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Stardate 10.014

Ascent out of Darkness ~ Armchair Philosophy from the 'Silly Beliefs' Team


Psychic fair or gathering of morons?
I was in Dunedin this weekend, and with time to kill, visited a psychic fair that was on nearby. Boy what a bunch of fruit loops. It took great effort not to start giggling at the claims made on the various stands and at the nonsense being spouted by stall-holder and client unlike. There were clairvoyants, colour therapists, palm readers, face readers, iridologists, Reiki therapists, crystal therapists, channelers, aura paintings, Christian evangelists, homeopathy, aromatherapy and many more. One woman tried to talk me into a free session of energy healing (the only free session I noticed on offer) that required me to sit opposite her and she would direct her palm towards me from about two feet away. This would supposedly direct the energy from the universe into me giving me an energy boost. Unfortunately it would take ten minutes so I politely declined. Surprisingly there were at least four women doing this and they all had suckers in their chairs ... I mean clients. Another turkey was dressed like a wizard from 'Lord of the Rings' with a large metal staff topped with a large crystal. It was a healing and communication tool I heard him tell an enquirer, the design of which came to him through crystal powers, whatever that means. Probably that he hears voices and has seen the LOTR movies once too often. My favourite nutcase was a guy called Don McInnes, a healer whose preferred method is something called 'Galactic Healing'. He also calls his method 'Cosmic Calling' and states that those that gave him this method initially called it 'Quantum Intergalactic Physics', but thought that this would confuse people. No kidding? His printed blurb states that "I hold the 'Star Gates' open to allow inter-galactic ~ inter-dimensional energies of love, to be anchored in my energy field and transform these energies to a level useable by your body." What utter nonsense all this is — 'Galactic Healing, Cosmic Calling, Quantum Intergalactic Physics, Star Gates and inter-galactic ~ inter-dimensional energies'. He sprinkles his blurb with scientific terms to try and make his claims sound scientific but his use shows that he's ignorant of their true meaning, and the phrase 'Star Gates' is straight from the popular movie and TV show 'Stargate', which he obviously doesn't realise is science fiction. During your session he'll even 'check for attached entities, energies, negative alien implants, black magic (curses etc) and have these removed, plus protection put in place.' Note how this sounds like a technician removing a virus from your PC and installing a virus checking program. Also one minute he's dealing with highly sophisticated alien implants and the next it's black magic. He can't make up his mind whether he's in the distant past or the distant future, dealing with witches or aliens. Another stall had photographs of what they said had been proven to be the mummified body of a real fairy — eight inches tall, brown skin and wings. X-rays showed it to have hollow bones. Are there really people out there stupid enough to believe this? Obviously yes!

The funniest encounter I noticed was another energy healer explaining how to rid the body of negative emotions, when the guy he was talking to suddenly started pushing his product, his method of healing, with the question "Have you ever asked Jesus into your life?" I guess this is the amazing thing with all these different methods of healing. There's just so many of them, all competing to be number one, and yet none of them work. Not one has been adopted by our modern health system, they all exist on the periphery, buzzing incessantly like annoying mosquitoes. It's surprising that they can all sell their wares under one roof without constantly debating who really has the power to heal and who's deluded. I suspect that they do giggle at each other's stupidity but are prepared to hold their tongues at events like this, concentrating instead on attracting clients to their booth and away from their misguided competitors.

As the saying goes: "A psychic fair is like a rubbish collectors strike. Until one happens you just don't realise how much rubbish there is out there."

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 16 Mar, 2008 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend


  1. Comment by Bob, 16 Mar, 2008

    P.T. Barnum said it all, "there is a sucker born every minute."

  2. Comment by Jim, 30 Jul, 2016

    In Canada and the US there are many hospitals and clinical settings that use Reiki as an adjunct modality for stress reduction and relaxation. But yeah, a lot of the stuff you see at psychic fairs is hogwash ... not all of it, but most of it.

    NHS advertises for 'reiki or spiritual healer' for Essex hospital

    Health treatments: whatís the alternative?

    More Central Jersey hospitals offering reiki to treat breast cancer

    NWH's Cancer Center Offers Big City Care With Community Compassion

  3. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 30 Jul, 2016

    There is a great deal of confusion between how Reiki therapists and their clients view Reiki and how hospitals view it.

    As regards the advert for the 'reiki or spiritual healer' for the Essex hospital, the one 'branded "surreal" and a "waste of money"', the hospital thought it might help patients 'cope with the emotional, physical and spiritual issues of dealing with their cancer journey'. In no way did they think it might treat the cancer, merely that it might help them deal with the actual treatments they were receiving, such as radiation and chemotherapy. The same with the articles in the other links, Reiki was offered, as you say, for 'stress reduction and relaxation', and as one article says, 'Reiki is a complementary therapy. It is not instead of or replacing standard care. It helps to support the adverse effects of treatment. Also, it instills a sense of hope'. But many things could be used to elevate the mood of patients undergoing cancer treatments, such as watching comedy movies, eating decadent deserts, or having sex. We have no problem with offering patients diversions to take their mind off their situation, but don't peddle false hope.

    However this is quite different to what the Reiki therapists themselves claim. One explains that Reiki

    'is based on the principal that an unseen "life force energy flows through us and is what causes us to be alive ... We are energy beings, and reiki builds up the immune system to fight off disease energetically by pulling out blocks, and channeling in energy ... It is like charging a battery. Reiki is the jumper cables between the Source and the client, and once you are charged, that is when the healing can begin."
    Another claims that,
    'Reiki ... can help with a variety of health conditions. Like many alternative therapies, it is based on the principle of energy, and the practitioner uses their hands to draw energy through the body to release blockages.'
    Both clearly imply that Reiki can cure cancer by detecting and clearing energy blockages, which is absolute nonsense, and dangerous nonsense at that. If cancer sufferers come to believe that Reiki can cure them, then why undergo unpleasant conventional treatments at all, when it's the Reiki that's doing all the work? One woman believed that it was her Reiki therapist that detected her cancer, leading her to go to hospital for treatment, so if a Reiki therapist says you're cancer free, then this could cause people that actually have symptoms to avoid seeking treatment until it's too late.

    As we've said many times, there is not one documented case of Reiki, or any of the other alternative therapies on offer, having cured any disease. Ever. Ignorant people can get hospitals to allow witches to see patients, just as they allow priests to, or they can add rooms which they claim are visited by healing fairies between 2 and 4 on Tuesdays, but it won't see a single person being miraculously healed.

Cell phones and driving
A teenager kills two people while driving due to inattention. He was busy texting. The judge for the case rightly calls for a ban on using cell phones while driving but a Labour government minister states they have no intention of putting any control on cell phones. A TV news journalist canvases people on the street and a majority admits to texting while driving, including ACT MP Rodney Hide. And most of these say they will continue to do so, even though they acknowledge it's dangerous. And of course answering and sending text messages while driving is dangerous. Anything that diverts your attention from the road contributes to dangerous driving. Only a moron would attempt to deny this. Instead they try and defend texting with statements like, 'But it's no more dangerous than changing a CD, tuning in a radio station or reading a map.' And they're quite right, but this is a silly argument. They don't try and argue that it's safe but openly agree that it's dangerous, but no more than other things that they already do. But we shouldn't be trying to increase the number of dangerous things we do while driving. Rather than add to the list we should be trying to reduce the risk. Driving is already inherently dangerous, why make it more so? Any sane person should realise that the correct stance is to stop doing all the stupid and dangerous things — like changing CDs and reading maps while driving. There shouldn't need to be a law against these things, common sense should tell you that you are dicing with death by performing them.
And it's not just texting that needs to stop, making and receiving voice calls, even with hands-free cell phones needs to stop. Drivers just don't seem to realise how their driving changes once they get on the phone. Whenever I'm following a car that has been driving consistently for some distance and then suddenly its speed and position on the road becomes erratic, I almost always discover that the driver now has a cell phone next to their ear. They no doubt would be adamant that their concentration on the road hasn't wavered, oblivious to the fact that their car now seems to be piloted by an old lady or learner driver. And who hasn't watched in horror as someone on a cell phone tries to manoeuvre their way around a roundabout or tight intersection with one hand on the wheel and one on the cell phone? While some people do agree that driving with only one hand is dangerous, they believe a law demanding hands-free kits would get around this problem. It would certainly return both your hands to the task of driving, but not your full attention unfortunately.
Many people argue that since they can talk to their passengers and listen to the radio, then they can equally talk and listen to someone on a cell phone. They don't realise that conversing with a passenger and with someone on the phone is different in one vital aspect. The passenger is fully aware of what is happening in and around the vehicle, the guy on the other end of the phone isn't. Think of the following example. You're chatting happily with your passenger when suddenly a car turns in front of you. You immediately stop talking and focus on avoiding this vehicle. Your passenger doesn't suddenly demand, 'Why have you stopped talking? Didn't you hear my question?' He knows why you've gone silent and will let you concentrate on your driving, but the guy on the phone, confronted by a sudden silence will start asking questions, 'Well... are you going to send me a replacement or not?... Hello, can you hear me, are you there, have we been cut off?' And your average person will try and continue this conversation even thought some road hazard is screaming for their full attention. Conversations with passengers will naturally start and stop based on what is happening on the road, but cell phone callers are often ignorant of the fact that you are even driving, let alone what the conditions are like. Yet many drivers will politely try and continue the cell phone conversation when it is clearly dangerous to do so.
All cell phones have a message service and text messages don't self destruct if you don't immediately read them. When you're driving simply switch your phone off. You have to do it in movie theatres, during lectures and on planes, why can't you do it on the five minute drive to pick up a pizza? Is your relationship with your friends or clients that tenuous or pathetic? If they can't reach you for an hour will they dump you? Why not create a bit of mystery by not always being immediately attainable? Why not pretend that you do interesting and important things in your life that can't always be interrupted by a phone call? Whatever your motivation, stay off your bloody cell phone when you're driving.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 12 Mar, 2008 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend


  1. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 02 Jun, 2009

    The National government, seemingly now supported by Labour, is now looking at placing a ban on drivers using hand-held cell phones and on texting while driving. Evidently road safety researchers have estimated that the risk of crashing while driving and using a cell phone is between four and nine times higher, and that cell phone use means that they are as impaired as drunk drivers. Unfortunately they are not going to ban the use of hands-free kits in cars, even though Waikato University research showed them to be "little or no safer than hand-held cell phones". This is no surprise since we have argued that it is type of conversation involved in a cell phone call and the concentration involved that really makes them dangerous, not how they are held. Waikato University research showed that "cell phone conversations of any kind almost doubled the time it took drivers to react to hazardous situations". In fact hands-free kits could in some cases be more dangerous than hand-held phones. Like changing a radio station or a CD while driving, you will have to look down to your cell phone to find the button and answer an incoming call. And we can all imagine drivers trying to make calls from their anchored cell phone, continually looking away from the road to find the right number in their phone book list or to press the right keys. At least with a hand-held phone, any experienced user can easily pick up the phone and answer the call without having to divert their eyes from the road. Of course, once the call is answered, by either method, this is when the other dangerous aspect of cell phone use begins, reduction of concentration on driving.

    By not making hands-free connections illegal, many drivers will infer that they are perfectly safe, unlike the banned hand-held calls. The government needs to have the guts and conviction to ban cell phone use by drivers outright. As for policing, many have argued that it can't be enforced, but that's just rubbish. They said the same about seat belt use, child car seats, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving without a licence etc. Just like these examples, every time the police see someone using a cell phone illegally then they ticket them. Not every one breaking the law will be caught of course, but the general public will know that they run the risk of being caught, and like seat belt use, most people will eventually obey the law. As for the belief that you couldn't detect people using hands-free kits, all you would have to do is make it illegal to have them installed in your vehicle. Having one in your vehicle would result in a fine, whether you were caught using it or not. We are not allowed to carry firearms in our vehicle or have devices that obscure our number plates, hands-free kits would just be one more illegal device.

The shape of progress for women
It was 'International Women's Day' on Saturday and the 'ODT asked seven Dunedin women to Dr Russell share their thoughts' on the shape of progress for women. One was a Dr Khyla Russell, who listed herself as 'Senior Manager Maori, Otago Polytechnic', and what a superstitious pile of nonsense her contribution was. She claimed that our 'worldview includes sustainable practices and use of the resources gifted to us by virtue of earth, of sea, of sky and those other contributing elemental guardians and planets...' What practices or resources do we get from her mythical guardians or from the distant planets? This is nothing but primitive superstition, both in appealing to guardians from Maori religion or in suggesting that the planets have an affect on us, akin to equally silly astrology. She believes that, 'As we interact with these guardians, we also progress in different senses toward greater knowledge of self, of place and of technologies'. What utter rubbish. How could imagining you're interacting with an imaginary guardian improve your knowledge of technology? When was the last time one of her guardians turned up at her polytechnic to run a course on computing? She goes on to claim that 'The moon, whose presence determines seasons... ' In fact the seasons are caused by the Earth's relationship with the Sun, not the moon, but her lack of modern knowledge gets worse when she states that 'Winds are often a sharp reminder to us of these seasonal changes, or earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunami, who reminds us that inappropriate practices or progress for progress's sake alone may have consequences (such as floods and disease)'. What ignorance. Surely she can't belief this, claiming that 'inappropriate practices or progress' cause not only floods and disease, but also 'earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunami' as well? This is as disgusting as those American evangelists who insisted that blatant homosexuality caused the 2004 Asian tsunami. What inappropriate practice by a woman might cause an earthquake? Disagreeing with a male, wearing a short skirt, not having dinner ready when hubby gets home, enjoying oral sex? Earthquakes are caused by plate tectonics you moron, not 'inappropriate practices or progress' committed by women. You'd expect primitive proclamations like this from uneducated, unsophisticated women in backward communities, like the Amazon and the southern states of the US, but not from a university-educated woman in New Zealand.
Elsewhere Russell claims that education is one of her passions and so for someone that lectures at several tertiary educational institutions and speaks at conferences worldwide, it is worrying that her view of reality is deeply mired in superstition. What negative effect is she having on her students and conference audiences? Thankfully her writing style is quite confusing and tedious, and this isn't helped by her being unable to decide whether she is writing in English or Maori. So hopefully her oral presentations are just as muddled, meaning that only those already immersed in New Age gobbledegook will connect with her delusions. For example, here's another quote from her ODT article: 'As we enter these seasons of learning and knowledge acquisition... we bring with us the knowledge of ages from those whose descendants we are in this time and whose genealogical whakapapa adds richness to the whakapapa of knowledge.' The title of the article was equally enlightening: 'No naianei, no nehera'.
Progress is about improving one's life now and into the future, not returning to the falsehoods and constraints of the distant and primitive past. If women are to be seen as equals to men we need to set aside our appeals to guardians, to the planets, to psychics or other New Age nonsense and prove our equality with our grasp of 21st century knowledge, not medieval superstition.
As a woman I feel that the nonsense the likes of Russell is spouting is hindering our progress, not aiding it. We've spent millennia as the weaker sex, as the less intelligent sex, as the sex whose correct place is in the kitchen barefoot and pregnant. Russell may be a manager, have a Ph.D and speak at conferences but her advice to women keeps us naÔve, credulous and subservient to all those males who embrace the scientific worldview. Who will find a cure for cancer or discover a new fuel source? Males using science or women waiting for gifts from their guardians?

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 12 Mar, 2008 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend

Buy NZ Made... or maybe not.
A while back Dubai Aerospace Enterprises (DAE) was attempting to purchase up to 60% of Auckland International Airport, and it seems a Canadian pension fund company is still trying to buy a share, around 40%. We have nothing against either company, but why can't we finance and run our own airports? We are continuously being told that Kiwis can do anything, that we can compete with the best the world has to offer, that even with our small population we consistently out perform much larger countries. We have produced world class scientists, leaders, athletes, innovations and inventions. Think of Ernest Rutherford splitting the atom, Sir Edmund Hillary conquering Mt Everest and numerous Olympic athletes like Peter Snell. We have the All Blacks and we've won the America's Cup twice. We were the first to give women the vote, we've legalised gay 'marriages' and we have a female Prime Minister who doesn't believe in God. When the 'Lord Of the Rings' movies were released you couldn't shut people up on how innovative Kiwis were. You didn't have to go to Hollywood to make movies since we had the skills and talent right here. Even the NZ Film Commission raved about how brilliant its computer-generated special effects were — all created by Kiwis. They touted for business from Hollywood itself, claiming no one matched our computer innovation or our scenery and low costs. Yet within weeks they were hiring an Australian company to revamp their Internet website. They claimed that no one in NZ had the expertise! What hypocrisy! In the same vein we sold both NZ Telecom and NZ Railways to overseas companies, all for a short term gain with no thought of the future.
We keep telling the world what amazing talents we Kiwis have, then our business leaders and politicians keep contradicting us by going offshore to hire staff or to buy ostentatious accessories for their house or office. People say we should 'Buy NZ Made' products and employ NZ companies but are very quick to ignore this advice when it comes to their own life. The company the controls the All Blacks dumped NZ clothing company Canterbury and went to German firm Adidas. We complain bitterly about countries in Asia that take work away from our local businesses yet we do exactly the same thing every chance we get. We trumpet our success at getting Europeans to come here to build or refit their super-yachts. We love it when we convince American directors to make their movies here rather than in Hollywood, likewise movie directors from India's Bollywood. When we get overseas companies to do business in NZ we're being entrepreneurial and are praised for our efforts, yet when overseas companies attract our businesses to their shores they're accused of being underhanded and devious. How can we compete when they pay their workers lower wages we scream. Yet our lower wages was one of the main reasons given for making movies here rather than Hollywood. We're bloody hypocrites.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 28 Feb, 2008 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend

Praying at Council meetings
An article in yesterday's ODT — 'Imam's prayer opens meeting' — informed readers that 'a wide range of religious beliefs are making their presence felt at [Dunedin] city council meetings.' We were told that 'yesterday a meeting was started with a Muslim prayer', delivered by Imam Shaikh Jamal. Over the years Buddhists, Hindus and the Greek Orthodox Church have evidently delivered prayers. It appears meetings are normally opened with Christian prayers.

How reassuring that in the 21st century councillors are still appealing to gods to help them perform their duties, duties that this voter assumed they were suitably qualified to undertake without divine assistance. Is this why a decision on the stadium keeps being delayed, because their prayers to their gods regarding what stance to take keeps going unanswered?

Perhaps Mayor Peter Chin could tell us whether every council meeting begins with a prayer to some god and what other religious rituals are appealed to in what I assumed was a secular organisation? Prayers were originally adopted because ignorant people thought they worked. They don't. Pilots don't publicly begin each flight with a prayer, surgeons each operation, teachers each class or judges each court case, so why do we need public prayer to ensure the success of meetings? Are these council chambers or churches?

It's worrying to think that some of our councillors might forgo proper research into a topic, opting instead for help and messages from the sky. If this is not the case, then what is the point of prayer?

Mayor Chin commented that getting other religions involved for prayers was "a good community thing", so it would appear that it's just a cheap ploy to keep various ignorant and deluded members of the community happy. That said, are they going to give equal 'prayer' time to witches, Satanists and beings from other dimensions? And since the latest census indicates that nearly a third of the population has no religion, I would hope that every third council meeting starts without a prayer to mirror the community makeup.

And what was it that the Muslim Imam prayed for: 'world peace, forgiveness for sin, and for mankind to be saved from the retribution of Hell.' He obviously doesn't know what city councillors do if he thinks this is an appropriate prayer for a council meeting. Frankly it annoys me the way religious people have to force their silly, ineffectual prayers onto others. God supposedly isn't hard of hearing. You don't have to say it out loud, just think it. You're communicating with an all-knowing god after all, not another human being. I thought religious people knew this stuff? Keep your silly wishes and your ignorance to yourself. If you really want world peace, get off your arse and do something constructive towards that goal, like becoming an atheist and losing that genocidal intolerance towards other religions. Rather than begging for forgiveness of your sins, just stop committing them, and rather than worrying about an afterlife spent in Hell, something that will never happen, start appreciating the wonders and joys of this life. Stop trying to improve your life by pleading to a childish storybook character. As every example of prayer throughout history has shown, it's a waste of time. If prayer could bring about world peace it would have happened millennia ago. It's time to start making a difference yourself, rather than pleading with your god to do it for you.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 20 Feb, 2008 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend

Christian Archbishop wants Islamic law in Britain
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has suggested on the BBC that some aspects of Sharia law be adopted in Britain. He mentioned such things as marital laws, although he acknowledged that women's rights under Islam would have to be brought up to date first. Does he not understand that this can't happen? That 's the problem with modern wishy-washy Christians who think they can just pick and choose what parts of their holy book they want to believe and change god's commandments as they please. At least Muslims understand that you can't rewrite god's word and still claim it to be god's word.
He goes on to argue that officially sanctioning Sharia law, supposedly giving Muslims more freedom and independence, would improve community relations. This is as silly as claiming that tigers love to roam free, rather than being kept in zoos, so we should open their cages, and if they're happy then community relations will be improved. Certainly the tigers would be happy but the rest of us would be getting attacked and eaten. In the same way, giving sharia law its freedom would also result in bloodshed and misery.

The sharia or Islamic law should not be confused with what we in NZ (or Britain) think of as the legal system. Islamic law is an all-encompassing list of laws based primarily on the Muslim's holy book, the Koran, and the Hadith, the sayings of their prophet Mohammed. Sharia controls every aspect of a Muslim's life, from situations similar to our own legal system such as business, civil and criminal matters right through to the intrusive, barbaric and mundane, such as invitations to weddings, the use of toothpicks and how we MUST mutilate our genitals. They don't just cover law in our sense of the word, but also religious rituals, ethics and manners. And where they are able, religious fanatics viciously enforce these laws. There is no separation of state and religion in Islamic law. Islamic law is religious law. Worse still, since Islamic law is seen as coming from their god, it is infallible. Laws invented over a thousand years ago to suit a primitive desert people's way of life are now set in stone. They can never be changed, even if they clash with modern society, unlike our legal system that evolves to match the times. Changing the laws would be admitting that their god got it wrong, that he wasn't the perfect being that they thought he was.

Of course if people want to live under silly and oppressive laws then so be it. The problem arises when people are forced to obey these laws, under threat of torture and death. If you are born a Muslim and you choose to give up your religion or convert to another, what's know as apostasy, then the punishment, under sharia law, is death. If someone, Muslim or non-Muslim, said something that caused you to reject Islam, then they also must be killed. Sharia law doesn't just have consequences for Muslims. Once sharia law is in place then everyone — Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and atheist alike — can suffer its consequences. Admittedly most sharia law applies only to Muslims, but in areas where non-Muslims can be held accountable, the punishments are often extreme and brutal, from loss of liberty to torture and death. Think of the loss of life that resulted from the recent Muslim protests over the publication of cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. Muslims tried to force their requirements under sharia law onto the rest of the world. Sharia or Islamic law must never be allowed to become part of our legal system. If it were allowed a foothold then it would increase bit by bit until suddenly we would realise that it had changed from silly and mundane rules affecting only Muslims to brutal and authoritarian laws oppressing us all.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 10 Feb, 2008 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend


  1. Comment by Bob, 26 Feb, 2008

    The archbishop sounds like one of those woolly minded Christians who don't want to offend anybody. If someone wants to live in Britain or New Zealand or even Saudi Arabia they should be prepared to live under the rules and laws of those countries. There is no place for Sharia law in any British style country. The freedoms allowed under British law give newcomers plenty of leeway to live by their principles and practices. The law however applies to everyone.

Tapu lifted from crime scenes
In the ODT today I read an article entitled "Tapu lifted from crime scenes" which described ceremonies performed by Maori kaumatua Taare Bradshaw in Kaitangata, South Otago. It seems a kaumatua is a respected Maori tribal elder although a more appropriate description in this context might be 'priest' or 'witchdoctor'. Mr Bradshaw said that lifting the tapu that hung over a murder investigation was important for both family and police. The article stated that "Mr Bradshaw said a Maori prayer and sprinkled water from Lourdes in an action he said was sending the curse away and making both scenes safe. Some fishermen had expressed concern about fishing on the river until the tapu was lifted."

Bradshaw can't even decide what he really believes, appealing both to the Maori gods and to the Christian god for help. And the fishermen are just as irrational, afraid to go fishing for fear of the curse. If this article described the fears of some primitive tribe in deepest Africa, PNG or the Amazon, then we could understand their ignorance and naivety. But this is 21st century New Zealand. These people no doubt drive modern vehicles, use cell phones and computers, rely on modern police forensics to solve the crime and yet at the same time maintain a silly belief in primitive superstitions.

Worse still is that the police seem to be supporting these ceremonies, either because certain staff members also believe in all this rubbish or they feel they need to offer community support by appearing to go along with the chicken bone waving. If they do believe in this superstitious nonsense, then I fear how they might reach conclusions in their investigations — by DNA analysis and reliable evidence or by omens and imagined messages from the gods? If it's all about support then by all means show respect to the family and victims but don't be hypocrites and pretend you're going along with the existence of curses. It's like when I'm compelled to attend a church service for a funeral etc, as an atheist I don't ridicule the priest but I don't pretend to pray to Jesus either. But for what ever reason, police are more and more appearing to be active participants in these religious ceremonies, which of course gives the ceremonies a credibility they don't deserve. They continually tell us that speeding and drink driving cause deaths, but at this rate they may soon be placing the blame on Maori curses.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 09 Feb, 2008 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend

Easter trading laws, are they fair?
An ODT newspaper article yesterday reported that Anglican Church leaders comprising Archbishops and their social justice commissioner are challenging the move to allow shops to open on Easter Sunday. "Enough is enough where the continued intrusion of the market into our lives is concerned". Say what?! The market isn't intruding into their lives, telling them what to think and do, just the opposite. Christians have intruded into the lives of all non-Christians by dictating how we will behave on a day that they have chosen to remember a fictional event involving a character that probably never existed. The intrusion is coming from Christians, not the marketplace. Christians are forcing their silly beliefs onto businesses, demanding that they remain closed. The marketplace is not forcing Christians to forgo their religious rituals and partake of their services instead. It's amazing how churches continue to portray themselves as the victim when it is they who are using the bully tactics.

They claimed that: "Easter, and particularly Easter Sunday, is the time in which we celebrate the God who gives us life. It's not time for indulging ourselves in the marketplace ... shops should remain closed."

That's fine. If they don't want to indulge themselves in the marketplace, then don't. Is most of their Christian flock too weak-willed to stop themselves going shopping? It would appear so. Closing the shops seems to be the only way that the church can get even a tiny fraction of their congregations to go to church services.

Some may argue that it has nothing to do with going shopping per se, but simply that if Easter Sunday trading was revoked some Christians would be forced to work if the shops opened as normal. Thus it's necessary to keep the shops closed so that Christians are free to attend to their rituals. However the Anglican Church leaders do not make this argument, and even if they did, it's not a good argument. It's as silly as me saying, "I want to take a day off work this week, so everyone else must also take a day off so that I won't feel guilty that I'm the only one lazing around". Why should the rest of the country come to a halt just to suit my selfish desires? If Christians really feel strongly about Easter, Xmas etc then maybe they should be fighting for some sort of dispensation from having to work over those days. After all many employers give Muslims time off to perform their silly prayer rituals five times a day. Muslims don't insist that shops close while they prostrate themselves towards Mecca (By the way, did you know that Mohammed originally chose Jerusalem, but changed it to Mecca when the Jews wouldn't have a bar of his new religion?)

I'm sick of this Christian arrogance that the rest of the country should inconvenience itself to suit them. If they want the day off, then fine, fight for that right, but don't give themselves a day off by infringing on my rights. And what about the arrogance that only their beliefs matter? What about Muslims, Jews, Hindus etc that have to work on days that are sacred to their beliefs? Why isn't the Anglican Church's 'social justice commissioner' fighting for their rights? When I worked in Malaysia, a multicultural society, it was holiday heaven. We got Muslim holidays, Hindu holidays and Christian holidays. It didn't matter what your beliefs were, everyone got the day off. Surely this is what a 'social justice commissioner' should be fighting for? And what about atheists? Shouldn't we be allowed a day or two off to celebrate and remember people that we respect? Charles Darwin's birthday perhaps, and Albert Einstein's and Carl Sagan's and ...

The fact of the matter is that it should be all or nothing. Either we have an enormous number of holidays reflecting different beliefs, where everything is closed, or people with personal beliefs simply celebrate or remember them in private, without forcing the rest of the country to go along for the ride. Continually closing businesses down to accommodate a multitude of different beliefs is obviously impractical, so the only fair answer is for Christians to take their silly beliefs back inside their churches and stop dictating to the rest of us.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 22 Jan, 2008 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend


  1. Comment by Anonymous, 04 Feb, 2008

    I would not call myself a Christian or even profess to know exactly what the latest argument by any religious group in NZ is regarding Easter Sunday but will say this. It is one day we are talking about here. One day when the family could be the focal point and God if he's up there might agree with that. Family is what underpins our society. We hardly need more shopping days or more time to spend shopping. Shopping hours are what I believe have become insidious. Being able to shop 24/7 - who needs it and who can afford it. What we can't afford is the erosion of family. Stay home, relax, spend time with those you need to or want to and go shopping some other time.

  2. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 04 Feb, 2008

    We believe that you're suggesting exactly what we are suggesting, that the day should be yours to do with as you wish. Our argument is that the Christian Church should not be able to dictate what others do on the day they call Easter Sunday. They want us to celebrate their god and remember the death of their fictional deity, and yet you won't have a bar of this. You want people to spend it with their family instead. You're in effect saying I'm not going to attend their church or spend time mourning the death of Jesus, which is the reason we have the holiday, I'm going to spend it with my family instead. While this is an admirable use of the holiday, it's not what the church gave you the day off for. You're supporting the day off simply because it allows you to follow your own desires. In your case it allows you to spend time with your family, while others use the time to go fishing, weed the garden or watch a few videos. Yet those that wish to pursue other desires such as opening their business or going shopping are prevented from doing so. Why are you, and the fishermen and gardeners, allowed to do as you wish, along with ignoring the Christian plea that you attend church and celebrate their god, and yet businesses are not allowed to do as they wish?
    And since you believe shopping is the problem, there are many activities that people pursue on Easter Sunday that don't involve spending time with their family. Like shopping are they also contributing to the erosion of the family? Should they also be banned? Should 'family time' be compulsory? One would hope you're not suggesting this, but then you are supporting compulsory shop closures.
    Our argument is not about one measly shopping day, it's about freedom of choice. We're not supporting businesses because we want to go shopping, but simply because they should have the same freedom as you and I do to spend Easter Sunday doing as they wish. If families are eroding we're fooling ourselves if we think keeping shops closed on Easter Sunday will go some way towards fixing the problem. They can spend the day shopping on the Internet anyway. If family members are struggling to interact 364 days a year, they're not suddenly going to feel the urge to get together on Easter Sunday, just because they can't go shopping.

  3. Comment by pkiwi, 08 Feb, 2008

    I am confused. Is Easter religious? And if so, isn't it pagan? I'd always thought it was based on a Spring Fertility Festival what with the imagery of new life (chickens and bunnies), celebration at full moon etc.

    As a devout chocolatist I find any suggestion that Easter is not strictly about consumption of the 'divine' food stuff that is chocolate, reprehensible. The Sunday trading laws are a mess - clear and simple.

  4. Comment by Bob, 26 Feb, 2008

    At the top of my list of principles is the principle that everyone should be free to do what they like. The limitation is when one person's freedom infringes on another's. If a man owns a shop he should be free to open 365 days a year if he wants. If the government gazettes a public holiday employees have a right to a holiday so it is a matter of finding a way to fulfill each person's right to choose. The owner might be told he can't require his regular employees to work unless they volunteer. The point is that solutions should be found which guarantee the maximum freedom to everyone. If that public holiday is a Christian holy day then I support Christians freedom to celebrate it how they like. No one should limit another person's right to do what they want.

    On those principles Christians have no right to force their principles on anybody else. Christians are not forced to go into the shops or work on Easter Sunday. Our society is changing. There are now large numbers of non Christians who do not recognise Christmas and Easter. Should they be forced to observe Christian holidays for no good reason? What of customers who want to buy something?

    We are not a repressive dictatorship so people will fight back against unjust laws. We had the ridiculous situation of jewellers opening on a forbidden day selling oranges for $100 and throwing in a free watch. The sale of oranges was allowed but not watches. Of course Labour Department nazis were soon onto that one. One Easter Sunday a cruise ship called in to Mount Maunganui. Tourists with pockets full of money walked around town unable to spend because shops were closed. Our politicians seem too afraid of alienating blocks of voters to correct such anomalies.

  5. Comment by Steve, 18 Mar, 2008

    Surely the difficulty with this discussion is that Anglicans are being confused with Christians. A read of their respective documents points to obvious contradictions, so the question ought to be what are the real motives of the Anglicans, cause it has nowt to do with Jesus Christ.
    The principle that every one should have freedom to live as they choose so long as they don't infringe on others freedoms is a Christian based ethic, whereas the truth of evolution states that we should be free to live as we please regardless of anyone, because there is no controlling God, no truth, no absolute right and wrong, its all relative.
    Good site, keep it going.

  6. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 22 Mar, 2008

    Steve, we think you'll find that Anglicans are in fact Christians. While every Christian denomination disagrees to varying degrees with the teachings of the others, they're still Christians since they claim to follow Jesus of Nazareth, aka Jesus Christ.
    Furthermore, evolution by natural selection doesn't say how we should live or that there isn't a god. You're confusing evolution with philosophy. Also the absence of a 'controlling god' doesn't mean there is no truth. Truth would exist regardless of whether a god did, but you're right, there is no absolute 'right and wrong'.

Sir Edmund Hillary - Who's he again?
I find it ironic that everyone insists that Sir Ed is so well known, so easily recognised, so respected (and he is) and yet there are "calls for a way for ordinary New Zealanders to remember him". I find it insulting as an ordinary New Zealander the suggestion that I will only remember his achievements if we have a holiday, mountain or thirst quenching beverage named after him.

As for the holiday idea, it's a waste of time asking people whether they would like an extra day off work. Most people would accept a holiday for the tooth fairy if it were offered. If a holiday is preferred, rather than allocate a new holiday with all its addition costs to the country, why not revamp Easter to Edster. We could remember the conquest of Everest on 'Edster Friday', the Antarctica expedition on 'Edster Sunday' and his humanitarian work on 'Edster Monday'.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 18 Jan, 2008 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend

Of Makutu, Maori Curses and Witchcraft
22 year old Janet Moses of Wainuiomata dies while her family supposedly attempts an exorcism. They were trying to remove a makutu or Maori curse. She had been dead for nine hours before someone decided to call the police, and in this time another six people were exorcised, thankfully none died although a 14-year-old girl had to be taken to hospital. Amazing as it may seem, belief in witchcraft is still rife in Maori culture. This superstition predates European contact and like a deadly virus, has unfortunately not been eradicated by exposure to civilisation. Even worse it seems it is not just a belief of the uneducated.

Dr Hone Kaa, an archdeacon of the Anglican Maori Church; Dr Rawiri Taonui, head of Canterbury University's School of Maori and Indigenous Studies; Poia Rewi, a senior lecturer at Otago University's School of Maori Studies and Pita Sharples, university lecturer and co-leader of the Maori Party all acknowledge the validity of curses.

How can Dr Hone Kaa be a Christian and Anglican minister and still believe in Maori witchcraft? Who's in charge in his mythology - God, Jesus or Rangi? I suspect that Sharples doesn't really believe in witchcraft but like most politicians he just doesn't want to tell potential voters they're idiots. But maybe not, as fellow lecturers Dr Rawiri Taonui and Poia Rewi both insist that a makutu can have real effects, and Sharples believes he witnessed the actual removal of a curse.

And it's embarrassing watching the politically correct media skirt around the issue. Not one TV news reporter asks, "In the 21st century you still don't believe in witchcraft do you?" and "What evidence do you have that makutu is real?" or "Do your witches ride on broomsticks like ours used to?" Imagine their line of questioning if you or I said we believed in the Toothfairy. No doubt they fear being labelled culturally insensitive or racist.

But this isn't about race. Catholics probably hold the record for killing people while performing exorcisms, then we have Chinese following feng shui and Europeans dressing up as druids. This is about individuals turning their back on science, reason and common sense. In this case they just happen to be Maori.

The police are treating the death as a homicide and hopefully those responsible will be brought to justice, but punishing the guilty will not solve the problem or bring Janet back. Already Maori such as Dr Taonui are suggesting that the death wasn't caused by morons acting on primitive superstition but by the fact that an experienced tohunga or healer wasn't used. Those responsible will still believe in witchcraft, they'll still be deluded and they'll pass this silly belief onto their children.

These unnecessary deaths will continue as long as we have ignorant and uneducated people in society, and they will exist as long as we have community leaders like Sharples and Kaa telling the masses that their primitive superstitions are true. And many in the media, by not speaking out against ignorance, are in effect maintaining it by their inaction.

UPDATE: The case finally went to trial in the Wellington High Court on 4th May, 2009. The nine family members or superstitious animals charged with the manslaughter of Janet Moses are "John Tahana Rawiri, 49, Georgina Aroha Rawiri, 50, Tanginoa Apanui, 42, Hall Jones Wharepapa, 46, Angela Orupe, 36, Gaylene Tangiohororere Kepa, 44, Aroha Gwendoline Wharepapa, 48, Alfred Hughes Kepa, 48, and Glenys Lynette Wright, 52." We were also told that a man and woman charged with wilful cruelty towards the 14-year-old girl have been granted permanent name suppression. Why? We await the court's verdict.

UPDATE: 12 Jun 2009. Five of the nine accused have been found guilty of the manslaughter of Janet Moses, and will sentenced in August. Convicted were John Rawiri, Glenys Wright, Angela Orupe, Aroha Wharepapa, and Tanginoa Apanui.

Unfortunately, as we predicted, attitudes haven't changed in the intervening year and a half since the death, with family supporters still convinced that those found guilty of killing Moses did nothing wrong. They expressed their shock and dismay when the guilty verdict was announced, many breaking into tears. Some then vented their anger and practised their expletives on the waiting media, which of course is always a good way to clearly elucidate a flaw in a legal case.

But it wasn't just those with familial ties expressing disappointment with the verdict. Once again we have leaders in the Maori community supporting the notion of makutu and the need to respond to its effects. TV3 News reporter Rachel Morton quoted Tuhoe Kaumatua Tamati Cairns as saying that "the lifting of makutu is still used among many iwi around the country" and that "this incident won't put Maori off the practice of trying to lift makutu". He was also shown stating that the 'unfortunate' death "happened as a result of good aspiration, but bad practice". So these Maori elders still believe that witchcraft, black magic and demons were involved in Janet Moses' behaviour and they fully support that primitive, superstitious and potentially dangerous methods must be used to exorcise these demons. Not that they would describe their methods as primitive, superstitious and dangerous, but any rational person would. Maori elders or kaumatua garner respect seemingly because of their acquired life knowledge, but we must remember that the ignorant and uneducated family members sobbing and swearing at the media will eventually become elders themselves and their ignorance will be passed on to their children as wisdom. Age is no guarantee of wisdom, especially when you reject modern knowledge and discoveries in favour of primitive superstition.

The media has once again pussy footed around the fact that witchcraft is bogus and that those that believe otherwise are in need of help. Janet Moses evidently needed psychiatric help, but because of their actions her killers demonstrated that they were, and still are, in need of psychiatric help themselves. But rather than seeing a concerted campaign to root out this nonsense from among Maori, the issue will be forgotten by the media until someone else is harmed. Murderers and rapists often get psychiatric counselling to educate them about the errors of their ways, yet there has been no suggestion that any attempt will be made to convince these idiots that demons and curses are pure fantasy. They talk about breaking the cycle of child abuse, why aren't they concerned about breaking the cycle of makutu?

UPDATE: 15 Aug 2009. The five convicted killers of Janet Moses have been sentenced and all have escaped jail. I wasn't at all impressed by this apparent slap on the wrist. What surprised me is that some Maori themselves were also of this view, such as Maori lore expert Amster Reedy and Maori educator Prof. Rawiri Taonui. Unfortunately I was again disappointed and annoyed that while they called for stronger sentencing, they again refused to expose the belief in makutu or Maori witchcraft as bogus. Amster Reedy, the expert in Maori tradition, said that 'makutu is a sacred ritual that requires many years of study to understand it... It's nothing you want to play around with'. Prof. Rawiri Taonui said that 'the Maori custom they [the killers] applied was a distortion of Maori custom that most Maori would know'. From these statements one can infer that makutu is real, but these people were inexperienced in knowing how to deal with it. Taonui said that it shows that the justice system can't deal with traditional practice, and that in cases like this it might require a Maori judge to sit alongside a Pakeha judge. In other words, we need a Maori witch doctor / judge to advise the Pakeha judge when real demons and curses are at play and when the correct incantations or sacred chicken feet have been employed to make the world safe again. Whether real witchcraft was afoot or whether Maori were just killing an enemy and pretending it was witchcraft.

The judge said that their sincere belief in makutu as an act of tradition was a reason they escaped jail time. What about cannibalism, that was a tradition? Would a judge let Maori killers off because they ate their enemies, just because it was traditional practice?

Of the five found guilty, in addition to community detention, community work, and supervision, four are required to undergo 'education', but what the hell does that mean? One article said they had to take a 'tikanga Maori or other suitable cultural programme'. I guarantee they won't be given classes in skepticism or science. More likely some Maori elder/ kaumatua/witch doctor will instruct them on how to recognise and treat real curses and demons, pointing out where they went wrong, and at no time even hinting that this Maori hocus-pocus isn't real. Their 'education' will ensure that the next generation of Maori will be just as ignorant and just as gullible.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 15 Nov, 2007 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend


  1. Comment by JH, 11 Jan, 2008

    Good points. But ...
    .. but whatever the mechanism, if a curse has power it is real. If the victim genuinely believes it is real, then it has power, so that makes it real. (Real enough, for him.)
    Whatever the mechanism ... I've read that "pointing the bone is effective" (Australian Aboriginal cursing) but only effective if the beneficiary knows that he's being pointed (sung, danced, whatever).
    Possibly the same mechanism as hypnosis? I've seen hypnotised people do weird things. So it is suicide by self-delusion on receipt of valid notification of credible murderous intention? Does 'bone pointing' actually work? I only have hearsay, but it sounds credible. Credible enough to justify the reasons for beliefs, however false they may be and however inappropriate in "educated" people.

  2. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 13 Jan, 2008

    Yes I've heard of aboriginal "bone-pointing" and in that respect a curse can cause real harm. However Professor Gottlieb Freisinger of the John Hopkins University in Boston has declared that, "special circumstances and beliefs in a community must exist before an individual can die by hex." Everyone must believe in the power of the curse or else it won't have an effect, and as you say, a curse never works if the beneficiary doesn't know they've been cursed. This means that a curse isn't a real thing existing independently of the beliefs of the victim. A curse can't harm someone who doesn't know or believe in curses, whereas the affect of a speeding bullet will be real whether you believe in bullets or not. Psychologist Stanford Cohen of Boston University believes that "hexing can be fatal when it implants a mixture of fear and helplessness in the victim." If the victim is shunned by their family, friends and the community, it will be difficult to get food, water, shelter, support, work etc. Unable to lead a decent life they can 'lose the will to live' and may commit suicide or simply waste away.

    I see a curse as a way of influencing behaviour by deception. If it works people do it to themselves. There is no real curse in that there are no supernatural or mystical forces at work, which is what the participants believe. You can only bring misfortune upon yourself or others if you and the community all participate in a delusion. Or in the case of Janet Moses, if people suffering under the delusion that a curse exists inflict bodily harm on someone. The curse didn't kill Janet Moses, her family did.

  3. Comment by Jackson, 03 Dec, 2008

    I am a Pentecostal Christian and absolutely believe in Witchcratft. I certainly don't practise it but to not believe that it exists is foolish! There are good and evil forces both working against each other. Witchcraft is simply people manipulating other people by means of power attained from dark powers (the devil and his demons). Any Christian who is familiar with the bible and its scriptures knows this.
    If there were no forces of evil, why is the world like it is and most of all why would we need God?? It is the devils biggest tool and strategy to make Christians and non-christians alike think that he is just an idea. The devil is very real but the great thind is Jesus Christ is rel also. And is power is real and far greater. He shed his blood for us and set us his Holy Spirit. He has given all Christians his name and the authority that come with it to overcome all powers of darkeness.
    Unfortunately, this has been faded out of general christian practise, especially the christian churces who just focus of useless religion, rules and do nots. Thats not what being a christian is. A Christian is a human who ahs recognised that he has sinned and has accepted Jesus Christs death in place of his own, so that he has been made sinless in the sight of God so long as he presents him self 'cleansed by the blood of Jesus'. This also is not a ritual but purely someone accepting salvation through faith and confession.
    Now to address the exorcism: Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit Jesus has also given us power over all demons and as long as the person affected by demonic influences agrees, demonic influence and oppression must go in the Name of Jesus. If death is occuring during 'exorcism' (a by the way a real christian won't perform an exorcism) it's not likely being done by the power of the Holy Spirit and there for are actually participating in witchcraft. A real born-again Holy Ghost filled Christian can undergo deliverance with a Mature Christian who knows their authority in Christ and are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, otherwise you're all 'pissing in the wind' and dangerous things will happen. These are real principlities and powers you are dealing with and its very foolish to think that they are going to listen to what you have to say - Chrsitian or not - without the Name of Jesus addressing them. The devil doesn't care about you, or anyone. The most rediculous thing anyone can do is ask an evil spirit to come into you in hopes of getting it out of some one else. No evil spirit has to leave with out the Authority of Jesus, so all you have done is invited an evil spirit into your life.

    If you are dabbling with spiritual forces outside of the guidlines of the bible you are in very dangerous ground. If you don't believe in the devil, demons, evil spirits, and witchcraft you could be in even more dangerous ground.

  4. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 04 Dec, 2008

    Well I guess I'm up the proverbial creek without a paddle then, because I certainly don't believe in "the devil, demons, evil spirits, and witchcraft".
    You ask "If there were no forces of evil, why is the world like it is and most of all why would we need God??" Firstly, if the world really contains evil because of your god and his underling the devil, then your god needs to get off his arse and clean up the mess he created. Is he all-powerful or not? If your god is no match for the devil then what hope have simple Christians got who have no supernatural powers?
    But of course disasters, calamities, diseases, wickedness and suffering aren't caused by supernatural beings running amok, they all have perfectly natural causes. Earthquakes and cancer are not inherently evil. Let's remember that superstitious people believing in witchcraft actually caused the death of Janet Moses. You're encouraging everyone to believe in witchcraft, but if they hadn't, she'd still be alive.
    To answer your second question, "If there were no forces of evil, why... would we need God??" Quite simply, we don't need God, anymore than we need Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and Harry Potter. The fact that many people would like to think they're real doesn't mean they really exist.

  5. Comment by Keri, 17 Jun, 2009

    Makutu was an ancient Polynesian practise & required quite arduous training & rituals for a person (carefully selected, and generally from the chiefly ranks) to become adept as a tohuka. Practitioners seemed to have been skilled at both vetriloquism, & sleight of hand, and had a very good insight into the pyschology of the people they were dealing with.

    With the advent of christianity, makutu became thoroughly bastardised: 'demons' (never part of makutu) became a mainstay of the belief system - and anybody who believed in this stuff was warranted - by their belief - to be a practitioner, suited to dealing with 'makutu.'

    The old makutu is long dead: real tohuka (certainly in my tribal group, Kai Tahu) are long dead. Long may the whole thing *stay* dead.

    People who believe in, and practise this bastardised version of what *was* part of Polynesian culture, today, are superstitious idiots.

    Ka mihi koa mo Hinekaro! N/n Keri

  6. Comment by Bob, 18 Jun, 2009

    Sorry Jackson, your post is nothing more than a repetition of fundamentalist clap trap. I suggest you come into the 21st cenury and stop believing in witchcraft immediately. Witchcraft is simply another name for ignorance. There is no such thing as the devil. The devil is just an adult version of a child's bogeyman. There is evil in the world. It doesn't come from negative spirits but from people who make a conscious decision to act in very negative ways. Unfortunately when large groups of such people get together they can cause havoc in society. Look at what Adolph Hitler and his SS army of psychpaths did during world war 2. We see the headaches caused by criminals and gangs here in New Zealand. On the other hand we have good people who do good in society helping others. I acknowledge that many are Christians acting according to their principles. The world is made up of all sorts.

    "died for our sins", "Holy Ghost", "cleansed by his blood" are all meaningless slogans. Humans have been pulling themselves up by their bootstraps ever since the beginning of civilisation 10,000 years ago when people became organised in large groups. We have come a long way. Lifespans have doubled, famines have reduced in spite of the ever increasing demand for food. We have made great strides in combating disease. Incidentally we have conquered the diseases deliberately made by God. I can never get Christians to explain to me why God made smallpox, ebola, tuberculosis and other disease organisms. According to fundamentalist views that God deliberately made each life form as we see them today he must have made all the germs and viruses. Please reply and give me your view on this matter. There is now widespread respect for human rights which didn't exist much in biblical days. Democracy is spreading. We do better without religion. Incidentally over the years Japan has had lower rates of crime and acceptance by corporations that their workers have to be looked after. Their principles seem to be more effective than those of some of the Christian countries yet only 2% of Japanese are Christians. Wars have reduced especially among the major countries which now see the value of cooperation. Our armies are now mainly peace keepers putting down trouble and would be modern day Hitlers.

    You talk about salvation. What is that? What is conquering death? Do you mean if I pray and read my bible I won't keel over at perhaps 85 years of age after all? Will it make me immune to cancer?

    I don't like the idea of being called a sinner. It means you can never reach perfection. I remember one fundamentalist assuring me he was a sinner. I asked him what did he ever do that was wrong. I bet he never even had an overdue library book. Looked at a different way I do accept that few people are perfect and we could probably do better.

    I much prefer logic and evidence to blind belief.

  7. Comment by Andrew, 25 Aug, 2009

    Hi there, it was surprising and unsurprising that the Wainui makutu group got off. It's not the first time that the justice system has responded to political realities. After all the judge has a pension to look forward too. Buck the system and kiss it all goodbye.
    The Wainui group are what I've been told were a well known family in the suburb, who indulged in a lot of unhealthy social practices and were not well versed in what they were attempting. They should have done jail time for stupidity and ignorance, at least.
    Bad luck for you guys, belief or the reality of Makutu, spirits etc. wasn't on trial. From our experience, it is whether you believe or not in it, for it to be effective. Some people seem to be more affected. Others may show no outward signs at all. It's surprising how many people I come across in ordinary daily life who believe in such things, often from their own or families experiences.
    We often substitute spiritual/religious beliefs with something else, like the effectiveness of psychiatry, or pharmacology. I mean did no one notice that Clayton Weatherstone was on Prozac. Science didn't save them.

  8. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 26 Aug, 2009

    Hi Andrew. Yes I agree, the reality of makutu, spirits etc. wasn't on trial and the justice system has never shown itself willing to contest these things. Unfortunately the fact that the case didn't really question the reality of makuta sends a dangerous message to those tempted to believe. Think of medieval times when most everyone assumed the devil was at work and witches lived among them, and thus the courts never thought to question whether this was in fact true. Even today the authority of the courts are still sending false messages to society. I also agree that whether you believe in these things dictates whether you can be affected by curses and such. As I mentioned in 'comment #2' above, belief in curses can cause real harm, but not because of supernatural interference. Their delusion harms them. It's a little like young kids that jump off roofs dressed as Superman, believing they can fly. It is their false belief that harms them, not a problem with their takeoff technique or the material that their suit is made from.

    I guess if a case went to trial of someone believing they were Superman, the judge, lawyers, jury etc. would all realise he was delusional. Society doesn't believe in superheroes. In my view, we need to get society to look at witches and curses in the same way.

Censorship and 'Californication'
Christians are calling for the public to boycott companies that advertise during the new TV show Californication. They want it banned, pulled from our screens. Why you might ask? Well the first episode started with X-Files actor David Duchovny receiving a blowjob from a nun, in a church, under the gaze of a statue of Jesus. Even though he woke up to find it was all a dream (he was still getting a blowjob but not from a nun), Christians, and Catholics especially, as usual, were outraged. Why are they even watching this type of show you might wonder? Probably because they don't want to be seen renting a porn movie.

What's wrong with Christians? Did not their God create them naked (and expect them to remain naked), and tell them to set about fornicating? Why are they so ashamed of divine instructions? If anything Christians should be campaigning for public nudity. What's that old religious saying, 'If God had meant us to fly he would have given us wings'. Well from a Christian perspective he did give us genitals and he did mean us to fornicate, naked and in public like the other animals still do without shame.

Apart from the opening scene there were two or three more scenes of Duchovny engaging in sexual intercourse. But let's be realistic here. There were no real sex scenes. There were only simulated sex scenes. Watch a so-called pornographic movie if you want to see what a real sex scene looks like. Yes there were naked breasts but no shots of aroused genitals, no shots of genitals at all actually. It was all left up to our imagination as to what was causing the couple to writhe about. So what's really the difference between these scenes and another program that has a couple appearing to have sex under the covers, with just naked shoulders, backs and thighs on display? What is the flesh percentage rule for prudes? We know they're only actors and aren't really having sex, it's only our imagination that visualises real sex, real penetration. A child would have no idea what the mechanics of sex were from watching Californication or any TV show. What Christians are trying to do here is not ban real sex scenes, because remember we see no real sex, but censor anything that would cause us to visualise a sexual act. Once any hint of sex was banned, then it would be nudity, then skimpy costumes, then we would have segregation of the sexes so our eyes couldn't even fall upon a member of the opposite sex and generate filthy thoughts.

Let's remember that sex is legal. Why aren't these prudes complaining about the untold TV shows and movies that portray graphic murders night after night on our screens? Nothing is left to the imagination as bullets rip through flesh, often in slow motion and replayed from various angles. I'm sure they'll argue that this is just Hollywood special effects and that we all know it's not real. Well yes, but neither is the sex moron. Why are we allowed to watch illegal, emotionally disturbing acts in graphic detail but not legal, pleasurable ones? Sex is something adults do all the time, legally and willingly, and most everyone admits to doing it or wanting to do it. Why should this natural act be banned from our screens and not murder? Some countries, Malaysia for example, not only ban sex scenes, they ban kissing on their screens. Movies have every hint of a kiss removed but every single death, every single bullet, every single knife thrust is left in. Not a drop of blood is cut from the movie but every scene of affection is gone.

Another thing is that companies that advertise during the show were sold those spots long before the show aired. Don't punish the companies who had nothing to do with the show, if you want to complain about a show then write to the producers. If you know the show is going to offend your prudish sensibilities then the answer is simple. Don't watch the show moron. Don't sit there week after week with your hand down your pants crying 'obscene, disgusting'. Stop watching it. But they can't seem to do that. It seems these repressed Christians want to get sexually aroused by the soft-porn content but still appear righteous in the eyes of their sky fairy. Their guilt demands that they stop everyone else from watching it. I have a good mind to find out who goes to church every Sunday and boycott their businesses. But I'm above that. Even though their primitive superstitious practices offend me as much as sex seems to offend them, I'm prepared to let them continue with their filthy little rituals, such as cannibalising their leader, as long as they harm no one and keep their fairytales to themselves. Unlike them I'm not going to try and force the closure of their churches. Their beliefs offend me so I don't attend their services, likewise sex offends them so they should learn how to stop watching those shows. Christians must stop trying to force their repressed morality onto others.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 14 Nov, 2007 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend


  1. Comment by Bob, 15 Nov, 2007

    I have only one comment. I wish they would campaign against violence and even the drug trade as much as they do against sexual behaviour they don't approve of. They are scared to show disapproval of Muslim extremism in case of reprisals. One researcher decided to test the Catholics by going along to several churches and confessing to bogus sins. He said he got a much greater response to his sexual sins than any others. Going back to my Catholic school days I remember remarks made by the teaching brothers. Often lectures arose spontaneously about sex. I recognise now they suffered from sexual repression. A good shag would have done them the world of good.

  2. Comment by JH, 11 Jan, 2008

    God made us in His own divine image, right? The Bible says so (so there!).
    Therefore there has to be a Mrs God - otherwise certain bits (of which we possess anatomically correct copies) would be redundant (a less than perfect product, by a perfect artificer?) (naaaah).
    And if there is a Mrs God - who sanctified their union, or are they (shock-horror-dismay) living in sin? Does God (and His divine helpmeet) (a remoulded rib too?) have a God to worship, as well? And likewise, an infinite progression, getting Goddier and Goddier as they go up in rank?
    Living in sin? Do Gods and goddesses actually live? Or should that be 'dwell'? But wait, we carbon-copies live ... so perhaps the prototype just lives a whole lot longer ... Eek! God is going to die one day? Wot, no eternity? And all the superior Gods too? But wait, we're saved by infinity; no problem. We can even kill 'em off at one per second, and still no worries ...
    Dammit, is nothing sacred?

Women and tattoos
What is it with women and tattoos? I just can't get my head around why some women are prepared to permanently deface their bodies with tattoos. I can understand it more with men who often don't have the same concern over what they wear, but women? We all know women that won't wear the same outfit twice, that wouldn't be seen dead in last season's fashions and that have more handbags and shoes than many small boutiques. For women the ability to change our outfits and accessories as the occasion and fashion dictates is paramount. So why do an increasing number of us get a fashion accessory that we can't change, return to the store or bury as a mistake?

tattoo Imagine saying to a woman, 'Please choose a handbag or pair of shoes or some earrings or some other fashion accessory and wear them forever'. We'd be told where to go in no uncertain terms. We're not talking about just keeping them for decades, hidden away in a closet, this accessory will be worn no matter what the occasion. Whether weeding the garden, sunning yourself at the beach or attending a charity gala, you will always wear this fashion accessory. It's not something that you will simply put on when going out, even when the Mormons call unexpectedly you will be found wearing it. Even when having sex it's the one thing you won't be able to take off.

Who hasn't bought some little trinket while on holiday that we wore for some time but now it never sees the light of day? Or that sexy little outfit that looked great on a twenty-year old but would look ridiculous on a forty-year old? I'm the first to admit that some tattoos can look great, usually on young trim bodies, in the same way that some eye makeup or footwear or bikinis look great for specific occasions. But you can take eye makeup, footwear and bikinis off. You're stuck with the bloody tattoo. Admittedly some women hide their tattoos beneath their knickers but not many women spend money on accessories that they intend keeping hidden. What if your partner doesn't like it? They may not like your Brazilian either but at least your pubes will grow back when you grow weary of that craze. A tattoo is forever. You can't change your mind.

Think about it. If you know that there is no fashion outfit, accessory or hairstyle that you would be happy wearing continuously for the rest of your life, why doesn't this apply to tattoos? No matter how much you love those ugg boots and mini skirt now, do you honestly think you'll still want to be wearing them in twenty years time? How many times have you changed your cell phone since you first got one? Leave yourself the same option with your body. Don't sign up to one design for life. If you want a tattoo get a fake one.

UPDATE: 18 Sep, 2011. It appears that women, and men, are starting to wake up to the silliness of tattoos. This article: Actors lead the tattoo backlash, begins, 'Tattoos are designed to last for life — but nothing endures that long in Hollywood. Film stars such as Megan Fox, the Transformers actress, who helped to make them fashionable are now leading a backlash against "body art". Fox is undergoing painful treatment to remove a [tattoo] from her arm.'

We're told that '...the number of tattooed Americans, which was below 10 per cent until 1990, soared to 16 per cent in 2003 but fell back to 14 per cent in 2008. Since then the number of US tattoo parlours has fallen by 10 per cent and laser removal treatments are booming...'

It's especially good that many actors have realised how silly tattoos are and how they can limit their career, since many young people look to actors and celebrities to see how they should dress, act, speak and decorate their bodies. Let's hope that they also highlight how painful it is to have them removed, and that even then they still won't go back to clear skin.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 19 Oct, 2007 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend


  1. Comment by JH, 20 Jan, 2008

    I think it's a form of "penis envy"... the old "we women can do anything you men can do" thing, taken to extremes ... imagine, if men were lemmingsó?

  2. Comment by Phill, 05 Nov, 2011

    Iím sorry guys but part of me is saying ďYeah,so?Ē

    What is the big deal, some people enjoy getting tattoos. Some go for those kind of discrete tattoos, that only themselves or a lover might see, others prefer the loud in your face look at me variety, and some seem to have a real horror of undecorated skin. I tend to treat tattoos as the a personal choice thing for adults. Naturally if you are under twenty one (I still consider 18 year oldís teenagers whatever the Government might say) then no, as I tell my children, its an adult thing, its one of those things you can do when you are older. But once you are an adult then surely whether you get or donít a tattoo is up to you. I mean the statistics are not really great, less than 10%, a climb to 16%, then down to 14% letís be honest guys these are not dramatic increases or drops especially for a human population. This is still only a minority, what you are saying here is that over 80% of your population are clean skins. I believe that we as free thinking individuals have a right to make choices, and maybe we make foolish ones, and maybe we regret those choices we make but we still should have the freedom to make them.

    I understand that in part you are arguing against the foolishness of following a fad, especially with something thatís lifelong. Following any kind of fad is foolish in my book. To do something just because someone famous (be they media created celebrity, or some other famous person) does it is stupid. But sadly we see those trends right across the board. During the thirties there was the fad of ditching democracy in favour of authoritarian government and though we of the west resisted this, there were many who were in favour of such a move. Think of all those famous people, The Duke of Windsor, Charles Lindbergh, even Iím told Lloyd George who thought Hitler was a good guy and a step in the right direction. There is the current fad for ditching science for nonsense, for turning to alternative therapies rather than modern medicine, and the list goes on. What I would argue is that we should educate against the following of fads, we should teach individuals to think, to question, to analyse, to understand, and if after that they still want a tattoo then go for it because it is a choice they have freely made. We may not like the choices people make, but I think if they have made them after all due consideration then we should accept it.

    Oh yes and no I donít sport any tattoos. its that lifelong commitment thing thatís always put me off.

  3. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 05 Nov, 2011

    Hi Phill. Firstly, we aren't suggesting that tattoos should be made illegal, if adults want to get them, or gamble or devote their life to some god, then go for it. It was solely about, as you say, 'the foolishness of following a fad'. As our opening paragraph said: 'What is it with women and tattoos? I just can't get my head around why some women are prepared to permanently deface their bodies with tattoos'. This is a gender that often won't be seen in last year's fashion. You said that 'What I would argue is that we should educate against the following of fads, we should teach individuals to think, to question, to analyse, to understand...' We were in fact trying to make people think, by pointing out the foolishness of getting a permanent tattoo when women seem to thrive on changing their appearance. We admitted that some tattoos look good and would openly support temporary tattoos, we just don't think people consider what permanent really means. We don't understand why people think a tattoo will be great forever but would never tie themselves to one car, house, job, lover, outfit, cell phone etc forever. They need to explain to themselves at least why a tattoo is somehow different. We don't want to ban tattoos, but merely make people think about the logic of their decision.

  4. Comment by Phill, 06 Nov, 2011

    OK fair point, but I'm still a bit unsure about this idea of women and tattoos. Come on guys this is the twenty first century, this idea that women are to be treated differently should have been ditched ages ago. You suggest that women are encouraged to get tattoos because of fads. Possibly, but in my limited experiance I have not found this to be the case, I've known several women who had gotten the skin inked, not one of them did it because it was the current fashion but because they really wanted to get one or two or more tattoos. And all of them understand the lifelong nature of tattoos. To me this argument is a wee bit like the pro-life lobby who claim that people have abortions with out any thought to the matter. That its a kind of "Oh yeah must go out and get that abortion done today" kind of flippancy. I've known three people who have gone through the procedure and all of them gave it a great deal of thought and made what they believed and still believe was the best decision. I think even with tattoo's most people do give it a lot thought before going under the gun.

  5. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 06 Nov, 2011

    No Phill, we're not saying women should be treated differently, we're saying women behave differently. Permanent tattoos in our view are stupid, whether for men or women. Of course we'll both agree that it's a pretty frivolous worry, although don't get us started on how taxpayer dollars are being used to pay to have tattoos removed from prison inmates etc that now regret their choice and recognise that they are affecting their options in public life.

    We said we can understand why many men get permanent tattoos because they don't have the same obsession with changing their appearance as do women. Many men keep basically the same hairstyle and colour throughout their life, and would be happy wearing the same comfy jeans and t-shirt for decades if they could, at home, to work, to weddings etc. Once men find a style they like, it's locked in. Many men that see no problem with having a favourite jacket for life would have no real problem with having a tattoo for life. We've seen men turn up to weddings in a suit that was decades old, while their wife was decked out in a dress that was only minutes old, and would never be seen again in public. This is why we focused on women, men just don't care like women do. Of course this has changed of late with the rise of the third sex, metrosexuals. Heterosexual men that are fixated on being fashionable, that accompany their wives and girlfriends to the spa where they all get their legs waxed. Men that spend as much time in front of the mirror as women deciding what to wear, whose multiplying toiletries are starting to reach female proportions, men who are torn between watching the latest Paris fashion show and Rambo 4. These men are getting tattoos and we place them in the same box as women.

    And yes, we see the increase in tattoos as a fad. Our impression is that the last ten or twenty years have seen a huge increase in tattoos. Anyone in their twenties or thirties might not see it as a fad because it's been around their entire life, but from our view, prior to the 90s most women were not lining up to get tattoos, neither were men. None of us have tattoos, not even Rachel, nor do we desire one. Three of my nieces — in their late teens and 20s — have tattoos, but no one older that I know does. Prior to the 90s, of all the beaches we've frequented worldwide, with bodies displaying lots of flesh, sometimes completely naked, tattoos were nonexistent. I'm sure there probably were a few, but so uncommon that we never noticed them. While of course not unheard of, tattoos were not something that most women would have ever considered then, nor would most men unless they were in the navy, prison or a gang. Look back through some old Playboy magazines, see how many tattoos you can find. Women back then didn't get tattoos because the women they emulated such as celebrities, models and actresses didn't have tattoos. Now many young celebrities do, and consequently many young women do too. Of course if tattooing continues it will cease being a fad and simply become normal, like lipstick.

    You say that of the women you know that have tattoos, none did it because it was the current fashion. This is difficult to test after the fact, but we wonder how many would have got their tattoos if they weren't already common and accepted in society, and popular with young women. Women, as we've argued, are generally very reluctant to display or wear something that isn't current fashion. While there are always some brave rebels who wear minis and leg warmers when everyone else is in midis and shoulder pads, or don't bother with makeup, the majority conforms to current fashion, whether they really want to or not. Many women would rather forgo the expense and pain of removing bodyhair, but fashion dictates that they must. (Click here for some Playboy fashion humour.) Although I'm no follower of fashion, even I try and stay within the current decade to avoid people wondering if I'm a time traveller. That's why we can look at historical photos of people and accurately guess what era it was taken in. We suspect that few women, or men, would get tattoos if it weren't currently fashionable. Perhaps they may have always wanted one, but they've waited until now to get one because the prevailing fashion has made it acceptable. Likewise if the fashion changes, they may then regret their decision, which brings us back to the permanence of tattoos. You can easily take off your bellbottoms and tie-dyed t-shirt, you're stuck with your tattoo when it is no longer fashionable.

    We think your connecting getting a tattoo with an abortion is perhaps a little over the top, although we see your point. Of course many people give much of what they do a great deal of thought, whether it be a tattoo, an abortion, an overseas trip or changing cell phone providers. The question is not how much thought someone allocates to some matter, but how reasonable, wide ranging and intellectual that thought is. We know people that believe they have thought a great deal about god, and yet still know nothing more than a medieval peasant, or to use your example, argue against abortion, but know nothing about what life is and when it begins. These people have thought long and hard, but many have limited their thinking by using very little input. I know my nieces would have probably applied more thought to composing text messages to their friends across the room than their tattoos. Sadly they never inherited our family's skeptical genes.

    Unfortunately my experience with tattoos is solely my nieces and those on TV relating their experiences. They seem to spend most of their thoughts on choosing the tattoo design, convincing themselves that their relationship will be forever if it involves a name, and worrying about how painful it will be. We've never heard anyone rationalise why they will be happy with this design forever but will toss out that expensive handbag and shoes within a year or two.

    If tattoos are going to be just another fashion accessory, then why doesn't someone invent a method that remains for as long as you want it to, but can be easily removed or changed if one gets sick of it? Surely there is a fortune to made here, one that removes the permanence, extreme pain and risk of infection from old fashioned tattoos? Cell phone and notebook manufacturers are presently making their products with multiple covers with different designs, seemingly aimed at, dare we say it, women, and yet no one has thought that women might want to change their tattoo design? This is the crux of our confusion with tattoos. Women, far, far more than men, perpetuate a multi-billion dollar fashion industry, in everything from clothes, cosmetics and hairstyling to sofas, curtains and duvet covers, and this industry survives solely on the notion of continual change. And yet when it comes to tattoos, which are fashion accessories essentially no different to easily and often changed earrings, rings and lipstick, women, even having given it a great deal of thought, seemingly can't imagine ever wanting to change or remove their tattoo. Sorry Phill, we just can't grasp the logic of this.

Rugby, it's just a game — isn't it?
Rugby as I played it in my youth and as the All Blacks used to play it decades ago was a game, but now, contrary to denials from many, rugby a la the All Blacks is a business. We read in the ODT that 50 million dollars has been spent on the All Blacks four year campaign to win the 2007 Rugby World Cup. We're told that players earn match fees of around $127,550 per year and receive an average retainer of around $200,000. Now compare that with what you earn a year and what skills and qualifications you might have. Is an All Blacks' salary comparable with your salary and would your employer continue to pay it if you consistently failed to deliver that which you were being paid for? I am continually amazed when people with degrees and PhDs and highly valued skills such as surgeons insist that the All Blacks are simply being paid what they are worth, that they are highly skilled in their profession and are at the top of their game. In a similar vein, I once asked a friend who is an associate professor why he approved of newsreader Judy Bailey's $800,000 salary and he said it was simply because she was good at her profession. When I go on to ask the academic or the surgeon or whatever if they're also highly skilled and at the top of their profession they insist they are, so why are they happy receiving only a fraction of the remuneration of the All Blacks or an auto-cue reader?

The All Blacks are first and foremost employees since they are hired for their skills and paid a salary. And what type of organisation has employees? A business. But is it a successful business?

Imagine this scenario. You're the CEO of a company that pumps $50 million into your widget department with the aim of winning a major contract with company MegaGlobal X. Yet this department, while securing a few minor contracts, consistently fails to win the acme of contracts that will justify its existence. In fact it has been 24 years since it last secured this major contract for your company. As CEO would you reassure your shareholders that this department was performing well or would you recommend a major overhaul or even it's closure?

The other aspect that has made me ashamed to be associated with corporate style rugby is the lack of sportsmanship. Rather than a game rugby is actually a sport and as such used to encourage the concept of sportsmanship. Yet what happened when the All Blacks failed to get past the semi-finals of the World Cup? Kiwis en masse were attempting to sell their tickets to the finals and cancelling their trips to France. TV3 are bringing back most of their reporters, they cancelled John Campbell's trip to the final (of TV3's Campbell Live show) and tried to scale down their broadcasts of the finals. All these supposedly die hard rugby fans have revealed that they don't care a fig about world class rugby, it was all about bragging rights. We are the BEST! If we're not in the finals then we're not interested. This is shameful. What ever happened to may the best team win? What ever happened to watching world class athletes perform regardless of their nationality? It seems a great majority of us simply enjoy watching Kiwis win regardless of the competition. It's not about the participation, it's only about the winning. It seems we have an inferiority complex, a little nation at the bottom of the world that will crow about anything that we occasionally do well in, whether it is rugby or tiddlywinks. We need to start acknowledging outstanding achievements no matter who makes them. While we can often do this, as soon as a kiwi is in the running it becomes an us and them situation. Of all the many interviews we've seen with the All Blacks, the coaches, the managers, the IRB, the fans and the player's families etc, how many have we seen with the French team and coaches etc? The team that actually won. Almost none. It's all about us, the team that lost. It's not about the rugby, it's about us losing.

As Kiwis we do have many outstanding achievements to our credit of which we can be justifiably proud, we don't need to feel inferior but we don't need to boast superiority either. We need to learn a little humility. Look at the teams from both Tonga and Fiji, like the All Blacks they both lost, but unlike us their teams went home as heroes. We could learn from this.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 11 Oct, 2007 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend


  1. Comment by JH, 20 Jan, 2008

    There's sport and there's Sport. The first involves games between people, the second is Big Business (and more limited-warfare than sport).
    For myself I resent the fact that politicians try to divert the taxes I've paid towards improved venues for Big Businessmen to make yet more profits from the unthinking ó at my expense ó while our medical and educational systems struggle to survive. I guess it's a question of priorities ...

  2. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 21 Jan, 2008

    Exactly. We're continually annoyed when friends, relatives and people on the TV News complain about the decline in the services provided by hospitals, ambulances, schools, police etc who then later argue that we should give millions to build sports stadiums or a glass coffin for Peter Blake's yacht. Our priorities are really screwed up.

Police shooting and witnesses
The recent incident of police shooting and killing Stephen Jon Bellingham in Christchurch highlights the extreme differences that can occur in witness testimony. One witness says Bellingham was standing still with his arms by his side when the cop shot him. Another witness claims Bellingham was sprinting towards the cop with both arms raised above his head, ready to strike with the hammer in his hands. The first witness however saw no hammer. The cop fired four shots at the man, two missed, one hit him in the chest and one in the leg. Both witnesses were close and seemingly had unobstructed views yet their descriptions are wildly different. Who to believe? Without interviewing them and hearing their full account it is difficult to know who is correct, and maybe neither are. Perhaps the true account is somewhere in between?

That said I am suspicious of part of the account from the second witness. He claims the man was running towards the cop intent on harming him and was only one metre from the cop when he started shooting. Having had some experience with 9mm semiautomatic pistols I believe it would be nigh on impossible to fire 4 shots in the time it would take a man to run one metre. Not only that, there is insufficient time to change your aim from the point where two shots missed his body, move your aim to his chest and fire again then move your aim down to his leg and fire again (or in what ever order the shots were fired). Even if your first shot killed him, momentum alone would cause his body to impact the cop, which both witnesses say didn't happen. This proves that at least some of the evidence from this witness is unreliable. I'm not questioning the witness's integrity, just highlighting that what we may be convinced happened is not necessarily the case. Witness testimony must never be blindly accepted simply because we are convinced they wouldn't lie. They may not lie or deliberately mislead us, but they can be mistaken. This is a lesson we should remember whether it's a police incident or a sighting of a UFO or a ghost.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 01 Oct, 2007 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend


  1. Comment by Bob, 04 Oct, 2007

    I agree with you. I wouldn't rely on my own eyesight if I saw something shocking without being prepared for it. Another thing which annoys me is criticism of the police involved. People forget police are only human. Once a madman gets too close to them threatening with a hammer or golf club I can understand they don't want their skulls crushed so they shoot. As far as witnesses go I think we all tend to see what we expect or what our minds interpret immediately afterwards. The trouble is most people are not aware of their mental limitations. I think experienced police and lawyers in criminal work are aware of this.

Nigel Latta and 'Sensing Murder'
Once again that fraudulent show 'Sensing Murder' returns to our TV screens . It's the show that pretends to use real psychics to solve real murder cases, and that fails consistently, not that its followers seem to notice.
To start off the new series the production team decided to allow die-hard skeptic Nigel Latta to follow them around for a full day, observing Australian psychic Deb Webber at work. This was seemingly to silence criticism of the show by skeptics, and according to 'Nigel the Skeptic' they succeeded. He proclaimed that he observed no trickery and that he couldn't rationally explain Deb's unerring success. But we observed just as much trickery in this show as in any other and it's disappointing that it all went over Nigel's head. He may have gone in with good intentions but his gullibility was simply exploited for the show's benefit. If he's a member of any skeptical organisation he should be unceremoniously kicked out. We've now written a critique of the episode detailing all the fakery that Nigel missed and it can be read here, along with our debunking of two episodes from the previous series.
The show concluded by trumpeting all the amazing results and developments that have resulted from the first series. But of course there weren't any so just as much trickery was involved in this segment as the first. Not one single case from the first series has been solved or is even close to being solved. The psychics contributed absolutely nothing in the way of new clues. They may have publicised the cases and got people thinking about them, but you don't need to be psychic to do this. We already have programs such as 'Crimewatch' that do this, and they actually contribute to solving crimes, unlike 'Sensing Murder' which only serves to massage the low IQ of gullible people.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 11 Sep, 2007 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend


  1. Comment by JH, 11 Jan, 2008

    The Great Randi had a psychic-debunking show on TV. In one episode he'd invited 'dowsers' along, to divine the locations of objects hidden for them in the studio. The dowser I remember was one with a pendulum, and his object was hidden under a square on a chessboard layout roughly twenty? thirty? feet square. This guy didn't muck about. He went straight for the jugular by galloping along the rank until "Ahah! It's down this row!" followed in quick order by the file "Ahah! Up this row; now where they intercept .. right ... HERE!" He flipped the tile and there was the ring/coin/whatever. Randi was horrified, the Great Debunker had himself been debunked; he pleaded in vain for more time but it was up. Finito. All his professional care and attention to detail etc that would prevent any trickery now actively worked against him.
    At what point do we draw the line against further moving of goalposts? What can possibly constitute the definitive evidence that will rewire our cherished beliefs or disbeliefs?
    Face it, until we die ourselves we will never actually know (or not) the Truth (have I just defined agnostic?).
    I imagine that if Nigel Latta had done his job 'properly' they'd still be recording that episode next century, weighed down with affidavits and handcuffs and witnesses and lawyers ... it's theatre, dammit. Willing suspension of disbelief?

    But I'm with you - people shouldn't be allowed to charge or accept donations for airy-fairies.

  2. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 13 Jan, 2008

    I'm not familiar with that particular demonstration although I notice that you only mention the dowser finding the target once. If no cheating were involved I would simply call this blind luck. If the dowser was really able to consistently find hidden objects around the world with his little pendulum I suspect it would be him that was famous and not James Randi. It would be his name that was remembered and not Randi's.

    You appear to say that the program suggested that Randi 'moved the goalposts', that he somehow increased the agreed upon level of evidence required to prove dowsing when the dowser unexpectedly found the object. With both dowsers and the psychics in 'Sensing Murder' there are clear and simple tests that they must meet to prove their powers. One is to consistently repeat their performances so that they become statistically significant, that is, more than a fluke. Both dowsers and psychics will always have the occasional impressive success brought about by blind luck or unintentional 'cheating', not to mention deliberate cheating. There is definitive evidence that scientists and I will accept that would result in us throwing out 'cherished' beliefs, but psychics have failed to produce it. If Nigel Latta had done his job properly the second series of 'Sensing Murder' would have been cancelled as the producers would have realised that it was fraudulent. Any real psychic could easily prove they had real powers, and make an obscene fortune in the process, but they prefer to peddle their wares on 0900 phone lines to gullible housewives. I could be swayed relatively easily in my view, but none can be bothered to make the effort.

    While some may see 'Sensing Murder' as mere entertainment - "it's theatre, dammit" - the followers of mediums and the mediums themselves vehemently disagree. Suggesting that followers of medium shows believe they are just entertainment is like suggesting that the Pope believes religion is just a fairytale. Magic shows are theatre, Shakespearean plays are theatre, 'Puppetry of the Penis' is theatre, but medium shows are nothing but scams. People say they only go to these shows for entertainment but this is bullshit. If they accept that psychics are fakes, like magicians, why don't we have an industry of fake doctors and fake lawyers, where people pay to go and listen to a bogus diagnosis and receive bogus legal advice? People won't pay to listen to bogus advice from a pretend doctor, even for entertainment, but happily pay considerably more money for advice from a psychic. Why? Because they believe the psychic is telling them the truth. Believers in psychics only resort to the old 'it's only entertainment' ploy when their psychics fail to produce the goods or are proved wrong, as in 'Sensing Murder' with its dismal failure to solve a single crime.

Maori superstition and body snatching
Earlier this week James Takamore was buried by his mother, brother and sister at a marae in the Bay of Plenty. Nothing unusual in this it seems, until you're told that they stole the body from a community centre in Christchurch. Takamore, 55, originally from the BoP, had lived in Christchurch for over 20 years with his wife and family, and it was Christchurch where he was to be buried. This was Takamore's wish, written in his will, and the wish of his wife and family. Fearing that Takamore's extended family might interfere a court order was issued by a High Court judge. Takamore's mother, brother and sister ignored this, stole the body and drove it to the BoP against his wife's and son's wishes. The police refused to stop the burial claiming they were outnumbered and feared for their safety. There are two issues that need to be addressed here.
1) That Maori believe the wishes of the extended family can override not only those of the immediate family and/or the deceased themselves, but also the legal system.
The law needs to step in immediately, have the body returned and charge those responsible for stealing it. This is an adult human being we're talking about, not a family heirloom or a slave. Parents don't own their adult children, siblings don't own their younger siblings. This arrogance that they can control the lives of others, even after death, that they can force their beliefs and wishes onto others needs to be challenged.
2) We need to expose the fact that the motivation for this act was nothing other than silly, primitive superstition.
According to the sister of the deceased, the reason for stealing the body was that tradition demanded it, that "it's important to be buried where his whenua (placenta) and pito (umbilical cord) were buried". More and more Maori are reverting to their traditional religious beliefs, even though they conflict with their equally silly adopted Christian beliefs. I wish some reporter would have the guts to ask these people, "Do you really believe those old myths, and if so, why do you still stay involved with the church?" At the same time this embarrassing event was playing out, the new Maori King delivered his first official speech stating that education was the key to future Maori success. He's right, but unfortunately many Maori are moving into the 21st century by immersing themselves in tradition. Regressing back to stone age traditions, stone age healing, stone age 'science' and stone age justice. I see nothing wrong with learning about ancient traditions, indeed history can be fascinating and instructive, but blindly adopting the silly superstitions of your ancestors as a way of remembering them is stupid.
Imagine if the body of your husband, wife or partner was stolen by a cousin and buried at the other end of the country. Would you be happy that an extended family member could do this? The wife and son of James Takamore say they will fight to have the body returned to them. We wish them every success.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 25 Aug, 2007 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend

Global Warming explained
I came across the following letter in the Southland Times that just shows you don't have to go to the States to find religious fundamentalists:
"The unprecedented weather events that New Zealand has experienced recently have nothing to do with global warming and everything to do with the fulfilment of end-time biblical prophecy. They are all signs that the return of Christ is imminent. Global warming is a smokescreen to blind us to the truth...call on the name of Jesus and be saved..."
Jo Cleeton, Tuatapere, 14 Jul.

According to Cleeton destruction of property and loss of life have nothing to do with natural events, they're all orchestrated by God. They're merely signs. But if Cleeton's imaginary master wanted to give us a sign, why couldn't he do something obvious, like all the clouds worldwide suddenly forming the words, 'The End is Nigh. Repent. (This sign authorised by God)'.
But then Cleeton goes on to state that extreme weather is a 'smokescreen to blind us to the truth'. What a fucked up guy this Jesus H. Christ is. One minute he's trying to warn us, next he's permitting to exist 'a smokescreen to blind us to the truth'. If Jesus, in league with his dad, the all-powerful God, have set things in place to 'blind us to the truth', what hope have we mere mortals got of seeing through this 'smokescreen'. Are we more powerful than God? If God decrees we shall be blinded to the truth, then blinded we shall be.
Christians just can't see how contradictory their silly Bible really is. They say that I should 'call on the name of Jesus and be saved', yet at the same time their Jesus is actively convincing me that he doesn't exist, convincing me that all the problems in the world are natural, not spiritual. Jesus should make up his mind whether he wants followers or not.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 16 Aug, 2007 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend


  1. Comment by Steve, 18 Mar, 2008

    Its one thing to disagree with the bible but misquoting it either thru ignorance or deliberately destroys all credibility of the argument. Any time truth is distorted we strengthen the point of view of the Christian.
    On the other hand why should we let the truth get in the way of a good rant.

  2. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 22 Mar, 2008

    Steve, our point is that if we are being fooled by the global warming 'smokescreen', then god knew this would happen, he knew it would fool us and lets it happen. Remember our future has already been written according to the Bible — that's what 'fulfilment of end-time biblical prophecy' means. Prophecy doesn't work if the future isn't already set in stone. And this is supposedly an all-powerful and all-knowing god we're talking about, not some poorly funded activist. He could demolish the 'smokescreen' in a flash, but chooses not to. He knows we will be fooled by it, he knows we will take his silence as a sign that he doesn't exist, yet he will then punish us for listening to the signs that he left in front of us. God and his sidekick Jesus could easily convince us to take them seriously. But they choose not to. They don't seem to be all that keen to get rid of that 'smokescreen'. Sounds like god wants to torture us in Hell for all eternity. Thank god he doesn't exist.

Atheists are child abusers
M. Quennell from Mosgiel wrote to the ODT (10 Aug) to explain that "one of the ways to help reduce child abuse could be to teach people once again that everyone has an appointment before Almighty God, the judge of all... When our society turns away from faith and truth, evildoers think they can get away scot free. There is no fear of God in them."
As an atheist I find it extremely offensive that Quennell implies that we must be abusing children because 'there is no fear of God to deter them'. Does this mean that Christians like Quennell secretly yearn to abuse children and the only thing that stops them acting on this gnawing desire is their fear of God?
As they fear their god, the rest of us should fear them, because just imagine if people like this ever lost their faith? They would be raping and stealing and murdering like there was no tomorrow. Would they really you ask? Of course they would because 'there is no fear of God to deter them'.

Ignorant arguments like this, sending righteous Christians on false crusades, will do nothing to address child abuse. Quennell needs to reminded that the most high profile cases of child abuse in recent decades are numerous Catholic priests, ministers like the Rev. Graham Capill and god-fearing Scout leaders. Quennell also needs to remember that our prisons are full of Christians, not atheists.
The fact is that I don't abuse children, rape, murder or steal simply because I believe it would be wrong to do so. I behave morally towards others because I want to, not because of fear of a sky fairy. Christians seem to only behave morally because they have to. An arbitrary morality forced on them by fear is not something Christians should be proud of.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 15 Aug, 2007 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend


  1. Comment by Grant, 26 Dec, 2007

    Quennel might like to know that the morality claimed by Christianity (Do unto others..., Live and let live..., the 10 commandments etc) was defined, explained and justified by Socrates in Plato's book "The Republic", some 400 years before the birth of Christ. Perhaps this was not before some of the earliest Old Testament writings, but it was certainly long before Christian theology had been codified and packaged for presentation to the heathens.

    Interestingly, Socrates did not find it necessary to present the prospect of Divine Retribution (not even from his own gods) as a justification for this morality. Instead he simply showed, logically and clearly, how and why humans benefit from adopting "good" moral values (He even showed how to correctly figure out what "good" is...). Most importantly, he also showed that even though humans are inherently self-interested (something not denied by Socrates), humans should choose to adopt good moral values. This is because with just a little critical thinking, one can see past first appearances (of personal costs or disadvantages) to find that it is ultimately of far greater personal benefit to do so.

    It has to do with the nature of "true happiness", if you want a clue. Understanding what true happiness actually is (its not a feeling or an emotion) is all that is required for people to voluntarily choose to be good people. Unfortunately, this is Philosophy and therefore not part of the curriculum in Western schools.

    Conclusion: We don't need churches, scriptures or religions at all in the pursuit of a "Just" morality or a "more perfect society" - plain old Reason is plenty good enough.

  2. Comment by Steve, 18 Mar, 2008

    This is whats so cool about evolution, one persons morals state no child abuse while anothers morals state child abuse is good. And they are both right because there is no almighty god to tell us otherwise.
    Although once again the bible been mis-interpreted, and that blows the argument out of the water.

  3. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 22 Mar, 2008

    Steve, we'd disagree that someone who thinks child abuse is good is ethically right. Their morals may say it's good, just like the morals the Christian's almighty god once provided said slavery was good, but ethically two people with opposing 'moral' views can't both be right. Only the flawed idea of relativism pushes this idea that people who hate child abuse and people who love child abuse can both be right.

Catholics, personal freedom and respect
The Catholic Church has lost its High Court appeal over the 'South Park' episode 'Bloody Mary' and has been ordered to pay C4 $8,000 in costs. A victory for free speech you might think, but Pauline McIntosh from Invercargill is not pleased, as her letter to the Southland Times (06 Aug) indicated:
"Shame on our High Court in its decision against our Catholic bishops..." she wrote. "In doing so, they have shamed the supreme effort of our pioneers and service personnel, who gave so much to assure our right of personal freedom. With this gift to future New Zealanders was the expectation of... personal responsibility to respect, tolerate and understand other New Zealanders for their beliefs and values... I implore the bishops to appeal this very wrong decision for the benefit of all New Zealanders who believe in personal respect for others' freedoms."
Shame on Pauline McIntosh for implying that the Catholic Church was arguing for personal freedoms in the South Park debate. Shame on her for claiming that Catholics 'gave so much to assure our right of personal freedom'. For a large part of history it was the Catholic Church that fought to remove personal freedoms with such things as barbaric inquisitions, banned books and the threat of excommunication. In many countries we still have Catholic bans on personal freedoms such as divorce, contraception and abortion. To attempt to ban or censor a TV show that they don't agree with is a glimpse of the past, an affront to personal freedom, one that would return us to the terror and ignorance of the Dark Ages. We must not be fooled into thinking that this ineffectual and superstitious minority is fighting for free speech on our behalf. They are selfishly fighting for their very survival and this demonstration of how one of their followers is prepared to utterly distort their motives in order to bolster support is one more reason we need programs like South Park. Know thine enemy.

Pauline McIntosh's silly letter: Part 2.
There's another reason why her criticism of the High Court decision over 'South Park' is bogus. Like many others she is confusing her right to freedom of religion, a right she never had when the Vatican was in control, with her belief that we must respect her religion. Yes, the NZ Bill of Rights Act states that she has the right to believe anything she wants, but we do not have to respect that belief. We are respecting the right to hold a belief, not the belief itself. We can't enforce respect for all beliefs because it is impossible to respect beliefs you don't agree with. For example, does Ms McIntosh have 'personal respect' for Islamists who slaughter infidels according to their deeply held religious beliefs? If she does then she should be viewed with contempt, if she doesn't then she is a hypocrite. She can't demand that we respect and refuse to criticise her religious beliefs, while she freely condemns the religious beliefs of others.
Perhaps Ms McIntosh actually means we should tolerate the religious beliefs of others, but again, is she willing to tolerate the freedom of Islamists to kill us? I suspect not. This pleading to respect religion is nothing but a smokescreen to insulate their silly superstitions from the gaze of reason. Remember that if their beliefs and claims were true and just, they wouldn't need to demand that we tolerate or respect them, we would've already adopted them as our own. Instead we have adopted the beliefs of science which doesn't demand respect or tolerance. On the contrary, it demands critical inquiry, debate and rejection of theories if the evidence doesn't support them. Religion should demand no less.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 15 Aug, 2007 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend


  1. Comment by Bob, 30 Sep, 2007

    I don't quite agree with you on this. We don't have to respect others' beliefs. For instance I strongly disagree with the Jehovahs Witness ban on blood transfusions. I certainly don't respect that. Nevertheless I think there is a difference between disrespect based on logic and evidence of harm and gratuitous insults. I didn't see the South Park episode but it seemed to be a gratuitous insult rather than a logic based rejection of Catholic belief. I didn't see a lot of point in the anti-Islamic cartoons which caused so much strife. They weren't going to achieve anything other than to cause trouble between Moslems and Europeans. Would we appreciate a gratuitous insult to the Maori Haka by people with a disrespect for Maori culture?

  2. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 01 Oct, 2007

    I'm glad to see that we agree that the beliefs of others don't have to be respected, that respect must be earned.

    I also agree about not deliberating insulting religions just for the hell of it but it's a very fuzzy area. What is a gratuitous insult when it comes to religion and who gets to decide?

    Let's remember that the Mohammed cartoons had been published for months before the world ever heard about them. Islamists copied them and travelled from country to country stirring up support for their cause. They claim that images of Mohammed are offensive yet it was Muslims who pushed the images onto other Muslims, not some little paper in Denmark. They certainly caused trouble but the cartoons were just a tool used by Islamists to highlight their cause. Their aim was not to shield other Muslims from insult, but to make non-Muslims worldwide fearful of commenting on Islam.

    And it was the same with that South Park episode on Mary. It was the Catholic Church that forced this image onto unsuspecting Catholics by widely publicising it. Supported by Jews and Muslims, Catholics protested that religions must not be insulted, that their beliefs must be respected. Yet did they complain when South Park lampooned Jews or Muslims or Scientology or Mormons? No. The Catholic Church decided that lampooning Mary was a gratuitous insult, but lampooning Jews, Muslims, Mormons and Scientologists was just harmless comedy. This is hypocrisy.

    Even if we could decide what constituted a gratuitous insult and banned them, some would then say 'Why are they allowed to insult us at all, gratuitous or otherwise?' Who would then decide what an insult was? I've even met people who have felt that any suggestion that god might not exist was offensive to them.

    This idea of not insulting religion is a crock. It's simply their way of stopping non-believers exposing flaws and shortcomings in their particular religion. People with different beliefs will never be able to decide what is acceptable to ridicule and what isn't, thus we must all accept that others will say and do things that we may vehemently disagree with. Catholics knowing that they will be offended by the humour on South Park should have the intelligence not to watch it. Likewise I find the sight of Catholics willingly participating in cannibalism offensive, ie eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus, so I choose not to attend their services. However I have not started a petition to try and get the practise banned, nor have I protested outside their churches. Religions should practice the same tolerance.

    If they are offended by my beliefs and jokes and anti-religion fridge magnets, let them realise that I am equally offended by their beliefs and rituals and the ancient torture and execution device they hang around their necks and adore their churches with — the cross. If we're going to start censoring things that the other side finds offensive, religions need to realise that it must work both ways.

    PS. Since you haven't actually watched the South Park episode in question you may not be aware that it wasn't really about Mary or the Catholic Church. The episode was about alcoholism and exposed the flaw with the 12 Step program used by Alcoholics Anonymous and other addiction programs that insist that you must depend on the support and guidance of a higher being, God for most people, or else you can't beat your addiction. They merely used a statue of Mary to demonstrate to one of the characters that the power to stop drinking was within him and not coming from the statue which the Church eventually declared to be a fake.

Mass meditation - mass delusion
In the Otago Daily Times (ODT, 17 Jul) it was reported that millions worldwide would simultaneously spend an hour meditating and praying for world peace. Dunedin organiser Louise Scott said that scientists would be monitoring the event and that the 'combined energies' of participants would 'raise the vibration of unconditional love and peace'. In a follow up article (ODT, 19 Jul), Ms Scott said she 'believed it had achieved [their] goal.'

Later she was asked if she could provide a few more details about some of her claims, such as: what frequency does 'unconditional love and peace' normally vibrate at, how much was the frequency raised by and what instruments were used to measure it, which scientists monitored the event, and where we could find the claimed research that proves these events work.

The responses from both Louise Scott (ODT, 3 Aug) and Ross Harrington, Oamaru, (ODT, 2 Aug) seem to suggest that they're both convinced that their thoughts are creating and influencing our reality. Yet when questioned about claimed scientific support for the idea that 'meditation raises the vibration of unconditional love and peace', they refer us to a book and websites, not on science, but on the paranormal. The name of one website reveals exactly what these people think of real science, of how accurately they feel scientists' interpret reality: 'What the BLEEP do we know?'

Aided by a gross misunderstanding of quantum mechanics, promoters of this belief believe that the world is moulded according to their thoughts and desires and evidently owes them thanks for its very existence, but in fact an indifferent universe carries on ignorant of their arrogance and even their presence.

This mystical nonsense may make them believe they are contributing to world peace, but please don't confuse it with science or with reality. When and if peace finally arrives at any of the world's present trouble spots, it will be because of real sacrifices and considerable physical effort, not because a group of people in a darkened room in a faraway country, cleared their minds and concentrated on fluffy kittens.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 05 Aug, 2007 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend

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