Skeptical Thoughts

30th November 2020

Here are the topics I chose to talk about on RadioLive for the week. Some of them may not have been mentioned on the radio due to a lack of time.

  • A visit to AMORC

    Tonight I’m off to a meeting of AMORC - the Ancient Mystical Order of Rosae Crucis. It occurred to me the other day that there’s an old idea which might be appropriate here. I’m sure many of you have heard of the guideline that the more a country’s name stresses that it is democratic, the less likely it is to actually resemble a democracy. Take the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) or the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos) as examples. I wonder whether the same rule might hold for cult groups. For example, the Order of Oriental Templars (OTO) is not related to either the Orient or Templars (it was invented in the 20th century by German occultists), The Church of Scientology is not really a church (it’s just a tax dodge) and the Unification Church (Moonies) didn’t unify the Christian church. So I have a sneaking suspicion that the Ancient Mystical Order of Rosae Crucis is probably going to turn out to be neither Ancient nor Mystical.

    2 min read, 235 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Cult, AMORC, Rosicrucians

  • Billy TK’s Religious Influences

    There’s an interesting article published by Dr Deane Galbraithe this week about Billy Te Kakiha’s evangelical influence, and how this may explain his adoption of so many conspiracy theories in his talks. For those who don’t remember, Billy TK started a political party earlier this year, the Public Party, with a platform based on conspiracies and other unscientific nonsense. Deane has been talking in our Facebook group about his article, and, although it’s not mentioned in the article itself, on Facebook he’s talked about someone who has messaged him to let him know that Billy TK has a history with the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement.

    4 min read, 654 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Politics, Billy TK, Advance NZ

  • Colour Therapy

    For some of us who have attended the regular Skeptical Activism meetings in Wellington, Colour Therapy Manukau's egregious claims about colour therapy such as “incurable means curable from within” and “synthetic fibres have a frequency that is detrimental to our health and well being” are a familiar sight. Several of us have cut our teeth on their website, making Advertising Standards Authority complaints about lists of diseases that colour can therapy can supposedly cure, and pseudo-scientific claims about how coloured wool in a metal bowl can help you. These days, when you browse their website, instead of seeing those kinds of claims you read the following:

    2 min read, 235 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Alternative Medicine, Colour Therapy

  • Guerrilla Skeptics strike again

    The amazing members of the GSoW (Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia) group have struck again. In recent years the group have done some amazing work creating new Wikipedia articles and rewriting existing ones on topics of importance to skepticism, including quite a few that are related to New Zealand - including pages for skeptic Siouxsie Wiles, psychic Jeanette Wilson and even our organisation, the NZ Skeptics. We’ve also had Susan Gerbic, head of the project, come to New Zealand twice in the last few years to talk to us at our conferences about both the GSoW project and her work using sting operations to bust psychics.

    1 min read, 179 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Wikipedia, GSoW

  • 2020 - A Desert Odyssey

    I’m sure most people saw the intriguing news that a tall prism shaped metal structure, now known as the Utah Monolith, had been found by conservationists in the desert in the US, sticking out from the rock floor of a canyon. It’s been great to see sleuths figure out where the monolith is located, using flight plans and google maps satellite view (in a slot canyon in Lockhart Basin in San Juan County, Utah), approximately when it was placed, using historical satellite photos (between August 2015 and October 2016) and how it was made, with several people visiting the site (it’s hollow and made from riveted stainless steel sheets). However, the mystery of who put it there has still not been solved.

    3 min read, 475 words. Continue Reading...

    Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Mystery, Monolith