Posts Tagged “liar”

Trento-Mercatino dei Gaudenti-alarm clocksDaylight Saving Time starts in the US this coming weekend. Once more I bring up the fact that it is a blatant fraud. A lie. A massive con-job. I’ve made the case many times as to how this is so, but Bloomberg just published an article explaining that it’s rank bullshit (WebCite cached article):

If you hate daylight saving time and all the confusion and sleep deprivation it brings, you now have solid data on your side. A wave of new research is bolstering arguments against changing our clocks twice a year.

The case for daylight saving time has been shaky for a while. The biannual time change was originally implemented to save energy. Yet dozens of studies around the world have found that changing the clocks has either minuscule or non-existent effects on energy use. After Indiana finally implemented daylight saving, something that didn’t happen until 2006, residents actually used more electricity.

Daylight saving time isn’t just a benign relic of the 1970s energy crisis. The latest research suggests the time change can be harmful to our health and cost us money. The effects are most disruptive in the spring and fall, right after the time changes occur. Clocks in the U.S. will spring forward this year on Sunday, March 12. Most of Europe moves to daylight saving time two weeks later.

That DST is fraudulent has been known for a while, but has been acknowledged as such more often. It was implemented as a war-time measure (first during World War I, then again in World War II) and it might actually have helped in that regard. Beyond that, it’s just a ridiculous excuse to make everyone fiddle with their clocks, ovens, microwaves, etc. twice a year.

Bloomberg explains who the last remaining holdouts are, trying to keep DST foisted on us, and it turns out, they’re wrong:

Some of the last defenders of daylight saving time have been a cluster of business groups who assume the change helps stimulate consumer spending. That’s not true either, according to recent analysis of 380 million bank and credit-card transactions by the JPMorgan Chase Institute.

The bottom line is, DST is a damned lie that needs to just fucking go away. What should happen is that we go on Daylight Saving Time this coming weekend, then stay there forever. Unfortunately, that would take an act of Congress. But given the clusterfuck that Washington has become (not just in the last month and a half, but over the last decade), that’s not going to happen. More’s the pity.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Tony anthonyStories about vicious reprobates — the more villanous, the better — being “reformed” by their miraculous faith in the Almighty, is something that warms the cockles of Christians’ hearts. They just love hearing about how the worst sorts of people are magically transformed into devout, loving Christians, merely by virtue of their having “accepted Jesus Christ as their ‘Personal Lord and Savior’™.” It also happens to be an extremely profitable business. More than a few speakers and authors have amassed fortunes on this meme.

Given the massive accolades and profits involved, it’s not surprising that more than a few of these well-known and wealthy authors, have turned out to be liars and con-artists. Among the most famous of these was Mike Warnke, the “Christian comedian” who, during the 70s and 80s, was a wildly popular preacher with his own ministry. His fame had been built on his Christian-bookstore staple The Satan Seller, his autobiography of having been a Satanic high priest who miraculously turned to Jesus and changed his ways completely. But Warnke’s career crashed and burned when, in 1992, the Christian magazine Cornerstone exposed his book as a tissue of lies.

Others have followed similar tracks, including Ergun Caner, a theologian I’ve blogged about, who claimed to have been raised as an devout Islamist fundamentalist but magically converted to Christianity. He and his brother wrote their own book, Unveiling Islam, based on their supposed experience. Most of it, though, turns out to be untrue; after being exposed, Caner eventually lost his job as head of Liberty University’s theology school.

It turns out there’s yet another best-selling liar for Jesus out there. As the (UK) Guardian reports, a book by a claimed killer-turned-evangelical-Christian also turns out to be fraudulent (WebCite cached article):

It was the autobiography that gave hope to hundreds of thousands and warmed the hearts of Christians.

Chronicling how a convicted criminal and martial arts fighter found redemption through God, Taming the Tiger had more than 1.5m copies distributed around the world while its author, Tony Anthony, become a sought-after speaker in schools and churches.

In the book, which carries the strapline “From the Depths of Hell to the Heights of Glory”, Anthony explains how he was taken to China by his grandfather, a kung fu grand master, and trained to become a martial arts champion. He then moved to Cyprus, where he became a bodyguard to businessmen, gangsters and diplomats. “In the line of duty as a bodyguard, I killed people,” Anthony would tell church audiences. “I have broken more arms and legs than I care to remember.” Later he recounted how he found God while in prison in Nicosia after being convicted of theft.

The book was a phenomenon. It was translated into 25 languages and won the Christian Booksellers’ Convention Award in 2005.

But now, following a sustained internet campaign by a group of Christians who doubted Anthony’s claims almost from the start, it appears that little of the book is true.

Anthony was undone by one of his own: Mike Hancock, a director of his ministry, asked for verification of Anthony’s claims; after being rebuffed, he resigned. That triggered a review, which found a number of problems with the book, including the following:

Anthony claimed to be a three times world kung fu champion and tried to deflect suspicions that he had embellished his past by claiming that the competitions were so specialised they were not known to outsiders. But it emerged that some of the material was copied from a martial arts website. One passage was lifted from a book about Bruce Lee.

Anthony himself has said nothing. His ministry is closing down, but his publisher stands behind him:

In a statement, Anthony’s publisher, Authentic Media, said that it was withdrawing Taming the Tiger, a follow-up book, Cry of the Tiger, and a related DVD.

It said: “Tony strongly defends his story — though he acknowledges that the recent information that he has received about his early life requires him to update and clarify his story.”

There’s Christian morality for you. The publisher that’s made millions selling his book is not about to admit it contains demonstrable lies.

I have to give credit to the Christians who exposed Anthony as a fraud. They had the scruples to take on “one of their own” and wanted to set the record straight. Even so, there are too many other Christians who won’t even think twice about the lies of people like Anthony — or Caner or Warnke. They aren’t bothered by fraud, if it brings other people to God. They have an example of this in their own Bibles: Rahab the Harlot, a native of Jericho who was honored by the Hebrews and their god YHWH because she’d lied for them.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Psychic medium and author Sylvia Browne speaks to the audience during her appearance at Route 66 Casino's Legends Theater on November 13, 2010 in Albuquerque, New Mexico / CNNA testament to the awesome power of belief in metaphysical gobbledygook like “psychic powers” is the persistence of famous “psychics” like Sylvia Browne. She has made a career out of making predictions that always fail to come true, yet she continues to make media appearances as though she were still a credible predictor. She’s been on the Larry King Show many times, and for years, was a weekly guest on the Montel Williams Show (which recently ended its run). No one — not one single person — in the mass media ever asks her any hard questions, such as how she could have been so very wrong about the Sego mine disaster in 2006 (WebCite cached article). The mass media, in fact, make a lot of money foisting people like Browne on the (largely gullible) public, so they have no incentive to want to make her look bad, even if that happens to be very easy to do, because she’s so frequently wrong.

Thus, it’s left to the skeptical media to expose Sylvia Browne as the fraud she is. And the most recent issue of the Skeptical Inquirer has done exactly that:

The most extensive study of alleged psychic Sylvia Browne’s predictions about missing person and murder cases reveals a strange discrepancy: despite her repeated claim to be more than 85 percent correct, it seems that Browne has not even been mostly correct about a single case. …

According to Browne, “my accuracy rate is somewhere between 87 and 90 percent, if I’m recalling correctly.”

This article disputes that statistic by examining the criminal cases Browne has performed readings on. This research demonstrates that in 115 cases (all the available readings) Browne’s confirmable accuracy was 0%.

The analysis was rigorous and exacting, and the report fairly specific in its findings:

In the 115 cases reviewed with Lexis-Nexis and newspaper sources, Browne was wrong in twenty-five cases, and the remaining ninety either have no available details about the case outside of the transcript or the crime is unsolved so there is no way to confirm Browne’s claims.

The following data is organized as a list to allow the reader to independently research the names. Importantly, since Lexis-Nexis and similar Internet sources mainly gather information about recent events, one should keep in mind that she says she’s at the top of her game. In June 2009, Browne told Seattle Weekly about her psychic ability: “I think you get better, like anything else you get better with time.”

We welcome Browne to supply independent proof of just one case that was she correct about.

Browne has a history of being wrong or unhelpful in many predictions. In the course of this research, we examined a variety of sources to study Browne’s involvement with law enforcement. In these readings, Browne was sometimes paid by some families of the victims, charged at least one police department $400, and received money as well as publicity from her appearances on television.

The report ends with a complete catalog of all 115 cases examined, as well as a full explanation of how and why she was wrong, in the 25 they were able to verify. There is little to dispute here, although I’m sure that Sylvia Browne’s “true believers” will immediately and categorically dismiss this analysis as merely the work of “skeptics” (and you know how horrible those “skeptics” are!) and refuse even to begin to acknowledge even one of the points it makes. Nevertheless, the only rational conclusion one can reach … based on the objective and verifiable evidence presented … is that Sylvia Browne is wrong. Flat-out wrong! And her continued claims to be right 87-90% of the time, makes her a liar; and since she makes money being a liar, this in turn makes her a fraud.

The willful complicity of the mass media in Browne’s fraud scheme makes them her co-conspirators … but that’s another matter, to be addressed some other time.

Update: We can add one more to the 25 verifiable predictions Sylvia has made. Her accuracy rate remains solidly zero, since once again, she’s been proven wrong.

Hat tip: Skeptic’s Dictionary.

Photo credit: CNN.

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In his defense of Christian exclusivity (i.e. that there is no salvation without Jesus Christ), Cal Thomas trots out an old apologists’ argument:

It finds most Americans believe there are many ways to salvation besides their own faith. Most disturbing of all is the majority of self-identified evangelical Christians who believe this.

Apparently they must think Jesus was a liar, or mistaken, when he said: “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father but by me.”

Thomas implies here that it’s scandalous that anyone might think Jesus could have lied … so — since we know this accusation is such an outrage that it cannot possibly be true — then of course he is the only way.

Unfortunately Thomas forgets a few things:

  1. Do we even know there was a Jesus who said such a thing? (As it turns out, Cal, Jesus’ existence is not the least bit certain).

  2. Even if Jesus did exist, do we know he said such a thing? (No, Cal, we only have this from the evangelists, who wrote decades afterward … not the most reliable accounts.)

  3. Third, if Jesus lived and if he actually said them … ? Yes, Cal, he may actually have lied.

You read that right. I did, indeed, dare say it: Jesus may have been a liar. But that assumes he lived, which is not certain, and that he said this, which in turn is even more uncertain.

It’s time people stopped letting their assumptions and their outrage guide them.

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