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May 4, 2002

Proof that God exists … (4/5/2002)
A George Hammond preparing to discuss his workman named George Hammond has published what he claims is a "Scientific Proof of God". He has done the usual mad scientist things like submit a paper for publication and have it rejected and write to Stephen Hawking and get no answer, thereby proving that the establishment is against him and Professor Hawking is probably not smart enough to understand it. If this was all Mr Hammond did he would be of no interest to The Millenium Project (although he has made an appearance in Quintessence of the Loon). Why he gets a mention here is because of the way he reacts to any comments or criticism. The average mad scientist is impervious to criticism as he (almost invariably a "he") knows he is right and does not bother with lesser minds. Mr Hammond, on the other hand, launches into a vituperative and scatological ad hominem attack on anyone who dares to suggest that there might be even the slightest flaw in his "proof" (he rates it higher than just a "theory"). As an example, when I commented on his remarkable observation that horses have four legs and cars have four wheels, his immediate response was to call me a moron. Mr Hammond reminds me of the "alternative medicine" supporters and anti-vaccination liars who have so little faith in what they say that they either run and hide or resort to abuse when challenged.

Child abuse pictures (4/5/2002)
Get out the sick bags to catch the vomit and make sure that all dangerous weapons are secured so you can't hurt anyone if you become enraged, and then you will be ready to look at these pictures that a proud parent posted to an anti-vaccination mailing list. The pictures are of two children suffering from chickenpox, a preventable childhood disease which can lead to severe skin infections, scars, pneumonia, brain damage, or even death. Please note the pustule on the boy's lower eyelid, and then imagine how you can prevent a four-year-old from scratching an intensely itchy eye. As I said, the parents of the abused children are very proud of the fact that they are giving their children "natural immunity". I imagine that they will also give them "natural immunity" to broken bones and facial scarring by allowing them to travel in the car without restraints. I wonder how they are going to give them "natural immunity" to hepatitis B and other sexually-transmitted diseases.

… and evidence that God does not exist (4/5/2002)
I had the unfortunate experience this week of having to revisit the web site of the execrable fraud and liar, Benny Hinn. For those who have been lucky enough to avoid this creature and don't know who he is, Hinn is a faith healer who pretends to cure people by calling on help from Jesus. He goes through the same old, tired ritual that all of these charlatans seem to use – calling up people from the audience, describing their terrible ailments, pushing them over into the arms of his accomplices, bellowing "Hallelujah!", and, of course, passing the plate around. The reason that I say that this is evidence that God does not exist is that any decent God would strike Hinn into a smouldering pile of slimy ashes for blasphemy, lying, and stealing money from desperate people.

Harassment. Hendrixx? Hmmm! (4/5/2002)
It looks like the new restraints installed at the GAL Home for Anencephalic Aphasics were partially successful, because nobody was able to get to the modem for a week after the last full moon (although full moon day itself was quite hectic). The Gutless Anonymous Liar finally broke out and created a new identity of "Arturs Hendrixx" at an anonymous mailing service. And how do I know it's GAL and not some pretender? Well, apart from the semantics there are certain technical details of the message that I will keep secret just for now. Elsewhere, a champion anti-vaccination liar thought that creating threads on mailing lists and newsgroups with the title "Bowshit" might cause me some grief. Amateur. His report card has been marked "Must try harder".

May 11, 2002

Good News (11/5/2002)
The criminal cult of Scientology has finally been forced to pay money to someone that it has pursued for 22 years. During that time the cult has spent an estimated $140 million in an attempt to stifle Lawrence Wollersheim and to prevent their ridiculous "church" from being exposed in court as the criminal and morally-bereft organisation that thinking people have always known it to be. The cult paid more than $8 million into the court to end the case and prevent any examination of the shady corporate structure that had been used to hide "church" funds. The sad part is that the cult won't really miss the money because they can soon recruit some more fresh meat to steal from to replace it. More details at FACTnet and Operation Clambake.

Please sign the petition to pressure the United States Department of Justice to commence an investigation into the activities of the "Church" of Scientology.

More than the regular crowd shuffles in (11/5/2002)
On Friday, May 3 (Sydney time), this site received about three times the usual number of visitors for that time of the week. The rush continued the next day, but it was not quite so frantic. This suggests that The Millenium Project was mentioned in the media somewhere or on some high-volume web site. I would appreciate it if someone could email me and let me know where this sudden burst of interest came from.

Lawyering up (11/5/2002)
As I have received yet another empty threat of legal action (see the item headed "Child abuse pictures" above), I have created a new page listing all the promised and threatened suings and court orders related to this site, together with counters showing the number of days since the sabres were last rattled. I suppose that one day one of these people might actually talk to a real lawyer, but I won't hold my breath. Any ethical lawyer would tell them not to waste their money, of course, but we all know of lawyers who think that "ethics" is a county in England.
Click here to see the court schedule.

Speaking of legal talk … (11/5/2002)
There must be a handbook somewhere for hate mail writers, because they all say the same things. As an example, I have received several emails at different times accusing me of simultaneously committing all three of slander, libel and defamation. (I particularly like it when the order of words is "libel", "slander", "defamation" because the initials LSD give me a clue to the hallucinatory state of the writer's mind.) I usually take the use of all three terms as an encouraging sign that no lawyers were harmed in the production of the hate mail. To illustrate what I mean using another context, you might look askance at someone who told you that a single object on the table was an apple, an orange and a fruit.

Harassment. Ho Hum! (11/5/2002)
The usual suspects were a bit lazy this week, with only one message from the Gutless Anonymous Liar (pretending this time to be my only friend on the Healthfraud mailing list) and a couple of feeble pieces of claptrap from Mr William P O'Neill of the Canadian Cancer Research Group. There was one threat of a lawsuit from someone who is not a lawyer and who thinks that there is only one parent of a four-year-old boy who has ever posted a message to a mailing list, but I will worry about that when the court documents start arriving. A special mention must go to the lying cretin who rang the Australian Computer Society and told them that I was being sued over a picture on this site of some woman breast feeding a baby. No such picture exists, but the truth has never been a concern for some people. And I'm not being sued, either.

May 18, 2002

They object too much (18/5/2002)
I sometimes find myself having a small chuckle at web sites which really should appal and offend me. The usual reason for this is that something is so outrageous that the site starts to look like parody. These sites are actually less dangerous than the ones which present bigotry or lies in a calm, dispassionate manner, but they often attract a lot of attention. Two examples floated past me this week, although both have been listed here for a long time. The first is the famous Westboro Baptist Church, better known as "God Hates Fags", owned by Fred Phelps. This site used to be a lot crazier than it is now, but it is still pretty badly unhinged. The second site is The Hal Turner Show owned, obviously, by mad radio announcer Hal Turner. While Fred is a single-issue hater and ranter, Hal is a bit more eclectic and adds racism to the religious bigotry and homophobia. (Hal seems to be having some trouble deciding whose side he is on in the Middle East at the moment. As he hates both Arabs and Jews, he doesn't know quite what to do about the Palestinians.) I'm not condoning or supporting what either Phelps or Turner has to say (although I will defend etc – Voltaire), but I think the attention and reaction they get is out of proportion to the harm they can cause. The ones we can laugh at are far less dangerous than the slick, reasonable sounding ones who politely spread hate on talk shows, in books and on the Internet.

... and Tim's got a web site – look out Yahoo! (18/5/2002)
Tim O'RanterOne of our perennial Millenial favourites is Tim Bolen, spokeslout for not-a-medical-Dr Hulda Clark. I have been building a collection of Tim's work here, but now he has his own web site (speaking of sites that look like parodies ...). I might have to close down my Health Fraud category, because it looks like Tim is planning to include them all on his site. Talk about rounding up the usual suspects ... In other Bolen news, Tim approached the wrong person during the week. He was touting for business for his PR firm and one of the people he contacted just happened to be friends with one of the defendants in Nuremberg 2001. The contactee asked his friend did he know anything about Tim Bolen and received a reference that probably will not help Tim to win the account.

Politics ??? (18/5/2002)
The Millenium Project usually ignores politics because much of it is boring, but two consecutive items on the television news got me thinking about the apparent hypocrisy of some people loosely referred to as "statesmen". The first item was about the creation of the world's newest democracy (and Australia's newest neighbour), East Timor. I have long been a supporter of the East Timorese, and one of the most memorable occasions for me over the last couple of years was to attend a dinner with Jose Ramos Horta and listen to him speak about how he and others were going to build this new country. Everyone is very happy that the Indonesians have gone home. The second news item was about the Dalai Lama's visit to Australia. Politicians who are only too happy to travel to Dili for the East Timor celebrations have refused to meet the Dalai Lama because it might offend the Chinese. Perhaps someone could explain to me why it was a bad thing for Indonesia to invade and occupy East Timor but it is a good thing (or, at least, requires no comment) for the Chinese to invade and occupy Tibet.

Harassment hilarity (18/5/2002)
Apropos of last week's item about the handbook for hate mail, Mr William P O'Neill of the Canadian Cancer Research Group wrote to me during the week and the message included the expression "libel, defamation and slander". I wonder if Microsoft have ever thought of including some hate mail templates with Word or Outlook. The templates would have to contain a macro to turn off the spell checker, of course. The Gutless Anonymous Liar told me that "time is limited resource for you!" and "this week will be a banner week for you", but it must have been mistaken as nothing seems to have happened. Nothing more was heard from the non-lawyer that was getting a court order to make me remove stuff from this site. Because harassers keep mentioning lawyers, politicians and court cases, I thought I would make a little score card for myself for the last week:

Lawyers spoken to:
Politicians spoken to:
Legal threats received:
Legal threats actioned:
May 25, 2002

Sad News (25/5/2002)
The world has one fewer voice of reason following the death of Stephen Jay Gould, who died from cancer on Monday 20 May 2002 at the age of 60. His writings on evolution were some of the most powerful tools available against the nonsense of creationism and its associated attempts to disguise religion as science. (Only one version of religion, of course. There are many religions, each with its own creation story.)

Two aspects of Professor Gould's life illustrated what it means to be a scientist and to do science. Gould's speciality was evolution, and the conventional wisdom was (and still is to a large extent) that evolution is a gradual process that happens over many millions of years. Gould challenged this orthodoxy by suggesting a mechanism he called "punctuated equilibrium", where evolutionary jumps happen over relatively short periods with long periods of inactivity in between. I should point out that "short periods" here still means tens or even hundreds of thousands of years – nothing happens overnight. The creationists used to love to cite Gould as an example of how scientists could not agree about evolution, implying that this meant that the theory was damaged somehow. Reality is, however, that the scientific arguments were about process not fact, and showed how real science can accommodate differing opinions if the evidence is ambiguous. There is no disagreement about the fact of evolution, only about the details of how it happens. Opponents of science love to cite Gould and other "dissenter" scientists like Barry Marshall (bacteria cause stomach ulcers), Galileo (heliocentricity) and Ignatz Semmelweis (doctors washing hands) as if their experiences somehow validate people like Emmanuel Velikovsky, Andrew Wakefield and the plethora of cancer quacks and free-energy experts. The difference is evidence. Science allows dissent if there is evidence to support it, but just because some dissenters have been proved right does not prove that they all are. Gould may be proved wrong about punctuated equilibrium one day, and had he lived I am sure he would have been disappointed, but I am equally sure that, as a scientist, he would have accepted the decision gracefully.

The second thing from Gould's life that showed what it means to be a scientist was the way he reacted in 1982 to the diagnosis that he had abdominal mesothelioma. (This was not the cancer that finally killed him.) Faced with the news that the median life expectancy following diagnosis was eight months, he set out to find out what this forecast really meant. In an essay called The Median Isn't the Message he talked about how the misunderstanding of statistics can lead people to false expectations and incorrect decisions. Anyone with more than a passing familiarity with The Millenium Project will be aware of my utter contempt for people who peddle false cures for cancer. Gould's essay not only points out the natural variability in the course of disease which allows the vultures to claim success when all that happened is that the patient was in the right-hand-side of the distribution, but the clear, accessible language makes it something which can provide facts and encouragement to people faced with their own personal medical crises. Again I emphasise that what Gould did shows how science works – he admitted to being frightened, but he sought facts and evidence to counter the emotion.

I have several of Gould's books and I make no secret of the fact that he is one of the reasons I believe many of the things I believe. (Actually, it is not "he" that is the reason, but the arguments he put forward.) I don't agree with everything he wrote (I think he tried too hard to make some of the points in The Mismeasure of Man, for example), but that doesn't mean either of us is wrong. His final work, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, was released in March 2002. I haven't read it yet and I am told that it is not an easy read, but I expect that I will make the effort. I owe that to the author.

Here are several books by Stephen Jay Gould. His works remain to carry on the fight against creationism and other attacks on science and reason.

Want to see some sick children? (25/5/2002)
I didn't think so, but just in case you change your mind, here are two children whose parents are real proud because the kids have chicken pox, and here is a collection of pictures that I put together to help an anti-vaccination campaigner who wanted something to remind her of the value of her work.

Harassment hardly happened (25/5/2002)
No letters or threats from lawyers and only one email this week, from Mr William P O'Neill using his latest identity, Annie McNaughton. It is a bit of a mystery why he thinks that dressing up as a woman will make him any more believable. In this week's story, I apparently have a picture of some Australian politician's child on this site somewhere. Details are, as always, sketchy, but if any facts come to hand I will pass them on. (I have noticed that both Mr O'Neill and the Gutless Anonymous Liar use the word "politico" when they mean "politician". Only a remarkable coincidence, I am sure.) Someone has suggested that in light of Mr O'Neill's new clothes, ladies named Janet Leigh should avoid showers in the Ottawa area for the foreseeable future.


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