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The Broken Hut
Working my way up to a full-size building
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29th-Sep-2007 12:41 am - Homeopathy: Liberal and Extreme

On Professor David Colquhuon’s blog, there was a discussion about the closing of the Tunbridge Wells Homeopathy Hospital (I use that last word advisedly). This comment from Le Canard Noir struck some bells:

The real menace comes not from medical homeopaths, but from lay homeopaths, represented by the Society of Homeopaths, who are often dangerously deluded and a threat to peoples’ well being.

This seems remarkably like the view that moderate religious believers act as enablers for the extremists. They dare not criticise the extremists, no matter how distasteful they find their actions, because any criticism they use will necessarily be just as effective against them.

It’s the fact that these moderates still believe in physics and germ theory—rather than the ability of homeopathy to cure malaria, for example—which dampens their zealotry. The “lay” homeopaths who come into it without much in the way of scientific training are just believers, through and through. They have all the assurance of the creationists who blithely state that evolution breaks the second law of thermodynamics.

And the matter then becomes, as it is with religion—is a comforting belief useful to have around, or is it just too dangerous for a society to harbour any “official untruths”?

I’m getting really fed up and pissed off at these utterly heartless bastards who would sacrifice someone’s health for the sake of their own paranoid fantasies.

By the Daily Mail’s own admission in the article, HPV is responsible for 700 deaths from cervical cancer every year. But they “revealed”, in their best stoke-the-controversy fashion, that the NHS is paying for this treatment “at the cost to the taxpayer of £241 per course of treatment”. So little to prevent death from cancer, but too much for the Daily Mail and the absurd arguments of the “National Family Campaign” or “Family & Youth Concern”.

The argument that being vaccinated against a sexually-transmitted disease makes you leap into bed is so silly on the face of it that it’s difficult to comprehend the kind of person that could believe it. Every single statement made in that article makes me want to reach out and slap someone, hard.

“It could be seen as helping to promote or encourage sexual activity in girls before they are physically or mentally mature.” (Hugh McKinney, National Family Campaign)

There are two points here, neither of which follow from the facts. First, that being vaccinated promotes sexual activity. Strange that the MMR vaccine doesn’t promote teenage pregnancy — even though mumps is a cause of male sterility and rubella causes developmental defects during pregnancy. Second, that vaccine can make someone have sex before they are mature. The only thing that will prevent that is adequate sex education and fewer religious twats turning sex into a forbidden fruit.

“Why should we spend so much money on vaccines against diseases which are totally preventable in other ways? We should be discouraging young people from having intercourse at an even younger age rather than promoting it.” (Dr Trevor Stammers, Family & Youth Concern)

The “other ways” hinted at here are not listed. I can only guess he means that great placebo panacea, abstinence. Of course, abstinence doesn’t prevent HPV transmission, unless what Dr Stammers really advocates is lifelong celibacy. If no-one had sex until the age of twenty five, then it would take longer before infected people spread the virus — but it would spread. There is no magical cut-off point of maturity past which HPV is no longer a threat.

Family & Youth Concern’s statement is completely irrelevant. They’re only there to issue their default opinion — promoting moral panic about the “permissive society” — which happens to align quite nicely with that of the Daily Mail.

Thankfully the commenters on the article are pretty much on the ball (for a change). There is one nutcase who seems to think that Nu Labour (sic) are doing this to “breed” the next generation of voters (!). Even amongst Daily Mail readers that’s a minority opinion. Bookdrunk also has more and some interesting links to previous HPV and sex education stories.

What do you think — are these anti-HPV campaigners seriously deluded or simply scum?

Just a short Beyond Parody today, as I’m really a bit stunned at this whole scenario. I’m really having second thoughts about putting it in this category, which I’ve been reserving for light-hearted stupidities.

But no matter, it certainly fits with the spirit of things. Never in all my life could I have predicted this. According to the state of Virginia’s laws on parental neglect, faith healing is a legitimate means of looking after your child:

However, no child who in good faith is under treatment solely by spiritual means through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination shall for that reason alone be considered to be an abused or neglected child.

It’s beyond my limited powers of comprehension why this was considered an even half-way credible idea. That they are honestly advocating prayer healing as valid for anything — let alone cancer, diabetes or anything else life-threatening. — is absurd. What kind of crack are these people on?

4th-Mar-2007 03:40 pm - Beyond Parody: GodTube

I’ve decided to start a new category to put mind-boggling stuff in. Stuff (like the Conservapedia) which is beyond anything a keen satirist could come up with on their own.

For the first in this new series I would like to introduce GodTube, the Christian version of YouTube. Tagline: Broadcast Him. Presumably YouTube is too secular or something.

There are videos of “Christian clown training” (which you can parse how you wish); a presentation about September 11 and the Book of Revelations; and How to teach the controversy over Darwin legally.

This is truly the video equivalent of Conservapedia.

If I had the ability and know-how, I’d set up a science site called SmartieTube. Named in homage to the late lamented Smartie tube. ;-) But you could just go to YouTube instead…

16th-Dec-2006 11:59 am - Creationism in a nutshell

This is as much as anyone needs to know on the subject:

I mean, my only problem with creationism is it being discussed as theory instead of as pointless solipsistic wanking.

From Slashdot. I lol’d (literally).

22nd-Nov-2006 03:12 am - The documentary ‘Jesus Camp’

Thanks to the stalwart efforts of robhu I got to watch Jesus Camp the other day.

It is, as you might guess, about a kids’ camp run by, and for, evangelical Christians. The kids do the summer camp stuff which they don’t show much of (go-karting, you get the idea) and lots of Pentecostal praising, sermons and lectures.

Read more about the filmCollapse )

The Sikh who was assaulted in Edinburgh is getting rather too much attention for an inconsequential aspect of the assault. From the BBC, he was:

  1. subjected to verbal racial abuse
  2. punched
  3. kicked to the ground
  4. threatened with a knife
  5. had his hair cut

For any normal person number five in the list would not be the most important thing. In all probability the story would barely be reported outside the local press if he wasn’t a Sikh.

So what’s the fuss? The boy’s baseless beliefs are the foundation for the escalation in severity of the crime. If a Jedi walking through Pilrig had had his light sabre broken by a bunch of thugs, would anyone care? If someone stole some expensive wine from a Hedonist, would there be such outcry?

If, while walking through a park late at night, a Godless Materialist was attacked and their mp3 player stolen — would they get a candle-lit vigil and a statement from the Chief Inspector?

I want to reassure all members of the community, and the materialist community in particular, that I’m confident we’ll have a positive outcome.

I think the answer to that is rather obvious, sadly. Instead it’s the invented offence against a god that’s given all due respect and not the offence against the person.

Just you have a read of this fantastic essay. It discusses religion and respect and puts eloquently many of the thoughts I have had about belief recently. Particularly in light of the whole veil-wearing thing with Jack Straw and then that teacher.

The comments (or at least the first 10 or so that I've read) are very positive; and I would like to add my congratulations to the author. Well said! I particularly like the rendering of religions as "special interest groups" — a very good point, I thought.

13th-Aug-2006 05:59 pm - Can’t you count?

If Jesus died and was resurrected why are Christians still waiting for the Second Coming? Surely the next one is the Third Coming?

Gasmonso over at Religious Freaks has a couple of very good quotes from Syrian psychiatrist Wafa Sultan on the general state of the Middle East. I think you know — or can guess — my opinions on the dangerous effects of religion, but this is what she has to say about it:

In our countries [Algeria and Syria], religion is the sole source of education, and is the only spring from which that terrorist drank until his thirst was quenched. He was not born a terrorist, and did not become a terrorist overnight. Islamic teachings played a role in weaving his ideological fabric, thread by thread, and did not allow other sources — I am referring to scientific sources — to play a role. It was these teachings that distorted this terrorist and killed his humanity. It was not (the terrorist) who distorted the religious teachings and misunderstood them, as some ignorant people claim.

How much death in the name of ludicrous ideals is required before people will question these things? There is nothing special or interesting about Islam. Any religion that claims images of a prophet are forbidden but has a collection of images of that prophet dating back many hundreds of years is as silly as one which makes a virtue out of blind faith and a vice out of knowledge.

I will continue pointing out the irrational motives of people where I see them. I hope you will too (especially if I’m the one being irrational).

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