Air Armor.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT THE “DENIALISM” BLOG.