Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Which Is Worse The Name Or The Court?

Being named "Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii", or the NZ Family Court placing the child under their custody? (Like my choice of source?)

This has been an ongoing discussion on Myspace for the past few days.

The girl given that name managed to avoid being bullied by calling herself "K".

This story spread quite quickly with it being found apart from the Honolulu Advertiser on theInternational Herald Tribune the BBC, CBC, CNN and Reuters.

What I don't seem to understand is why exactly the mainly American posters on the Myspace thread seem to think that a) the action of the courts was wrong and b) the child was permanently removed from the parents.

The linked articles all made the second point clear. The girl was placed in the custody of the court so her name could be changed. Based on that I think it would be quite safe to say that after the girl got her name changed (probably to whatever "K" was since most people knew her as that) her parents regained custody of the child.

I however, fail to see why the action of the court was the wrong one.

The girl clearly didn't like her name and the court, in doing what it did, complied with her wishes. It's like the Swedish court forbidding a couple from naming their kid Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116, which by the way, somehow corresponds to the name "Albin". I see no difference in what the Swedish court did and what this court did except that the Kiwi parent at least knew how to spell the name in such a way that it matched with the pronunciation of the name.

Yet I see mainly American people trying to argue that it is wrong.

What is the logic behind that? Or do they think that it is fair that children should be bullied for their name?

So parents want to give their kids "creative" names (honestly, "Number 16 Bus Shelter" as a name is as creative as me putting a dot on a white canvas and calling it "Ant in a Snowstorm"), but I guess that when I am older giving kids names that we consider "normal" today will become the new "crazy".

If parents can come up with a "creative" name that is good, and I mean good, not some stupid one, then by all means go for it. But if you want to name a kid something that stupid, then maybe you should move to New Zealand and see how far you get, or to the US where they don't seem to have any restrictions on giving your kids really, really, stupid names.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The One?

I'm entering this discussion a bit late. I read about it a while ago and didn't bother about it.

Over on Thinking is Real there is a series of posts on the topic. The link is to episode 1.

I'm watching the show as I write this.

The first section involves "psychics" "diagnosing" random people. By which I mean they said what injuries they had.

I would like to know how long these people had to scope out their targets before they "diagnosed" them.

Now they are going to do the same thing in the studio.

Too bad this isn't live.

Guest #1, had a kidney transplant.

The reiki guy said abdomen but said the intestines.

The leather girl said kidneys but was deliberately vague about it (saying "I'm not a doctor").

Guest #2 had cancer and glaucoma etc. He was a smoker.

Reiki guy pointed out smoking.

I missed the other psychic's prediction though. I think he said something about it being somewhat right.

Guest #3 was an amputee.

Blond Girl failed.

Reiki guy said dancing, but said nothing about her amputation.

Leather girl was probably the closest but didn't say amputation.

Guest #4 had a stroke.

Reiki guy said lungs. Guest 3 says miss.

Leather girl said stroke. And according to the guy was correct.

Blond Girl said fracture, which is somewhat correct but not what she was supposed to get.

Guest #5, dirtbike rider. 17 bone fractures.

Reiki guy:

Pain in knee, pain in elbow, said fracture, damage to ribs, body has battering. Guy got side right. Left foot thing. Guy said it happened on stage, so I think there might have been a visible cue.

Blond girl was apparently ok as well.

Richard the skeptic pointed out the odds of finding a hit. And that stroke guy might have been standing differently to the other people. Psychic judge made up a bunch of crap about it. Leather girl did make quite a few guesses, probably not as many as the blond girl or reiki guy, but it was not as the judge described (one hit after another).

I'm not recording the show so I know that I have missed some things, and as you can see I'm writing during a commercial here.

I think that there has been some editing afoot, they didn't show as many misses, and I think that they might not have shown all the people (I don't remember seeing blond girl with the first guy for example) making their guesses.

Now they are finding whether they can match luggage to the person.

I don't remember seeing second guy in the last segment though. I think I've conflated him and reiki guy.

Reiki guy failed with the luggage challenge. Picked a woman.
Blond girl managed to pick the guy, but thought she would take another look and failed (woman again).
Second guy was wrong as well, at least he chose a guy though (which the owner of the luggage was).
Leather girl picked a girl but it was the man behind her.

This segment was 0/4.

All the psychics made up crap to explain away this.

Psychic judge was still trying to claim that they are psychic because (at least the girls) were so close to the person in question.

It still means nothing though. But we did hear the old spiel about "can you measure love, power etc?"

No, because they are subjective.

The next is a "celebrity psychic reading".

Celeb #1 Guy Leech.

Leather girl, who apparently is called "Charmaine"

2 Kids. "Hit"
"Barry". "Hit"
What sport. Miss
Daughter, dark hair, dancer, focus of family. "Hit"

She had two guesses on his "celebrityness". She said TV first, but then changed to sport.

Celeb #2 Paul O'Brien.

Second guy.

Bikes. "Hit". But I don't know if it was actully a hit for "excercise". He did say Bike riding though.
Fireplace. Miss
Accounting and Finances etc. "Hit" The guy had something to do with a mortgage.

Based on this rough list we see that these people are 3/4. I want to know how many misses were there and whether they are the only "hits" that they got.

We are at a commercial break, so let's see how many hits the other two get.

Celeb #3 Toni Pearen

Reiki guy was up.

bubbly vivacious outgoing. "Hit"
Dog. Miss
Has no kids but are around other kids. "Hit"
Hard to get close, but they are very important. "Hit"
Volunteer work. Miss
Needed time to herself. "Hit"

Celeb #4 Justin Melvey

Blond girl was up.

Strong built."Hit"
Male. "Hit"
Carrie, Kenny, championship ring. "Hit"
Brothers. "Hit"
Ice cream lover. "Hit"

Richard. Pointed out generalisations. There were plenty of them. Had reiki guy pointed out that Toni was a girl he would have been 5/7 instead of 4/6. Blond girl was 4/4.

I do like how they redefined the word "fact".

If you don't like my list, I'm giving "hits" based on what the celebrities thought. Again, a subjective thing. Blond girl said something along the lines of "I'm getting a Carrie... Kenny... something about championships" (I think it was Kenny. Could have been Kelly.). From the celeb I think that what he gave a hit was technically a miss, because it was not him but someone else.

What I would like to know is if they are "psychics" then why don't they know if they are going to win?

Reiki guy, who I've found out is called Jason, was kicked off.

But I think that even though he lost he will be raking in the dough.

They are now telling us who to vote for to win. Funny that they aren't doing a "live" show.

But in their last show, they are going to try and find the body of Peter Falconio.

I guess they would have used the Beaumont Children case but they couldn't because a psychic who was well known at the time tried to find them and was wrong.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Saturday, 26 July 2008


In case you don't know, it's finished.

On July 24, 2008 at 2:00 PM most likely PZ time, PZ Myers reported that he went through with his claim and desecrated a (blessed?) Eucharist, a Koran and a copy of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

I guess it is really over. I've been wondering if it should be called "crackergate" and a Google search shows that others have used it.

I think the -gate suffix is so overused (cross reference Iguanagate) that I think that it should only be used when something stupid comes out of it.

PZ reported recently that Michael Edmonton, of "Beware the Believers" video fame created this:

So I think that enough stupidity has come out of this to call it "crackergate".

However I would like to express my outrage.

How dare PZ desecrate a copy of The God Delusion?

That's like desecrating a copy of the Koran, or, or, or a Eucharist.

I mean how could he, what does he think he is a fundie? A joker?

I hope he dies horribly.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Bork Bork Bork.

I fuoond thees vheele-a guugleeng.

It's a bork feelter.

Noo iff yuoo hefe-a Fureffux (Teke-a thet IE!) yuoo tuu cun eejuy veb peges thet reed leeke-a zee Svedeesh Cheff frum zee Mooppet Shoo.

Vhy nut luuk et thees veet it oon?

Oor vhy nut check oooot zee heeleriuoos seete-a Preesunplunet?

Leern ebooot "sceeence-a" frum ieezeer zee Deescufery Institoote-a, oor Unsvers in Genesees?

It elsu trunsletes blug pusts.

Thursday, 24 July 2008


I've become hooked on Audiosurf. If you download the demo be aware of two things, first you need to get Steam to play it, and second you'll only be able to play five songs.

The US$9.99 is worth it though, especially since the real dollar (Aussie) is nearly at parity.

As I said, I've become hooked.

What I have found is the following:
  1. The hardest song that I have encountered is "Million Way of Drum" by Force of Nature. I guess that's how the game engine designates blocks and such because there are millions of them since the song is basically, as the name suggests, drums (there is a bass guitar in it for a little bit as well).
  2. The songs "Kalinka" and "Korobelniki" as sung by the Russian Red Army Choir give plenty of red blocks.
  3. I haven't tried it yet but I think that it would be entirely possible to listen to say Skeptoid while you play. I don't know if it recognises a difference between podcasts and songs.
  4. No matter how obscure you think something is, there will usually be someone who already holds the #1 spot.
I'd say get it and have fun. The game is fun, and the music is always excellent.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Answers in Genesis Has A Journal?

I saw this on Panda's Thumb.

Answers in Genesis have their own "peer reviewed" "journal".

I must admit though that their page with the articles in it looks nice, and at least it's free for people to make fun of.

This one caught my eye.

Entitled Microbes and the Days of Creation without proper stupid protection you will lose several IQ points.

The abstract alone makes me think immediately of this (as a side note, the owner of that site is apparently on Myspace, and although wrong at times isn't really that stupid).

Clearly though they are trying to reconcile the lack of microbes with a literalist interpretation of Genesis.

The argument is as follows.

It's simply that micro-organisms exist in symbiosis with plants and animals. So nitrogen fixing bacteria that are found with peanut plants for example were created on the third day, with the rest of the plants etc. etc.

We do get to an interesting position though.

You know how some people believe that humans were created in the image of God?

Well then either God is actually a giant E. coli bacterium, and that humans were created to house that which was made in his image, or E. coli are just as important to God as we are. I mean the neutral E. coli are quite useful to the body.

If God was supposed to have made his creations perfect to begin with, why have a bacterium in you that gives you Vitamin K2 but can also give you food poisoning if you have a specific strain?

Then there is the section on viruses.

It reads like the "good" viruses are there to help humans, when in fact they would be doing what they are doing to "survive". What exactly would you say for the undead or non-live?

For pathogens and "bad" viruses, well they are easily explained by the standard creation argument. Yep that's right. The "fall" was responsible.

I guess back in Eden HIV went about making people happy and immortal or something stupid like that.

For some reason I feel as if what I read is completely useless for science.

Wait a minute, no I don't.

It is completely useless for science.

Like everything in creationism there is no use for this "paper". It doesn't explain anything for science, it explains how creationists think, but not science.

Unless this AiG "peer reviewed journal" is actually an elaborate humour site it's rather pathetic to see them having to make their own journal, I guess they thought that proper journals wouldn't publish their stuff.

It's a creationist version of the Journal of 9/11 Studies.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Kenya and Circumcision

The BBC story makes it look like most of them are rejecting a plan for free circumcision.

On the whole circumcision issue I'll readily admit that I am biased, so I'm going to try and be as neutral as possible.

Apparently some studies have shown that circumcision helps in the prevention of HIV/AIDS, an issue that is plaguing Africa at the moment.

The Luo Council of Elders won't sanction circumcision because it is against their culture.

What I like about this story though is not that they might be dooming themselves to an increased risk of HIV/AIDS (who the hell would want that?) but the views of the elders.

The BBC article states:

The elders are afraid that some men will think that being circumcised is an alternative to using condoms, which will put them at a higher risk of infection, our correspondent says.


But individual members of the community who want to be circumcised are free to do so, the council says.

The first snippet is something that I agree with. If you get people thinking that they will become superman and won't get any diseases by getting circumcised will probably ruin any benefit by increasing the amount of unsafe sex that they have.

This is a region where there are accounts of young girls being raped because of some supposed "cure for AIDS" if you sleep with a virgin. Then the girl contracts the disease and the bloke isn't cured.

Education is still one of the most effective methods for preventing transmission of HIV/AIDS. It doesn't matter if you are cut or not, or have that CD4 mutation, you still have a chance of getting the disease.

The latter snippet is good too because although they have said that it is against their culture for people to get circumcised, or to force them, they will let those that want to go ahead and get cut.

As opposed to certain Imams in Muslim countries issuing fatwas and wanting people that disobey to get punished.

Take A Look At This

If you don't read pharyngula, then I think that you should either a) start to, or b) at least check out his Friday Cephalopod.

It's so cute, and yet, so deadly.

They're also the reason why I was told when I was younger to never pick up cans on the beach, they might be hiding in there to kill you.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Gavin Menzies Books Are Not "History"

Neither are they historical, completely factual, a fair representation of reality, a viable hypothesis regarding the discovery of the New World, etc. etc. etc.

So I don't understand why Dymocks thinks that it is.

Ok, so Angus & Roberston consider him to be a "non-fiction" writer.

I don't like seeing such drivel sharing the same section as other history books.

There is a whole section of criticism just on his 1421 "hypothesis" (gotta love Wikipedia citing sources). And now he claims that China started the Renaissance.

Honestly, from what I understand of his stuff, it's just another form of "the Ancient Egyptians couldn't have built the pyramids".

Dymocks, either create a "pseudohistory" section, or put them into the "fiction" section where they belong. Or maybe into the "New Age" section (Why couldn't the History sction be next to the New Age rather then Spirituality?).

Just as long as I don't have to start guessing the accuracy of the other history books in the section.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Something I Missed

According to Anon SA, Jane Lomax-Smith (the Education Minister) doesn't like Scientology.

Just read the post linked above, it cites all the sources that mentioned it.

Now to find the copy of The Advertiser with them on it.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Short Stories

No, I'm not posting some that I wrote. I'm going to link you to a couple by Mike Combs.

The first is Condemned to Repeat It, it's about a trial of a man in a time when "alternate theories" predominate and critical thinking and proper science in general are frowned upon and forgotten.

The second one is Whose Image?. In this one a man dies and meets God, except that he learns that God, and the beliefs he held are not what he expected.

Friday, 11 July 2008

The Catholic League Is Silly

From the Catholic League. Apparently they are pissed because PZ Myers wrote this and want him fired or reprimanded or something.

Well guess what happened to him?

Yep. PZ Myers received hate mail and death threats and so on and so forth.

I'm not going to say what Myers was thinking or not because he makes that rather clear in the first place.

People went up in arms because some guy took a "cracker" that would no doubt have tasted like cardboard anyway for some reason that it seems only he knows.

Myers wrote in the first post of his ("this") that I linked to:

So, what to do. I have an idea. Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers? There's no way I can personally get them — my local churches have stakes prepared for me, I'm sure — but if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I'll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won't be tempted to hold it hostage (no, not even if I have a choice between returning the Eucharist and watching Bill Donohue kick the pope in the balls, which would apparently be a more humane act than desecrating a goddamned cracker), but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web. I shall do so joyfully and with laughter in my heart. If you can smuggle some out from under the armed guards and grim nuns hovering over your local communion ceremony, just write to me and I'll send you my home address.

That is what annoyed the Catholics in the US the most.

I think he had a rather relevant point to begin with.

The guy in question didn't actually do anything except not relish in the taste of cardboard.

Quick digression, on paper anyway I am a Roman Catholic, I went to a RC schools, and have been to more masses then I care to count or remember. I know what the Eucharist wafers taste like and it is not Jesus or bread.

I probably would have suggested the same thing (Except as pointed out here I thought of something far more grandiose), because the whole issue is stupid.

Ok, so yes the doctrine of transubstantiation says that it does become the body of Christ, except that testing it still shows that it is round edible cardboard. I was always under the impression that it was something of a symbol and that you had to actually believe that it was the body of Christ for it to work.

I guess I musn't have paid enough attention in RE class.

It's like the Catholic League saying this:

Myers was angry at the Catholic League for criticizing the student.

Really? It doesn't read that way, unless you consider sending death threats to the student part of the "Catholic League official criticism guidelines".

It's like trying to get Myers reprimanded because you can access his blog through the university that he works at.

Guess the Catholic League didn't read the guidelines very well then.

The guidelines only apply to pages that are hosted by them. Pharyngula isn't hosted by them so they are not responsible for whatever Myers posts at all on his own blog.

That's like someone trying to sue The Adelaide Index because my blog has a link there and I've published a copyright violation.

And on top of that Myers wasn't representing his institution on his blog anyway, all the thoughts are his. The Catholic League found a few lines of the guidelines that supported what they wanted, but they also disregarded quite a bit of other guidlines, like how the page is supposed to look.

At times like this it would be a good idea to see what Jesus has to say

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Something to do on World Youth Day

Based on this stupid story from the US.

Imagine it, go to mass, wake up in time for the Eucharist, go up and get your piece of cardboard.

The Pope give you the cardboard and says "Ze body ov Khrist" (Fine I don't know what the stereotypical German accent is because I don't notice it).

You pretend to put it into your mouth, and start to walk away.

The next minute in front of something like 50 000 rather devout Catholic youths:


Ideally 50 000 Catholics should see this as a joke and not beat you to death.

This is What Our Allies Are Up To?

I was going to include this with this post but I can't really (it also explains the odd introduction to that post).

The US Military seems to have a problem. (The site for Anderson Cooper 360 has some extra information but it is more opinionated.)

There isn't very much I can say apart from good on Hall for doing what he is doing. From what I have noticed the view in the US is that the word "Atheist" is some sort of insult or slur, instead of what it actually is, a term for people who don't believe in any deities whatsoever.

But that view is quite common in all fundamentalist groups though too.

As a small digression I might as well point out that I am one of the non-religious, and I may actually be an apostate. I'm also from Adelaide, known as the "City of Churches" and also the least religious capital city in the country.

Here we don't experience as much of a problem with our religious views since most people don't actually care what you are.

What worries me is that the US military seems to. It also is one of our allies over in Afghanistan.

You know that joke that goes along the lines of "The single statement that the US can say that can have even the most powerful nation trembling is 'We're behind you all the way'"?

It's because the US is secular, it also makes fun of their friendly fire record.

Imagine that joke again, only with a US military that is very, very religious.

Not so funny now huh?

For those who don't understand why, there are, in essence, two simple reasons, firstly the God in the Bible does come across as something of a genocidal maniac (take a look here.) and secondly there is only one true church and every church is it, while every church is also not it.

(While you're at it, take a look at the lists of Cruelty and Violence, Injustice, and Intolerance on from the Skeptics Annotated Bible.)

You probably would be a bit scared if the guy in charge of your air support loves Chick tracts now wouldn't you?

As history has shown religion is an organisation that is more then willing to sacrifice the lives of its followers, and show no mercy to the lives of people who don't follow your religion, or specific brand of religion.

This makes me worry far more for the people that would be fighting with the Americans. The other thing that I have learned about Americans is that there are quite a few who, if they could, would list "Patriot" or "American" as their religion.

As a government institution in this day and age, the military should not be under the influence of religion. Especially one where the guy you are supposed to be worshipping says (Deuteronomy 2:31): "See, I have begun to give Sihon and his land over to you. Begin to take possission of his land." Or how about 1 Samael 15:3; "Now do and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey".

That is the God that Christianity follows. If it wasn't then you wouldn't find these same fundementalists using Deuteronomy as a reason to oppose gay marriage.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has a press release, where I finally figured out where I heard the name Jeremy Hall. Back in April he tried to found an atheist group and after getting all the proper paperwork organised basically had it forcefully closed by a Major Welborn because, I guess that the Major being a Major and outranking Hall, could do just because he didn't agree with Hall, or apparently the US Supreme Court which says that no religion is still constitutionally protected.

Maybe what we are seeing here is just another part of the battlefield that the world sees involving the small secular US taking on the larger religious US.

Personally I hope the secular side wins.

Another Australian Dead

Ok, I'm going to make my point clear outright. I am against Australia going to war in Afghanistan, and I was against sending troops into Iraq, but, like most Australians, and hearing what happened to the Australian troops after coming home from Vietnam, I have always supported the Australians, and to some extent the US troops in this.

We have 1100 troops in Oruzgan province.

SAS Signaller Sean McCarthy was killed yesterday after succumbing to wounds from an IED.

I don't know if this will work for non-Australians, but this interactive display can tell you more about the Australians in Afghanistan.

McCarthy is the sixth soldier to have died in Afghanistan.

Rest in Peace
Lest We Forget

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Quackery for Perverts.

A woman died on 2003 after taking an "alternative" treatment for cancer.

For some reason it only came out now.

The "doctor" mentioned in the article, a Lubo Bitelco, gave her "ozone treatment".

That stuff is already bullshit, but the things that caught me were the statements:

He promised her a "50 per cent cure" after giving her a treatment known as "vaginal blowing" during which she had to move up and down on the bed saying "Oh, Boy", Mrs O'Donnell said.


"Shannon . . . told me he had an album of women patients whom he photographed nude, and she had advised Lubo she would not be photographed nude while being treated," Mrs O'Donnell said.

Thus the title of the thread.

I personally think, and this is my own opinion and only my opinion, that this guy used the guise of "alternative medicine" to make women do sexual acts under the guise of getting "healed", not to mention getting a few nude photos of these women.

So I might not agree with Ms. O'Donnell with regards to her health choices, which saw her die a month after taking the "treatment", but I do agree with her standing up to this guy.

Even wise though they don't actually know if it was the ozone or the cancer that killed her, which is annoying because as far as I know the laws here regarding so called "alternative medicine" are somewhat similar to the US, but I think I will close with this statement, that I agree with completely:

Meanwhile, the Australian Traditional Medicine Society told the committee it would like to see all bogus doctors "named and shamed".

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Plausible Deniability?

This is running more from the comment from my page about Debunking9/ being a PNAC front.

I asked why, if the US government was all powerful, would they bother paying people to argue with CTists.

The somewhat surprising result was that I actually got a response (as you can see, writing stuff that people comment to isn't really my forte).

Basically the argument runs that if a CTist site was taken down it means that something they said was something that the US government didn't want people to know.

When I said what I did I was thinking more in the early stages, when a site like Infowars or PrisonPlanet could be removed with little or no problem.

Now that some of these seem to be somewhat big it does pose a problem now wouldn't it?

Funnily enough I don't think so.

My evidence comes from a somewhat unlikely source.

The PNAC website.

The direct link takes you (as of 8/7/08) to a page saying:

"This Account Has Been Suspended Please contact the billing/support department as soon as possible."

What I want to know is wouldn't this still be a possibility for a site like Infowars? Making it look like they didn't pay their server fees?

Even the Wayback Machine and other such sites could be affected. Look at Operation Clambake on the Wayback Machine.

Not there.

Scientology got their lawyers to remove it (also see here).

I would assume that it would also be easy to just remove the offending page(s) from the archive instead, I mean you can still find PNAC on there, you could still do something similar for Infowars.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Christophera - Visual Analysis

This is the second part of the x many long part series about Christophera, the first part of this may be found here.

This part deals with a cut & paste post dealing with his claim of either:
  1. Visual Analysis is only needed
  2. It looked like an explosion
This claim is a simple one, he posts pictures which will be reproduced below, and claims that they "prove" an inside job.

The following pictures are the ones that he posts, in reality they are in varying states of appearance (for some reason he thinks that the Myspace forum is pure BB code, even though it supports HTML):

As you can see from these pictures he is claiming "the collapse of the WTC looks like an explosion, look at this picture along with these explosions and you will see that the collapse of the towers were, in fact, an explosion."

Unfortunately when you look at reality this does not seem to be the case.

Do you remember this picture from the last post on this subject?

This picture was created because of this very series of claims.

Also take a look at this after reading this post.

What we are seeing here is a problem in the thinking of Christophera. Photos can be a reliable way of ensuring that an event can be remembered very clearly.

However they do have limitations. The photo captures an event at a specific period of time, in the case of 9/11 the collapse of the towers.

Because of this you will get pictures that when static look like something that they aren't. The reality of the incident may be completely different to the photo in question, or may be a part of a bigger picture.

Unlike, a posed photo, photos of 9/11 are more like taking photos of a birthday party. Each photo tells a small part of a bigger story.

Amanzafar has an excellent set of photos from 9/11. (Although it is somewhat sad to note that there are CTists out there who use them as "evidence" for their claims.)

The collapse of the towers is one of those events where it looked like an explosion but it wasn't.

Take a look at these pyroclastic flows:

These photos are of various eruptions. The USGS one is from Mt. St. Helens (US), the one below it is from St. Augustine (Alaska, US), the one to the top right is from somewhere while the bottom right is from Mayon Volcano in the Philippines.

Compare these pictures to the quarry blasts, or the picture of the tower. They do look kind of similar don't they?

Logically we can say that based on the picture the tower looked like an explosion, in the same way we can say that these pictures of pyroclastic flows look like explosions if we didn't know what a pyroclastic flow is.

It is grossly incorrect to claim that "only visual analysis is needed" or draw the conclusion that "the towers looked like an explosion therefore they were blown up".

The "Mt. St. Helens was an inside job" photo uses the same logic as Christophera used, since the pyroclastic flow looked like an explosion it must mean that explosives were used and only the government could have done it.

It is quite clear that the Mt. St. Helens picture makes an absurd claim, but it is no more absurd then the one Christophera makes.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Heads You Win, Tails I Lose

PZ suggested that we skew a poll, this poll.

Unfortunately, based on the question:
Do you think Creation should be taught, along with Evolution, in public schools?
And that 98.2% of the people voted no, means that they have more then enough evidence that 100% of the people oppose teaching evolution without creationism being taught as well.

Because the way the question was asked, all of us who went and skewed the poll have just given them support for banning evolution.

It sounds confusing right?

Well it isn't. First, the use of the commas means that the question is asking whether creationism and evolution should be taught. A "yes" means you support equal time, but a "no" means you don't want either being taught.

Those of us that skewed the poll probably didn't think of this before skewing it, I do wonder if PZ did, or if he thought the poll was asking about "evolution only" or "equal time".

The second reason that I am probably right?

It's because they are creationists.

They aren't the most intellectually honest group.

So had the results remained at the level of this comment, they would have said something along the lines of "71% of people support the teaching of creationism along with evolution in public schools" while now they can say "98.2% of people don't want evolution taught in schools" and they can get away with it.

And we were complicit in doing so.

Sometime in the future we will see this statistic being thrown back at us, even though we all know quite well that internet polls are not a good representation of the population at large, or even scientific at all.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Microblog 9

Wooo!!!! I got trackbacks again.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Debunking 9/ Is A PNAC Front.

Ok, so it isn't.

But if you like to believe this guy then apparently it is.

This is Debunking 9/11.

I guess since PNAC's website is (as of 1/7/08) suspended it must be proof.

At least in conspiracy theory land.

Take this interesting snippet for example:
"debunking9/ is a very sophisticated, extensive and professionally put together website that clearly has had a lot of expensive expertise poured into it. It goes to extraordinary lengths to attempt to debunk the evidence that has presented itself on the internet over the last seven years as an alternative to the US government’s version of the events of 9/11, but – and this is where the site gives itself away – it doesn’t attempt to debunk just some aspects of the new evidence that has been presented, but it tries to debunk every bit of it. It is that characteristic that defines it as a propaganda site rather than a site that is scientifically objective with its arguments."
So according to this Mr. Lataan, (the name given on the profile) the evidence that makes Debunking 9/11 a shill propaganda site is:
  1. Looks professionally done
  2. Debunks all of the "evidence" given by "truthers".
That seems to be it.

It really seems that the NWO and PNAC have gone downhill, what with PNAC not having the money to keep their website going, and making a propaganda website that seems to have been made from a template.

Funnily enough Debunking 9/11 doesn't debunk everything. It only debunks the more common claims. It doesn't cover Judy Wood's space beams, or really anything from Christophera.

But I guess, if I start up a website (hypothetically) somewhere near the start of all this rubbish, I would have been able to write quite a bit since the "truth" movement is a very static one with little new information entering into it.

Or this bit:
"But what really gives it away is the rhetoric and tone of the narrative, which is presented in a pseudo-technical pseudo-academic way, but which is transparently intermingled with outright neoconservative propaganda which has nothing to do with the events of 9/11."
Which he decides to give an example:
"Take, for example, this on the ‘Osama bin Laden’ page of their website:
“Conspiracy theorists like to say ‘Some Arabs with box cutters couldn't have pulled this off.’ Let's forget for a minute how racist that statement is”.

Firstly, of course, one needs to ask; what conspiracy theorists like to say ‘Some Arabs with box cutters couldn't have pulled this off’? Trying to cast those that doubt the US government’s official version of the events of 9/11 as ‘racists’ is a classic neoconservative tactic used because of the connotations of the word ‘racist’ has with ‘anti-Semitism’.
Oh dear.

I wonder how logically sound it is to argue "he's making strawmen" by using an argument from ignorance.

Once again we go to the Debunking 9/11 FAQ:

"Q: Most of your arguments seem to be strawmen. Why do you attack arguments I'm not making?

A: There are arguments some web sites make which others do not. Just because you haven't seen the argument on your favorite conspiracy site doesn't mean there aren't those who make it. (Read: logical fallacy) If the topic doesn't apply to you, then just skip it and go on to the next.
But to answer my fellow croweaters question, why not take a look,Comment 8 here, here, or here.

As you can see, quite a few conspiracy theorists like to say that. Just because you don't or your specific group don't does not, as the FAQ extract pointed out, does not mean that nobody else does.

To be honest, the rest of the post in question is nothing more then complaining, wild accusations (how is he attacking Jones or Griffin?) and the standard "the webmaster is being paid to do this".

Honestly, if there is such an all powerful government, then why haven't they taken out all of the "truthers" in the US? Why would they have to pay people to make sites like this when they could just as easily and cheaply take down the sites?

This is another thing that I don't expect any "truther" to answer.

Update: Welcome people from If you have read this far then please take the time to look at some of my other 9/11 related posts through the tag, or take a look at some of the other stuff on here.

Update 2: There is a response to some of the comments posted below. The post may be found here.