Friday, March 31, 2006

Secret Cult Discovered On Internet

The 31st Meeting of the Skeptics' Circle is officially live at Terra Sigillata. Visit and view the strange rites and incredible beliefs, gasp at the amazing concepts, be shocked at how far this cult has spread!

Pranic Financial Enhancement Techniques 2

Curiously enough, just after EoR had finished his previous article on the miracle of pranic healing, he was given an issue of Options which has an article on "Mysteries of Energy Revealed". The accompanying page of advertisements describe the founder of this woo as "Scientist" GM Choa Kok Sui. EoR was intrigued and desired further illumination. Any magic proven by a "Scientist" must be true and worth investigating. Which is what EoR did.

GM Choa Kok Sui is, indeed, a scientist (at least, if his own claims are to be believed, since EoR has seen no independent verification). Well, a chemical engineer. But he's gone far beyond that and is now a "Scientist of the Soul". Whatever that is. This particular site made EoR go all woozy and want to donate heaps of money to the poor, self-sacrificing saviour of mankind:
His scientific background, as a chemical engineer, has enabled the Grand Master, to test and verify the techniques of Pranic healing and Arhatic Yoga in a thorough manner over 25 years of arduous research. [...] This has impressive implications for the average person who is thus, able to bring about a physical, chemical reaction by treating the energy body and relieve a simple headache or stomach ache or heal a minor cut or burn instantly. [...] People often ask how an astute self made multi-millionaire businessman and an adept scientist can also be an enlightened Teacher and philanthropist. This is exactly what makes the Grand Master one of the most unique living spiritual teachers in the world today. He has an unassuming candour and directness, which can be overwhelming because of the powerful energy that underlies it. This does ,to some extent, veil the tender hearted side of the personality, which is inherently gentle, loving and considerate as well as lovable. He is a sincere and loyal friend and takes care of the welfare of his large number of teachers and students worldwide and his employees in the Philippines. The element of self sacrifice is quite evident in his private life. Although independently wealthy in his own right , the Grand Master dedicates his time, resources and efforts towards helping humanity at great cost to his personal life and well being. The Planet is much richer and blessed by his presence amongst us.

Actually, a more accurate statement would seem to be "GM Choa Kok Sui is much richer and blessed by his presents from us."

The article included such revelations as
Quantum scientists now agree that we are beings that continuously emit and transmit energy in the form of light. This transference of energy is easily felt - we often feel the "vibes" of someone who is angry. [...] [Choa Kok Sui] discovered through his research, that every disease has its own distinct energy pattern, and by removing this pattern of disease through specific cleansing techniques, and then projecting fresh prana to the energy body, the physical body would recover in an accelerated manner. He discovered remarkably that disease actually manifests first in the Energy Body, and once the pattern of disharmony has been there long enough, it then can manifest physically, emotionally or mentally as an ailment.

The article also led EoR to Light Streams, yet another commercial scamming of psychic woo believers. Oh, hang on, they give "Free" community clinics:
This FREE clinic is supervised by a Senior Pranic Healer. It is a community service that we are offering and flyers are available on request. Should you have a treatment, a donation of $5 is requested to meet the running costs of the venue.

So that's "free" how exactly?

But the "scientific" form of pranic healing is better than all the other woos (EoR loves this sort of alternatista turf war - it's all so anti-touchyfeely and completely against the principles of the newage movement).
Common knowledge on chakras deals with 7 major chakras. Grand Master Choa Kok Sui has revealed a system with additional major chakras; some of these major chakras have remained secret over many centuries. 11 Major Chakras and 2 other minor chakras What is the big deal about these additional chakras you may ask? Not having knowledge of all the chakras and their functions, is a limitation in the ability to heal.

EoR anticipates the future discovery of even more chakras, possibly also simultaneously linked to the need for the Grand Master to "enhance" his financial holdings.

Of course
Pranic Healing has been researched and validated for over 20 years by Grand Master Choa Kok Sui (GMCKS) who also systematized and modernized it. [...] The techniques have been researched and systematized for over 20 years, and refined to such a fine degree that it can be easily learnt in a weekend, and you can start healing safely and confidently after the first day of tuition. The techniques produce consistent and repeatable results. Anyone can do it.

Twenty years of research! Countless proven miracles! Fully repeatable! Learnt in a weekend! Anyone can do it! Absolutely zero papers on Pubmed. Can you spot the logical inconsistency?

Pranic Healing: file under "one born every minute".

PS: Please turn down all that light you're emitting. EoR is trying to sleep.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Pranic Financial Enhancement Techniques

The GMCKS Institute for Inner Studies offers pranic healing and associated courses.
PRANIC HEALING is a revolutionary and comprehensive system of natural healing techniques that utilizes "prana" to treat various illnesses. Prana is a Sanskrit word literally meaning "life-force", the invisible bio-energy or vital energy that keeps the body alive and maintains a state of good health. The Japanese call this subtle energy "Ki", the Chinese "Chi", while the Greeks refer to it as "Pneuma". In Polynesian it is known as "Mana", and in Hebrew, "Ruach" - meaning "Breath of Life."

(Pneuma originally meant "air in motion" and came to mean "spirit" (C G Jung: The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious p209). It is not cognate with chi etc.)

The founder of this sect is Grand Master Choa Kok Sui, (GM Choa Kok Sui can also be found here, and and thousands of other websites) author of such titles as "Miracles Through Pranic Healing", and also
Modern Founder of The Ancient Science and Art of Pranic Healing

EoR always thinks modern sciences are best founded post-temporally.
Master Choa not only conceived the comprehensive techniques designed to cleanse and energize the physical body, thereby accelerating the rate at which the body can heal itself, he even originated new, never before used terms, to thoroughly clarify the concepts he devised. Master Choa successfully has demonstrated that energy is an important factor in healing the physical body, and through employing Pranic Psychotherapy, also in healing the psyche. [...] Initially trained as a chemical engineer, now students often refer Master Choa as a "scientist of the soul." This scientific orientation enabled him to carefully systematize the techniques of pranic healing and arhatic yoga. Through extensive research, Master Choa developed a discipline called "technology of the Soul."The implications of this are profound, powerful, far-reaching and exciting for mankind.

Well, yes. The scientifically proven existence of the soul, just for starters.
Master Choa Kok Sui believes that we inhabitants of Planet Earth are ready for a major shift in consciousness. We are fortunate to anticipate through Master's incredible generosity of spirit, he will share with us more of his amazing knowledge and his boundless understanding of an immense variety of new subjects.

Is there nothing new here? Every cult leader preaches the "global consciousness shift" while dispensing drops of honeyed wisdom to his wide eyed devotees. Usually for a fee of some kind.

This particular cult offers a plethora of "courses" (for a fee, plus textbooks) such as Advanced Pranic Healing where you can speed up healing by thinking colours at complaints, and
Specific techniques for severe cases:
· Cancer
· HIV+
· Diabetes
· Leukemia
· Kundalini Syndrome

(EoR isn't sure what Kundalini Syndrome is - he doesn't think it's in the Diagnostic Manual). Then there's the Arhatic Sexual Alchemy Course
You will also learn about "Sexual Partnership" on all levels, that has never before been taught to the uninitiated.

Unfortunately, despite its high cost ($A440 for one day) there doesn't appear to be a practical component, so EoR won't be rushing off to attend.

Or $A220 (plus text) to learn how to say Om Mani Padme Hum.

Then there's the Kriya$hakti® [sic] financial healing course, which really starts to show where this cult is coming from. You know those spam and scam shysters who offer you "the secrets of financial wealth" (for only a "nominal" fee)? What about $A770 for
Kriya$hakti® goes beyond by sharing ancient secret formulas for precipitating thoughts into physical reality. This includes never before revealed "mudras" (hand positions) and Eye Positions to accelerate the manifestation of your goals and aspirations. Kriya$hakti® also teaches the Science of Entitlement. This powerful technique allows you to create the conditions that karmically entitle you to have your wishes fulfilled.

Can anyone smell burning scam here? Of course, if you want to learn the "never before revealed" secrets of wealth, you have to complete the Pranic Psychotherapy course first (an additional $A330). At the end of which EoR guarantees someone will be financially very much better off.
In PRANIC PSYCHOTHERAPY, the healer uses advanced energetic extraction techniques on the affected chakras so phobias, compulsions and addictions can be alleviated in a very short time. This is done without the recipient having to reveal any potentially embarrassing personal information. It is not uncommon that in just the first session, a phobia is 70-90% healed.

EoR's favourite, though, is the Pranic Psychic Self Defence course ($A330).
Just Some of What You Will Learn
Closing of the Aura to prevent intrusions
Understand how psychic attacks are launched and protect yourself from them
Endow your business with a protective aura
Utilizing Holy Objects for Protection, Empowerment and Good Luck
Shielding of your personal belongings -including your financial assets!
Multidimensional Shielding Techniques for protection on the Spiritual, Mental, Emotional, Etheric and Physical planes. Attacks could come in from any plane.
Remedies - What to do if the attack has already penetrated your energy fields; learn special extraction techniques to remove them
ENERGY: The missing link in psychic protection - why visualization & intention alone are not sufficient - you can't build a fence with just good intention, you need fencing material
Use the ancient Magic Circles Ritual for comprehensive protection from Angels, Masters and Teachers - one invoked it to get back a runaway daughter!
Stop psychic vampires from draining your precious life force - it could be a cause of insomnia
Learn what causes "bad luck" and change it to GOOD FORTUNE!
Learn the ULTIMATE PROTECTION and MUCH MORE!

Can anyone afford not to do this course?

If you haven't got time to do a course, you could just opt for the books, CDs or Grand Master's Aura and Chakra Spray
A cleansing spray developed by the Grand Master, which has a powerful effect on cleansing the aura and chakras.

But how would anyone ever know whether it works or not? Apart from the person raking in the money, of course.

Sadly, this sort of magical mumbo jumbo is supported by one of Perth's largest hospitals for cancer patients. If you're suffering cancer and you're really desperate (a bit of a tautology, that), you can attend the half hour "workshops" for $A60. There's even a hospitals' program with the following goal:
This program disseminates Pranic Healing to as many Western Australian hospitals both private and public, and all allied health professionals, to bridge the gap between complimentary and orthodox medicine by offering a free service of Pranic Healing to patients, their families and staff.

If it's "complimentary", why are they charging for it?

Presumably, this support is due to the wealth of scientific evidence demonstrating the existence of prana and its healing powers. Why, the site even mentions three scientific studies that provide such evidence. Well, sort of. If you think Matsuru Emoto and his magic water pictures is proof of prana (when EoR read his book, there was no mention of prana at all). According to another study (by a nurse and a pranic practitioner)
According to the statistics gathered, preparing birthing rooms by using Pranic Healing techniques had a positive effect on the birthing process and maternal outcome. Specifically, it was observed that there were an increased percentage of births with intact perineum, an increased percentage of non-medicated births and a reduction in the number of complications.

There's a PDF file which can be downloaded. EoR has read it but he's not convinced that there's anything of any statistical significance there, nor quite why caesarean births were excluded (EoR wouldn't dare think the reason would be skewing of statistics).

The final study doesn't even make a pretence of being a scientific document, being described as
The role of Pranic Healing as a Complementary Therapy to Allopathic Medicine is highlighted in this presentation.

Given the emphatic description of how pranic healing is a "miracle", an "art", a "science", how it can "enhance" and "speed" healing, and how it is suitable for just about every condition known to man and dog (including poor finance, psychic attack, cancer etc etc), EoR wonders why the enrolment form requires details of medical complaints, and a medical/GP contact, as well as a parental disclaimer to seek medical advice in an emergency. Surely they're not saying that all the magical scam claims are bullshit? It couldn't be that they're just interested in your money? Surely not.

And what about this disclaimer quoted from Master Choa Kok Sui, tucked away in the Workshops & Meditation Classes for Cancer Patients & Their Carers page?
"Pranic Healing is not intended to replace orthodox medicine, but rather to complement it. If symptoms persist or the ailment is severe, please consult immediately a Medical Doctor and a Certified Pranic Healer."

In other words, if you actually want resolution and treatment see a real doctor. The downside, of course, is that Master Choa Kok Sui will be financially worse off.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Does My Aura Look Big in These?

Chris Brazel ("the house whisperer" [sic]) is not just your usual psychic-woo-for-a-fee merchant (phone consultations $A95 per hour, home consultations start at $A399 - but "I will leave you with a section of cards, Buddha paper, lucky envelopes and tips for the home"), business consultations ($A600 "and up"), corporate consultations (too expensive to even give a price), nor does she just do personal numerology as well as "house numerology", nor can she claim to "You name it, she's done it", including
She has a great knowledge, experience and understanding of eastern, western, and Hindu energy flows of the body and of the environment. She has specialised in Feng Shui, Colour and Numerology for the past nine years. She has also qualified in Reflexology, Accupressure, Kinesiology, Reiki, Yoga, Health and Fitness as well as Strength and Conditioning Coach. [...] Other areas that Chris has succeeded in include marathon running, world level squash, high level golf, triathlons, running and kayaking. She’s been divorced and moved on, renovating houses, starting her own business, property development, motivational speaking, life coaching, mentoring, health and fitness professional, strength and conditioning coach...

(EoR gets the feeling she can't stick at anything - he's tired just reading that list) but she's also developed the world-shattering, ground-breaking, wholly-original therapy of Coloured Undies!
Change the colour of your undies. Change your life today!™

Ms Brazel isn't giving much away (you need to buy her merchandise, or join as a Basic Member or a Gold Member to learn the full magic), but
Coloured Undies is simply about attitude. When you have the right attitude you can move mountains. [...] You can work with colours personally as well as in your environment. Working with combinations of colours can be extremely effect when you want to change something in your life. Colour can start the domino effect for change. Simply starting with the colour of your undies, you can start to create change. The undies is an extremely effect way to work as it is first colour that you place on your body each day. It is a colour that you wear in a very personal area of the body. The hips are what propel you forward to the future, so when choosing a particular colour for the undies you are choosing what it is that you wish to move to for the future. Each day when you select the type and colour of your undies you are making an intention for what you want in life. The undies work as a trigger for the mind. What I like about it is that no one needs to know what it is that you are aiming for.

Nor how stupid you are paying money for this newage guff and a series of postive affirmations in your email.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Pullman's God

A few months ago the New Yorker published an article by Laura Miller about Philip Pullman which makes very interesting reading. His most wellknown work is the "His Dark Materials" trilogy which starts, rather like another fantasy series, with a young girl hiding in a wardrobe. What she finds is not some cosy religious tract however, but a world in which religion is a repressive, fascist force (it really is fantasy, honest!).
Pullman once told an interviewer that "every single religion that has a monotheistic god ends up by persecuting other people and killing them because they don’t accept him." Peter Hitchens, a conservative British columnist, published an article about Pullman entitled "This Is the Most Dangerous Author in Britain," in which he called him the writer "the atheists would have been praying for, if atheists prayed."

Pullman sees fiction as a moral force, a far stronger one than religion, and one that does not need religion:
"I don’t think it’s possible that there is a God; I have the greatest difficulty in understanding what is meant by the words ‘spiritual’ or ‘spirituality’; but I think I can say something about moral education, and I think it has something to do with the way we understand stories." [...] Opposed to this ideal is "theocracy," which he defined as encompassing everything from Khomeini’s Iran to explicitly atheistic states such as Stalin’s Soviet Union. He listed some characteristics of such states - among them, "a scripture whose word is inerrant," a priesthood whose authority "tends to concentrate in the hands of elderly men," and "a secret police force with the powers of an Inquisition." Theocracies, he said, demonstrate "the tendency of human beings to gather power to themselves in the name of something that may not be questioned."

Partly inspired by Milton's "Paradise Lost", as well as William Blake, and partly as a counter argument to C S Lewis' Narnia books, he wrote "His Dark Materials".
Near the end of "The Golden Compass," Lord Asriel asks Lyra to bring him a copy of the Bible, and he reads her a passage from Genesis. In Lyra’s world, the Bible isn’t quite the same as ours: when Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit, the first thing they see is the adult form of their daemons. "But it en’t true, is it?" Lyra asks of the story. "Not true like chemistry or engineering, not that kind of true? There wasn’t really an Adam and Eve?" Lord Asriel tells her to think of the story as an "imaginary number, like the square root of minus one." Its truth might not be tangible, but you can use it to calculate "all manner of things that couldn’t be imagined without it." The metaphor is not just cunning; it helps explain why Pullman, a champion of science, writes in the fantastic mode.

The first from his school to go to Oxford University, Pullman joined the ranks there of other authors inspired by that society: writers such as Alan Garner and C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien. Obviously, there's something in the water. Or, as the article posits:
But perhaps the main reason that Oxford’s dons have excelled at writing for children is that, for so long, the university dictated that they live like children: sheltered, celibate, in single-sex institutions, waited upon by indulgent servants.

Though Pullman has little time for Lewis and Tolkien:
" ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is fundamentally an infantile work," he said. "Tolkien is not interested in the way grownup, adult human beings interact with each other. He’s interested in maps and plans and languages and codes." When it comes to "The Chronicles of Narnia," by C. S. Lewis, Pullman’s antipathy is even more pronounced. Although he likes Lewis’s criticism and quotes it surprisingly often, he considers the fantasy series "morally loathsome." In a 1998 essay for the Guardian, entitled "The Dark Side of Narnia," he condemned "the misogyny, the racism, the sado-masochistic relish for violence that permeates the whole cycle." He reviled Lewis for depicting the character Susan Pevensie’s sexual coming of age -s uggested by her interest in "nylons and lipstick and invitations" - as grounds for exclusion from paradise. In Pullman’s view, the "Chronicles," which end with the rest of the family’s ascension to a neo-Platonic version of Narnia after they die in a railway accident, teach that "death is better than life; boys are better than girls . . . and so on. There is no shortage of such nauseating drivel in Narnia, if you can face it."

Pullman sees children's literature as a way of dealing with themes that would no be possible in adult fiction.
What angers Pullman most about theocracy, in the end, is that it blinds people to the true purpose of narrative. Fundamentalists don’t know how to read stories - including those in the Bible - metaphorically, as if they were Lord Asriel’s imaginary numbers.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Automatic Writing

Tired of struggling with the Word of God™? Tired of spending hours writing those boring sermons that no one listens to? Then you need The Sermon Generator!

When EoR discovered this site full of imprecations with underlined text, bold text, coloured text, italic coloured text etc etc, he thought it was a parody.
You CAN Enrich The Spiritual Lives Of Your Hearers Forever... With The Amazing Sermon Generator [...] Let's face it. Preparing godly and anointed messages is a massive responsibility. [...] Best of all, you'll discover that your messages are full of God's authority.

So EoR took the Bible by the horns, and downloaded the software. After working through eleven main sections, and countless subsections, the program produced the following sermon for him:
Intelligent Design is a pretty spiffy idea. And true.


THe Bible tells us how life began.

I. ID

Scientists faked evolution with Piltdown Man

Can anyone understand Evolution?

Genesis is a textbook, and the inerrant word of God.

Throw out evolution.

Okay, EoR didn't put a lot of information in, but he put in more than that. Ho hum. The best advice the program offered him was the following suggestion:
Scripture is vital to the relevancy and power of your sermon. Let it be your focus & ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom.

At least it's freeware. Or maybe Holyspiritware.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Fat Profits

For every newage disorder, there's sure to be a Newage Therapy®™ to counteract it. Take the advertising media fixation with thin people as beautiful people, and the gullible public's acceptance of that particular trope.

Dr Carol Asada has created Conscious Eating™, and previously DIETLESS® to counteract eating disorders. You can tell it's newage because of the key code word "conscious". EoR has seen few people eating when they're unconscious. There's also the reliance on feelings and emotions (coincidentally, the same things the advertising gurus employ):
In the 10 years of doing groups in Southern California and Seattle, Washington, and training and supervising the Conscious Eating therapists I discovered another key ingredient for lasting change, your heart.

and assertions such as
We are the experts of our own bodies. We have the responsibility of taking care of our bodies.

Which, presumably, is why you have to pay a therapist to solve the problem on behalf of your "expert" body. Then there's the postmodernist fallacy of the "everything is true" ilk:
There is no such thing as good food or bad food. Food only has value in terms of how it makes you feel physically. Only you can determine whether a food is good or bad based on how it makes your body feel.

There are other warning signs:

If you want to undertake this therapy, it is a 3 phase program, where each phase is "about" 20 weeks, at $US50 per session. Or "about" $US3000 (Guidebooks for each phase separate charge). Shelling out that sort of money would do wonders to reduce weight, what with financial stress, and less money available to purchase food. Oh, and there's the compulsory prerequisite workshop at $US400. Incidentally, EoR hopes the full title of this workshop is not "How to Stop Eating in Response to Everything" but, rather, "How to Stop Eating in Response to Everything except Hunger".
Conscious Eating™ is a process not a goal. A process has no end, it is made up of many little steps and many little changes.

And many little cumulative charges. Presumably with no end.

Has this therapy been independently validated in any sort of studies? Why bother, when you have testimonials?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Creeping Tyranny

Timothy Garton Ash has a very clearly argued article in the Guardian concerning censorship and what he terms the veto of the group.
These days, the main threats to freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of association no longer come from the totalitarian ideological superstate that inspired George Orwell to write his 1984. [...] That totalitarian horror still exists in places like Burma, but the distinctive feature of this new danger is the creeping tyranny of the group veto. [...] If the intimidators succeed, then the lesson for any group that strongly believes in anything is: shout more loudly, be more extreme, threaten violence, and you will get your way. Frightened firms, newspapers or universities will cave in, as will softbellied democratic states, where politicians scrabble to keep the votes of diverse constituencies. But in our increasingly mixed-up, multicultural world, there are so many groups that care so strongly about so many different things, from fruitarians to anti-abortionists and from Jehovah's Witnesses to Kurdish nationalists. Aggregate all their taboos and you have a vast herd of sacred cows. Let the frightened nanny state enshrine all those taboos in new laws or bureaucratic prohibitions, and you have a drastic loss of freedom. That, I think, is what is happening to us, issue by issue. These days, you can't even read a list of the British war dead in Iraq outside the gates of No 10 Downing Street without getting a criminal record. Inch by inch, paragraph by paragraph, we are becoming less free.

This concerns those offended by drawings, as well as those offended by exeriments on animals. As he also points out, this also means that David Irving should not have been jailed for what he said (David Irving is a featherweight intellectual with no credibility - but that isn't a criminal offence).
What is sauce for the Islamist goose must be sauce for the fascist gander. What Irving says is horrible, an insult to the Jewish dead, survivors and relatives, but on any reasonable assessment it does not result in a significant threat to the physical safety or liberty of living human beings. As for the possible return or continued propagation of

fascism in Austria: the greater (though still not very great) threat of that comes from the anti-immigrant propaganda of extremist politicians like Jörg Haider, who sit in Austrian parliaments not Austrian prisons.

Further discussion (not all of it so supportive) is at Timothy Garton Ash's forum.

Friday, March 24, 2006

John Howard's Sense of Humour

How long can you make fun of Prime Minister John Howard before the Department of the Prime Minister & Cabinet, Australian Federal Police and the Australian High Tech Crime Centre deem satire a crime against the state? Less than 36 hours apparently.

Well known left wing trouble maker Richard Neville put up a speech purportedly from John Howard at the satirical domain johnhowardpm.org, and met with this stern and overwhelming censoring of his work. Apparently on the grounds that the site was a "phishing site" though there appears to have been no attempt to obtain visitors' account numbers, passwords etc by means nefarious or blatant.

Of course, the jackboot tactics of the fascist state apparatus has only made the matter more widely known (when will they ever learn that censorship promotes the promulgation of the "undesirable" material?).

The satirical speech is now available here or as a pdf here.
There is tremendous pressure from the US for our troops to remain in Iraq, and of course mutual loyalty is a vital component of the alliance. But the longer the Coalition of the Willing remains, the more we are detested, and the more blood is shed. The country is already tearing itself apart, so I am asking you, could our departure really make it any worse?

Perhaps it is time for Iraqis to regain control of their future, and for the coalition of the willing to be willing to leave the stage. When I say this, I speak as a troubled private citizen, and not as the Prime Minister of Australia.

Flying home from India, I started to ask myself what a leader like Mahatma Gandhi would do, but I feared I would not be able to live up to the answer, unless I have some wise advice form my longtime friends. Please look into your hearts and let me know what you find.

Sadly, not every one seems to get satire, including one commenter Richard Neville quotes from Arizona:
"I would love to break both of your legs. And I am a non-violent anti-war pacifist..."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Exclusive Control

Sort of like a rightwing Amish sect, the Exclusive Brethren are making a name for themselves as conservative political religious troublemakers in Australia and New Zealand.

The history of the sect shows up the cult-like aspects of it:
They first met in Dublin, but the movement was named 'Plymouth Brethren' as their first large assembly was formed in Plymouth (in 1831). The Brethren movement began with a desire to return to the simplicity of apostolic worship; as a protest against other churches' prevailing clericalism, spiritual dryness and formalism; and with a strong expectation that Christ would soon return. They met to share the Lord's Supper without any ordained clergy present, believing the Spirit would guide the participants. J.N.Darby believed the other churches were in ruins, and so assemblies should not be set up with elders and deacons. Because of Darby's outstanding personal and academic giftedness he naturally assumed a significant leadership position in the early days (and was warned by Groves about his propensity to exercise undue authority). Early controversies centred around 'prophetic' interpretations, Christ's humanity, and separatism from those who were 'contaminated' by the teachings of other groups. In 1847/8 Darby led a breakaway group which had a more centralized leadership and rigorous separatism. These 'Exclusive Brethren' have since degenerated into a sectarian authoritarianism, and have themselves split into many factions.

Of interest is J N Darby's injunction that
'We abstain from pleasures and amusements of the world. If we have evening parties, it is for the purpose of studying the Word and of edifying ourselves together. We do not mix in politics; we are not of the world; we do not vote.' (J.N.Darby 1878).

Nonetheless, this apparent separation from worldly concerns doesn't stop them from supporting and funding campaigns by Bush, Howard and Brash (US, Australia and NZ).
Greens Senator Bob Brown asked Special Minister of State, Eric Abetz, about the sect's funding of pamphlets backing Prime Minister Howard last year and authorised out of an Exclusive Brethren school in Sydney. He asked if Mr Howard had met with world leader of the sect Mr Bruce Hales who is reported to have predicted 'the rapture' or end of the world if Mr Howard and President Bush were not re-elected.

Funny, EoR thought they'd be happy to welcome in the Rapture. Isn't that what all good Christians are waiting for?

Strangely, they sound like those objects of anathema to all god-fearin', right-livin' Chreestians, the Moslems:
The women wear headscarves in public. Their religion opposes assimilation, and they educate children at home or in their own schools. Fearing the taint of the godless, they refuse to eat with unbelievers. They reject democracy, and work towards God's rule.

The Chief Inspector of Schools in England has praised their private schools, which eschew computers, the internet, newspapers and "modern" technology. Nonetheless, other schools that practise a closed-shop pre-technology ethos are not so acceptable:
David Bell, the Chief Inspector of Schools in England, praised the Exclusive Brethren in his annual report last month, in which he also criticised Islamic schools for teaching a narrow curriculum that posed a potential threat to Britain’s sense of national identity.

The Sydney Morning Herald article points out that these are not just crackpots hiding out in some mountain fastness - they're actually crackpots hiding out in some mountain fastness with lots of money and media savvy:
The Brethren's glossy, professionally produced anti-Green and anti-Labour leaflets look familiar. In the weeks before John Howard's re-election in October last year, half- and full-page advertisements appeared in local and metropolitan newspapers endorsing his Government and attacking the Greens. The advertisements echoed the content and style of Liberal Party advertising, but none of the endorsers' names and addresses belonged to the party.

There also seems to be a tinge of Buddhist karma to their doctrines as well:
They also incline to a "prosperity gospel" in which wealth is a sign of God's favour, and the poor have only themselves to blame, so taxes and welfare subvert the divine order.

The Liberal Party loves this sort of thing, since their dirty work can be done for them, but it is clear that they have the same agenda (if not the same overwhelming urge to put it so forcefully):
The religious right has become increasingly outspoken within the party, with the Treasurer, Peter Costello, arguing that Australia's problems will be solved not by legislation but a return to the Ten Commandments, and John Anderson declaring while deputy prime minister that without Jesus, "we're a mob of dirty rotten sinners and we're on the path to hell".

The Liberal Party refuses to admit any formal links to the Exclusive Brethren (and there probably aren't any) but the two seem to be involved in some ongoing informal political two-step:
The Tasmanian Liberal Party has denied any link with the Exclusive Brethren, though its state director has admitted meeting the group before the election. Federal Treasurer Peter Costello has also denied any formal links between the Liberal Party and the religious group. Mr Costello says he has met members of the group many times, but that is as far as things go. "There are no formal links, but if they're Australians, then the links are that like all other Australians we'd want to appeal to them," he said.

Funny, the Liberal Party doesn't seem to be doing too much to appeal to anarcho-communnist-green Australians... And why are the discussions between the Brethren and government members always in camera and off the record?

One former cult member - sorry, sect member, states
"I think the basic problem is, their God is crazy. In fact, he's insane. In fact, you never know what he's going to do next."

Another commentator states their goal is
"Towards a movement for what they call Christian Government. It's the idea that it's no longer enough just to watch from the sidelines, but that there's really a role for Christians in trying to get governments that reflect what they see as Christian values, which of course they're not necessarily what all Christians see as Christian values - reducing taxation, reducing welfare, increasing defence spending and then with the kind of socially, morally conservative positions also."

The Exclusive Brethren have most recently attempted to influence last weekend's Tasmanian state election using less than open means:
Members of the Exclusive Brethren have taken out newspaper advertisements without revealing that the group is behind the campaign.Two half-page newspaper advertisements, one placed by Scottsdale pig-farmer Roger Unwin, the other by another Scottsdale man, Trevor Christian, attacked the Greens for their policies on such things as same-sex marriages and transgender rights. [...] In another development, the Liberal Party says it has received no funding from the group. However the party has admitted meeting members of the group before the election campaign. One of the Exclusive Brethren's pamphlets described the Greens as "socially destructive". A Liberal Party pamphlet distributed in Tasmania uses the same description.

An interesting short interview with a former member tells how Adrian was ostracised after leaving. Later, when his daughter drowned, he was informed the next day that God was punishing him for leaving the Exclusive Brethren. So much for Christian values of forgiveness and comfort. The interview also points out their hyprocrisy in attempting to influence every election they can even though they are forbidden from voting themselves.

At least they'll all burn in Hell for falling from their high and holy ideals and getting involved in dirty worldly matters.

Further information: the BBC maintains a very good series of pages on the history and doctrines of the Exclusive Brethren (for example, they are forbidden from reading fiction - apparently the Bible is an exception; they are forbidden from using computers - apparently www.theexclusivebretren.com/ is an aberration - at least, when EoR visited it there was nothing to see); they are forbidden from sharing driveways or private drainage facilities with outsiders - EoR presumes there is an injunction against this somewhere in the Bible).

Monday, March 20, 2006

Ovulation Versus Cretinism

One more from Science Jokes
(Original version by Erkki Aalto, Dept. of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Stork Science, University of Helsinki)

(English version by Jopi Louko, Institute of Stork Research, University of Alberta)

Ovulation versus cretinism

Two different theories exist concerning the origin of children: the theory of sexual reproduction, and the theory of the stork. Many people believe in the theory of sexual reproduction because they have been taught this theory at school.

In reality, however, many of the world's leading scientists are in favour of the theory of the stork. If the theory of sexual reproduction is taught in schools, it must only be taught as a theory and not as the truth. Alternative theories, such as the theory of the stork, must also be taught.

Evidence supporting the theory of the stork includes the following:

1. It is a scientifically established fact that the stork does exist. This can be confirmed by every ornithologist.

2. The alleged human foetal development contains several features that the theory of sexual reproduction is unable to explain.

3. The theory of sexual reproduction implies that a child is approximately nine months old at birth. This is an absurd claim. Everyone knows that a newborn child is newborn.

4. According to the theory of sexual reproduction, children are a result of sexual intercourse. There are, however, several well documented cases where sexual intercourse has not led to the birth of a child.

5. Statistical studies in the Netherlands have indicated a positive correlation between the birth rate and the number of storks. Both are decreasing.

6. The theory of the stork can be investigated by rigorous scientific methods. The only assumption involved is that children are delivered by the stork.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Happy Birthday Albert

Only slightly belated birthday wishes for Albert Einstein's 127th birthday.

Of course, we all know how Albert Einstein married his cousin. He had relationships with many women, but found them unsatisfying, especially (as he related) he found the large breasts of his cousin overwhelmingly attractive and this dimmed his interest in other women. As a result of this he theorised (even though genetics was not his primary field of study) that evolution predisposed to matings within family groups in order to increase the frequency of genes from those family groups. The attraction for large breasts was the outward expression of this drive. This theory is well known today as Einstein's Theory of Relative Titty.

(Originally sourced from all over the internet, but a whole group of good physics jokes are at Science Jokes.)

Albert Einstein was born at Ulm, in W├╝rttemberg, Germany, on March 14, 1879.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Biomesowoo

The local community newspaper brought naturopath Andrew Cathles to EoR's attention (among other things, Mr Cathles practices "Computerised Iridology" and "energy enhancement"; he also has more qualifications than most Nobel prize winners).
A Thornlie naturopath, who says he was the only Australian chosen to attend a recent international conference on homeopathy, claims natural medicine is gaining a foothold in Australia. [...] Mr Cathles said he spoke at the conference about his area of specialty, called "biomesotherapy", a treatment that uses homeopathic methods, including saline injections, to combat acute and chronic pain in adults.

It also appears Mr Cathles has some remarkable insights into disease (or is it "dis-ease"?):
naturopaths believe that bacteria and viruses do not directly cause the symptoms accompanying disease

Naturopaths appear to come from a totally different planet to everyone else.

If you, like EoR, have never heard of "biomesotherapy", you are not alone. A search on Google returned only eight pages of results (in terms of alternative therapy listings on Google, this is an almost nonexistent therapy), the great bulk of which were all from Australian sites (even though Mr Cathles states biomesotherapy is Big in Europe and has been practiced there for decades).

One such is the Tara Centre which states biomesotherapy (or "biopuncture", which sounds like something that involves a flat tire):
Biomesotherapy involves the combination of introducing homoeopathic products and the stimulation of specific points in the body with a saline solution. Homoeopathic medicine is administered as an oral spray under the tongue which allows 9 times better absorption than pills. In order to stimulate the extracellular matrix, the sterile saline solution is injected subcutaneously which will activate the action of the homoeopathic directly to the site where it is required. The needles used are very fine and more like acupuncture needles. Most people are surprised how easily and quickly injections are given.

So, if EoR understands that rightly, disproven magical water treatments are administered sublingually, while harmless (unless a vital organ is punctured, or sterile procedures are not maintained) salt water is injected into the skin. He's not quite sure how the disparate locations of application of these two remedies work, but he suspects it's something like a synergistic intelligent cellular quantum effect (ie alternatista bullshit).

While at the Tara Centre, EoR also couldn't resist having a look at Nasal Therapy which is applied by the following method:
The client lies on his/her back with head tilted enough so that the nostrils are almost parallel to the ceiling. An individually selected preparation of homoeopathic solutions is then slowly dripped into each nostril. This is followed by the head being gently rocked from side to side

This sounds like Traditional Chinese Medicine to EoR or, at least, Traditional Chinese Water Torture.

While the Tara Centre believes
Biomesotherapy is especially used for acute and chronic pain.

This site seems to think it's the alternative answer to plastic surgery:
It is possible to get rid of fat without having an invasive procedure. For those who find liposuction "too much", Mesotherapy for fat-loss and body contouring is the answer.

This is an amazing, brilliant, incredible procedure that involves
the practice of using microinjections of conventional, homeopathic medications and/or vitamins, minerals and plant extracts into the mesoderm (middle layer of the skin). This process enables healing or corrective treatment to a specific area of the body. Biomesotherapy is the use of complex homeopathic remedies in microinjections. Mesotherapy is used in a variety of cosmetic applications including: cellulite reduction, spot fat reduction and skin rejuvenation. Mesotherapy is the most successful cellulite reduction treatment available today. For body sculpting, Mesotherapy is a powerful alternative to procedures such as liposuction and plastic surgeries. Mesotherapy is a safe, non-invasive anti-aging tool to improve skin tone and texture, decrease wrinkles and stimulate the scalp.

EoR isn't quite sure what "microinjections" are, nor what amount is injected. It also appears that the actual penetration of the dermis is minimal. At least this method involves injection of the homeopathic solution (ie water) directly, rather than in conjunction with salt water. Which presumably just shows that no matter what method you use the results are the same (ie placebo). Indeed, fat reduction by this method is permanent
as long as the patient adheres to a proper nutrition and exercise regimen

Which would, of course, lead to permanent fat reduction without the magic microinjections of fairy dust.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Frumious Bandersnatch

In Vanuatu there is an island where a cargo cult has developed, worshipping a mysterious American by the name of John Frum (or possibly John Broom) who first visited the island during World War Two and who resides in a volcano.
"John promised he’ll bring planeloads and shiploads of cargo to us from America if we pray to him," a village elder tells me as he salutes the Stars and Stripes. "Radios, TVs, trucks, boats, watches, iceboxes, medicine, Coca-Cola and many other wonderful things."

Like many religions, there is a breakaway sect (sort of like the New Reformed Frumites in contrast to Orthodox Frumism).
Daniel says that Prophet Fred split with Chief Isaac in 1999 and led half of the believer villages into his new version of the John Frum cult. "He had a vision while working on a Korean fishing boat in the ocean," Daniel says. "God’s light came down on him, and God told him to come home and preach a new way." People believed that Fred could talk to God after he predicted, six years ago, that Lake Siwi would break its natural dam and flood into the ocean. "The people living around the lake [on the beach beneath the volcano] moved to other places," says Daniel. "Six months later, it happened." Then, almost two years ago, Prophet Fred’s rivalry with Chief Isaac exploded. More than 400 young men from the competing camps clashed with axes, bows and arrows and slingshots, burning down a thatched church and several houses. Twenty-five men were seriously injured. "They wanted to kill us, and we wanted to kill them," a Chief Isaac loyalist says.

So, his prediction only took six months to come true. That's a better score rate than most "professional" psychics!

The article concludes, slightly mocking the islanders' naive beliefs:
As we look down into John Frum’s fiery Tanna home, I remind him that not only does he not have an outboard motor from America, but that all the devotees’ other prayers have been, so far, in vain. "John promised you much cargo more than 60 years ago, and none has come," I point out. "So why do you keep faith with him? Why do you still believe in him?" Chief Isaac shoots me an amused look. "You Christians have been waiting 2,000 years for Jesus to return to earth," he says, "and you haven’t given up hope."

Well, speaking personally, EoR knows of evidence proving the existence of Americans, radios, TVs, trucks etc, but not for the existence of a deceased-raising, walking-on-water, son of god. He thinks the likelihood of the former arriving is much more likely than the latter. He's off now to worship at a volcano...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Jackson Pollack of Horses

EoR recently looked at the wonderful world of equine artists (that's equine artists as in art by equines, not art featuring equines). Apparently this is a growing phenomenon, as he heard a woman on the local radio being interviewed about her amazing horse who paints and plays croquet. EoR was informed that his current masterpiece was currently sitting at $1500 on eBay.

Intrigued as ever by magic and myth, he went searching and found the home page of Rumba the Wonder Horse (presumably related to Champion the Wonder Horse) complete with examples of his artistic oeuvre.

The current work is available for bidding at eBay.
This painting was was painted by equine artist - Rumba the Wonder Horse Rumba is a 7 Year Old, Bay, Quarter Horse, Gelding. Owned and Trained by Georgia Bruce. Rumba's many talents include Croquet, Quoites, Soccer and Painting. He also plays musical instruments tamborine and xylophone.

Where does he find the time for it all?

Unfortunately, it seems Georgia was stretching the truth a little (okay, she was lying) when she said the painting currently had a bid of $1500. In fact, $1500 is the ludicrously high starting bid that Georgia has set, and there have presently been zero bids made. But don't hang about, it's only a matter of time before some art critic happens by and recognises the incredible talent here.


Update: bidding has now closed, with zero bids made. Perhaps Rumba TWH should cut off an ear?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Talking to the Dead

EoR recently looked at Anthony Grzelka ("one of Australia’s leading spiritual Mediums"). Now he has had the pleasure of listening to Mr Grzelka in action on a local community radio station.

EoR's conclusion: as he suspected, it appears Mr Grzelka does nothing but a rather average cold reading act (it's interesting that he refers to his own public appearances as "shows"). It's actually not very good but, of course, the callers are Believers (and also usually emotionally distraught and not thinking clearly), and the show is hosted by a Believer, so there is no balance provided, and everyone goes away with the impression that Mr Grzelka really did chat to dead people in order to pass on the usual platitudes about forgiveness.

Here's an overview of the half hour "show" along with the complete transcript for one caller so you can see all the usual psychic scam tricks in full blooded action.

Anthony is introduced as "the psychic medium". That, presumably, is to differentiate him from the "non-pyschic mediums". EoR wonders why he doesn't go the full hog, and describe himself as "psychic clairvoyant medium with ESP powers who talks to dead people". Or wouldn't the punters fall for that?

There then follows a warning from the host that talking to the dead is not like ringing someone on the telephone. The "passed on" decides whether to chat or not. "For some reason or other" they can't always chat right now. Probably busy polishing harps, or chatting to other psychics...

Mr Grzelka is asked for his opinion on TV psychic dramas. His response is that some are better than others, and "Ghost Whisperer" is the best, especially since others don't portray mediums truthfully (what? as con artists?). EoR is shocked at this statement. Everyone knows Allison Dubois is the Only Real Psychic In the World, and that "Medium" is a documentary. Could Mr Grzelka be a little jealous of how successful she's been in her marketing mission compared to him?

The host and Mr Grzelka then engage in some cod-psychology (with some mention of alcoholics and thieves, but concentrating heavily, for some reason, on paedophiles), explaining how the dead like to chat to the living in order to "work out issues". EoR thinks the idea of dead paedophiles coming back to chat to their child victims just a little too creepy... EoR is sure there's material for a PhD there.

Kerry of Forrestdale phones about her dad. Mr Grzelka makes a guess that he might have had a heart attack. Correct! But statistically unremarkable. Having that information, Mr Grzelka suggests he died suddenly. Correct! So, he didn't have a slow, lingering heart attack... Then Mr Grzelka guesses "someone" tried to revive him. Correct! Again, statistically unremarkable. Mr Grzelka then suggests there is a "miscarriage or termination" associated with Kerry. Correct! This, apparently, was also a ploy used in his earlier appearance on the ABC. As a commenter to EoR's previous post noted, most women would either have had a miscarriage, or have known someone who did (notice he said it was "associated" with Kerry, which is an extremely general phrase).

Kerry is the first, and last, caller that Mr Grzelka achieves anything like a series of successful guesses with.

Mr Grzelka insists that the next caller, Margaret of Maddington, has someone trying to talk to them with a "brain tumour or stroke." No, her father had heart problems. Mr Grzelka persists: it's an "aneurysm or stroke". No. "A stroke or something that affects the head. A feeling of Alzheimer's or dementia." The guesses are becoming increasingly vague and general and desperate. Throughout his "psychic communications" Mr Grzelka uses this method repeatedly: a best guess. If that fails, immediately restate the guess in a more general manner. Getting no confirmation from Margaret, Mr Grzelka immediately goes onto a different topic (this is another ploy Mr Grzelka resorts to frequently). Later, he says Margaret is alone, and her family are worried about this. Again, given her husband has died and the fact that he can tell she's an older woman, this is hardly even guessing. Mr Grzelka says Margaret is a nurse. No. Whoops. Then he asks who the nurese or health care professional (notice how he's expanded the list of possibilities dramatically) "connected" with her is. She's an older woman. Whose husband has died. Of course there are nurses and health care professionals connected with her!

Jane of Leeming phones. Mr Grzelka asks if she has a deceased dog associated with her. No. Mr Grzelka insists it may not be recent. Well, Jane's brother had a dog that died... A hit! A palpable hit! EoR can't think how he did that. How many people would have, sometime in their life, a dead dog, or have known someone whose dog died? "Sadie" also wants to talk to her. Sadie? She doesn't know any Sadie. Mr Grzelka says he'll "leave that with her". And quickly moves on to hide his failure. Here's a third ploy: stuff that is meaningless to the caller is "left with her" (it's usually a her) and the call is terminated.

EoR is starting to lose interest in the show. One reasonably remarkable example of cold reading is impressive. A series of them just shows up the cumulative failures, and the repetitive techniques to perform this act.

Eor rapidly skips over Brad from Wembley (who recently split up with a partner and has been getting "stuff" from someone on "the other side" about it), Barbara from Armadale (Mr Grzelka insists someone with a breast or lung cancer wants to chat, Barbara says no, nobody she knows; Mr Grzelka insists Barbara was interstate when her mother died, Barbara says no; Mr Grzelka insists it might have been a relative or "someone", Barbara says no; Mr Grzelka is getting desperate, Barbara has to provide the answer herself when she says she had been out of the room at the time!), Gladys of Willeton (who is going to have surgery, Mr Grzelka insists. No, says Gladys), and Karen (who is thinking of travelling. Mr Grzelka tells her to go to New York where she will find glamour and will be surrounded by beautiful or popular people. Like wow. Glamour and beautiful people. In New York. Who'da thunk it.).

Our host suggests callers have pen and paper handy so they can take notes, because they often realise later just who Mr Grzelka was channelling. Yes, given enough time, EoR could probably work out who "L" really is, who is connected with his mother's side somewhere, as well.

There's a brief pause for advertisements, including Colon Cleanse ("Nothing works like Colon Cleanse" - presumably, if you do nothing, it's exactly the same as using Colon Cleanse).

Mr Grzelka tells how he has been "challenged" and proven his powers on Breakfast TV (as all EoR's readers know, Breakfast TV is the highest form of scientific testing available), spruiks his "shows", mentions his website and phone number (but he's very busy with private readings), and departs gracefully to remove the makeup and stage costume.

Here's Jean of Toodyay in full, with observations from EoR (AG is Anthony Grzelka, PO is Pieta O'Shaughnessy, the host, and JoT is our caller):
PO: Jean of Toodyay is our next caller, hello Jean.
JoT: Hello, how are you?
PO: I'm well! What about you?
JoT: I'm very good, thank you.
PO: Good.
AG: Jean, did you want to ask a question, or...
JoT: Could you just see if you could make a connection for me, please?
AG: I'll see what I can do for you. [pause] Okay. What have we got here? I-I've got, um, a male coming through here.
JoT: Yeah...
AG: Jean, dad's passed for you? Your father?
JoT: No, he hasn't.

Jean's voice doesn't give a lot away, but it's clearly not a very young voice. Also, Jean is not a common name for younger people these days. Mr Grzelka guesses there's a "male" coming through. Can't he be more specific? Given the nature of his callers, and Jean's probable age, Mr Grzelka simply guesses it's her father. Wrong. Completely wrong. He's guessing and lying about his "powers". But this sort of failure doesn't worry our psychic. He's been through worse mistakes than this, and recovered by simply expanding his guesses or ignoring his failures. Which is what he does without pausing for a beat.
AG: Okay, has dad got a brother who's passed?

No, Mr Grzelka, you said it was her father (technically, he didn't even say this, since his guess was couched as a question).
JoT: [uncertainly] Oh.. Yeah.. He's got a few brothers that've passed.

This is the mother lode for Mr Grzelka. Jean is feeding him information. Jean's father is obviously an older person, since it seems Jean isn't that young, and her father's siblings have already died.
AG: That would make sense to me because I feel like I've got a male here who's connected to dad, okay and I feel like I want to, to, um, to bring this person, ah, what nationality are you by the way?

Without a pause, the amazing psychic who is in touch with the mysterious and all-seeing knowledge of the dead and "passed on", is directly soliciting information! What a con!
JoT: English.
AG: English. Where's, where's Fred?

A strange sort of question, but presumably Mr Grzelka is fishing (after mistakenly telling Jean her father was dead and not wanting to make the same faux pas again, and given her father's probable vintage and nationality, Fred would not be an uncommon name. No answer is forthcoming.
AG: [pause] It could be Alfred. [pause] But I feel like it's Fred.
JoT: He's passed over?

Come on Jean, you're not playing the game! You give the information, Mr Grzelka asks the questions!
AG: I'm not sure.

See! Why isn't he sure? He's either dead and talking to him, or Mr Grzelka is making the whole sorry farrago up out of thin air. EoR knows which option he's leaning towards...
JoT: I, ah, there's two Freds. My sister's partner is Fred and I also, err, there was a very good family friend that passed over and his name was Alfred.
AG: Okay, would Alfred have known dad?

Despite his insistence that it was Fred, and not Alfred, it turns out it was Alfred. But Mr Grzelka ignores his error, and carries on regardless. Again, Mr Grzelka fishes for information. If (Al)fred is talking to him, can't he tell Mr Grzelka directly whether he knew dad or not?
JoT: Yeah.
AG: Yeah.

Notice how Mr Grzelka likes to immediately echo any confirmations of his guesses, as if claiming that he knew them all along, despite his many wrong guesses and obvious fishing for answers?
AG: That's where I'm going. 'Cause I feel like that person is trying to acknowledge your father, okay?

So, is that a psychic communication? Or another guess? Of course, if it's right, it's a communication. If it's wrong, it will be quickly covered up in further guesses.
AG: Now, I don't know if your father has been of poor health recently.
JoT: Yeah.
AG: But they're talking about your father's health as being, dodgy to say the least, okay? Um, or difficult to deal with, okay?

Notice how everything is becoming a question, as he probes for a likely scenario. Let's see, an older man, whose siblings have died. Could he have health issues? Mr Grzelka is getting no confirmation about this from Jean, but neither is she denying it. It could just be something that's "difficult to deal with". That should cover everything. Indeed, it would be remarkable if an older man did not have some sort of health issues. Notice also how (Al)fred has become "they". This becomes a major gaffe shortly. Feeling a bit more confident finally, since Jean hasn't contradicted him for quite a long time now,
AG: These are issues that I feel like your dad has had to deal with for some time though.
JoT: He has.
AG: Also, I want to say, is dad the military man?

Mr Grzelka is asking the questions again! Notice also his penchant for ending statements with "okay?" to turn them into queries, and his "I want to say" phrase is also a recurrent feature. Let's see. An older man. English. Could he have served in the military. Highly likely. There's two ways of finding the truth. You could rely on your psychic powers and "know" the truth, or you could be so bold as to simply ask a direct question of your caller.
JoT: He was in the army.
AG: Yeah. Because I need to talk about this here being connected to military, like Alfred and um, Bill, uh, Alfred and um -- who was the first one I mentioned? [nervous laugh] I've forgotten the other bloke! They're coming through here and talking about dad's health here okay, like the male's health which would be connected to you because I have Alfred and I have the brother, that's, that's where I want to go, the brother, to that side-
PO: Is that William?
AG: No, it's not William. That's to dad's side here, okay, that I feel like I need to talk about.

This is just hilarious. Go back and read the transcript. There was only one spirit talking to Mr Grzelka, but he forgets that and seems to think there were two. Worse, he calls it William (a guess he'd made with an earlier caller!). He really gets fluffed, but demonstrates his amazing skills to cover up any and all mistakes and justs rambles on about another brother who seems to have wandered into the spiritual room unannounced. Rapidly, he decides to leave this minefield, and makes another brilliant guess.
AG: Um, also I want to say to you, is it dad that lost his eye?
JoT: No, no. Oh, he's had an operation on his eye, but he's not lost an eye.
AG: Okay, did that affect his vision or was it like, did it, was it to clear up vision or something?

More wrong guesses. Again, Mr Grzelka ignores his mistake, and makes further guesses based on the wonderful information his caller is feeding him. Most eye operations, EoR would hazard to guess, either affect vision, or clear up vision, or (the catchall disclaimer) "something".
JoT: It was to clear up vision.
AG: Okay, 'cause I feel like they're talking about one - was that only one eye though?

Mr Grzelka nearly fell into his own over-confident trap. He's already been so wrong about the dead father and the eye operation(s) he stops and asks more questions from the person he's supposed to be giving information to!
JoT: Ah, he's had both done.
AG: Right. Did they give one at a time or something because-
JoT: Yeah.
AG: The only thing I feel in here is like one eye's been done here, okay, that's the sort of feeling I get with this, okay? Um, I've got to also say to you here that, um, there was somebody here that passed during a military campaign here as well, that I want to tell you.

Spooky. It only took the caller to tell Mr Grzelka that her father was in the army, and now he's guessing someone died during a military campaign (he's not even brave enough to say 'war' because he might be wrong). Could it be the same "someone" he's been chanelling all along, or a different "someone"? He doesn't pause to allow Jean to respond.
AG: I get the feeling, you need to ask your dad about this, but during the Second World War, I don't know if you have a relative that fought on, you know the HMAS Hood, you know the big, big navy vessel, the Hood?
JoT: [sounding confused] Yeah...

Here Mr Grzelka is not receiving any psychic information, he's simply asking a series of questions in such a manner that it sounds like they might be statements. And, of course, Jean confirms his psychic powers by agreeing with him. Yes, she has, in fact, heard of the Hood. Though EoR suspects Mr Grzelka really means the HMS Hood, not the HMAS Hood. Obviously his deceased informant didn't even know which navy they were fighting for.
AG: Um, there's a connection to that navy vessel. The Hood. And I believe passed in that battle, or with that ship, or was connected to that ship the HMAS Hood, okay?

"That battle"? Which battle? Don't the spirits remember which battle they died in? Or was it just on the ship? Or "connected" to that ship? What "someone" they knew on the ship? Someone they'd heard of on the ship? Could it just be that Mr Grzelka is making all this up? Jean is beginning to think so... EoR certainly is. 8000 to 9000 men served directly on the Hood, let alone all those "connected" to the ship.
JoT: [doubtfully] Right...
AG: Just talk to your dad and your family about that because I really feel like there's a connection to that, um, that person.
JoT: [doubtfully] Okay...
AG: Okay.
JoT: Alright, lovely.
AG: Thank you very much.
JoT: Thank you.
AG: Pleasure.
JoT: Bye bye.
PO: Thank you for calling.

So, just exactly what psychic information did the spirits channel through the amazing Mr Grzelka to Jean of Toodyay? That her father served on the HMAS Hood. Or a brother. Or a friend. Or someone did, anyway. Really. Even if Jean of Toodyay thought it all sounded a bit farfetched. And even if EoR thinks it all sounds like overripe bullshit. But Mr Grzelka certainly knows a lot more from Jean of Toodyay after his many questions to her.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Woo Certificates

Legislation in Australia has been changed so that medical certificates for absences from work can now be issued by other people than doctors.
Doctors say changes, which allow medical practitioners other than doctors to give out medical certificates for sick days, could undermine their integrity. Under the changes in the federal Workchoices legislation, pharmacists, nurses, acupuncturists and physiotherapists can issue medical certificates.

In a previous life EoR processed staff sick leave applications, and saw a variety of less than inspiring sick leave certificates. The classic "Mr Bloggs tells me has been off work with the flu" was always a giveaway, for example, so he can't see a problem with other health professionals being able to fill out these dodgy pieces of paper. He does, however, have some qualms about acupuncturists being lumped in there. When will the aura healers, the reikiists, the homeopathists and the therapeutic touch mob want to have the same privileges?

He can see it now:
Dr A Charlatan, ND, Dip Acc
Acupuncture, naturopathy, homeopathy, legerdemain

This is to certify that Joe Bloggs is suffering from

  • Stagnant qi

  • Liver toxins

  • Mercury poisoning


He will be unfit for work for two weeks while he strengthens his immune system.

Monday, March 13, 2006

EoR Looks for a Religion

Given the negative press about Muslim fundamentalism, there must be other religions out there with a much better attitude to the world and to other people.

Christianity, with its long history of violence, despite its professed attitude of turning other cheeks, isn't really an alternative.

Hindu fundamentalism is also well known.

What about Sikhism?
Protesters said Behzti, which depicts sex abuse and murder in a temple, portrayed the Sikh faith negatively. The theatre said the "ugly" violence had caused free speech to be curbed.

Obviously, violent protests do not portray the Sikh faith negatively.

Self created sects such as Aum Supreme Truth and Jonestown have very poor records.

Depending on your point of view, Mormonism is either a mainstream religion or a wacky pseudo-Christian cult, but it's just as violent as all the rest.

Buddhism, of course, is renowned for its non-violent beliefs. Unfortunately, reality is different.

So, would the world be a more peaceful and happier place if there had never been any religion?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Masking the Effects of Bird Flu

Any rumoured story of an impending epidemic is manna from heaven for the alternative brigade. Sell your magic products before the illness strikes and everyone stays happy, since no one cares if they're effective or ineffective.

For those worried about bird flu, masks are the answer. While this site calls itself "Bird Flu Facts" it strangely talks about a non-existent bird flu "vaccine". It also has a sideline in Amazing Leaps of Logic:
One way to protect ourselves and if one does work closely with birds is to get a bird flu mask. It may sound like another gimmick plan to create money. But what have you got to lose aside from a few bucks, compared to bigger health risks?

Umm, a "few" bucks at the very least. And yes, it does sound like a gimmick plan to create money (or at least aid in the transfer of money) - where are the published studies and the scientific data? At least this Magic Mask has Amazing Scientific Powers, such as
2H Technology Plus Features. It is a filter that has been patented to consistently achieve higher levels of performance. It utilizes nanotechnology that enhances the filter media to remove the bacteria and virus from the inhaled and exhaled air we breathe.

From the exhaled air? Isn't it too late then? Isn't the virus in the body?
This mask is the first to use nanotechnology to enhance the filter media. This mask effectively isolates and destroys the bacterial and viral contaminants. The nano-particles also enhance the intrinsic filtration efficiency. It is achieved by making the media destructive absorbents that kill the bacteria and virus that come in contact.

Virus-killing nanotechnology! But never mind the unspecified "technology", this site really knows where its demographic lies:
If you are also a trendy farm worker, the bird flu mask comes in different colors as well.

EoR agrees with the manufacturer that
ignorance could have fatal consequences.

While Flu Pharmacy at least ackowledges that there is no such thing as a bird flu vaccine, it still makes some amazing (and, strangely, different) claims about the Nano Mask:
Your first line of defense should be a NanoMask® because it kills ALL Bird Flu on contact.

Wow! Shouldn't we be putting these masks on chickens and ducks? Then the virus would be killed off before it had time to spread!

While news sites tend to be gullible consumers of press releases about miracle cures, this site provides some background and balance:
A few years back during the SARS outbreak, the Nano-Mask was very popular. Now with the Bird Flu scare, this company is once again scrambling. [...] It's a risk reducer. It won't solve the Bird Flu problem but some are finding that it provides peace of mind.

So the product is not specifically for bird flu, and fear and hysteria are a large part of the marketing campaign. What its super-enhanced ultra-powerful nanotechnology actually seems to do is "provide peace of mind". EoR agrees that a face mask, particularly for those working directly with poultry, is a good risk reducer. Masks do not kill bird flu. Good hygiene and bird handling procedures are at least as important. In fact, masks might increase the risk:
The scientists, speaking at a briefing at the science media centre, warned also of the potential dangers of face masks. Virus particles can collect on the outside and be transferred to the hands when the mask is removed.

The whole Guardian article is worth reading for a look at how alternative therapists are using the bird flu scare (EoR points out that this is a totally different thing from the possibility of a bird flu pandemic - it's a marketing imperative as opposed to a scientific possibility) to market all sorts of wacky and unproven products.
But scientists said yesterday none of the complementary medicines had been proved to work against the virus. Some are sold on the basis of their capacity to boost the immune system, which fights off infections. But, said Ron Cutler of the School of Biosciences, University of East London, that is the last thing a patient with avian flu needs because the virus sends the immune system into overdrive. "H5N1 stimulates the immune system. It fills your lungs up with blood and you die," he said.

EoR expects some alternatista site to shortly be selling H5N1 Technology® as an "immune system booster".

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Treloar: Internet Cures Illnesses

Naturopath Mr Treloar's weekly radio appearance had him, this week, relating a study in the Journal of Health Communication in which, according to him, 442 patients who obtained information from the internet about cancer recovered quicker, since it "empowered" them. He also mentioned another study (the details of which he unfortunately could not remember) which stated that 80% of information on the internet is correct (though, of course, organisations not seeking your money were the best sources to go to).

EoR was intrigued by this, since it is his anecdotal experience that most information on the internet is incomplete, out of date, lacking context, erroneous or misleading, unless it is confirmed by other, independent, reputable sites (and not just ones that have cut and pasted the original source). Health information particularly so.

The nearest thing EoR could locate that might be the study mentioned by Mr Treloar is this one.
Since searching for health information is among the most popular uses of the Internet, we analyzed a survey of 6,019 callers to the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Cancer Information Service (CIS) to assess Internet usage and interest in technologies to access health and cancer information. Findings suggest that about 40% of CIS callers used the Internet to obtain cancer information and, of these, only about 20% found all the information they sought. Nearly 33% of Internet users called the CIS to discuss information found on the Internet; most (>90%) reported that the CIS was helpful. Those who sought cancer information on the Internet were more likely to call the CIS about this information if they found all or most of the information they were seeking, compared with those who found some or little of the information. New communication services endorsed by most CIS callers included e-mails from an information specialist and telephone support from the CIS while on the Internet. The survey results indicate the importance of multiple access points, both traditional and technology based, and that there is still a need for more traditional, personalized forms of health communication. A crucial question is how best to harness and integrate these new technologies within the current generation of mediated health information systems.

Which doesn't really support Mr Treloar's assertions. Most people are not finding the information they want on the internet, and most are still seeking the advice of an official telephone help line and "more traditional, personalized forms of health communication".

In another, smaller, study, the researchers found
Only two patients never looked for health information. Of all patients, 20% had used the Internet to get health information, 8% because of the current visit, i.e. a third of all with Internet access had used it because of the current visit. Women used the sources of information more than men did. Personal contact with family, friends or neighbours was the most commonly used source. Conclusion - The Internet is used in direct preparation for a visit to the general practitioner. The vast majority of patients use the mass media for information. In general practice, the main source of information on a health-related subject is personal contact with family and friends.

Still nothing about Mr Treloar's bold statement that people who use the internet for health information recover more quickly. EoR wonders where he got that from, or whether it's simply a symptom of delusional thinking. Delusional thinking! Now there's something to go and look up on the internet.

The 80:20 correct information ratio also seems very dubious. EoR wonders what the measure was: total number of pages, total number of sites, total number of words? These would all give different results. Was search engine ranking taken into account? A google for "cancer" returns 292,000,000 hits! Obviously, not all of these can be assessed individually, so any study would have to apply some filter to selectively choose sites. And how exactly do you tell if you're viewing one of the 80%, or one of the 20%?

EoR also does not support the coded warning against Big Pharma that "non-profit organisations" were the best source of information. The source of information on the internet is one of the most important validating points for that information. Profit, by itself is no more an indicator of truthfulness than an obvious lack of profit motive is. Mr Treloar is effectively arguing against any information provided by commercial entities. It's like buying a car without regarding the manufacturer's information. The information is probably biased, but it needs to be assessed accordingly, not ignored. Maybe you should just go on what a friend says (a popular source of information amongst the alternatistas) or what some self-professed 'expert' on the radio claims.

Friday, March 10, 2006

What We Are Up Against

EoR recently received the following leaked report about the goings-on at a local book club. The book de jour was The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson, which looks at the whole military/psychic conjunction in a less than flattering way.

EoR's correspondent reports:
Funny. They couldn't see the absurdity of a psychic military unit - after all, psychics help the police - don't they? I had to explain. Next I drove the discussion towards the consequences of newage going mainstream, but it turned out three present had recently attended an EFT workshop, "why didn't homeopathy work?" and "doctors only want to cut or give pills". They said there are more things "out there" than science can explain. I did more explaining...

Next criticism was that the names were so silly (Stubblebine) and must be fictitious and was Uri Geller a take-off of that guy who bends spoons? Again had to explain - this is real. Stubblebine was his name, this is THE Uri G. Was getting weary by then.

Next complaint - the situations were too far-fetched. The author must have made them up. I had to remind them that world news had reported the newsworthy events - the comet-suicides, the sticky foam and even the 9/11 event - crazy, as it sounds - had apparently happened. Though like the moon-landing denialists, I'm sure someone out there must doubt it.

Sadly no-one actually found it funny - at all.

Personally, EoR blames the whole sorry farrago on the lack of critical thinking skills being taught in schools these days.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Food and Health and Lions and Tigers! Oh My!

The internet is an anarchic wild frontier. This is its strength (and the reason why so many governments of the repressive kind seek to control it) and also its downfall.

The nature of the World Wild Web means that any interest group, or even a single person, can register any sort of domain name and stick a single page up at that domain making any kind of claim. Sometimes these are related to the domain name, sometimes not (often they're simply miss-spellings of high traffic sites). One of the former kind is The Truth About Food and Health (notice, in passing, the lack of editorial control on the net - the word 'truth' can be used whether it's true or not).

Food and Health (EoR refuses to use the erroneous word 'truth' in describing this site) modestly states its aim as
Explained here and now, the cause, prevention and cure for virtually all disease. The information the food and drug companies don't want you to know.

The first line rings warning bells about 'truth' and accuracy:
Today in North America, 1 in every 2 or 3 people will get cancer.

So, is that a 50% chance of getting cancer, or a 33% chance? That's a large difference. What sorts of cancer? With what prognosis, and what treatment available?

The author warns early on
Do not automatically believe or disbelieve anything that is written here nor anything else you ever hear or read from anybody.

EoR wonders whether he should believe that disclaimer, or not.

Passing by big pharma's conspiracy to keep us sick, and the addictive chemicals that we call food, and the strange ad-diction to typo-graphically write words such as dis-ease with a hy-phen, we are advised (or perhaps rabidly warned would be a more correct description)
Unless you were born with it, almost all disease is caused by negative attitudes, toxic substances in the body, and a lack of nutrients that the body needs.

"Almost all"? Which ones aren't? Why not? Please be specific. This is post-modernist claptrap at its best:
What we think in our heads, becomes a physical reality. [...] Every single cell in our body is working together to make the whole body. This is innate intelligence and every cell knows exactly what it needs to do to make the body work the best it can.

This stuff works:
There have been people cured of AIDS by simply changing to a vegan diet!

Names please! Referenced studies please! EoR can just as easily claim "There have been people who have been so deluded by paranoid fantasies that they've created really weird nonsensical websites!" At least he can provide a real example.
Our bodies REQUIRE sunlight in order to get vitamin D, among many other things. The sun gives the entire planet life, including us and it does NOT cause cancer. However, a vitamin D deficiency can cause cancer. As will sunscreen. It's no co-incidence that the countries that use the most sunscreen also have the highest rates of skin cancer. One of the ways sunlight is absorbed into the body is through our eyes so it's best to NOT wear sunglasses.

Speaking as someone residing in a country with one of the highest levels of skin cancer, EoR feels compelled to point out that the high use of sunscreen here is because of the skin cancer risk, not the other way around. EoR also does not recommened staring at the sun for lengthy periods of time in order to optically ingest Vitamin D Power. In fact, skin cancer rates appear to be falling (particularly among the young):
Evidence is clearly emerging that skin cancer incidence rates are beginning to plateau after decades of increase, rates of skin cancer in younger people are falling (Staples, Marks & Giles 1998; Giles & Thursfield 1996; Thursfield, Giles & Staples 1995) and the earlier detection of skin cancer is leading to better treatment and long-term survival rates (Thursfield, Giles & Staples 1995).

Having just been informed that thoughts and chemicals make us sick, now we're told that
"The countless names of illnesses do not really matter. What does matter is that they all come from the same root cause... too much tissue acid waste in the body!" Another name for this is an acid-alkaline imbalance. Parasites, viruses, fungus, mold, and disease in general cannot survive in an alkaline environment. However, they thrive greatly in an acidic environment. When we're born, we are generally alkaline and when we die we are acidic."

MSG is Bad. Sugar is Bad. Weight loss "fads and trends" are Bad.
The REAL key to weight loss is natural foods and pure water. Drink lots of PURE water daily to help flush the toxins out of the body.

Well, yes, drinking lots of water instead of eating will probably lead to weight loss...

Glasses are Bad. Stress is Bad. Microwaves and cell phones are Positively Demonic and Evil. Meat is a Toxin. Fish is full of Mercury. Dairy products and caffeine are Bad. EoR is getting depressed. Is there no fun left in life?
If you ever get a headache, drink a bunch of water. Headaches are quite often due to dehydration.

This, however, contradicts EoR's favourite naturopath's advice that headaches are caused by neck problems. If only these alternatistas could get their acts together.
Drugs are not cures, they are dangerous and they keep the body from doing what actually needs to be done. The body knows EXACTLY what needs to be done and in what order and that should not be interfered with. Our bodies are far more intelligent than any doctor.

EoR admires the way this nutter turns reality upside down:
Okay, first let's explain what exactly energy is because our current conventional science only says energy and mass are "somehow" different forms of the same thing and that they're interchangeable.

Actually, this whole site is full of the "somehow", rather than "conventional" science:
Energy is actually the nature OF mass because atoms are continuously expanding.

Maybe that explains weight gain? Or is it just all the water?

Again, EoR wonders if these alternatistas all got their strange little 'theories' from Hallmark cards:
Love is the answer to every single problem in the World.

Then there's quantum woo healing, and more of the "somehow":
No matter which way you're healing yourself and making yourself healthier, it ALL breaks down to increasing your individual vibrational frequency. Pure organic foods have various frequencies and will increase your frequency.

Then a little more twee philosophy:
Everything is meant to be a learning process. Everything. Everything is positive, there is no negative! Learn, change, grow, evolve and then move on.

Okay, EoR takes this as a positive experience. He's learnt, and now he's moving on.

On the positive side, Food and Health gets half a point since, despite being a deranged, illogical, nonsensical paranoid diatribe, the creator at least had some idea about web design. A rare thing amongst the alternatistas.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Scams from Beyond

EoR was recently alerted to the existence of Anthony Grzelka when he appeared on the increasingly dumbed-down ABC local radio show. While EoR only heard about that appearance secondhand, his website shows he's a busy little psychic, complete with his own publicist (why? doesn't he know exactly how to market himself for the biggest return already, since he's a real genuine voice-hearing clairvoyant?).
Anthony is one of Australia’s leading spiritual Mediums. He is currently the only Australian Medium recommended on the James Van Praagh Website

Ah, one charlatan showman recommending another. How cute. EoR comes over all touchy-feely and has an irrestible urge to hurl money at Mr Grzelka. But then who would support Allison Dubois in her old age?

His biography relates how he started hearing The Voices when he was a small child. In fact, his powers were so immense and so totally amazing that he didn't tell anyone about them or use them! Now there's supreme restraint!
Being of Catholic faith, my parents probably would have marched me straight off to the local priest insisting I hold rosemary beads in one hand and a string of garlic in the other - just in case. Seriously, I felt no need to tell anyone because in my heart I knew I could trust my ‘new friends’ even though I couldn’t see them.

EoR presumes he means "rosary" beads, since there's no such thing as rosemary beads. But then, psychics only need to be slightly more intelligent than the gullible masses they delude in order to make huge profits. Intelligence is not required.
I hit thirty experiencing an inward turmoil. I tried to forget the spirits and move onto Wilbur Smith novels, but I couldn’t. Novels felt wrong.

Exactly: Wilbur Smith novels mean you have to pay someone else for a fictional experience. Being a psychic means other people pay you for a fictional experience. It's a totally different thing.

He even momentarily considered becoming a politician but, thankfully, decided against this particular career path. Otherwise we might have all been amused by the sight of a loony talking to himself in parliament (though it's doubtful anyone would have noticed).

Finally, a 'very gifted' medium (as in, lots of people give the medium 'gifts' of money) put him on "the right bus" and in touch with his spiritual destiny. So much so, he could be working for Hallmark, writing verses for cards:
Wherever you are in this amazing world of ours, and whomever you are, I offer you my personal message of hope and joy. I’d like to reassure you that we never die. Our souls are eternal. We are eternal to be at peace. So take time to notice a butterfly sitting on a colourful flower; the soft fluffy kitten that rubs up against your ankle, or the small child who offers you a mud cake from his sandpit bakery. It’s the little things in life that bring us so much joy. Live in the now and listen for the whispers from beyond and happiness will be yours.

Nonetheless, Mr Grzelka is clearly in touch with the Other Side. When he went on a tour of the supposedly haunted Fremantle Prison he had such amazing insights (which no one who was not psychic could possibly have in a supposedly haunted location) such as
Anthony got a strong feeling of residual energy in the courtyard. [...] Another chapel. There seemed to be more spirit activity in this one.

Well, EoR's impressed. That's pretty remarkable stuff. Mr Grzelka went into a well-known 'haunted' location, and said he felt 'residual energy' and 'spirit activity'. Did he also mention the fluffy blue fairies that live in his rectum? Or would his starry-eyed followers just possibly not have fallen for that one? Sadly, EoR suspects they would have believed anything Mr Grzelka rambled on about.

For the diehard skeptics, there's photographic evidence that is irrefutable proof of life after death. Well, blurry light thingys anyway. Okay, digitally 'enhanced' images with inappropriate comments about how 'ghosts' are the only possible explanation. Take this spirit hovering over Mr Grzelka. "Spirit energies". Absolutely clearly. Absolutely no other explanation. Except maybe a reflection. Lighter paint. A doctored picture. Etc etc. Or this picture which shows absolutely no evidence of digital doctoring. Really. Not even a selection tool and a blur effect, or a clone brush for the light effect. Come on, there's absolutely no way this picture could not be real. How could you doubt Mr Grzelka. He would never fake something as serious as that. Or this one where
You can clearly see a visitor in the old green chair.

Maybe EoR isn't psychic enough. He sees no 'visitor', only a pretty standard faked Ball of Light/Orb. Who knows, maybe it was resting in the chair after a busy day making crop circles?

Like any good psychic, Mr Grzelka knows where his money is coming from, and accordingly has a line of merchandise, and conducts psychic development workshops, as well as the standard $A120 psychic readings.

Unfortunately, Mr Grzelka's amazing powers and spirit guides do not appear to have informed him about the $A100,000 available from the Australian Skeptics for real psychics, nor about James Randi's $US1,000,000 also available for all real psychics. But given the money he's already making from his little scam, he's probably not interested.