Friday 9 October 2009

Burnee links for Friday

Don't get burned!The discarded crutches prove that miracles can happen - Telegraph:
"Lourdes is littered with discarded crutches and we can argue the toss about whether it’s a result of psychosomatic healing or divine help. But a remarkable number of those miracles of healing have been independently verified by doctors with no church connections. And that’s a fact."
I think you'll find "the fact" is that in the history of Lourdes pilgrimages, less than a hundred Vatican-ratified miracles are deemed to have occurred. Taken as a percentage of the total number of pilgrims visiting the shrine in the hope of a miracle, that's an appalling record.

Call to stop relaxation of assisted suicide rules amid questions about Lord Phillips' role - Telegraph:
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph’s columnist Mary Riddell on Sept 11, Lord Phillips said he felt “enormous sympathy” for terminally ill patients who wanted to end their own lives in assisted suicides.

He added that he sympathised with people facing a “quite hideous termination of their life” as a result of “horrible diseases” who wanted to avoid a prolonged death and spare their relatives pain or distress.

The campaigners claimed that these remarks showed that Lord Phillips had allowed his personal views to colour his judgement in the Purdy case - which overturned two early decisions by more junior courts - as the country’s senior Law Lord.
Would it have been better if Lord Phillips had said he felt "no sympathy" for terminally ill patients? The Christian Legal Centre seem to be impugning the man simply because they don't agree with his judgement, when all he's doing is showing that he can see both sides of the argument - which is surely what we want in a judge.

Dr. Frank Lipman: Swine Flu: What To Do? - The Huffington Post
Authoritative advice from someone described as an "Integrative Physician" (maybe he uses calculus as a diagnostic tool). So what happened to "complementary" and "alternative"? (Personally I prefer the term "quack".) Here's his final piece of advice:
14) Keep homeopathic Oscillococcinum on hand

Take it at the earliest sign of a cold or flu. Early intervention is essential. If you are exposed to someone with the flu directly, you can take one dose twice a day for two days. You can also take one vial once a week throughout the winter, and two or three times a week during flu season, as a preventative measure.
Well, at least you won't die of thirst (or perhaps it's sugar-deprivation).
(Via Pharyngula)

A creationist edition of The Origin « Why Evolution Is True
I try to be charitable. I don't like to label people stupid unjustly. But Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron give every appearance of being willfully stupid. Ignorance, of course, is no crime, but Comfort has been told time and again where he's getting the most basic aspects of evolutionary theory wrong, yet he persists in spouting non-scientific nonsense. He's completely out of his depth, but appears not to realise it. Or if he does realise it, he's just plain dishonest. Jerry Coyne has the right idea:
"Enough. You don’t have to read this introduction; the theology is as dreadful as the science."
William Lane Craig Provides the “Scholarly” Basis for Holy Horror « manicstreetpreacher's blog
Craig's God is for those of a strong stomach only. This deity's morals are the epitome of fickle caprice - he may lay down the law for you, but he doesn't follow it himself. And he may even command you to break his law ("Do as I say, not as I do"). And anyway, what does it matter if innocents are slaughtered? If they're innocent they'll be going to heaven that much sooner. Manicstreetpreacher dissects Craig's repugnant moral philosophy with surgical abandon.

Advice for atheists? : Pharyngula
PZ is getting uppity. (What, again?)

Greta Christina's Blog: Atheism and History: A Grandiose Thought
Greta Christina is thinking big.

The First Amendment and Obama’s Administration | Center for Inquiry
Ibn Warraq points out that the approval of the recent UN Human Rights Council resolution (US co-sponsored) against - among other things - "negative stereotyping of religions" ought to mean that the First Amendment be repealed. Somehow I don't think that's going to happen.

BBC NEWS | Magazine | When sceptics fight back
BBC coverage of TAM London

The Amazing Meeting, London: Skeptics In The Pub Grows Up - Londonist
More coverage of TAM London

WEEK 1a: “Christianity: Boring, Untrue and Irrelevant?” « Alpha Course: Reviewed
The beginning of Stephen Butterfield's series of blog posts on the Alpha Course.

Science, Reason and Critical Thinking: TAM London
Upcoming Skepticule interviewee Crispian Jago gives us his TAM London round-up.

TAM London in review | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine
JREF president Phil Plait reviews the event.

Why skeptics do not, and should not, waste their time with academic theology | Factonista
a) Theology is irrelevant, b) Theology is about dishonesty, c) Theology is without substance.