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Stardate 10.014

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

Skeptic

Ban the Muslim veil
Burka France, Belgium and the Netherlands either have or hope to soon have laws that make it illegal for women to wear a veil covering their face, either anywhere in public, or in certain public places. Britain, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and other European countries are seriously looking at following suit. It is generally only Muslim women who now wear these veils. The question for NZ is, should we also look at drafting a similar law? We believe the answer is yes.

We should enact this law before the problem that is troubling Europe surfaces here. If we wait until veiled Muslim women are a familiar sight on our streets, in our supermarkets and parks, then it will be all the more difficult to bring in a ban. As they say, prevention is better than cure. Once it becomes common then its proponents will argue that it is a NZ tradition that has been around for years. And it is in NZ already. About a year ago a saw a male and a woman dressed in a burka walking down the streets of Dunedin. The woman resembled a small black pointy tent, with a small slit cut for the eyes. It wouldn't have looked out of place in a campground, only this tent was moving. Her husband, father, brother, cousin or whoever it was that walked along side her was dressed in modern Western clothes — jeans, running shoes, T-shirt and designer sunglasses. There is no equality in Islam.

But what's wrong with wearing full-face Islamic veils in public many will ask? In Belgium and France, their new law makes it an offence for anyone, male of female, to hide their face making identification impossible. Obviously they see veils as first and foremost a security issue. Even in NZ everyone is required to remove crash helmets and even baseball caps when entering banks. We are not permitted to wear sunglasses, hats or any sort of head-covering when we get our passport or driver's licence photos taken. We are not allowed to hide our faces when questioned by the police or in court, and in numerous other public situations. And yet even in NZ we have had a case of fully veiled Muslim women wanting to give evidence in court, even though no one could be sure they were who they claimed to be. We have also had veiled women refusing to reveal their faces when pulled over by traffic police. Without seeing their face, how can the police confirm that they belong to the driver's licence that they produce? We've had malls that have banned teenagers wearing hoodies that hide their identity, and yet Muslim women want to be exempt. If they even are women? In May this year we read of a man who robbed a jewellery shop in Manchester, England, wearing a burka. Imagine how much you could shoplift under a burka? And just yesterday a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd in Iraq. He was dressed as a woman in a burka. In an age of terrorism from Islamists, the security argument for banning veils is a strong case in itself.

A second argument is that veils are in conflict with native European values. By this they mean a tradition of openness and friendliness, which is the opposite of someone who is cloaked, anonymous and distant. European values do not cope well with people who hide their face, their identity, and often their intent. Even the very act of shaking hands evidently arose to demonstrate that you weren't armed and that you meant the person no harm. Devout Muslim women avoid all physical contact with men, they refuse to shake hands, and the French greeting of a friendly kiss on the cheek would be a death sentence for anyone that tried it. Some Muslim women even refuse to speak to men in public. The modern idea of male and female equality is not something that is accepted by many Muslims. Native Europeans are simply not comfortable with people who want to join their society but don't want to adopt their values. European countries, and others like NZ, can rightly claim that immigrants know exactly what their culture values and how their society functions, and if immigrants don't want to live in that kind of society then they should choose a country that does reflect their chosen lifestyle. As outspoken atheists we would be fools to emigrate to Iran, or the southern states of the US, for example. If we were unwilling to learn French we would be silly to emigrate to France. If the women of our group wanted to swim and sunbathe topless, as they did in the Greek Islands, they would be suicidal to holiday in Saudi Arabia. Once we know what is required of citizens in these countries, if we still decide to move there then any rational person would realise that we would have to change our way of life to some degree. For Muslims to move to European countries, or NZ, Australia, USA etc, and then expect these countries and their citizens to adopt an Islamic outlook is arrogant and naive in the extreme.

A third argument is that the veil is degrading to women. It treats them as second class citizens and denies them equality with men. There is no denying that Islam taken seriously certainly does see women as inferior to men and as the property of men. This is one reason why Muslim men hide and lock away their women and become murderous if one of them is sullied in some way. Their valuable property has become damaged, and someone must pay, even if it means the murder of a tainted wife, daughter or sister. Muslim women have inferior rights compared to men, such as inheritance. If raped she must produce four adult male witnesses of good repute who witnessed the actual rape. And not from a distance, they must have clearly seen the penis enter her vagina. Of course four men that were that close and yet did nothing to help the woman are unlikely to tell what they saw. If she complains without four witnesses, she goes to prison for illicit sex. If she keeps quiet but unfortunately becomes pregnant, she goes to prison for illicit sex. It is believed you can't get pregnant through unwilling sex. Muslim men view women like a pedigree pet or an expensive sports car, they are a highly valued possession. There is no equality, they are not a fellow human being. Just as car nuts hate when someone touches their car that they've just polished, Muslim men hate other men even looking at their women, and touching would destroy their worth. To insist that women — and not just your wife, your daughter, your sister, but all Muslim women — must hide under an oppressive burka is extremely degrading to women.

Of course this is when some raise the objection that wearing a burka or veil or hijab etc is the choice of the woman wearing it. This is true for some, especially some recent converts to Islam in Western countries, but for most this is a lie. The great majority that cover up have no choice. Just as we have no real choice on what side of the road we drive on, Muslim women have little choice regarding their clothes. The country they live in and the family they belong to dictates what they can safely wear. For example all women in Iran have to wear the hijab — a head scarf — and overcoat as a very minimum. And yet the Muslim women I worked with in Iran took off their scarfs etc when I was the only one around, and they said they worn bikinis when they holidayed overseas. They hated the dress code, and complied only because it was the law and they were fearful of punishment. Even if a Muslim woman says she has freely chosen to wear a veil, if she has been brainwashed into believing that she is simply a possession of her husband or father, that it is her position to please him, and that refusal could mean punishment, then her 'choice' is a false choice. It's like saying I can freely choose whether I stop when signalled by the police. True, I can choose to flee, but I know that the ramifications of this choice will likely be severe, so the 'choice' of either/or is anything but equal, anything but fair, anything but a 'real' choice.

It should also be noted that most Muslim scholars deny that the Koran insists that Muslim women should even wear full-face veils. They insist it merely says that women should dress modestly. We believe it could be argued that it doesn't even say that, that Mohammed merely said his women should dress in a certain way so that they would be readily recognised by outsiders as belonging to him and left alone. Look at the following verse from the Koran:

'O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round when they go abroad. That will be better, that so they may be recognised and not annoyed.' (Sura 33.59)
Their style of dress, which we agree certainly didn't involve veils or burkas, was to be used as an ID, a uniform, to identify them to others. It wasn't about modesty, it was about Mohammed marking his property, the same way that the Nazis got the Jews to wear the Star of David.

But of course, like the Christian Bible, statements in the Koran and Hadiths etc are often contradictory and vague, and can be interpreted to defend opposing sides of almost any debate. The following sura from the Koran does suggest some modesty, but it specifically talks only about covering their breasts, not the face, arms etc., which we can assume to be those parts that are 'normally displayed':

'Enjoin believing women to turn their eyes away from temptation and to preserve their chastity; to cover their adornments — except such as are normally displayed; — to draw their veils over their bosoms and not to reveal their finery except to their husbands.' (Sura 24.30-31)
Unfortunately 'adornments' are one of those vague words that allow people to insert their own views into this passage. Then we have one hadith that recounts the following:
'Asma... was one day in front of the Prophet without a veil. The Prophet said to her, "Asma, a grown woman should only show this." And he showed her face and her hands.'
This clearly says that the face and hands are not to be covered. But again, other passages can be quoted that appear to give different views, which just proves that the Koran and other quotes were composed, not by Allah or God, but by many different people at different times and reflected their knowledge, or more specifically, their lack of knowledge, and their desire to control their society, and in this case, their women.

At the end of the day, quoting verses from the Koran is as empty as quoting passages from 'Harry Potter'. They are both works of fiction and as such shouldn't be used to dictate how real women should dress.

Philosopher Ibn Warraq states that Muslims got the idea of full face veils from the Persians, and the idea of keeping women in the home from the Byzantines. Author and ex-nun Karen Armstrong Muslim believes Muslims may have picked up veils from contact with Christian Byzantium. Today we're so used to only seeing Muslims in veils and burkas we forget that Christian women wore them first. It's not so long ago that nuns used to dress up in burka like outfits and headscarfs, and some still do. Some brides still wear veils on their wedding day. In the Bible St Paul stated that:

'For a woman, however, it is a sign of disrespect to her head if she prays or prophesises unveiled; she might as well have her hair shaved off. In fact, a woman who will not wear a veil ought to have her hair cut off. If a woman is ashamed to have her hair cut off, she ought to wear a veil.' (1CO 11:5-6)
And like Muslims, only women had to cover their heads, men didn't. In fact it was just as offensive to God if Christian men covered their heads as when women didn't. But modern Christians completely ignore the biblical dress code, if they're even aware of it. (Although is it a Brethren group that still have their women wearing small token head scarfs?) Not only have Christians thrown out the veil, they have brought in the mini skirt, plunging necklines, and on some Mediterranean beaches, complete nudity. Women have sought and gained complete equality with males, and the right to lead independent lives. Christianity was forced to change, first by the Renaissance, which ironically was fuelled by Muslims saving much of the ancient Greek's knowledge, and then by the Enlightenment. Reason triumphed over dogma and wrestled power form the slimy claws of the Church. And women slowly but surely came in from the dark.

Islam is yet to have its own Enlightenment. It is still living in its own Dark Ages, styling its society on a 7th century fairy tale. Not only has it failed to integrate into modern society, it wants to drag the entire world back to a primitive, ignorant, barbaric society, governed by Muslims under Islamic Sharia Law. As someone said, if you want to imagine Sharia Law, think of Afghanistan under the taliban. Think of burying a woman up to her waist in sand and then stoning her to death. We've already commented on the moronic Archbishop of Canterbury suggesting that some aspects of Sharia law be adopted in Britain. If non-Muslims in Europe or NZ permit Muslims to import their 'traditions' and happily modify their countries' laws to allow them to continue with their barbaric, inhumane treatment of women and non-Muslims, then Islam will never have its Enlightenment. If society allows Islam to hide in the 7th century, then it will happily stay there. Our ancestors forced Christianity to its knees, and took control of their own destiny. It is high time that we made the same demands of Islam. Rather than let our children wear nappies all their lives, we toilet train them, and eventually they are grateful for our effort. It's time Muslims were toilet trained. It's time they were enlightened, and dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, leaving their dirty, disgusting habits in the 7th. It's time that they were shown that women are not possessions, not dress up dolls, not automatons, not sex toys that they can kill without remorse or consequence if they feel they have been soiled or have brought shame on Muslim men.

Burka The oppression, disfranchisement, suppression, submission, forced obedience and subjugation of Muslim women must end, but it will never end if we make exemptions for primitive Muslim culture, and turn a blind eye to the women scurrying past us in the street hidden under oppressive black tents. Contrary to what their unencumbered, free ranging menfolk believe, and perhaps even many Muslim women themselves, their basic human right of freedom has been taken from them. It is little different from slavery. It needs to stop.

Some supporters, and even non-supporters, of the veil will quote religious freedom, the right to practice one's religion, and that Muslim women should be able to dress as their religion dictates. But while the West is being condemned by Muslims for forcing Muslim women to remove the veil, Muslim countries such as Iran are forcing women to cover up. Not the full face veil, but women must cover the hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes. And that's ALL women, not just Muslim women. Christian, atheist or Wiccan women are not permitted the freedom to dress as their religion or beliefs dictate in Muslim countries under Sharia Law. Muslim women supporting the veil imply that Islam would never try to force a dress code on women following their religion, that it is their individual right to dress as they believe they should. This is utter bullshit. As we write this, Iran's general prosecutor is calling for stronger enforcement on the Islamic dress code, where those that refuse can receive not just fines as in the West, but lashes and imprisonment. Muslims want the freedom to dress as they wish in the secular West, but refuse to extend the same rights to non-Muslims living in Islamic countries, and will resort to barbaric punishments to enforce their laws. Muslims arguing for the individual freedom to chose one's dress must explain this hypocrisy.

But this notion of freedom to behave as we so wish is actually quite limited. Are we free to stroll naked down Queen St, to smoke in bars, to inject drugs in McDonalds, to have sex in public parks, to deface art that we don't like, to cheat in exams, to hire pornography with taxpayer funds, to burn the NZ flag, to torture kittens? No, we're not, and it doesn't matter if we say our brand of religion says we should be able to. As a society, we allow people to act freely as long as their action doesn't harm others. Wearing a veil and all the beliefs that this entails does harm others. From a security perspective it prevents others from identifying who they are dealing with, and what if anything they may be hiding. From a communication perspective, face to face contact is the way humans want to interact with each other. People say that you should never make deals over the telephone because you can't see the person's face, which makes detecting lies so much more difficult. I even find it unsettling when people that are talking to me in person always look somewhere else. I would hate to hold a conversation with someone — who knows who? — that is hiding under a blanket. This veiled communication harms the relationship between the veiled woman and those she deals with. From a personal freedom perspective, the actions of veiled women are being subjugated and controlled by men, whether they realise it or not, and this is harming them as individuals, preventing them from leading a full and rewarding life. Even women wearing a veil that are devoid of male control, doing so solely because they believe their God wishes them to act this way are being harmed. Their knowledge of the world is false, and this false belief coupled with how they interact with their family, friends and others is harmful since they are living a lie. This lie is harming them by preventing them from acting in ways that they might otherwise wish to do. Remember also that the veil is just the public sign of innumerable beliefs and commandments that dictate this woman's life and harm her in ways that we may never see. Are you familiar with this Muslim decree: 'A wife should never refuse herself [sexually] to her husband even if it is on the saddle of a camel.' And do we need to mention the barbaric and disgusting female genital mutilation?

So religious freedom is a bogus argument. It's as ridiculous as someone saying that their religion insists that they should rape young boys, so society should let them. Yeah right!

Another problem with Muslim women obeying Allah's commandment on the veil is that they are inconsistent. While blindly obeying this commandment they nevertheless disobey numerous others. Such as, she must not put on make up or wear perfume. Mohammed said: 'Any woman who puts on perfume and passes in front of men is a fornicator'. Mohammed also said: 'You women do not have the right to walk amongst men — stick to the sides.' 'She must move with her head bowed down looking neither left of right'. 'She must stay secluded in the house'. In fact Omar the second caliph said, 'Impose nudity on women because clothes are one reason for leaving the house'. 'She must not leave the house unless accompanied by a near male relative'. Omar the second caliph also said, 'Prevent the women from learning to write'. Ghazali, a highly respected Muslim, defined the role of women, 'She should stay at home and get on with her spinning, she should not go out often, she must not be well-informed, nor must she be communicative with her neighbours, and only visit them when absolutely necessary;... she must not leave the house without her husband's permission, and if given his permission she must leave surreptitiously. She should put on old clothes and take deserted streets and alleys, avoid markets, and make sure that a stranger does not hear her voice or recognise her, she must not speak to a friend of her husband even in need... she should be clean and ready to satisfy her husband's sexual needs at any moment.'

Burka NZ aside, in Europe why don't we see veiled women infrequently, and when we do, why not in back alleys rather than at the perfume counter in shopping malls? Why do we see them in universities and libraries if they're illiterate or chatting away on cell phones if they shouldn't be communicative? Do they really wander around naked at home, waiting for their horny husbands? Why are they so serious about wearing the veil but happily ignore the other things that would make them a good Muslim woman and wife? It's the same as ignorant Christians who cry that their God demands that we don't kill or steal or covet our neighbour's ass. But when reminded that their God also demands that they don't eat shellfish or wear clothes with a nylon polyester blend, they suggest that their God wasn't all that serious regarding those commandments. I guess this is what is called 'knowing the mind of God'. But of course they don't know the mind of God, regardless of what they think, and ignorant, hypocritical Christians and Muslims simply pick and chose the commandments that suit their purpose and happily ditch the rest, and their God doesn't seem at all concerned. In the same way that unicorns aren't concerned about global warming.

That women in Islamic countries and in strict Muslim families in Western countries don't generally speak out against the veil and their miserable lot in life is understandable, their very life would be threatened. But why are independent Muslim women in Western countries seemingly happy and content with their place in the Islamic world? Why are they supporting their own submission? Here are some quotes on how Islam views women:

'The entire woman is an evil, and what is worse is that it is a necessary evil.'
'You should never ask a woman her advice because her advice is worthless.'
[Women's] 'guile is immense and their mischief is noxious; they are immoral and mean spirited.'
'It is a fact that all the trials, misfortunes and woes which befall men come from women.'
'Men, never ever obey your women. Never ever let them advise you on any matter concerning your daily life.'
'Better for a man to be splashed by a pig than for him to brush against the elbow of a woman not permitted him.'
Once again views that were once held dear by ignorant Christians in the Middle Ages are core to Islam. In most cases, but certainly not all, Christians have been slowly compelled to reject this view of women, but Islam is still living in the barbaric past. That women exposed to the freedoms of the West are converting to Islam and willingly making themselves slaves to ignorant, dangerous men who follow an imaginary sky fairy is unbelievable.

In NZ we need to oppose the wearing of veils in public, and appropriate laws should be enacted now. Once we give a religion special exemptions, then it will soon be censoring our media so as not to offend their prophet, and radicals will be blowing themselves up in the middle of a 'Boobs on Bikes' parade or Skeptics' conference. This website will be outlawed, and like Salman Rushdie and those Danish cartoonists we will need to go into hiding or have round the clock security. We will all find ourselves in a vindictive, dogmatic Middle Ages society where the only difference is that Muslims rather than Christians would be persecuting us. A Muslim inquisition. In recent times Christians complained about 'South Park' and the Virgin in a Condom but they were constrained by the law. Even though they felt offended, they had no special rights to dictate or censor. We can't allow Islam to curtail our freedoms by giving them exemptions. If we can offend Christians, and Christians can offend atheists, we both need to retain the right to offend Muslims as well. If Muslims looking for a country to move to don't want people exposing their veiled women, both flesh wise and to sexual equality, or criticising their silly beliefs, then might we suggest Afghanistan, Iran or Somalia.

Some excellent books that we would recommend on Islam and its shameful treatment of women are:

'Infidel: My Life', by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
'The Caged Virgin: A Muslim Woman's Cry for Reason', by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
'Why I Am Not A Muslim', by Ibn Warraq
'The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason', Sam Harris

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 17 Jul, 2010 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend
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Praying into the wind
In our local media recently has been the story of an unfortunate young woman with a life threatening infection, meningococcal septicemia. She and her family belong to the Baptist Church. We are told that her family is naturally praying for her recovery, and that the Baptist community is asking friends and family to also pray for her, to 'pray there will be no major unexpected bleeding, for her organs to work again and for no secondary infections'. But why? Doesn't God know that one of his flock is seriously ill and desperately needs help?

Do these people honestly believe that their god doesn't know a family member is ill, and that he must be informed of this fact through prayer? And even when he is made aware of an illness, more descriptive prayer is required to tell him what the family actually want done, eg 'Please God, help prevent secondary infections'. Or have they just not thought about what they're doing? Also he seemingly can't find out himself what the progress is, he must be continually updated through yet still more prayer. Are hospital intensive care units somehow shielded from God's all-seeing gaze, or is he just too engrossed spying on Playboy Bunnies?

Also it appears that a single heartfelt prayer, or even a handful, aren't enough to get past his celestial secretary. Congregations en masse are encouraged to pray for an individual, suggesting that some minimum threshold must be exceeded before God even considers a prayer request. And again, everyone must be instructed on what to pray for, eg 'Pray for her to healed', otherwise God won't know exactly what they want him to do. God is evidently skilled enough to be able to heal any affliction, and yet upon coming across an ill person, he still needs to be told that her family wishes her to be healed. Empathy is obviously a trait lacking in God's psyche.

We're continually told that God is everywhere at once and knows everything, omnipresent and omniscient. So if God already knows if someone is ill and what their family wants, what the hell is prayer for?

Pray Is God like some parent who says 'You're not getting dessert until I hear 'Please''. Is God watching his flock suffer and holding back, waiting until the appropriate rituals are performed? 'You know how it works', says God, 'you know how to push my buttons. I want you to pray to me, to beg, to tell me how glorious, how wonderful and how loving I am. I want to see you on your knees, I want to see despair, desperation, tears — real tears — and gnashing of teeth. I want to hear wild promises of how you'll dedicate your life and soul to me if I do this favour for you'.

And shouldn't belonging to God's fan club give one some sort of advantage, some protection, some guaranteed benefits? That's usually why people invest time and/or money into these organisations. For example, I pay health insurance, and if I need an operation I expect to get one and that they will pay for it. However, if I discovered that I was no more likely to get an operation than people without health insurance, I would conclude that paying for insurance gave me no benefits whatsoever. It would be a scam. If I paid a fee to rent DVDs from the local video shop, but I discovered that others were renting the same DVDs for nothing, then again my special membership gave me no advantage. Why don't Christians realise that their membership in God's club gives them no advantage either? Disease, ill fortune and death, as well as fitness, longevity and good fortune is visited on people with no regard to their religious beliefs or lack of.

We've all seen the numerous news reports over the years: Christians killed on a church outing, Muslims killed on a Haj pilgrimage, Hindus killed during religious observation, Jews killed while attending a synagogue, children raped by Catholic priests etc. Being religious offers believers no protection or advantage, at least not while they're alive. In fact, putting your faith in religion can be a foolish move, eg. baptising your child Catholic puts them at an increased risk of harm and there are numerous countries where revealing your religious beliefs can elicit a deadly response rather than a loving embrace, eg Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, Iran, China etc.

In NZ in recent years we've had the high profile examples of a two-year-old girl, a member of the Baptist Church, drowning in a drain, three children drowning at a Christian camp when a cliff collapsed on them, and seven members of the Elim Church drowning in a swollen river.

These unfortunate deaths are all extremely relevant to the question of whether Christians have a clear justification to believe that worshiping their god and belonging to his church gives them a definite advantage over atheists like us. They will believe it does, since in the Bible God promises them that:

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you. (ISA 43:2)
...
Do not be afraid, for I am with you; (ISA 43:5)
Or maybe not. It's blatantly obvious that God was either not with these Christians, or if he was, he was incapable of saving them, or unwilling to. Either way, their blind faith in his promise was not rewarded, and their reliance on him ill founded. We wonder how believers can come to terms with the situation where their fellow believers are being struck down in equal numbers to atheists and believers in false religions? Why doesn't their god provide the protection he promises? And even if there were a god, doesn't it occur to them — due to all the deaths — that they may be backing the wrong one?

If belonging to God made a difference then prayer should be superfluous. God the Loving Father should be ensuring that his children don't fall into drains, don't swim under dangerous cliffs and don't get caught in swollen rivers. Desperate prayers for assistance and help are only required if God has stuffed up in the first place. But as we all know, anyone that would let a terrified two-year-old drown in a drain is not someone we would call God. These tragedies happened because there is no god to renege on his promises of care, and this realisation should demonstrate that any future prayer is a waste of time and effort. God will not be returning to put right his past mistakes.

Prayer is nothing but begging to an empty space between your ears.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 10 Jul, 2010 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend
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Comments:

  1. Comment by Keri, 10 Jul, 2010

    Love the picture of a male devotee praying his god... male followers of Islam (and some other religions) do this, to this day-

    and what do you think this means in primate terms?

    It is the most abject self-abnegating posture a male can take up: it says, take me-

    whichever way you read all religions, past & present, prayer per se is a stupidity:
    it indicates that believers think
    *gods can be bribed
    *suaded by human passions
    *are really rather like their human believers

    and when there are no helpful or kindly answers
    *o, your faith wasn't strong enough
    *it's karma
    *god (insert name thereof) had other better things intended-

    I'd also assert that sacrifices of any kind are similarly stupid waste-

  2. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 10 Jul, 2010

    All good points Keri and I couldn't agree more. As for the prayer posture and primates, I hadn't thought about it but you're quite right. I recently read a book on chimp behaviour including hierarchy and submissive behaviour and chimps do often present in this manner to the dominant or alpha male, as you are obviously aware, even partaking of brief homosexual sex to signal complete submission. It is an apt position for religious begging.

  3. Comment by Keri, 10 Jul, 2010

    Kia ora John - for weird reasons, I know quite a lot about chimp & bonobo (and other ape) behaviour. One way & another, their behaviours show a light on our own - cheers - & keep up the good work.

  4. Comment by Matthew, 30 Jul, 2010

    Great article as always guys. My argument against the logic of prayer is that for prayer to work you have to assume that god is imperfect and makes mistakes. According to most religions god knows everything and has already decided a plan for us all (it would be unfathomable to think of a god who DOESNíT know whatís going to happen next) so all prayer is, is asking god to change his mind. How can a being who is perfect change his mind? That would mean he was wrong about the original plan he had designed for you in the first place. It only takes a few seconds of thought about prayer to quickly discover it makes no sense but it appears so few people have done that.

    Then there is prayers of gratitude which I think are fine and in some cases quite wonderful. Iím an atheist to the core but I often give thanks in my head for everything fantastic in my life and in the universe in general — it is not directed at anybody in particular but I think itís a nice exercise in remembering how lucky we are and how fascinating the cosmos is. Billions of random events have conspired to bring us all to where we are today and the alternative is not existing... which happens to us all eventually.

  5. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 30 Jul, 2010

    Thanks Matthew, and you're quite right. If you think seriously about prayer, and what it means to be God, with claims such as omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, immutability, perfection etc, then the idea of prayer — and God himself — quickly turns to nonsense, and is little different than kids believing Santa can fit all those toys in a single bag and deliver them all in one night. But at least kids wise up and ditch belief in Santa quite early in their life. It's depressing that so many adults can't do the same with gods.

    As you say, it only takes a little thought, but the trouble is Christians are not encouraged to think about their beliefs in an inquiring way. If they do it all turns to crap, and this is why the likes of Martin Luther said, 'Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his reason'.

    People blindly, naively and wishfully accept Christianity and they conveniently sidestep their inability to understand life's injustices by saying God moves in mysterious ways, and then go on to lead an essentially secular life. It's like insurance policies. You pay your premium and then you forget about it for another year. As intelligent and thoughtful Christian leaders have long known, thinking causes atheism, and their flock must not be encouraged to exercise their grey matter. That's why Christians must believe on faith and not reason, since a few seconds of thought can ruin years of indoctrination.

  6. Comment by Anonymous, 26 Nov, 2015

    I saw a quote once that sums this up perfectly:

    "Jesus/God: He knows what you need, he just wants to hear you beg a little first. He loves you sure, but he just really gets off on suffering!"

    Looking at the religion as a whole, it's hard to argue that. I think EVERY action by God in the bible first HAD (their words) to have a sacrifice or humiliation attached first, despite their claims of unconditional love and support.

    Sure Jesus would heal the blind, but first he had to spit in his face first. Why??? Fun!

    Moses's guys would win some battle if his hands were held high, but lose if he lowered them. What's the point of that little dance, God?

    Sure we'll free the Israelites ... but first the Pharaoh's heart was "hardened" by God a few times when he wanted to release them (they tend to forget that part, GOD made him that way explicitly), so they could suffer a little more, and give God a good excuse to inflict MORE suffering on innocent Egyptians to boot!

    God kills everyone in the world. Apparently not too big on forgiveness at this time. Except for Noah, who immediately gets drunk and kills an entire species upon landfall. (there's ONLY 2 of everything right? So when he cooked his sacrifice up ... bye bye forever to whatever he ate!)

    Wife turned into salt for looking back. Just LOOKING. Sheesh God, what's your problem???

    Dozens upon dozens others, but let's get to the best one ... the biggie ... God will forgive everyone's sins , but SOMEONE'S gotta suffer, so let's arrange the slaughter of his own kid. This made God happy. Apparently just simply forgiving people wasn't enough ... without suffering it had no meaning! And Christians LOVE their suffering Jesus!!! Good GOD do they love the suffering Jesus!!! Ask them about it sometime, their eyes light up as they describe his pain on death ... NEEDLESS pain I remind you.

    So I have no problem believing that IF their god exists, as he's described in the bible, he WOULD want to watch his pets squirm and beg and castrate themselves to him before he even thinks to help out, simply because he enjoys it. I see no evidence in the book to counter this assessment of his cruel personality.

  7. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 27 Nov, 2015

    You're quite right, if their god exists he has this truly sick need and desire to watch his creations suffer and to be continually praised for his vanity, conceit, arrogance, sadism and cruelty. Let's consider the examples you gave, God forcing the Pharaoh to do his bidding then punishing him for obeying, Lot's wife turned to stone, God killing all life on the planet except Noah and his boatload, slaughtering all the animals and innocent children even though it was a few adults that he was angry with, and even torturing and killing his own son because he had a problem with humans. Imagine a human ruler that was so unjust and acted so barbarically against the innocent, they would be condemned as a monster and rebelled against. And yet when their god behaves far, far worse than a human ever could, screwed up Christians worship him for his disgusting depravity. How are they any different than those Satan worshippers?

    One minor correction though, Noah didn't wipe out a species with his primitive sacrifice. God instructed Noah to:

    'Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal (GE 7:2)'
    After their sea cruise was over:
    'Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. (GE 8:20-21)'
    So they had a few spares when it came to the 'clean animals', although I'm sure the sacrificed animals weren't too happy that they survived the flood only to be then slaughtered just so God could get off on their 'pleasing aroma'. But I've never understood the Noah story. Let's remember that,
    'So God said to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. (GE 6:13)'
    And yet by letting Noah's family live he knew that the violence would all just begin again. Note that after Noah and his family were told to repopulate the Earth, God's view of man was still that 'every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood'. So what had he achieved with his mass slaughter? Apart from a slight pause in population growth, nothing at all. God it seems is just not too bright.
Pastor takes money to help God
You may have read the disgraceful story from last month of the church pastor in Napier taking the life savings of a disabled man. We for some reason missed it, but it has received worldwide attention, although it seemingly wasn't important enough to feature on TV3's News or Radio NZ National, at least not while we were listening. Read the full articles here:
Church takes man's life savings
Rest home condemns pastor's standover tactics
Napier church returns money to rest home resident
Bruce Collingwood In summary, the villain of the piece was Bruce Collingwood (image right), the pastor of Napier's Oasis Elim Church. Collingwood had accepted over the last two years donations of over $20,000 from a Mr Whetu Abraham. But Mr Abraham is not some wealthy benefactor, he's a partial tetraplegic with head injuries who lives in a Rest Care and Rehabilitation facility. Furthermore it appears that his donations were the last of his life savings. When the rest home manager intervened and queried Pastor Collingwood over his willingness to take this man's last dollar, Collingwood replied that it was Abraham's business and not hers if he wanted to donate, and that tithing was how people supported their church. But of course biblical tithing is donating 10% of one's income to the church, not 100%.

In fairness to Collingwood, Abraham did freely give his money to the church, but that's little different from a man having sex with a 14 year old girl, and when caught, defending his actions by saying she looked over 16, and she was a willing participant. She may have looked mature and was willing, just as Abraham is an adult and donated willingly, but both Collingwood and our fictional man should have asked themselves whether they had let their urges override good sense and whether these willing participants really understood their actions. Not only can we question the morality of Bruce Collingwood for taking this man's life savings, a man whose illness prevents him from earning any more, but also for taking money from someone whose mental state is in question. Pastor Bruce Collingwood even had the gall to visit the rest home and give Abraham 'a donation certificate so he could claim a third of the money back from Inland Revenue'. As rest home manager Lucy Dever said, 'I guess they wanted that from him too'.

When the Dominion Post broke the story and the public expressed their outrage at Pastor Bruce Collingwood's despicable behaviour, rather than admit his mistake and beg forgiveness, he visited Abraham and tried to coerce him into signing a document that seemingly absolved the Elim Church, and its pastor, of any wrong doing, and of course allowed them to keep all the money. Thankfully rest home staff again stepped in and prevented Abraham signing it without legal advice.

The Elim Church of New Zealand then entered the fray and 'condemned the Napier branch's activities'. They have since told Collingwood to return Abraham's money, although they refuse to reveal if he will get the full amount back. Collingwood believes he has done no wrong and has refused to comment after being ordered to refund the money.

How genuine the remorse of The Elim Church of NZ is in this matter is anyone's guess. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to discern that the public is rightly condemning Collingwood and his Oasis Elim Church, and that the reputation of the greater Elim Church would suffer if an apology weren't made, the money returned and Collingwood criticised by his church. The Elim Church admits, like many other churches, that they encourage tithing and that they don't actively investigate the financial circumstances of those that donate. However Collingwood knew Abraham, he knew he was disabled, in a rest home, unable to earn further income, and yet he still accepted large donations from him. Even when advised by the rest home manager that he was nearing the poverty line Collingwood still believed it was up to Abraham whether he wanted to donate.

The question is, what is the true position of the Elim Church when they discover that people that can ill afford to tithe are still giving? Do they all routinely turn a blind eye as their Pastor Bruce Collingwood did, or do they step in and refuse to accept further donations, and even return previous donations as in this case? Abraham gave thousands so it was easy to notice, but how do churches discover that their impoverished parishioners are giving away their last $5 when it literally is just $5 going into the collection plate? How many people have really given away their life savings to the Elim Church, and the Destiny Church et al., $1 at a time? One ex-parishioner of the Oasis Elim Church stated that they were encouraged to tithe before they paid their rent and other expenses. Is the Elim Church now just like the Catholic Church, secretly advising their clergy to be more careful in future, or else their lucrative tithing scam might be exposed? Has Collingwood been nominated a scapegoat for the greater good of the church and its future donations? We note that they say that they will not be investigating his actions or disciplining him, claiming it was a 'one-off error'. How they can determine that without an investigation is a little confusing. It sounds little different from the excuses we have been hearing from the Vatican for years.

Collingwood tried to elicit our sympathy by declaring that his 'church had lived on the "smell of an oily rag" for the past 11 years and the money was a lifeline'. So taking the life savings of disabled people was the Christian thing to do was it? Without doubt Pastor Bruce Collingwood is committed to serving a Higher Being, the only problem is that the Being Collingwood is trying to impress is Satan. As for Abraham, he says he gave to Collingwood and the Elim Church because of his faith. He was quoted as saying, 'Hopefully, my understanding is simple, you help them, they help you. They used to come and visit me [in the rest home] but it's not often now'. In other words he was attempting to bribe his way into heaven, which of course is nothing new in the history of the Christian Church. That scum like Collingwood and his fellow clergy are willing to take advantage of naive beliefs such as this to fund their church maintenance costs or to purchase a wide screen TV for the rectory, demonstrates once again that religion is the last place one should look for examples of good moral behaviour.

But let's look at the bigger picture. Why do churches — any church, not just the Oasis Elim Church — need help in the first place? Their leader, their CEO, the Big Cheese, the big kahuna, is evidently the most powerful being in the entire universe, if not the multiverse. Why are churches not the most opulent, well maintained, debt free places on the planet, considering who their organisation head is, no other than Our Lord and Saviour. Admittedly there is the rare example of churches that are dripping with obscene wealth, eg the Vatican, but they should all be like this, and even the Vatican has been built and funded by the clergy greedily amassing public donations, not a cent came from above.

Imagine if you worked for a company run by Bill Gates or the Sultan of Brunei. Can you imagine them financing their organisation through donations, bake sales and fairs? Of course not, these people invest their personal wealth and expertise into their endeavours, and instead of begging for money from the poor and disadvantaged, they often give it away to improve their lot in life. They help the poor rather than the poor helping them, as it is with churches. Why does God never give a donation to his own churches, even when he sees that they're struggling, or turn up for a board meeting?

And why wasn't Collingwood's underhanded fund raising exposed from within the church? Like Elvis, has God left the building? Why does it always take an outsider to blow the whistle on clerics and servants of God who do wrong? Why do we never see pastors, ministers and priests being ratted on by their fellow clerics? Why do Catholic priests never feature as accusers of priests that sexually abuse children? These people all work for a super controlling, hands-on boss who knows everything that goes on within his organisation. A mouse doesn't sneeze without him knowing, or according to the Bible, a sparrow fall. But these bastards are never exposed by their all-seeing CEO, God Almighty. This can only mean one of three things. (1) God approves of their behaviour, eg. taking from the poor and raping the children. (2) God is not omniscient and has no idea what's going on, having long ago left for a galaxy, far, far away. (3) God doesn't exist, to be able to know or approve or expose. The most logical answer is of course (3), God doesn't exist, since if 'God' approves of theft and rape then he's not God, and if he doesn't know what's going on, then he's not God either. Ergo the most obvious and plausible explanation for the fact that pastors believe they can steal from the disabled and priests can rape children with a perceived impunity is that their boss doesn't exist, and they know it. Throughout history men and women, but mainly men, have visited unspeakable horrors on untold others, and even themselves, because of their abject fear of their God. They deprived, exiled, tortured, maimed and murdered because their God desired them to be his inquisitors and enforcers, but perhaps more importantly, they were terrified as to what might happen to them personally, either in this life or the next, if they didn't do God's bidding. And yet today's clergy of pastors, ministers and priests have apparently lost this fear of their God. Why? Well the answer in this modern age of science and reason is blatantly obvious, like us, they don't believe he exists. You don't need to fear retribution from that which doesn't exist, which leaves them free to sin if they so choose. The medieval clergy feared God whereas the modern clergy fears only the scrutiny of the media, the police and a doubting public.

It was public outrage and disgust that forced Collingwood and the Elim Church to return a disabled man's life savings. God didn't even voice an opinion.

UPDATE: Further damming revelations concerning Pastor Bruce Collingwood have come to light. It is claimed by others in the church that around seven years ago Collingwood was convincing those seeking counselling to buy expensive vitamin supplements from him, that church literature claimed that those that didn't donate were stealing from God, that beneficiaries wouldn't be helped if they didn't donate 10% of their benefit, and that the poor couldn't request food parcels if they hadn't tithed. This man is contemptible and brings further discredit to the church. Squeezing money from those that can least afford it, and for what? The Elim Church of NZ refuses to investigate Collingwood so we may never know what his ill-gotten gains were actually used for. Did they go towards church property maintenance, rates etc or did they go to supplement Collingwood's lifestyle? Either way, this man ripped off the unemployed, beneficiaries and the poor, not to mention the gullible. Even if every cent went to fund legitimate church costs, to maintain the House of God, we would say, how many bloody houses does their God need? We have mentioned it before, but we will do so again, why does the public and the media never seek God's stance in all this? Did he approve? They want to know what Collingwood's boss — the Elim Church of NZ — think of his actions, but no one ever asks if they can talk to the big boss, the one that originally wrote the rules on tithing. Of course we know that they don't bother because they don't believe he's involved, not being real and all that, but why don't they call these people on this false belief? Why do they go along with the pastor's and church's delusion? They're like parents talking to small children: 'You say a gremlin took your hat, Lucy? Well, gremlins get bored quickly, so let's go and see if we can find where that naughty gremlin might have dropped it'. We wish reporters would develop the guts and integrity to tell the full story, that even if this pastor was taking money from rich parishioners, he would still be taking it under false pretences, to appease a boss that doesn't exist.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 07 Jul, 2010 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend
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Comments:

  1. Comment by Phill, 01 Aug, 2010

    Actually are we surprised by any of this? In most churches there is a constant demand for money, especially amongst the pentecostal types. It was with them that the concept of seeding was developed, where god will reward those who donate ten fold. A few years ago when Trinity Broadcasting was on cable most of the sermons all related to seeding with plenty of stories of believers handing over their last hundred, or thousand or what ever only to be rewarded with a greater amount of money sometime later (I guess a kind of celestial lotto.)

    However it is surprising to note that even more mainstream churches like the Salvation Army are into tithing in a big way and also praying for what you want or need or desire (I attended one SA service and came away thinking mumbo jumbo christianity - really not that far removed from witch doctors.)

    Some years ago David Lange did a documentary on Mangere where he grew up as a lad and noted the million dollar churches being built in some of the poorest areas. Where parishioners were encouraged by their ministers to give give until it hurt, where the amounts of donations were read out during the service and god help the poor sods who hadn't forked out for the holy project.

    At the end of the day modern Christianity especially amongst the more evangelical types is a business pure and simple, salvation is to be had - for a price.

    Oh one wee point - you suggest early in your blog that Pastor Collingwood serves a being - satan. Tsk tsk, either we believe in a mighty powerful supreme being, with all the attendant sides beliefs, like satan, angels, demons, etc - or we don't. The dear Pastor may or may not be a true believer, I don't know, but his driving force is of course his bank balance.

    Even so excellent blog!!

  2. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 01 Aug, 2010

    Regarding Satan, we were trying to suggest that Collingwood's behaviour was ironic, that a professed man of God was acting as if Satan rather than God were his master. We don't of course believe either exists. But you're right, Collingwood's bank balance was his true motivation, as it is for all these churches.

Disasters, 2012 and '60 Minutes'
60 Minutes The verdict is in. TV3's '60 Minutes' is officially crap. Once again they have led their show with a segment produced for and featuring absolute loons. We had hoped their recent nonsense item on UFOs and aliens that contained not one shred of skeptical input might have been an anomaly, but no. Of course we know that a lot of nonsense topics and certifiable loons have been on '60 Minutes' over the years, such as believers in psychics, ghosts, alternative medicines, witches and the story behind the Da Vinci Code. But from memory there was always a token skeptic and/or scientist, academic or even the reporter themselves, who gave the other side of the story, who expressed doubt and offered alternative answers. Sometimes these alternative views were a fleeting and heavily edited portion of the show, but they were usually there, to give the item at least a semblance of balance, and a modicum of rationality. Now the TV3 '60 Minutes' executives, reporters, production team and its host Mike 'You can trust me, I read the news' McRoberts, have ditched what little credibility they might have had and have gone all out to fuel and stroke the fantasies and fears of those in society who are poorly educated or not too bright or just plain gullible.

In this post we want to touch on two concerns, the TV team that produced the program, and then the item itself. First the '60 Minutes' program.

On this website we have spoken out against those that promote bogus beliefs, products or services, whether for profit or otherwise. Silly beliefs involving pseudoscience, the supernatural and the paranormal. We have exposed people such as psychics Kelvin Cruickshank, Deb Webber and Jeanette Wilson, pseudoscience practitioner Ken Ring, Christian fundamentalist Ian Wishart and the sellers of magnetic underlays, all scamming society solely for their own personal profit or motives. It is now obvious that Mike McRoberts, Melanie Reid, Sarah Hall, TV3 and the rest of the '60 Minutes' team are no different, knowingly producing a bogus product and targeting a gullible audience solely for personal profit. That is, making 17 minutes of nonsense which attracts advertisers, which pays for their program, which pays their salaries, which go into their bank accounts to fund their lifestyle.

For years '60 Minutes' has had a worldwide reputation for quality, fact-based programming. TV networks that could obtain the screening rights considered it a flagship program. As such, that reputation and widespread exposure gives it enormous power to influence its audience. It now abuses that trust by producing and screening silly stories on the legitimacy of visiting aliens and ancient prophecies. Stories promoting pseudoscience, the supernatural and the paranormal. Admittedly some of their other stories may well be completely factual, but how can viewers be expected to decide which are which? Obviously they can't. It's the old story of the boy who cried wolf. Once someone has been shown lying to us, even only occasionally, we can't in all seriousness trust them again. And unlike Ken Ring and Ian Wishart or 'Sensing Murder' who have both detractors and supporters, how often do we encounter people criticising Mike McRoberts and '60 Minutes'? Small time scammers no doubt wish they had the exposure and general respect that McRoberts and '60 Minutes' have to publicise their views. In this sense '60 Minutes' has the potential to scam, mislead and misinform far more people than any individual does. There is a new enemy to reason, evidence and integrity and its name is '60 Minutes'. It is fuelled by greed, arrogance, apathy and ignorance.

We know that many will say that we are naive to believe that programs like '60 Minutes' should be taken any more seriously than the rest of our TV fare, but we disagree. We agree that of late '60 Minutes' certainly has discredited itself and has placed itself alongside reality TV shows such as 'Sensing Murder', pseudo-documentaries promoting alien autopsies and hoax moon-landings, and those mind-numbing Christian evangelist shows on Sunday mornings. However when people say they watch little TV these days, most normally still add that they watch the nightly News, and the likes of 'Sunday', 'Fair Go', '60 Minutes' and the odd documentary. Most still see '60 Minutes' as a more credible source of information than the majority of programs on TV, most of course which don't even pretend to be anything but entertainment. So how does '60 Minutes', or the networks that screen it, describe the program? Wikipedia describes the original US '60 Minutes' as a 'television news magazine... using a unique style of reporter-centered investigation... It is considered by many to be the preeminent investigative television program in the United States'. The NZ show is a copy of that show. In NZ the program has won in the Qantas Television Awards: Best Current Affairs Series, Best Current Affairs Reporter, Best Current Affairs Reporting for a weekly programme or one off current affairs special, and Best News and Current Affairs Editing. '60 Minutes' staff that research and host the different items are called journalists or reporters. McRoberts introduces each segment, and TV3 have run short 'adverts' that promote McRoberts' journalistic skills and integrity, showing him in war zones and disasters and implying that we can trust his reporting. If the viewer is now prepared to let the likes of '60 Minutes' turn into nonsense mixed with occasional facts, then what's to stop TV management from letting the nightly News go the same way? This viewer apathy is what is destroying what little credible programs there are left on TV. Australian journalist David Slater's book is aptly titled: 'The Media We Deserve'. We can't moan about the deplorable standard of 'fact-based' programs if we make no effort to even voice our dissatisfaction. To be resigned to the dumbing down of programs, to say that the general public wants superficial nonsense, sex and entertainment in all their programs or else they won't watch, means that even the News must become nonsense to survive. We believe that people watch the News, and the likes of 'Sunday', 'Fair Go', '60 Minutes', 'Close-Up', 'Campbell Live' etc, to be informed, not to be entertained. There is obviously still a huge audience for these factual programs, all of which screen in primetime. Advertisers no doubt clamour for a spot within these shows. The morons who now produce '60 Minutes' can't argue that nobody wants serious items anymore, since that is exactly what their considerable audience wants. And '60 Minutes' know that people want serious reporting, that is precisely why they use McRoberts to introduce their show rather than Jason Gunn and Thingee. Why then do they produce a show with the facade of integrity and then screen items that promote nothing but lies, half-truths and false beliefs? And don't say cost. It would have been cheaper to interview a NZ Skeptics spokesperson and/or some university academics than flying to interview the likes of Scott and Smith. Why are they rejecting their loyal audience?, and there is little doubt that they are. Many people that we know that used to be regular viewers are now ignoring the show entirely. The reputation that '60 Minutes' once had is fast disappearing. It is now just another version of The Jerry Springer Show, catering for the silly beliefs and emotions of TPT (trailer park trash).

Thus we wish to nominate '60 Minutes' for a new award category at the next Qantas Television Awards — The TPT Award, for journalists who pander most to gullible idiots in society.

OK, onto the show itself. The promo for '60 Minutes' that has been running all week on TV3 went like this:

IS NZ READY?
60 Minutes There will be an event...
It could be as soon as 2012
You're either prepared or you're not...
THE COMING CASTASTROPHE
Some sort of serious collapse...
It would be brutal, it would be violent...
Along with these statements we see an image of an ancient stone carving, possibly Maya or Aztec, what appears to be a Maya pyramid at Uxmal, and also two crop circles. Strangely though, none of these images actually feature in the actual '60 Minutes' segment. Even their promo it seems is full of false promises.

The '60 Minutes' item was entitled 'THE END IS NIGH' and began as usual with smartly dressed host Mike McRoberts:

'The end is nigh, or so the say. Some think there is going to be a sudden collapse in the year 2012, because that is what the ancient Mayan people predicted. Others believe there will be a meltdown due to peak oil or global warming. Whatever the reason, a lot of Kiwis are hunkering down, and a lot of outsiders are flocking here to escape the forthcoming calamity. Melanie Reid's been hunting them out.'
Reid's intro began:
'There seems to be an increasing number of people getting ready, but... getting ready for what? Well the thinking is the world cannot sustain human consumption at its current rate, and a global catastrophe is on its way.'
So the scene has been set, 'a global catastrophe is on its way', and mostly likely in 2012. Not once in this program is it even hinted at that all this talk of a forthcoming calamity in 2012, of Kiwis hunkering down and outsiders flocking to our shores is nothing but nonsense and irresponsible scaremongering. Yes there are people that believe that the end is nigh, and four of the idiots were featured on the program, but to imply that the rest of us should also start to worry, or should we say PANIC, is absolutely ridiculous.

The '60 Minutes' research team could somehow locate these four deluded souls, two who lived a secluded life, and yet seemingly couldn't manage to find even one person — academic, scientist, skeptic, woman on the street — who was prepared to offer an alternative view to our imminent armageddon. And while they seemingly had little trouble finding information on ancient Maya prophecies and even graphics illustrating their calenders counting down to galactic alignment, they just couldn't find a single internet source that explained why we have no reason to fear December 21, 2012. But of course we all know that they could easily locate experts and internet sites that would clearly and convincingly explain why this talk of doom is superstitious bullshit, they just elected not to use them. They deliberately hid the real facts from the viewer, told half-truths and passed off uninformed opinion as fact, like any good scam should.

The first person Reid interviewed was Robin Scott, an upper-class Brit who has fled to NZ to escape the coming disaster, and is setting his family up to be self sufficient. He believes it will be caused by the likes of peak oil, global warming, financial disaster or nuclear war. He never mentioned the ancient Maya prophecy. Does he have a case? No more than anyone else in history who has feared what the future might bring and decided to hide from it. He gave no good reasons or evidence that this unspecified 'disaster' would be society destroying and likely to happen, or that the only solution is to find a cave. As a guide to his reasoning ability, it should be noted that he was once a follower of Scientology before being expelled.

Reid also interviewed Kent Palmer, an American we think, who has also elected to hide out in the NZ countryside, and who is also into self-sufficiency. His fears and lack of evidence appeared similar to that of Scott, and we were shown the odd drum containing can goods, and evidently some rice and pasta, food that he can't grow. Given a world disaster on the scale that these two are foreseeing, we don't know how long he thinks these few poorly organised supplies would last. He was also stockpiling push bikes for when the fuel runs out, and he expressed the hope that the roads would continue to be maintained, no doubt so he could bike to the empty shops.

Next we hear from American 'Guru' John Francis who is seemingly busy spreading his message of 2012 somewhere north of Auckland. Reid tells us that 'they're also getting ready for whatever the planet may throw at them'. Their 'way' is evidently all about 'collective consciousness'. We see Francis lecturing a group and are privy to these two soundbites: 'What this shift is about is going from self to soul' and 'What part of creation is outside creation?' We learn nothing about these meaningless soundbites or what 'collective consciousness' is or what it has to do with our planet. Francis tells Reid that 'This whole world is here to teach us something, and I sense it's going to teach us something'. How insightful, and absolutely worthless. Francis was definitely the wackiest of the four 'experts' '60 Minutes' chose to interview. Reid informed us that Francis also heeds the prophecies of the ancient South American Mayan calendar, and goes on to tell us that they predicted an alignment of the Earth, Sun and the Milky Way on Dec 21, 2012.

This last snippet of information demonstrates the pathetic research skills of the '60 Minutes' team. The Maya actually lived in Central America, not South America. We'll give Francis the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was Reid who introduced this error into her report.

Reid next interviewed someone called Jason Kerrison, the lead singer of NZ band Opshop, who is also convinced that disaster is a coming. He is also a believer in a mystical rather than human catastrophe, one that will likely strike in 2012. Reid tells us that 'Jason too, has spent many an hour studying the ancient Mayan calender'. Jason informs us that 'Things are already happening, there are earthquakes happening all the time on an unprecedented scale'. Obviously Kerrison knows nothing about earthquakes or history. He no doubt sees a couple on the TV news and convinces himself that this is something new and that the end is nigh. Reid asks him, 'Do you think something will happen in 2012?', and he confidently replies, 'Yeah, there will actually be a massive galactic alignment. What occurs when that happens, I don't know. I've read a lot of versions of what could possibly happen, and I guess the scariest version of that is that there is a geographic crustal displacement, ie the whole crust shifts on its axis and, people are talking of two or three thousand foot waves'.

We immediately have a change of scene and Reid strolling alone states, 'If there is a catastrophic change, NZ is likely to be eyed up as the lucky country, after all we have plenty of water, hydro-power, food and heaps of space'. Has she completely forgotten what her previous 'expert' predicted? What state would NZ's water, hydro-power and food supplies, not to mention people, be in after three thousand foot waves had washed over the entire country? And how would others get here? Did the three thousand-foot waves avoid all the world's airports and ports? And who would be here to care if others came here, most if not all would have been drowned under three thousand-foot waves. After the waves and/or other disasters had ravished the world, there would be few people alive and enormous amounts of unoccupied space. No one would have to leave their own country or likely even have the resources to, let alone even consider travelling to disaster ravaged NZ. Remember this is a worldwide disaster. NZ would not be spared.

But back to Kerrison's description of our demise, where the 'whole crust shifts on its axis'. The earth's crust doesn't have an axis per se. The entire earth rotates on a north-south axis, but the crust has no axis. There is no reason whatsoever to expect the entire earth's crust to move in one instant, or any theory to explain how it even could. Nor does the phrase 'galactic alignment' have any real meaning in the sense that they use it. These idiots simply sprinkle their rambling with scientific sounding terms such as 'galactic alignment' and 'geographic crustal displacement' and pretend that this makes their claims scientific and factual. It was just like witches used to think saying 'eye of newt and wing of bat' made sense, yet it's just nonsense uttered by deluded people trying to fool themselves and other people.

The Maya made no mention of a galactic alignment in 2012, massive or otherwise. In fact only one single mention has ever been found concerning Dec 21, 2012, and it certainly doesn't mention a massive galactic alignment. Nor does it necessarily mention disaster or the end of the world. In fact the message is short, vague and incomplete. Here are three translations of the entire message: Maya

"Unfortunately, two of the glyphs are nearly obliterated, so the inscription tells us that on that date [Dec 21, 2012], Bolon Yokte' (a god of change) will descend to (from?) the "Black"-(??) and do (??)."

"The Thirteenth 'Bak'tun" will be finished
(on) Four Ajaw, the Third of Uniiw (K'ank'in). [Dec 21, 2012]
? will occur.
(It will be) the descent(??) of the Nine Support? God(s) to the ?"

"The thirteenth pik will be finished
(on) Four Ahaw, the third of K'ank'in. [Dec 21, 2012]
? will occur.
(?) the Nine Foot Tree God(s) to (?)."

So on Dec 21, 2012 a god will evidently descend and do something. What he, she or it will do is no longer known. This reveals two things. (1) No one has any idea what the Maya believed might happen. Might the god simply wish everyone Happy New Year or Happy New Long Count cycle? Might the god clean up the environment for us or perhaps sacrifice us all atop newly constructed pyramids? We simply don't know and those that claim that they do are lying. (2) For people to believe that this prophecy is nevertheless correct, that 'something' will happen, then they MUST believe in the existence and power of the Maya gods. If they don't believe in the Maya gods then they can't believe in the prophecy, because the prophecy is to be carried out by these gods. No gods means nothing happens.

For a prediction that some now say the Maya were obsessed with, why have they only found one short example of it, especially where numerous other dates are mentioned many times? Just as historians in the future could look at our time and conclude that based on old newspapers, books, reports, documentaries etc., that we were worried about climate change, then there should also be plenty of evidence showing that the Maya thought that 2012 was the end of the world. Even present day Maya who have to a large degree tried to maintain the language and beliefs of their ancestors place no importance on 2012.

Also there are dates mentioned that reference events happening well after 2012, signalling that the Maya themselves believed that not only would the world go on, but that their descendants would still be observing their rituals. They believed their civilisation would flourish well into the distant future, which of course it didn't, which throws considerable doubt on their ability to prophesise. The Maya couldn't even predict the collapse of their own civilisation just a few years down the path, or the coming of the Spanish Conquistadors, whose arrival was a disaster of epic proportions for all the native American cultures, North, Central and South, where up to 95% of their population were decimated. So even if the Maya did predict catastrophe in 2012, which they didn't, why should we believe them?

Nostradamus is infamous for making extremely vague and worthless predictions, and no sane, intelligent person takes him seriously. Christian fundamentalists say that their book of fairy tales makes numerous predictions, some of which have already been proved wrong, and equally no sane, intelligent person takes them seriously either. Even Jesus made the prediction that the world would end before all of his disciples had died. Oops... wrong! The Jehovah's Witnesses have predicted the end of the world time after time after time. And every time the world ignored them and carried on. Astrologers, numerologists, psychics, witches, and granny with her tealeaves, all claim to be able to predict future events and all without exception fail miserably and consistently. Why the hell should we believe that the ancient Maya, a culture that most people know absolutely nothing about, and who long ago faded into history, should be able to foretell the future? There is no doubt that for their time the Maya had developed an impressive knowledge in the likes of astronomy and mathematics, but they were still a primitive, superstitious culture that believed in gods and attributed false explanations to their observational data. They could predict eclipses, accurately measure the length of the year, and had grasped the concept of zero before the western world did, but they had no idea that they were on a continent affected by plate tectonics in a solar system some 25,000 light years from the centre of a galaxy. Things like 'galactic alignment' and 'geographic crustal displacement' would have been utterly meaningless to them.

The Maya had several different calenders with different lengths or cycles. For example our Gregorian calender cycles every year, which is made up of 365.25 days. The cycle that 2012 CE features in is known as the Maya Long Count. This calender cycle which idiots like Kerrison and Francis believe in ends in 2012 and is roughly 5,126 years long, which means that it started in 3114 BCE. But everyone knows that the world didn't begin in 3114 BCE. The ancient Egyptians who were around at that time make no mention of the world suddenly ceasing to exist, and then being recreated anew. You'd think they would have noticed. Thus the belief that the world starts and ends every 5,126 years is obviously false. Many Creationists might be tempted to give limited support to this corrupted Maya idea that the world began a bit over 5,000 years ago because they believe that it was created between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago, and so might claim that the Maya were very close in their calculations. But again of course, for the same reasons, we know that the Earth is billions of years old, and that it didn't pop into existence a few thousands years ago.

The fact is that contrary to what these modern morons believe, the Maya did not see the end of a calendar cycle as being the end of the world. As others have explained, just as we don't think the end of a year or the end of a millennium or the end of a day signals the end of the world, the Maya didn't believe that the world would end on the final date in this Long Count cycle. The counting would just start again, just as ours does with Jan 1st or 2000 CE. These cycles were part of a calender, not a CTRL-ALT-DEL on some mystical computer. Some of their calender cycles are based on real astronomical cycles, such as the precession of the equinoxes, which is a tribute to their skills and intelligence, but unfortunately their religious and superstitious beliefs are also woven into these cycles. Thus the Maya could accurately predict the likes of an eclipse, but they ruined it by having gods turn up as well.

But Kerrison isn't just fearful of the coming catastrophe, he's planing that his family, friends and loved ones will be able to survive in the ultimate panic room. We learn that 'Jason Kerrison and his friend designer Norm Smith are planing to build a dome... The idea is, it will not only withstand anything nature may throw at it, but be self sustaining as well'. Actually it's not a dome but spherical. We then hear Smith saying that 'the water from the fish farms can also feed the hydroponics... '. They claim that the dome will 'withstand anything nature may throw at it'? How naive these two are! They obviously have no concept of the true force of nature. The crustal displacement that Kerrison tells us about, if not just a large earthquake, would easily demolish his dome. They obviously haven't considered their dome being buried in a volcanic eruption. What about a massive flood or his 3,000 foot waves? Is it waterproof? What about a strike from a meteorite, asteroid or Planet X that some of these idiots predict? What about lethal doses of cosmic radiation from a nearby supernova, is his dome heavily shielded? And saying things like, 'the water from the fish farms can also feed the hydroponics... ' only makes sense if everything outside the dome is normal. But it's not. After a natural disaster of biblical proportions everything outside the dome will be destroyed or disrupted. The pipes from the fish farms will have ruptured, or the farm will be flooded with salt water and the fish dead and gone, or the water will have been evaporated by a meteor strike, or the atmosphere and water will be toxic. These people really haven't thought their idea through. They are living in a fantasy world.

Reid ends the segment on a positive and reassuring note by asking Scott about the forthcoming disaster, 'Should we be scared?', and he replies, 'Yes, actually,...'. Her final question is even more alarming: 'So what about stockpiling arms?' Scott replied that, 'We haven't started... but I can see at some point in the future... I may decide... that I do need to... make sure I have got plenty of ammo and plenty of guns... '. So the answer is Yes. Yes we should all be getting some guns for our future protection. His answer also suggested that he already has at least one gun and ammo, but of course that isn't stockpiling. In the future he sees that he could need many more to defend himself from people like you and me, just like David Koresh in Waco.

So in conclusion this item promoted a fanciful imminent catastrophe as a real thing to prepare for and to be fearful of. And that it most likely will strike on Dec 21, 2012. Not one single reason or piece of evidence was offered that suggested even remotely that we shouldn't be expecting and preparing for a coming disaster of biblical proportions. This is nothing but groundless scaremongering that could have serious consequences. There are already reports of fearful people in the US questioning experts and authorities regarding the validity of this approaching armageddon, where they have said they will commit suicide and mothers have said they will kill themselves and their young children rather than put themselves through the horror of 2012. To think that this totally irresponsible piece of journalistic crap from '60 Minutes' could cause even one person of a fragile or gullible mind to harm themselves and others is very worrying. It seems like another century when we all used to trust this program to inform and enlighten us about world events. Those days are gone. Now it only serves to mislead, misinform and perhaps even drive people to suicide and murder.

Don't take our word for it, research it for yourself. You'll be surprised at how quickly you can easily discover that '60 Minutes' has been lying to you. No matter what view you take, there are at least two opposing views plainly accessible, and yet '60 Minutes' hid this fact from viewers. Follow these links for a quick introduction to 2012 nonsense:

2012: Six End-of-the-World Myths Debunked (National Geographic)

Nibiru and Doomsday 2012: Questions and Answers (Nasa)

2012 FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Maya prophecy (2012)

2012

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 02 Jul, 2010 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend
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  1. Comment by Ted, 13 Jul, 2010

    I had a rather interesting discussion with my son last week about what qualities in the human brain give rise to this almost desperate desire to perceive and impose patterns on events without reason of cause and effect. Of course you are right that this particular example, and especially its presentation to the public is totally specious and worse, in that it tends to generate pointless fear and alarm in simple minded people Ė as if we do not have enough real concerns to worry about.

    We saw a similar case in 2000. As the then IT manager, put in charge of the ďY2KĒ project for a large manufacturing company, I cringe to recall the ridiculous duties I was given in relation to what was a completely definable computer problem. People tend to forget the ridiculous panic which ensued in late 1999. Several friends I had previously considered sane and sensible insisted 2000 had a mystical significance implying a global catastrophe. A group of people working in the factory planned on ascending Mt Eden on New Year's Eve to meet Jesus for the rapture. The chairman of the board, no less, of our whole international company suspended all his travels and declared he would stay in his house in case cars and planes failed and crashed. One friend had her husband dig a large pit in the back garden in case their lavatory stopped flushing at midnight. I was made to write embarrassing letters to water and power companies asking for guarantees that the firm would have electricity and water on New Year's Day. Of course they couldn't absolutely guarantee anything of the sort, either on that day or on any other.

    One puzzling thing is that these crises of pattern, especially related to time, seem mostly to be negative. We never hear of an impending global elimination of suffering because the number of the year is divisible by the Pope's waist measurement, or some similar nonsense. Beneficent prognostication can't be much fun; it's always disaster, doom and threat. Incidentally, that aspect alone would seem to provide cause for scepticism as I would see no obvious reason why good and bad predictions should not exist in roughly equal numbers.

    Speculative use of the imagination to discern and conceive new patterns is very important in science and arts generally. The difficulty is that large numbers of people appear incapable of distinguishing abstract conjectural pattern from verifiable cause and effect, resulting in religions and superstitions. Nonetheless, many patterns and correlations we now take for granted must have seemed arbitrary and even mystical or ridiculous for many years prior to the final proof of cause and effect. It gets back to distinguishing imagination from reality, or rather some capacity of an individual brain to realise the need to distinguish, if that isn't too convoluted.

  2. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 14 Jul, 2010

    Excellent comments Ted. Like you we can't understand why many people can't, as you say, distinguish imagination from reality. It appears that some brains certainly are wired to be more skeptical and critical than others, while many others are happy to believe the first thing that pops into their head. Your mention of Y2K is a good example that many people just don't learn from history. We're glad that you acknowledge that it was a real computer problem — many people now believe it was a complete hoax — but one that was blown out of all proportion by an irresponsible media, a gullible public and greedy merchants wanting to sell people a replacement 21st century compliant toaster. It will be interesting to see how the approach of Dec 21 2012 unfolds in the public psyche, since for some people the silly beliefs of the Dark Ages never ended.

Mother Teresa, Allan Hubbard and lynch mobs
Imagine this: a large, emotional, vocal group of townspeople, some carrying burning torches, and one a hangman's noose, march through their town to protest the actions of the justice system. They reach the sheriff's office and loudly and clearly express their view of the guilt of the sheriff's prisoner. The sheriff insists that the mob let justice take it course, that the accused must face trial, that the evidence will decide. The mob however insist that they know better, that they have already decided that the accused is guilty, and that the sheriff should respect their view and release the prisoner into their hands. The people have spoken.

We've all seen movies and even heard of real life occasions where lynch mobs, annoyed at what they see as injustice, attempt to take the law into their own hands. Where they try and have their often ill-informed and emotional view of a situation override the rule of law. For example, Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church was actually murdered by a lynch mob. Thankfully most modern citizens recognise that the emotions and opinion of a mob should not decide wrongdoing, they have moved beyond frontier justice. Or have they?

Imagine this scene: a large, emotional, vocal group of townspeople, some carrying placards, march through their town to protest the actions of the justice system. They loudly and clearly express their view of the innocence of the accused. The authorities insist that the mob must let justice take it course, that the accused must face investigation, that the evidence will decide. The mob however insists that they know better, that they have already decided that the accused is innocent, and that the legal system should respect their view and cease the investigation.

We don't have to imagine it, we all saw it happen in Timaru on Friday, as 500 locals marched to express their anger at the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) deciding to investigate local businessman Allan Hubbard. Thankfully the justice system did not bow to the mob, and also thankfully, the sheriff did not need to bring out his shotgun to disperse the crowd.

What real difference is there between a lynch mob and that clearly aggravated crowd in Timaru? Both have an opinion, and usually nothing but an opinion, as to the guilt of the accused, and both have a recommendation that they strongly wish the authorities would accept. Both groups, if they got their way, would circumvent the need for a trial or further investigation. Both groups have reached a verdict, without a trial or nvestigation, and believe that the authorities should abide by their view of the accused.

This is not about whether Hubbard is guilty of some financial wrongdoing, it's about whether a mob of locals who have clear conflicts of interest think they should be able to dictate to or even influence the legal authorities regarding their investigation. Some have even suggested Prime Minister John Key should squash the investigation.

We have little knowledge, like everyone else, of how Hubbard conducts his business, but recent comment from those that he has lent money to does suggest that he might well have ignored various legal requirements, like providing and maintaining written contracts. Hubbard supporter and mob participant Leonie Guiney said Hubbard lent her and her husband half a million dollars on a handshake, and that 'There was nothing written down and I believe this whole furore has arisen over this modus of operation'. This is not the Dark Ages, both parties must fulfil certain legal requirements, it matters not whether both parties consider each other totally honest. If I want to buy a gun, the dealer must sight my firearm's licence, my claim that I have one and a handshake is not enough. If I want a gun, we both must fulfil certain legal obligations. Likewise financial and investment organisations must fulfil certain legal obligations, and if it is suspected that Hubbard might have naively sidestepped some of these obligations, then it is only proper that he be investigated. In any case, a serious accusation of some sort has obviously been made, and therefore the proper authorities must investigate it. A vocal mob, many clearly expressing a conflict of interest with the investigation, must not be allowed to influence this investigation. By conflict of interest we mean many owe him money or are indebted to him in other ways, eg he has financially supported their business or a local business in the past, or they are personal friends or they applaud his philanthropy and wish it to continue. They are not independent and must stand aside from any investigation.

Guilt or innocence is decided by investigating the evidence, not by a public vote, and especially not an ill-informed vote by a group that no doubt fears the loss of a generous investor in their community.

Mother Teresa You may have wondered about the mention of Mother Teresa in the title of this blog? Well, at the march Leonie Guiney told TV reporters that she was 'appalled at Hubbard's treatment', and said that 'This is equivalent to locking Mother Teresa out of the orphanage and investigating her for child abuse - it is so ridiculous'. We believe that if she sincerely believes in Hubbard's innocence, then Mother Teresa is one of the worse people she could have compared him to. Simply because Mother Teresa should most definitely have been locked out of the orphanage and investigated for child abuse, as well as fraud. The public believes in the godly goodness of Mother Teresa in the same way that they used to believe in the godly goodness of Catholic priests. The myth surrounding priests has been widely exposed, and it is time that the myth surrounding Mother Teresa is given more publicity.

To explain the sins of Mother Teresa, and why she should have been investigated for fraud and child abuse, think of the following analogy. Imagine if I started a bird shelter and the public started dropping off injured birds for me to tend, and then, as word of my good work spread, people from near and far started donating money to help my endeavours. But imagine if most of the money donated was simply invested and little was actually spent on the birds' welfare. No new cages, pools or enclosures were purchased, the birds were simply keep in old boxes from PAK'nSAV and feed on bread and water. Rather than use the thousands donated to hire or access veterinary care, imagine if I just tried to heal the birds by waving a pendulum over them and uttering a healing spell. Imagine if I then used the money donated for the care of birds to fund my own personal operation in an expensive, private hospital in London, and also to travel the world staying in luxury while encouraging people to donate to help the birds. I even make friends with criminal gangs and accept donations from them, knowing full well that this money was obtained illegally.

If exposed, the public would condemn my actions, calling them fraudulent. They donated to aid the birds, not to have their money sit in bank accounts or to fund my medical operations and lifestyle. They would also accuse me of abusing the very birds I should have been helping. Instead of giving them medical treatment, using the donated funds, I merely let them suffer in squalid conditions, living or dying as nature intended. And since they were under my 'care', I prevented others from helping them.

This is exactly equivalent to what Mother Teresa did, and her organisation still does. Millions of donated funds to assist the poor and afflicted sit in bank accounts, while her 'care' facilities provide sub-standard care, where trained doctors and nurses are absent, where medicines are rare and often withheld, and where syringes are washed in warm water before being reused. Mother Teresa's preferred method of healing and pain relief is prayer. Think about the following quotes from Mother Teresa:

'When someone asked Teresa how people without money or power can make the world a better place, she replied, "They should smile more," a response that charmed some listeners. During a press conference in Washington DC, when asked "Do you teach the poor to endure their lot?" she said "I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people.'
This is a disgusting attitude. Mother Teresa couldn't care less about saving lives, she was only concerned with saving souls. And of course, as we all know, the delusional activity of saving souls is as worthless an activity as saving woodland fairies.

Mother Teresa accepted over a million US dollars from a thief, and she simply ignored the Los Angeles County's request that she return those ill-gotten funds. She took stolen cash and knowingly kept it. The poor and suffering under her care were expected to lie back and let nature and God's will take its course. And yet when she became ill, the hypocrite jetted to the US for the best of care modern medicine could offer, and which she could so easily afford, thanks to her swollen bank accounts. Bank accounts and a business that remains secret and is never audited.

It can also be said that not only did she commit financial fraud, but spiritual fraud as well. After her death her diaries and letters revealed that behind the public facade, this devout woman of God was often closer to an atheist than a believer. Here are some of her private comments:

"I feel that God does not want me, that God is not God and that he does not really exist."

"I have no Faith - I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart - & make me suffer untold agony."

"Such deep longing for God and ... repulsed empty no faith no love no zeal ... Heaven means nothing pray for me please that I keep smiling at Him in spite of everything."

"I am told God loves me - and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul."

'People think "my faith, my hope and my love are overflowing and that my intimacy with God and union with his will fill my heart. If only they knew."'

Rome's popular daily newspaper, Il Messeggero, wrote: "The real Mother Teresa was one who for one year had visions and who for the next 50 had doubts — up until her death." We suspect that many publicly religious figures are not as devout or as confident in their belief as they try and make out. Religions are increasing made up of people with ever-growing doubts, and no wonder. Take Christians for example, 2000 years and still waiting.

The most well known critic of Mother Teresa is journalist Christopher Hitchens who has written the book 'The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice', which expanded on his TV documentary 'Hell's Angel'. In 2009 on Dennis Miller's Internet radio show he discussed Mother Teresa's life, saying that 'The woman was a fanatic and a fundamentalist and a fraud, and millions of people are much worse off because of her life, and it's a shame there is no hell for your bitch to go to.'

So in conclusion, if Hubbard's actions behind the scenes truly compare to those of Mother Teresa, as one of his supporters believes, then he should be investigated. Of course we don't for a moment think that Allan Hubbard is in any way like Mother Teresa. Unlike like her, he does seem like a caring and decent human being. Hubbard, unlike Mother Teresa, has been more than willing to put his own millions back into the community, whereas that cruel, inhuman bitch wouldn't even use other people's money to help the suffering around her, doped out of her mind on religion.

Follow these links to read more about the disgusting sham that was Mother Teresa:

Christopher Hitchens On Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa's House of Illusions

Mother Teresa's Crimes Against Humanity

Mother Teresa, John Paul II, and the Fast-Track Saints

MOTHER TERESA: WHERE ARE HER MILLIONS?

The Real Work of Mother Teresa and Her Followers

Defending Mother Teresa

Mommie Dearest: The pope beatifies Mother Teresa, a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud

India has no reason to be grateful to Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa's diary reveals her crisis of faith

Mother Teresa's struggle to find God revealed in new book

Mother Teresa - Wikipedia

The Missionary Position - Wikipedia

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 28 Jun, 2010 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend
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  1. Comment by Keri, 28 Jun, 2010

    Excellent set of links apropos the vile 'Mother' Teresa - thanks 'Silly Beliefs' team!

  2. Comment by Bob, 01 Jul, 2010

    I have read most of those stories of Mother Teresa in the past. However there are two side stories I would like to pass on. A young American doctor was touring India when he called on the home. He decided to stay on a while and help. The first thing he noticed was that a number of the patients who were dying were in fact not dying for normal reasons but were starving to death. He told the staff if they were fed well and given routine medical treatment they could be nursed back to good health. Not only was his advice not taken but was resented. Mother Teresa seemed intent on nursing people to their deaths and rewards in heaven. She resented anybody who knew more than she did and who tried to correct her. In fact she deterred them from coming. Idealistic young people from the west who wanted to help but otherwise knew nothing about medical care were welcome. No doubt they were good publicity.

    The second story concerned an eye specialist who had a practice near her. He catered for affluent Indians and expatriate Europeans. Mother Teresa came to him and asked if he would treat some of her patients for nothing. He told her he would. He explained he had surgeries in the morning but she could bring them around in the afternoon. Apparently she started turning up anytime including in the middle of his surgeries demanding he look at her people immediately. He said she was just a nuisance.

    I regard her as having been a dangerous fanatically religious nutter.

  3. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 02 Jul, 2010

    Thanks for your comments on Mother Teresa Bob. I must admit that I only discovered the truth regarding her some three or four years ago. Up till then I blindly assumed that she was a decent person trying to make a difference. Unfortunately most people have still not heard the truth and still mention her name when they want to compare someone's caring, generous efforts as being almost saintly. Mother Teresa is an icon and yet she is so undeserving of that praise. I bet she and the Vatican were really pissed off when God chose the same week as Princess Diana for her to die, and consequently the world and the media ignored her death and focused on Diana. Although perhaps God chose that time knowing that this would happen, and that therefore the media would not critically examine the life that Mother Teresa had led and her true impact would remain hidden. He effectively killed her off while no one was looking to avoid embarrassment.

  4. Comment by Bob, 05 Jul, 2010

    MOTHER TERESA: WHERE ARE HER MILLIONS?

    The above article which you listed for reference taken at face value is quite disturbing. It makes Mother Teresa appear to have a lot in common with Adolph Hitler — a strong individual with a philosophy which is rammed through with a total rejection of what anybody else thinks. The end justifies the means.

    But what of the Catholic Church as a whole? Why did the pope want to canonise her with such haste? What did other members of the Church hierarchy think? They must have been more aware of what went on in those homes than outsiders like you and me. How many priests and other Catholics must have visited the homes when passing through? Did none of them wonder what was going on? They must have talked to local people who were not impressed. I am not simply prejudiced against Catholics but it does genuinely puzzle me. After all Mother Teresa was not on her own. She worked under the auspices of the Catholic Church.

    I can come to only one conclusion. She was invaluable to the Church because of the publicity she brought. She was a Godsend. To be fair her ability to draw in money was phenomenal. She got more publicity for Catholic beliefs than the Church could have gained any other way. She was a genuine golden goose. The Church did not want to lose her so kept quiet. Didn't the hierarchy want to know how much money came in and what was done with it? Perhaps she colluded with the Vatican to solicit money under false pretenses over what the money was to be used for. Why didn't the pope insist she construct proper hospitals for the poor with qualified medical staff?

    It's an episode along with the pedophile priests which I believe will eventually be the undoing of that Church. The Catholic Church once split giving rise to Protestantism over corruption. It will be worse this time because no other religion will satisfy either, not with the modern media looking over its shoulder.

    PS: I would love to have one or more Catholic followers answer my comments and show me where my ideas are wrong.

  5. Comment by Bob, 21 Mar, 2011

    After seeing a video on YouTube by Christopher Hitchens I went back over your article on Mother Teresa. He mentions Malcolm Muggeridge who was a devotee of Mother Teresa. According to him she was a great saint doing marvellous work for the poor of India. I remember seeing Muggeridge on television discussing her. According to him she could do no wrong.

    The thing which intrigued me was the story of the Kodak film. Hitchens at the time had a television crew with cameras. He went to the home to film it and do interviews. He was concerned about the low light level in the place wondering if the pictures would come out. Apparently he had some new low light level film from Kodak and decided to shoot with it. He was pleasantly surprised to find the pictures had come out very well, very clear. Muggeridge suggested he was filming by the light of God. If Hitchens had wanted to take him up on it he had only to film some more in dim places.

    It set me thinking about the resurrection which is the lynchpin of Christianity. It was a fantastic story even in those days. Any sceptics, and I bet there were many, would not have had their views repeated in the gospels. There was no way the story could have been checked and any negative result recorded by Christians. It was a rumour which went around readily believed by the early Christians. The variations in the biblical reports can easily be explained by variations in the story as the rumour did the rounds. Rumours tend to do that as they go from mouth to mouth. It amazes me that present day Christians will claim adamantly the resurrection did happen and won't accept any doubts.

    Christianity only survives on beliefs which have little real foundation.

  6. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 21 Mar, 2011

    Hi Bob, Yeah I'd heard about that Muggeridge story and his part in making her a celebrity. Pretty weak isn't it?

    And you're right about Christianity, it has no real foundation. But it's same with the thousands of religions that have come and gone throughout history, eg the religions of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Aztec, Vikings, Maori etc. They were all based on myths that got out of hand and got accepted by the majority as true. Skeptics would have soon been dispatched in some violent manner. While primitive man didn't have the knowledge to demonstrate how silly these myths were, modern man does, and so it is a little depressing that many, many people still follow myths dreamt up by Bronze Age desert nomads. Some people just haven't evolved at all, no matter how fancy a cell phone they may carry.

Aliens, UFOs and '60 Minutes'
60 Minutes Just a couple of posts ago we suggested that '60 Minutes' was a more respectable and believable TV show than the likes of TV1's 'Good Morning', but following a NZ made item on last week's episode we have to admit that we were very much mistaken. This item led the episode, was widely advertised prior to the screening, and was entitled 'The Truth Is Out There', and as you might guess, it was about UFOs and aliens visiting Earth. '60 Minutes' reporter Sarah Hall told us we would get to 'listen to incredible stories... from credible people... the evidence for UFOs'.

Mike McRoberts, looking serious and trustworthy in a flash suit, and reminiscent of those other 'celebrities' in suits that fronted ads for failed finance companies, did an introduction for the item saying, 'Mention UFOs and in the past you would have been greeted with a chorus of derision, but today lots of people admit to having seen mysterious flying objects, and we're not talking the bewildered in the backwoods, these are astronauts, pilots and defence officials. At the same time governments around the world have starting releasing their classified documents on UFOs sightings, and NZ is about to follow suit, so Sarah Hall decided to go looking for the evidence'.

It's true that some governments have released classified documents on UFO sightings in recent years, but they provide no support for the belief in alien encounters that '60 Minutes' implies. Just the opposite in fact, as none of these files have revealed that the governments were hiding details of aliens, and actually show that there was never any substance to UFO sightings or claimed cover-ups.

We were shown numerous short clips of people speaking at a talk evidently hosted by or in the 'National Press Club'. We are never told whose club it was, where in the world this meeting took place, or when. We simply hear people claim that they have seen or believe in alien flying saucers, and these clips are interspersed with blurry video of UFO sightings from around the world, nearly all of which looked decidedly fake or natural in origin. The footage seldom seemed to match what the various people were talking about, although viewers are given the impression that it does.

We heard snippets from several US ex-military personnel, someone from the Iranian Air Force, a couple of ex-government officials and two worthless sentences from a scientist who is a committed UFO believer. A major from US Air Force Intelligence talked of a military policeman shooting an alien as he disembarked from his craft, but this is all we hear of this serious diplomatic incident, and this was obviously not something the major had witnessed personally. We even heard from a former British Chief of Defence who essentially admits he has no experience or knowledge of aliens, but he was still offered as a supporter of alien encounters. A sergeant from the US Army told of his sighting of a UFO: 'As we approached it on foot, a silhouetted triangular craft about nine feet long, six and a half feet high came into view. The craft was fully intact, and sitting in a small clearing just inside the woods'. We aren't told how far away the craft was, or that it was probably night time. Also how did he know it was fully intact, since he had never seen one of these things before? He would have no idea if it was damaged or had missing parts, and he said he only saw it in silhouette. We are told nothing more about this craft, so obviously the sergeant either lost interest in his find or it turned out to be someone's tent. Why would he mention approaching an alien spaceship, but not go on to tell us about what he found when he actually reached it, which is surely more important?

Hall interviewed Kiwi George Richardson, who had a UFO sighing while piloting an Air NZ DC10 in 1978. He described seeing a tube-like vehicle, 150 to 200 feet long with very white windows, which went, going by his comments, across in front of them in less than a second. During Richardson's interview they showed misleading video footage labelled 'Simulation' which actually bore no relationship to the UFO he saw. Hall asked him, 'Have you ever had any explanation as to what that was?', and he replied, 'No, none what so ever... '. Both Hall's question and Richardson's answer implies that scientists and skeptics have been unable to explain his sighting, or that there has been a cover-up. And yet Hall clearly states that Richardson has never before spoken publicly of his sighting, and the interview then focuses on the fact that it was deliberately kept quiet as the crew felt it would harm their careers if they spoke of it. So how can you expect an explanation if you keep your sighting a secret? Scientists and skeptics have never been given the chance to explain his sighting. There was no cover-up except by Richardson himself.

When the intro told us we would hear from 'credible people', they screened a short clip of Shirley Startup proclaiming a cover-up. She is the wife of pilot Bill Startup, who was involved in the Kaikoura UFO sighting. Shirley may be a wonderful person that bakes a delicious banana cake, but what the hell makes her view of aliens and UFOs credible? There is no mention that she has ever witnessed a UFO, let alone the Kaikoura one, and she has no knowledge or evidence of a cover-up. UFO buffs wrongly believe that 'credible people', people that are honest, respectable, trustworthy citizens, and especially pilots and those in the police or military, are automatically reliable and knowledgeable witnesses of UFOs, because they're unlikely to be lying and the pilots, police and military also have special training in observation. This is nonsense. I have never been in the police or military and unlike some Muslim terrorists I have never attended flight training classes, but I'm prepared to guess that not one minute is spent on observing and identifying alien spacecraft. Many of these people may be completely honest, well apart from the Muslim terrorists, but they can be fooled by things in the sky just as easily as the next person. They may be completely sincere in reporting what they believe they have seen, but not one single person on the planet has any verifiable experience in identifying alien spacecraft. Pilots, policemen and military personnel usually have no more knowledge of astronomical objects than do accountants or plumbers. Even one of the UFO witnesses, a US Army sergeant, stated that, 'Nothing... nothing in my training prepared me for what I was witnessing'. And just a week ago we read an article where the NZ military is trying to combat poor behaviour by some of its personnel, including assaulting females, damaging property and drunk driving. Joining the military does not suddenly turn people into model citizens who can tell the difference between a meteor and a meteorite. If anything there are probably more morons in the military than there are in a computer IT company.

Remember that the intro also stated that regarding these credible people, 'we're not talking the bewildered in the backwoods', and yet who does Hall interview as the UFO expert in NZ, no other than Suzanne Hansen of UFOCUS. A believer in alien abductions and the paranormal, who claims to have been abducted numerous times by aliens over 40 plus years, while in the backwoods, and who is definitely bewildered. Hall stated that '37 UFOs have been reported in NZ this year', and we assume she means reported solely to Hansen's UFOCUS group, as we can't recall a single UFO sighting that has been mentioned in the media. Did Hansen explain all 37 sightings as perfectly natural? Why weren't we told their status? There has actually been two or three UFO sightings from overseas reported in the media in the last few months, but all had rational, non-alien explanations. Hall asked Hansen probably the only skeptical question of the entire investigation, which was, 'If UFOs do exist, why haven't they just landed on the White House lawn and said hello?' Unfortunately she then allowed Hansen to give her this bogus answer, 'Well there have been landings, there have been highly credible sightings and landings around the world, including in NZ...'. What Hall clearly asked was, If aliens are visiting us, why are they hiding from us?, since obviously, regardless of what Hansen said, there have been no credible sightings and landings anywhere in the world, including NZ. In every sighting Hansen mentioned, if aliens were truly involved, they were clearly trying to remain hidden. And yet Hansen claims elsewhere to have personally met aliens on numerous occasions, so why didn't she mention this to Hall? Perhaps she did but the show's editors decided that this was just too unbelievable to be included.

We've mentioned the UFO buffs that were included in the program, and as we all know investigative journalists insist on having balanced reporting, telling both sides of a story, even when they aren't equal. So what was the response by scientists and skeptics to Hall's questions? Unfortunately we'll never know as not one single scientist or skeptic was featured, and only one opposing view — a mere two sentences — was even expressed. And even this was phrased so as to make scientists sound arrogant and dismissive of alternative views. Hall claimed that 'some scientists say they don't care how many people see unexplained objects in the sky, that seeing is not believing. For them only physical evidence will be proof'. Rather than let a scientist or skeptic then elaborate on what science and evidence mean in the real world, she promptly returned to the delusional Suzanne Hansen. We've already written an extended article on what we see as the cause of UFO sightings, and on Hansen and her wacky UFOCUS group, so we won't repeat it here.

Sarah Hall began her '60 Minutes' report with, 'Forget the jokes and the hoaxes...', and yet it is blatantly obvious to anyone with a skeptical bone in their body and a modicum of scientific knowledge that her report was nothing other than a joke, whether she intended it to be or not. We suspect that the '60 Minutes' producers and editors at least knew that this was just a silly fluff piece for gullible believers, edited footage that deceives, thus it is a hoax, again, whether they realise it or not. Each one of the revelations about alien encounters was evidently earth shattering, each deserving their own investigation it seems, but we merely hear one or two intriguing sentences from each speaker and no more. If there was any substance to any of their claims, why is '60 Minutes' perfectly happy that they remain known only to UFO buffs, and that the viewer is only teased with sound bites? Their reluctance to spend any more than a mere 17 minutes on this story clearly shows that they no more believe we are being visited by aliens than we are by Santa at Xmas.

UPDATE: Following a link on TV3's '60 Minutes' page relating to the above story, it appears that much of the footage they used was from a group of UFO believers called 'The Disclosure Project'. On their webpage can be found this statement:

DISCLOSURE PROJECT PRESS CONFERENCE OVERVIEW
On Wednesday, May 9th, 2001, over twenty military, intelligence, government, corporate and scientific witnesses came forward at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to establish the reality of UFOs or extraterrestrial vehicles, extraterrestrial life forms, and resulting advanced energy and propulsion technologies. The weight of this first-hand testimony, along with supporting government documentation and other evidence, will establish without any doubt the reality of these phenomena.
So everything that was revealed about aliens at their press conference, very little of which was screened on '60 Minutes', was actually revealed to the public and the media almost one decade ago!! '60 Minutes' led viewers to believe that these revelations were new, important and earth shattering, but it took nearly ten years before they could be bothered to give us even a hint of what was disclosed that day. These revelations from witnesses are not secret, they've been publicly known for years, and the news media still think they're crap, unworthy of putting on the nightly news. Kiwis had to wait until '60 Minutes' ran out of stories about orphans and sick puppies before they dredged up a wacky US press conference from a decade ago and pretended it was current.

In 2001 the UFO buffs claimed that their conference 'will establish without any doubt the reality of these phenomena'. But, with the benefit of hindsight, has it? Of course not. Nearly a decade later and their claims are seen as just as empty and silly as they were then. Nothing has changed. They were delusion nutters then, they are still delusion nutters now. A decade to prove their case and they have failed miserably. Rather than produce new evidence, they just trot out the same old nonsense. Sarah Hall and '60 Minutes' cunningly neglected to reveal just how old their video footage was, hiding the fact that it had long ago been publicly revealed and debunked. Sarah Hall and Mike McRoberts should be ashamed to call themselves serious journalists.

When I accessed the TV3 '60 Minutes' page, I noticed there were 15 comments from viewers, and without exception every one was a deluded believer in alien visitation, from people who had seen alien spacecraft to those that had been abducted and experimented on. They applauded TV3 for bravely disclosing the truth. Morons flocked to the nonsense screened by Hall and '60 Minutes' like moths to a flame, and like moths were just as ignorant about what they were viewing. Not one could see the numerous flaws in the report. We know that TV producers will keep making rubbish that panders to those in society that believe real life mirrors stories from the likes of Star Wars, The X-Files and Dr Who. So all we can do is continue to point out that Santa, the Tooth Fairy and aliens aren't actually visiting us while we sleep. It's time some people grew up and entered the world of adults.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 20 Jun, 2010 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend
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Comments:

  1. Comment by Bob, 23 Jun, 2010

    I watched this item rather incredulously. One after another people were paraded who claimed to have seen UFOs or who were sure they were alien space craft. Most of them were retired US military officers. Bill Startup is now old and has deteriorated mentally able only to speak in single words. That is why his wife took over. I was also amazed at the now old air traffic controller at the time of the Kaikoura sighting. What he said was not what he said when the events occurred. At the time Startup was annoyed at knowalls jumping in giving explanations. But at no time did Startup say he saw alien space craft. He described what he saw which was a light he could not identify which appeared to be following him. Also he asked air traffic control in Wellington if they could see anything at that location. The controller said yes he had a radar response. Later when questioned he said it was not unusual. The screen had plenty of false returns. The skill was in recognising aeroplane returns from false returns.

    I might have missed a bit but I saw no one give the other side of the story or pick holes in the claims. I have questions. US military bases are very conscious of security and will not allow unauthorised aircraft to fly over. That especially applies to bases where new and still secret planes and equipment are located. If an unidentified plane does fly over jet fighters are scrambled to intercept. Now we have heard the stories of scrambling to intercept UFOs only to have them disappear in a great burst of speed. Any photos are always blurry. What puzzles me is this — you would expect, especially at high security bases, that high resolution long range cameras would be set up to photograph their own planes and intruders. If UFOs have flown over, why aren't there high definition photos of them available instead of the grainy out of focus pictures we do see? At civilian airports all planes arriving and departing seem to be filmed. If a plane has problems landing with blown tyres or jammed undercarriage there is always some video for the evening news. Wouldn't you expect much higher and more encompassing photography at a US air force base? After all if a plane is in trouble it might smash up on the ground. Filming it coming in would be invaluable for investigation. If alien UFOs have flown over, where are the high resolution photos of them?

    Your respect for this programme is misplaced. I seem to recall an item some time ago showing a local psychic. She supposedly contacted the spirit of a woman who had died a painful death. The psychic put on a great show of feeling the spirit's emotions by crying and throwing herself around. Some friends of mine were impressed. I couldn't convince them it was probably a put up job. Viki Hyde appeared to give the counter explanation. However she only had about 30 seconds, too little time to say much. Later Viki said she actually spoke and was filmed for several minutes but it was edited down to almost nothing.

    I take most television with a grain of salt.

  2. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 24 Jun, 2010

    You didn't miss anything Bob, there was no attempt to tell the other side of the story, ie the truth. This item was designed to bolster the fantasies of UFO buffs and nothing more. All the points you make are good ones, and I am continually amazed that they don't occur to UFO buffs. As you suggest, they insist that the military is intelligent, efficient and resourceful enough to keep these alien visits a secret, but too stupid and incompetent to be able to take a decent photo. We've found that your average UFO believer is completely ignorant of science and the facts behind UFO sightings, and on top of that is unable to think about these encounters with a skeptical mind. They take these silly claims at face value and reach the unwarranted conclusion that a gigantic conspiracy is at play. You only have to read the online comments on the '60 Minutes' page to get an insight into the warped mentality and/or lack of thought that UFO believers exhibit. When we last looked there were 19 comments, all believers. The most recent comment from 'firm believer' Shirley even criticises the others for bad spelling and yet she misspells 'aliens'. Duh! We did leave a short, polite comment, describing the item as a joke and pointing interested readers to our blog post. The comment was automatically acknowledged, but we were also informed that all comments were moderated so there would be a delay before, and if, it appeared. Unfortunately '60 Minutes' have evidently decided not to display our comment. It appears that '60 Minutes' can't accept valid criticism, and nor do they want their viewers to know they have been treated as fools.

  3. Comment by Bob, 25 Jun, 2010

    I read those comments and had a good laugh. The poor writing says a lot. It is similar to the written comments of uneducated religious fundamentalists. Richard Dawkins has a Youtube segment reading out his email replies. The only difference is Dawkins is on a one way trip to hell while UFO critics aren't.

    Psychologically it is not hard to work out what is happening. In the Middle Ages when religion dominated UFOs were angels or devils in the sky. In this age when we are aware of the universe and have gone into space people now fantasize over creatures and space crafts superior to us. Such people have little idea of true science. You can't tell them because they don't want to listen. The thought of ghosts, UFOs, psychics talking to the dead etc. is exciting, lifting them up from their humdrum lives. It is the same reason people talk about soap operas as thought the characters are real. In the past people envied the birds being able to fly while they were confined to earth. As a result winged humans often appeared as gods in ancient art.

    We are imaginative creatures and always have been. It is common to take what we know and build on it in our imaginations. Having now gone into space we fantasize about space efforts superior to ours. Our present knowledge tells us there is no reason why other intelligent creatures can't exist in the universe. Such a possibility becomes a reality with visits to us in the minds of some.

    I just wish the media wouldn't encourage it.

  4. Comment by Anonymous, 28 Jun, 2010

    Bob, I think the item about the local psychic you're referring to was a "test" of Jeanette Wilson by 20/20 reporter Melanie Reid. The programme was awarded the 2004 Bent Spoon by the NZ Skeptics. We recorded the programme and transcribed the reading of a woman named Maria for the NZ Skeptic (Spring 2004 issue).

    It transpired after the reading that Mariaís mother had, two years previously, haemorrhaged to death from a perforated duodenal ulcer. It was Maria who found her, and Maria interpreted Jeanette Wilsonís very dramatic performance as relating to that event. But as can be seen from the transcript, stripped of the histrionics, Wilson appeared to be talking about something quite different ó the murder of two small boys. It made compelling TV, but as a proof of psychic ability it was an abject failure. Both of our supposedly premium current affairs programmes, 20/20 and 60 Minutes, have a poor track record when it comes to paranormal topics.

    Melanie Reid: We are running this mediumship reading unedited. It is intense. Some people may find it disturbing to watch.
    Jeanette Wilson (JW) is handed a ring from Maria (M), to help establish a connection.
    JW: Now Iíve got a lady coming in on your mumís side first, quite strongly. OK. Iíve also got a gentleman with her and Iím just trying to work out whoís who. Alright.
    M sits opposite, says nothing.
    JW: The lady Iíve got on your mumís side of the family, sheís coming through with a lot of affection to you, sheís like, wanting to put her arms around you? It feels like sheís being passed over several years now, somewhere between five and 10 years. Has your mum passed over first of all?
    M: My mother?
    JW: Yeah.
    M: She has.
    JW: Yes, and is it between five and 10 years ago?
    M: No.
    JW: OK, how long is it since sheís passed?
    M: Two years.
    JW: OK, she feels as if sheís been there longer to me, OK?
    M: That would be correct.
    JW: Was she in a coma or something then?
    M: No, but I understand what you say..
    JW: OK.
    M: About her feeling she was...
    JW: Yeah because sheís coming through as a spirit thatís used to communicating. Alright. Now sheís bringing with her a small boy. Do you understand who in the family that is?
    M: Yeah I do.
    JW: OK. And sheís showing me lots and lots of tears about this young boyís passing because there was a tragedy...
    M: Oh yeah...
    JW: Youíll see the hairís on my arm starting to go on end. But it was like that was something that shouldnít have happened... yeah...
    M: Yes.
    JW: Iím asking her... Iíve got the name John or Jonathon ó does that make sense to you?
    M: (pause) Um, not with my mother, but it makes sense of something else.
    JW: Is it to do with the little boy?
    M: Um, it would be another boy that I know...
    JW: Yeah...
    M: ...but not to do with my family.
    JW: No.
    M: That would...
    JW: But a similar age, do you understand?
    M: Yeah I do.
    JW: Because Iím being shown a similar age and a similar situation that happened? Alright? Understand?
    M: Mm.
    JW: (emotional) Oh goodness, Iíve got blood on my hands. And I donít understand why Iíve got blood on my hands... do you understand?
    M: Mm.
    JW: I just want to really break down now and, uh, Iíve got a really really horrible feeling inside... um... (pause)
    M: Quite a macabre feeling, I would say.
    JW: The blood on the hands is symbolic, I feel that somebody had blood on their hands, does that make sense, itís not... this isnít like a natural passing? Somebody had blood on their hands and youíll see the hairs on my arm, if the cameras can pick it up, but theyíre ab... Weíre in sunlight, itís warm. But Iím really... Thereís a lot of distress here, thereís a lot of distress. Somebody was absolutely terrified? (sobs) ...absolutely terrified... (cries) and they werenít very old. Oh goodness, goodness, goodness... itís very very emotional for me, itís like why me? Why are you doing this to me? (cries) Why are you doing... I have to put the ring down sweetheart, itís too hard for me, itís too hard, itís too hard. Oh God, oh God... (cries)
    M: Jeanette, Jeanette...
    JW: Itís alright, itís alright, itís alright, itís alright, theyíre alright now, theyíre alright now...
    M: I know theyíre alright.
    JW: ...theyíre alright now.
    M: I know the feeling.
    JW: Oh God ó I need a tissue somebody, sorry, Iíve got a runny nose.
    M: I canít believe you broke down and I didnít...
    JW: God, I just want to hug you, I just want to hug you, can I give you a hug?
    M: Mm you can.
    JW: Oh my God, oh my God, sweetheart, oh, Iím so sorry (cries).
    M: Itís OK, Iím...
    JW: Oh God. You know how to pick them, Melanie.
    M: She knows nothing, no one know that story, only I and the police ó and my mother ó know.

Amber teething necklaces
There was an item on TV3 News last week warning viewers about the latest scam to hit the big time, necklaces made from beads of amber and worn by babies to reduce the pain and stress of teething. The item was introduced with the statement, 'Retailers say amber teething necklaces are best sellers, but there is no medical proof they even work'. We were introduced to new Auckland mother Claire Cheatham [sic] who had put one around her baby's neck and confidently claimed, 'There's loads of babies wearing them so, you know there has to be something in it'.

Why are so many people sucked in by this flawed reasoning? That's like saying, 'There's loads of unemployment and crime in my community, so you know there has to be something in it. I think I'll give it a go'. Likewise there are millions of Muslims worldwide that claim that their religion is the correct one, and increasing every day, so should everyone else believe them? Millions of children believe that Santa Claus is real, so is there something to that claim as well? Can they see things that adults can't? As Anatole France once said, 'If 50 million people believe a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing'.

Then we got to hear from Anne Walbridge, Claire's sister and the person that gave her the amber necklace. This 'expert' told us that 'It carries a lot of different properties for just healing, soothing, apparently it can help with depression as well'.

What utter rubbish. Apart from worthless testimonials most likely based on the placebo effect, there is no evidence whatsoever that amber necklaces have any of these medicinal properties. And as the news item briefly hinted at, many necklaces on sale are fakes, and are not even made from amber. Gullible mothers are paying a fortune for plastic imitations, and yet they'll still swear that they work. Natural and alterative remedies flourish because of suckers such as these. And as I learnt on a recent episode of QI, what the hell have babies got to be depressed about anyway? They don't have to work, no mortgage to pay, no relationship worries, they aren't aware of troubling world affairs, and if they do have a minor problem, all they have to do is yell and someone comes running to assist them.

TV3 reporter Jane Luscombe stated that 'Retailers who charge up to $90 for the necklaces, claim they work by releasing trace amounts of a natural pain reliever when the amber is warmed on the babies skin. Chemistry professor Allan Blackman says that's nonsense'. We then saw Blackman himself saying, 'You have to heat amber to over 200 degrees Celsius in order to be able to get any volatiles out of it, so, I find that quite unlikely'.

To make things worse, Jane tells us that 'the Ministry of Consumer Affairs says there is a risk children could be strangled or hang themselves', and therefore babies should not wear the necklaces while unattended or while sleeping. A paediatric dentist said there was also the risk that the necklace might break and children might then inhale and choke on the beads. We're told that they are a best seller for Louisa Currie of 'Belly Beyond', and that her beads break easily to prevent strangulation, but we aren't told why this doesn't then just create a choking problem.

Overall the news item had the right attitude and called a spade a spade. It investigated claims from both sides, weighted up the evidence and declared the practise 'nonsense', dangerous and a waste of money. Jane ended the item with, 'In the words of one skeptic, you'd never tie a piece of string like this around the baby's neck, so should you really put on a necklace?'

Yet the item could have been improved by highlighting that many people will be getting cheap plastic for their $90, although their curative powers will be no different from the amber ones. Also, it's always a little disappointing that many scientists and experts won't openly label these types of claims as nonsense. The chemist clearly stated the facts about amber, but then reduced their impact by finishing with the statement that the claimed curative effects were 'unlikely'. Why do they leave the door open for these morons? To say it's 'unlikely' is not to say that its won't or can't happen. It's 'unlikely' that I will win Lotto, but nearly every week one or more people do win, so it's not impossible or rare. I know science is not absolute and scientists correctly like to say that new evidence may come in and conclusions may change, but to the layperson this qualification is often interpreted as meaning that their claims are just their 'best guess', and it could well be that other claims are actually correct. But you don't hear lawyers claiming, 'My client is innocent of all charges... He may have committed the crime of course, but it's unlikely'. Scientists debating evolution will, if challenged, agree that evolution might be wrong, but that it is unlikely. If pushed I'll concur that the Tooth Fairy might exist, but it is unlikely. These honest admissions though should not be seen as giving some credibility to the claim that evolution is false or that the Tooth Fairy does exist. To show where the evidence points, and to make our views crystal clear, we should simply say that evolution is correct, and the Tooth Fairy does not exist. Scientists should stop adding this qualifier. Other scientists already understand that science is not absolute, so it is superfluous, but the layperson often incorrectly takes it as an admission of uncertainty. Reiki therapists don't say that their therapy might work, priests don't say that God might exist, so when scientists talk with laypeople they should show the same confidence in their work, and stop giving the impression that scientific evidence just might be correct. If they think a claim is nonsense and bogus, then clearly say so on camera.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 19 Jun, 2010 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend
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Ghost cats and ghosts in a bottle
Sowerby ghost Yesterday I stumbled across a short newspaper article entitled 'Ghostly tale even spookier', which once again clearly demonstrates how our media are shamelessly catering to, and encouraging, the gullible morons in society. We were told that last year Hawera couple Ross and Donna Sowerby managed to record a ghostly image on their webcam. It was reported that the Sowerbys are skeptics and that 'The couple said they don't believe in ghosts but what they saw on the tape has them stumped. The only explanation they can come up with is that it was their neighbour's cat, which died after being hit by a car.' They said that they 'will have to wait and see what answers they get from the experts. But they're not going to call a medium in just yet'. Why would people who claim to be skeptics and who don't believe in ghosts immediately suggest that it was most likely a ghost? That's as silly as me getting a knock on the door when I'm in the shower, and on finally answering it and finding no one there, saying, well I don't believe in leprechauns so it was most likely leprechauns. Obviously the Sowerbys have no idea what it means to be skeptical. And why wouldn't you call a medium if you're telling people it was probably a ghost cat?

Evidently this momentous event 'grabbed national media attention last year'. It did? We missed it so I guess we're not following the right media. The article continued with, 'For months there was no definitive answer as to what the fuzzy orange ball... was, Mrs Sowerby said. That was until Monday, when the [TV1] 'Good Morning' show hosted television psychic Sue Nicholson, who offered the pair an explanation'. And what was the 'definitive answer'? We're told that 'Nicholson said the apparition was that of a ginger cat'. Not a blurred image of a real cat you'll note, but the ghost of a cat. The deluded psychic also advised our gullible couple that their house actually contained many more ghosts, although we didn't learn whether they were furry, hairy or feathery in nature, such as cat, dog, rodent or budgie, or of the deceased human variety. Rather than allay the superstitious fears of the Sowerbys, Nicholson merely 'explained' one spook and advised them of several more to be on the look out for. I'm sure that this new knowledge will allow them to rest easy in their beds at night as the wind howls, the roof creaks and the curtains flutter.

You might be wondering why a lowbrow show like 'Good Morning' would suddenly make a pronouncement on such an important and worrying issue, rather than say the likes of '60 Minutes', and also why the resolution to this mystery didn't lead that night's TV news, or in fact even feature in the news? Well it seems that Donna Sowerby wrote to them 'hoping that they could help me out'. Obviously 'skeptic' Donna changed her mind about calling a psychic medium. By 'they' we assume she means one of their semi-regular nutcases who pretend to give psychic readings, and in this case she got Sue Nicholson. We think that certain segments of the show should be labelled 'Good Morning Morons'.

The article implied that the mystery of the orange blob has been solved, that the 'definitive answer' has been found, when actually nothing is further from the truth. Asking Nicholson and her ilk what the blob was is as worthless as asking a kid at playschool to explain quantum mechanics. They may give you a great story with lots of hand waving, but it will all be nonsense.

In February this year newspapers and TV media showed us the photograph of what some believe was a ghost in the window of the old St Bathans' post office. There was no obvious effort made by the media to resolve this mystery. They were content, and no doubt preferred, that their readers and viewers were left debating the story, since an unsolved mystery creates the potential for more such stories in the future. Then in March the media told us of two ghosts that had been auctioned on Trade Me for $2830 to what must be one of the most gullible companies in the country, Safer Smoke NZ. They weren't free roaming ghosts like the kitty seen by the Sowerbys, these were human ghosts that had been captured and imprisoned in tiny vials of holy water. Evidently you have no rights when you die and people can entrap you like butterflies and buy and sell you like African slaves of old. According to Avie Woodbury of Christchurch who trapped and incarcerated these two human souls with the Woodbury ghosthelp of an exorcist, the holy water that they were forced into 'dulls the spirit's energy'. In other words she had them drugged while she sold them to the highest bidder. Many people, including Woodbury obviously, believe that our souls or spirits are our true self, the very essence that makes us human and that survives our death. We of course believe it is all superstitious nonsense and religious crap. But Woodbury and those deluded morons that bid for these imprisoned and sedated souls think it is all real, therefore what disgusting and shameful behaviour they are exhibiting, trading and profiting in the sale of human souls. Human souls that apparently will be kept sedated and confined against their will for all eternity. Would you be happy or annoyed to discover that your beloved granny, who you thought was enjoying heaven, was actually drugged and trapped in a bottle in someone's display case? It makes us ashamed to be of the same species of those that would treat their fellow humans, dead or alive, in this way. Religious people claim that they, and they alone, have high morals, when in fact this demonstrates yet again that they are capable of quite despicable behaviour, and that the only thing that has been dulled is their intellect, since they seem utterly aware of how reprehensible the trade in human souls is, or would be. It matters not that souls don't actually exist, it is their sincere intention that is paramount, their willingness to capture and trade human souls for no reason other than profit.

Stories of this sort of journalistic crap should never see the light of day. Newspapers have a responsibility to inform and educate their readers, and while there is a place for humour and entertainment in newspapers, editors should make it clear what section they are reading. Just as some papers have a 'Children's Page' or a 'Travel' or 'Food' section, if they want to highlight how superstitious, gullible people view the world, then they should have a clearly labelled 'Morons' section.

We want to know that we can trust the media claim that BP caused the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, that the Japanese are killing whales and that Tiger Woods was actually screwing around on his wife. Why then, when we're told that a mysterious orange blob is a ghost of a cat should we suddenly realise we aren't supposed to believe this particular news article? There are a million silly, ridiculous claims that the media could report on, in the same balanced, nonjudgmental way as they report on disasters, politics and world events. But they don't print interviews with those that claim that the world is flat, that we didn't land on the moon, that dinosaurs lived alongside humans or that the British Royal Family are actually reptilian aliens. This leaves readers with the impression that what they do print are legitimate stories, ones that have been researched and fact checked, and that we can trust to contain real knowledge. So why do they put in the childish stories about ghosts and psychics and miracles? Do many of our media editors still actually believe in this nonsense? Or do they include them occasionally as a bit of a joke, thinking that their readers will laugh along with them? The fact that their ghost and psychic stories are about real NZers, not primitive natives in some faraway land, should tell them that many readers won't get the joke, and all their spooky stories are doing is helping support people's silly beliefs.

Rather than inform and educate, they act like the exorcist's holy water, they dull the reader's knowledge.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 13 Jun, 2010 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend
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  1. Comment by Bob, 14 Jun, 2010

    Hullo John, I was reading a book recently about the development of newspapers. They started as newsletters letting people know what was going on in their districts. They then started taking advertisements which were printed on the front page while serious news appeared inside. Then imaginative newspaper owners started making their papers more desirable by putting important or exciting news on the front page. They learned to highlight it with banner headlines and other gimmicks. They also learned that most of their readers didn't want ponderous or long winded articles. So popular stories unfortunately such as the shenannigans of important people, ghost stories and the like were prominently featured. The lowest common denominator was courted. What will you get on the front page of our newspapers just today, a long article on how New Zealand will be affected by the world economic situation or what videos Shane Jones watched in his hotel room? Television is a newspaper in video.

    Newspaper articles now are very carefully composed.The language is plain with few big words. As much meaning as possible is conveyed in the headline which is meant to attract. Most of the story is summed up in the first paragraph or two because that is all the majority of readers will follow before switching off. The rest of the article is there for those who will read it right through and pick up all the details. Serious fact filled articles appear on page 8.

    Is it any wonder stories such as the ghost cat are not belittled by the media publishers? What editor is going to deliberately halve his circulation?

A hot towel and a dash of herbs
Quick question. An advert photo of a young woman wearing a white top with a stethoscope around her neck. What might her occupation be? Accountant, teacher, electrician or perhaps a pharmacist? Or might you suggest doctor? In this specific case you'd be wrong even if you chose the obvious, which of course is doctor. You needed to answer 'clinical herbal medicine practitioner'. Was that going to be your second guess?

In a recent Invercargill newspaper advertising feature entitled 'Women in business', one of the women featured was Lena Williams, who we are told has opened Vividus, 'the new Herbal Medicine and Nutrition Clinic, offering cutting edge health options'. Williams informed us that "The clinic is set in a professional and medical area of town which reflects the service and care we provide here". The stethoscope around the neck, the words 'Medicine' and 'Clinic' in the business name, the talk of 'cutting edge health options' and that 'the clinic is set in a professional and medical area of town' are all designed to imply that this person and this business is just as 'professional and medical' as the real doctors, the real blood testing laboratories and the other health professionals in the area. But is it really? If herbs really are 'cutting edge health options', why aren't doctors, hospitals and our tax dollars offering them, why do we have to go to a herbalist?

We're told that 'Examinations such as blood pressure and blood glucose are undertaken when necessary and blood tests are sometimes ordered'. She is implying that she will analyse your blood test results, rather than recommending that you consult a doctor for blood tests. Why do we spend fortunes and years of university instruction training doctors and other specialists to analyse blood tests when it seems that anyone completing a short course of dubious instruction, maybe in person, maybe by correspondence, from some backyard company calling itself a college, can read your blood test results, make a diagnosis and offer treatments with supposedly equal quality to real doctors?

Williams goes on to justify her business with a watered-down version of the very argument that should convince potential clients to be skeptical of her claims and give her and her fellow alternative medicine cohorts a wide berth. She correctly states that "With pharmacies and supermarkets stocking herbal and nutritional substances it can be very confusing for the consumer... It can also be very harmful to self-prescribe as there are many potential interactions with medications and illness". She concludes with, 'The Vividus Clinic ensures you get professional, safe and quality treatment'.

The full argument is: With pharmacies, supermarkets AND alternative and natural therapists all pushing medical cures and substances, it can be very confusing for the consumer. It can also be very harmful to self-prescribe or allow these quacks to prescribe as there are many potential interactions with medications and illness, and more importantly, also a multitude of medical conditions that they are unable to treat or even diagnose. Only real doctors, real specialists and real hospitals can ensure you get professional, safe and quality treatment.

The article/advert also informs readers that 'Vividus is currently offering FREE consultations to children'. For a family struggling to pay the bills, this irresponsible offer simply screams, 'Don't take your sick kids to the doctor, bring them to me for free. Just think what else you could spend the money on. Why waste it on doctors. Did I show you my stethoscope?'

And yes, of course herbs can and do have medicinal properties, often very important and effective properties. But when these are discovered and proven to be safe and effective they are quickly and willingly introduced into mainstream medicine and are found in every hospital and doctor's surgery. The herbs found in herbal medicine clinics are those that are either useless or dangerous or more often than not, their effect on the body is simply unknown. Furthermore, those pushing these herbs are completely unwilling to spend the time and money required to test their effectiveness and their safety, unlike the years and millions of dollars that go towards testing mainstream therapies. They are the very people that push unproven substances onto their gullible clients, but who would scream blue murder if they themselves suffered harmful side-effects from a mainstream treatment, one they discovered hadn't been extensively tested.

Many people insist on going away from a doctor's visit with some pills or antibiotics, even though none are required. What is the equivalent that clients leave a herbalist with, ground up grass clippings?

And unfortunately Williams and her herbal medicine was not the only business pushing unproven alternative therapies in this 'Women in business' advertising feature. The adjoining advert was for Rejane Loreto and her business called 'Feeling Free'. We were told that 'Rejane focuses on restoring emotional and mental balance... [and that] Rejane believes that our muscles carry our history of emotional and physical trauma which the trained and discerning eye can identify'. She offers clients techniques such as 'moxa, reflexology, massage and hot towel treatments'. Ahhh yes, the proven and well-known curative effects of hot towel treatments. What modern hospital doesn't now have a Hot Towel department?

As many people have already said, these therapists pushing alternative medical therapies should be required to demonstrate that their therapies work and that they are safe, just as real doctors, real hospitals and real drug companies are. These alternative therapists desperately want to be seen as professionals working in the medical sphere, and yet they refuse to prove the efficacy of their treatments and wave joke diplomas from joke colleges when challenged about their qualifications. These 'medical' diplomas usually carry little more authority and evidence of knowledge than the science degree that my cat was recently offered over the internet. They may be knowledgable about quack treatments, on how to legally advertise their healing skills without actually claiming they can heal anyone, and they may even be able to recognise what the secret herbs are in KFC's chicken, but they are not medical professionals no matter how many medical terms or hot towels they use and whether or not they own a stethoscope.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 09 Jun, 2010 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend
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Catholic funerals and marketing
The other day I attended a funeral of a man named Ted. I didn't know him personally and thanks to the arrogant, conceited and self-absorbed worldview of the Catholic Church where the funeral was held, the priest ensured that I remained ignorant as to what sort of person Ted was, what his life involved and whether I should regret not knowing him. The priest told us his name, and that of his wife and children, that he died of cancer and that his family loved him. The priest claimed that he had known Ted personally, but we'll have to take his word for it, as he said nothing that indicated he wasn't just reciting a script, a script that said something along the lines of, 'We are here today to remember [insert the deceased's name here] who passed away last [insert appropriate day here]'. The funeral dragged on for an ass-numbing one and a half hours, which according to my parents is still much shorter than they used to be some years ago. Apart from 5 minutes when Ted's daughters spoke and gave us the only truly genuine insight into Ted and his life, this one and a half hours was spent with the priest pleading and begging with God and Jesus to let Ted into heaven, sprinkling the coffin with holy (read magic) water several times, and going on ad nauseam about what a loving, caring, wonderful person (thing?) that God/Jesus was or is. Anyone might be excused from thinking that we were at the funeral of Jesus rather than Ted.

I also couldn't help having a little giggle from time to time as the priest often referred to the deceased as 'Brother Ted', and of course I immediately had thoughts of that TV comedy (or was it a documentary?) about the Catholic Church called 'Father Ted'.

We also had to sit through the very ritualised Eucharist where the priest and Catholics get to munch on the flesh of Jesus and down some of his blood. It was like spying on a secret meeting of cannibals and vampires. And the entire Catholic congregation is invited to partake in this heinous act. Suddenly Ted is forgotten once again and the Church is more concerned with reinforcing the belief of its followers. Ted's funeral is put on the back burner and the priest focuses on boosting the belief or fear of those that may not have been to church recently. It's as if funerals are just a trick to get Catholics back into church and within earshot of a priest, as almost the entire ceremony focuses on God and Jesus and what wonderful things they've done for mankind. The deceased and what he or she might have done is almost forgotten, used only as a tool to remind the congregation what they must do to lead a good life in the eyes of God (not that God has eyes), and what they've got to look forward to when they're welcomed into the next life by Jesus himself. No wonder Jesus hasn't returned as he promised he would 2,000 years ago, he's too busy performing in this 'meet and greet' ritual and preparing beds for the dead. The motel or hotel complexes in heaven must stretch as far as the eye can see and beyond. At least I'm hoping they've moved with the times and aren't still building Biblical-era villages to house the dead. I mean it's hardly paradise if you go from wide screen TVs and wi-fi internet connections to a mud hut and a bed of straw.

Helping the priest during the Eucharist were two small boys, maybe around eight years old, and dressed up in altar boy type outfits. Where does he get these boys from during school hours? Were they seconded from the Catholic School that is attached to the church or were they just some that the priest keeps in a back room? Is dressing them up in girly clothes and acting out fairy tales more important than their education? You read those reports of child abuse in the papers but to actually see an old priest towering over these small boys really does hit home as to the power these men can have over children.

It's easy to see why more and more people are electing to have their funerals performed by funeral directors, people that are separate from churches of any description. It is up to the deceased themselves whether religion features at all. I've been to several where God and Jesus and religious beliefs are never mentioned, where there are no prayers and no superstitious rituals. In others God may be mentioned in passing or a quick prayer may be said, but 99% of the funeral focuses on the deceased, on their life story, their achievements, their loves and how they have enriched the lives of those around them. Their funeral is not hijacked by priests to market Catholicism to children, to stroke the delusions of the faithful and reawaken the irrational fears of lapsed Catholics. If Ted had chosen a funeral director over the Catholic Church his funeral would truly have been about him, and I would have learnt about Ted and his life, but instead all I got was primitive, superstitious ritual and a priest pleading childishly with a mythical being. Ted was essentially missing from his own funeral.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 31 May, 2010 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend
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  1. Comment by Bob, 01 Jun, 2010

    It's funny you should bring up this subject. I have just been to the UK for a few weeks to see family. A family member was to marry a Catholic girl in Dublin so we went across from England where we were staying. Exactly the same happened with the wedding as with your funeral. The couple were married with a marriage mass. Apparently in detail the mass is a variation of an ordinary Sunday mass. It annoyed me to get Catholic lectures and ritual which were longer than the actual marriage ceremony. I squirmed on the seat feeling embarrassed. The priest would quote phrases and the congregation would answer with ritualised replies. There were bible readings and even members of the congregation going up to the altar and doing readings. Then the faithful got their communion. I have no interest in Catholicism and felt distinctly out of place. I wondered what all this had to do with the couple being married. The actual marriage ceremony within the mass was routine. The couple had to remain seated at the front while the rest of the service was carried out. The groom isn't religious and I suspect his wife had to have a wedding mass to satisfy her family. If she had gone to a registry office she would have been disowned. The family is composed of very good people but are a community of strong Catholics.

    At the reception I happened to be seated next to the priest. He wasn't a bad chap. Of course that wasn't the place to start a philosphical debate so we talked about neutral subjects such as Irish history. Ireland is steeped in Roman Catholicism. The first inkling I had of that was during the taxi ride into the city. I saw a cleft in a wall with a statue of the Virgin Mary surrounded by flowers. It was of course the modern Europeanised version of Mary. Later we were invited to a house where I saw a statue of one of the Catholic Church's heroes. On television in our hotel room I saw an old film of the establishment of the Irish national games probably just prewar. In most places the king or the president or some other dignitary would open the games. Not in the Ireland of this period. They were opened by either an archbishop or cardinal. Even before the opening a church dignitary was among the officials organising the games. However I did bring up the subject of Catholic influence in Ireland with one man. He told me that it's influence was waning.

    I think the Catholic church is now losing it's grip because it can no longer force people to accept it's principles.

  2. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 01 Jun, 2010

    Thanks for the interesting comments Bob. I had forgotten about the zombie behaviour, or as you described it, 'The priest would quote phrases and the congregation would answer with ritualised replies.' This probably more than anything else demonstrates the power the priest and the church has over its followers. Brainwashed as children, even as adults they immediately fall back under the control of the church when given a trigger word from the priest. I don't know why Pavlov worked with dogs in experiments on conditioning when he could just have observed Catholics. And Muslims are also very good at this parrot behaviour, with their annoying 'Allahu Akbar', and most can't stop themselves saying 'Peace be upon him' whenever they hear the name Mohammed.

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