Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Oh Just Shut Up, Shut Up, Shut UP, Catch The Fire Ministries!

Posted in Podblack Cat by Skepdude on February 10, 2009

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This depiction featured is NOT my Australia. And this is NOT what religion should be. And this should NOT be happening.

Any questions? No? Good. Then let’s just do something proactive about it and not put up with any more of this time-wasting insanity.
Go donate blood, donate money, donate time and donate something better than this garbage. And for sod’s sake, don’t vote for them or their ilk, whatever you do.

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Extremists Exploit Disaster

Posted in Skepbitch by Skepdude on February 10, 2009

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Wrath of God or fucking arsonists?

I was working with Richard Saunders on layout of the next issue of The Skeptic magazine when Richard gasped so loudly that I was sure he’d found out that I once slept with John Edward.

Then I found out what really happened, and it was much, much worse…

wwwabccomauHeard about the current bushfires in Australia?

A group of Christian Fundamentalists, aptly named Catch the Fire Ministries, posted a media release on their site, wherein they irrationally blame a new pro-choice abortion law for the bushfires..

Not arsonists, not summer, not extremely high temperatures, but a law that allows abortion in the state of Victoria, where the fires are occurring…

Tragically, almost one thousand houses have burned to the ground, hundreds of people have died…and these assholes think that abortion is to blame, that the fires are God’s punishment, and that prayer is the answer…

This reminded me of those who blamed Hurricane Katrina on the licentiousness and debauchery of New Orleans.

I promptly issued the following press release to a range of sites:

Christians Exploit Catastrophe

Australia has been in shock since the Victorian bushfires in early February, resulting in the destruction of almost one thousand homes and the deaths of hundreds of people.

While some offer practical relief in the form of food and clothing donations, others look for someone to blame.

Catch the Fire Ministries (CTFM) in Dandenong, Victoria, published a media release today, blaming a new Australian law for the devastating bushfires, and further claim that the fires were foretold in a spiritual vision.

The CTFM leader, Pastor Danny Nalliah, announced that he had predicted the bushfires in a dream he had in October 2008. In this dream, he had a prophesy that the fires would occur, as divine retribution for an abortion decriminalization bill that passed in Victoria in 2008. Nalliah calls Victoria the “baby killing state of Australia.”

The Ministry’s response is to petition God for forgiveness, and to commence a seven day prayer and fasting campaign. “In our prayer and fasting campaign, we are particularly repenting for the passing of the “Decriminalization of Abortion Laws of Victoria” in addition to other unrighteous, ungodly, and unjust laws and practices which have seen a holocaust of some of the most helpless members of the human race, the unborn.”

“Can we stop the fires? Yes we can! But it will take God’s children to rally together and repent and cry unto Him as in 2 Chronicles 7:14 (The Holy Bible). We at CTFM have seen this happen several times in the past in Australia, which was also covered by many mainstream media outlets.”

The CTFM website calls upon the “Australian Bible-believing God-fearing Christians to repent and call upon the Lord Jesus Christ for His mercy and protection over Australia once again.”

Visitors to the CTFM website can comment on the media release. However, skeptical replies are immediately deleted.

Representatives of the Australian Skeptics condemn the Catch the Fire Ministry for their uncritical, discriminatory beliefs and exploitation of the tragic events to promote their ministry.

Richard and I spent the afternoon submitting comments to their site, which were promptly censored.

So we started spreading the news…

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Plait’s Death From The Skies – Want A Copy?

Posted in Podblack Cat by Skepdude on October 6, 2008

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Yes, it’s been released. Here’s a photo I got of Michael Stackpole enjoying his copy – but mine has been edited, ha ha ha!

And I’m thinking I might just donate my copy that I got (ah, Amazon.com, you are so nice to send on zippy post!) mine to whoever wants to send in what we judge to be the best idea for a new shirt logo and slogan to the Skeptic Zone Podcast…

First, check out the range of shirts and things we already have featured on Zazzle!

Then, go have a listen to the second episode of the Skeptic Zone, that was just released – at the Official Skeptic Zone Site and here’s the iTunes Link For Subscription.

It’s kind of a mini-episode, featuring on the Skeptics in the Pub over in Sydney, with Rachael, Richard and a lot of the skeptic gang enjoying a good time. There may or may not be references to ghosts wearing ‘Choose Life!’ 80s shirts and perhaps the Goodies. I cannot give too much away.

As for giving away what I think about Plait’s book? Well, from my first read that has taken me from writing much over the past day or so – bugger space. Save me from prions: progressive neurodegenerative disorders suck far, far worse than black holes and at least in your last few minutes you can actually think ‘cool!’ if it really was the highly unlikely cannibal galaxies. ‘Death From the Skies’ is probably better for Arthur Dent than a big guide with ‘Don’t Panic’ written in large, friendly letters on the cover. Because it actually does show why ‘don’t panic’.

I first gave a copy of Plait’s first book, Bad Astronomy, to a student who completed an investigation into moon hoaxes as a part of her submission to a skeptic report writing contest. The amount of detail she went into led to her asking on Dr Plait’s BAUT board about the Van Allen belts.

His response: “…they were in the belts for just a few minutes. Inner, outer, it doesn’t matter. Since they weren’t in them for long, they didn’t get a lethal dose of radiation. Elevated levels, yes,; lethal, no.If you sat in the belts long enough, you’d die from radiation, but that would take hours or days, so it wasn’t a concern for Apollo. As I like to tell people: of course the van Allen belts are deadly– there’s no air in them!”

That same sort of matter-of-fact breakdown is evident in Death From The Skies: These Are The Ways The World Will End and in fact I think it’s a little better this time around. It reminds me more ofTrick Or Treatment: Alternative Medicine On Trial in the breakdown of chapters.

Since Bad Astronomy was published, I’ve been quietly moving the few rare copies that I can find left, into the ‘horoscope’ section of the bookstores I go into (there’s all sorts of things you can do with multiple copies on the shelves – I’ve had Lynne Kelly’sSkeptics Guide to the Paranormal fit quite nicely next to the latest Sylvia Browne and the like – another book that deserves your support and a republish!). I would therefore suggest that ‘Death From the Skies’ would go quite nicely next to anything by a certain William E Burrows regarding “Teh deadly space!!” and does fit neatly on a shelf in any of the young teen reference sections in the bookstore. I’ve done enough poking around the bumper editions by DK Publishing, Usborn, Wiley and the like to see that, like Bad Astronomy, it can certainly get a good audience.

Anyway – I’m donating mine, start sending in some suggestions for t-shirt logos and slogans (you can get an idea of our style already, from the picture I have here of Plait holding one) – to richard (at) skepticzone.tv and we’ll see about the winner on a future ep!

And you can catch Plait talking about his book on the THIRD episode of Skeptic Zone, next week! Head to www.skepticzone.tv to prepare for your downloading pleasure.

By the way – last call for the Linneaus Legacy Blog carnival at podblack at gmail – it’ll be out on Monday!

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Didgeridoos are not for you, little girl

Posted in Pharyngula by Skepdude on September 3, 2008

Harper Collins is about to release a children’s book called The Daring Book for Girls(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll) in Australia. It contains a very short section on how to play a didgeridoo — and wouldn’t you know it, someone is offended.

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Psychics Harrass Father Of Disappeared Claremont Girl

Posted in Podblack Cat by Skepdude on August 31, 2008

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Yes, I’m still at Dragon*Con, actually missing Phil Plait’s speech all about his new book. Just got back from manning the table at the other hotel, for Skepticality.

Since I’ve seen enough of Plait around the conference already (even observed him giving Michael Stackpole a copy of his ’still got a few edits’ new book!) – meh. I’ll ask Richard Saunders for the rundown, as he’s attending. I need a coffee more.

Especially after reading this. I used to work in the same town where the serial killer operated – many thanks to Andy D for the tip – From The Western Australian Newspaper:

The father of Claremont serial killer victim Sarah Spiers has described how he fell into chronic depression because of harassment by clairvoyants who demanded money to help find his daughter.

Don Spiers detailed his harrowing experience yesterday as police continued to field phone calls from the public after the release on Thursday of security footage of another victim, Jane Rimmer, speaking to an unidentified man moments before she disappeared.

Mr Spiers, who has long been reluctant to speak to the media, was candid yesterday about his emotional and mental trauma.

He said up to 400 psychics and clairvoyants from across the world had contacted him since Sarah disappeared on January 27, 1996.

He said they were offering false information and “looking to make a name for themselves or get money”.

He had been so desperate to find his daughter in the first six months after she disappeared that he had listened to the “shysters” and often followed their instructions.

“They hounded me to death,” Mr Spiers said.

“I’d be getting it every day. It was just an onslaught.

“They were sending me to certain locations, just running me around. They were telling me all sorts of things. They’d give me cryptic clues.

“They had my emotions on a rollercoaster. You’d be full of hope and you’d be out (searching) and there’d be nothing and then you’d go down (in emotion) again.

“I can’t understand why anyone would do this to someone in my situation. Why would they want to make it worse for me?

“They probably all wanted to be recognised as being high-profile clairvoyants. They are shysters, there’s no question about it.”

He said the relentless approaches from clairvoyants and the false hope they created had led him to have a breakdown late in 1996, when he found himself sitting in an armchair at his home ripping chunks of hair from his scalp.

…As he struggled with depression, he continued to fend off clairvoyants and psychics and was even abused over the phone by members of the public. “We had phone calls from people saying we are the perpetrators or saying that we deserve it,” he said.

If people wish to know more about the case, I highly recommend the book ‘Devil’s Garden: The Claremont Serial Killings’, which features an excellent interview that emphasises the media and the police force stance, refusing to engage psychics in the cases.

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