Sunday, 31 October 2010

Shirley Ghostman channels Col. Sanders (Kentucky Fried Chicken)

Chris French tests psychic Shirley Ghostman. Chris is pretty cool. He obviously realizes what's going on about halfway through final bit.

Wootton interviewed elsewhere:

Qu. What inspired you to create Shirley Ghostman?

Wootton: A close friend lost someone dear and I went to see a psychic with them. Shirley came as a result of me witnessing what was going on. When you’re not the focus of the psychic’s attention, it’s very easy to see the truth of what they’re up to and it really got my back up. I became quite angry and couldn’t believe these charlatans go round ripping people off. I went to see a couple of the more famous psychics do their live performances. You have to admire their showmanship but it’s not fair to prey on people.

Qu. Why did you call him Shirley?

Any boy called Shirley must have been picked on at school and we wanted to give the character an unfortunate backstory because a lot of the celebrity psychics have had pretty depressing upbringings. That’s why they reinvent themselves as someone special who can see dead people. I find that so arrogant. Tess Daly told me about a psychic she saw, so I went along to see them, just to try to find out if they were for real. When I got home and made a transcript of the reading, I realised I had given them all the answers.

This clip involving a genuine exorcist is more disturbing (This is a real exorcist - )...

I liked the exorcist's line "Listen to me. Instead of dealing with your real life and how messed up it is, you've got this make-believe world... and it's's the spirits, and it's like a drug." The irony.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Left wing liberals are born not made.

Pinko Liberal gene discovered! I wonder if I have it? Ge here. My suspicion is we are actually mutants. Thanks to John Rathbone and Telegraph.

Researchers have discovered that the "liberal gene" opens you up to new ideas and alternative lifestyles – and could influence your belief in left wing politics.

The findings may mean that liberals are born not made – although it is exacerbated if you an individual is popular during his or her young formative years.

The Liberal Gene is a "transmitter" in the brain called DRD4 which is connected to a chemical called dopamine, known as the reward currency of the brain.

When those with the gene are socially outgoing they seek out and are "rewarded" by other people's points of view, far more than they might be without the gene.

This suggests they are more open minded and tend to form less conventional political viewpoints as adults – especially if they have a socially active adolescence, says the study.

The research by scientists from the University of California and Harvard looked at 2,000 Americans.

It is published in the Journal of Politics.

It found those with a strain of the DRD4 gene seek out "novelty" – such as people and lifestyles which are different to the ones they are used to.

This leads them to have more liberal opinions, politically, it found.

The person's age, ethnicity, gender or culture appeared to make no difference – it was the gene which counts.

DRD4 is controlled by dopamine which affects the way the brain deals with emotions, pleasure and pain and can therefore influence personality traits.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


Centre for Inquiry UK and South Place Ethical Society present



Keith Ward is a philosopher and theologian, Regius Professor of Divinity (Emeritus), Oxford, and the author of The God Conclusion.

Following up Darrell Ray’s talk The God Virus (Oct. 23) Ward’s talk addresses Richard Dawkins’s suggestion, developed by Ray, that religion functions in a similar way to a virus.

This is a free-standing talk. No familiarity with Ray’s book or talk will be assumed. Ward is a great guy, as well as one of the world's leading religious thinkers. There will be plenty of time for discussion. Please come!

Tues. November 30th, 2010, 7.30-9.00 pm

Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL – Main Hall.

Just £4 on the door. Students £3.

Tickets on the door. To book in advance go to, hit button “support cfiuk” and follow instructions. Credit and debit cards welcome. Include names of those coming, phone number, return address, etc.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Child Benefit fiasco

The Child Benefit fiasco has raised objections. But not the right objection.

Yes it is ridiculous and unfair that a couple on shared income of £87,000 might keep child benefit, whereas a couple on combined income of £45,000 may lose it.

The Tories say it's fair that the middle classes take a hit too. Which is true. But, why should someone on £45,000 lose out on about £1,500 a year, but someone on £2 million or £20 million a year lose no more? This is not a way of making the better off pay their fair share.

The really fair way of hitting the better off would have been to raise the top rate of tax. But of course that would make the super rich pay more, wouldn't it? You know, people like George Osborne's banker friends.

When even this small change is such a balls-up, it doesn't inspire much confidence that Osborne knows what he's doing.

Monday, 4 October 2010


The 2010 KASS Conference
‘What Does It Mean To Be Well Educated?’
Saturday October 9th - 10am till 4pm

This follow-up conference to the KAS Society’s highly successful ‘Should Education Make You Happy’ is filling up fast. Places are limited so if you are planning to attend and haven’t yet registered, please send in your registration form soon.

£15 or £10 for KAS staff (includes continental breakfast and buffet lunch)
To register, please contact Lisa Keane (details below)

Does being ‘well-educated’ simply consist of having the maximum number of A*s or should we develop a broader definition of educational success? A chance to reappraise why we send children to school, this conference’s high-profile speakers are:

* Emeritus Professor John White from the Institute of Education, with new ideas on how to reduce the current ‘insane’ pressure on pupils and how to ‘prevent the education system being a mechanism for separating life’s winners and losers’
* Steve Nelson, Head of Calhoun school in New York, where ‘children’s interests are not a detour from the curriculum, they are the curriculum’, first public talk in the UK
* Dr Catherine Burke from Cambridge University, on taking children seriously in designing education(following her 2001 project with the Guardian asking children to imagine their ideal school)
* Stephen Law, editor of the Royal Society of Philosophy’s magazine THINK, who will defend liberal approaches to raising a ‘good person’
* Professor Frank Furedi, the sociologist most-often turned to by the UK’s media, on the ‘infantilisation’ of education
* Professor Kathryn Ecclestone on whether developing emotional well-being is a progressive or diminished goal for education

BBC radio producer Piers Plowright, Prix Italia triple winner, will be chairing.

***A late addition to the programme: UNICEF/Frances Bestley on their belief that an understanding of rights and responsibilities is central to being ‘well-educated’.


Bring back Alastair Campbell

The Conservatives have done a great job:

(1) blaming Gordon Brown for the financial crisis (when in fact he's widely recognized internationally as a saviour)

(2) Introducing ideologically-driven slash and burn cuts, half as much again than Labour deemed necessary, under the pretext that this is merely good housekeeping.

(3) directing those cuts onto the poorest families, when those who actually caused the crisis - bankers (the large Cameron and Clegg fortunes are both tied to banking/finance industry) - are now doing very well indeed.

Bring back Alastair Campbell, I say. Labour should be doing much better on the media front.