Damned Heretics

Condemned by the established, but very often right

I am Nicolaus Copernicus, and I approve of this blog

I am Richard Feynman and I approve of this blog

Qualified outsiders and maverick insiders are often right about the need to replace received wisdom in science and society, as the history of the Nobel prize shows. This blog exists to back the best of them in their uphill assault on the massively entrenched edifice of resistance to and prejudice against reviewing, let alone revising, ruling ideas. In support of such qualified dissenters and courageous heretics we search for scientific paradigms and other established beliefs which may be maintained only by the power and politics of the status quo, comparing them with academic research and the published experimental and investigative record.

We especially defend and support the funding of honest, accomplished, independent minded and often heroic scientists, inventors and other original thinkers and their right to free speech and publication against the censorship, mudslinging, false arguments, ad hominem propaganda, overwhelming crowd prejudice and internal science politics of the paradigm wars of cancer, AIDS, evolution, global warming, cosmology, particle physics, macroeconomics, health and medicine, diet and nutrition.

HONOR ROLL OF SCIENTIFIC TRUTHSEEKERS

Henry Bauer, Peter Breggin , Harvey Bialy, Giordano Bruno, Erwin Chargaff, Nicolaus Copernicus, Francis Crick, Paul Crutzen, Marie Curie, Rebecca Culshaw, Freeman Dyson, Peter Duesberg, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, John Fewster, Galileo Galilei, Alec Gordon, James Hansen, Edward Jenner, Benjamin Jesty, Michio Kaku, Adrian Kent, Ernst Krebs, Thomas Kuhn, Serge Lang, John Lauritsen, Mark Leggett, Richard Lindzen, Lynn Margulis, Barbara McClintock, George Miklos, Marco Mamone Capria, Peter Medawar, Kary Mullis, Linus Pauling, Eric Penrose, Max Planck, Rainer Plaga, David Rasnick, Sherwood Rowland, Carl Sagan, Otto Rossler, Fred Singer, Thomas Szasz, Alfred Wegener, Edward O. Wilson, James Watson.
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Many people would die rather than think – in fact, they do so. – Bertrand Russell.

Skepticism is dangerous. That’s exactly its function, in my view. It is the business of skepticism to be dangerous. And that’s why there is a great reluctance to teach it in schools. That’s why you don’t find a general fluency in skepticism in the media. On the other hand, how will we negotiate a very perilous future if we don’t have the elementary intellectual tools to ask searching questions of those nominally in charge, especially in a democracy? – Carl Sagan (The Burden of Skepticism, keynote address to CSICOP Annual Conference, Pasadena, April 3/4, 1982).

It is really important to underscore that everything we’re talking about tonight could be utter nonsense. – Brian Greene (NYU panel on Hidden Dimensions June 5 2010, World Science Festival)

I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing ever interfered with my learning was my education. My name as you already perceive without a doubt is George Bernard Shaw, and I certainly approve of this blog, in that its guiding spirit appears to be blasphemous in regard to the High Church doctrines of science, and it flouts the censorship of the powers that be, and as I have famously remarked, all great truths begin as blasphemy, and the first duty of the truthteller is to fight censorship, and while I notice that its seriousness of purpose is often alleviated by a satirical irony which sometimes borders on the facetious, this is all to the good, for as I have also famously remarked, if you wish to be a dissenter, make certain that you frame your ideas in jest, otherwise they will seek to kill you.  My own method was always to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity. (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life magazine) One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways. – Bertrand Russell, Conquest of Happiness (1930) ch. 9

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South Park comments on the HIV?AIDS debate

Religion and pseudo religion as enemies of free speech

Curiously appropos, HIV debunkers will surely think, when they see the November episode lampooning Scientology, in which Stan is informed by the leader of Scientology about how things really work inside the church.

This is the exchange between the leader of Scientology and the kid Stan, after Stan falls into the hands of Scientologists with their E meters, who persuade him that his reading indicates he is depressed though he didn’t know it, but then when they give him a bigger test, his score is so high that they decide he is L. Ron Hubbard reborn:

Stan: It’s not about the money, it’s about the message, right?
Leader: Wait a minute, Whoah, whoah. You don’t actually believe that crap do you? Dummy! Brainwashed alien souls! E meter and theta levels! Those people out there buy that crap but I thought you were smart enough to see what was really going on. What’s better than telling people a stupid story and havng them believe you? Having them pay you for it stupid?
Stan: But why me? Why do you need me to write something or lead you?
Leader: Because if these people all think you are the reincarnation of L Ron Hubbard, then they they’ll buy your new writings and you and I together will make $3 million.
Stan: $3 million?
Leader: That’s how a scam works! But this is a scam on a global scale! Do you f-ing get me now?
Stan: Yeah, yeah, I get you.
Leader: Then keep writing L. Ron, your people are waiting…..

(Later) Leader: Fellow scientologists, our prophet has finished his writing and he will now read it to you before making it available to you at a nominal fee..
Stan (unable to get started):…I… I… Look, I can’t do this. You know, we all want to know who we are and where we cam from. Sometimes we want to know so badly we will believe anything. I am not L. Ron Hubbard. Scientology is just a big fat global scam!
Leader: Oh. Oh. We are gonna sue you!
Stan: What?
Leader: Yes you think you can say our religion is a lie?! We are gonna sue you, buddy!
Stan: But you told me it was a lie!
Leader: Oh now you are putting words in my mouth. You are so sued! You can’t make fun of Scientology. Kid we are gonna sue your a*s and your b**ls. How dare you mock our founder you little punk! You’ll be hearing from our lawyers tomorrow.
Stan: OK sue me! Go ahead. I’m not scared of you. Sue me!

This may seem a reassuring example of free speech in action in comedy, but in digging around to try and find the entire script, we discovered that on the contrary, it seems to be an example of free speech that was soon restricted by pseudo-religion.

First the episode, Trapped In The Closet (a technically first class youtube.com feed if you have broadband), was reported by CNN and others to have triggered the resignation of Isaac Hayes last week from providing the voice of the Chef, since Hayes is a scientologist, as are Tom Cruise and John Travolta. According to the BBC Hayes objected to the ridicule of religion, a status now claimed by Scientology:

Tuesday, 21 March 2006, 14:06 GMT

South Park backs Chef for series

The 10th season of South Park will open in the US on Wednesday with a new episode featuring Chef, days after the departure of soul singer Isaac Hayes.

It will dispel speculation that the Chef character, which Hayes voiced, was to be axed after Hayes left over the show’s satirising of religion.

A recent episode parodied the Church of Scientology, to which Hayes belongs.

It is not yet clear who is providing Chef’s voice, said a spokesman for US TV channel Comedy Central.

The series, which has been running since 1997, tells the story of four boys in the dysfunctional Colorado town and regularly deals with sensitive subjects and satirises famous figures.

A synopsis of the new episode titled The Return of Chef states that the boys notice “something about Chef that seems different. When Chef’s strange behaviour starts getting him in trouble, the boys pull out all the stops to save him.”

Hayes left South Park last week, saying the show was insensitive to “personal spiritual beliefs”.

“There is a place in this world for satire but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry toward religious beliefs begins,” he said.

Co-creator Matt Stone said Hayes would be released from his contract and had the best wishes of the South Park team.

Stone said: “In 10 years and over 150 episodes of South Park, Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons or Jews.

“He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show.”

In a recent episode, one of the gang, Stan, did so well in a Scientology test that church followers thought he was the next L Ron Hubbard, the late science-fiction writer who founded Scientology.

Hayes did not take part in that episode, Trapped in the Closet, which was first broadcast in the autumn.

A planned repeat scheduled for last week was cancelled at the last minute in favour of two repeats featuring Isaac Hayes as Chef.

But all this may be just a prime example of the unreliability of the media these days, for this report was later corrected by Roger Friedman on Fox411 at FoxNews which reported that Isaac Hayes had not been particularly offended, and had not resigned, but that it had been done for him by some other scientologist, a woman who had issued the statement. According to FoxNews via MediaGab Hayes had a stroke three months ago and is recovering at home, which is why he has not been able to appear in South Park recently.

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 12:00 PM

From MediaGab

Actors and Actresses

Isaac Hayes may not have quit “South Park” at all – or at least not willingly. Turns out Hayes has been away from Comedy Central’s hit show for the past three months because he had a stroke.

According to foxnews.com, he’s at home recuperating and did not issue the press release which said he was quitting because the show made fun of his faith.

That release was put out by fellow Scientologist Christina “Kumi” Kimball, a fashion executive for designer Craig Taylor.

According to foxnews.com, “Hayes loves ‘South Park’ and needs it for income. He has a new wife and a baby on the way.”

In other words, someone issued a statement on behalf of Isaac Hayes which he didn’t subscribe to, and Matt Stone replied (possibly knowingly, since it would generate publicity anyway) without checking with Hayes, and other news stories were written on the basis of the first news stories, followed by a mass of comment.

Then the repeat really was pulled, courtesy of Tom Cruise.

Meantime, Tom Cruise may have gotten Comedy Central to pull its repeat of “South Park”‘s Scientology spoof last week, but the result is that episode is all over the Web. You can see it for free at youtube.com.

Not only that, the Comedy Central Web site has four clips from the 21-minute show. And it also says that “Trapped in the Closet” will air this Wednesday at 10 p.m.

So whether or not Cruise actually did use influence at Viacom/Paramount to get the show pulled from last week’s schedule, here it is, bigger and better than ever. Of course, no one would have cared one way or another if “Trapped” simply had aired on schedule.

Of course, no one could blame Cruise, John Travolta or even R&B singer R. Kelly for being upset about the episode. They are poked fun at mercilessly.

In the episode, Stan, one of the “South Park” characters, is solicited into Scientology. He gives them $240 and takes an EMeter test. This convinces the higher-ups that Stan is the reincarnation of the group’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

That would be bad enough, wouldn’t it? But Cruise visits Stan in his bedroom and winds up hiding in his closet when Stan tells him he’s not the greatest actor. Thus is born the line “Tom Cruise won’t come out of the closet.”

It’s repeated dozens of times. Travolta soon joins Cruise in Stan’s closet. He won’t come out, either. And when they do, there is the ecstatic announcement that they’ve “come out of the closet.”

You get the picture. But nothing in “Trapped in the Closet” is any worse than anything “South Park” creators Stone and Parker have done before. Just rent “Team America” and see what I mean.

So the pulling of the episode was apparently not even due to Hayes, but to Tom Cruise, according to Reuters. Given that the episode said quite plainly that Scientology was a scam with a stupid story, one can imagine that the entire organization was frantic to prevent a repeat:

Two days later, Comedy Central abruptly pulled a scheduled repeat of that episode, titled “Trapped in the Closet.” Sources close to the show said the rerun was canceled after Cruise threatened to boycott promotion of his upcoming film, “Mission: Impossible III,” for sister studio Paramount Pictures.

Whatever the truth of the matter, it seems clear that Scientology now has influence on US entertainment media, even as large an outfit as Viacom, through the membership of Cruise and other celebrity members. We are watching with interest to see if the scientologists take up the challenge and sue South Park for what was a straightforward depiction of their church operation as a scam.

Meanwhile the creators of South Park are digging in. So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun!

‘South Park’ Battle ‘Has Just Begun’

March 18, 2006

(AP)

Quote

“So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun!”

“South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone

(AP) “South Park” has declared war on Scientology.

Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of the animated satire, are digging in against the celebrity-endorsed religion after a controversial episode mocking outspoken Scientologist Tom Cruise was yanked abruptly from the schedule Wednesday, with an Internet report saying it was covert warfare by Cruise that led to its departure.

“So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun!” the “South Park” creators said in a statement Friday in Daily Variety. “Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies… You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail!”

The Internet blogger hollywoodinterrupted.com said Thursday that Cruise threatened to not promote “Mission: Impossible 3,” a surefire summer blockbuster, if the offending episode ran. Comedy Central is owned by Viacom, as is Paramount, which is putting out the film.

But Cruise’s representative, Arnold Robinson, told The Associated Press Friday that the mega-star made no such demands.

“Not true,” Robinson said. “I can tell you that he never said that.”

A call by The Associated Press to a Paramount representative was not returned Friday.

The episode in question, “Trapped in the Closet,” which first aired last November, shows Scientology leaders hailing Stan, one of the show’s four devilish fourth-graders, as a savior. A cartoon Cruise locks himself in a closet and won’t come out. An animated John Travolta, another famous Scientologist, enters the closet to try to get him out.

The battle began in earnest earlier this week when Isaac Hayes, another celebrity Scientologist and longtime show member, voicing the ladies’ man Chef, quit the show, saying he could no longer tolerate its religious “intolerance and bigotry.”

“There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins,” the 63-year-old soul singer and outspoken Scientologist said.

“Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored,” he continued. “As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices.”

Stone and Parker didn’t buy that either.

On Monday, Stone told The Associated Press, “This is 100 percent having to do with his faith in Scientology…He has no problem, and he’s cashed plenty of checks, with our show making fun of Christians.”

A Comedy Central spokesman said Friday that the network pulled the controversial episode to make room for two shows featuring Hayes.

“In light of the events of earlier this week, we wanted to give Chef an appropriate tribute by airing two episodes he is most known for,” the spokesman said.

©MMVI, The Associated Press.

Abdul at least has Condoleeza and W on his side


Put this together with the latest outrage in Afghanistan where the unfortunate Abdul Rahman’s very life is in danger even though the latest report is that he is to be freed, since at least one cleric has called for him to be torn limb from limb if he is let go, and one begins to realize the roots of belief even in science may be the religious impulse.

A religious attitude where if you convert to another religion you are threatened with death, as in the case of Abdul, is not much different except in degree from the behavior of the HIV faithful when they are confronted with skepticism. Whether their behavior is appropriately described by the South Park script is another question.

Given the almost childish weakness of the HIV?AIDS paradigm in every major respect it is hard not to think it is. But since they seem to combine the insecurity of the religious when they face sharp analysis with the bullying attitude of the Scientologists, a combination of religious feeling and scam motivation is strongly suggested.

However, as we have often said, we agree with Lang that discussions of motivation are always impure speculation and that the science has to be decided on its own merits.

Hundreds protest reports Afghan convert to be freed

Hundreds protest reports Afghan convert to be freed

Monday, March 27, 2006 Posted: 1009 GMT (1809 HKT)

A source close to the case says that Christian convert Abdul Rahman “could be released soo

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) — Hundreds of people protested in a northern Afghan city following reports that a man who faced a possible death penalty for converting to Christianity would be released, officials said.

About 700 Muslim clerics and others chanted “Death to Bush” and other anti-Western slogans in Mazar-e-Sharif on Monday, officials told The Associated Press.

Clerics have called for protests across Afghanistan against both the government and the West, which had pressured President Hamid Karzai’s administration to drop the case against Abdul Rahman.

On Sunday, a Western diplomat and Afghan officials close to Karzai told CNN that Rahman would be released soon.

Other sources in the Afghan judiciary said the case against Rahman had been thrown out on technical grounds and sent back to prosecutors to gather more evidence.

Those same sources said Rahman may not be released.

Karzai has been under growing international pressure to find a way to free Rahman without angering Muslim clerics who have called for him to be killed.

The Afghan Cabinet discussed the case Saturday, but results of that meeting were unknown. A government source familiar with his case said on Friday he would be released in the coming days.

On Sunday, The Associated Press quoted an official as saying an Afghan court had dismissed the case against Rahman because of a lack of evidence. (Watch Washington’s view of the case — 2:05)

The official told AP the case had been returned to prosecutors for more investigation and that Rahman would be released in the meantime.

“The court dismissed today the case against Abdul Rahman for a lack of information and a lot of legal gaps in the case,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. AP said the official has been closely involved with the matter.

“The decision about his release will be taken possibly tomorrow,” AP quoted the official as saying. “They don’t have to keep him in jail while the attorney general is looking into the case.”

Abdul Wakil Omeri, a spokesman for the Supreme Court, confirmed to AP that the case had been dismissed because of “problems with the prosecutors’ evidence.”

He said several family members of Rahman have testified that he has mental problems.

“It is the job of the attorney general’s office to decide if he is mentally fit to stand trial,” he told AP.

A Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said questions were now being raised as to whether Rahman would stay in Afghanistan or go into foreign exile, AP reported.

The judge presiding over Rahman’s case told Reuters the case had flaws and had been referred back to prosecutors. But he declined to elaborate on the flaws or say if the review would delay the trial, which had been due to begin in coming days.

“The case, because of some technical as well as legal flaws and shortcomings, has been referred back to the prosecutor’s office,” the judge, Ansarullah Mawlavizada, told Reuters.

Earlier Sunday, AP quoted prosecutor Sarinwal Zamari as saying that doctors would examine Rahman on Monday to determine whether he was mentally fit to stand trial.

“It has been said that he has mental problems,” the prosecutor said. “Doctors will examine him tomorrow and will then report to us.”

According to an interview published Sunday in an Italian newspaper, Rahman said he is fully aware of his choice and is ready to die for it.

“I am serene. I have full awareness of what I have chosen. If I must die, I will die,” AP quoted Rahman as telling the Rome daily La Repubblica.

“Somebody, a long time ago, did it for all of us,” he added in a clear reference to Jesus.

The newspaper did not interview Rahman directly but sent him questions through a human rights worker who visited him at a Kabul detention facility. Authorities have barred journalists from seeing Rahman.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she could not confirm that an Afghan court had dismissed the case and stressed the U.S. needs to respect the sovereignty of Afghanistan, which she called a “young democracy.”

“Unlike the Taliban, it actually has a constitution to which one can appeal,” she told CNN’s “Late Edition.” “We as Americans know in democracy, as it evolves, there are difficult issues about state and church — or, in this case, state and mosque.

“We expect that, given our own history, that we would know Afghans have to go through this evolution.”

Asked if U.S. Christian missionaries should be encouraged to go to Afghanistan, Rice told NBC: “I think that Afghans are pleased to get the help that they can get” but added “we need to be respectful of Afghan sovereignty.”

Rahman, 41, faces trial on charges of converting to Christianity — a death-penalty offense under Afghanistan’s constitution, which is based on Islamic law.

Rahman reportedly converted 16 years ago while he was a medical aid worker for an international nongovernmental organization (NGO).

The case reflects a gulf between Afghanistan’s conservative and clerical judiciary and the fledgling Western-backed democracy led by Karzai.

“We’ve been very clear with the Afghan government that it has to understand the vital importance of religious freedom to democracy,” Rice said.

U.S. troops overthrew Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban, which had harbored al Qaeda, following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

U.S. troops are still battling Taliban and al Qaeda remnants in parts of the country.

Also on Sunday, AP quoted officials as saying Rahman had been moved to a notorious maximum-security prison outside Kabul that is also home to hundreds of Taliban and al Qaeda militants.

Rahman was moved to Policharki Prison last week after detainees threatened his life at an overcrowded police holding facility in central Kabul, a court official said on condition of anonymity, AP reported.

Gen. Shahmir Amirpur, who is in charge of Policharki, confirmed the move and said Rahman had been begging his guards to give him a Bible, according to AP. (Full story)

Journalist Tom Coghlan contributed to this report.

Copyright 2006 CNN.

2 Responses to “South Park comments on the HIV?AIDS debate”

  1. Christian Peper Says:

    Good points. I think that the gov. has been part of the hiv=aids cover up. Keep up the good work. Christian Peper

  2. Truthseeker Says:

    Thanks, Christian, we can assure you that you are dead right, since it is not denied by those government oficials who are responsible, namely Anthony Fauci, who publicly announced in a AAAS newsletter that reporters who brought up the topic of how things may be amiss in HIV∫AIDS would not afterwards get their calls returned by his people at NIAID, and indeed this is what happened to reporters such as Eleanor Burkitt, of the Miami Herald, who wrote a fairly penetrating book on the topic only to find that she was forced to change fields. She is now an editor of some kind at Elle, the masthead reveals.

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