Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Psychics: Prove Yourself (What? You Can't?)

I was just reading a recent article in the Toronto Star about the missing "Tori" from Woodstock. Apparently a person, who wishes to remain anonymous, has come forward to offer to pay whatever ransom is asked as long as Tori is returned safely. Great news for Tori and her family (if that's what the issue is).

HOWEVER, how the offer came about reminded me of a comment that Ben Radford said regarding psychic investigations - more about that in a minute.

A limo pulled up in front of Tori's house with someone who claimed that their boss was wealthy and wanted to help. When the limo appeared, though, Tori's mom thought it was going to be Sylvia Browne. And why not? Who better to have involved in something like this than a, failed and useless, psychic?

If psychics were really "psychic", you would have 100 psychics submitting, to the police, the EXACT same information on the crime and it would be solved. Really, if psychics were as good as they claim to be, we wouldn't need to install surveillance cameras, to lock up our valuables or even worry about mistaken identities, DNA testing, fingerprinting. What a different world we would live in.

The fact (yes, FACT) is that psychics possess no supernatural abilities and therefore are, at best, guessing and, at worst, making sh*t up when it comes to psychic investigations. They divert resources from real leads, provide false hope and, at times, cause more harm.

Ben pointed out that "psychics" shouldn't be talking about cases they solved in the past as proof of their abilities, and that there are MANY MANY cold cases out there that are waiting to be solved - prove your abilities by solving them. (They won't because they can't.)

(The links I provided are to - a site that is active in exposing Sylvia Browne as the fraud she is. There is much more to be found there!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thank God For Jerry Coyne

If you haven't read Jerry's book, Why Evolution is True, you can add one to your "must read" list. Until then, you should check out Jerry's blog (of the same title).

Jerry's recent article "A spoonful of Jesus helps Darwin go down" tackles the accommodationist approach when it comes to defending science/evolution. From the time that I started looking into the evolution/creationism debate, I firmly took the "if there is a conflict between religion and science, bye bye religion" approach.

I have had to defend my position as people will often claim that we're not going to win over converts (or deconverts, really) by saying "you've been lied too, the evidence shows your book is wrong" (in not so abrupt terms).

Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, A.C. Grayling, Larry Moran, PZ Myers and a number of others are (and have been) speaking out against the accommodationist movement and I think it is the right direction to go. I encourage you to read Jerry's blog posting - he is polite but to the point - on this VERY important topic.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

2008 Was No Different

In 2008, Dave Boushy, complained about Motley Crue coming to Sarnia - here is an open letter that was circulated via email. Don't call the councillors, you'll interrupt their bible study.

I went to the city council meeting on Monday because I wanted to know more about the Bayfest noise concerns and because I love our waterfront and happened to be walking downtown shortly beforehand. What happened at the meeting absolutely amazed me. Dave Boushy suggested that council should have some control over who performs at Bayfest and, even worse, went so far as to suggest that people not attend motley crue because all he can picture is “pornography”. Jon Mceachran supported Boushy’s request that council look into whether or not they could do so.

I have never been a fan of Mr. Bradley (as you all know) but the guy actually made sense at this meeting. Maybe he knows where his bread comes from with Bayfest possibly bringing the biggest cash infusion to our city since he first got elected.

Mike Kelch, our guaranteed source of reason, spoke eloquently and intelligently when he said that he doesn’t think that the city should determine who plays at Bayfest just as it should not determine which religions are involved in Gospel by the Bay. Heck, his point couldn’t have been any better. Boushy was concerned that Motley Crue would come to Sarnia and possibly have sex with some consenting adults. Surely that is worse than a religious cult forcing underaged girls to have sex with middle aged men (FLDS), priests fondling little boys or countless evangelical churches and even televangelists milking poor and/or susceptible families out of their money.

I don’t know if Mike Kelch was saying that religion is far worse than Motley Crue but I think that he may have been making the point that religious whackjobs (many exist in Sarnia) have no right to decide what is right for other people.

The reality is, folks, that fools like Dave Boushy and Jon Mceachran are pushed around by (or are part of) the religious idiots and are threatening something that many of you enjoy and what Sarnia really needs – Bayfest.

I don’t go but that is my choice. It isn’t my thing but who am I to tell you that because I don’t like it you can’t or shouldn’t. Let the market decide who they want to see perform at Sarnia Bayfest or Sarnia Bayfest may just find another home. One of the guys sitting beside me at the council meeting said “this is ####ing foolish, Sarnia needs Bayfest a lot more than Bayfest needs Sarnia”. He’s right, it isn’t like Bayfest can’t find another piece of grass to set up on. I bet Point Edward or Wallaceburg or Chatham would love to have them.

If you want to enable the free market to thrive, support things you enjoy. Don’t tell people what they should or should not like. If you like the bands at Bayfest – go to Bayfest. If you like Motley Crue, I think this is your chance to tell the idiots on council that NOBODY should be able to tell you what you should or should not like – Buy a Motley Crue ticket to Bayfest and encourage your friends to do the same. I just bought two – I’m going to donate them to someone who gave all their money to the church and can’t afford to go! (I’m not going to tell you to go buy your ticket at Coffee Lodge but that’s where I got mine and I got a great sandwich!)

Voice your opinion, let Dave Boushy and Jon Mceachran know that you don’t think the city council or the religious fanatics should control what we like or don’t like!

I didn't edit this original letter. The author remains anonymous.

Jim Stokley, Who Do You Think You Are?

For those who aren't familiar with what is happening in Sarnia, you're really missing out. is an annual festival that brings millions and millions of dollars to our community. A recent article in the Sarnia Observer has a local councillor, Dave Boushy, speaking out against the festival because of the choice of performers for the event. This is my open letter to Jim Stokley, the event promoter/coordinator:

Mr. Stokley, if you were spending YOUR money to bring these large acts to our city, you should have ultimate say in who attends. If you weren't receiving substantial amounts of money from our city to support the festival, they wouldn't have a say. When my tax dollars go to supporting your event in the City of Sarnia, you have an obligation to me and the tax paying public.

As a moral and upstanding citizen of this community, I demand that you consult with the community, at large, on where our money is going to be spent. No longer should you be able to expect thousands of dollars from our City for you to use as you so choose. Our city deserves more than that. It is time for you to stop sitting on your high horse pretending that the money is yours - it isn't.

What? Bayfest is 100% funded by Jim and Michele Stokley? The city doesn't donate a single cent to the event? Jim even pays for the police to be there (ultimately reducing the expense to the City of Sarnia - paid service by the police is a money maker for the city!)? Bayfest has supported local charities with over half a million dollars in donations? The city charges them thousands of dollars for the park rental?

Oh.. nevermind. Boushy, shut your fly-catching trap.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Michael J. Fox (of Sarnia) - Unedited

I am not making this up. The truth is truly funnier than fiction. Apparently the bible knew that Barack was going to be elected and that the economy was going to fail as it did, when it did.

That's what Michael J. Fox of Sarnia tells us anyway. The bible might be giving Nostradamus a run for his money. (In case you believe in Nostradamus' predictions, I encourage you to start thinking - and, possibly, read The Mask of Nostradamus by James Randi.)

Michael J. Fox, in a recent letter to the Sarnia Observer, says:

Sir:With turbulence in world financial markets, small investors are understandably concerned about the safety of their deposits and investments.
However, the current situation is more than just a financial crisis. It signals an impending irrevocable shift of global power. The age of America's dominance as the world's financial superpower is coming to an end. The damage to America's standing in the world community as the result of the current crisis will be irreversible. Government intervention in the U. S. economy and the nationalization of financial institutions defies the principles of free capitalist markets. The inherent weaknesses in America's economic system are being exposed, just as were those of the Soviet system.

The American system operates on the premise that capital markets will be self-regulating to everyone's benefit. The result of this premise, as the current financial crisis clearly demonstrates, is a predatory capitalism where some seek quick profits, using greed techniques like short selling, leveraged buyouts, speculative hedge funds, etc., that provide no real value.

For years, American administrations seemed to be schoolmasters, lecturing other countries on the virtues of sound financial planning, budget deficits and related issues. However, the United States did not practice what it was preaching. Overspending and the burden of unforeseen military obligations have led to an unprecedented increase in the federal budget deficit.

At the end of September, the U. S. national debt exceeded $10 trillion, for the first time in history. By Jan. 6, then- President-elect Barack Obama warned Americans of the likelihood of trillion-dollar deficits for years to come, due to government spending and lowered revenues from a battered economy. Yet he is now, as president,
advocating vast overspending through what is claimed to be an emergency stimulus

For 40 years, former U. S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has championed unregulated capital markets. "I made a mistake," Greenspan said in recent Congressional hearings, "in presuming that the self-interest of organizations, specifically banks and other financial institutions, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and the equity in the firms."

All the lessons of history tell us that the loss of economic discipline destroys nations and people. America was once the greatest creditor nation to nations around the globe. It is now the largest debtor in the world.

The United States is sliding toward a national debacle. Bible prophecy foretells that it will happen. The signs are growing ever more obvious.

But America will not be done. Eventually, every nation and empire on this earth will collapse. God revealed through the prophet Daniel that this will occur.

The God of heaven will set up his kingdom which shall never be destroyed. It shall break in pieces and consume all the kingdoms on earth. At the End Time, His kingdom will last forever.

For more information, read your bible.
Michael J. Fox Sarnia

I don't even know what to say about this - I've responded to a previous letter from Michael J. Fox (Sarnia) in December. He is a deluded fool with, apparently, no limit to his imagination. It's a shame that facts and truth don't get in the way of his horrid rants.

As a friend commented, "if there was a mushroom cloud destroying humanity, he would see a silver lining in it."

If his bible actually predicted this (it didn't) and predicts such horrible things in the future, it's not a god worth worshipping. If a god like this does exist, Michael better hope that he picked the right one. (You should pack some Astroglide just in case, Michael.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Religion and other time-wasters

Over the past week I've come across some cool sites/info that I thought you, my only reader, would be interested in. Fortunately, the info below is going to be far more useful than religion.

Richard Wiseman has published a couple of books, The Luck Factor and Quirkology. I have just purchase Quirkology but have not yet begun to read it. (I'm sure I'll post on that when I'm done. If you are in the Sarnia area and are looking for books, visit in the Northgate Plaza.)

Richard has created a video - Colour Changing Card Trick. Take a view - he shows you how it is done. (If you've seen Penn & Teller recently in Las Vegas, you might recognize the idea.)

A blog that you might find interesting is that of Stephen Law. Stephen is a Philosopher and a wonderful presenter. His blog is accessible and his messages are pretty clear. I'm just waiting for Stephen to send me my copy of The War for Children's Minds. (Seriously, he's going to send me a copy - because I paid for it!)

Someone I've mentioned a few times in my blog, James Randi and his James Randi Educational Foundation, have their own YouTube channel. I can't pick a favourite video, The Amazing Randi is truly inspiring. Enjoy!

As Bill Gates once said, "Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There's a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning."

Psychics are useful

Nobody really believes in psychics - everyone knows it is just for entertainment. I hear this all the time and I wish I could agree. The way that the "just for entertainment" message is delivered to me is what leads me to this conclusion.

"I don't believe in psychics, I just go for the fun of it... but... I can't explain how the psychic knew that my mother died of cancer." or "Sure, it is only for fun but you have to admit that there are some things that can't be explained. I went to a psychic and he/she knew that I had surgery on my foot when I was young. How do you explain that?"

I don't have to admit that some things can't be explained when it comes to psychics. I have offered to explain a "reading" to them - many people have tapes of their readings - but none ever seem interested in that. (If you have a psychic reading that you'd like me to "evaluate", contact me at - I'd be happy to do it!)

If psychics had this "power", they'd have claimed the million dollar prize from the woo-woo* debunker extraordinaire (and Canadian, I must add), James Randi.

This post wasn't to be about debunking psychics or exposing the frauds that they are, it is to give credit where credit is due. Psychics are important - very important. With such marginal (non-existent) success rate at predictions, they make meteorologists feel good about their jobs.

*I promised James and Sean that I would, from now on, use the proper spelling of "woo-woo". The hyphen is required. We encourage you to use the term also.

Another post from a fool

A short while ago, a "Rev. Russell Murray" sent a letter to the editor regarding "April Fools' Day" being a holiday for unbelievers. He felt the need to clarify because someone (a Pagan) had a response published.
Sir:Re: S. L. McKellar's letter to the editor published in The Observer on April 3, 2009, entitled "Not all non-Christians are atheists," responding to my letter entitled "April 1 special day for many: reader."
In my letter initially, I made no statement about Christianity and never did I state that April Fools Day be for all non Christians, as S. L. McKellar stated I said. In my letter, I mentioned about "people of faith" having religious holidays, which would include many other "people of faith" besides Christians. People of faith include Muslims, Jews, Mormons, Jehovah Witness, etc. -- any group that believes in God.
What I did state was that the Bible states that "the fool has said in his heart there is no God" and that April Fools Day would be a great holiday for all who are not people of faith.
-- Rev. Russell Murray Sarnia
Awwww.. so much better. I'm sure the non-Christians would be happy to hear that some other religion's man-made book agrees with their belief in their own imaginary god.

With that cleared up, I take back my earlier post. (Take back? I mean, link back.)

Update: As Call Me Paul, points out, "Rev." Russell Murray forgets another part of his wonderful book - Matthew 5:22 - "But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." Happy roasting (in your imaginary hell) you ignorant idiot.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Let me clarify

Wow, I'm an a$$hole, apparently. I suspect because the point I was trying to make was not well made - or people didn't read my full blog entry. (Two emails to me regarding my post claimed I was wrongly bashing Nathan when Nathan was a good Christian who is just trying to make a difference.)

For a little background, read Nathan's original post (as found in my previous blog entry) and then read the blog entry itself. (Nathan has since responded in the comments and on his blog, too.).
  1. Nathan's actions and attempts need to be supported and commended. He is trying to right a great number of the actions/methods of a system that he is part of (church/churches).
  2. I really do respect Nathan. He is bright, witty and intelligent and, from what I can gather, actually cares.
  3. He is not a cafeteria Christian and he doesn't attend church to ensure he meets the cut-off for "heaven". I don't believe he attends church on the 7th (or 1st) day of the week to make up for the ills of his ways the other 6 days of that week (yes, I'm accusing others of such).
  4. His letter to the editor was/is necessary. He pointed out, to the religious, some harsh realities and admitted, to the non-believer, that those problems are recognized.

Having said all of that, let me explain my position.

  1. I don't believe in an afterlife, the historicity of a divine Jesus Christ or that the bible is the inspired word of god.
  2. I do not believe in god and, likely, would go much further to say that there is no evidence to justify belief in a god.
  3. Religion does not deserve the respect that it is given. It is harmful and anything that is truly as good as they claim it to be should not be afraid of criticism. (It's like claiming that someone who is perfect and all-knowing would be jealous. What? They do claim that?)
  4. Not all religion is bad but I take issue with supporting or encouraging it because it always wishes to go the next step to interfere with rational thought of its followers. Think for yourself. Question everything.

From this, my point in the original post was to say, basically, that "Yes, Nathan is right." The solution (though not implied or inferred in his post - but the reality that needs to be considered) that Nathan has chosen is to be a part of a "new" type of church - "The Story". It is that part that I take issue with. His church is different - it is a step in the right direction but if you are going to take a step, take a few steps.

As different as Nathan's church is, it can only be so different. There will be the continued expense of pastors, buildings, upkeep, etc., and that money could be used to do so many other things. (If only the needless waste of money were its only and greatest fault.) If Jesus had ever existed and lived the life that Christians wish he did, he would be ashamed of the waste of money and the encouragement of non-thought.

So, Nathan, thank you for speaking out. I respect that. I don't understand the need/desire to be a part of a church, however.

(Note: Money is only one small issue that I, and others, have with organized religion. I have posted other blog entries on the harms/troubles of religion - do not attack me for simply addressing one, seemingly pointless, issue. Religions seek donations with many people believing that most of the money goes to supporting the poor/homeless/helpless when that is blatantly false. Most of the money goes to supporting the institution. The fact that people are being lied to, abused and herded is a much more important issue to tackle and I have and will continue to do so.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Many a truth is told in jest

A long time ago in a far away land.. (a week ago in my hometown), Nathan Colquhoun responded to an editorial about churches getting together to help a local Vineyard church run (illegally) its homeless shelter.

In Nathan's response, he uses, effectively (really, read it), satire to get a point across that many of us non-believers try to make (not jokingly) when discussing faith with those who are (sadly) infested with it.

I'm sure that most of Nathan's interests are honourable and much is truly commendable but I think he stops short and that there may be other motivators for his letter.

Churches are "known" for providing assistance to those in need but the reality is that with such overhead, many churches provide little (if any) assistance. Most of their money is spent on salaries for staff (priests/pastors) and for upkeep on their massive/expensive buildings.

Nathan is involved in a (relatively) new church start-up (we needed another church - I actually drove by two street corners the other day without seeing one - I was worried!). Like many churches, it brings in tens of thousands of dollars and, happily, spends it. Of the nearly $200,000 the church was given in the last three years, $1,000 is slotted for "core giving" in 2009. Most of the other money went to salaries, mortgage, building upkeep, capital expenses, etc.

At best, the church used $17,000 for "helping" others (with the exception of, each week, helping people read the same book over and over). That's if you assume the $16,000+ spent on mission trips was really "helping" others. I'm confident that, unlike most missions, Nathan's church did no proselytizing and spent every penny on charitable works. (Note: Use of jest but likely not the truth).

It is for these reasons that I wonder if ALL of Nathan's motivators were honourable. He pushes a different type of religion and his letter to the editor may have just been another way to attract others who are disillusioned by what is clearly not how Jesus would have hoped his religion to be practiced.

Having said all that, Nathan is an intelligent person truly interested in the well-being of others and, given the options for "believers", he is one that I can truly appreciate. I don't think his "moderate" religious attitude is the result of his belief - it is in spite of it. I like that he has taken steps to get his church to being more "Christ-like" - I just wish he'd go one step further and make it completely like Christ - non-existent. (Nathan - you can always claim your church was better than Christ - it actually did exist at one time!)

I've got some cold beverages and a bag of M&Ms for the day when Nathan finally tosses his bronze-aged myths and joins the world of non-belief. And Nathan, I'm counting on it being soon - M&M's do expire.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rev. Russell Murray - Go F#$k Yourself

By that, I mean, don't do as many of your cohorts do (molest young children).

Let me first start by saying I searched for what church/cult "Rev. Russell Murray" belongs to - but nothing, quickly, came up.

Yesterday, on April 1 (big day for us, apparently), this letter to the editor appeared in our local paper. (This link will eventually stop working.)

Sir:The next national holiday on our calendar should be a special day for all those people that are "not of faith" and feel left out because of all the religious holidays that we have in North America.

The book of Psalms states that the fool has said in his heart there is no God. For atheists who didn't realize they had a yearly day to celebrate, April 1 is your day. Take pride, enjoy.

This is indeed a holiday for all atheists to celebrate -- April Fools Day.

Rev. Russell Murray Sarnia

Now, few things really piss me off (but those few things occur often, I must admit) but one of those things is stupid people speaking publicly with conviction.

Mr. Murray is one of those stupid people. April 1 is NOT a national holiday. What makes him appear less stupid is when you read between the lines - he is RIGHT - the NEXT NATIONAL holiday will be celebrated by fools (and I mean that in the nicest way) - followers of the Christian faith - Good Friday.

I will admit, it is a good Friday - any Friday that is a holiday = a good Friday.

Any time a person uses, as their sole reference, a book that is (more correctly that they wish was) 2000 years old, holds little (if any) truths, and has been used to oppress, abuse and control the masses, for the purpose to offend others, they are immediately identified as idiots. Congratulations Russell Murray.

Why our local paper, The Sarnia Observer, would publish such rubbish is beyond me. Congratulations on speeding up the demise of your paper.