Squaring the circle

Part 2 of Julian’s cunning plan. His suggested stripped-down religion isn’t finding many takers.

But since the main purpose of posting my articles of 21st-century faithwas to find out just how many could support them, the project is not worthless if we find out the answer is hardly anyone at all.

To recap, there’s a lot of complaint that “new atheist” criticisms of the supernatural aspects of religion miss the point. If that’s true, then it should be possible both to set the atheists straight and establish the credibility of religion by clearly stating what faith without silly, primitive beliefs looks like. [Read more…]

Few takers for sophisticated version of religion

I’m beginning to think Julian set a cunning trap with his Heathen’s Progress series. He started with everybody gets it wrong, it’s more complicated than that. He went on to let’s offer a minimal version of religion and see if all those non-literal (sophisticated, “it’s more complicated than that”) believers will sign up to it. He pointed out that he had the most to lose if they wouldn’t, because he’s been saying that new atheists get it all wrong by ignoring the non-literal sophisticated “it’s more complicated” segment of believers.

If it really is the case that lots of mainstream religious leaders and believers can happily sign up to this, then religion really is the much more benign, unsuperstitious thing that liberals and agnostics have said it is all along. If not, then I hope these voices will concede that theirs is a vision for how religion should be, not as it is, and join in the criticisms of the religions that actually surround us today. [Read more…]

Burzynski clinic issues press release

Yes that’s right, a press release. They’ll be doing the Colbert Report next.

Marc Stephens no longer has “a professional relationship” with the clinic. The clinic thinks it was inappropriate – yes that’s right, inappropriate – to send “a blogger,” meaning Rhys Morgan, a picture of his own house. The clinic apologizes.

But apology or no apology, the wheels of justice grind exceeding fine: attorneys will be contacting UK bloggers about what the press release says is “inaccurate information.” UK bloggers…why UK bloggers? Could this be another case of libel tourism?

This, as the saying goes, ain’t over.

Update 11/30 morning: Jen dug into the clinic’s list of publications and found it wanting. A must-read.





Residual respect for an enduring institution

I did an interview with Geoff Whelan of QED which is now posted.

One of the questions was

Are you dismayed when those who you would think naturally would support a strong atheist position turn their criticism against those who directly challenge religion? Is there something about free thinkers that encourages dissent? Or are we talking about Dennett’s belief in belief, in the sense that someone may realise on an intellectual level that religious belief is false but that they still have residual respect for an enduring institution? [Read more…]

Why Burzynski matters

Craig Malisow doesn’t mince words in his blog post for Houston Press about his neighbors at the Burzynski Clinic. Maybe he’s hoping Marc Stephens will offer to threaten him too.

Here’s a warning for anyone out there considering blogging or tweeting anything questioning the greatness of cancer-curing Houston doc Stanislaw Burzynski: You will probably be threatened by the head of marketing for the Burzynski Patient Support Group.

We first heard about loose cannon Marc Stephens’s weird diatribes Monday, when a guy in England informed us that Stephens had earlier this month threatened 17-year-old Welsh blogger Rhys Morgan with a libel suit if Morgan didn’t remove any of his comments questioning the validity of Burzynski’s claims. Morgan is one of several bloggers around the world that Stephens has been threatening. [Read more…]

Don’t Streisand that blog, my friend

And more #Burzynski.

Richard Wilson at Don’t Get Fooled Again.

While the UK media has been characteristically slow in picking this up – presumably the Murdoch press are too preoccupied with their own problems and the Guardian Media Group still frozen in the headlights after the Observer got sucked into the  controversybloggers all over the world have been ensuring that this story continues to grow.

Josephine Jones has a list of posts on the subject. There are a lot. More not-going-well for the intimidation thing. [Read more…]


More on the Burzynski Clinic – yes Google I said THE BURZYNSKI CLINIC – and Marc Stephens and Rhys Morgan.

From Phil Plait.

In Houston, Texas, is a man named Stanislaw Burzynski. He claims he has a method for treating cancer. He calls it antineoplaston therapy. However, according to the National Cancer Institute, “No randomized, controlled trials showing the effectiveness of antineoplastons have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.” That’s a bad sign. Furthermore, the FDA has not approved of antineoplaston therapy for use. Also telling is that “… other investigators have not been able to obtain the same results reported by Dr. Burzynski and his team”. Yet, despite this, Burzynski charges hundreds of thousands of dollars for people to get his therapy — though he has to say they’re participating in research trials, since the FDA won’t allow him to use his ideas as an actual treatment.

Those are red flags, to be sure. [Read more…]

Streisand that clinic

A 17-year-old schoolboy has been in receipt of blustering threats from Marc Stephens, who “represents” (as he says) the Burzynski Clinic. That’s a funny word, “represents.” In this context it suggests “as a lawyer” – but in fact Marc Stephens doesn’t actually say he’s a lawyer, even when urgently invited to do so (instead he says “you should stop asking me if I’m a lawyer,” which is no help). It’s hard not to think he would say he’s a lawyer if in fact he were a lawyer, so his consistent failure to do so seems to point to the likelihood that he isn’t one.

But lawyer or PR hack, whichever, Marc Stephens has been sending blustering threats to Rhys Morgan, including a screenshot of his house. [Read more…]

The archbish live and in person

I say I say – you can watch and listen to the archbishop of Canterbury telling the House of Lords why bishops should go on being there, live, right now. Andrew Copson of the BHA is also there and I think either going to talk or finished talking – or maybe both.

One gem from the ABC so far –

Nobody is looking for theocracy, nobody wants to turn the UK into Iran – but – the role of faith in asking questions is a very significant one.

And the difference is…?

Ah – and now he’s admitting that women aren’t in the picture much.