Zeno's Blog

The random thoughts of a sceptical activist.

I want to get in on the act

Everyone is blogging about the British Chiropractic Association’s libel action against Simon Singh.

I have been posting comments, observations and some of my research on Think Humanism, but I thought it was time I gathered it all together. I have had this blog for a few years, but only made a few posts – now’s the time to start blogging in earnest and the Simon Singh debacle is a good place to start!

My first posts will simply be what I have already written for Think Humanism, but I hope to continue once Simon has been vindicated!

No doubt, having started with this post, it’ll appear below my other posts…

What is it with religions?

What is it with religions, who preach tolerance, respect for their fellow man (and occasionally their fellow woman), etc, that they need so many inter-faith groups just to get them talking to each other, even if they all believe in the same god? The Pope only very occasionally talks to Muslims and even within Christianity, they can’t even agree the basics.

Also, why does the UK Government fund so many projects just to help religions talk to each other? That wouldn’t be because they aren’t actually that good at listening and tolerating each other, would it?

What is it about discussion forums?

I’m a member of a discussion forum with reasonably intelligent people.

Why is it that most discussions there tend to be characterised by someone stating their opinion, someone else disagreeing (frequently vehemently) and stating their opinion and all the first person does is re-state their opinion?

There is far too little proper, rational, reasoned, respectful discussion where evidence is given in support of a position, views of others considered, focussing on the substance of the argument, perhaps some research done and preparedness to shift an opinion in the face of evidence.

It currently just seems to put people on the defensive, puts backs up and frequently doesn’t take us forward.


Fortune-tellers & other charlatans

I’m glad to see that newspapers have not resorted to asking fortune-tellers, astrologers, psychics and other charlatans about what they predict for the coming year after their collectively spectacular failure to foresee the tragic events of 26 December 2004.

If only they would take one further small step and end the publishing of horoscopes.

The ones that still do in this part of the world include:

Sunday Herald
The Guardian
The Observer

Christian Unions

What is it with Christian Unions at Universities in the UK?

They have been complaining that Students’ Unions have refused to affiliate them because they won’t allow non-Christians to join.

It transpires that they also want all speakers to sign up to their doctrinal statement before being allowed to address their members. Additionally, therre have been complaints about a course they run based on the book ‘Pure’ by Linda Marshall. This has been described as hompphobic by some, particularly since it apparently claims that gays can be cured of their affliction!

Now, some Students’ Unions (eg Heriot Watt in Edinburgh) have, indeed, refused to accept them. They have a constitution, bye-laws and policies, which conform to the
1994 Education Act, and they cannot affiliate an organisation not prepared to adhere to these. These mandate equality of access to all students, regardless of the particular society.

It seems that the CU is not prepared to sign up to this, hence the Students’ Union.

Now, what the CUs are complaining about is restriction of free speech.

They are guilty of trying to evade the issue and deflect it onto other issues.

Is there a reciprocal ‘free speech’ right that says CU members have a right to be exposed to other ideas, other than those narrowly prescribed by those at the top of the CU?

[Pure: Sex and Relationships God’s Way

Available from good Christian bookshops, and www.ivpbooks.com/pure
(IVP, £6.99 144 pages, hardback)
ISBN: 978-1-84474-090-1

Some materials to be used with the book can be found here:


It gives a good idea of the content of the course.]

Watch this space!

Watch this space!

Je suis Charlie

Pod Delusion