In Australia, Where is the FDA?, From the Mouths of Babes, Off-the-Cuff-Cold Reading, Reaching the Heart - the Hard Way, God Sued, Sylvia Writes, Not Enough Atoms, and In Closing…
There’s good news and bad news from Down Under. First, as reported there recently by Australian TV:
An attempt to broaden the appeal of state education appears to be coming unstuck in [the state of] Victoria where an investigation was launched this week into a public school offering the Steiner method of teaching.To clarify: the “Steiner System” is based on the religion known as Anthroposophy. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), was the Austrian woo-woo philosopher/mystic who founded the religion and the famous Waldorf schools, where his postulated "natural rhythms of everyday life" are pursued to “aid every child to unfold his or her unique destiny.” Waldorf teachers are given creative freedom to define curricula, to the extent that I have personally seen astrology, Wood Spirits, and Speaking to Trees incorporated into curricula in Finland and in Germany.
There’s good news and bad news from Down Under. First, as reported there recently by Australian TV:
An attempt to broaden the appeal of state education appears to be coming unstuck in [the state of] Victoria where an investigation was launched this week into a public school offering the Steiner method of teaching.
To clarify: the “Steiner System” is based on the religion known as Anthroposophy. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), was the Austrian woo-woo philosopher/mystic who founded the religion and the famous Waldorf schools, where his postulated "natural rhythms of everyday life" are pursued to “aid every child to unfold his or her unique destiny.” Waldorf teachers are given creative freedom to define curricula, to the extent that I have personally seen astrology, Wood Spirits, and Speaking to Trees incorporated into curricula in Finland and in Germany. The Waldorf System divides children into four “temperaments,” defined as “choleric, phlegmatic, melancholic, and sanguine.” These are thought to express four basic “types” of personalities to which everyone belongs, and education is tailored to serve each type. To continue:
The review is being undertaken after a significant number of students failed to meet literacy and numeracy standards. This investigation follows one into the Steiner stream at another primary school where parents complained that the spirituality of the Steiner system was incompatible with secular public education.
The TV program report related the case of one alarmed parent who told them that the Steiner teachers had decided that his son’s
…soul wasn't fully incarnated yet, which was a strange thing for me to hear at a parent-teacher interview. And then she pulled out some drawings that he'd done which showed him, I guess, looking down, like a planned view of what he was drawing and she used this as evidence that his soul was hovering over the Earth and looking down on the Earth and so, therefore, she felt that he wasn't quite ready to move into the following year… I would like the Education Department to tell me where, in the guidelines, where reincarnation is a criteria for putting my kid up into another class or not.
We’ll follow with interest what transpires with this situation. Meanwhile, history seems to be a flexible subject of study in the UK. From the always-excellent little newsletter “Phactum,” issued by the Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking, we take this item prepared by their treasurer Ray Haupt. Under the heading, “The Send-Me-To-Another-Planet Department,” he writes:
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has reported on July 13, 2007 that "Britain's World War II Prime Minister Winston Churchill has been cut from a list of key historical figures recommended for teaching in UK secondary schools, a government agency says. The radical overhaul of the school curriculum for 11-to-14-year-olds is designed to bring secondary education up to date and allow teachers more flexibility in the subjects they teach, the Government said."
We'll have more on this matter, next week. At risk of stating the obvious, perhaps this is a sign of an “insular approach” to history…?
WHERE IS THE FDA?
Those of us who have any concern for truth and integrity have been affronted by the fact that huckster Kevin Trudeau – see randi.org/jr/2006-06/060206nothing.html – is still selling his useless nonsense on TV, just as if the Federal Drug Administration [FDA] had never closed down his operation. Does the FDA have any teeth at all, or is it just another set of desks occupied by fearful federal servants who dare not disturb the faith-based status quo that Washington prefers?
Trudeau, whose health-related books have become best-sellers despite the fact that they give little useful advice, has come up against the FTC – again. They have now charged him with violating a previous court order by misrepresenting the contents of his book, “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don't Want You to Know About,” in several of his invasive infomercials, seen all over the cable outlets – purchased at very high rates, it should be noted. Trudeau has never lacked the means to pay for these ads, in which he claims that
…the weight-loss plan outlined in the book is easy to do, can be done at home and ultimately allows readers to eat whatever they want.
Untrue, says the FTC. It actually is, they say,
…a complex, grueling plan that requires severe dieting, daily injections of a prescription drug that consumers cannot easily get, and lifelong dietary restrictions.
Up until three years ago, when he was stopped by a court order, Trudeau had falsely claimed that the product "Coral Calcium Supreme" could cure cancer and that his "Biotape" product could cure severe pain. The order banned Trudeau from using infomercials to sell products, services or programs, though through the “protected speech” provision, he can still sell books.
Trudeau, a convicted felon who spent two years in prison in the 1990s for credit-card fraud, likes to portray himself as a consumer advocate fighting the establishment. If you believe that, I have some swampland here in Florida upon which you can build a skyscraper. People like Trudeau have so much money and clout, that they are effectively immune to agencies such as the FTC.
FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES
Reader Stuart Davies of Rugby, UK, writes:
Like many others who write to you, I have admired your work and that of the JREF for many years. I would like to relate an event that happened a while back.
OFF-THE-CUFF COLD READING
Reader Michael Taylor Describes to us a minor “psychic” miracle he pulled, and the method he used…
Last week my wife and I had an experience that I would like to share with you.
REACHING THE HEART – THE HARD WAY
Andrew Young and his wife are dismayed, both by the statement of a nutty observer, and by the way the experienced speaker responded to her inane comment:
I recently took a CPR certification class taught by Child Protective Services here in Austin, Texas. It is a required class for anyone who wants to adopt or foster a child, which is a great thing because I think that everyone should know at least the basics of CPR and first aid. I'm not currently adopting or fostering a child, but I am a leader in a local CampFire group and I'm expected to go every so often to renew my CPR certification.
During the first aid portion of the class that took place later on, the instructor was sure to make a firm statement that people should not use any "old wives" remedies or homeopathic cures, probably to keep this woman from speaking up again.
Perhaps this speaker will be ready the next time a nut-case stands to confront him with nonsense. My favorite response is, “You may be right! But then, Richard Nixon also may be alive and well and living in Mexico with Simón Bolivar. I consider both scenarios to be equally likely.”
Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers, 70, a civil rights leader in Omaha's black community, is described as Nebraska's most prominent and outspoken black leader. Now he’s suing God – presumably the Jehovah/Moses/Abraham version we know to be insecure, petulant, vindictive, vengeful, and so very full of Himself – to prove a point about frivolous lawsuits. Ernie says that senators have periodically offered bills prohibiting the filing of certain types of suits. "Thus, anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody – even God," he said. His lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction ordering God to cease certain harmful activities and the making of terroristic threats.
The lawsuit admits that the God against whom the senator brings the action, goes by all sorts of alternate names, titles and designations, and it also recognizes the fact that the defendant – by accepted definition – is omnipresent, though in the lawsuit, Chambers said he's tried – unsuccessfully – to contact God on numerous occasions. That “omnipresent” attribute suggested to the senator that God will thereby automatically have knowledge of the action, and has therefore requested that the court waive the “personal service” requirement. The lawsuit says that God has caused
…fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes, pestilential plagues, ferocious famines, devastating droughts, genocidal wars, birth defects and the like
…calamitous catastrophes resulting in the wide-spread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants including innocent babes, infants, children, the aged and infirm without mercy or distinction.
Chambers asks for the court to grant him a summary judgment. He said that as an alternative, he wants the judge to set a date for a hearing as expeditiously as possible and enter a permanent injunction enjoining God from engaging in the types of deleterious actions and the making of terroristic threats he has described in the lawsuit.
The Omaha senator, who skips morning prayers during the legislative session and often criticizes Christians, said that his lawsuit was brought about by a federal suit filed against a judge who recently barred words such as “rape” and “victim” from a sexual assault trial. That’s perfectly understandable, since we wouldn’t want the facts to be revealed to the jury…
Ever-alert to an opportunity to exploit the public’s fears and doubts, Sylvia Browne’s people have produced a book designed to frighten and misinform – again. Her ad tells the whole story:
In these days of lingering war, diminishing resources, and a faltering economy, do we really have control over the world we live in? Or is there someone else pulling the strings and orchestrating our fate? Are the conspiracy theories really true? What are these "Secret Societies" that we keep hearing about? Do they really exist? Are their members manipulating the world's affairs?
The answers according to Sylvia are, obviously – no, yes, yes, names, yes, and yes. It’s so strangely satisfying to the woo-woos to believe that ominous individuals and organizations plot to control them; paranoia is a favorite illness. To know that they are able to bear up despite secret cabals that seek to keep them from perfect health, financial success, and freedom, gives them pseudo-heroic status, it seems. Of course, any and all evidence against the very existence of these forces can be put aside, since they’re “secret societies,” you see… It’s all very neat. The blather continues:
If there's one person who knows the answers, it's world-renowned psychic Sylvia Browne! For the first-time ever, Sylvia blows the lid off some of the biggest secrets that have been kept for centuries – until now – in her new book, “Secret Societies…and How They Affect Our Lives Today.”
And as if this weren’t enough, friends:
And when you order this illuminating new book today, you may win a trip to see Sylvia Browne LIVE!
Damn! I’m dropping everything to buy the book and send my name off to Sylvia – trusting that she won’t just add me to the mailing list – and then I’ll sit transfixed at the possibility that she might deign to meet me! What a thrill! And she’ll be ALIVE! Wow!
With her signature outspokenness and forthright candor, Sylvia reveals amazing communications from her spirit guide, Francine, proving that "Big Brother" is, in fact, watching over our every move and has been for years – through these Secret Societies – organizations that have existed since before the time of Christ, and that endure even today.
That’s “forthright candor,” as opposed to “reluctant” candor, please note…
You've heard the names before, whether in the news or in the movies: Skull and Bones, New World Order, Freemasons, Bilderberg Group. They each have a public face and very notable members – U.S. presidents (George Washington, George W. Bush), popular celebrities (John Wayne, Clark Gable), powerful politicians (Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell), and wealthy moguls (Henry Ford, David Rockefeller). But by definition, they are societies believed to have elite members who possess secret knowledge that they use to influence civilization.
Hey, the Boy Scouts, YMCA, GOP*, Dr. Who, and Orphan Annie Junior Commandos aren’t listed in the book – but I’m sure they will be in Volume 2…
*PLEASE don't write me about knocking the GOP. I'll try to give equal knock-time to the other party, anon.
NOT ENOUGH ATOMS
Reader John Brodbeck, of Clinton, Mississippi, writes:
I viewed your Princeton presentation and thoroughly enjoyed it. I then forwarded the link to my children so they could see it with the explanation that I am going to start sending them info on my heroes of rationality. These will be people who either promote a “Reality Based” world view or have accomplished outstanding accomplishments in the betterment of human life using solid scientific means. You named a few of my other heroes in your presentation: Feynman, Gardner, Sagan and in the intro video Stossel and Penn.
The item up above - "Where Is the FDA?" - criticizing the FDA’s inertia, should also call attention to the fact that people like Trudeau are given no attention by the media, while each and every small peccadillo exhibited by Britney and O.J. bring headlines and top-of-the-news attention from TV and the newspapers. Our priorities are obviously misplaced, in my opinion. The continued damage that Trudeau does to the American public seems unimportant, while worthless celebrities are featured as if their idiocies were significant. We need a little more justice and a lot more responsibility.
However, as colleague Phil Plait moaned on his badastronomy.com site, when a celebrity hostess – such as the lady who blew away The View listeners last week by declaring that she didn’t know whether or not the Earth was flat! – makes such an obvious faux pas, the media titter about it awhile, at least. But Trudeau’s victims will still be buying the quack nostrums and staying ill…