400 Crazy Rednecks? I Don’t Think So

400 people converge on Cherryville, North Carolina each year to scare away witches. Justin Griffith has an excellent takedown of this (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/rockbeyondbelief/2012/01/02/400-crazy-rednecks-shoot-guns-to-scare-away-the-tree-witches-insane-footage/). In short, it turns out the “ancient” chant that accompanies the ritual actually dates from the 1800’s, rather than the 1300’s as claimed. It’s all pretty silly and a waste of time.

But my beef is not with these rednecks. No, it’s with Justin’s characterization of them as “crazy.” If I applied that label to everyone who forced their rituals on others, who were utterly ignorant of that ritual’s origins yet so enraptured with it that they cannot see how silly the entire thing is, who demand special priviledges for their ritual, I’d have to call at least six billion people “crazy” and the word would stop being useful.

HJ Hornbeck

In defense of determinism….

Jerry made quite a kurfuffle with his op-ed piece in USA Today denying the existence of ‘free will’ (http://www NULL.usatoday NULL.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2012-01-01/free-will-science-religion/52317624/1), and ably deals with his detractors (http://whyevolutionistrue NULL.wordpress NULL.com/2012/01/03/readers-comments-on-my-free-will-piece-and-my-responses/).

We can dispense with those critics that are dualists. This is simply an untenable position both philosophically and experimentally. It isn’t just that there is no evidence for dualism, but that there is a mountain of evidence against it. Split-brain studies, behavior modification through pharmaceuticals and pulsed magnetic fields, and brain injury case studies – all point to the mind being what the brain does. Nothing else is required. (And, please… No mention of near-death experiences. One need not be near death to experience NDEs, as they can be induced in the laboratory, and occur in a well known disorder known as ‘autoscopy’ (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Autoscopy).) There were even those that cited CS Lewis, and as Randy’s First Rule of Argumentation states, anyone that uses CS Lewis as an authority automatically loses the argument. Yeesh.
Continue reading “In defense of determinism….” »

But I Thought Pink Was For Boys…

Oh, how I love it when Rebecca gets on a rant:

EDIT: I’m sorry, this is my second major edit but sometimes when I rant I forget to include some important points. Like this: Ben [Radford]’s idiotic idea that girl toys are pink because of their dolls’ skin ignores all the dolls for boys that are Caucasian, like GI Joe, which are still packaged in blue or camo. Also, his point ignores the central issue: why are baby dolls “girl toys” in the first place? ARG SHUT UP
Intellectual Cage Match: Ben Radford vs a 4-year old (http://skepchick NULL.org/2012/01/intellectual-cage-match-ben-radford-vs-a-4-year-old/)

Alas, it’s all too human to fall victim to cognitive dissonance (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance). While skepticism is a great tool to combat that, it’s no magic sword.

HJ Hornbeck

Ringing in the New Year… the wrong way

So Cee-lo Green sings “Imagine” before the ball drop and, as has been done before, the lyrics are appallingly sanitized, changing “no religion too” to “all religion is true”. It’s sheer cowardly pandering bullshit. If you can’t respect the ideas of the song then just don’t sing the song. Leave it alone.

I’m with Daniel Fincke (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/camelswithhammers/2012/01/01/john-lennon-did-not-imagine-that-all-religion-is-true/); it drastically changes the song, and is an insult to any god worth their salt. If your belief is so weak that you can’t even entertain the concept of atheism, you don’t deserve to believe.

HJ Hornbeck

Sometimes, the impossible does happen

I’m a little embarrassed that I missed out on this, because if someone just casually mentioned it to me I wouldn’t have believed it:

Confession, they say, is good for the soul. So Dan, I was a faith fibber. Sorry about that.

Yes, that’s a defender of religion admitting he lied in the line of duty, and apologizing for it (http://www NULL.huffingtonpost NULL.com/karl-giberson-phd/the-temptation-of-faith-f_b_610602 NULL.html). I’ve read the piece a few times, and can’t detect any sign of sarcasm or parody. It looks completely legit. Admittedly, the apology was for something small and trivial, a mis-attributed quote, but still…

… bravo, Karl Giberson.

HJ Hornbeck

Feminism on the Shop Floor

[In light of the recent dust-up over sexism in skepticism (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/greta/2011/12/29/why-yes-but-is-the-wrong-response-to-misogyny/), I thought I’d dust off one of my favorite pieces on the subject. It first saw light of day on Rational Alberta October 14th, 2011 (http://www NULL.rationalalberta NULL.com/viewtopic NULL.php?f=9&t=174)]

Whenever I looked at her to say something, her thoughts blazed back at me. “Uh oh, a young man with power is about to talk to me. Brace for the worst.”

Continue reading “Feminism on the Shop Floor” »

Save a little cash via Homoeopathy!

[This article was originally published in The Gauntlet on October 20th, 2011 (http://thegauntlet NULL.ca/story/15847)]

I’m sure you’ve all heard of homoeopathic medicine. No? Goodness, it’s
all the rage nowadays! We sink at least two billion dollars into it
per year, as a globe, and many pharmacies ensure they have fresh stock
of it. And yet these remedies can be made at home easily, which is
rather tempting for those on a student budget. With October 23rd
coming up so soon, there’s simply no excuse; I’ll teach all of you how
to prepare your own homoeopathic medicine. Continue reading “Save a little cash via Homoeopathy!” »

But don’t you worship science?

Having dealt with the “atheism is a religion” trope twice in the last two weeks, it was great to see one of my fave thoughtful atheists, John Loftus, has weighed in on the matter (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/loftus/2011/12/29/atheism-is-not-a-religion-one-more-time-with-a-punch/):

Among other things atheism can probably best be defined as the view that there isn’t sufficient evidence to believe in any one or more proposed gods, such as Zeus or Hathor or Odin or Baal or Yahweh. Everyone can understand this definition quite easily since we all know what it’s like not to believe something that doesn’t have sufficient evidence for it. So how is atheism a religion? How is nonbelief a religion?

HJ Hornbeck

The First Episode of The Legion of Reason is Here!!!

Christine, Haysn, Twyla and I got together last night to record our first podcast episode wherein we take on a local chapter of Big Placebo (Xerion Homoeopathie). We discuss homeopathy industry in general and how some try to rationalize why randomized controlled trials fail to demonstrate any efficacy of homeopathic preparations whatsoever. As a teaser, I’ll just say it involves quantum entanglement and the interference observed in the famous double-slit experiment. I kid you not.

In the grand tradition of the Merseyside skeptics and James Randi, I overdose on glonoinum – a homeopathic preparation of nitroglycerine – and spend the rest of the episode in grave danger of blowing up. Or not.

We also discuss the Government of Canada’s recent imitation of Stacy London declaring what is fashionable while taking the oath of citizenship – No burqas or nadiqs allowed. We present the reaction of a Calgary imam Syed Soharwardy (leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada) to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s edict.


  1. Xerion Homoeopathie (http://www NULL.xerion NULL.ca) website
  2. Our Xerion Homoeopathie No Thanks (https://www NULL.facebook NULL.com/pages/Xerion-Homoeopathie-No-Thanks/269567389757714) Facebook page
  3. Just in case you thought I was kidding about the claim that quantum entanglement nullifies the use of RCTs in assessing homeopathic treatments, here’s Lionel Milgrom’s paper (http://www NULL.ncbi NULL.nlm NULL.nih NULL.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1810362/pdf/nel062 NULL.pdf) in the ironically-named journal Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. There is no evidence for Milgrom’s model whatsoever, and in fact violates everything we know about quantum mechanics.
  4. CTV Calgary News (http://calgary NULL.ctv NULL.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20111212/CGY_burkas_veil_111212/20111212?hub=CalgaryHome) reporting of Jason Kenney prohibiting face coverings while taking the oath of citizenship and Syed Soharwardy’s over-the-top comparison with pre-Holocaust treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany.

A solo oldie by Randy…

Merry Christmas all!

I needed a MP3 to upload in order to get some practice in how to get an podcast out there. This is part 1. Part 2 will be getting it onto iTunes.

I had long wanted the name The Legion of Reason for a podcast and recorded a solo episode in October of 2010. I start off looking at homeopathy and then moved on to a something that really, REALLY pissed me off. CTV Calgary News – notoriously bad for reporting woo as if it were evidence-based medicine –  presented a piece on Nambudripad’s allergy elimination technique. I criticize one of the most egregious examples of irresponsible reporting. Not only is woo being presented as if it were an alternative for getting rid of allergies, there was no representation of the medical community’s opinion on this.

And I called bullshit.

CTV Calgary News’ atrocious report on NAET (http://calgary NULL.ctv NULL.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20100506/CGY_Allergy_Food_100506/20100506/?hub=CalgaryHome)