Sep 102013
 

Over the years I’ve come across the work done by Eugenie C. Scott and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), and I’ve posted some articles on her work. I remember quite clearly when she was awarded the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Science in 2010. Earlier this year, Scott announced that she would retire by the end of the year.

NCSE’s executive director Eugenie C. Scott announced on May 6, 2013, that she was planning to retire by the end of the year, after more than twenty-six years at NCSE’s helm. “It’s a good time to retire, with our new climate change initiative off to a strong start and with the staff energized and excited by the new challenges ahead,” she commented. “The person who replaces me will find a strong staff, a strong set of programs, and a strong board of directors.”

During Scott’s time at NCSE, she was honored with no fewer than eight honorary degrees as well as the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Science, the inaugural Stephen Jay Gould Prize from the Society for the Study of Evolution, the Public Service Award from the National Science Board, and the Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“It’s not going to be easy to fill the shoes of someone who has done so much to make NCSE into the respected and admired organization it is,” remarked Brian Alters, the president of NCSE’s board of directors. “We look forward with working with Genie to find the best possible successor.” A job announcement is now available; members and friends of NCSE are encouraged to spread the word that what Scott once described as “the best job in the world” will soon be open.

Science Insider (May 6, 2013) reported on the announcement, quoting Kenneth R. Miller of Brown University as saying of Scott, “She’s incomparable, irreplaceable, and indispensable,” and Sean B. Carroll of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as saying, “The entire scientific community, legions of teachers, and millions of students owe her a great debt for her dedication and passionate advocacy. She has established a remarkable legacy at NCSE.”

She’s done a good job at the NCSE, and I’d like to thank her for that work there and for her lectures.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2013

Sep 082013
 

The American Society of Media Photographers, ASMP, has issued some information on Facebook’s proposed T&Cs and how that could impact on photographers.

Most of that information is pretty good but they may have over-estimated their power to influence Facebook. I could be wrong.

What did I do? I kept my Facebook account but removed content and other information about myself except for my name and e-mail address. So I continue to use Facebook for discussions, etc. and provide external links if I need to reference my content; that content was retained and maintained at my main website as it’s the universal primary source for access to my content.

So my recommendation is to continue using Facebook for social interactions and engaging with customers but keep content in a different place that can be URLed. This was easy for me, but then I don’t run a business using Facebook. I suspect, though, that professional photographers who use Facebook as an integral part of their business may experience a number of difficulties. Hopefully other groups can provide further practical advice.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2013

Jul 012012
 

Not only does it seem clear that the Society of Homeopaths is aware of illegal activity by their members, but that the society condones and encourages such illegal activity.

I suppose that such behaviour is to be expected from those selling snake-oil.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2012

Apr 052012
 

The National Secular Society has a great piece on Cameron’s recent speech on Christian values and Easter:

Common sense, critical thinking, the scientific method, these have all shown the improbability of any religion being a reflection of reality. In fact, religion has been shown to be nothing more than a mechanism for control and enslavement, a media for ignorance, injustice and terror. Further, science has shown the improbability of a god.

There is enough beauty in truth and in reality but the religious are blind, close-minded, in their faith. I would therefore question the thinking processes for those that profess belief in gods and religions as such thinking is in opposition to rationality. In particular, I would scrutinise those politicians who “do god” as they have now flung open the door of their beliefs to criticism,

Based on the improbability of gods and religions being a truth, based on the evils of religion, Cameron is either an unthinking, credulous person with a flawed thinking processes, or he is a liar trying enhance his politician position. What is undoubted is that he is a politician.

The National Secular Society makes a clear case that Cameron is dissembling, hypocritical and disingenuous. He has failed in trying to be “cool” to attract younger votes. Now he’s going for the religious votes.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2012

Feb 142012
 

I saw a newspaper article today with Baroness Warsi wanting to fight against “militant secularists” and for religion to feature more strongly in government and society. Coyne has his own thoughts on this:

More here:

Religion is a force for control, for suppression, and for barbarity, clothed in dogmas and rituals which the religious hope is mistaken for civility and progress, shielded by the mock claims of “offence” and “racism”. I am tolerant of religion (I don’t go around threatening people for a start) and adults can believe in whatever fairy-tales they wish (and I will judge their competency on rationality accordingly) but I am against those fairy-tales if the religious enforce indoctrinations onto children, when they threaten liberty and free speech, when they threaten and commit violence, and when they encourage a closed-mind view. Religion will abuse, it has a proven track record.

It seems to me that Warsi wants to extend religion’s special privileges where none is warranted. She wants a safe harbour for religious indoctrination to thrive. She wants irrationality to become ubiquitous. She stands for all that is backwards and medieval in thinking and outlook. It is perhaps the religious like her that are the real danger to civilisation.

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I will criticise all religions and the religious where they come into conflict with ideals such as reason, rationality, freedom, equality and justice. History has shown that religions will suppress such ideals through use and abuse of whatever powers and controls they have.

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It’s quite simple. The religious are not at all comfortable in their delusions and instinctively lash out at those that expose the irrationality and fragility of the religious mind. So much for turning the other cheek!

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Religion needs people to be uneducated, to be unquestioning, to be stupid and credulous. This is how religion exerts itself and how it continues to enslave people into backwards thinking. Jerry Coyne explains this quite clearly in the recent “Be stupid” command from Pope Benedict XVI of the Roman Catholic Church.

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Religion is institutionalised delusion, a social grouping mechanism for the irrational. But for those within this group who dare to explore with open minds, with the tools of critical thinking, there is hope of a life free from the prisons and poisons of religion.

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Religion, contrary to the naivety expressed by some, cannot lay claim to morality. Religion is a source of enslavement, a source of inequality, a source of barbarity. Humans, as a community-based species, have derived morality from within itself, from within the community, influenced by the social interactions that takes place. And morality changes, progresses, as communities advance. But religion stakes a claim on morality, claims itself as a source of morality, and distorts it for its own means. Here we are, in the 21st century, with the inhumanity and unreason of religion exposed by advances in science and by application of critical thinking. Religion has not only passed its sell-by-date but was defective when conceived and manufactured. Let’s move on and free ourselves.

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Science is the search for truth. It is a rational mechanism that uses logic, evidence and other facts to formulate theories to arrive at the truth. Religion is at odds with this rationality and thus those who advocate religion are deluded. And those scientists who claim compatibly of religion with truth in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary must do a pretty good job of compartmentalising the irrationality of religion from their rational thoughts. But, then, humans are not always consistent or rational in what they do which makes the scientific process an absolutely critical method to progress.

Religion is not compatible with truth. Religion is an intellectual prison, a method of control, a method of suppression and repression, which blinds the religious to the truth. It’s about time humanity broke free of its shackles, to experience the truth, to experience the excitement, wonders and mysteries of this planet and the universe.

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…religion does not deserve any special privileges; it is not immune to criticism and I will object to any laws or “politically correct” influences that seek to protect religion or not cause “offence”. Any “offences” that religious people feel, I think, may be the result of a deep split within their personalities where their rational-self is trying to get to the surface but is pushed back down by the irrational-self. This battle probably goes unnoticed by the person but if they really thought about it they may perhaps know that there’s something not quite right. And rather than explore and understand and admit that they are wrong they, instead, lash out at the external, the rationalists, the critical thinkers. They want this nice, cosy world that they’ve built around themselves and are afraid to venture out, afraid to grow-up, afraid to confront reality.

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…religion is used as the canvas and as the brush to paint a veil of terror

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2012

Nov 032011
 

Pharyngula posts a YouTube link of Terence McKenna, about the dangers of “relativism” where equal respect is paid to all ideas. McKenna is right. We need to call “Bullshit” when we see it, and fight the “politically correct” sensitivities of our society so that reason can be taught. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not so keen on McKenna’s other ideas but here he gets it right.

Now, I can see some people being uncomfortable with what they perceive as stridency. Such stridency can appear rude and off-putting to those who are genuinely seeking knowledge. It is not normally my intention to be rude but sometimes, when one is engaged in discussion to explore and consider ideas, the other side abandon reason, abandon knowledge and seek refuge in ignorance. This does not foster an environment conducive to polite discussion. However, I try not to be rude to anyone in particular unless they’ve demonstrated their idiocy. I have no qualms at all in condemning ideas and intuitions which peddle bullshit. And if someone does delight in their own ignorance and refuses to engage in reason then I will be rude.

Kate Smurthwaite was right on the money here; these people are idiots and well done for her to say so:

More at her blog article and the vile response from some people:

And some good stuff here from Pharyngula:

Can I call Deepak Chopra and Bill O’Reilly a couple of idiots?

Carl Sagan was one of the great explainers and he is not known for being rude. His Baloney Detection Kit is a wonderful tool to use in the fight against unreason, superstition and other bullshit. And when I use that kit to analyse what Chopra and O’Reilly are saying then I can come to only one conclusion. Actually, I didn’t have to use Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit at all…the conclusion is self evident.

Too many idiots in too many places. But that’s why I increasingly use my blogs to highlight idiocy in the hope that people are exposed to reason and understand the bullshit being spread far and why by the idiots. And I hope that not too many reasonable people get put off by the stridency in these posts.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2011

May 022011
 

Quackometer article that describes “the depths of the murderous advice being handed out by homeopaths in Kenya”.

And the article makes it clear that the Society of Homeopaths are complicit. Again we find the “deluded and superstitious practices of homeopathy” are directly responsible for harm. A tragedy, a scandal.

Note: scientific understanding not only shows the implausibility of homeopathy theory but, critically, high-quality trials have shown that homeopathic treatments are nothing more than a placebo.

Also read:

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2011

Apr 292011
 

Why Evolution is True article:

The problem with the Archbishop of Canterbury (Rowan Williams) is that he is steeped fully within religion and, as such, everything must be guided by the hand of god. In his job he cannot have any other position which is why people like him and their religions are an anathema to logic, reason and critical thinking.

Dawkin’s “The God Delusion” and Coyne’s ”Why Evolution Is True” explain clearly why the “hand of god” is not only not needed to explain evolution but that such a “hand of god” is complete and utter nonsense within the context of evolution. I can only conclude that Coyne is absolutely right to say that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a pompous old gasbag who doesn’t understand evolution. I would go further and call the Archbishop of Canterbury a man of unreason who is not needed or wanted in modern society.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2011

Apr 292011
 

Yes, Sathya Sai Baba. Good riddance. He was a fraud, a leech on society.

But he’s not the only leech. Just look at all those faith healers in the Bible Belt of the USA and elsewhere.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2011

Mar 042011
 

Well, we know that homeopathy is nothing more than a placebo and we know the dangers of using homeopathy instead of real medical treatments. We also know the falsehoods promulgated by homeopaths of how homeopathy is supposed to work. Now it would appear that Richard Barr, the director of the Society of Homeopaths, is threatening libel action against Paul Offit’s new book “Deadly Choices: How The Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All”. Further information information on Richard Barr’s role in the infamous Andrew Wakefield scandal can be found at The Quackometer:

One thing does seem clear, the libel laws in the UK or at least in England, are not for a modern society.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2011