Archive for the ‘Paranormal’ Category

British MP Seeks to Incorporate Astrology Into National Healthcare System

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

Well at least the US is not alone in having idiots for elected leaders.

Via the BBC:

Astrology-loving MP seeks health answers in the stars
A Conservative MP has spoken of his belief in astrology and his desire to incorporate it into medicine.

David Tredinnick said he had spent 20 years studying astrology and healthcare and was convinced it could work.

The MP for Bosworth, a member of the health committee and the science and technology committee, said he was not afraid of ridicule or abuse.

“There is no logic in attacking something that has a proven track record,” he told BBC News.

He said he had studied the Indian astrological system Iahiri and the way it was used by that country’s government and recalled how Chris Patten, Britain’s last governor of Hong Kong, had an official astrologer, whom Mr Tredinnick had consulted while on a parliamentary delegation there.

The MP recently spoke about his beliefs at the Glastonbury Festival, sharing a platform with Daily Mail astrologer Jonathan Cainer.

Recalling the experience in the House of Commons, he said he had been invited to take part because of his “radical agenda” on complementary medicine – he is vice-chairman of the government’s herbals working group.

He said he had been the subject of much ridicule for his beliefs over the years, including a fake Twitter account entitled “Inside the head of David Tredinnick”, but many of the sceptics who had attacked him were “bullies” who had “never studied the subjects”.

“I am absolutely convinced that those who look at the map of the sky for the day that they were born and receive some professional guidance will find out a lot about themselves and it will make their lives easier,” he told MPs.

Explaining his beliefs to BBC News, Mr Tredinnick said he had been right about herbal remedies and healing, which he said were now becoming accepted in parts of the NHS, and he now wanted to promote astrology, which was not just predicting the future but gaining an insight into personal problems.

I don’t have much more to say to this. I have, however, studied the subject. No, I have not studied the mechanics of astronomical prediction, but I have studied the accuracy, repeatability and social acceptance of astrology. I can say that science undoubtedly shows it does not work. This is no surprise, of course. The basis is arbitrary animals, characters and objects that ancient people say in the patterns of stars, which are themselves many light-years apart in space.

The fact that herbal and “natural” medicine is becoming accepted by NHS is not proof that it works. It’s proof that politicians and the public are ignorant of the subject and demand it. We have the same problem of alternative medicine creeping into the mainstream in the US. In fact, most countries seem to have that issue these days.

It’s also not a huge surprise that the former governor of Hong Kong had an astrologer. Many politicians are prone to believing in astrology or other superstitions.

Of course, when they use these superstitions to govern, that can be a problem. Thankfully for the UK, this one member of parliament is unlikely to be able to do much about getting astrology officially recognized or making it part of the medical system.

It is still unfortunate that this MP sits on science and health committees. Isn’t there someplace else they can put him? What about the Ministry of Silly Walks?

“Psychic” Sylvia Browne Dead

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Perhaps it is in poor taste not to be a bit more sad and respectful of the dead, but if that is the case, let me be in poor taste.

There are many self-proclaimed psychics who take advantage of people who are in a state of grief or desperation.  One of the most odious has been Sylvia Browne.   A frequent guest on the Montel Williams show, she is known for having made a series of predictions that turned out to be dead wrong, such as saying Shawn Hornbeck was dead when he was later found alive.

While the more skeptical of us would not pay much attention, it did cause a great deal of pain to the families searching for their lost loved ones.

So bad were her scams that my friend Robert Lancaster started the page Stop Sylvia some time ago.

Well, now she is stopped….

Via the Huffington Post:

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Christian Groups Insist Magicians Working With the Devil

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

This is one of the most ridiculous things I have heard in a while.   Apparently some Christian groups in the UK are claiming that the tricks and illusions preformed by magicians are evidence that they are working with evil spirits or the devil.  The magicians, some of whom are actually Christian, have defended their performances, insisting that they are not, in fact, doing anything supernatural, but are using illusions to create the appearance of something that is not really happening. Or that, at the very least, it’s an attempt to convince people of magical powers of the occult.

Via the Christian Post:

Christian Magicians Rise to Defend Themselves as Not Involved With the Occult

Christian magicians are rising to defend themselves against assertions made by a Christian Post columnist that the performance of magic may involve the occult.

They are upset with columnist Dan Delzell’s opinion that the U.K.-based magician Dynamo’s illusion of levitating alongside a red London double decker bus was real. Delzell related the performance to “witchcraft and contact with evil spirits, and the presumption that the art of magic is a gateway to demonic involvement.”

Delzell’s column incited a number of Christian magicians to leave comments criticizing his assumption that magic performances are linked to demonic power. These magicians included Jim Munroe, who works with worldwide ministries; Rob Robinson, a Christian magician and mentalist; and Joe Turner, who is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Magicians and served on the board of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

Munroe, who has worked with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, I Am Second, and Cru (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ), told The Christian Post on Monday that he received Delzell’s column through a secular magician friend and felt compelled to respond to it.

He is concerned that statements such as Delzell’s can hurt the Christian witness. He wrote a comment under the opinion piece, “The Illusion That Seduces and Bewitches Magicians.”

“I can tell you, with full authority, that the ‘magic trick’ created by Dynamo is in fact a ‘trick,’” Munroe stated. “Its effect is in no way achieved by supernatural means. It was achieved by natural means, and its purpose was to illicit a reaction similar to Steven Spielberg’s when he created the dinosaur in Jurassic Park: that of wonder … Don’t write about things that you don’t know anything about because you widen a gap with individuals that I am trying to shrink. You counteract the very inclusion that Jesus shared.”

This is so stupid it’s amazing anyone, even a fundamentalist would buy into it. The only thing I can think is that they are so prone to magical thinking that when they see something that appears to defy the laws of nature, they assume that it must, in fact, be magic. One wonders if they apply this same thinking to anything which produces an effect by means that are not readily observable. For example, why do mobile phones produce voices from distant people? Is it invisible electromagnetic waves or the power of Satan?

Any honest magician will tell you, at least candidly, that there’s nothing magical about what they do. Their illusions are exactly that. Their skill is to use misdirection, props, optical illusion and special effects to make it seem as if the impossible is happening.

Here is the illusion that some Christians are so up in arms about:



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Former Canadian Defense Minister on UFO’s

Friday, June 28th, 2013

When it comes to militarily important nations of the world, Canada ranks pretty highly. For one thing, it’s one of the closest (if not THE closest) allies of the US, frequently conducting joint training and exercises with the US military and given privileged access to US military data.  Canada is also a core member of NATO and to a tripartied mutual defense pact with the US and the UK.

Canada and the US both operate the North American Aerospace Defense Command, one of the largest air and space monitoring systems on earth. Canada hosts many of the advanced radar systems used by NORAD. These systems are integrated into a global air and space monitoring system which is responsible for other purposes, including being called upon to track civilian aircraft that go off course and tracking and cataloging orbital debris.

During the Cold War (and to some extent after) it was presumed that any air strike by the Soviet Union or Russia would include attacks on North America, flying over Canada’s airspace. As the second largest nation by area, Canada has enormous airspace and controls a very large portion of the North Atlantic and Pacific as territorial waters.

Although not as large as that of the US, Russia or China, the military of Canada is a very formidable fighting force and has been called upon for combat operations Afghanistan and in support of numerous relief operations and disaster responses around the world.

As a result, the Minister of National Defense of Canada is a pretty damn important job.

Paul Hellyer served briefly in that position.  He was a Canadian Member of Parliament from 1949 to 1974, making him one of the longest serving members of Parliament.  After leaving Parliament, Hellyer served in a number of advisory rolls on affairs related to the Canadian military.  After becoming less active in politics, Hellyer attempted to return to elected office through the formation of the Canadian Action Party in 1997. However, he was defeated in the election.

All things considered, Hellyer has served in some very important positions in a very important country. It might seem odd that he would be intrusted with such posts given that he has had a very strong interest in UFO’s and aliens since at least the late 1960′s. He began making extremely strong statements in the early 2000′s and became a fixture at North American UFO conferences.

Apparently the revival of his interest in UFO’s was the result of reading some conspiracy theorist books on UFO’s. Prior to this, it seems that Hellyer had only a passing interest in the topic and never took a strong stand on the issue. Hellyer has since gone on to claim to claim that UFO’s are absolutely real and demanded that the government’s of the world disclose what they know about alien technology.

In 2005, he stated:

Hellyer warned, “The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, “The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide.”

And here is a video of what he had to say about UFO’s more recently:



Just another reminder: This may was once the highest ranking minister overseeing a military force that was equipped with nuclear weapons, loaned from the United States, was responsible for some of the most important radar installations in the world and was a core founding member of NATO.

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A reptilian in the secret service?

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

It never ceases to amaze me what otherwise functional adults can believe.   Mind you, this video was produced by someone with enough of a grasp on reality to understand how to operate video editing software.  In fact, it probably involved more than one person.   These are the people who live along side each of us in society.



Okay, so now the reptilians are not simply the leaders but also their body guards?   That’s a new one.  I was under the impression that the evil alien overlords ruled but that their slave minions were humans.   One would think, in any case, they could keep the true shape-shifters hidden away from public events and use one of their human shills instead.   But then again, this does not need to make sense.

A few observations:

  1. The Secret Service acts as the presidents body guards and are basically paid to be paranoid and constantly on edge that he will be attacked.  Some hide it better than others, but if an agent is standing in a crowd looking around a lot, that’s because he’s doing his job.  crowds are dangerous because anyone could easily pull a gun, and although there are usually metal detectors, they are not foolproof.
  2. That looks to me like a tall, slender guy with a bald/shaved head.   Am I alone in this?
  3. Video cameras and compression are designed such that small details, normally not important to the picture, are lost in order to increase efficiency.  One of the things that many video systems have is a smoothing filter, which removes random noise from the image to improve compression.   It can make faint background details appear smooth.   This can happen a lot in areas that are darker than most of the image or where contrast is high.  The effect is increased by zooming. Of course, you can’t just crop and zoom and get an accurate picture.  The image has a finite resolution.  Any zooming beyond that is just pixel scaling.
  4. Do I seriously need to even

An Honest Liar: Upcoming Movie About James Randi

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Here’s a trailer for an upcoming documentary, which is still in the works, on the life of well known skeptic James Randi. They were actually filming this when I was at The Amazing Meeting last year.


What can I say about Randi that hasn’t already been said? He’s been a giant in the skeptic movement, and over the years he has been personally responsible for toppling many scam artists and exposing charlatans around the world. Now in his 80′s, he’s still a dynamo who is always out there advancing the cause of empirical skepticism.

I’ve disagreed with Randi on many occasions. However, he has still been one of the most important mentors I have had in becoming an activist for good science and skepticism. Randi’s most striking feature is that, despite his status, he is never too busy to provide some personal guidance or help to any aspiring skeptic. He’s easily approachable and has endless enthusiasm for helping others get involved in the cause.

There is no doubt that Mr. Randi is largely responsible for the recent explosion of skepticism and expansion of skeptical advocacy to include those who had not previously been heavily involved. For many years, one of the biggest problems with skepticism is that it has been limited primarily to older white male academics. Randi, with his charisma, showmanship and understanding of the importance of inclusion, has helped transform it into a movement which now includes more young people and a greater diversity of gender, race and background than ever before.

Psychic Char Margolis Fails Badly On TV

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

I have to admit, this really does not amount to much of a story, since it’s unlikely to change anyone’s mind, but god I love watching something like this…




Interesting that she brought up the “M or J” thing.�� I mean, how can you mistake an M for a J, which one is it?� And why do spirits always provide things one letter at a time?��� The funny thing is that it actually would apply to me to a huge extent.� My deceased paternal grandfather was named Joseph Joyce.� My grandmother is Mary Joyce.� I have an uncle whose name is also Joe Joyce, I have an aunt named Mary Anne, a cousin named Megan and my brother’s name is James.� It might be more of a stretch (although that never stopped a psychic from claiming success), but my sister’s middle name is Marie and my paternal Grandmother’s maiden name was Moriarty.�� I have many J and M names in my relations, although names starting with either one of those letters are extremely common.

I love how she says she didn’t know the age of the anchor woman’s daughter and therefore couldn’t know if she had a boyfriend.�� The whole damn point of being a psychic is you’re supposed to know stuff without being given all the information necessary to figure it out.�� If you know a person’s daughter is seventeen, for example, it’s not a long shot to guess she either has a boyfriend or has some kind of romantic interests.�� If she’s six, you can probably guess she does not.��� It’s so ridiculous to think a real “psychic” would need to be primed with the information to know this.

The best part is the other news anchor who actually takes her to task, pointing out that she didn’t guess the name of the woman’s daughter but only guessed J or an M for someone relating to the woman.�� It’s very common for a psychic to claim success for something they didn’t get outright but were lead to.� It’s also rare to get a news personality who will take them to task for this.� I wonder why she wants to do his reading off camera?

Need a Favor: Please Help Find Spelling Mistakes on Election Page

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

I really hate to do this, and I realize that it’s a bit unprofessional to openly ask for help with editing a page that is not even officially up.� However, as readers here may know, I’m not the best speller in the world, although I may well be the worst.

I am about to launch a website for my bid for the US Congress.�� However, I’m sure it has spelling errors in it and I can’t find them alone.�� Paying for editing would be expensive and likely delay things even more.�� That’s why I am asking to crowd source it from anyone kind enough to point them out.� I can be e-mailed or you can just point them out in the comments here.

The website (which is still not up as the main page) can be found at http://www.packard2012.org/test/

Once I am pretty sure there are no horribly embarrassing spelling errors I’ll move it to being the main page of the site.

I know that there are also parts of it that are lacking.�� It does not have a full photo gallery yet, the donations service is still pending on having the account finalized.� The “policies” section needs a few additional ones added.� I’m aware of that and working to add them.� Right now what I need help with is spelling.

Thanks to anyone who will help out.

Some Observations after Irene and the long Blackout

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

For those of you who do not know, I live In Connecticut. Recently my area was hit by Hurricane Irene, which caused the most extensive power outages in the regions history. Much has been made about how forecasters allegedly over-hyped Irene, because, as it turns out, it didn’t cause much flooding in New York City. While that may be true, it still decimated much of the East Coast and caused massive flooding elsewhere and damage to infrastructure to a massive extent.

In Connecticut, every single city and town experienced some power outages with the Shoreline being hit hardest. In Guilford CT, the town my parents live in and where I am employed, 100% of customers were without power by morning of Sunday, August 28. The damage to the power grid was extremely extensive. I drove down one major street and in a single mile I counted five locations where either power lines were down or trees had fallen and come into contact with power lines. In all, over one hundred of line breaks were reported in the town of Guildford. Many of them were more than simple line breaks. In at least a few circumstances, large trees came down and took down major distribution polls, crushing transformers and ripping wires down from several poles on each side. This is only one town! In the neighboring towns of Branford, North Branford, Madison, Clinton, Old Saybrook and all throughout Southern Connecticut things were just as bad.

Restoration of power was painfully slow, though this is understandable given the circumstances. The day after the storm, power was only beginning to be restored to a handful of customers, mostly in cities. By Wednesday, August 31, power began to be restored to a few of the central areas of the Southern Connecticut suburbs. On Tuesday the 30st of September, power was restored to my employer, which is located on a major road in the downtown area of Guildford CT. Residential areas began to flicker on this same day.� Also on Wensday, power came back at my apartment in Hamden Connecticut, a somewhat more urban and commercial area than Guildford. By the end of the week power was restored to the majority of Guildford and the surrounding area, but certainly not all of it. When I went to the bank on Friday the 2nd, they were running off a generator.

My parents home was unfortunate in being one of the last to have power restored in the area. The primary through street that feeds their street power had service by Friday, but a fault was detected in an underground cable on their street. I’m told by a utility worker that water from the saturated ground had found its way into the cable conduit and into a cable splice. The cable ended up needing to be dug up. It was not until Monday the 5th that power was restored to their home.

As of this posting, power has finally been restored to approximately 100% of the state.

Here are a few of my observations from what was the longest outage I’ve yet experienced:

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Dennis Markuze Arrested

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Click here if your browser does not support embedded videos to see the Yotube page.

Some Background:

You can also read more about this by searching Google News for the numerous stories this has generated.

If you are at all involved in the skeptic, atheist or science advocacy movement, there’s a good chance you’ve received some communications from a man by the name of Dennis Markuze. He sometimes goes by the name David Mabus and has been sending out various threats, hate messages and just spam for almost twenty years. Now 36, it seems Markuze started in the early days of the internet, spamming bulletin boards and mailing lists, before the web was even established.

His targets include anyone associated with skepticism, atheism or who he believes has somehow come out against his rather twisted belief system. He’s a rather big fan of Nostradamus who he seems to believe has predicted the end of Western Society. He’s also at least something of a doomsday “end-is-near” believer. He commonly talks about events like the attacks of 9/11 as being some kind of indictment against modern society.

His spam seems to come in waves on this site. He often will send dozens of messages. Most of these are blocked by the automatic spam guards, as mentioned here. He also sporadically e-mails me and sends tweets addressed to me. He does this to almost anyone who’s email address he can get and who he associates with skeptics or atheists. This includes prominent skeptics like Phil Plait, PZ Meyers and James Randi, but also people indirectly associated with them, such as James Randi’s former office manager and people who have mentioned these individuals favorably in blog posts.

He actually started spamming me after I wrote an article which was published by the JREF in which, amongst other things, I called Nostradamus vague and unimpressive. He didn’t like that, and upon seeing that I trashed psychics and other such phenomena on my page decided to go add me to his spam list.

Markuze’s basic belief is that he is part of some kind of propaganda war with skeptics and those who dismiss prophets and psychics. He believes he is a gifted prophet who has an important role in proving that Nostradamus and others are 100% correct.�� He believes those who speak ill of them are committing blasphemy and must be stopped.

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