Archive for September, 2009

On the Origin of Stupidity…

AndromedasWake
AndromedasWake
Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:26 pm by AndromedasWake

Isn’t it amazing what League of Reason bloggers get up to? Sure, some of us lead very mundane lives, doing absolutely nothing but drinking coffee and and tweeting about it. But others spend their days trying to make good use of speaker’s corner. And every so often (though arguably not often enough), one of our number produces cartoons with a very low frame-rate, that is more than made up for by the punchy writing and suspiciously brilliant voice acting.

Every week there’s some exciting new scandal involving a Leaguer, and I can’t tell you how proud this makes me. After all, scandal makes the world go round*. Perhaps then, you can imagine the smile on my face when our very own Godless-Romanian-Vampire-Gypsy-Witch captured the attention of not only atheist overlord PZ Myers, but also the Huffington Post. There’s no need for me to explain this story, when you can just watch the video after the break. Then read on…

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Don’t go having an opinion now

rabbitpirate
rabbitpirate
Mon Sep 21, 2009 2:51 pm by rabbitpirate

Here at the League of Reason we are all about freedom of speech and as such I feel the need to mention this even though many of us would be happy if people just stopped talking about religion altogether. Now as that is unlikely to happen this is worth looking at as the outcome of this case could end up having an effect on those of us, like Th1sWasATriumph, who are actively involved in debating religious people. Anyway as I write this evangelical Christians, hotel proprietors and owners of a seriously sci-fi surname Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang are awaiting trial accused of breaching public order because they allegedly insulted a guest’s religion. The couple apparently engaged in discussion with a Muslim guest about the differences between their religions during which they are said to have described Muslim dress as putting women into “bondage’ and Mohammed as a “warlord’. Oh noes.

 

The couple were arrested and charged for this most terrible of crimes under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 and Section 31 (1) (c) and (5) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, which has dismayed a number of lawyers who consider this a misuse of the act that was designed to deal with law and order problems in the streets. Prominent criminal barrister and expert in religious law Neil Addison had this to say on the matter:

 

‘The purpose of the Public Order Act is to prevent disorder, but I’m very concerned that the police are using it merely because someone is offended.

 

‘It should be used where there is violence, yobbish behaviour or gratuitous personal abuse. It should never be used where there has been a personal conversation or debate with views firmly expressed.

 

‘If someone is in a discussion and they don’t like what they are hearing, they can walk away.’

 

Now while the church has used this as yet more evidence that they are oh so persecuted I think this is something the rest of us should keep an eye on. If they are convicted then this could set a worrying legal precedent. Right now people have freedom of speech; they do not have the freedom not to be offended. If these people are convicted then the Public Order Act could be used to change all that, at least that is how I read this article. Are there any lawyers out there who could shed some more light on the matter?

Speaker’s Corner

Th1sWasATriumph
Th1sWasATriumph
Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:06 pm by Th1sWasATriumph

Some of you may have heard of Speaker’s Corner, in Londonbox – an area of Hyde Park where, for over 100 years, people have turned up (generally on Sundays) to speak their brains about whatever they feel is important. The majority of this consists of religious nutbarness, as you might expect, but with a smattering of political, social and ecological viewpoints.

You’re not protected by law, as many people seem to think – but police do tend to steer clear, so as long as you don’t try to wash the colour off a black man or anything similarly importunate you’re probably ok.

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YouTube’s TheoreticalBullshit

Wed Sep 16, 2009 1:28 am by TheYoungAndRestless

“A simple, apostolic yearning for a genuine biblical revival in our day,” Revival Conference, an event held throughout the year, around the world, and with no cost for admission, is an extension of the ministry of SermonIndex.net, both being frequent platforms for Paul Washer, the founder of and Minister of the Gospel, his actual title, at Heart Cry Missionary Society. Revival Conference, SemonIndex.net, Paul Washer, and Heart Cry Missionary Society express non-denomitionalism, but an affiliated church, the Grace Life Church of the Shoals in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, expresses, with emphasis, a devotion to the historic Baptist doctrine and references the Rev. John Newton Brown’s 1833 New Hampshire Confession, although, with doubtlessly unintended irony, it is modified slightly. And, so, while this event and these organizations and this person and, indeed, a great many more, may express non-denominationalism, they are certainly not beyond categorization and one can trace the theological and culture ideologies which inform their current iteration; non-denominationalism, however, is not a theological argument, but an ecclesiological argument.

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DPRJones 24 Hour BlogTV Charity Donations Ticker

CosmicSpork
CosmicSpork
Sat Sep 12, 2009 4:58 pm by CosmicSpork

This is a semi-live feed of the donations for DPRJones’ 24 Hour BlogTV Charity Drive!

As you can tell, the target has already been SMASHED, but that’s no reason to stop donating!

You can donate at the following links:

http://tr.im/dprjonesfirst (FirstGiving)
http://tr.im/dprjonesjust (JustGiving – UK)

Or you can bid on items on eBay:

http://tr.im/dprjonesebay

All money goes to MÉDECINS SANS FRONTIÈRES (Doctors without Borders) – http://www.msf.org.uk

No, don’t ask Barry!

rabbitpirate
rabbitpirate
Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:48 pm by rabbitpirate

I just want to give my quick two pence worth about this article on the Telegraph Website that is a great example of why taking the “balanced” approach to a story always results in credulous information, the illusion of controversy where none actually exists and just plain bad journalism reporting. These days it seems that no matter how one sided a topic may be reporters will do their damnest to find that one crackpot who holds an opposite point of view so that they can presents a “balanced” article that highlights the “controversy” raging between the “experts”. I think Dara Ó Briain put it best. When interviewing a NASA scientist about their plans for a new space station you don’t also have to interview a guy who thinks that the sky is a giant carpet painted by God in order to present a “balanced” view of the issue. Some times one side is really is right and the other side is just plain wrong. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you lot this but when it comes right down to it creationists really are on the same level as geocentrists, flat earthers and that guy who thinks the sky is a carpet. Plus if this article really contains the 5 best arguments for creation then I don’t think that those of us who live in a little place I like to call “reality” have anything to worry about. Anyway that’s all I have to say on the matter. I’d be interested to know your thoughts on this.

 

Oh and sorry about the excessive use of quote marks, I got kind of “carried away”.

The Greatest Show on Earth Review

djarm67
djarm67
Fri Sep 11, 2009 3:51 am by djarm67

Hi All,

I have uploaded my review of The Greatest Show on Earth to my YouTube channel. It is a 2 parter and I will be auctioning off my copy of the book this weekend on dprjones BlogTV charity drive. Hope you enjoy my review.

In “The Greatest Show on Earth The evidence for evolution”, Richard Dawkins takes on creationists and intelligent design proponentsists whilst taking the reader on a detective trail of evidence to show why evolution through natural selection is a fact and a theory.

Part 1

Richard Dawkins The greatest show on Earth Part1

Part 2

Richard Dawkins The greatest show on Earth Part 2

The details of the charity auction for Medicines sans frontiers (Doctors without borders) is here,

Dprjones BlogTV room:http://www.blogtv.com/people/dprjones

The site at which you can make donations is:

http://www.firstgiving.com/dprjonesblogtv

http://www.justgiving.com/dprjonescharityblogtvshow/

Don’t be intimidated by large donations,
simply donating what you can spare is appreciated; the small amounts make a big difference.

The website for Medicens Sans Frontiere (“MSF”):http://www.msf.org.uk/

In the US the charity (it is the same charity) is know as “Doctors without Borders”:

http://doctorswithoutborders.org/

The msfuk youtube site is here:http://www.youtube.com/user/msfuk

The eBay auctions have started and will be added to as the show date approaches:

http://tinyurl.com/m2jb3e


DJ

A refreshing change

rabbitpirate
rabbitpirate
Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:45 pm by rabbitpirate

So last night I was watching Private Practice on Living, yes I know please don’t judge me, and I have to say that I was very impressed with the way they handled the subject of vaccination, the central story in this weeks episode. Unlike some TV shows that I won’t mention, cough Eli Stone cough, Private Practice took an unashamedly pro vaccination approach to the subject with not a single one of the main characters voicing anything but 100% support for vaccines and the vaccination program. On top of that they pulled no punches when addressing the anti-vaccination movement and at various points in the episode described them as “idiots”, “scientifically illiterate” and “conspiracy theorists”. The message was clear and unambiguous. Vaccines are good, they save lives and the anti-vaccination movement doesn’t know what it is talking about.

 

I also liked the simple but effective way they told the story. The story focused on a mother with three boys, the oldest of which suffered from autism that she believed was a direct result of vaccination. Every time she brought this up she was politely, sympathetically but directly told that this was not the case, that all the evidence showed that there was no link between autism and vaccination. Each time this happened she would come back one of the typical anti-vaccination replies. A mother just knows these things. You can’t be sure that vaccination didn’t cause his autism. He was vaccinated and the light immediately went out in his eyes. All powerful arguments to be sure but all anecdotal and unsupported by any evidence.

 

Anyway the reason she is at the doctors is because her middle son is sick and it quickly becomes evident that he has measles. It is also revealed that neither the middle or the youngest son have been vaccinated due to the mothers conviction that vaccination is what caused her oldest son’s autism. The doctors pled with her to let them vaccinate the youngest son but she won’t let them. After all, she says, measles isn’t that bad, it’s a childhood disease that kids get to toughen up their immune system. Nothing to worry about. Well, as I am sure you can guess, this quickly proves not to be the case and the sick child is rushed to hospital, but still the mother will not let the doctors vaccinate her youngest son.

 

The middle son gets sicker and sicker and the mother begs the doctors to help him while still resolutely refusing to let them protect her youngest child. The middle son starts to convulse and almost stops breathing but the doctors bring him back and then, in desperation, one of the characters rushes out and vaccinates the youngest son. The mother goes crazy, screaming at the doctors, accusing them of assault, telling them that they are over-reacting and have given her son autism. She threatens to sue but before she can say anything more an alarm goes off and a code blue is sounded. He middle son’s heart has stopped beating. The doctors rush to save him but despite working on him for almost half an hour he dies.

 

There is a very powerful scene after this with the mother and the doctor sitting in the hallway outside the now dead son’s room. The mother, tears running down her face, announces that she can’t believe this happened, that she thought measles was just like getting a cold. The doctor says nothing; he doesn’t need to as the point is all too painfully clear. Measles is a killer and the very best weapon we have against it is vaccination. Yes there are reasons to be cautious, some people can react badly to vaccines, but they do not cause autism and your “mommy instinct” is no match for years of well-researched medical science.

 

Private Practice may be a little relationship focused and soap operary at times but I was very impressed with how they handled this episode. It is all too common on TV and in the news for them to take either the “balanced” approach of making it seem like both sides have equally valid arguments or to squarely side with the anti-vaccination movement. It is refreshing to see the topic handled in a way that is entertaining, educational and solidly based upon carefully researched scientific evidence. I just wish it were only a story.

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