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November 1, 2014

Up in the sky! It's the chemtrails! (1/11/2014)
A friend of mine posted a copy of the painting below to a Facebook group devoted to fear of chemtrails, those condensation trails behind high-flying aircraft that most of us think are ice crystals formed as the exhaust from burning hydrocarbon fuel comes into contact with very cold air but which are known by kooks to be delivery systems for vaccines and mind controlling chemicals. The general consensus was that the painting showed chemtrails. What else could they be? The real question is, though, how the spraying was done in 1891 when the painting was produced, as powered flight wasn't to happen until 1903.

A Break Away! Tom Roberts 1891
Click for a slightly larger image.

Well so the official story goes, but this picture was painted in Australia at about the time that Lawrence Hargrave was developing his flying machines. Could he have been doing secret trials at Corowa, with the public efforts at Stanwell Tops just there as a distraction? It might not be a coincidence that Corowa, where the bulk of the painting was done, was later chosen as the site of the Constitutional Conventions to establish Australia as a nation. Early development of chemtrails would seem a logical predecessor to controlling the minds and thoughts of people brought from all over the continent to reach agreement. Australia did not want or need a civil war so complacent politicians were a useful thing to have when hammering out a constitution that satisfied almost everyone, and it wasn't feasible to put fluoride into the water back then. Only later did the politicians realise that the tool used on them could be turned back on the sheeple (and Australia has always had a lot of sheep!) in order to keep them in line. It is no coincidence that the war memorial in Corowa is capped by a pyramid, the universal trademark of the Illuminati, or that most official photographs of the memorial do not show the cap.

See how easy it is to develop a conspiracy theory?

See more Jesus and Mo here

When you reach the nadir, keep digging (1/11/2014)
In September I mentioned how the National Vaccine Information Center had made a leap to the bottom by buying advertising space in buses. They rose towards the top of the swamp again in the last couple of weeks. The first was when they asked people to review their Facebook page. After a short period they noticed that the reviews were not as fawning as they would like so they sent out a mass appeal for people to rate the page highly and submit glowing reviews. I was only too pleased to oblige:

Unfortunately it's not possible to vote zero stars for a Facebook page of an organisation devoted to increasing the number of dead and disabled children. People often ask me how anti-vaccination liars like Barbara Loe Fisher can sleep at night when they think of the consequences of their actions and my usual reply is that people without either morals or consciences don't care. The only thing that would stop them sleeping well is too much excitement at the thought of more dead children.

Shortly afterwards the link to add page reviews was disabled. I directed a couple of Twitter messages to Barbara Loe Fisher asking her for clarification but I got no answer. (From her, at least – an anonymous anti-vaccination liar went into "screech incoherently" mode, but who cares what anonymous people think or say?)

My work there was done.

Fresh from that retreat, the following picture was posted to the NVIC page.

It was received with much appreciation by the denizens of the page, with people offering suggestions about the correct size labels to use and others offering to create MS Word templates for printing them. The idea was to stick the labels on sweets to be handed out to children on Halloween. Now Halloween is about pretending to be scared of goblins and witches, but imagine how really alarmed you would be if you found out that there was someone in your street who was insane enough to give things like this to your children. (I suggested to Barbara Loe Fisher that razor blades with the same message on them could be placed in fruit and sweets but she didn't reply to my suggestion for a marketing campaign.)

I wasn't the only person enraged by a proposal to vandalise sweets in order to spread lies, so several people contacted the manufacturers and distributors of the sweets in the picture to inform them of what was happening. Here is the nice email I received from Nestlé:

Hi Peter,
Thank you for taking the time to contact us about Nestlé KIT KAT.
We appreciate you bringing this to our attention.
Thank you again for your email and if you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us

After running away from Facebook page reviews and energising and antagonising the legal department of one of the world's largest food manufacturing corporations, most people would retreat into their burrows and keep quiet about losing. but apparently all this was a victory for NVIC. Because Tim Bolen said so!

The Bolenator arrives! (1/11/2014)
Tim Bolen, spokeslesion for cancer quacks, crooked laboratories, and dentists who commit insurance fraud and grope their patients, decided to latch onto the teat at NVIC, probably hoping that there might be money to be made. The first thing he did was write to one of the people who had been critical of the NVIC and the sweet vandalism. It was addressed to the person's work email address:

From: tim bolen []
Sent: Sunday, October 26, 2014 2:04 PM
To: [redacted]
Subject: Your recent campaign to damage NVIC

I was researching the recent attack on the NVIC FaceBook page and, considering your comments on the Anti Vax Hall of Shame, your name came to the fore.  I have some questions for my upcoming article about this situation.

(1)   Did you consult an attorney before you, and yours, designed, and executed, this anti-NVIC campaign?  If so, who was it?  How do I contact them?  Was the term "legal malice" explained to you?  Was the legal term "Jurisdiction in California" in terms of where legal action would commence regarding FaceBook issues of malice explained to you?

(2)   Did you research the FaceBook Terms and Conditions before you, and yours, organized and executed, this campaign?

(3)   Who is the actual owner, or controller, of the FaceBook page "Anti Vax Hall of Shame?"

(4)   What is the name of your immediate supervisor there at [redacted]?  Has that person authorized your activities, and/or your campus time spent, regarding the attack on the NVIC?  Or any of your Anti Vax Wall of Shame activities?

(5)   Have you ever been sued before?  Do you own property anywhere?  How many more years do you expect to work? 

(6)   What were the dates of your attendance at the Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas?  Are the photos of you there with any of the leadership?  

(7)   Are you a member of any so-called "Skeptic"" group?  If so, how did you come to associate with them?  What is your sexual orientation?

(8)   Do you get any reward, of any kind, for your activities?  If so, from whom?

I'd like to get this article out to my subscriber base within a few days, so I'd like some answers as soon as possible.

Thanking you, in advance, for your cooperation

Tim Bolen

The hilarious thing was that Tim sent the email to the wrong person. It was someone else who started the campaign. You will notice that Tim talks about two of his obsessions, attendance at The Amazing Meeting and sexual orientation, as if they have anything to do with anything. (In a Usenet post referring to this idiocy he suggested that James Randi and I have had a sexual relationship, and he has several times said that The Amazing Meeting is simply a gathering of "homoskeptuals". For someone who talks about the reach of the law he is very loose with defamatory remarks.)

When he received no response, he tried again:

From: tim bolen []
Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 8:43 AM
To: [redacted]
Subject: Your recent campaign to damage NVIC

I am REALLY disappointed in your lack if response.

Cowardice, of the first order, is something I have found in the pro-vaccine (damage as many children as you can) world, especially in the "Organized Hate Group" of primarily angry male homosexual "skeptic" functionaries.  I had hoped that, here, with you and your scraggly band of society's losers represented so well on your Anti Vax Hall of Shame, that I might draw you and yours out onto the "killing field" so to speak.

But FEAR appears to have gotten in your way.

Hecky darn

And you and yours would have been SO MUCH FUNUN

The NVIC beat you, and yours, into nothingness, so easily, and so thoroughly, you give me nothing to write about except your Ineptness..

So I will.

Tim Bolen

PS:  You didn't actually write the pro-vaccine book did you?  Neither did [redacted].  How funny.

PSS:  I LOVED the comments your students wrote about you.  Get some psychological counseling

Hecky darn! I love that reference to 'the "Organized Hate Group" of primarily angry male homosexual "skeptic" functionaries'. Way to go, Tim.

And write he did. This was the content of his email to his (imaginary) Millions of Health Freedom Fighters:

Inept "Skeptics" Attack NVIC FaceBook Page...

Laughter Erupts – a Story about the stumbling, bumbling activities of two nincompoops ([redacted] and [redacted]) attempting to damage the NVIC FaceBook page...

Opinion by Consumer Advocate Tim Bolen

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

I received a message from my friends over at the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) the other day, asking for some help defending against an all-out attack on their NVIC FaceBook page – an attempt to downgrade their credibility level. So, I went to investigate, in my usual thorough manner, finding, along the way, a few interesting things I didn't already know about the pro-vaccine baby killers.

The trouble was that, before I got up to speed to "reveal" the giant conspiracy against the NVIC, and call for action, NVIC stalwarts manned the barricades, intercepted the "skeptic" assault, spanked them thoroughly, and sent them home to bed without dinner. I'll let you read one of the "skeptic's" TOP STRATEGIST'S comments about what happened to them down below. You will laugh.

The first thing I did was to start tracing back the individual so-called "skeptics" who were commenting on the NVIC page. The obvious thing I found, there, was the commonality – looking at these people they all fit into the LOSER category – the kind of people who constantly criticize others to make themselves, in their rotten little no-life situation, feel better. We've all met some of them, at some time, and we are always glad to find that they don't live next door to us.

But first let's do a little background...

There is a BIG PUSH in the United States to force, or scare, every US citizen into mandatory vaccines – as many as can be delivered, as fast as possible. Why is that? it's all about BIG PHARMA income. Nothing else. There are no legitimate reasons for vaccinations, at all, much less the sort of schedule BIG PHARMA wants. I wrote about this before. Below, in italics, is what I said:

We don't see as many of those annoying drug ads on TV anymore because, simply, their patents ran out and all of those drugs became available in "generic" form at a tenth of the price. For a while the drug industry was in a panic, but then they came up with a new idea – that, for now, is working very well.

The idea that the drug industry in the US could, after their big patents ran out in 2012 and 2013, shift their profit center to an INCREASED CHILDHOOD VACCINE SCHEDULE, with NO legal liability (they can't be sued), using, what are supposed to be OUR "watchdog" groups; Federal, State, and local governments, as their marketing tool, is at best absurd...

But, that's what we have, and...

When he sent this drivel to the Usenet group he used the subject line "Another terrific Millions of Health Freedom Fighters – Newsletter for"poor peter" and his 29 other fake internet identities to whimper/shreik over...". The "poor peter" thing is how he addresses me, and for some reason he thinks that it does anything other than make him look ridiculous. The "29 other fake identities" thing relates to a declaration he made once that I use 30 pseudonyms. I continually ask him to list the names but he doesn't, of course. In the discussion that followed his Usenet post he took to declaring that everyone who posted was in the list.

Settle back with a strong drink, a puffer in case you become breathless from laughing, and some tissues to wipe the tears of laughter from your eyes and have a look at Tim Bolen descending into (even more) madness as he takes on some critics. Read the Usenet thread here. [Google broke the Usenet archive so badly that I had to remove all links. PB 2021]

See more Red Meat here

He writes (1/11/2014)
The November issue of Australasian Science magazine is on the newsstands now, with my regular Naked Skeptic column. This month it's about food fads, specifically "A2™" milk, but I also have something to say about a couple of my pet peeves of dietary faddishness. I encourage you to subscribe to this excellent publication. The money to produce the magazine comes from retail sales and subscriptions, with almost no advertising, and it is without doubt the best popular science magazine in Australia. It's written by experts but targeted at non-experts, so even if you have no science background you will find it informative and easy to read. You can read the article here.

My column for the December issue is at the printers so I will leave it until it has been published before reproducing it here. As a teaser, the image at the left gives a hint about the topic. My interview with James Randi will also be in the December edition. Something to look forward to.

The Energizer Wakefield never gives up (22/11/2014)
On September 19 ex-Dr Andrew Wakefield had an appeal rejected by the Texas Court of Appeals over his ridiculous attempt to sue people and businesses in the UK in a court in Texas. It was obvious from the very start that the Texas courts had no jurisdiction in the matter and this has now been ruled at two levels of the Texas court system. Never one to give up, because ongoing legal action against people is always a way to defame them by implication, Wakefield has appealed to the Supreme Court of Texas. He had 45 days from the original ruling to lodge an appeal which meant that it had had to be lodged by November 3, however following his usual practice he missed that deadline and two weeks later on November 17 requested an extension of time until December 3. I am not a lawyer but I can see no reason why the Supreme Court of Texas should allow this appeal, or if they did to uphold it and rule that any Texas court has jurisdiction over people in the UK.

This is been Wakefield's modus operandi for many years. In 2005 he was ordered by the England and Wales High Court to get on with litigation because it had become obvious he was merely using deliberately introduced delays to drag out the proceedings. I have experienced this myself, because it is often useful for people attacking someone else on spurious legal grounds to have a court case dragged on forever so they can continue to pretend that the person they are attacking has somehow been in breach of the law. It also increases the costs for the attacked party.

For a description of what is happening written by a real lawyer, you can read this article in Skeptical Raptor by Dorit Reiss, who is an actual Professor of Law at a real University.

As our old friend Patrick Timothy Bolen was so vociferous in his support of Wakefield, predicting his total victory in Texas, he has promised further comment on how Wakefield is yet again about to achieve supremacy. I eagerly await his prediction.

Speaking of Timmie Bolen ... (22/11/2014)
Patrick Timothy Bolen, spokesparasite to the vilest of quacks and contender for World Champion dead horse flogger, has issued another of his foam-flecked diatribes about the going-nowhere court case by the clowns at Doctors Data against Dr Stephen Barrett. This nonsense has been going on for some years because Doctors Data were not happy that Dr Barrett should have told the truth about their activities. The really hilarious part however has been the commentary on the case by Tim Bolen over the years. A few years ago he announced that Doctors Data were going to seize the domain name and I would be gone like "a fart in an elevator". I am still waiting.

Bolen, who likes to call everyone who posts to the Usenet newsgroup "poor peter" whether he is replying to me or not, has several times declared when I have asked him when this action is going to start that I am not important enough for them to worry about. When I asked him why, in that case, he continues to talk about me the only answer I get is more "poor peter" and references to cupcakes and "homoskeptuals". Sane people have long been aware that Bolen is incapable of backing up anything he says.

His latest spray is a classic of the genre. Under the heading "Suing Captain Screwloose – It Has Always Been an "Alter Ego" Case..." he has posted another collection of his fantasies about how the court system works. You can read in all its glory at the link below, but I really have to quote the part where he talks about me.

I imagine that Doctor's Data's contractor for "restoration" of Doctor's Data's reputation has already made a plan on how they plan to use Orac David Gorski's blogs as their own.  The internet is based, whether the "skeptics" like it or not, in the US – under the jurisdiction of the US Courts.  It would be a simple thing to get a court order seizing ANY and ALL "skeptic" sites, anywhere in the world.  If, for instance, Doctor's Data decide that Australian "skeptic" nitwit Peter Bowditch was part of the cabal, they could EASILY get an order taking over his internet names, websites, and probably even the thirty (30) fake identities he travels the internet with.  If they set up the legal attack right they could even get the "skeptics" permanently banned from the internet.

Seize all skeptic web sites? Remove all skeptics permanently from the web? Whatever it is that Tim is smoking at the place he doesn't remember living at must be the most powerful hallucinogenic product known to man.

I have asked him on several occasions to name the 30 identities I'm supposed to have used, but for some reason he seems to be incapable of providing the list. In a recent m.h.a thread he responded to everybody who posted by saying that this brought down the names to be revealed. This is despite the fact that a simple examination of IP addresses would have shown that the people lived in several continents widely dispersed across the world. Timmie claims to have access to a world-class program for tracking people, but even a cursory examination of the ranting at the link below by anyone with the faintest knowledge of how the Internet works will see Tim's knowledge does not even come up to the level of "faintest". I will admit however that Tim Bolen actually does have value – as an endless source of amusement.

Catch up on the insanity here.

See more from Brian Kent here

The Food Babe. Stupid or just a moron? (22/11/2014)
Sometimes someone comes along who is so impenetrably stupid that you feel that their brain could be used in place of depleted uranium in anti-tank weapons. Then you find someone who is so stupid that their brain would cause light to bend as it passed around their head. Such a person is Vani Hari, the "Food Babe". The amazing and terribly discouraging fact about her is that she manages to be accepted as an expert on nutrition. She appears in the media, she charges large fees to speak at conferences and exhibitions, her knowledge of science is less than that known by my dog (and he wouldn't be offended if I said that he doesn't know very much at all).

Here is something she published just recently and I don't think it needs any comment beyond the words she wrote herself to indicate how incredibly stupid she is. This is not just an ignorance of science, it is an ignorance of common sense, and ignorance of things which should be obvious to a small child.

I'm on the plane to LAX, the first leg en route to our first stop – Tokyo! I can't think of a better time or place to write this article.

Airplane travel, is unfortunately (and fortunately!) a big part of my way of life. I'd be surprised if you added up the amount of travel I have conducted for work and personal if it didn't end up being a full year of my life. For this reason, I set out to find out exactly the best strategies to keep your body energized, free of aliments, and flying high when you are on the bird!

A few facts about what airplanes do to your body -

When your body is in the air, at a seriously high altitude, your body under goes some serious pressure. Just think about it – Airplanes thrive in places we don't. You are traveling in a pressurized cabin, and when your body is pressurized, it gets really compressed!

Compression leads to all sorts of issues. First off your body's digestive organs start to shrink, taxing your ability to digest large quantities of food. Secondly, this compression reduces the ability for your body to normally circulate blood through your blood vessels. Sitting down for long hours while this is happening, exacerbates these issues, leading to what they call "Economy Class Syndrome."  Economy  Class Syndrome results the action of sitting in a cramped space for a long period of time, thus resulting in blood flow loss to the legs. A unhealthy person or someone who eats a poor diet, smokes, has heart disease, diabetes or an auto-immune disorder has a larger risk of developing DVT, which basically causes a blood clot in your one of your large veins in your leg and you risk death.

Additionally, the pressurized cabin reduces the humidity by 40% of what humans typically thrive at. The Sahara Desert has more humidity at ~25% than your airplane does at ~10%. Remember  your body is made up of 50% water, if the humidity is reduced by 40%, your body becomes very dehydrated, very quickly and usually without you feeling the effects until after you get off the plane. Dehydration causes all sorts of issues from fatigue, headaches, constipation,  light headedness and even death in extreme cases.

The air you are breathing on an airplane is recycled from directly outside of your window. That means you are breathing everything that the airplanes gives off and is flying through. The air that is pumped in isn't pure oxygen either, it's mixed with nitrogen, sometimes almost at 50%. To pump a greater amount of oxygen in costs money in terms of fuel and the airlines know this! The nitrogen may affect the times and dosages of medications, make you feel bloated and cause your ankles and joints swell.

Did you know certain countries require that airplanes and even passengers be sprayed with pesticide before they take off? This means if you are visiting one of these countries you are breathing in these fumes potentially all flight, especially if they were sprayed on board. Horrific!

Ok enough horror facts about airplane travel (especially while I am flying right now!). Here's my Food Babe tips on what you can do to avoid and/or protect yourself of all the facts I mentioned above.

Food Babe's Tips: First Class Airplane Tips for your Body

Before you Fly:

  • Choose a seat as close to the front as possible. Pilots control the amount of airflow and it is is always better in their cabin.
  • Eat a light meal or fast, it is better to digest as much of your food as possible before getting on the plane
  • Exercise! You reduce your risk of developing DVT dramatically and you will also improve your body's circulation ability
  • Drink at least  16 ounces of water before your flight, and limit alcohol and caffeine
  • Bring your own food. Airport and airplane food is overly processed and contains more GMO pesticides, MSG and chemicals than can make your head spin! Bring circulation enhancing foods! Some great ones that are easy to travel with are dark chocolate, blueberries, grapes, oranges, avocados, ginger, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Don't forget to pack an empty water bottle to be filled at the airport, or to buy water before your flight. I like to bring at least 32 ounces of extra water with me on any flight.

    I can't tell you how many times the airlines have been stingy giving me water (even in First Class!)
  • Ask your Acupuncturist or Nauropath for herbs that can help prevent you from contracting colds, flus and other viruses through the recycled air
  • The following two things are a must for international flights! Moisturizer and a little spray bottle of evian spritzer can do wonders in rehydrating your skin on long flights.

In Flight:

  1. Drink 8 ounces of water for every hour of flying time
  2. If you experience a headache, pains or aches, think about using turmeric, garlic or willow bark which are all natural alternatives to aspirin
  3. Fast or eat small light carbohydrate rich whole foods. Limit any heavy dairy or protein rich foods. Whole grain carbohydrates are better tolerated than proteins at a high altitude.
  4. Do not drink alcohol or caffeine on long flights
  5. Walk or stretch every 30 mins while in flight, if you can't get up from your seat, rotate your ankles and raise your arms over your head to stretch
  6. Keep your hands clean with natural hand sanitizer spray

After your Flight:

  1. Continue to drink 8 ounces of water every hour
  2. Aim to do at least 15 mins of yoga or other form of exercise
  3. Consider  getting a massage, which as been known to reduce jet lag
  4. Continue eating circulation enhancing foods
  5. As soon as you can – swim, take a shower and/or a steam bath to rehydrate your skin

Do you see what I mean? No comment could do this drivel justice.

Found on Facebook – please tell me who I should acknowledge.

Does atheism imply asense? (22/11/2014)
Before I go on, I need to make something clear. I am an atheist but that is not all of who I am. It just happens to be a part of me. Also it simply means that I live my life without a personal god, not that I'm totally opposed to all forms of religion or that I see atheism as something which needs to be necessarily proselytised at every opportunity. I object, as do most sensible people, to the excesses of religion or when religious beliefs and practices harm people, including members of the religious groups themselves of course.

I participate in several atheist forums online, mainly because I often see things there which are interesting. What I also see are statements which make no sense at all and make the writers appear to be bigots or fools.

As examples, over the last few weeks I have seen people complain about how offended they are when someone says "Bless you" when someone sneezes, whining about the BBC using a rerecording of the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" in an advertisement (if they had listened to the words they would know it is a cultural cliché and has nothing to do with religion), someone objecting to the fact that there is a Bible in a public school library (as the Bible is a fundamental part of the canon of English literature it should be in every educational library – what it teaches is irrelevant, what matters is the language that it is written in), and the latest is someone who is no longer going to let his children to listen to the Wiggles because they sing a song called "Uncle Noah". That's the long-running and internationally popular Wiggles children's entertainment group who appear on stage with a yellow spotted dinosaur, a huge dog, a purple octopus who wears a straw boater hat and a kilt, and a pirate with a feather for a sword. All of these were apparently acceptable to this parent before but his antireligious bigotry says that if they are going to sing songs about a fictional person called Noah then the show is unsuitable for his children.

A constant obsession with fundamentalist atheists is the existence of Jesus, and these people apparently believe that the entire edifice of religion rests on the existence of Jesus and if he didn't exist then all the following two millennia of belief and teachings can be disregarded. To people who might not be believers but who like better arguments against religion it's a diversion. We only know of Socrates through the writings of a few others, and there is even a school of thought that says he was invented by Plato to provide a vessel for conveying Plato's thoughts and methods of philosophical investigation. People who say that the teachings attributed to Jesus have to be rejected unless there is proof of a real historical person must apply the same principles to the teachings of Socrates.

Plato (and even Socrates) would understand this.

There are real battles to be fought against religion, but behaving like childish, obsessed, and virtually illiterate fools just provides ammunition to the other side. How can anyone be taken seriously when criticising people like Ken Ham or Ray Comfort if they make the same sort of idiotic and uninformed statements themselves?

As if that isn't enough silliness, I was notified today of a Kickstarter campaign to produce an atheist children's book. The promotion of this fundraiser says the following:

Like many of you, we grew up on fairy tales, fantasy stories and religion. But there really isn't anything out there for nonbelievers to share with their children. The books that are out there are boring. They aren't the sort of thing a child would ask to be read every night.

Children love fantasy, and they are quite capable of distinguishing fantasy from reality. Perhaps the author of this book thinks there is something bad about Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings, books by A. A. Milne and Lewis Carroll, or any other of the almost countless books that children have been reading and enjoying since printing was invented. But that's what happens when you see the world through glasses distorted by ideology.

See more at

Whole lotta writing going on (22/11/2014)
In September I mentioned that I'd been featured in three different magazines in the one month. In December I'm only featured in two magazines but I have two articles in each and therefore I'm being featured four times. The media empire is growing vertically not sideways.

As usual I have my Naked Skeptic column in Australasian Science, this month talking about both the wonders and abuses of stem cell transplantation. There is also a longer article there based on an interview I had with James Randi in advance of his coming tour of Australia. The other two articles are in the Skeptic, the quarterly journal of Australian Skeptics. One of them is about my adventures at a paranormal exhibition and the other is about the placebo effect. (They will be published here after the print edition has come out.)

I recommend that you go to the websites for Australasian Science and Australian Skeptics and subscribe to their magazines. Both are excellent value for money and never fail to be less than informative. Of course, some might say that I only say this because I write for both of them, which may very well be true. The part about the writing for them, not the fact that I am biased.

Australasian Science is also supporting the 2015 tour by Bill Nye, but unfortunately the logistics broke down and I wasn't able to conduct an interview with him in time for publication before he arrives next February. I was able to attend a telephone press conference and what came out of that might be the makings of an article in a future edition of the magazine.

Some good news (22/11/2014)
The operators of the pyramid scheme Herbalife have agreed to pay $15 million to people who had been deceived into joining on the assumption that it was some sort of legitimate business opportunity. The wonderful thing is that the lawyers for the scam claimed that they did nothing wrong and are only paying out the $15 million so that they can get on with business as usual. It is a rare company which has $15 million that they can simply throw away to avoid a nuisance lawsuit. Still I suppose if your business is stealing money from unsuspecting people and providing nothing in return there should always be some spare cash in the till. The real reason they settled of course is that had the action gone to court the true nature of their deceptive business would have been revealed.

In summary someone said Herbalife is a pyramid scheme and Herbalife said "Stop saying that. Here is a truckload of money to go away with". What they didn't say, of course, is "Yes, you are right and we will compensate you for the losses you have made by believing our lies".

You can read about the case by clicking on the image at the right. And here is a suggestion for the sign Herbalife distributors should stick on lamp posts in the future to attract new business.

And some more good news (22/11/2014)
The Parliament of New South Wales set up a Committee On The Health Care Complaints Commission, and they have issued a report headed "The promotion of false and misleading health-related information and practices". Some of my good friends contributed submissions to the committee (I didn't submit anything because I felt it was being said well and often by others.)

I'm not going to provide a full analysis of the report right now because there is quite a lot to read and quite a lot to absorb. I will however point you towards Chapter 2 which deals largely with the Australian Vaccination (-sceptics) Network, Australia's premier source of anti-vaccination lies.

It has taken many years and a lot of lobbying and campaigning to get the government to finally start doing something about the quacks who prey on the sick and concerned (but scientifically uninformed) members of the public. The last time a committee like this was set up in NSW it was ridiculed and denigrated by the alternative "medicine" industry, and finally hijacked by getting representatives of the industry onto the committee (one such committee member worked for a company which had been prosecuted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission). I can only hope that the results of this inquiry produce better results and make the state safer for its residents.

Where I will be next weekend (22/11/2014)
The Australian Skeptics National Convention will be held in Sydney on November 28-30.


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