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It’s amazing what gets reported as news:

THE Catholic Church has revealed how growing interest in satanism and the occult has led to a rise in exorcisms across Queensland.

Well, for starters this statement is a little misleading. To be clear, what is actually on the rise is the rate of exorcism ceremonies being carried out. There is no evidence to suggest that any of these anecdotally reported cases involves anything that could be construed as supernatural demonic possession.

One priest, who asked not to be named for fear of “reprisals”, said he was carrying out at least one exorcism a fortnight.

Reprisals from who pray tell? Satan? Demons? The police? Other, saner priests?

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In case you’re interested, the asteroid TU24 has passed it’s point of closest approach, and we appear to have avoided fiery liquid death. (Although my coffee was a little cold this morning … Gah! Curse you TU24!)

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Debating Science

January 29, 2008

I as a general rule, I don’t think that the debate format is appropriate to scientific topics. A debate necessarily has a winner, whose ascendancy is determined by their ability to make a superior argument in the eyes of some theoretically impartial adjudicator. Reality however, doesn’t really care about rhetoric or majority opinion, and neither should science. The debate format is a circus, lending equal weight to opposing views that may or may not merit such treatment and which may or may not fully encompass all of the possible views. It also presupposes that the debaters are themselves qualified to argue their points and that the adjudicating person(s) is similarly competent to impartially weigh the opposing arguments.

As a case in point, consider this debate between Christopher Hitchens and Jay Wesley Richards.

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Expelled reviewed

December 18, 2007

Dan Whipple has seen and reviewed an advance viewing of Expelled. Sounds like it’s more or less what everyone expected – now we wait and see how it plays out.

(Via Pharyngula)

This is going to suck so very, very badly.

I first came across this movie via Pharyngula, where PZ outlined how he had been interviewed for the film under false pretenses. Eugenie C. Scott seems to have had a similar experience.

Ben Stein has a blog attached to the main site. Hoo boy. I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to look at Ferris Bueller the same way ever again. Interestingly, he’s put a little header over his posts:

What we see below are two views of Intelligent Design’s place in science. One quote is from a brilliant, open minded and humble man…the other from a man typical of those who believe that they know better, but who don’t have much to offer, other than a closed-mind.

What on earth does humbleness have to do with truth?

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In the last episode of Stupid Atheists! (or A Completely Impartial and Objective Look at the Bogus Things Stupid People Say About Atheism) I addressed church/state separation and stated that I though politicians had a responsibility to make decisions based on established science, logic and reason. I justified this by saying that any such decisions could then be logically supported (or refuted) and would be open to change or modification if new evidence was presented.

On reflection, I think that this statement might benefit from further clarification.

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Take 1oz of politics. Add 1 oz of religion. Shake and strain. Serve garnished with generous dash of stupidity:

FEDERAL Liberal candidate Pastor Peter Curtis says homosexuality is a perversion and that gay men die from disease at many times the rate of heterosexuals.

Hmm, and just why does he think that homosexuality is a perversion?

“As a Christian, I do not agree with the idea of homosexuality. That’s the reality. I can’t put it any other way,” Mr Curtis told The Sunday Age yesterday.

Ah. His religion. A good reason then [slaps head].

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