June 2009

From Chicago Sun-Times:

Bill O’Reilly has been brought low by the same process that afflicted Jerry Springer. Once respected journalists, they sold their souls for higher ratings, and follow their siren song. Springer is honest about it: “I’m going to Hell for what I do, and I know it,” he’s likes to say. O’Reilly insists he is dealing only with the truth. When his guests disagree with him, he shouts at them, calls them liars, talks over them, and behaves like a schoolyard bully.

I am not interested in discussing O’Reilly’s politics here. That would open a hornet’s nest. I am more concerned about the danger he and others like him represent to a civil and peaceful society. He sets a harmful example of acceptable public behavior. He has been an influence on the most worrying trend in the field of news: The polarization of opinion, the elevation of emotional temperature, the predictability of two of the leading cable news channels. A majority of cable news viewers now get their news slanted one way or the other by angry men. O’Reilly is not the worst offender. That would be Glenn Beck. Keith Olbermann is gaining ground. Rachel Maddow provides an admirable example for the boys of firm, passionate outrage, and is more effective for nogt shouting.


Ten years ago the government set out to test herbal and other alternative health remedies to find the ones that work. After spending $2.5 billion, the disappointing answer seems to be that almost none of them do.

Echinacea for colds. Ginkgo biloba for memory. Glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis. Black cohosh for menopausal hot flashes. Saw palmetto for prostate problems. Shark cartilage for cancer. All proved no better than dummy pills in big studies funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The lone exception: ginger capsules may help chemotherapy nausea.

The first in a series of videos on nonreligious parenting. Hosted by Dale McGowan, editor and co-author of “Parenting Beyond Belief” and “Raising Freethinkers.”

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Lead in ginkgo pills. Arsenic in herbals. Bugs in a baby’s colic and teething syrup. Toxic metals and parasites are part of nature, and all of these have been found in “natural” products and dietary supplements in recent years.

Set aside the issue of whether vitamin and herbal supplements do any good.

Are they safe? Is what’s on the label really what’s in the bottle? Tests by researchers and private labs suggest the answer sometimes is no.

From SkepticBlog:

A Taiwanese man, after losing 2 million dollars to a Vegas casino, is demanding his money back because, he claims, the casino deliberately gave him bad feng shui. Yes, that is the kind of world we are living in.

4/1/2002 – Satan Laws Are Coming to Town
Steve Carell visits Ingles, Florida to report on a town that has proclaimed a ban on Satan.

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From Newsweek:

Scholars rarely love popularizers, and nowhere is this enmity more evident than in the battle over 2012—a date which, depending on your view, will coincide with the end of the world, the transformation of global consciousness, the end of the Mayan calendar, the beginning of another cycle of the Mayan calendar … or nothing at all. “I don’t pay any attention to this stuff because it’s bunk,” says Anne Pyburn, an anthropologist at Indiana University who studies the Maya. Among followers of New Age religions, though, and particularly among those who like to celebrate the equinox at the Mayan ruin Chichen-Itza on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula, the belief that the year 2012 will mark a global transformation is widespread. In bookstores, on shelves marked “magic” or “divination,” numerous volumes promote this view—and many more are on their way, from publishers as big as HarperOne and as small as Bear & Company, a New Age publisher in Rochester, Vt. Around Thanksgiving, Sony Pictures plans to release “2012.” The trailer for the movie shows the oceans washing over mountains that look like the Himalayas while the face of a monk registers terror. One of the most popular authors in the 2012 category is John Major Jenkins, a self-described “independent researcher” whose 1998 book “Maya Cosmogenesis 2012” helped usher in this craze. “Around the year we call 2012,” he writes, “a large chapter in human history will be coming to an end. All the values and assumptions of the previous World Age will expire, and a new phase of human growth will commence.”

From Bad Astronomy blog on Discover.com:

As you may know, Oprah recently stepped from the realm of pseudoscience firmly into the realm of dangerous antiscience when she decided to support antivax advocate Jenny McCarthy. The blogosphere went, well, nuts, condemning her for this. That includes me; I’m pretty ticked Oprah would put so many children in danger by giving McCarthy a platform from which to spew her nonsense.

And while the blogosphere does reach a lot of people, it helps a whole lot when the mainstream media pitches in. Usually the MSM is really credulous when it comes to the medical field, uncritically discussing “alternative” medicine usually without mentioning any actual science or testing of these ideas… and it makes us all sicker.

So this is why I am so happy that Newsweek has not only tackled Oprah’s prolonged New Age nonsense, but they came on strong. They not only printed a 6-page long dissection of Oprah’s ridiculous assertions, they made it their front page story this week!

From bravenewtraveler.com:

A Christian apologetics group “Answers in Genesis” unveils controversial billboards to challenge evolution and atheism.

Here we go with the shock advertising again. How does this advertisement strike you – as valid or infuriating?


From miller-mccune.com:

So … Stephen Colbert doesn’t really mean all those wacky liberal-bashing things he says, does he? Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report is obviously a parody of a wing-nut right-wing talk show. Right?

Or … is it? (Cut to devilishly quizzical chin-grabbing stare.)

He can’t be serious.

Or … can he sort of be? (Cut to screeching bald eagle.)

Well, apparently Colbert is just that good. His character is so pitch-perfectly ambiguous that, according to a new study, what it is you see in him is whatever it is you want to see in him. If you are liberal, he is a liberal, too. If you are a conservative, he is a conservative, just like you.

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