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Hiatus

This blog has taken something of an extended break over the last few months. We’re hoping that’ll change and that we’ll have new posts soon.

In the meantime you can find details of our meetings here and contact us here.

You can also visit some like minded sites –

Atheist Ireland

Irish Skeptics Society

Humanist Association of Ireland

Cork Skeptics

Hopefully those groups will provide something for everyone.

June Meeting

Details of our June meeting are below.

Date                      :               Tuesday 15th June  2010

Time                     :               20.00

Venue                  :               Carlton Castletroy Park Hotel

Atheists in a Pub

AIlogo4WEB-sml4Atheist Ireland will be holding the first of what will hopefully be regular Atheists in a pub events here in Limerick on Friday the 30th October in the Locke Bar. Start time will be 8pm.

The idea is to allow people to meet up in an informal setting for a chat and a few drinks and yes we ripped off the name from these guys 🙂 If anyone can think of a more original name let me know.

I’ll most likely post future events here but to be sure you’re kept up to date you should join our meetup.com group (thanks to Louis for setting this up). I think meetup.com has the potential to be a source of new members so if as many people as possible could join it would be helpful. A popular group is more likely to attract new people and it only takes two minutes to sign up and won’t cost you anything.

Also a reminder that you can join Atheist Ireland here and help to build a secular and ethical Ireland.

Scams, Sasquatch, and the Supernatural

I recently heard Brian Brushwood interviewed on the Skeptics Guide. This is the full video of the lecture he discusses in the interview, enjoy.

You can also see more of his videos here.

Open-mindedness

This issue came up at our meeting  yesterday and Louis suggested this video.  Thanks Louis.

I Had A Dream…

Last night, I had a dream.

It was a beautiful summer morning. The birds were chirping, the sun was just finished rising, and I was standing in a pristine field of green. I looked up at the sky and saw fluffy clouds lazily drifting by.

All of a sudden, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, something red in the sky, and I slowly spun to gaze at it. It seemed to evade my eyes every time I tried to focus on it, and see what it was. It was like a blob of red paint, hanging in the sky, and it was getting bigger. The sky began to get darker, the clouds spun away at frightening speeds as if chased from the sky. The sun reversed it’s course in the sky and began to set, defying all logic. As the red blob slowly got bigger, I could see a sickly patch of black emerge from within it.

I was terrified, rooted to the spot, jaw gaping, barely able to breathe, watching this horrific thing unfold from the sky itself. The form emerging from the sky began to take shape. A ball? A fist? Some fingers? A hand!? An arm was emerging from the sky, as if someone was trying to reach out from some other world into ours. My mind shook with the realisation that this was exactly what was happening. Some…Thing was pulling itself through a hole in the sky! It was impossible! I could not believe what I was seeing, but seeing it I was, and it felt so surreal and yet so wholly real at the same time that I could do nothing but watch in horror as this thing slid another arm through the sky, and forced it open wider, making an awful tearing sound that bore deep inside of you and made you feel like a tin can being ripped apart inside a car as it crashes head-first into a wall.

The ground shook. My heart pounded.  The Thing pulled what could only be described as it’s head through the rent in the sky. It looked like a disgusting mass of tentacles where it’s face should be, but as it shrugged them back they resolved into strands of hair, and it’s face emerged from behind the mass of hair. It looked human, dark-skinned and surprisingly normal, for a being ripping it’s way through the sky. The being laughed, or made a sound that could reasonably be approximated to a laugh, and the ground shook with a vicious tremble, forcing me to the ground.

I gazed up at the sky, and saw it turn blood red in the matter of seconds. Things were beginning to fall from the sky and all of the animals around me in the fields began falling over stone dead. The things resolved into flaming fireballs, and rocketed into the ground, shaking me to the core as I gripped the grass trying to steady myself. The Thing laughed it horrible laugh once more, and as I looked up, I could a vicious evil grin on it’s face.

It then reached it’s enormous hand towards me, and before I knew what was happening, I was enclosed in an enormous fist which was pulling me at an impossible speed towards the sky. I screamed and struggled, trying everything to break free of this being’s grip, but all to no avail. Flames rushed past my head as the fireballs streaked towards the earth. The being lifted me close to it’s face, and I struggled to push all of it’s features into focus, but it was simply too massive for that to work. The being eyed me with it’s evil grin, and spoke in a voice that felt like it could rip the skin from my bones. It seemed to scream past me towards the ground as it said “Here’s Jesus!”. I looked up at one humongous eye in pure terror. It blinked at me. I screamed.

I woke up bolt-upright in my bed, screaming at the ceiling as I slowly realised that the dream was over, and I was alone again. My heart pounded inside my chest, threatening to break free. My breath came in whispery gasps, and I struggled to regain my sanity as the door exploded open in a shower of splinters. A burly, indescribably hairy man burst through the now empty doorway wearing a burnished bronze chest-plate and a horned helmet. He towered over me as I quaked with fear and said, rather casually in an Australian accent, further accented by a severe lisp, “G’day mate. My name if Fhor!”. He blinked at me. I screamed.

I woke up bolt-upright in my bed, screaming at the ceiling as I slowly realised that the dream was over, and I was alone again. My heart pounded inside my chest, threatening to break free. My breath came in whispery gasps, and I struggled to regain my sanity. I stared at the door, willing it to stay complete and splinter-free. Thankfully it complied.

I threw myself against the bed.

Never again will I read the Bible before going to sleep while eating cheese covered chocolate biscuits.

NEVER!!!

FORA.tv – Eugenie Scott: Bigfoot and Wild Men of the Forest

 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Social Revolution, anyone?

Hey all,

I recently watched Zeitgeist II (a.k.a. Addendum) and I thought I would share my thoughts with all.

Aside from the rage-inducing piece on the Monetary system (money is created out of thin air!?!? WTF?!?!) the invention of which I’ve always held to be our second mistake after being stupid enough to come down out of the trees, the section on a Resource-Based economy really held my attention, and I’m convinced it may be the way forward for our wayward social structure.

One of the comments that really spoke to me was the fact that the monetary system is based on scarcity, e.g. diamonds are kept scarce to keep their price up, and yet if something is abundant no-one in their right mind would ever accept having to pay for it, something like air or water (yeah, i know about water charges).

The other things that had my jaw dropping in awe (and a twinge of anger) was the 4,000mph mag-train technology (making a trip from L.A. to Beijing a matter of an hour or two) and the fact that there is enough clean, free and, most importantly, self-renewing energy in the earth’s core that we could easily begin to harvest within the next 10years that would power the ENTIRE GLOBE’s energy needs for 4,000 years, eliminating the need to have to pay for an electricity bill ever again.

If you haven’t seen it, or its predecessor, I highly recommend it!! I also recommend checking out The Venus Project, which is a plan for a viable, sustainable resource-based economy. It is featured in the documentary and the people behind give interviews about the current state of society and their hopes for the project.

Now, I know I sound like one of those crazy 9/11 theorist wackos talking about a “New World Order” etc… but I’m not. While I realise the makers of the documentary do believe some of this crap, I don’t. I don’t buy that all our problems are caused by the “elite 1% of the population”. They, and the problems they cause, such as blocking global-scale Electric Car development, are merely a symptom of the Monetary system and I do believe that this Monetary-based system we’ve applied to our societies is crippling ourselves, our planet and our growth.

If you haven’t realised, we now have (and have had for quite some time) the technology, the resources and the manpower to house every single family on the planet. And yet we sit around watching people die of AIDS in Africa while the U.S. wastes tens of billions of dollars on “defense”, pharmaceutical companies charge 1500% the actual cost of their medicines and idiots like Edward Current‘s satirical Christian blame Satan for plane crashes.

So, anyone else believe that a social revolution is in order before we destroy ourselves and our planet?

Why Do People Believe in Magic?

Perhaps my title is unnecessarily confrontational but the water supply to my house stopped this morning (frozen/burst pipes) and I had to come to work without having a shower so I’m grumpy. Very grumpy. I’m also somewhat fragrant, but best not to dwell.

Anyway back to the question. From time to time I run into people who believe in the efficacy of things like Homoeopathy or dowsing and when I talk to them about why they think this they respond with anecdotes. Sometimes they are personally involved in the anecdotes, sometimes these are something they heard from someone who heard it from someone… etc. interestingly they rarely question either their own perception or the stories they are told. They also rarely question how these things work.

I’ve thought about this for a while and it seems there is a certain personality type, and this may be the majority of people, that will more readily believe subjective stories than objective evidence. Not only do they not see subjectivity as a weakness they see it as a positive strength.

I remember 25+ years ago hearing people discuss the link between smoking and cancer, the tobacco companies were still claiming there was a scientific controversy (denialists never change). I recall several times hearing statements like – “my aunt Joan smoked 60 a day and lived to be 90” – always delivered with a self satisfied tone as if this supposed fact trumped every medical study on the connections between smoking and lung cancer. Recently I watched a video of a debate on Homoeopathy on Ben Goldacre’s site and the comments at the end were of exactly the same type.

My question for you all is why should this be so? Why when someone is told that water has memory or that there is an ethereal substance called Qi disturbances in which cause illness and the balance of which can be restored by sticking pins in you (or not), don’t they question? Were these people born bereft of BS detectors? Is it purely an educational issue?

A more practical question is what do you do when confronted with a True Believer? Is it best just to smile and back away slowly?

Friday Music – Tim Minchin

Since he was featured as one of the New Humanist Advent podcast guests and was mentioned on Pharyngula I have been listening to/watching a lot of Tim Minchin and liking him more and more.

Below is a song that seems particulally apt for this blog. There’s lots more on YouTube but I like to keep things PG around here and most of it is NSFW so I’ll let you search for it yourselves.