Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.

The Yale Journal of Quantum Physics and Neuroscience

Aug 18th, 2011 5:31 pm | By

This is a new style of con game – setting up a journal that sounds as if it’s a specialist journal when it’s actually just some undergraduates writing essays.

Orac read the latest issue and pointed out some of the raving nonsense in it, presumably because it’s called the Yale Journal of Medicine & Law and so should be expected to know better. It sounds like an actual journal, doesn’t it, written by and for specialists in medicine and law. It turns out (according to commenters) it’s no such thing. Well then why call it that? Besides to deceive and trick people, that is.

Kids today. Phooey.

A timely word

Aug 18th, 2011 5:12 pm | By

Hooray for William Raillant-Clark and his article about Dennis Markuze.

Considering the number of death threats and abuse researchers in Montreal
receive from around the world, it is appalling and shameful that our own police service is not acting rapidly and decisively to protect their international colleagues. It is appalling and shameful that our police react promptly to threats to Quebec journalists but not to those based abroad.

Thank you. That’s what we’ve been thinking.

Mabus goes quiet

Aug 18th, 2011 11:38 am | By

Tim Farley’s History of Mabus is terrifically useful, and naturally rather shocking.

But let me assure you, Mabus’ threats go way beyond the norm, both in content and sheer volume.  I talked about the volume above, so let’s see some of the content.

He tells people they are going to die that day or “cease to exist”. He threatens executions. He uses offensive terms starting with “bitch” and getting far worse. He threatens people’s loved ones…He threatens to cut off people’s heads and tells them they are “finished.” He asks people if they think they “deserve to live”. He says he is going to “pound you into the dust” and that you will suffer the “worst form of torture.”

But the Montreal police did nothing.

Phil Plait gave a report to a sheriff by telephone. Michael Shermer told me he obtained a restraining order to ensure Mabus would stay clear of him. Canadian skeptic Steve Thoms and blogger Greg Laden also filed reports. There are no doubt others.

On February 10, 2011 I was finally able to get a copy of my report from yet another Atlanta Police office across town. I quickly took it to a local print shop and faxed it to the Montreal Police.

And nothing happened. For me or for anyone else.

Farley tweeted some journalists, which was the right idea, but he picked the wrong journalists.

Montrealer William Raillant-Clark (@wraillantclark) is a press atttaché for the University of Montreal. He would have been the right journalist, had I found him.

On the morning of August 8 he was monitoring Twitter as part of his job. He noticed this retweet by science writer Carl Zimmer…

And the rest is history. Then there was that petition…

Meanwhile, the retweets of the Tumblr post were working their magic. At some point on Tuesday, they caught the eye of Kyle VanderBeek, a skeptic who works for in San Francisco.

Kyle saw those tweets with the emails in them, and knew he had a potential tool right at his fingertips. He created a petition titled “Montreal Police: Take “Mabus” death threats seriously” and configured it to send responses directly to the SPVM public email address (which we saw above).

Yup. I linked to it here (and signed it of course). Some of you will have signed it. And it worked. Yes, Virginia, petitions actually work (some do). Whaddya know.

Best case scenario: Markuze has a Thing askew inside his head, which can be fixed with a little tug and pull and suture. He is released to live a sane and happy life, volunteering for the local CFI by way of reparations.

Update: apparently I didn’t link to it here; at least I can’t find it, so I must not have. I suppose I posted it at Facebook and Twitter and meant to post it here but forgot. Bad priorities. First duty is here.

The magic vibrations of the original substance

Aug 17th, 2011 3:26 pm | By

Corporate behemoth tries to put the frighteners on one powerless blogger because he said things about one of its risible products. (Yes risible. Go ahead, sue me.)

…the international homeopathy producer, Boiron, is threatening a lone Italian blogger because he dared to criticize their product, Oscillococcinum. The blogger, Samuele Riva, wrote two articles on his blog,, criticizing what our own Mark Crislip has called “oh-so-silly-coccinum.”

Boiron is the largest manufacturer of homeopathic products in the world and the second largest manufacturer of over-the-counter products in France.What they are doing to this small blogger, in my opinion, is nothing less than corporate thuggery. They are using their resources and their corporate lawyers to try to silence completely legitimate criticism of their pseudoscientific products. Of course, they will only succeed in magnifying that criticism.

Steven Novella goes on to say what there was to criticise.

Riva suggested that Boiron’s oscillococcinum has no active ingredient. Well, let’s see- the company lists the active ingredient in this product as “Anas barbariae hepatis et cordis extractum 200CK HPUS.” The “200C” means that the listed ingredient was diluted with a 1:100 dilution 200 times. Serial dilution is a funny thing – a 200c dilution is the equivalent of diluting 1ml of original ingredient into a volume of water that is the size of the known universe. This is far far beyond the point where there is any reasonable chance of there being even a single molecule of original ingredient left.

And then, even if it’s not diluted…

That’s right, oscillococcinum does not even exist – essentially Boiron takes fairy dust and then dilutes it out of (non)existence. The “anas barbariea hepatis” is basically duck liver, which is supposed to contain the most concentrated nonexistent oscillococcinum. It’s a pseudoscience trifecta.

I hope Boiron does draw a line in the sand over their oscillococcinum product, and that it becomes the center piece of a broader public discussion about homeopathy. Most of the public does not understand what homeopathy actually is. They think it means “natural” or “herbal” medicine. They have no idea that homeopathy is about taking fanciful ingredients with a dubious connection to the symptoms in the first place, and then diluting them into oblivion, then placing a drop of the pure water that remains and placing it on a sugar pill. The resultant pill is then supposed to contain the magic vibrations of the original substance.

“Supposed to”?? Sue that man!

Free Inquiry Announces Two New Columnists

Aug 15th, 2011 5:32 pm | By

A tweet from Melody Hensley this afternoon:

Free Inquiry Announces Two New Columnists: @pzmyers and @OpheliaBenson

It’s true. See for yourself. There I am right on the front page, along with Christopher Hitchens and Wendy Kaminer. (What? Yes really. Two of your top faves? Yes really. Hitchens and Kaminer? I know.) There I am under OP-EDS.

End of smirk.

Invitation to a dialogue

Aug 14th, 2011 11:35 am | By

Yes, an invitation. Get your party clothes ready, because here it is.

I’m inviting some lucky guy to do a dialogue with me, which I will publish as an article here at B&W in the articles section. The dialogue will be on sexist epithets. Are they a bad thing, or are they a good thing? How bad are they, are some worse than others, if they are bad then in what way are they bad, does it really matter, is it reasonable to think they are a bad thing, if so why?

We’ve been told lately that “we’ve been getting totally unnuanced discussions of insults like ‘twat’” and that “not everything is the same, and it’s possible to tease out the distinctions analytically and dispassionately.” We’ve been told that

the idea it isn’t possible to look at why everything isn’t the same, the idea it isn’t possible to take a different view about how a word such as “twat” functions, without being immediately dismissed as a misogynist by a mob is ridiculous (and the antithesis of anything that could be considered free enquiry).

So ok, let’s try it. Let’s have that nuanced discussion. Let’s tease out the distinctions analytically and dispassionately. I’ll take my side, and the invitation is for someone to take the other side.

The idea is to do a back and forth, say about 300 words each. It won’t go on until the end of time, but I think I won’t declare a limit now.

There are some conditions. You’ll have noticed I said a guy. I want a guy, for the same reason I would want a white if the discussion were about racist epithets as opposed to sexist ones.

It has to be under a real name.

It has to be somebody with something at stake – reputation, friends, standing as a liberal; that kind of thing. That narrows the field a lot, but it can’t be helped. It means I don’t really want someone who is already known as a proud reactionary or anti-feminist. I might settle for that if no one else takes up the offer, but I would much prefer people who don’t fit that description, because they’re the people who have been surprising those of us on the “what, are you kidding, of course sexist epithets aren’t ok” side of this disagreement. We want to understand what they’re thinking, and this will be the way to find out.

Another condition: I have editorial control. However I won’t do anything the other party disagrees with. If there’s something we can’t agree on and we can’t start over or move to a new entry, I’ll just end the exchange at that point. (I also don’t plan to edit the other party’s entries. I plan not to. I just want to make it clear that I have that option but also that I won’t abuse it; either we agree on an edit or the discussion shifts or ends.)

So there you are. Sound like fun? Email me if you have my address, use the contact form if you don’t.

I should say I doubt that anyone will take up the offer. I think the conditions will make the offer too unattractive. And that, frankly, is part of my point.

So go ahead, prove me wrong!

Update: here is that discussion.

Innnnnnnnternational humanist

Aug 13th, 2011 5:13 pm | By

PZ is in Oslo for a Humanist thingy. (Do you know, the Norwegian Humanists get state money. For reals. The churches get it and so they get it too. The Swedish humanists told me this when I was in Stockholm a year ago. The Swedish Humanists do not get state money. They are envious of their Norwegian colleagues.) He has won an international humanist award.

Ya! You go PZ.

PZ is one of the non-sexist male atheists. Such people are not the overwhelming majority I had thought.

This has always been our battles

Aug 13th, 2011 10:07 am | By

Phil Molé did a Facebook note about this video clip in which Tim Gunn complains about the clothes Hillary Clinton wears and says she’s “confused about her gender.” The clip is a stupid annoying piece of sexist crap.

A woman commented on Phil’s note (Phil’s FB notes are actually articles; I’ve published some of them here; people tell him he should collect them in a book, and they’re right) and said “It has nothing to do with her being a woman.” Seriously. HC is confused about her gender, but it has nothing to do with her being a woman.

She also said “Sheesh. Pick your battles or you’ll be pissed at the whole world. This is an absolutely pathetic reach for sexism.”

“Pick your battles” – but this is our battles. This has always been our battles. Second wave feminism has always been about stereotypes and putdowns and language and mental habits. Always. We do pick our battles, and these are it. We have met the enemy and they are us.

Catch them young

Aug 12th, 2011 5:25 pm | By

Apparently tens of thousands of UK teenagers go to Christian youth camps every year. Really?! I thought people had better sense there.

They sound perfectly disgusting. Horrible yoof jargon is spoken, and horrible christian bullshit is pushed on the gullible young people whose brains have not fully developed yet.

…the evangelical tactics used at such camps are on occasions manipulative. Sermons at such camps often take the form of wild orations that aim to wear down the resistance of the audience to the message. Videos designed to whip up the emotional temperature of the audience are shown, and fervid calls for youngsters to accept Christ are made. This culminates in the centre point of such meetings: the altar call. After having their emotions softened, hypnotic music typically sounds out in subdued lighting as youngsters are urged to come to the front and give their lives to Christ.

And then Bacchus appears and they all go mad and beat each other to death.

Whatever the attempts to dress them in the garb of youth culture, many of Christianity’s most controversial doctrines are given a full airing at the camps. Youngsters are threatened with divine judgment, and they are initiated into the world of charismatic Christian practices. At Soul Survivor, the largest Christian youth festival in the UK, teens have been told that witch doctors can maim children by cursing them. They have also been informed that God judges us on death for our deeds and thoughts, and they have been encouraged to practise physical healings. Could the real “wicked” in Christian teen camps actually be their effects on teens’ emotional wellbeing?

Not to mention their intellectual wellbeing.

The right to talk

Aug 12th, 2011 11:24 am | By

As you doubtless know, the Montreal police have finally begun an investigation of Dennis Markuze’s ceaseless flow of death threats against atheists and scientists. The petition we signed a few days ago did what it was intended to do.

QMI Agency tracked down the mother of “David Mabus,” Eva Markuze, who
confirmed that her son, Dennis Markuze, 36, is the man police are looking
for. She said her son lives with her, and is currently in Ottawa and can’t be
reached for comment.

Eva said she doesn’t believe the accusations. “That’s ridiculous,” she said. “(My son) would not even kill a fly. Maybe they don’t understand his message or something.”

No that’s not it. His messages have been quite unambiguous. Jen McCreight quotes one in a comment:

I guess I don’t understand what he means by “jen we are going to exterminate you, cunt.”
We don’t need a literary critic to do the hermeneutics, I think. (I wonder if the gang at ERV have any qualms about what they have in common with Markuze/Mabus.)

She said that her son has the right to talk and tell the truth.

Not to make death threats he doesn’t.


Throwback situations

Aug 11th, 2011 4:54 pm | By

A little light reading.

From Mark Caldwell, A Short History of Rudeness (Picador, 1999):

But perhaps the deepest and stubbornest wounds to civility are those inflicted using race and gender as weapons…

In 1996, Karen Grigsby Bates and Karen Elyse Hudson published Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times, an etiquette manual aimed at the emerging black middle class…Yet they also concede that painful throwback situations may still arise where racism survives, either in full-blown or vestigial form – and offer advice about what to do, for instance, if someone tells racist jokes, suggests a colleague would haver have been hired but for affirmative action, or behaves in any other way that suggests a continuing belief in some false or hurtful stereotype. [pp 168-9, emphasis added]

Then they all go out for a beer.

We will re-establish the patriarchal structures

Aug 11th, 2011 11:27 am | By

Michelle Goldberg points out that Anders Breivik’s hatred of women hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as his hatred of Islam (and Muslims in general) has.

Rarely has the connection between sexual anxiety and right-wing nationalism been made quite so clear. Indeed, Breivik’s hatred of women rivals his hatred of Islam, and is intimately linked to it.

A terror of feminization haunts his bizarre document. “The female manipulation of males has been institutionalised during the last decades and is a partial cause of the feminisation of men in Europe,” he writes. He blames empowered women for his own isolation…

Castrating bitches driving men into tragic lonely corners, when they could have been so happy if only there were enough doormats to choose from.

He picked up the argument that selfish western women have allowed Muslims to outbreed them, and that only a restoration of patriarchy can save European culture. One of the books he references approvingly is Patrick Buchanan’s The Death of the West, which argues, “[T]he rise of feminism spells the death of the nation and the end of the West.”

…the right clings to the idea that feminism is destroying Western societies from the inside, creating space for Islamism to take cover. This politics of emasculation gave shape to Breivik’s rage. Thus, while he pretends to abhor Muslim subjugation of women, he writes that the “fate of European civilisation depends on European men steadfastly resisting Politically Correct feminism.” When cultural conservatives seize control of Europe, he promises, “we will re-establish the patriarchal structures.” Eventually, women “conditioned” to this new order “will know her place in society.” His mad act was in the service of male superiority as well as Christian nationalism. Those two things, of course, almost always go together.

“Almost always” is too strong. Christian nationalism is probably almost always in favor of male superiority, but male superiority is not almost always Christian nationalist. We’ve been seeing a lot of the secular variety lately.

A pure Christian theocracy

Aug 10th, 2011 4:33 pm | By

More from Ryan Lizza’s article on Bachmann.

Bachmann belongs to a generation of Christian conservatives whose views have been  shaped by institutions, tracts, and leaders not commonly known to secular  Americans, or even to most Christians. Her campaign is going to be a  conversation about a set of beliefs more extreme than those of any American  politician of her stature.

Extreme, and not in a good way. One biggy is an evangelist and theologian called Francis Schaeffer, who

condemns the influence of the Italian Renaissance, the Enlightenment, Darwin,  secular humanism, and postmodernism. He repeatedly reminds viewers of the “inerrancy” of the Bible and the necessity of a Biblical world view. “There is  only one real solution, and that’s right back where the early church was,” Schaeffer tells his audience. “The early church believed that only the Bible was  the final authority. What these people really believed and what gave them their  whole strength was in the truth of the Bible as the absolute infallible word of  God.”

See, I don’t want someone like that as president. I don’t want to obey the bible.

Francis Schaeffer instructed his followers and students at L’Abri that the Bible  was not just a book but “the total truth.” He was a major contributor to the  school of thought now known as Dominionism, which relies on Genesis 1:26, where  man is urged to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of  the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping  thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Sara Diamond, who has written several books  about evangelical movements in America, has succinctly defined the philosophy  that resulted from Schaeffer’s interpretation: “Christians, and Christians  alone, are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ  returns.”

Don’t want. Don’t want don’t want don’t want.

Bachmann enrolled at the new O. W. Coburn School of Law, at Oral Roberts  University, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Bible, not the Constitution or conventional  jurisprudence, guides the curriculum. For several years, the school could not  get accreditation, because students were required to sign a “code of honor” attesting to their Christian belief and commitment. The first issue of the law  review, Journal of Christian Jurisprudence, explains the two goals of the  school: “to equip our students with the ability to bring God’s healing power to  reconcile individuals and to restore community wholeness,” and “to restore law  to its historic roots in the Bible.”

Among the professors were Herbert W. Titus, a Vice-Presidential candidate of the  far-right U.S. Taxpayers Party (now called the Constitution Party), and John  Whitehead, who started the Rutherford Institute, a conservative legal-advocacy  group. The law review published essays by Schaeffer and Rousas John Rushdoony, a  prominent Dominionist who has called for a pure Christian theocracy in which Old  Testament law—execution for adulterers and homosexuals, for example—would be  instituted.

I’m tempted to start campaigning for Mitt Romney.

Bachmann’s must read list

Aug 10th, 2011 12:24 pm | By

One of Michele Bachmann’s favorite books is a 1997 biography of Robert E. Lee by J. Steven Wilkins.

Wilkins is the leading proponent of the theory that the South was an orthodox  Christian nation unjustly attacked by the godless North. This revisionist take  on the Civil War, known as the “theological war” thesis, had little resonance  outside a small group of Southern historians until the mid-twentieth century,  when Rushdoony and others began to popularize it in evangelical circles.

I did not know this. Really. “The godless North”? That’s a bit of a flub, for a start – the North was hardly godless. And as for the South as a Christian nation, aren’t we always being told – we atheists – that we stupidly overlook the wonderful wonderfulness of religion for instance its vital role in the abolition of slavery? Yes, we are. So if the South was “a Christian nation” what becomes of that claim?

More Wilkins:

Slavery, as it operated in the pervasively Christian society  which was the old South, was not an adversarial relationship founded upon racial  animosity. In fact, it bred on the whole, not contempt, but, over time, mutual  respect. This produced a mutual esteem of the sort that always results when men  give themselves to a common cause. The credit for this startling reality must go  to the Christian faith. . . . The unity and companionship that existed between  the races in the South prior to the war was the fruit of a common faith.

Slavery was a matter of “men  giv[ing] themselves to a common cause”? (Where did the women go?) What would that have been then? The enrichment of white men who owned fertile land for growing cotton? The preservation of white people from hard labor in a hot humid malarial climate? Funny idea of a common cause.

For several years, the book, which Bachmann’s campaign declined to discuss with  me, was listed on her Web site, under the heading “Michele’s Must Read List.”

I keep hearing people say “I hope she’s nominated.” Don’t do that. Don’t ever do that. Don’t think she couldn’t win.

How wide is skepticism?

Aug 9th, 2011 10:48 am | By

There seem to be different views on what “skepticism” is. Daniel Loxton seems to define it (or perhaps I mean prefer it) quite narrowly.

For decades, skepticism has very deliberately worked to stay close to what it does best: tackling empirical questions in the realm of pseudoscience and the paranormal, and (as the other side of this same coin) promoting scientific literacy.

That’s skepticism? That’s it? To me that sounds more like science education combined with some applied science. I thought skepticism could be applied a good deal more generally than that.

Also, perhaps, more…searchingly.

consider this passage from the first editorial of North America’s first regular skeptical publication, written when I was a toddler:

Finally, a word might be said about our exclusive concern with scientific investigation and empirical claims. The Committee takes no position regarding nonempirical or mystical claims. We accept a scientific viewpoint and will not argue for it in these pages. Those concerned with metaphysics and supernatural claims are directed to those journals of philosophy and religion dedicated to such matters.

Demonstrable evidence is common ground for skeptics like Houdini (who wrote, “I firmly believe in a Supreme Being and that there is a Hereafter”).

But if you’re a skeptic, then the question arises, why do you firmly believe in a Supreme Being and that there is a Hereafter? What are your reasons? What causes you to believe those things?

The answer isn’t obvious, after all. It’s the opposite of obvious. There seems to be nothing in the world that corresponds to a reason for believing those things, and skeptics as such generally want reasons for beliving things. Not invariably, but generally. So why would a skeptic believe those things? And why is it not part of skepticism to ask questions of that kind?

It seems to be because Loxton doesn’t want atheism messing up skepticism, but that just presents us with the same question in a slightly different form.

I point to X and I point to Y. That’s all.

Aug 8th, 2011 11:22 am | By

Carl Zimmer has (with help from Susan Greenfield) created a new Twitter meme.

The neuroscientist Susan Greenfield has for several years been saying “Look out! The internet will rewire your brain.”

She warns that Twitter is turning us into social cripples. When asked for evidence, she either points to papers that provide no support for her sweeping claims, or says that we shouldn’t wait for evidence. Her claims positively hum with contradiction. In order to make new technologies seem truly sinister, she ends up getting nostalgic about television.

She has, too.

When I was a kid, television was the centre of the home, rather like the Victorian piano was.

That made me yell with laughter – the tv as a fireplace.

Carl continues:

Yesterday, The Guardian followed up with an interview with Greenfield, in which she defended herself against such attacks. Along the way, one of the things she said finally rewired my brain into a seizure:
“I point to the increase in autism and I point to internet use. That’s all.”
Which drove me to Twitter, to sum up the ridiculousness of such a statement in 140 characters or less:
I point to the increase in esophageal cancer and I point to The Brady Bunch. That’s all. #greenfieldism

And others joined in.

I point to Alzheimer’s and I point to cheese doodles. That’s all. #greenfieldism

Try your own!

Geoffrey Falk

Aug 6th, 2011 5:47 pm | By

And just in case we’re bored with the Abbie and Miranda show, let’s pay another visit to Geoffrey Falk. We’ve visited him only once before, in October 2009, so let’s do it again. He’s been calling me a bitch and assorted other choice names at frequent intervals all that time. Yesterday he did a new one, complaining that he’d just found I had a picture of him here.

As soon as I saw it I emailed him (weirdly, he had sent me a couple of friendly emails before changing his mind and deciding to call me names two or three times a month) and said what, where, I’ll take it down. He didn’t reply, he simply updated his disgusting post with a link - so I found the picture and took it down. He hasn’t updated his disgusting post to reflect the fact that I took it down.

He has a tag for me: Ophelia Benson’s Granny Panties. If you click on it you can see what a regular I am, and what refreshingly amusing and insightful things he has to say about me. There’s a lot about the offensive smallness of my tits, and my ugliness and sexlessness and general repulsiveness.

I’m posting this in order to shame him. He could have just emailed me about the damn picture (which was in a comment, and I didn’t know it was there, or that it was a problem); he could have removed the post once I removed the picture; he did neither. Now I want to shame him.

I might do it again some time, too. You never know.

More dog whistle

Aug 6th, 2011 12:12 pm | By

Exciting news for all us clowns who thought the CFI Women in Secularism conference in DC next May seemed like a good idea – Abbie is going to tell is why it’s not.

Tommy– I will probably start some shit again this weekend re: the ridiculousness of the CFI conference.

There are lols on at the CFI blog.  Not lulz, just lols.  Maybe some *facepalms*.

Posted by: ERV | August  5, 2011 11:22 PM

That should be good for another few thousand cuntstwatsfuckingbitchessmellysnatches. Will Russell comment to say “Naughty Abbie!” again? Will Miranda comment to say what she finds condescending about two comments at B&W again? Will Jeremy do a post to say that calling a defense of the use of twat as an epithet “misogynist” is the antithesis of anything that could be considered free inquiry again?

Should we start placing bets?

Update: I didn’t realize Miranda had already commented on the subject – as poisonously as you like.

And I’d hate to know that I was invited to a conference simply because I have the appropriate genitalia. I want to be recognized for whatever merit there may be in the things I do/write, not how oppressed and/or under-represented I supposedly am.

Flattering to Susan Jacoby, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Margaret Downey, Sikivu Hutchinson, Wafa Sultan, and the rest. Yes they were all invited simply because they have the appropriate genitalia. What a reasonable, generous, fair-minded claim.


More demons around

Aug 6th, 2011 11:45 am | By

It’s hard to tell if the BBC is being sarcastic or not. Maybe the answer is that it’s being both. Sarcastic for the non-crazy and solemn for the barking. It’s rather irresponsible to be so opaque (at best).

Why do exorcists and their clients think that demonic possession is on the
increase? Exorcists point to an alleged increase in interest in the occult,
together with risky behaviour such as practising yoga, reading horoscopes, and an increase in new age forms of spiritualism. One Anglican bishop has said that clues to the presence of an evil spirit include “repeated choice of black, for example in clothing or colour of car”.


The American Association of Exorcists runs a correspondence course, and one evangelical pastor based in Britain runs his own distance learning course using the internet. Most exorcists agree however, that there is no substitute for hands on mentoring with an experienced practitioner.

Because……….what? The hands-on mentoring with an experienced practitioner actually makes the demons go away? Or because they can charge more for it.

Who knows. Meanwhile, be afraid.

Women are not their possessions

Aug 5th, 2011 4:52 pm | By

Another pretty story.

Shaher Bano Shahdady was just 21, a young mother who wanted to live her Canadian life as a free Canadian woman. And for that, she was strangled to death in front of her toddler.From the Baloch region of Pakistan, she came to Toronto as a little girl. [When she was] 14, her father, Mullah Abdul Ghafoor, sent her back to Pakistan to study at a religious fundamentalist madrassa and a few years later she was forced into an arranged marriage with her first cousin.

That would be a forced marriage, not an arranged marriage. If she’s forced into it it’s forced, not arranged.

She was able to get back to Canada though, and she had hopes for her life.

She’d registered at the Adult Learning Centre to work on her high school diploma this fall and was hoping to one day realize her dream of becoming a doctor…

But she had to sponsor her husband here and his arrival in May forced her back into the cage she had struggled so long to escape. He wanted her to wear a burka, to stay away from Facebook, to put aside any plans she had of resuming a secular education.

“She rebelled,” explains Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress. “With the help of social services, she got an apartment for herself and her son. She was leaving her husband and asking for a divorce. How dare she? It would dishonour everyone.”

She and her son moved out July 1. After just three weeks of freedom, she was dead.

Strangled. In front of her child, age 3 – who was alone with her body for 15 hours.

Her estranged husband Abdul Malik Rustam, 27, turned himself in to police the next morning. He’s been charged with first-degree murder.

“Absolutely, it was an honour killing,” contends Fatah. “This is the fundamental issue here that no one wants to address. Nobody wants to tell Muslim men that women are not their possessions. It’s about women’s sexuality and men who say they own the franchise to it.”

Tarek says that a reporter from the Toronto Star called him today “and spoke like a true apologist for those who say using the term ‘Honour killing’ is akin to being racist against Muslims. If this is how low the Taliban Star has sunk in efforts to appease Islamists, shame on them. I have never net or spoken to a more biased and unprofessional journalist.”