September, 2011 Archives

I’ve posted a follow-up post to this article to clarify a few details and put to rest a few rumours.

A fellow skeptic (President of the Granite State Skeptics Travis Roy) recently posted a request on the Skeptoid mailing list regarding an image that has been making the rounds on Facebook. The image is an aerial shot of a supposedly huge turnout for the Occupy Wall St protest against corruption and greed. What appears to be thousands of protesters clog the streets of New York near the City Hall, with a caption stating:

Occupy Wall Street Turnout: My TV says nothing. The only thing I hear is its [sic] a small 100 person turn out. Turn off your TV. Ask your friends. Dont [sic] trust the media they lie!

After a request from Wettstein (and a warning from my hosting provider) I have removed his plagiarised propaganda image from my site. However the original can be found on Google Image Search.

My skeptical colleague saw this image and immediately smelled something fishy. Travis noticed that the image was an aerial photo of New York City Hall, whereas the protests were happening several blocks away at Liberty Square. He sent the image to the mailing list for other opinions. To my eyes the mass of protesters looked out of place, the crowd looked too uniform and dense to be real. I took the image into Photoshop to see if I could pick up any pattern to the image. My original thought was that they had used the clone tool to make a smaller group of people look much larger. Not being able to find anything obvious, I started to wonder where the background plate may have come from. Immediately Google Maps came to mind. I looked up the location featured in the image, and then I saw it: » Continue Reading…

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guinan

A picture of my kitten Guinan (I promise not to make a habit of posting cat pictures)

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Guinan

Charles DarwinAfter my post a couple of weeks ago about Not Being a Dick, I got into a spirited debate with a colleague on Facebook with regards to skepticism and evolution. He challenged me to answer these 15 “unanswerable” questions for evolutionists which were devised by the Creation Ministries International website. I was unable to devote the time to properly answer the questions at the time and so I have decided to post my response in the form of a separate article. I’ll admit some of the questions I was unable to answer, partly because currently science does not have the answers, and partly because they are beyond my own personal knowledge. But here goes.

» Continue Reading…

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A selection of stories on medicine, skepticism and religion in the media from the last couple of weeks.

Alternative medicines in Australia not receiving proper testing and approval by TGA – “A report released last week by the Australian National Audit Office found that up to 90 per cent of alternate medicines on sale in this country failed to comply with health and safety rules.”

Comment: This is hardly surprising. Its been well known for years that so called “alternative medicines” are not subject to the same rigorous standards as conventional medicine. The mere fact that treatments like homeopathy are still stocked in many pharmacies is evidence that the industry monitoring is pitiful.

Tribunal bans ‘smash’ doctor – “A Bankstown GP who called himself the “Spinalmigrainologist” has been banned from practising medicine after using a dangerous “smash through” technique to try to heal patients…Among the grievances were that Dr Gorman forcefully adjusted the back of a five-year-old boy and supplied drugs to a morphine addict.”

Comment: This sounds like chiropractic on steroids. Not only are his treatments based on no scientific evidence but his actions are clearly unethical (supplying opiates to an addict? – nice job)

Vatican admits ‘grave failures’ in Ireland abuse scandal – “The Vatican today acknowledged “grave failures” over the handling of a child sex abuse scandal involving priests in southern Ireland.”

Comment: I’d say that’s an understatement. The mere fact that the Vatican has a document which issues orders of secrecy when it comes to sex abuse accusations indicates that these “failures” are in fact deliberate and institutionalised.

Is awe still possible in a secular age ? – “In a Nietzschean world without God or gods, is enchantment still an option? In a world bereft of the Platonic forms of beauty and goodness, in a world where we “know” that love and wonder boil down to brain chemistry and synaptic firings, is it pure superstition to hold on to a sense of transcendence? In other words, can a secular world be re-enchanted?”

Comment: An interesting discussion on the idea of awe and non-belief. I completely agree with the author’s opinion. Awe and wonder are certainly possible in a secular world; the existence or non-existence of God doesn’t detract from the beauty of a sunset, the delicate dance of the planets, and infinite depths of the cosmos, or the intricacies of the processes of life.

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In the News

Jim  Henson’s famous creations The Muppets have been entertaining children for decades. The Muppets are an internationally recognised troupe of puppet characters that Henson created in the 1960’s, which became an integral part of the children’s television show Sesame Street in 1969. Since that time the loveable characters have appeared on their own TV show, feature films, cartoons, TV talk shows and endless streams of merchandising products.

What is less well known about Jim Henson’s characters is the fact that nearly all of the seemingly innocent, loveable characters hide a darker, more serious aspect. They all suffer from some form of mental illness or personality disorder.

» Continue Reading…

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The Muppets and Mental Illness

  • September 2nd, 2011
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