The woo is strong in Glastonbury

Glastonbury is the legendary burial place of King Arthur, so as you might imagine, if you’re a fey English wackaloon with a fondness for magic crystals and pagan rituals, it’s a magnetic attraction. How bad can it be? Well, the wicked government of Great Britain, always trying to suppress the Old Ways and encourage this horrible practice of “modernization”, has flipped the switch and turned on free wireless networking for the whole town. Evil!

“I don’t want my son exposed to risk 24 hours a day, including at his primary school, which is within the Wi-Fi zone,” yoga teacher Natalie Fee tells London’s Telegraph. “I would be failing in my duty as a parent if I did.”

Hey, Natalie, what about those darned dangerous radio waves that you’re soaking in right now? AM, FM, there are all these fluctuating vibrations permeating everything, everywhere you go. Let’s shut them all down! And are you going to tell your son that he isn’t allowed to own a cell phone, ever?

One man has even begun making orgone generators, which use crystals, semi-precious stones and gold to purportedly put out positive energy to combat the negative vibes flooding the town from the Wi-Fi base stations.

“I have given a number of generators to shops in the High Street and hidden others in bushes in the immediate vicinity of the antennae. That way you can bring back the balance,” Matt Todd told the Telegraph. “The science hasn’t really got into the mainstream because the government won’t make decisions which will affect big business, even if it concerns everyone’s health.”

I’d like to see the evidence that 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies are “negative”, and that a bunch of cheap gee-gaws some space cowboy slaps together with a hot glue gun emit any energies, let alone “positive” ones.

And hang on, orgone generators? Devices that pump out magical sex energies? Isn’t that going to be even more confusing to Natalie’s little boy?

They do have a special problem out there in the UK that we don’t here in America — ley lines haven’t been a big deal in this country.

Todd says the Wi-Fi network is weakening the ley lines, supposed invisible webs of energy running through the landscape that the Druids and other ancient Britons are said to have been well aware of.

We also get fake biology. This is nonsense: melatonin really doesn’t do everything, the pineal is not going to be particularly responsive to random radio frequencies, and these kooks don’t even have a way to assess melatonin levels.

Others Glastonburians say their levels of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and is seen as a wonder drug by natural-health types, have been all out of whack since the Wi-Fi network went on.

“The pulsed microwaves feed the pineal gland with false information,” local Jacqui Roberts tells the Western Daily Press. “Melatonin fights the free radicals and cancer-producing cells.”

Let’s be fair to Glastonbury, though. I get the impression that whoever put this article together made a special effort to dig up a few New Age nuts who are having hysterics over a non-problem, and probably ignored the sensible majority that are quite pleased to have freely accessible wireless networking everywhere they go.


  1. says

    Yoga teacher Natalie Fee


    My wife does yoga daily and some of the shit she tells me about many of the Yoga instructors… this doesn’t surprise me a bit.

  2. dead yeti says

    Hey – glasto is a very spirtual place
    once i heard voices telling me all sorts of deep stuff
    it certainly had everything to do with the local and had nothing to do with the lack of sleep for four nights and the heroic doses ingested at the music festival there

  3. Naughtius Maximus says

    It’s the Druids from Stone’enge, nobody knows who they were or what they were doing.

  4. Selcaby says

    This Wi-Fi network provides a wonderful new excuse to everybody who fails to detect a ley line. What worries me is that on the surface it sounds quite plausible.

  5. DGKnipfer says

    I always knew there was a reason I loved being stationed in England. It is such a place or reason and intellect.

  6. Lord Zero says

    Its really funny. So they turn away a Free Wi-Fi which
    could only benefit them as a turistic site, because of
    the “negative energies” ?
    I beg a explanation on the nature of those so called energies. Its some kind of electromagnetic wave ? Why
    it does seems to only affect humans then ?
    Talking about cognitive dissonance.

  7. says

    “because the government won’t make decisions which will affect big business”

    I have a feeling that these people are just like the crazy conspiracy theorists around (a town full of them).

  8. Julia says

    I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if these twerps really were fairly typical of Glastonbury. The place is a hideous New Age ghetto – avoid it unless you really want to see the Abbey or the Tor.

  9. mh says

    Yes it is worth remembering that we have our fair share of wackaloons here in the UK. But we tend to see them as quaint and rather amusing. Partly because they don’t make us change our school text books. I think it’s nice to see paganism going strong, as well as the local crop of mushrooms…

  10. Ginger Yellow says

    “And are you going to tell your son that he isn’t allowed to own a cell phone, ever?”

    Probably, yes. Mobile phone woo is huge in Britain, although it’s tied up with nimbyism about masts.

  11. Nerd of Redhead says

    Any bets on that the person complaining about Wi-Fi also has a cell phone. Woo infatuated people just can’t seem to see a bigger picture.

  12. says


    “headaches, dizziness, nausea, severe tiredness, brain fog, disorientation and loss of appetite, loss of balance, inability to concentrate, loss of creativity”

    I’ve had all those symptoms this last week. Not woo, just ‘flu.


  13. ice9 says

    To combat the negative energy from the WiFi, I suggest they block Conservapaedia, WorldNut, and Fox, and use tax credits and bailout money to encourage logging on to Science Blogs. Everybody knows that the wi-fi signal carrying sciency stuff actually makes you smarter when it passes through your pineapple gland.


  14. Jamie says

    The last time I heard ley lines mentioned was when Paul McCartney was headlining the Glastonbury Festival (I watched it on telly). He uttered some nonsensical garbage about the “vibes” and then said the words nobody ever wants to hear at a Paul McCartney concert: “Here’s a new song.”

    I imagine the reporter found the interviewees standing near the fence that stops Stonehenge being overrun by hippies and general dole scroungers.

  15. Shaden Freud says

    One man has even begun making orgone generators, which use crystals, semi-precious stones and gold to purportedly put out positive energy to combat the negative vibes flooding the town from the Wi-Fi base stations.

    But can they match the PrayerMAX 5000™?

  16. says

    Let’s be fair to Glastonbury, though. I get the impression that whoever put this article together made a special effort to dig up a few New Age nuts who are having hysterics over a non-problem, and probably ignored the sensible majority that are quite pleased to have freely accessible wireless networking everywhere they go.

    Knowing Glastonbury well, I strongly suspect that the New Age nuts are actually the majority but don’t knock it, the town prospers on its tourist industry, which is driven by the New Age looniness!

  17. Silver Fox says

    Truth be known, we don’t know what the long term effects of exposure to different waves are. Sure, the ones that splash up on the seashore can drown you right off the bat; you don’t need any longitudinal study there. But, the invisible stuff is different. People say you shouldn’t live near high powered transmission lines because it causes cancer or cell phone waves going through your ears might give you brain tumors. We haven’t had enough time to do the longitudinal studies.

    You know the old saying: “Be not the first by whom the new is tried or the last to put the old aside.” The idea is to seek the d’ora media – the golden middle.

  18. Praetorianstalker says

    I am sure the news article is trying to be inflammatory, like all news is (no one would read the article that said “three nutbars in a town of X people thought stoopid stuff about really cool free wireless in yer neighborhood”) – the real test will be to see how many people there get notebooks to enjoy the free wireless in a year from now – lucky bastards. I would tolerate all of that New Age Wackaloonery for free wireless if I could move there…

  19. Tony Lloyd says

    Lay off Glastonbury!

    Glastonbury isn’t a normal town. It’s a Hippy Theme Park. You go there when you want to switch off, put a Yes album on, have a couple of pints of ale and pretend that your Gandalf.

    If anywhere shouldn’t have WiFi it’s Glastonbury. (To be frank it shouldn’t have anything not available in 1973). And Shaden Freud #19, the ParayerMAX 5000 is electrically powered. When it’s lentil powered, then it might be suitable for Glastonbury.

  20. strangest brew says

    Methinks the weird thing about Glastonbury is that the myth of Arthur was tied to the Abbey there by the Monks looking to capitalise on the story…

    It was apparently the Monks that ‘found’ Arthur’s and Guinevere resting place in the grounds of the Abbey…this happened when Abbey fortunes were a little light on the crinkly and clinky!
    Fortuitous indeed!

    Maybe the church should mount a campaign to moan about modernistic ideas infiltrating the area!

    After all prayer is a damn sight more affective then ‘orgone’ generators…

    Or maybe I meant that the other way around! ;-)

  21. says

    It’s weird, because that woo is apparently common in Europe. There’s great concern about ambient cell phone radiation, not so much about cell phones themselves, which are what really radiate the head.

    And to be sure, cell phones may yet turn out to cause problems for people. It would seem that they can’t be too bad, or the effects should already be noticeable. There are any number of rude users who ought to be zapped by radiation, but alas, it seems unlikely they’ll be gone any time soon.

    Ambient Wi-Fi and cell phone signals are most unlikely to affect humans significantly, of course.

    Glen D

  22. Mena says

    Oh, I really do need to go to the UK at some point in my life. Not for the woo though. I found out about a place called Wookey Hole yesterday. The dinosaur stuff seems to be beyond goofy but the cave seems interesting. Plus, of course, you can’t beat the name.

  23. Jonathon says

    So, lessee here. The benefits of free wireless internet access for the entire town vs. the unfounded concerns of a few wackaloons who probably go around with aluminum foil hats most of the time. It is a no-brainer.

    I wonder if there isn’t someone or something more sinister behind this. I’d bet someone isn’t happy that folks in the town don’t have to pay an ISP for internet access.

  24. Paul R says

    Yup, proof positive that we have our fair share of wack-a-loons over here in good old Blighty! :)

  25. says

    It appears that the ‘more rational’ of those protesting against the wi-fi in Glastonbury have bought into the idea that a strange condition often known as “electro-sensitivity” is caused by wi-fi signals.

    Here’s the results of an actual study. (EMF means “electro-magnetic fields”.):
    “The symptoms described by “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” sufferers can be severe and are sometimes disabling. However, it has proved difficult to show under blind conditions that exposure to EMF can trigger these symptoms. This suggests that “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” is unrelated to the presence of EMF, although more research into this phenomenon is required.”

    So that clears that up then….

  26. says

    Dead yeti@#2: Strictly speaking that’s (a farm next to) Pilton you are describing; they just call it “Glastonbury” because it sounds cooler. The Festival is win though (or was when I last went).

  27. says

    However, it has proved difficult to show under blind conditions that exposure to EMF can trigger these symptoms. This suggests that “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” is unrelated to the presence of EMF, although more research into this phenomenon is required.”

    Meaning, it’s indistinguishable from hysteria induced by suggestion.

    What a shocker!

    Glen D

  28. Nerd of Redhead says

    Silver Fox, if you are worried about the effects of radio waves, you can do two things. First, hide locked in the basement in a fetal postion until you finally meet your imaginary god. Second, propose studies to be funded by an appropriate federal agency, then, if approved, run the studies. Oh yes, it would require a knowledge of what you are talking about, the previous scientific literature, and how sceince really operates for that to happen. In the meantime, I suggest running around in circles yelling “the sky is falling”.

  29. SC, OM says

    Aside to Bill Dauphin: Aren’t you happy to see this refers to a different Glastonbury?


    I wonder what their position is on crystal radio sets…

  30. Simon Bishop says

    These people have nothing between their ears to absorb any radio waves, so they have nothing to worry about.

  31. Bart says

    If that free wireless internet was anything like they had (or still have?) here in Norwich (UK), then it’s not even worth all the fuss. They had to cap the speed (to keep the commercial ISPs happy), coverage was rather patchy, and every half an hour or so you’d be redirected to a page where you had to agree with the T&Cs before you could continue whatever it was you were doing. Alright if you just want to quickly check your emails or Pharyngula, but nothing to write home about. Last I heard they were debating whether to shut down the project as no one was using it.

  32. David Harper says

    Glastonbury is a haven for kooks and weirdos. Half the shops on the main street cater to “new age” and UFO freaks, and the other half peddle tat to followers of the King Arthur myth.

    When we visited the town one summer day some years ago, almost everyone walking along the main street was dressed as a witch, a Roswell-style alien or a hippie.

  33. says

    Let’s get one thing straight – King Arthur was Welsh, not English. So bring on those Saxon radio waves, boyo.

    I know this probably wasn’t meant terribly seriously but it hit my pedantry circuits. If he existed he was presumably a western Briton, speaking a language something like modern Welsh (possibly also Latin) and would have been called Germanic word cognate to “Welsh” by the invaders he fought (as were the Gauls and Gallicians) but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t in what was now England. Basically no one has a clue. Everywhere from the Brittany to South West Scotland has been seriously suggested

  34. strangest brew says

    It is to be mentioned that the ‘invisible’ reason why so much dust..if not actual evidence…gets kicked up about these radio masts is that they are sited mostly on a bit of turf in most cases belonging to schools and educational premises that extract a ‘rent’ from the provider whose aerial it is!

    This is seen a tidy bit of extra income separate from the grants the education dept foist on the establishment…sometimes the income becomes the only financial crutch the schools can depend on…

    Of course the more moralistic in society see it as a damning indictment to school policy…that the schools have to go this route to provide an adequate education…

    Privatisation is not a popular fad…it no doubt has benefits but in the main it seems the government is only to willing to get out from under the financial burden!

    That is when the likes of Vardy (second hand car sharp) sets up Creationist nests then lies about it contrary to the evidence!

    The nonsense about EMF is just that…just an excuse to drum up some anti establishment propaganda!

    Although to be fair there is some evidence…although tenuous…about the electricity pylons that are sited near to folk that seem more prone to illness then the average statistic…but nothing concrete…investigations are ongoing I believe!

  35. sam says

    ‘nuthing wrong with hippies – its the idiotic ones you want to worry about; whats wrong with free love (with contraceptions and sense) and recycling? :p

    As for the mobile phone woo that abounds over here (sad but true) the most amusing thing is that to reduce the radiation caused by the phones (which beam to a base station not the other way round) you need more base stations as the phones then need a lower intensity signal and therefore less radiation.

    … ah well yay for woo (and the amusement derived from it)

  36. penn says

    I’ll take their government installed city-wide wifi if they don’t want it. It’s good to know that the US doesn’t have all the crazies.

  37. JKessler says

    Wait, what do they think of Malygos, the Blue Dragon Aspect, angered at the magic use in Azeroth building the Nexus to redirect the ley lines and cause the distruction of all life? They should be up in arms!!!!

  38. Silver Fox says

    Nerd @36

    Actually I was wondering if this has any parallel with Scientology. Now, I have never been able to get into Scientology. I have always thought of Ron Hubbard as a Sci-Fi writer. How he got from Sci-Fi to Scientology is a mystery (no pun intended) to me.

    But from what I understand from those who know a little something about it, they are always concerned about these positives and negatives. It seems that the “aliens” (negatives) affect your body but the brain is an alien-free zone (positive). That’s why they have trouble with autism and seizures since they are neurologically based and the aliens are not supposed to be in the neurology zone.

    This might be something to take up with my science consultant, Vox Day.

  39. Christophe Thill says

    Orac wouldn’t deny: electromagnetic waves woo is among the funniest varieties of woo, but also among the most ubiquitous and hard to get rid of.

    I sometimes go to those “living naturally” fairs; my main reasons being that I regularly get free tickets (not sur why) and that they generally sell good food and some ethnic geegaws. But you can also find small disks made of baked clay, that you’re supposed to stick on your mobile phone. What for? Well, it absorbs the waves, of course… (Also beautiful earthenware mugs and jugs. But awfully expensive. But they “remove the nocive waves” from the water you put in them, so…)

    And there was quite a fuss here in Paris, last year, about the free wifi networks that were being set up in public libraries, parks and gardens. The library employees claimed they were feeling harmful effects. Of course, nobody did the obvious test: pick one of the 4 combinations between “said to be switched on/off” and “actually switched on/off”, count the percentage of employees with a headache, and repeat until your 4 x 4 table is filled with enough data. I think the problem was solved through a sheer demonstration of authority (“experts say it’s harmless, I’m the boss, so it says on”). Perhaps not the best way to fight against shaky beliefs.

  40. Peter Ashby says


    There is quite a literature on electrosensitivity and lots of studies on the effects of electric fields. My wife administered a big epidemiology study here in the UK on that very question re cancer, it drew a blank wrt exposure to electric fields. Dennis Henshaw has made a career out of investigating it, he spent a couple of decades being convinced that the electric fields were responsible for cancers and various other disorders. Unfortunately for the true believers he is a good scientist, if a bit over dogged. Last time I heard him speak a couple of years ago he had abandoned electric fields having a direct effect. Instead it was that high voltage power lines near sources of pollution ionise the pollution and those, particularly children, living downwind of them are affected by the ionised particles. A very difficult thing to prove and he didn’t even come close. However he gets kudos for presenting his work to his peers.

    So the lack of a killer paper on the subject is not evidence of a lack of scientific activity. Only that they have not found anything to excite the headline writers.

    However if you are talking about strong magnetic field there the situation changes though the epidemiology on power station and aluminium smelter workers does not suggest a big problem. Still we left my pregnant wife at home when my father in law took me round the aluminium smelter where he worked.

  41. Poe says

    These people are clearly idiots and don’t know what they’re talking about. As long as the signal is around 2.447 GHz or 2.417 GHz, it’s not a problem and actually *strengthens* the ley lines. So rather than protest to remove the wifi, they should move it to channels 2 and 8!
    5GHz stuff is, of course, right out!

  42. Justin Andrews says

    Credulous people cutting off their own nose?
    Say it does’nt happen…

    I love visiting Glastonbury, but I would’nt want to live there…

  43. David Marjanović, OM says

    And are you going to tell your son that he isn’t allowed to own a cell phone, ever?

    Of course. Cell phone radiation is, after all, evil. What comment 13 says — except that it seems to be all of Europe, not just the UK.

    People say you shouldn’t live near high powered transmission lines because it causes cancer or cell phone waves going through your ears might give you brain tumors. We haven’t had enough time to do the longitudinal studies.

    Nonsense, such studies have been done. You should get out less and read more.

    Besides, the idea that the truth must lie in the middle is a logical fallacy.

  44. Matt M says

    I’ve been pushing for free Wi-Fi in my own city for quite awhile… I wasn’t aware that it could provoke such a reactionist response.

    PZ, I think you’re right on the money: You can’t very well make a case against the negative impacts of Wi-Fi unless you subject other devices that also use the radio portion of the EM spectrum to the same scrutiny. From submarine and aviation communication, to television broadcasts, microwave ovens, mobile phones, and GPS, concerns regarding public health and safety have been rare. More recently, mobile phones have been put under the magnifying lens by a group of Swedish researchers in response to a possible link with increased risk of tumorigenesis. Yet, these findings are “difficult to interpret,” according to the FDA, because of the way in which the particular study was conducted. It seems that these Swedish scientists represent a lone voice in a sea of research that finds evidence to the contrary.

    I guess, until my civic leaders catch up with those Brits, I’ll have to put up with generating my own small Wi-Fi bubble and continue slavishly paying for data from my mobile service provider.

  45. MikeTeeVee says

    We had some locals protesting a new cell phone tower because of the fear of the radio waves. Never mind that there are already several dozen cell phone towers in the city. Never mind all the radio, TV, and other signals already present. Or the cordless phones, wifi routers, and other transmitters in most homes and businesses.

    The tower went up. The city had no jurisdiction over the radio waves, only the aesthetics of the tower.

  46. Nerd of Redhead says

    Silver Fox, L. Ron Hubbard got into Scientology for only one reason. To avoid paying taxes on his earnings. Most authors are too honest for that type of sophistry. Which says something about the religion he founded.

  47. Nerd of Redhead says

    Silver Fox, as a working scientist, I can affirm that Vox Day is no scientist. He is a woomeister. Which makes you a woosycophant. So, when we ignore what you say, you know the reason.

  48. SteveM says

    I have always thought of Ron Hubbard as a Sci-Fi writer. How he got from Sci-Fi to Scientology is a mystery (no pun intended) to me.

    The story is that he and several other sf writers were sitting around shooting the breeze apparently about how poorly they were paid. LRH commented that the only way to get rich from sf was to invent a religion. Larry Niven (I think) bet him to prove it. And the rest is history.

  49. Longtime Lurker says

    a few wackaloons who probably go around with aluminum foil hats most of the time

    No, definitely not aluminium (sic), those types are convinced it causes Alzheimer’s.

    I found out about a place called Wookey Hole yesterday.

    Don’t forget to visit Titty Hill or Dorking if you go:

    Now, the real question is… how can we put aside our ethics and soak these kooks for thousands of pounds?

  50. mattmc says

    “This might be something to take up with my science consultant, Vox Day.”

    HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAha…. Please tell me you are joking.

  51. clinteas says

    I love those British “haunted house” type TV programmes !

    The woomeisters hunting ghosts and spirits in some castle or old house,its hilarious.Its a different kind of woo than the american version,for sure,but in a way more entertaining.
    Need to get me one of them Orgone generators,for sure !

  52. Steverino says

    I wonder if maybe some good ‘ole fashioned Prayer might be the solution to this problem.

    Also, it might time to double up on the cranial tin foil. You can never have enough.

  53. Carlie says

    Idiots. Everyone knows there’s nothing going on in Glastonbury – it’s all rift activity out of Cardiff!

  54. E.V. says

    Silver Fox is a chain-yanking POE. Notice how he dropped the “science consultant Vox Day” bomb for obvious effect.

  55. Longtime Lurker says

    I sometimes go to those “living naturally” fairs; my main reasons being that I regularly get free tickets (not sur why) and that they generally sell good food and some ethnic geegaws.

    It’s not to meet groovy earth-mother types?

  56. pough says

    I suggest a party of virgins dance in a circle under the moon light, nekid.
    Send pics.

    Being a virgin isn’t always about youth and beauty. At least, it never was for me. Be careful what you ask for.

  57. Patricia, OM says

    Silver Fox – You don’t need to worry about the golden middle, you’re solid brass stupid all the way down.
    I recommend you go consult vox day on science. And stay there.

  58. Thorn says

    I must admit, the crystal waving morons who flood the minerals section of ebay with pretty examples of common substances with descriptions filled with jizz about reiki, charkras, energy, vibrations, natural power sources and so fourth drive me nuts! A cynical marketing attempt aimed at simple minded morons who just lap this new age woo up and which drives away any thinking person looking for something attractive to keep in their house.

  59. mh says

    Mena @30

    I have actually been to Wookey Hole, it is great fun. The caves are beautiful and a safe haven for various bat species. There is also an excellent Victorian amusement arcade and an old working paper mill. I can’t remember seeing any dinosaurs when I was there around 5 years ago, maybe the exhibition was shut. Yes, Wookey Hole for all!

  60. Quiet Desperation says

    Is there really much overlap in King Arthur fanciers and the New Age movement?

  61. MikeM says

    I don’t know what it is about Britain. We have family friends who are retired teachers, college-educated, very bright people, you’d never get an argument from them on the theory of evolution…

    And they accept, without question, Homeopathy.

    For some reason, things like Reiki, Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Aromatherapy, et al, seem to be accepted by educated Brits. I just find it very strange.

  62. becky ws says

    I was in Glastonbury a few years ago and while eating lunch at a veggie cafe, I heard a very earnest conversation behind me about how best to observe fairies.

    The New Agers are definitly not a small minority there, but they’re fairly harmless, and the Wiccan creed of “Do what you will, an it harm none” is pretty chilled compared to other religions.

  63. Silver Fox says

    “This might be something to take up with my science consultant, Vox Day.”
    HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAha…. Please tell me you are joking.”

    Actually Vox is one of the last of the Renaissance men. He is an explorer of the vast repertoire of human knowledge.

    However, when I am dealing with Vox I always try to keep in mind that he predicted a McCain victory. Obviously, not one of his better days.

  64. says

    I live just in the neighbouring county of Wiltshire and visit Glasto a lot- used to do first aid and stuff at the festival too – and yes the place is full of weird pseudo-scientific loons and I doubt the person who wrote the article had to walk far down the high street to find someone to interview- you should see the place- a bigger collection of pseudo-science and claptrap I have not seen since my last visit to Manitou Springs in Colorado- and that place can give Glasto a run for its money- I go to Glastonbury for the LULZ and a couple of shops sell those great little models of ‘buddy’ jesus and stomping nuns :)- although the Abbey is rather nice too – and all that stuff about Arthur? don’t believe that either lol – we love to fool the tourists in the west country :)

  65. psychodiva says

    oh- I wouldn’t visit the TOR tho- its usually over-run by idiot new age loons playing incessant drums or walking around in circles holding pieces of copper tryng to find the ‘ley lines’

    we are not all loons over here you know :)

  66. Nerd of Redhead says

    Obviously, not one of his better days.

    Nah, just a typical day in the stupidity he puts out. Probably a good day, since he actually got one of the candidates name right.

  67. Jadehawk says

    Is there really much overlap in King Arthur fanciers and the New Age movement?

    at least since Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Mists of Avalon” there is (druidic magic + King Arthur Saga + Avalon placed at Glastonbury)

  68. Luna_the_cat says

    Seriously, my husband did a chunk of his research down around Glastonbury, and we have been frequent visitors to the area — the reporter would NOT have had to look hard to find all this woo and weird belief. The town really is a center for it. But I disagree with Psychodiva about the Arthurian stuff — we found dozens of local people who were willing to sit down and give interviews who sincerely, passionately believed everything about Arthur’s connection to the area — the Tor IS actually Avalon, you know….

    On a side note, Wookey Hole is fantastic. Well worth going. As is Cheddar Gorge, even though it doesn’t have as cool a name.

  69. Jadehawk says

    oh, and Silver Fox: your fawning over a certified loon and misogynist is disgusting.

  70. KnockGoats says

    They do have a special problem out there in the UK that we don’t here in America — ley lines haven’t been a big deal in this country. – PZ

    Ha – you’re just jealous!

  71. Silverwhistle says

    at least since Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Mists of Avalon” there is (druidic magic + King Arthur Saga + Avalon placed at Glastonbury)

    Actually, it goes back further, to New Age cranks such as Dion Fortune in the early 20C. It really took off in the ’60s, with the hippies, though. I do wonder how many real Glastonburians are left there, as from all I’ve heard, the town has been taken over by Hippie/New Age types since the ’60s, forcing up property prices.

  72. Nightsky says

    SF@81: Only if he explores human knowledge like someone on an air-conditioned bus tour, whizzing by the sights at 60 mph and being careful not to get any on him.

    I mean, I was on a thread once where he tried to argue that the First Crusade was not a religious war. At some point, you realize that you’re up against a mind with fact-deflection shields up and functioning at 100%.

  73. papa zita says

    Dear me, this is like someone who took the woo nutcases in Foucault’s Pendulum seriously and didn’t bother reading to the end of the book.

  74. Silver Fox says


    Vox did this fascinating correlation between the Dow Jones Industrial Averages and the rise and fall of religious/atheistic participation, showing that as the Dow rises, so does atheistic identification.

    This is one of his more interesting conclusions: “There can be little doubt that Alan Greenspan caused more people to believe God does not exist in the last decade due to his creation of the temporary illusion of wealth than all the works of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett and Michel Onfray combined”.

    As I said before, the guy really knows how to turn a phrase.

  75. David Marjanović, OM says

    As I said before, the guy really knows how to turn a phrase.

    And that somehow makes him right???

  76. KnockGoats says

    Jesus’ uncle Joseph of Aramathea (not sure whether this was Mary’s brother or God’s) brought Jesus with him on a trade trip to Glastonbury (for the tin – you see the tinfoil hat tradition goes back a loooong way), then came back after Jesus died bringing the Holy Grail with him. It’s buried somewhere around, and that’s the source of all the woo. Or so I’m told.

  77. kamaka says

    “I have always thought of Ron Hubbard as a Sci-Fi writer. How he got from Sci-Fi to Scientology is a mystery (no pun intended) to me.”

    Joseph Smith envy

  78. Quiet_Desperation says

    at least since Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Mists of Avalon” there is (druidic magic + King Arthur Saga + Avalon placed at Glastonbury)

    Huh. OK. Well, you filled my “learn something new every day” slot for the day. Thanks. :-)

  79. says

    Know your l**-lines:

    Ley line–a component of the Druidic Electrical Power Company’s distribution network, circa 300 CE.

    Loo line–found near the porta-potty enclave, at outdoor concerts.

    Lei line–found on cruise ships travelling in the south Pacific, at the welcome kiosk.

    Lay line–found in a busy brothel, outside the most popular girl’s door…

    … I dunno about new agers. There seems to me to be a certain association between crystal ‘n magnet ‘n energy line silliness and antivax- and related weird healthcare woo. The first two are probably among the more harmless silly beliefs–tho’ as previously mentioned, swallowing and trying to defend any of this at any length probably isn’t good for your general ability to reason (I’ve no idea what it might do to the pineal gland–haven’t checked). The last–the antivax and related stuff–that leads to real trouble…

    The other thing about it is there’s a certain–I dunno–social acceptability thing about it, ’round here. In my enclave, you don’t get a lot of strident, vocal fundie types. If there are folk from the Brylcreem Brigade about, they keep pretty quiet, apparently do their speaking in tongues somewhere private, at least. But the crystal healing types do pop up, do speak up a bit more, and I have bumped into fairly determined antivaxers. Certain brands of stupidity seem a bit more acceptable, apparently. I’m guessing it’s a combination of (a) no one associates it with being a mouthbreathing redneck, and (b) yes, okay, they probably are a little less evangelical about it all, at least…

    Airheads rabbitting on about crystal vibrations are a minor annoyance, at most, I guess (though sometimes, ya do feel tempted to rip the dreamcatcher out of their car window and stuff it in their mouth–just sayin’). But anyway, again, the antivax stuff, that’s real trouble. And I’m pretty sure there’s some association, there. Just like conspiracy theorists don’t usually just do the one conspiracy, woo seems to attract woo.

  80. meh1963 says

    Sigh. The stupid, it burns.

    In my time as an IT professional, I have had to deal with TECHNICAL PROFESSIONALS who thought that wifi and cellular was ‘clogging their brains’ and giving them an excuse to let work slip.

  81. Silver Fox says

    @95 “And that somehow makes him right???”

    No. I agree that a simple observation of a two element graft does not a correlation make. They might be two independent variables. It would be interesting if he had run a Chi Square or a Rho.

  82. Nerd of Redhead says

    Hmm…Silver Fox admiring Vox Day in a thread talking about woo. Seems very appropriate for some reason.

  83. DaveG says

    Can’t we all just get along?…

    “Any suitable advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke.

    Scientists reveal that invisible forces which obey the laws of calculus – how do they know the laws of calculus? govern our world, all the matter in which is composed of tiny pieces of electricity too small to see. Every point in the universe is full of other types of particles, unbound by matter, passing through it at every moment, particles that have crossed the universe for 14 billion years and will continue to move, vibrating as they go, until the end of time. The little bits of electricity, and the zooming particles, are so small that they rarely hit each other.

    Doesn’t that sound like a fairy tale of sorts? At least the wackos in Glastonbury are expressing their creative selves, while we just “stand around” and make fun of them. Sounds a little bitter to me.

  84. says

    Silver Fox reminds me of a character from ‘Atlas Shrugged, called the ‘Wet Nurse’, who is unable to think for himself at first and so is with the totalitarian regime, but turns over a new leaf in Hank Rearden’s company. Hope the same will happen to Silver Fox. Till then, no harm addressing him as ‘Wet Nurse’.

  85. John Evans says

    Why go to the trouble of making orgone generators out of crystals, semi-precious stones, or gold? Who can afford that in these trouble economic times? A simpler and more cost effective way of blocking wi-fi signals is by simply wrapping your head in several layers of aluminum foil. Be sure to use the heavy foil wrap rather than the plain kind for obvious reasons.

    I’ve used this method for years and have found that a carefully made aluminum foil hat is the best way of blocking, not only wi-fi signals, but the more powerful high frequency signals emanating from distant galaxies.

    Hope this helps.

  86. KnockGoats says

    If you’re impressed by “Atlas Shrugged”, you’re way battier and more dangerous than Silver Fox.

  87. says

    Knockgoats at # 106

    Well, I can’t say I was impressed by Atlas Shrugged. Nor was I put off by it. I agreed with some of its points and disagreed on some. I am not an Ayn Rand fan; I haven’t even read The Fountainhead. And I am certainly not libertarian. But I am curious to know, why would an Atlas Shrugged/Ayn Rand fan be dangerous? I mean, it’s considered a literary classic and all that, right?

  88. Nightsky says

    Aseem@107: I dunno about “dangerous”, but I have yet to meet a serious Ayn Rand fan who was not also a complete and utter dick.

  89. Sili says

    melatonin really doesn’t do everything

    I first read that as “anything”. I have to admit I’m a bit worried that my light-therapy is a placebo.

    But on the other hand, what do I care as long as it works?

  90. Interrobang says

    I mean, it’s considered a literary classic and all that, right?

    Uh, speaking as someone with a degree in literature, no. It’s only considered to be a “literary classic” by Randroids; Rand couldn’t have mustered literary merit if she took classes. As it was, she plagiarised an entire novel (Anthem) from Yevgeny Zamyatin (who wrote it first as the brilliant We), and it still sucked. Plagiarism kind of disqualifies someone from having standing within the canon. (Now standing within the cannon, that would be an idea for Rand…)

  91. Rowan says

    it is about time that the UK began putting in access to the internet for tourists. i spent a month traveling there in 2004. finding public access to the net was relegated to starbucks and some really shady internet cafes scattered here and there. i felt safest in a backpackers’ agency in edinburgh that had wired net available using either their equipment or your own laptop.

    i had a discussion with a university professor when i was in nottingham about it. he said the attitude was that there was no reason to have wifi. i countered that as a tourist it made sense to have it in order to gain an idea of where to travel to, how to get there, where to stay, and to communicate or conduct business whilst traveling. i am sorry but the internet is a tool which many of us have difficulty not having access to.

    public wifi in places like glastonbury will make tourists happy and more likely to stay there as opposed to trying to find accomodations in surrounding communities which may provide internet access.

  92. says

    Let’s not forget about the doses of radiation from the sun and below the ground. Indeed, you would have to be living in a total bubble to not be exposed to any radiation at all.

  93. says

    What is it about Rand fans that make them total idiots? Just saying, I am not a Rand fan. I read Anthem, and it was just blah, whatever.

  94. says

    Well, I have read Anthem as well.Didn’t know it was plagiarized. As I said earlier, I am not a Rand fan or anything. I read Anthem and Altas Shrugged only because a friend was impressed and asked me to read. I don’t have the motivation to read The Fountainhead and I don’t think I will.Just curious, in what way are Rand fans dicks? Are most of them libertarians or something?

  95. SiMPel MYnd says

    I don’t think that these Glastonbury people are so “wooful”. I just feel pity for them–they are obviously inbred and have not evolved a population who are strong with The Force that can protect their substandard pineal glands the way the rest of us can. Maybe we should spam them with “Do You Want a Larger Penis Pineal Gland?” E-mail messages over their WiFi network.

    Also, for any Glastonburgers reading this blog, I will soon be offering an “Illudium Q-36 Space Explosive Modulator” on eBay which can be used to counteract those offensive Wifi signals. Search for seller name “Sells2GullibleTwits”.

  96. SiMPel MYnd says

    Oops… I obviously meant the “Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator”. The “Illudium Q-36 Space Explosive Modulator” is what God uses to perform the Big Bang. We wouldn’t want the Glastonburgers to get a hold of that!!

  97. Nightsky says

    They’re libertarians, sure, but plenty of awwright people are libertarians. It’s the attitude of “Fsck you, I got mine” that, IMHO, is the mark of the true Randroid.

  98. Marc Abian says

    It seems that the “aliens” (negatives) affect your body but the brain is an alien-free zone (positive). That’s why they have trouble with autism and seizures since they are neurologically based and the aliens are not supposed to be in the neurology zone.

    I think it’s that the souls of the aliens who were culled by the galactic emperor Lord Xenu surround people and cause problems, including autism. Or rather there is no autism or mental problems, there is just souls fucking with you. That’s why they don’t believe in psychiatric drugs like ritalin. In fact, they don’t like psychiatrists at all.

    Hubbard quote time

    “A psychiatrist today has the power to (1) take a fancy to a woman (2) lead her to take wild treatment as a joke (3) drug and shock her to temporary insanity (4) incarnate [sic] her (5) use her sexually (6) sterilise her to prevent conception (7) kill her by a brain operation to prevent disclosure. And all with no fear of reprisal. Yet it is rape and murder… We want at least one bad mark on every psychiatrist in England, a murder, an assault, or a rape or more than one… This is Project Psychiatry. We will remove them.”

    * Confidential memo “Project Psychiatry” (22 February 1966)

    There’s only one remedy for crime — get rid of the psychs! They are causing it!

    * “The Cause of Crime” (6 May 1982)

  99. Ginger Yellow says

    Rowan, I’m not sure what you found shady about our internet cafes. Some of them are a little cheap and cheerful, sure, but I used them all the time when I was without broadband and they’re fine. And you can get access at public libraries as well.

  100. says

    Damn it, I like it when I can feel all intellectually superior to the Yanks. Trust the english to go and ruin it for everyone. Mind you, has anyone considered that it might be overexposure to this new-fangled ‘ley-line’ energy that’s responsible for the deterioration of so many hippy brains?

  101. Dr Horrible says


    Mate, that shit’ll KILL ya! What with the waves and the stuff … do yourself a favour and turn it off before it’s too late and your brain melts!

    Oh. Wait.

  102. dsmccoy says


    . “Here’s the story in a better news site than Fox,”

    . Only marginally better.

    I’m not singing the praises of the telegraph, it’s far from my favorite news site, but from my experience, the difference between the Telegraph and Fox is far more than marginal.

    Scott Norvell, London bureau chief for Fox News:

    “Even we at Fox News manage to get some lefties on the air occasionally, and often let them finish their sentences before we club them to death and feed the scraps to Karl Rove and Bill O’Reilly.”

  103. dsmccoy says

    Forgot to mention, the original Fox report was actually reporting on the very same story in the Telegraph anyway, so reading it from the Telegraph rather than Fox removes a layering of filtering anyway.

  104. Twin-Skies says

    Ley Lines…the last time I heard that mentioned was in World of Warcraft, and Wild Arms 2.

    Seems pretty sad that people still allude to it as if they’re real :(

  105. gaypaganunitarianagnostic says

    Read somewhere: reports of ghost sightings fell off dramaticly after cell phones were introduced in Britain. Evidently ghosties are an endangered species. Havn’t heard from the Goules and langleggety beasties yet.

  106. Twin-Skies says

    Perhaps the cell phone’s electromagnetic emissions zapped them away like the proverbial proton pack.

  107. says

    Quoth our Spectacular, Tentacular Overlord:

    “They do have a special problem out there in the UK that we don’t here in America — ley lines haven’t been a big deal in this country.”

    (Tinfoil Beanie)

    Actually, ley lines are a major deal here in the States! They’re THE major deal, if you know what’s what and don’t get distracted by the posers and the fakes and the conspiracy of Bible-thumpers to distract people from the Truth. It’s really simple, see. It’s so simple it’s almost ridiculous.

    First of all, the woo-woo-meisters have it wrong–human activity doesn’t follow ley lines. It creates them! Real Feng Shui masters know how to use people to shape the environment, but fool them into thinking it works the other way ’round, just like they only publish the failed prophecies of Nostradamus to make you think that all prophecies are crap.

    Truman and Eishenhower had this cabal of real, honest-to-goodness Chinese geomancers design the interstate freeway system. Every car, every truck, every crosscountry trip is building up our national mojo. When it peaks, the Kundalini Serpent is going to uncoil through the seven chakras of the US on May 5, 2012. Good times, man.

    Next to that, what’s a bunch of pseudodruids hanging around ol’ King Artie?
    (/Tinfoil Beanie)

    (clears throat)
    Damn, that’s fun…too coherent to make a good parody, though. I need more CAPS LOCK and runaway punctuation.

    The MadPanda, FCD

  108. Silver Fox says

    “Silver Fox reminds me of a character from ‘Atlas Shrugged'”

    You are associating me with Ayn Rand’s Logical Positivism?
    What have I ever done to you that you should treat me with such disrespect? – that’s a line from the Godfather -you remember Don Vito tells the undertaker that. I may just have to take up your insult up with my son, Fredo, you know the dull-witted one. But that will have to wait because I’m having trouble with the Rossato brothers, and Frankie Dantangelo just brought up some gunsels from Chicago and they shot up my son Michael’s bedroom and almost killed his wife, Diane Keaton.

    I just love writing in this James Joyce stream of consciousness style. It puts the mind in such a creative frame.

  109. hf says

    If the odd man has actually “given” orgone generators to all these shops rather than selling them, I see no problem here. I’m in favor of magic sex energies that calm anti-Wi-Fi hysteria.

  110. Stygian Lamprey says

    Orgonomy? Really? Now that’s an old, old woo chestnut. And here I was thinking that the late W.S. Burroughs was the last person in history to invoke ol’ Wilhelm Reich and his gadgets…

  111. Jack Rawlinson says

    PZ, I’m sure someone will have told you this already but it bears repeating: Glastonbury is the absolute epicentre of all things cracked and New Agey in England. The loons who congregate there are, thankfully, very far from typical of our people.

    Shame really, because it’s quite a cute little town.

  112. Colonel Molerat says

    Ooooooog, this Molerat is feeling rather hungover.
    But is at work.
    Hence, my brain will be doing all of the vomiting, rather than my stomach, and many question, comments and thoughts will spread mindlessly on to this website.
    But not now. I have to hunt down teachers who haven’t finished their registers.
    First though, anybody hear about the Echo and the Bunnymen ley line tour?
    They only performed at venues on ley lines, which led to some bizarre gigs, in out-of the way fields with audiences of sheep.
    The manager later admitted that he had made it all up, even the location of the ley lines (not that they exist to have a location, but he didn’t even research where they are supposed to be…) as a publicity stunt.
    Oh, Naughtius Maximus (#4) Spinal Tap? Hurrah!
    There are a lot of questions I want to ask, but shall in a few minutes.
    Good bye for now chaps, chapettes and chapatis!

  113. Peat says

    I live just outside glastonbury and admitted there are a lot of yoghurt weaving crystal types, but the majority of the locals don’t hold with that crap. Its mainly just about ripping off tourists an I can’t see the problem with that. I love living there!

  114. says

    Clearly, the right response is to get rid of the free wireless, infact, all internet access, then build a large wall around the town to keep out anyone who might want to install internet. That way we don’t have to suffer them and they can all sit around a crystal and sing or something.

  115. Colonel Molerat says

    Quick comment while I fill in a few registers and before I venture out again (it’s break time… I daren’t leave my office for fear of drowning in the veritable sea of riff-raff that floods the corridors when allowed out of lessons).
    What really annoys me about electro-woo (or whatever you call, woo to do, (commars purely to accentuate rhyme) with electronics and technology is that it often (although not in this case) relies on language and ideas that sound rather plausible to people with no knowledge of the subject, and not enough interest to research it.
    I am one of these people. For example, with mobile-phone-related-hysteria, how much of it is true? I’m not quite interested enough to research it in much depth, so I just live by the dictum ‘if it were bad for me, it’d be banned by now’, which has worked so far, although can, of course have disastrous consequences (although a live lived researching EVERYTHING would probably be just as bad as any ailment caused by something you assumed was safe).
    I’ve heard that mobile phone use may lead to a higher risk of brain cancer, and the research on that seems plausible enough to believe that there may be a risk for very young children, but is that true? And is there any risk for the adult population? I know that, if any, it is negligble, especially unless you use a phone a LOT, but what are the facts?
    And what about mobile phone masts? I’ve not read anything about those (except for woo and the-very-small-minority-who-claim-electrosensitivity-type-illnesss-but-are-most-likely-succumbing-to-hysteria – sorry for the hyphons, I put a few in, decided against them, but couldn’t be bothered going back to delete them), other than it is best not to live too close (within a matter of five metres, or something), but that seemed, again, based on a ‘just in case’ philosophy – what is the actual scientific consensus.
    Oh, and please remember that I’m hungover, and not terribly interested in the subject, just mildly curious, so please be gentle and provide me with a summary, rather than links – I’ll take your word.
    I don’t normally mind the woo-merchants of the New-Age type – they generally adopt a nice, liberal, live-and-let-live philosophy – although things like this article mentions annoys me, as does dangerous refusal of vaccines. Sure, they’re a bit pesky, and intellectually insulting (how I feel about any refusal to try to understand the real world), but generally rather well meaning, in my experience. Plus I quite like some of their doohickies, such as incense and… Erm… incense holders.
    I spent three months in Dharmsala (where the Dalai Llama (sic) lives) as a yoof, so bumped into lots there. There was a ‘moon cult’ (actual name) advertising at the time. Hilarious.
    Most of them just seem a bit too ditzy to be able to comprehend real science, and know that if they start learning the basics (“vaccines DON’T cause autism and DO prevent disease”) then it will be a slippery slope to having to learn more complicated things that make their brain hurt. In a way, it’s almost not their fault.
    Not that I condone woo in anyway… But, like a tramp who claims to be King Arthur, they can be amusing and (most of the time) are harmless, if a little/lot frustrating.
    Sorry for the especially long, rambling, post; if I think before writing my brain starts to hurt after last night. I also get VERY emotional when hungover (even more so than when drunk), so am full of Pharyngulove today! It’s a Friday! Hurrah!

  116. says

    I understand that the Glasto-net was running for several weeks without being announced to the public.

    It was only *after* the announcement was made that the Tin Foil Hat wearers started to complain of their WiFi-related, completely made-up illnesses.

    The stupid runs deep in Somerset.

  117. Colonel Molerat says

    Wow Scaryduck! You’re THE scaryduck!
    I’ve only read your blog twice, but I keep meaning to add it to my bookmarks, as I enjoyed it thoroughly…
    Once I’ve read the rest of Pharyngula, I’ll add it and have another look!

    And, before so-called ‘legitimate’ scientists, with their high-falootin’ grants and universities and educations, propose it I put forward the hypothesis that there exists a particle that is responsible for causing various ailments, and is only created when WiFi rollout is announced. You may laugh now, but remember me when New Scientist announces the Woo-on (not to be confused with the Wooon, which seems to be someone or something in a Germanic language – my online translator tells me it means ‘Wooon’).

  118. says

    “Ayn Rand’s Logical Positivism”
    At the risk of feeding the troll: LOL wut? Isn’t Randroid Objectivism absolutely stuffed with the sort of metaphysical claims that Logical Positivists would hold meaningless

  119. KnockGoats says

    why would an Atlas Shrugged/Ayn Rand fan be dangerous? – Aseem

    Yes, maybe dangerous was the wrong word – they’d only be dangerous if there were a lot of them, but the contempt for most of humanity and worship of selfishness Rand’s “philosophy” embodies are the epitome of what has got the world into its current mess.

    I mean, it’s considered a literary classic and all that, right? – Aseem


  120. KnockGoats says

    You are associating me with Ayn Rand’s Logical Positivism? – Silver Fox

    SF, don’t use words if you don’t know what they mean. It would make you look even more stupid, were that possible.

  121. africangenesis says

    #148, KG, Rand’s contempt was for a philosophy that resented achievement and productivity and worshipped an equality imposed by force. What percentage of humanity do you think progressive have contempt for? A lot, if this site is an example.

    Let’s agree on the “contempt is bad” standard.

  122. KnockGoats says


    No, contempt is not bad. You should learn to distinguish contempt for ludicrous nonsense like creationism and “Objectivsim”, and for those who actively propagate such ideologies to serve their own ends, from contempt for the majority of those taken in by them.

  123. 'Tis Himself says

    Rand was a half-baked philosopher with a nonsensical philosophy. Her essay The Virtue of Selfishness starts with a strawman definition of altruism which she ineptly demolishes. She thinks that anyone who accepts the ethics of altruism will have no self-esteem, will see humanity as a tribe of doomed beggars, will see existence as fundamentally desperate and will actually become indifferent to ethics due to a preoccupation with extreme situations rather than what we might call “real life.”

  124. africangenesis says

    Rand was not an academic philospher, more a way-of-life philospher. I reread Atlas recently after a lapse of several decades, her depiction of the progressive rhetoric still rings true. Her moral defense of capitalism along with F.A. Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” were influential attempts to provide a moral defense for a system that had mostly been apologized for before. Nothing can survive western critical philosophy of course, but perhaps we should consider which values work, which are compatible with this animal that evolution has produced, and what limitations of our evolutionary origins have left us vulnerable to.

    While knowledge of shared genes and game theory has helped explain the existance of altruistic and self-sacrificial behavior and warrior heroism, the non-parental care components evolved in hunter-gatherer tribal scale societies. In order for it make sense from an evolutionary process, this behavior had to benefit others who shared the same genes and perhaps that is why modern humans are prone to strong identities with others.

    These collective identities have been exploited to destructive effect by religion, nationality and movements such as communism and environmentalism. Modern humans don’t seem very good at rejected these identities, even in cases where it is so obviously bad for their genes, such as when the Christians and Jews refused to renounce their faiths when being persecuted, or when innocent civilians complied with conscription convinced by national identity or calls to duty.