Saturday, 19 October 2013

HOTS -vs- Hari Krishna.


In Town today (High Wycombe), the "Healing on the Streets" (HOTS) Christians were out in force. The
Idea is that you sit in one of their Prayer-Chairs. They pray at you one in each ear, they lay their hands on your shoulders, lift your palms up to heaven and after a few minutes.... Ker-Ching.... Your Cancer, Arthritis, Asthma is HEALED... So there's no need to go to the Doctor to ask about that lump that appeared the other day.

I was toying with the idea of volunteering so I could pretend Demons were coming out of my soul. I can't turn my head round 360 degrees, float up in the air or projectile vomit pea soup, but I sure could give the Saturday shoppers a good show and scare the shit out of the HOTS people when a routine Cancer healing starts to get out of control.

But just then, The Hari Krishnas turned up, about 20 of them, with robes, shaved heads and pony tails, drums, cymbals, an Accordion, painted foreheads and a truck load of enthusiasm.

They stood about 10 paces away from the HOTS posse and fired up the Hari Krishna song at max volume and max enthusiasm, jumping up and down, banging drums, and spinning round in a state of pure euphoric happiness.

The HOTS people were Not happy. They normally pray gently into each ear of their captive victim, but now they were having to shout their prayers over the noise of the Hari Krishnas.

This kept me thoroughly entertained for half an hour in spite of the fact that all the Krishna songs consisted of only two words sung in random order. The suppressed anger and chagrin of the Christians and the euphoria of the Krishnas was a recipe for a Pythonesque street battle.

Alas, the Christians kept their cool and all was well in High Wycombe.

My opinion of the Hari Krishnas went up an order of magnitude today. OK, they're still eccentric people with an unfathomable belief system, but they're fun, enthusiastic, happy and they can bang out a catchy tune and keep Saturday shoppers entertained without having to resort to false promises and un-testable claims.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Skepticule Podcast 54 - The Book of Morman - Special Episode.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2013

William Lane Craig books - Big Reductions at Play Store.

I see Google Play Store has reduced the price of some of William Lane Craig's books.

  • The Tenseless Theory of Time: A Critical Examination.
    Now only £84.07 down from £120.60


  • Time and the Metaphysics of Relativity
    Now Only £97.85 down from £139.80


  • God, Time, and Eternity: The Coherence of Theism II
    Now Only £92.68 down from £132.60

Other books in the Fantasy Genre seem to be priced a little more realistically.


Link

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Skepticule Podcast #50 - Out Now.

TUESDAY, JULY 23, 2013

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Electronic Cigarettes - The BMA abandons evidence based science in favour of speculation.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson
I've just watched Dr Vivienne Nathanson, Head of Science and Ethics at the BMA on ITV News (12 June 2013).

She was advising people to stop using Electronic Cigarettes because of health worries.

I used to be quite a heavy smoker, smoking 20-30 cigarettes a day. I was an expert at giving up smoking having given it up dozens of times over the previous 30 years. I knew it was bad for my health, my wallet and the health of the people around me.

When I breathed deeply I could hear a wheezing noise. I would get out of breath simply walking up a single flight of stairs. I could run... for about 30 seconds... before I was in severe respiratory distress. I had a perpetual cough and would cough up alarmingly thick dark phlegm. I smelled and I was spending a small fortune on my filthy anti-social habit. I was approaching 50 and I was a prime candidate for a serious smoking related illness, or worse.

I'd read all the books on how to stop smoking, Motivational material, I'd been on the government stop smoking scheme, I'd tried patches, gums and sprays. Many of them worked after a difficult struggle... for a while. But within weeks or sometimes months, I'd have a crisis and be back to square one.

I know withdrawal symptoms are different for different people, but let me explain how it was for me.

If you've had children, you will understand this. Imagine taking your young toddler to go shopping in a large department store in an unfamiliar town. Your attention is distracted for a moment, when you look round, your child is no longer by your side. Instant panic hits. You look up and down the isles of goods and your child is nowhere to be seen.  That awful feeling is what hits me in a withdrawal attack, and it hits every 5 minutes, all day. It wears you down, you can't concentrate on everyday things and you are to say the least, not the best of company.

For those of you without children, It's the feeling you get while driving your car on a clear road, It's a cool dry day, your favourite music is on loud and you're driving way too fast.. You look in your rear-view mirror to see blue flashing lights and an "ECILOP" sign right on your tail. Intense anxiety rush. Imagine that feeling every 5 minutes, all day.

Ever wonder why a newly stopped smoker is so grouchy and irritable?

The intensity of that feeling diminishes over the following weeks but it never goes away.

One day in 2007 I discovered Electronic Cigarettes or eCigs. They looked promising. The advertising said you get your nicotine hit with no tar, no nasty chemicals, no carcinogens, no burning substances but it had the same feel as smoking a cigarette without the well documented health risks.

This is the device I am using today (The Odyssey)
It looked too good to be true. I did a little research and found that other than the nicotine, all the substances used in the product were approved for use in food and cosmetics with no known health risks. Plus the nicotine was not in itself harmful at the dosage used in Electronic Cigarettes.

I bought one, with the expectation of being a little disappointed.

The complete transition from cigarettes to the eCig was immediate, obviously with no withdrawal symptoms. The sensation of smoking was quite realistic. It greatly exceeded my expectations. This was a smoking alternative that was sustainable, vastly less harmful and a fraction of the price of cigarettes.

Over the following weeks, my lungs started to clear. I no longer wheezed, no more coughing, no more yucky phlegm, I didn't smell like an old ashtray. On public transport, I no longer had to go through contortions to avoid breathing on someone and see them turn their head in disgust. I could talk to people face to face without embarrassment.

I did try a cigarette a couple of weeks after the switch over, it tasted OK but it felt like it was full of pollutants, whereas my eCig tasted clean and unadulterated with junk. From day one, I never really felt the need to go back to smoking cigarettes.

After a year my lungs were clear, I could run up stairs for several floors and recover quickly. This was an unthinkably dangerous thing to do just 12 months before. I could now run in the local fun-run and actually enjoy it.

I can smoke my eCig at my desk, thus gaining at least an extra hour of productive work time that was previously wasted at the back of the car park several times a day, often in the rain.

I'm now 53 and I recently had a medical for insurance purposes. I blew the Peak Flow Meter to the maximum limit of the scale.

I genuinely believe my health would have deteriorated had I continued smoking cigarettes. I also believe Electronic Cigarettes have probably saved my life or at least saved me from an unpleasant early death. I no longer worry about dying from a smoking related illness. In fact I feel fitter than I have felt in many years. I'm now physically capable of effective exercise.

I would urge all smokers to give these devices a try. Yes, I'm biased, Yes I'm now an eCig evangeliser, but I have damn good reason to be. I struggled for years trying to permanently break the tobacco habit. eCigs allowed me to do just that, with zero effort. Today I would have been spending £10 a day feeding my cigarette addiction. A good quality eCig costs less than 10 days supply of regular cigarettes and then about 50p-70p a day running costs.

However, Today I saw Dr Vivienne Nathanson, Head of Science and Ethics at the BMA advising people to stop using eCigs because they could be a health risk.    WTF.....

As an engineer with a science based background, I know that good scientific conclusions are Evidence Based. Bad science is based on speculation, personal bias and guesswork.

The evidence I see is that millions of people around the world are dying from smoking related illnesses. This is not disputed within the medical community.

The evidence against Electronic Cigarette usage on health grounds is practically non existent. When I say evidence, I mean "Good Science" independent evidence, not the evidence produced by the Tobacco industry lobby or government financed studies paid for by the politicians who are losing out on millions of pounds worth of tax revenue.

Dr Nathanson claims to be a woman of science but is prepared to go on national TV with authoritative advice that we should stop using Electronic Cigarettes because of the health risks, based on a complete lack of evidence. This smacks of the appalling advice given by the Anti-Vax movement.

About 100,000 people die from smoking related illnesses in the UK each year . Even if there was evidence that eCigs could cause respiratory and cardiac problems, and kill 10,000 people a year, they are still vastly better than Cigarettes. But this is not the case. I can not find one single case of fatal cancer, lung disease or heart disease attributed directly to the correct use of Electronic Cigarettes. Not one single case.

What kind of science would advise high risk smokers not to use an alternative product with no known health risks. The BMA should be petitioning the government to encourage smokers to give up proven harmful tobacco products in favour of products that are vastly safer, cheaper and unbelievably easy to switch over to.

In my opinion, eCigs do not have to be guaranteed 100% absolutely free of any health risk. 95% safer than tobacco based cigarettes is good enough for me and would still save the NHS hundreds of millions a year.

I would challenge Dr Nathanson to provide hard scientific evidence that eCigs provide a significantly high health risk to justify the banning of a product that could help millions of smokers to immediately eliminate their dependency on harmful tobacco based cigarettes. If there is no demonstrable evidence then should we not be organising a campaign to get smokers off carcinogenic cigarettes and onto non-carcinogenic eCigs.

Before you ask, No, I do not have any connection with the Electronic Cigarette industry other than as a consumer of their products.






Sunday, 24 March 2013

Skepticule Podcast #41 (Special Episode)

The Skepticule Podcast #41 is out now.

This is a special episode recorded at The Sunday Assembly in London.




SATURDAY, MARCH 23, 2013

Pope Francis ditches the Bling.

Well, His Holiness Pope Francis is of to a good start.

It seems he's got rid of the outrageously extravagant golden throne and replaced it with a more modest plain white chair.

Gone too is the raised platform carpeted in finest red trimmed in gold.


The ermine lined red velvet cape and the elaborately gold embroidered stole are conspicuous by their majestic absence.


That's not all... Those beautiful red loafers, hand crafted by Pope Benedict's personal cobler: Andriano Stefanelli are replaced by comfortable plain black lace-ups, a little battered but well cared for.


Gone is the beautifully intricate golden crucifix depicting some guy hanging from a torture device, replaced by a simple iron cross.

The solid gold Papal ring belonging to Benedict, according to tradition, now has to be destroyed, presumably in the fires of Mordor. Pope Francis has opted for a simple silver plated signet ring.

There is a saying "The Clothes Maketh the Man". If this is so, I'm expecting to see a switch from a Vain, arrogant, self glorifying hypocrite to someone who is more in touch with reality, someone who realises such a vulgar display of extravagant wealth is offensive to most of the world, especially to those living in abject poverty and doubly so when the man festooned in Golden Bling, living in a palace is pointing his finger at the rest of the world criticizing us for greed and the desire for material wealth.

My hope is that Pope Francis will also have a clear out of all the perverts, corruption and hypocrisy from within the clergy. Perhaps this is too much to ask. It maybe the case that the Vatican expects superficial changes to the Papal image and a thorough PR makeover will divert our attention from the fundamental flaws within the Roman Catholic Empire.

I could be very mistaken in my observations. It maybe the case that the Papal Throne makers are at this very moment constructing an even more elaborate display for another Peacock Pope... but so far... this does not seem to be the case. While far from acceptable, things do seem a little less repugnant in the Vatican.

Only time will tell.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Marriage Equality



The Government has now voted (400 to 175) to approve same-sex marriage in England and Wales.

However, in the weeks leading up to this vote there were many highly vocal protests that such an action would cause a total breakdown of society as we know it. One of these vocal opponents to marriage equality was The Archbishop of Southwark, Peter Smith.

Archbishop Smith asked parishioners to mail their anti-gay views to parliament.

Archbishop Smith distributed one million anti-gay marriage postcards for churchgoers to mail to parliament expressing their opposition to the marriage equality bill.

See the [full article] in GayStarNews:-


Archbishop Smith had previously countered the Governments statement on the Equal Marriage consultation:-

"This response has ignored the key concern expressed by many people in this country; that is the proposed change to the meaning of marriage."

Yes it does, In the same way the abolition of slavery was a change in fundamental human rights... In the same way suffrage was a change to the meaning of women's rights... In the same way the repeal of the Witchcraft act changed the meaning of church inspired fear, hatred and superstition.

He speaks of change as though it was a bad thing. When something is inherently wrong, it needs to be changed.

"We are in danger of forgetting what marriage has always meant: a union of one man and one woman for love and mutual support, open to the procreation of children."

Clearly, Archbishop Smith has never heard of King Solomon's 700 wives and 300 concubines. Should we also prevent the elderly and the infertile from marrying because they can't procreate? The only criteria we have left is "love and mutual support". Gay couples meet that requirement.

"It is more than a way of recognising committed loving relationships. Marriage matters to families, stability, and the common good of society. We risk grave long term social loss by rushing into such ill-considered legislative change."

So if Marriage is a good thing, why would MORE marriage cause damage to the stability of society. Surely "Divorce" is far more damaging to loving relationships and families, in fact Divorce is usually catastrophic to a marriage but I don't hear Archbishop Smith shouting very loudly about Divorce.

"The consultation showed that nearly half of the 228,000 questioned did not think that civil marriage should be open to same-sex couples and the figures did not take account of the petitions received, which were universally opposed and signed by over 620,000 people."

Oh, I see, All the people who signed the petitions against same-sex marriage were universally opposed to same sex marriage. Archbishop Smith must think we're stupid. Obviously no one who is pro same-sex marriage is going to sign the petition against same sex marriage.



Let's face it, this has nothing to do with the sanctity, tradition or definition of marriage, this is all about the hatred of the gay community, it's about Homophobic Bigotry. 






But bigotry in the marriage department is not new..


This is a picture from the Little Rock Inter-racial protests of the 1960s. The Religious right used exactly the same arguments the gay marriage opponents use today.

When blacks and whites were eventually allowed to marry in 1967, Society didn't collapse. The institution of marriage was not destroyed.

In fact, we look back and recognise the misguided bigotry of the day.


The same will happen for gay marriage. 50 Years from now, our grand children will look back and shake their heads in disbelief at the bigotry within our conservative society.

Furthermore, the religious right will be claiming the credit for releasing the gay community from their oppression at the hands of homophobic bigots in the same way the religious right have claimed the credit for the abolition of slavery and suffrage for women. 


The Churches do not hold any monopoly on Marriage, they are not the custodians of the definition of Marriage, they do not have the authority to impose their traditions on people who do not subscribe to their Churches. They can have an opinion and can impose restrictions on their own adherents but NOT on the rest of the population. 





Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Skepticule Extra Podcast #37


Skepticule Extra shownotes for episode 037 20121125


This is the thirty-seventh episode of Skepticule Extra — aka theThree Pauls Podcast. 

Direct download:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/revup/SkepExtra-037-20121125.mp3

Paul Thompson ("Sinbad") 
The Skeptical Probe
http://skepticalprobe.blogspot.com/

Paul Orton 
Missing God Gene 
http://missinggodgene.blogspot.co.uk/

Paul S. Jenkins
Notes from an Evil Burnee
http://www.evilburnee.co.uk









        Send feedback to feedback@skepticule.co.uk, write a review oniTunes or post a comment below. There is also a Skepticule Extra Forum for further discussion of topics covered in the show (plus other topics). Follow the link to try out the forum.

        Skepticule Extra is a production of Willowsoft Communications

        Creative Commons License
        Skepticule Extra is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
        Direct download:
        http://traffic.libsyn.com/revup/SkepExtra-037-20121125.mp3



        Paedophile Boss lectures Atheists on human dignity

        The man who presides over the worlds largest paedophile ring has recently accused Atheists of denying human dignity.



        This is the man who actively suppressed knowledge of the global child abuse scandal within the Catholic Church in case it damaged the reputation or the assets of the Church.

        This is the man who on Dec 12th 2012 bestowed his blessings on Rebecca Kadaga, the speaker of the Ugandan legislature who is sponsoring the 'Kill the Gays' Bill.

        This is the man who organised special dispensation for Robert Mugabe, one or the worlds top 10 evil dictators to bypass an EU travel ban so he could attend the Beatification ceremony of Pope John Paul II.

        This is the man who had his butler arrested and jailed (and forgiven) for exposing corruption and money laundering within the Vatican Bank.

        This is the man who smacked down Dominican Nuns because they wanted the Catholic Church to focus less on issues of sexual orientation and more on social justice and the human dignity of all people... including women.

        This is the man who condemns 2 million people to death from AIDS every year in Africa because he has decreed the wearing of Condoms is a Sin in the eyes of God.


        This is the man who has the audacity to lecture me on Human Dignity.


        Links:-

        Pope blames Irish Clergy for child abuse problem in Ireland. 

        Pope blocks dismissal of Paedophile Priest.

        Open letter to the Pope urging further dismissals for cover-up culture.

        National Catholic Register pulls article blaming the children for their own abuse.

        Text of 1985 letter from future Pope Benedict on California sex abuse

        Abuse victim sues Pope Benedict over failure to defrock

        Pope blessed 'Kill the Gays' sponsor

        Pope's anti-condom message is sabotage in fight against Aids