Monthly Archives: March 2010

How can anti-vaxers possibly justify themselves?

How can the anti-vaccine movement possible justify their desire to leave Children vulnerable to disease?

The anti-vaxers have been spreading misinformation about vaccines for years now in order to fulfill their own agenda of abolishing vaccinations; now some real harm has been done.

MONDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) — What began as a family trip to Switzerland in 2008 ended up as a public health nightmare in California.

The family’s 7-year-old boy, who was intentionally unvaccinated against measles, was exposed to the virus while traveling in Europe. When he returned home to San Diego, he unknowingly exposed a total of 839 people, and an additional 11 unvaccinated children contracted the disease.

Three of those infected were babies, too young to have yet received the measles vaccines, and one of the babies was hospitalized for three days with a 106-degree fever, according to a report to be published in the April issue of Pediatrics. HealthDay News

The development of vaccines is one of the greatest achievements in modern medicine, yet Anti-Vaxers continue to spread misinformation based on unsupported claims. Many claim that people should stick to Natural Remedies; which I wont dignify by calling medicine. They make the false claim that Natural = Good, well I can think of lots of natural things that are bad for you, Heroin, Poison Ivy, a pack of hungry Wolves ect…

The Anti-vaxers are so dishonest that they even claim that Vaccines are ineffective, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

So what possible justification do these people have for spreading harmful misinformation, are they just sick in the head, do they enjoy the suffering; or is there another motive? 

Interviews at the Global Atheist Convention

While everyone else was preoccupied a Perth Atheist was grabbing interviews with NonStampCollector, Jamie Kilstein, PZ Myers and finally Reverend Jim Brady from St. Pauls Cathedral.

The interviews were conducted by Kohdi Troy or

Hey hey! So I’m back from the imensely successful Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, and I had an absolute blast, met up with a few good people, thoroughly enjoyed the event, the speakers were all first rate, even if I was only able to attend the final day (don’t tell anyone but I snuck in to see PZ and AC on the Saturday. I would have been glad to pay but unfortunately tickets had sold out). While I was there I organised a couple of interviews with Youtube Atheist (am I the only one that hates that term?) NonStampCollector, New York Comedian Jamie Kilstein and an impromptue interview with legendary blogger, biologist and all round awesome guy, PZ Myers (whom I’ve since discovered prefers zee to zed). On top of this, I made a mistake with my flight booking and ended up staying in Melbourne a day longer than I expected, which gave me the opportunity to have a chat with one of the preachers at St Pauls Cathedral, Jim Brady (unfortunately not Phillip Freier). Thought Crime Theater

I was only present at the final Interview with Jim Brady who I found quite interesting. Jim was much more open to discussion than I had initially anticipated. I think it was good that we managed to get an opinion from the “other side of the fence”.

Here are the interviews conducted by

  1. NonStampCollector
  2. Jamie Kilstein
  3. PZ Myers
  4. Jim Brady

You can also download all four interviews in a .zip file here.

What was the best thing to come out of The Rise of Atheism?

Following on from a Blog post by Jin-ohchoi

To all the Atheists, Rationalists, Sceptics, Free Thinkers and other like-minded people.

With The Rise Of Atheism | 2010 Global Atheist Convention only days away. I wanted to pose a question to those attending and not attending.

What outcomes do you hope will come from the convention? –Jin-oh – Atheist|Geek|Nerd|Social

I feel that since the Atheist Convention is now over we can answer another important question and that is. What was the best thing to come out of The Rise of Atheism?

For me the convention was not just about the presentations, although they were well worth crossing the country for on their own. I feel the greatest value in the convention comes from uniting Atheists who are notoriously disorganised, possibly because we won’t burn in hell for it. With Atheists all over the country having now met and begun the formation of new alliances a new wave of reason is sweeping across society and organised ignorance cannot easily escape it. The convention is appropriate named “The Rise of Atheism” because now Atheism is beginning to take center stage away from the Stupid, Ignorant and Deluded masses.

Atheism is on the rise and this is one ball that won’t stop rolling…

The Naked Scientists got it wrong: Magnets and Migraines

Note: My original conclusion for this blog post was incorrect. In this post I erroneously mistook Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation with regular Magnothrapy. Please see my full retraction at the bottom of this post.

I was flying back to Perth from Melbourne last night and I was listening to an episode of The Naked Scientists when they suddenly got onto the topic of Magnotherapy.

Also in the news this week, researchers have shown that you can knock migraines on the head with a magnet.  Dr. Richard Lipton is a neurologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  He’s based in New York and he is with us now.  Hello, Richard. The Naked Scientists

I immediately recognised the Pseudo-Science that was about to follow and they did not disappoint. Like all other forms of magnotherapy this one is also bogus. The only sources I can find  for curing migraine with magnets are the alternative medicines sites, which are of course selling the product.

Chris –   So in your study, you were asking, can a pulse of magnetism alter the outcome of someone seeing initially these auras.  Does it prevent them going on to get a headache?

Richard –   Well, the method we used is called transcranial magnetic stimulation.  It’s a method that’s been around for 30 years.  The idea is that if you apply a powerful magnet to the surface of the skull, the magnetic field penetrates through the skull into the brain and induces a small amount of current flow and depending on where you do it and when you do it, that can have either diagnostic or therapeutic applications.

Magnotherapy has been around for about 30 years but in all this time it has never been proven and like all other Alternative Medicines it has no scientific evidence supporting it’s claim. So why did a credible podcast such as The Naked Scientists report it as legitimate?

Quite simply the producers of the podcast did not conduct their own research into the claims before reporting them as fact. For a “Science” podcast I find this to be fairly irresponsible, it might be acceptable for a regular media outlet to be conned into reporting a fallacy but any show based on science should be treating claims with skepticism prior to reporting them.

When the pseudoscientists and con men are able to trick a credible source, such as a podcast produced by Cambridge University. It highlights the importance of constant vigilance and skeptical awareness. We can never count on others to spot the fallacies for us and should treat all claims with skepticism regardless of the source.


Update on Friday, March 19, 2010 at 10:06PM

It has been brought to my attention that I may have drawn an incorrect connection between Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Magno Therapy. I am currently looking further into this and will post a retraction if warranted. Stay tuned, I am working on it and will update as soon as possible. In the meantime if you have any material you would like to share with me on this I can be emailed

Update on Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 9:40PM

Actual Retraction

It would seem that I erroneously associated Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation with regular Magnothrapy. Dr Steven Novella has written an interesting piece on “Treating Migraine with Magnetic Stimulation”

The new treatment represents yet another approach to using electromagnetism to affect brain function – the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS today is used for research – at different frequencies TMS can either induce or inhibit the activity in a focused part of the brain, and the results can be studied to figure out what that part of the brain does.

There is already published research looking at the effects of different frequencies of TMS on the excitability of brain regions during a migraine. A migraine is, in some ways, like a seizure – it is a neurological event involving abnormal activity in certain brain circuits (the trigeminovascular reflex, for example) and also involving hyperexcitability (leading to central sensitization) of certain populations of neurons. This leads clinically to hypersensitivity to sound, light, smell, and touch – which can both trigger and exacerbate a migraine. NeuroLogicaBlog

Looks like I got this one wrong.

Who said Atheist's can't have messiahs?

Religious people like to accuse Atheism of being a religion, despite the fact that we have no scripture to follow, no god to worship and no messiah to listen to. At least until PZmyers shows up. Just wait until the “Atheism is a religion” crowd get hold of this one.

Photo courtesy of @pcostley

Not only do we have PZmyers doing the perfect messiah pose but we also had a standing ovation for the arrival of Richard Dawkins, before he had even spoken. With this type of response it should not be much of a surprise when the religious mistake atheism as another form of religion.

Ghost in Melbourne

I’m here in Melbourne and I decided to take a photograph of the city skyline only to discover a ghostly hand appearring in my photograph. What other possible explanation could there be other than the existence of a Ghost? (Click the image to get the  full size (1.4MB) version) Feel free to distribute it to as many believers as you can find. This is their evidence that ghosts exist. Don’t point them to the original source of the image, it’s more fun if they find out after using the image as “credible” evidence.

This image was taken with a normal consumer grade Digital Camera I did not use any special functions or abilities of the camera and the image has not been digitally edited, with the exception of my watermark being added to the bottom right hand corner. The phenomenon that allowed me to take this photo is the simple refraction of light off a sheet of glass (the window).

Lemon Detox is a sham

We have probably all seen the Lemon Detox commercials for one of the latest snake oils to hit the market. It has all the red flags of a fraudulent product, celebrity endorsements, miracle claims and personal testimonies. What I can’t find is any scientific support for the claims that are made on the official Australian website. How ever I did find an interesting quote on the Spiritual Cleansing section of their site.

“Fasting is a valid experience. It can benefit any otherwise healthy person whose calories now have the upper hand in his or her life.”The New England Journal of Medicine

However that is as far as they go in terms of attributing the quote, no author, no year and no other reference. Let’s assume the quote is correct after all it is scientifically sound. According to the First Law of Thermodynamics if you consume less calories than you burn you are guaranteed to lose weight.

Ok so they made at least one scientifically solid statement, but are there any others? Well, no but what I did find was a religious quote.

Prayer takes us half way towards God, fasting takes us to the gates of Heaven”Mohammed.

Who would have thought the starving yourself might bring you closer to god. Is that really a good quote to market your product?

Let’s move on, hopefully to something more sensible. How about the “Why we need to Cleanse” page.

Every once in a while, every machine needs an overhaul, every system needs a cleaning, every worker needs a break.

We service our vehicles every once in a while to free them from any blockages or complications and to get them back to their peak performance. If we leave our vehicles for too long without a service, they begin to slow down, losing their vitality and performance. Usually problem after problem will occur. With regular servicing, our vehicles become revitalised and more reliable, and able to function efficiently.

Here’s the problem. A blockage is a serious medical condition if anything is blocking your circulatory or digestive system you need medical attention fast so unless you are in the ER right now you do not have any blockages to get rid of, or at least not one that your body can’t clear by it’s self. Another problem is the idea that “toxins” build up in the body. Yes, you can put poisons and toxins such as alcohol and tobacco into your body but your body disposes of nearly all toxins through natural processes you do not need to do anything to clear toxins out of your body except in extreme cases. Such as an overdose where the body cannot handle the excessive amount of toxin introduced to the system. Again this is a serious medical condition where treatment often involves replacing large amounts of blood. It is not a condition that can nor should be treated with the Lemon Detox Diet. This is simply Woo-Woo designed to part the ignorant masses from their hard earned cash.



If you want to clean out your digestive system drink nothing but water for a day, generally there is nothing in your system that is over 24 hours old. So if you drink water an don’t eat for about 24 hours your digestive system will be as clean as it has ever been. As for the weight loss, consume less calories than you burn and the First Law of Thermodynamics guarantees your success. The Lemon Detox is nothing more than snake oil a common fraud designed to part people from their cash. Celebrity endorsement is something to be weary of as snake oil sales men love to use them in order to lend credibility to their fraudulent product. The method I suggested is endorsed by a Law of Physics and backed by countless irrefutable scientific evidence. Lemon Detox is endorsed by celebrities rather than scientific evidence and there is a good reason for that.

Internet access a Human Right?

There is little question the “freedom of speech” is a human right, but what about the tool that enables that right?

A study conducted by the BBC has concluded that as many as four out of every five people believe that access the Internet is a fundamental Human Right. I for one agree with them. The Internet has given our society a level of freedom unmatched by any other revolution in history and it is no surprise that the governments of the world fear there citizens newfound freedom, especially if they are addicted to power and authority. (I’m looking at you China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Australia)

Almost four in five people around the world believe that access to the internet is a fundamental right, a poll for the BBC World Service suggests.

The survey – of more than 27,000 adults across 26 countries – found strong support for net access on both sides of the digital divide.

Countries such as Finland and Estonia have already ruled that access is a human right for their citizens.

International bodies such as the UN are also pushing for universal net access. -BBC News

With the governments of the world fighting to control and limit their citizens speech and access to information I believe we are on the verge of a new revolution. If we wish to keep our freedoms and uphold our democracy we must fend off every attack against the tool that enables them, starting with the Australian Governments Internet Censorship. So long as there are power hungry tyrants with no respect for Human Rights we will need to continue defending our Internet from such attacks or risk a long downhill slide towards totalitarianism.

Pre-Rise of Atheism Meetup.

Where: Lygon Court Food Court off Drummond St, Carlton

Date: Thursday, March 11, 2010

Time: 8:30pm – onwards

Facebook Link

AFA forum Discussion

Since many of us are arriving in Melbourne on thursday we have decided to hold a meetup before the convention. So far approximatly 60 Atheists are planning to meetup in Carlton for food and Drinks.


Hi All,

With 2010 having hit and The Rise of Atheism Convention fast approaching, it’s high time for Atheists from across the country/world to get together for a few drinks to kick off the weekend.

“World-renowned philosopher A.C. Grayling will be in conversation with Russell Blackford on Thursday 11 March, 6.30pm, Cinema Nova. Free, but please book on (03) 9347 6633.”

Following the launch, we will gather in the food court at the far end (Drummond Street) of Lygon Court, adjacent to the Borders Books coffee bar. Usually, there is plenty of room there, and it’s not noisy. It is projected that this would be around 8:30 for those of you who are unable to attend the launch.

From here it’s off into the night to decide where is looking good for a feed and drinks etc. If this is much earlier or later I will be contactable by phone please feel free to message me for this number if you plan to meet up at 8:30 or later.

Really looking forward to getting to meet a lot of people from all over the place and putting a few faces to names.

– Ben Turner

Special thanks to fellow atheist Ben Turner for arranging this meetup.