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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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Happy Darwin Day

February 12, 2008

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Hug a monkey, it’s Darwin Day.

The Geologic Universe

February 9, 2008

One of the things I’ve been tied up with over the last month has been my novice attempts at putting together audio content to contribute to a fancast celebrating the one year anniversary of the Geologic Podcast. It’s been something of a steep learning curve, but overall quite rewarding.

The Geologic Podcast is an intelligent and humorous (though often NSFW) layered blend of music, sketch comedy, rants, atheism, skepticism, science and bald jokes. If that’s not enough to get you interested, he’s just posted a video clip for the Assumption. Take a look, it’s brilliant.

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linux.conf.au on $0 a day

February 1, 2008

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Linux Conf is back in Melbourne.

I live here and I couldn’t even get within sniffing distance of tickets, so if like me you’re hungry to get your nerd on, they are posting video and slide files on the website as the presentations take place. Yum.

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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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The image above is a pointlessly alarming graphic that is at best tangentially related to the following post. Silly I know, but all the cool kids are doing it.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at this ridiculously alarmist video that now seems to be making the rounds on Facebook. The video makes a few vague slaps at NASA and the evil scientific establishment before launching into a presentation on apparently potential dire consequences of the asteroid TU24 passing close* to the Earth.

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