Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

You Don’t See Dead People. And Neither Do Your Kids.

Posted in Rational Moms by Skepdude on October 6, 2008

My two-year old daughter, Sally, loves ghosts. Last Halloween, she received the book Sheep Trick or Treat and since then we’ve read it many, many times. Sally points to the ghosts throughout the book and says, “Ooooooooooo” in her best scary voice. This leads to her ghost imitation where she walks around the house with a blanket on her head. Sally decided way back in June that she wants to be a ghost this Halloween. To my daughter, as well as rational people everywhere, ghosts are fictional, frivolous things. We can say this because the existence of ghosts, or any kind of paranormal activity for that matter, has never been credibly documented or recorded using true scientific methods.

In searching online for a ghost costume that will fit Sally better than a sheet (and let me tell you, it’s hard finding a ghost costume that doesn’t make her look like a Klan member), I happened upon a blog for parents of psychic kids. This site promotes “intuitive parenting for intuitive kids.” The posts are from parents who believe their son or daughter sees ghosts (mostly deceased relatives) or has an invisible friend.

Readers of this blog write with glee about how sensitive and perceptive their kids are. Billy communicates with Grandma! Cindy sees angels! Joey talks to an invisible friend! (Note their use of the word invisible rather than imaginary. As a child, my sister had two imaginary friends. We never thought she had a “gift,” we thought she had a screw loose.) The parents are desperate for advice on how to nurture the psychic ability in their “very special” children. It’s sad when adults think they possess psychic abilities, but it’s really sad when they project these ideas onto little kids. Some of the children referenced in posts are only two or three years old.


Skepquote of the day

Posted in Skepquote by Skepdude on October 6, 2008

Teaching children faith as fact is mental child abuse. It stifles creativity, hinders critical thought, opens the door for children to accept logical fallacies as truth, and most likely leads to a “crisis of faith” (read: identity deconstruction) later in life. What’s more, once one allows (or encourages) a child’s evolving reasoning process to digress into a faith-based, authoritarian pursuit, he or she practically closes the door to the spontaneous pursuit curiosity, one of humanity’s fundamental teaching tools. I could never allow that in my home, and I would never want that for my child. I went through that identity deconstruction, and for those of you who have too, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Rational Moms

I Used to Love Jesus

Posted in Edger by Skepdude on October 6, 2008

I write a lot of negative things, and a lot of people get really pissed off at me thinking that for some reason just because I look critically at the Poster Boys of atheism and the militant sentiments that often fly off of them I for some reason am a christian apologist. That this means I’m a closet christian. That this means I just don’t understand how much religion is hurting our world. That this means I must be clueless to the fact that people in theocratic countries suffer because of religion every day. That this means I don’t understand the pain and suffering a child unknowingly goes through because of religious indoctrination. That this means I must think abortion is okay, because I love Christians.

I do love Christians. My mom, sister, step-dad, aunt, grandmother, cousins and best friend are all Christian. And I love them all, very much. I don’t support people who cut them down intellectually, emotionally and socially because of their faith. I don’t support people who don’t want to hear their side of issues, who don’t want them to be able to practice their faith or who think that talking to them is a waste of time. I don’t support the Rational Response Squad because of the horribly intolerant attitude toward religion. I am *not* intolerant of religion. I am intolerant of religion in my legislation, I am intolerant of religion controlling my decisions on birth, I am intolerant of religion starting wars, I am intolerant of religion being pushed onto children who have no choice, I am intolerant of religion in the class room, I am intolerant of my taxpayer dollars going to religious schools, I am intolerant of my gay best friend not being allowed to get married, I am intolerant of people thinking I have no morals because I have no religion, I am intolerant of the militarism that is portrayed through religion, I am intolerant of hate crimes…

I may be nice to Christians, and I may want to hear what they have to say…and I may also not want to listen to atheists bitch and moan or listen to them talk about how stupid Christians and religion is – but this in no way translates to “I’m a scared little atheist girl who is just so scared of the big scary world! I’m just not ready to tell religions to go away, and I just want everyone to get along!” … I don’t care if everyone gets along, as long as there are capitalists there is competition and as long as there is competition there is fighting. I’m totally cool with that. I just don’t care about what religious people do in the privacy of their homes.

It’s like sex… don’t force it on me or any children to do it and don’t do it in parliament or the schools or in public and I don’t care what you do. Do it in your own home, of building that YOU pay for with consenting adults.


Dying for Sleep

Posted in The Rogues Gallery by Skepdude on October 6, 2008

There is a silent epidemic of sleep disorders in the US (and probably other developed countries as well). Increasing diagnoses of sleep problems is likely a combination of increasing incidence and increased awareness. Recent studies showing that sleep apnea (blocking of the air passageways during sleep) increases the risk of stroke and heart attack. Poor sleep is also linked to diabetes and may be the true underlying cause of up to half of people with the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

Lack of sleep also exacerbates many conditions, from migraines to seizures, and correlates with a decreased life expectancy. In short – we need our sleep. Our bodies, especially our brains, do not function optimally when deprived of sleep. Everyone should strive to have good sleep habits – avoid caffeine in the evening, don’t eat right before going to bed, and try to consolidate your sleep so you get it all at once rather than napping throughout the day. If you still have poor sleep, consult a physician – you may have a treatable condition that can be diagnosed with a sleep study.

But for every such truth in medicine there seems to be a quack willing to take it to absurd extremes in order to sell their books, supplements, and devices. I recently received the following e-mail asking about such extreme claims.


Scientific bias and the void-of-course moon

Posted in Pharyngula by Skepdude on October 6, 2008

Stuart Buck persists in claiming that scientists have a bias against the supernatural, and that we dismiss it out of hand. This isn’t true; the problem is that supernatural explanations are poorly framed and typically unaddressable, so we tend to avoid them as unproductive. What one would actually find, if one took the trouble to discuss the ideas with a scientist, is that they are perfectly willing to consider peculiar possibilities if they are clearly stated. We’ll even briefly consider something as insane and worthless as astrology, which is even less credible as a field of study than Intelligent Design.

Here’s an example from years ago on Usenet, in the newsgroup sci.skeptic. An astrologer, Thomas Seers, was insisting that his weird little pseudoscience was a suitable topic for a science course. One of the skeptics, Robert Grumbine, politely asks him for specifics:

Robert Grumbine: Let us say that I teach astronomy.  Let us suppose I’ve decided to spend an hour on astrology.  What would my presentation be?  Keep in mind that this is a science class, so part of my job would be to discuss what experiments have been done that demonstrate that it works, as well as to describe how it works (in the sense of how the students could make the predictions themselves).

Thomas Seers: Hello Robert,
You appear to be asking a serious question, so I will give you an experiment to try.  This will also give you an insight to what Alchemists did years ago.
On 10/20/99 from 2 AM to 8 AM EDT, mix a bowl of jello and you will find it won’t jel. My basic students have this as a homework assigmnet to learn of a void-of-course Moon period. Silly thing, huh. It can be repeated over and over again. Don’t spill it now :-).


Pope kicks off Bible-reading marathon on Italian television

Posted in News by Skepdude on October 6, 2008

ROME — Pope Benedict XVI’s “In the beginning” started off a weeklong Bible-reading marathon on Italian television Sunday.

RAI state TV began its program, called “The Bible Day and Night,” with Benedict reciting the first chapter of the book of Genesis — the holy text’s opening verses about the creation of the world.

The marathon will feature more than 1,200 people reading the Old and New Testament over seven days and six nights.


Kiss at concert infuriates MPs

Posted in Muslims Against Sharia by Skepdude on October 6, 2008


KUWAIT: Islamist MPs yesterday called on the government to act and apply the law with regard to what they called “immoral violations” committed at a musical concert held at the Al-Raya hotel on Friday night. The concert was cancelled halfway through by Information Ministry inspectors after a teenage girl reportedly hugged and kissed popular Egyptian singer Tamer Hosni.

Following disputes over musical concerts, the government introduced strict controls in May 2004 that prohibited the audience from dancing and imposed stricter segregation of the sexes. Some Islamist MPs threatened action if the interior and information ministries did not apply the law. They also called on the commerce ministry to penalize the owner of the hotel.

Qanas Al-Adwani, who heads the government department that monitors public entertainment, said the girl’s behavior at Friday’s concert “defied the conservative traditions” of Kuwait. Al-Adwani also said Sunday that the fan’s behavior broke the controls on public entertainment. Concerts have to be licensed by the government, and monitors from the Information Ministry watch the crowd to make sure nobody stands up to dance.
Source: Kuwait Times


Skepchick Quickies, 10.6

Posted in Skepchick by Skepdude on October 6, 2008

#47 Rich People

Posted in Humorous, Stuff God Hates by Skepdude on October 6, 2008


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

I am the Lord your God. If you be a rich man or woman, I hate your stupid guts and I will punish you for the wealth I have given you. I am the Lord your God.

In My first book I made it quite clear that I hate rich people and all that they represent. Their hearts are greedy – their minds are arrogant – their souls are filthy. Two thousand years ago I said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Me.

These days it is even more impossible for a rich man to get into Heaven. Adjusted for inflation, now it is easier for a fat lesbian camel high on meth to make it through a complicated Japanese obstacle course than it is for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Me.

I am the Lord your God. I hate rich people no matter what. No matter how they have earned their wealth – I hate them! I don’t care if they made their money as a professional hitman for Pat Robertson himself – I hate them! They have forgotten Me; they give all the glory of their success to themselves – I hate them! They will burn in hell. I am the Lord your God.

And if a man becomes rich without My help, then he is guilty of using evil means to gain his fortune and I hate him. This is obvious. It goes without saying that a rich, evil bastard such as Kevin James will burn in hell for all eternity when he dies.

But I hear you think; what about all the great leaders from the Bible I blessed with wealth? Is there not a single rich person I love? NO!

King David? Abraham? Job? I used each one of those rich bastards to My advantage; nothing more, nothing less. And I punished each one of them with herpes and genital warts! Look it up. They all suffered mightily by My Hand.

The rich covet gold above all else, but they will get what they deserve. Be it a sudden gang raping by a roving pack of wild dogs, or a punch in the genitals, or just simple bankruptcy and public humiliation; fear not, for I promise you they shall get what they deserve.

If you are reading this and you are a rich person, you must give all your money to Me and cast yourself down into the dregs of the middle class.

I repeat: I command all you rich assholes out there to give Me all your wealth and worldly possessions or else I shall be forced to reach down into your stomach and rip out your intestines through your throat. Well, perhaps not literally – perhaps I will just have you lose your cushy Wall Street job and transform you into some lame Honda salesman in Lodi, NJ – but at any rate this is what your punishment will feel like to you when it comes.

I am the Lord your God. I tell you there is not a single rich human* on the planet that I do not detest. They are all total a-holes. I am the Lord your God.

* I hate rich humans, but have no problem with rich animals (such as ducks). However, cats filthy rich from crazy-cat-lady inheritance money must be shot on sight. I am the Lord your God.


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News Recap: Fundamentalist Edition

Posted in Skepchick by Skepdude on October 6, 2008


The Followers of Christ church is a fundamentalist Christian cult renowned for killing children, and sadly they’ve added another to the death toll: 16-year old Neil Beagley died in June of a urinary tract blockage that can be fixed with a simple procedure. Neil’s parents murdered him by knowingly withholding the life-saving medical treatment because they believed that prayer would convince a god to save him. Often in cases of faith healing not working, the death is attributed to the god teaching the family a lesson, or punishing the deceased for not having strong enough convictions.

To summarize: a boy died because of his parents’ uncritical acceptance of religious doctrine.

The parents have just pled not guilty and will face trial in January 2009. Read more about the FoC on Rick Ross’ comprehensive site.

In other news, gangs of ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel are beating, kidnapping, and hospitalizing people who do not meet their standards of modesty. Though not all the fundamentalists say they approve of the violence, few have the temerity to speak up.

Also, last month fundamentalist Muslims fire-bombed the house of a publisherbecause he plans to print The Jewel of Medina, a book about the prophet Mohammud that no one has read yet.

Finally, somewhere, some time in the past week or so, a fundamentalist atheist was told that without religion we’d have no moral compunction to be good. The fundamentalist then shrugged and went back to his book.

Happy Sunday everyone!