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Norway Retreats Back Into the Middle Ages PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Norwegian reader Bjarte Foshaug gives us disheartening news. I had always thought of the Scandinavian countries as being generally more rational than most other parts of the world, but I must reconsider that view after learning this. Mr. Foshaug writes:

Words can not describe how much I appreciate what you are doing. Sorry if this has already been brought to your attention, but things don't look too good in Norway at the moment. I have often seen my own country hailed as a beacon of enlightenment. All I can now say is that if the situation is even worse everywhere else, we are all doomed...

I am genuinely alarmed by how standards have fallen in our society. Lately there has been a great deal of hype around a local healer named Joralf Gjerstad - usually referred to as the "Snåsa Man," after his home village. Of course the media has given him all the free publicity he could dream of, usually without a hint of skepticism. So far there have been lots of anecdotes, but no real evidence, as Gjerstad himself has refused to be tested. The latest twist in this farce is that several politicians - including the Minister of Health - have joined the media circus and declared their faith in Gjerstad's abilities. Another politician, who also happens to be a physician, has spoken out in favor of the healing powers of prayers and magic verses. How reassuring to know that the major decisions regarding our health are left in the charge of people who know how to rationally evaluate data...

Perhaps even more worrying is the recent decision to criminalize criticism of religion as a hate crime. The old law prohibiting the victimless crime of "blasphemy" had not been put into practice for decades and was about to be abolished, but the majority of our three-party government caved in to pressure from the minority and decided instead to expand the law against "hate speech" to include insults to religion. So instead of having no law against blasphemy, we have now got one that is much more likely to actually be used. The Norwegian poet and fearless atheist Arnulf Øverland once said that whoever tries to honestly describe Christianity the way it is, can hardly avoid making himself guilty of blasphemy. I can only conclude that speaking the truth about religion is now officially a crime in our society. Fortunately, there have been some strong reactions against the decision from the majority in our parliament, so the last word may not have been said quite yet.

I hope that Bjarte will keep us informed on these two items, and we'll pass on any developments to SWIFT readers...

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thought police
written by MadScientist, February 02, 2009
People can't criticize religion? The state has its own Thought Police now; I wonder what Norwegian Newspeak is like? This is the sort of thing that I vehemently oppose, legislation to coerce people into accepting the nonsense peddled by religions. It's part of this myth that all religions are good and no one has a right to criticize any religion. Is this some sort of reaction to the publication of those mediocre cartoons in a Danish newspaper? The important question is not "why did the newspaper publish such cartoons" but "why do people get violent because of those cartoons"? This silly Norwegian law will only encourage religions to preach hatred of everyone else as they always have - and with impunity thanks to laws protecting them from criticism.

I'm disappointed about politicians supporting quackery as well; it's not all that unusual given that politicians really are not terribly bright, but for a minister for health to make such statements is just horrible; even the 3rd world nations are not all that bad.
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It's bad, but not totally so
written by hanche, February 02, 2009
First, the infamous law has not been passed yet. In fact the exact text has not been decided upon. The bad news is that, despite this, the law seems destined to pass, since the ruling parties seem dead set on passing it no matter what (and they will apply pressure on dissident MPs if necessary). The law's proponents insist that criticism of religion shall continue to be legal. When pressed to give examples of illegal behaviour under the new law, however, they usually come up with examples that are already illegal under different statutes, such as harrassing people on their way to church.

I am really worried that it seems so very unclear what the new law is intended to cover. If we take the law's proponents at their word, thoughtful criticism of religion will remain legal. What they want to get at is hateful speech. But hateful of what? It is quite possible, even reasonable in my opinion, to hate religions without hating religious people. Will we be allowed to express this hatred of religion? Or to ridicule religious beliefs and practices? Only time will tell.

The current law against blasphemy, though still on the books, has not been used since 1933, when the author Arnulf Øverland (look him up on Wikipedia) was tried for blasphemy after his speech “Christianity – The tenth plague”. A courageous man as well as a brilliant intellectual, he defended himself in court and won.

If the new law gets passed, we are going to need a new Øverland to help get it squashed in the courts. Wish us luck.

And about the quackery, the good news is that there have been quite a few good opinion pieces in the papers about it: Enlightened people aren't taking it lying down like they used to. They fight back. There have been some excellent people debating it on TV as well. So no, not everything is rotten in the state of Norway.
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Breaking news! The president of the Parliament is skeptical!
written by hanche, February 02, 2009
This is the best news yet. Background: Our prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, recently declared (in veiled language, but clear enough) that MPs belong to the labour party must vote for this new law. Now the president of Parliament, Torbjørn Jagland, who is also a prominent (obviously) member of said party, has stated that this issue is too important for the MPs to be bound by party rule. And he brings up all the relevant points, such as the UN Declaration of human rights and the attempts by authoritarian regimes to undermine the HR declaration through the UN.

There is still hope.
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...
written by Willy K, February 02, 2009
I had always thought of the Scandinavian countries as being generally more rational than most other parts of the world


Stupidity has no borders. Never did, never will. smilies/tongue.gif

To the Norwegian parliament... I blow my nose at your deities and fart in the direction of your religions.
Are bodily functions to be classified as hate speech? smilies/grin.gif
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written by Jakse, February 02, 2009
Reminds me of how certain other economicly strong industries also lobby governments and legislators all over the world to impose laws that heavily violate personal integrity in order to strengthen their own markets, damn the consequences. The trend seems clear to me, and it's more than just a little bit worrying, cause it takes ignorance by the governing elite for such corruption to take place (not to mention the ignorance it takes to put them in position) and as always with ignorance, religion, woo and quackery gain footholds aswell.
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written by BillyJoe, February 02, 2009
If the law is passed, all those who oppose it should openly defy it at every opportunity until the law is repealed.

(Just like all newspapers should have published those cartoons)
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Similar situation in the Netherlands
written by beowulff, February 03, 2009
The Netherlands is in a very similar situation. Many people want to take the unused and outdated blasphemy law out. Some (Christian) parties are completely opposed (of course). Other parties want the blasphemy law out, but only if the hate-speech laws get expanded to include insults to religion. A third group wants to take blasphemy out and strongly objects at the expansion of hate speech laws. Interestingly enough, the three parties in the governing coalition each fall in a different group.

My current assessment of the situation: very likely nothing will change. This is already the most likely outcome in a democracy, but in this case especially: I highly doubt they want to blow up the coalition over this. So it doesn't sound to be as bad as Norway. Yet.
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To Randi about the Snåsa-man, Lowly rated comment [Show]
To Randi about the Snåsa-man, Lowly rated comment [Show]
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written by Willy K, February 03, 2009
Joralf Gjerstad has my full respect and deserves also that from other people


Definitions of the word "respect" from Wiktionary

NOUN
1. an attitude of consideration or high regard
2. good opinion, honor, or admiration

VERB
1. to have regard for the rights of others

Mr. Gjerstad can qualify for the verb, but not the noun. smilies/cool.gif
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Mr. Joralf Gjerstad is a Fraud
written by GMJ, February 03, 2009
His religion is a sham like all other religions and he has zero power. He is also a charlatan. There I said it. I dare the ersatz government of Norway to do anything about it. Oh yeah, Christianity is also a crock of lies.
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written by Gommle, February 03, 2009
There has been all sorts of medical conditiones that he has used his abilities on. Some of them is cancer, and there are measured fysical positive changes, also regression of cancer.

So there is no doubt that this man has telepathic abilities and deserves respect. Through all centuries there has been people that are really psychic and can have healing powers, and they normally try to keep to themselves.


Do you really accuse all the physicists in the world of being wrong? Paranormal abilities have never been scientifically proved!

The placebo effect is still in effect, though.
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You shouldn't be so quick to judge an entire country Mr Randi
written by gjolb, February 03, 2009
Mr Randi, I've been a fan of yours for years and your fight to reveal cheats and swindlers like Sylvia Browne etc is one to be greatly admired. The world needs more like you!

HOWEVER I would hope a man of your wisdom would read up on a subject before turning it into an attack on an entire country, "Norway retreats back into the Middle Ages"?

Take the case of the Snåsa Man - who I am no believer in - it is worth noting that the man has never ever taken money for his services, he refuses to take payment for his services and has never done so, he has always been about helping people. And ok so if some people are helped due to some weird "placebo effect" the 82-year-old deserves some credit for not doing this for money. In my opinion this gives the man more credit than most frauds out there, even if I don't believe in his powers. Small villages in several countries have their "magical" mystery man with supposedly healing gifts, the kind that generations learn to respect through word of mouth, "they know someone who was helped" and so on, and after years the legend is born. The Snåsa man is one of these many local "healers", but he never asked for national fame, in fact he was mainly a well kept secret until recent years when the media - and finally a book about him - gave him so much media attention he has been forced to pull back to his home, claiming he won't take any more clients, he is too old and the attention is too much for the man. Don't put such people on level with money-grabbing fraudsters like Sylvia Browne.

And then on the whole blasphemy thing. What the current government of Norway has proposed is to REMOVE the ancient blasphemy paragraph. REMOVE it. And it is this REMOVAL of the blasphemy paragraph that the parliament will vote over - and most likely decide to delete from the law books forever. I don't see anything wrong with that, do you? However, the government has warned that it will work on the already existing hate paragraph until the year 2011, and see whether religion can be worked into it. A hate paragraph/law exists in several countries and was designed to protect against hate crimes based on race and sexuality. So they are in fact REMOVING the ancient blasphemy law (the last time it was used to punish a person was a century ago).

What should be interesting to note is that the moment this was mentioned in the media, people went up in arms. I was one of them. We feared that the government was trying to impose on our right to free speech, leading journalists, news editors and other politicians - including the President of Parliament (from the same party as the Prime Minister) - cried out and warned the government. Big online polls asked "should offending a religion be a punishable crime?" NINETY PERCENT has voted NO. I don't think you need to worry just yet Mr Randi. Worry more about your own country, where the Patriot Act is still very much alive.

Peace.
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On behalf of all norwegians beleiving in the "Snåsa man"
written by BB, February 03, 2009
I'm sorry. I'm truly and deeply sorry. This is what Norway has become, especially within these last 3 years, and I hope that the norwegians who still have their brains intact will use them wisely during the next election, meaning leaving AP and SV without votes. Here's a secret for the "Snåsa man"-groupies; The cake that hit our Minister of Finance, Kristin Halvorsen, had healing power. I've got no scientific proof, but who cares.

PS to the rest of us: As a result of stating that the cake had healing powers we should all be worried to visit pastry shops i Norway. You might find a wide selection of politicians throwing cakes at eachother.
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Worried? Knowledge?, Lowly rated comment [Show]
James Randi is posting an article based on one mans email. Funny!, Lowly rated comment [Show]
When the Day Comes...
written by Josh111485, February 03, 2009
If the day ever comes in the United States that blasphemy is against the law I will break down, cry, eat some ice cream, and move to Canada. I can't get through my day unless I've had a cup of blasphemy. Blasphemy gets me up in the morning. Where would we be without blasphemy? Seriously, though, when anti-free speech laws are legislated it makes me want to cry and puke. smilies/angry.gif
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written by fergl100, February 03, 2009
Espmell,

"Quote: "How reassuring to know that the major decisions regarding our health are left in the charge of people who know how to rationally evaluate data..."

Answer:
Parden me but are you stupid? No decisions regarding the norwegian people health will be affected by these two guys belief in these things"

I don't think Bjarte Foshaug is stupid. Hopefully you are right that Norwegian people's health will not be affected by these views. However the point is that you want a Minister of Health to base his judgements on evidence not heresay. Therefore it is his judgement in general that is in question
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written by Kuroyume, February 03, 2009
There is no such thing as 'healing hands'. If Joralf uses kindness and proven folk medicines that is one thing. But when I hear words like 'healing hands', 'pilgrimage', and 'spiritually', clangers go off in my head alerting of self-delusion imparted to credulousness.

I 'believe' 0% in spiritual healers and psychics. I think that real spiritual healers and psychics do not exist and no evidence contradicts that conclusion.
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Psychic challenge in Norwayy
written by hanche, February 03, 2009
It is true that Gjerstad has been tested, but as far as I know not under rigorous conditions. Anecdotes of his healing powers abound, but again as far as I know few if any are well documented. There are also anecdotes about some who were not helped, but they are not many, oddly enough. Moreover, Gjerstad is retiring and doesn't want any more media fuzz, so we might as well forget about him and concentrate instead on whether believing in some people's claimed abilities as healers is rational or not.

Be that as it may, the big debate around the publishing of the book about Gjerstad has led to an upsurge of interest in these issues in Norway, and skeptics have also benefited from this. With almost supernaturally perfect timing, a major TV channel has just started a series as part of their science programming (“Schrödinger's cat”) in which they will test psychic abilities.

For the first test, a message has been locked into a safe in the office of Trondheim's chief of police, and all self-proclaimed psychics (and anybody else) is invited to guess the message. There is a web camera pointed at the safe at all times, so psychics can get a good look, and others can tell that nothing is happening to it (it's the most boring web camera I have ever seen). There is even a cryptographic commitment of the message available on the web, so everybody can tell afterwards that the message is unchanged. (I am told it's a Pedersen commitment – google it if you're curious.)

If you can read Norwegian, get the details at http://www.nrk.no/programmer/t.../1.6455279. It is interesting – perhaps revealing – that many of the psychics think the message is something about skepticism. Not a bad guess, given that the message was selected by a skeptic. But on second thought, given that said skeptic surely would guess this and pick a different topic, maybe it is not so clever after all.
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Greetings from Norway!
written by simsan, February 03, 2009
Dear Mr. Randi!

I don't know if you remember me, but I certainly remember the lasting impression you made on me back in 1993. Back then, you visited Trondheim during a big student festival. I helped you with some practical details in conjunction with the lecture you did on homeopathy and the demonstration you did of "fake surgery".

I remember spending that evening drinking beer with you and watching you doing cool "sleight of hand" tricks and talking. It remains one of my fondest memories from that period.

I'm a skeptic and an atheist (like many other Norwegians). Over the last couple of weeks I've been watching the ongoing Media Frenzy over this "Snåsamann" character with great bewilderment. I've also contemplated contacting you to ask you to weigh in on the matter.

I think the part of the underlying problem here really is the media. Norwegian media has had a reputation for being factually accurate and conscious of their "responsibility to society". Over the last decades they have, however, gradually succumbed to market pressures, and become increasingly eager to publish any story which will sell newspapers or attract TV viewers. Sadly, as I guess you are well aware, the damage done by one speculative media anecdote is extremely difficult to correct in the mind of the potential believer.

I think I can assure you that our country remains quite secular and reasonable at its core. Maybe even so much so that we Norwegian skeptics have gotten a little lazy. I think you will see an envigorated Skeptic movement in Norway in the coming months, and I will personally do my best to get "common sense" back on the agenda. Having reality on our side helps.

sincerely,
Simen, Norway
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written by GMJ, February 03, 2009
I find it amazing that people believe that this charlatan has any special powers. It is even more amazing that some think that questioning him is a no-no and that they can make us shut up. I am forewarding this discussion to some friends in Norway who are as skeptical as myself. Do you suppose followers of this con artist will riot in the streets in his defense like the crazies did over the Danish cartoons? In a free society we can blaspheme and insult any religion at will with zero consequences. Norway needs to be pulled kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Secularism can have a civilizing influnce on religion.
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written by Cuddy Joe, February 03, 2009
How do you say "Edgar Cayce" in Norwegian?
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1 man = 4,7 million people
written by Espmell, February 03, 2009
Quote from GMJ: "Norway needs to be pulled kicking and screaming into the 21st century."

Have you even read what the prime minister actually is proposing? This is one feather turning into ten chicken.
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Even funnier :)
written by Espmell, February 03, 2009
Some people describe this situation as if Joralf Jerstad is making millions on healing naive people, want people to stop going to the doctor or the hospital, just go to himself, is an attention seeker who on a daily basis is calling the newspapers and tv stations to get free publicity so he can make more money. The minister of health is stupid and naive, he's currently advicing people to stop going to the doctor and spend all their money on Jerstad instead.

And when some of us say that this might not be the whole truth or a neutral view we get - 16 votes. Funny smilies/smiley.gif
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Getting the facts straight about Mr. Gjerstad
written by CiViX, February 03, 2009
gjolb wrote: "[The Snåsa man] refuses to take payment for his services and has never done so"

Bullshit. He doesn't ask for payments, but he certainly doesn't refuse to accept, and it's widely documented that he has acceptet quite large gifts from some of his pasients. It's also well known that pasients were "expected" to bring a hundred kroner bill when they visited him in earlier times... At the same time he acts all modest and says to the press that he thinks his powers might disappear if he accepts payment for his "services". What a load of bullcrap.

Espmell wrote: "Joralf Jerstad has never wanted any publicity"

Well, he has written two books about himself and accepted to be the focus of a NRK documentary some years ago, in addition to this latest biography that has made him such a celebrity. Modest? I don't think so.

Espmell wrote: "t might be a good idea to mention that Joralf has been tested earlier by Norways largest TV-channel, NRK"

That is not correct. He was never tested, although he himself calls this a test in which he had "a hundred percent success". What a fool. You can see the program online yourself (link in my blog). All he did was visit a sick couple who he then "healed" while the cameras filmed parts of it. De he heal cancer? AIDS? Blindness? No, the man had anxiety and she had a shoulderpain... typical ailments which can be relieved as a result of the placeboeffect. I have written an analysis of this performance in my blog (http://blog.tjomlid.com/?p=1319) and clearly shown that this is most certainly a classic combination of cold-reading, good observational skills and placebo effects.
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Oxymoron
written by simsan, February 03, 2009
Just one note to American readers. Norway is very secular.

Perhaps this secularism is even why these well-meaning politicians have concluded that our religious minorities may need some protection. Norwegian politics is all about protecting people, building expensive social safety nets, and genereally ensuring that we are the "nicest" country in the world.

At this particular crossroads, however, the politicans appear to have overstepped an important barrier for most people. When having to talk to the media about this new legislation they completely fail to identify which types of harrasment the new law supposedly would cover which isn't already covered by remaining legislation. They are currently in full blown retreat-mode, and I personally think this new piece of legislation is never going to be voted over.

The fact that the only norwegian political party with strong ties to religious groups (the christian conservatives) are _against_ the new law actually makes the entire ordeal very strange. I would say an oxymoron.
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written by Cuddy Joe, February 03, 2009
"I'm just a fan of getting all facts on the table before starting a discussion."

And yet........ lol.

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One of the few sensible Norwegians left
written by legne, February 03, 2009
The current state of Norway is very complicated and very, very serious. But before I get into that, I'd like to address some of the comments which have been made here.

In response to Espmell:
1. A book about Gjerstad has recently been published. So much for not wanting attention. If you take a look at his taxes, you'll see that he's made a lot of money this past year and has a lot more money than any other average pensioner would have. If the book sells well, he will earn millions.

2. He has never been tested. He was in a documentary on NRK however there was no scientific or empirical testing of any sorts, at best it was the sort of testing that you will see on talkshows. He refused the more recent proposal (by the television show "Schrödinger's cat") because he claimed that they didn't meet the scientific standards.

3. The minister of health has also stated that he believes that prayer can stop blood (this is known as "witchcraft", there are plenty of examples of stopping blood in old Norwegian grimoires, known as black books). The mayor of Kåfjord has stated that he HIMSELF is a healer.

4. The politicians in question would like healing to be a part of the standardized health service. Regardless of how their personal belief affects their politics, it's evident that these people are incapable of rational and logical thought processes. The minister of health isn't even aware of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. I believe we should demand that our government consists of intelligent and rational people. This is no worse than having a Holocaust-denier in government, or Sylvia Brown. And let's not forget the case of Saera Kahn, who called psychic hotlines in work hour - from a government phone.


Hanche
There was a similar TV series not too long ago, where they tested psychics ("Jakten på den skjette sans"). If I remember correctly; they all failed. Not too surprising.
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Mr Randi
written by legne, February 03, 2009
Mr Randi
We (the skeptics) have tried our best to keep the truth away from the international public, as we know it would damage our reputation. The harsh reality is that we're well on our way to becoming a nation who promotes anti-intellectualism and encourages superstition.
I believe it started when our Princess Märtha Lousie founded an "Angel school" a few years ago. A "school" where you would learn how to communicate with angels. Our own Princess. It's a disgrace.
In 2008, a mental institution hired mediums to exorcise the ward.. because the mental patients (being treated for drug addiction and psychosis) had complained about a "presence". It should be noted that the employees who hired the mediums didn't ask the administration for permission or advice.
Our annual New Age fair will eventually replace the Science expo.
Homeopathy is considered, by new agers, to be just as efficient as medicine.
Certain superstitious theories are considered by new agers (and many others) to be undeniable truths, for example ghosts, the soul, auras, chi/metaphysical energy, healing, psychic powers, channeling of energies/spirits, that crystals have magic powers, and of course angels and guardians. I even witnessed a woman saying that "[metaphysical energy] has been scientifically proven".
It should be noted that a lot of Norwegians (though thankfully they're a minority) doubt evolution, but that's more of a field for Dawkins to be concerned about I suppose.
The mayor of Kåfjord is, as I mentioned, a self-proclaimed healer. Try saying that out loud; the mayor is a healer.
Our minister of health believes that healing cured his son's baby colic, he also believes that witchcraft can stop bleeding.
Our minister of fisheries & coastal affairs believes that skepticism is a form of "Oslo-arrogance", and she feels provoked by the skeptics in the debate around the Snåsa man since we discredit anecdotes.
Saera Kahn, a government representative, used her cell phone to call psychic hotlines during work hours. The real problem was that the government was billed for her calls and the total was, in Norwegian, "several hundred thousand NOK". 7 NOK is 1 USD, you do the math. Here's the real kicker; she had asked these psychics about politics, for example about how the oppositional parties would do in the election.

The social acceptance of new age and superstition has become scientifically unacceptable. It's like a plague, and the skeptics (and other rational people) are vastly outnumbered. The best comparison I can make is that it's like being the only atheist in Alabama.
What concerns me is that these new agers are incapable of logical thinking. We could interpret that as them being unintelligent, but that's quite a cheap shot.
They are, by personal experience, the most irrational group of people that I have ever had to suffer through a conversation with. They don't understand how anecdotal evidence is considered to be 100% irrelevant, in fact - it appears that it hurts their feelings when it's pointed out to them that what they experienced is scientifically useless. I've tried to compare their anecdotes about the Snåsa man to anecdotes about alien kidnapping, or my cat who can cure gout, in order to help them understand how anecdotes are irrelevant; but they failed to see the connection.
Their most popular "argument" about the Snåsa man is "Well, have you met him?!" as if I'd have to meet him in person in order to have an opinion about his alleged "gift".
They don't understand the placebo effect, nor do they understand the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, or the subject-expectancy effect. Most have heard about the placebo effect but they've never understood how it works; and for the rest of effect, fallacies and theories - I have yet to hear any new ager say that they're familiar with them. Russel's tea pot, for example, I've had to explain it so many times that I know it word for word by heart now. Their rebuttal to Russel's tea pot is usually "But that's a tea pot, we're talking about ghosts. I don't understand what a tea pot has to do with ghosts" or some variant of that, anyway.
When the skeptics mention testing the Snåsa man, they apparently thought that we meant prodding him with needles and treating him like a lab rat. I swear to Xenu, that's what many of them said.
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Mr Randi part 2
written by legne, February 03, 2009
They are consistently uncritical in regards to subjective experience. They believe that if they saw it, heard it, felt it or sensed it - then it must be real - and no one can convince them that there's even the slightest chance of their mind playing tricks on them. Believe me, I've tried - I've even been nice and forthcoming about it - but apparently, since I didn't experience it myself I am therefor not allowed to propose an alternate theory.
These are the people who hear the floorboards creek and automatically assume that it's a ghost. Or if they think about a specific person, and the phone rings and by some miracle, it's the person they were thinking of; so they must be psychic.

Not only that, but to them the word "skeptic" is synonymous with "disbeliever", it's something negative that's out to silence them for knowing better - like the medical industry. We've heard it all before; we're not open-minded, we're too busy digging our nose in some book to be able to see "the truth" (whatever that is), we live in a bubble, we're not evolved enough to understand the supernatural, we're all a bunch of unimaginative nerds who refuse to believe in anything that isn't in our outdated science books, and so on. It's as if they believe that science is evil.
What concerns me the most is that these people are adults, most are in their 40s and 50s, and they still don't understand how science works. One of their most absurd rebuttals to skepticism in regards to superstition is, "Can you prove that you have thoughts? Is there any evidence for thoughts?". Somehow that means that metaphysical energy is as real as thoughts. Yes, that's how their logic works.

I'm fully aware of that this was very generalizing and based on personal experience and nothing else.

About our law:
We've had a so-called blasphemy paragraph, which hasn't been used for many, many years. The government is removing that paragraph, which is good. The bad news is that they're extending our racism paragraph (which already includes expressing hateful, prejudice or demeaning opinions in regards to faith (also atheism)), the extension is cryptic at best:
"[...] including hateful expressions so that the edict maintains the need for a criminal law protection against qualified attacks on belief systems and views of life"
I don't think even our government knows what that means. According to our prime minister, it means that everything we're allowed to say and do today will still be legal and it won't discredit our freedom of speech, Life of Brian won't be banned. We all know that this is BS. My guess is that this law will prevent me from slandering scientology, I'm also concerned that it will prevent me from saying that the bible is a fairy tale book - but our PM assured us that expressing atheistic opinions would still be legal. So we can say that God is dead, but we can't say anything bad about him.

Middle ages, here we come!

My apologies for spamming the comment section. I believe I emailed you some time ago about this problem, I'm glad it finally caught your attention.
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and yet what?
written by Espmell, February 03, 2009
and yet what?

If you're under twelve I'll explain it for you:

I don't mean facts as in facts when it comes to the discussion about healers and psychics. I mean facts about what people have done and said that is the basis of the whole discussion in Norway, who is Joralf Gjerstad, what have the minister of health said. When Bjarte Foshaug is giving his point of view he's making a base for a discussion that is at least open for discussion, he's basically telling 5% of the whole truth.
Martin Luther Kings speech consisted of more words than "I have a dream"
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Example of how mind-boggling irrational Norwegian new agers are
written by legne, February 03, 2009
I don't like putting people on the spot, but Medusa's comments are text-book Norwegian new age arguments. Some of which I mentioned in my previous comment, for example that you'd have to meet him to have an opinion about him. Other popular arguments are "He does it for free", "He's a very nice man", "He doesn't call himself a healer", "he doesn't want the attention", "he's helped thousands of people" and so on. They, of course, fail to see that those aren't real arguments at all. I suppose it's difficult for some people to separate the person from the person's alleged supernatural power.

I would like to know If any of you here stating that all of us (that has a real experience, and with -some of us-high education and a real sense of life intact)

Medusa, I don't mean to slander you in any way, but are you honestly suggesting that you have a high level of education? Was English ever a part of that education, or did you major in homeopathy?
Oh my, I am mean.
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Example of how mind-boggling irrational Norwegian new agers are
written by legne, February 03, 2009
I don't like putting people on the spot, but Medusa's comments are text-book Norwegian new age arguments. Some of which I mentioned in my previous comment, for example that you'd have to meet him to have an opinion about him. Other popular arguments are "He does it for free", "He's a very nice man", "He doesn't call himself a healer", "he doesn't want the attention", "he's helped thousands of people" and so on. They, of course, fail to see that those aren't real arguments at all. I suppose it's difficult for some people to separate the person from the person's alleged supernatural power.

I would like to know If any of you here stating that all of us (that has a real experience, and with -some of us-high education and a real sense of life intact)

Medusa, I don't mean to slander you in any way, but are you honestly suggesting that you have a high level of education? Was English ever a part of that education, or did you major in homeopathy?
Oh my, I am mean.
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One more try..
written by BjartesF, February 03, 2009
Congratulations, mr. Randi! Looks like we made the headlines. I tried to post an entry earlier today, but it seems to have disappeared. Those norwegians who want to call me closed-minded and tell me why I am dead wrong are free to do so at: http://svevendeord.blogspot.com/.

It was the the newspaper article that framed my letter as an attack on Gjerstad personally. What I am mainly attacking is the very culture of anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism that has allowed this media farce to reach such heights in the first place. As far as the Minister of Health (and Mr. Ballo) is concerned, Espmell may be right that:
No decisions regarding the norwegian people health will be affected by these two guys belief in these things.

Perhaps not by their belief in Gjerstad per se, but the lack of judgement betrayed by such a belief is something that I for one would prefer to keep as far away from the reigns of power in our society as humanly possible.
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Espmell
written by legne, February 03, 2009
You seem to be unaware that the JREF is a skeptic association, and we're already aware of the missing 95% of the truth - because it's the same, exact story with every healer, psychic and medium. The issue at hand is that this superstition has spread to our government. I say it's just as bad as if our prime minister was a scientologist.
As an example; imagine if thousands of Norwegians told stories of how the FSM had helped them and cured their illnesses, and then politicians began defending the FSM's healing powers, even going as far as saying that they have the same powers.
A rational person would immediately question their, and our, intelligence.
Our minister of health believes in WITCHCRAFT for Xenu's sake. Not even just healing, but WITCHCRAFT - from the Norwegian black books.
In my opinion, we ought to check if he weighs the same as a duck or not.

Foshaug explained the current situation very well, and for all you know - Foshaug might have included the other facts (such as how Gjerstad doesn't charge for his "treatment") but Randi left it out because - surprise, surprise - it's irrelevant.
And yes, congratulations on making headlines! This will make many Norwegian skeptics very happy.


PS. Ridiculing someone by asking or claiming that they're young of age might work for the debates on DB.no, but it doesn't work here.
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I think
written by legne, February 03, 2009
I think Norway overloaded your site host's bandwidth Mr Randi. We're sorry. smilies/sad.gif
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written by Espmell, February 03, 2009
BjartesF wrote:
"Perhaps not by their belief in Gjerstad per se, but the lack of judgement betrayed by such a belief is something that I for one would prefer to keep as far away from the reigns of power in our society as humanly possible."

First of all, no wonder you're making headlines when Mr. Randi is posting an article based on your one sided email with a majority of half truths, or to say it in a more polite way; The way you're writing is giving a wrong impression of the discussion in Norway, who Gjerstad is and what has been said.

Bjarne Håkon Hansen is a good ambassador for Norwegians, he's down to earth, open minded, honest and says things as they are. In this case he's done nothing more than telling about he's own experience with Gjerstad and said; this is what happened to me, as I saw it back then the phonecall to Gjerstad helped my son. I'm open minded and willing to reconsider my skepticism towards healers and psychics. We should be allowed to have an open discussion on this subject.
Mr. Hansen is "one of us" and this is his style. Asking questions about his general judgement as a minister of health based on his story and view of Gjerstad is for me just underestimating a persons intelligence

To quote Mr Ballo (not directly):

"Thinking that norwegians in an accident will try to stop potensially deadly bleedings by prayer rather than calling an ambulance because I went public with my belief is seriously underestimating peoples judgement"
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written by Espmell, February 03, 2009
Hanche wrote:
There was a similar TV series not too long ago, where they tested psychics ("Jakten på den skjette sans"). If I remember correctly; they all failed. Not too surprising.


Ok, then my view on your memory is consistent with your view on psychics!
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Enlightened Yet Muzzled
written by cwniles, February 03, 2009
Lets not forget that back in '02 a Norwegian was actually sentenced to 75 days in jail with 45 days suspended and two years probation after being convicted on anti-racism charges.

The racism in question? An Internet site where the convicted professes a doctrine that mixes neo-Nazism, racial hatred and religion, claiming to worship Odin and other ancient Norse gods.

Anti-Racism Centre spokesman Henrik Lunde told The Associated Press: "This is historic because it is the first time someone in Norway has been sentenced to prison and has to serve jail time for making racist statements."

So while 100% of Norwegians may be able to read and write, they best watch what they read and write.
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written by Espmell, February 03, 2009
Legne wrote:
Our minister of health believes in WITCHCRAFT for Xenu's sake. Not even just healing, but WITCHCRAFT - from the Norwegian black books.
In my opinion, we ought to check if he weighs the same as a duck or not.

Can you refer to a source where our minister of health says he believes in witchcraft? I haven't seen it.

Legne wrote:
Foshaug explained the current situation very well

I'll write this in norwegian as I guess you will understand it, for me the email is quite similar to a conversation between two middleaged women like VG-dama.

"du, nå skal du høre her Vigdis, nå har det blitt ille gæli der hjemme i Norge. Han Pølse-Hansen trur på hekser og ballo har jo gått helt av skaftet og har begynt å stoppe blødninger på legekontoret sitt, erre muli. Og bussen var forsinka i dag og jeg sa te bussjåføren at nå var det jammen meg på tide atte..........

slik sånn ca høres startinnlegget ut.

Legne wrote:
PS. Ridiculing someone by asking or claiming that they're young of age might work for the debates on DB.no, but it doesn't work here.

After this reply; "And yet........ lol." a neutral observant might say he started. When somebody are incapable of understanding even your most basic statements and replies with ""laughing out loud" as to say; I didn't understand what you meant or I don't want to understand what you meant so I'm just laughing" it's acceptable to question his age.
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To Espmell:
written by hanche, February 03, 2009
I didn't write what you attributed to me a few comments back. legne did, in response to an earlier comment by me.
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written by Pelle41, February 03, 2009
Espmell wrote:

Have you even read what the prime minister actually is proposing? This is one feather turning into ten chicken.


I've followed the debate about the proposed changes to our penal code and the proposed subsequent changes to section 185 in particular, and my analysis is that this is not an instance of the critics always being wrong, but of our politicians backing down after a lot of critcism. Would the changes in their approach have been instigated without any critical backlash? The conclusions we draw in that respect are probably different.

As an aside, I also thought that I'd like to add for the benefit of non-Norwegians following this thread and who are perhaps bewildered by the exchanges between several of the Norwegian participants that it is common in Norway to participate in what might be called a cult of folksiness (in this we are probably in some respects more like Americans than some continental European nations), and that you can get away with a lot if you just act "average" or get a reputation for being one of the guys. Of course, this attitude is not without positive aspects as well.)
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To hanche
written by Espmell, February 03, 2009
Sorry about that, I knew it was legne writing that statement. I probably copied the whole text and your name came with it. then I unintentionally used your name.

Sorry smilies/smiley.gif

Espmell
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James Randi admits!
written by Espmell, February 03, 2009
In Norways largest newspaper, VG, Randi admits he probably should have checked the facts behind the comment made by Bjarte Foshaug before attacking Norway.

Told you!
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Re: James Randi admits!
written by BjartesF, February 03, 2009
Randi admits he probably should have checked the facts behind the comment made by Bjarte Foshaug before attacking Norway.


And what "facts" would he thus have discovered that would falsify any of my statements (in stead of just additional information that you find relevant while I don't)?
As far as I can tell, there is nothing in Randi's reply that contradicts anything I have said.

I am perpared to take criticism from Norwegians at: http://svevendeord.blogspot.com/
Bring it on! smilies/cool.gif
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Unsound judgement.
written by HHB, February 03, 2009
Espmell wrote:
Bjarne Håkon Hansen is a good ambassador for Norwegians [...] In this case he's done nothing more than telling about he's own experience with Gjerstad [...] Asking questions about his general judgement as a minister of health based on his story and view of Gjerstad is for me just underestimating a persons intelligence


Really? Whose intelligence?

I happen to think there is plenty of reason to question our Health Minister's judgement, and I'll tell you why right after this brief retelling of Hansen's story: Hansen's newborn son had colic. Desperate after two months of non-stop crying and sleep deprivation Hansen calls Gjerstad. Gjerstad says "Right, I'll see what I can do.", and hangs up. Ten minutes later the baby releases an "improbable" amount of gas, and falls asleep for a day. All is well for a couple of days, but then the colic returns. Hansen once again calls Gjerstad, and the same thing happens. Ten minutes after the phone call there is a mighty breaking of wind, and the baby is cured. Permanently, this time.

Now, I realize that lack of sleep and crying babies can turn anyone's brain to mush, but come on... Do we really want that kind of wishful, magical thinking in a Minister of Health? Also, when the alleged healing took place, Hansen's son was just around the age when baby colic usually disappears. Hansen knows this, he even mentions it in the interview where he first told this story, and yet he chooses to believe that Gjerstad cured his son. Strike two.

When you're a top-level politician and a member of the administration, there's no such thing as "just telling a story". Hansen must have known that his statements would be interpreted as support for Gjerstad's alleged healing powers. So, either he's a believer, og he's fishing for votes. (Or just completely inept at handling the media). Either way, not a sign of sound judgement, in my opinion.
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Rick and famous
written by CiViX, February 03, 2009
Well, I don't think that's a lot of publicity considering he's been working with it for 60 years. Until 2009 he's been known mostly by word of mouth. If you showed his picture to the public two years ago, probably one out of ten would know who he was. His latest book was as far as I know not his initiative and without that book he would probably still be a quite anonymous norwegian, and probably happy with that.


The latest biography about Snåsamannen made him a national celebrity. But he wrote two books about himself before that. How modest can you be if you publish two books you've written about yourself? How can you claim he doesn't want attention when he's written those books, and even starred in a documentary on national TV of his own free will? How many of us get to do that?

There's nothing wrong with wanting attention, fame and money, but don't give me the crap about him trying to avoid it because he's so humble and modest.

If he's so interested in publicity, why has he told that he's retired and want people to stop calling and sending letters?


Because the media attention became way more massive than anyone could have foreseen. I have no problem understanding that this is too much for anyone, let alone an old man of 80+ years. And now he'll earn millions on the book anyway, so why would he need to see more patients? He has secured both his fame and his bank account, no need to go on after that.
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Re: James Randi admits!
written by HHB, February 03, 2009
Espmell wrote:
In Norways largest newspaper, VG, Randi admits he probably should have checked the facts behind the comment made by Bjarte Foshaug before attacking Norway.


Fair enough. He apperently did say that. However, it would have been even more fair if you had included the second part of that paragraph. You know, where it said that after speaking to VG he maintains that we have medieval tendencies (as the journalist so clumsily put it). You wouldn't want to give anyone the impression that Randi changed his mind, now, would you?
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to BjartesF
written by Espmell, February 03, 2009
If you have read any of my earlier posts you would know what I think about your first post. Randi wouldn't have discovered anything that falsify any of your statements but he would have gotten more additional information important to get an objective and more fair view of the case. I find it relevant and are amused that you don't. It's irrelevant when it comes to deciding the truth about healers and psychics but quite relevant to give the right impression of the norwegian people and our politicians. Your way of writing is like the front page of VG. One sentence, shocking or dramatic, but when you read the whole article inside you get the information that kind of takes the air out of the balloon. You realize that the front page was right but delusional in the way that it doesn't have enough information to get a fair view.

Why didn't you write:
In Norway we have a minister of health that is well known to be one of the guys, not always politically correct but he's honest, open minded and says things as they are. In desperation he called a healer when his son was sick some years ago and as he experiences the situation the call helped the son getting better. Being open minded that situation made him reconsider his skepticism towards healers. As the minister of health he, of course, wants people to keep using the health care system but he thinks we should be open minded when it comes to alternative methods. but he states as mentioned above that healing can never be a full substitute to going to the doctor, just an addition.

I have, as you, written the truth about the last weeks happening, but in other words.

If you wrote your email in this style, do you think James Randi would have gone out on his website, claiming Norway is retreating back into the middle ages?

I don't.
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written by Espmell, February 03, 2009
HHB wrote:
You wouldn't want to give anyone the impression that Randi changed his mind, now, would you?

I think everyone in here knows Mr. Randi good enough to know that he hasn't changed his mind. but of course I could have included that part.
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written by Cuddy Joe, February 03, 2009
RE: Espmell & 'And yet...lol.'

I quoted your post thus: "I'm just a fan of getting all facts on the table before starting a discussion." I felt this quite funny in that you've been proved wrong on so many of your 'facts', but it didn't stop you from 'starting a discussion'.

1. You said Jerstad never wanted any publicity when in fact he's written two books on himself, appeared on TV shows, and who knows what else.

2. You said Jerstad never accepted any money for his 'work' when in fact he has, a lot of money over a great many years.

3. You said Jerstad had been tested, on the Norwegian TV channel NRK, when it was more of an uncritical demonstration and no where near a scientific test.

4. Referring to Health Minister and some other politician, you said "No decisions regarding the norwegian people health will be affected by these two guys belief in these things." Any health minister who cannot spot a simple correlation-is-not-causation error or wouldn't even consider an ad hoc fallacy is BOUND to damage health policy in his or her country eventually. These are extremely basic medical concerns, and your health minister is oblivious to them.

5. You said "I'm not saying I believe 100% in healing and psychics...." and I'd be curious to know to what percentage you DO believe in them. 90%? 60%? Belief in psychics and psychic healers is sort of like being pregnant - either you are or you aren't pregnant, and likewise, either you believe in psychic healers or you don't. You cannot believe in them 20% or 40% or 80%.

All of the above errors and statements you've made occurred prior to you posting "I'm just a fan of getting all facts on the table before starting a discussion." If you cannot see the humor in that, it merely confirms rising suspicions about you and your motives in protesting anti-Jerstad and anti-ignorance sentiments. Like it's written in Shakespeare, methinks you doth protest too much.

I send my best wishes to the skeptics in Norway who see the risks inherent in such flummery as that purported by Jerstad and others of his ilk, and worse yet, the ignorance and blind belief at the highest levels of Norwegian government -ignorance and blind belief that is directly connected to the work of the ministry involved. Keep fighting the good fight and stand up for your right to expect basic competence among elected officials and don't let the comical small fry opposition deflect you from that mission. Alt for Noreg!



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Joralf Gjerstad «Snåsamannen»
written by Rune, February 03, 2009
The most impressive part of the story about Joralf Gjerstad «Snåsamannen» (Wizzard of Norway or not). Is that he has treated 50.000 people trough 50 years and never once asked for any money for his services. And even our king, "King Harald" has praiseed Joralf Gjerstad «Snåsamannen» as a fellow human being and for his compassion for others.

Maby the real power of Joralf Gjerstad «Snåsamannen», is compasion, and compasion heals? smilies/wink.gif
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written by Cuddy Joe, February 03, 2009
"Maby the real power of Joralf Gjerstad «Snåsamannen», is compasion, and compasion heals?"

Maybe the claim that mere 'compassion' heals physical disease is as unfounded and ridiculous as the claim of psychic healing? No mother ever had compassion for a sick child? Does a mother's compassion alone ever heal a truly sick child?
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written by Comby, February 03, 2009
Thank you so much, James Randi. For so long this fraud has recieved nothing but praise in the media and driving those less enthusiastic about his ways (to say the least) mad and frustrated. Hopefully your interview will be thourougly used in the future, in cases involving the snåsafraud.
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no danger here
written by AndersS, February 03, 2009
Obv very few people in Norway buy into this hogwash, Norway is in no way retreating back to the middle ages. This blasphemy law will never get passed, there would be an outrage, people would never accept such prehistorical idiocy. Polling on several newssites in Norway indicate peoples disgust for a such a law.

Regarding Snåsamannen(The Snåsa man)Bjarne Håkon Hanssen comitted political suicide when he opened his goofy mouth and started praising the wizard of Nord-Trøndelag.
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Media controls everything
written by Mastee, February 03, 2009
This is quite amazing... after weeks of uncritical articles about snåsamannen and other unconventional practitioners in norwegian media, the media have suddenly turned... just hours after Mr. Foshaugs letter being published on JREF blog.


(sorry, the links are in norwegian)
http://www.vg.no/nyheter/innenriks/artikkel.php?artid=557784

http://www.dagbladet.no/2009/02/03/magasinet/snasamannen/alternativ_medisin/4654527/

I dont think the norwegian people are more ignorant and un-educated than any other country in the world, but the norwegian newspapers are all turning into crap feeding our brains with uncritical stories that will sell and sadly, some people believe justy anything they read.

How convinient it is that they now sell "breaking news" stating that healing might be scintifically unprooven.

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written by bosshog, February 03, 2009
This has been a criticism of the whole "hate crimes" genre for some time.

-Is it a crime to hate?
-Is it a crime to "say" you hate?
-Is a crime inherently worse if it is committed while hatred is expressed?
-Are some groups protected from being told they are hated?
-If a majority hates a given group is it then acceptable to express that hatred?

Cotton Mather would answer "Yes!" to all the above questions. Apparently so would some otherwise secular individuals today.
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written by Kuroyume, February 03, 2009
I think 'hate' as an expression is warranted and allowed. As an 'expression'. As an act and a movement, it is a disgusting thing belonging solely to humanity and deserves to be riled against by people and laws at all times. As a gay man, I understand all too well the need for laws to protect certain vulnerable groups against 'hate crimes'. Rvd. Phelps is a first class a-hole but he doesn't indulge in actual 'hate crimes' - only hate speech and protests. As long as his hate remains expressive, bluster baby bluster. The two low-lifes that baited, tortured, and killed Matthew Sheppard - they committed 'hate crimes'.

It is a difference of degrees. The United States is founded upon representation of the people for grievances in protest (loosely, hate for one's government). To be able to voice one's opinion or opposition is a good thing to bring alternative views and compromise. It is another to put it into action when unwarranted and unjustified. The American Colonies were forced into the situation of action and responded out of remorse and necessity (they loved England but could no longer sustain the subservitude and taxation). That type of 'hate crime' is more of justifiable survival retaliation when all other alternatives are depleted. And it wasn't the subjugator acting against the subjugated but vice versa (until the actual war began). On the other hand, NAZI targetting of Jews, homosexuals, slavs, mentally impaired, invalid, and crippled was 'hate crime' exemplar. Anything that wasn't Aryan was to be obliterated.

As you note, bosshog, 'a majority hating a given group'. I think that 'majority' isn't the proper word here. It is a subjugating group, no matter how large or small, that attacks a weaker or subjugated group. Remember that the R.C.C. didn't have a majority of inquisitors - it just had a majority of power in subjugation that it had accrued through influential rulers and other means over a millenia. It is not a matter of majority over minority at all times. It is just a matter of power over vulnerability.

If Norway wants to protect religions from 'hate crimes' that is valid. But if the attempt is to quell any disagreement or opposition to religions then it is a law that should never come into being.
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written by illumino, February 03, 2009
Good point Bosshog, though hopefully this does not get to the level of the Salem witch trials.
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The proposal has been withdrawn
written by hanche, February 03, 2009
Good news: The proposal for a new law has been withdrawn. The politicians responsible now say it was never their intention to limit the freedom of expression, but as they never managed to express their true intention in a way that people could understand, they are withdrawing the proposal. And by the way, they did not cave in to pressure. (Yeah, right.)
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Snåsa man
written by iscra, February 03, 2009
I have heard about the Snåsa man, but never about James Randi !
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The World is One After All
written by Realitysage, February 03, 2009
It's easy to see the folly in European nations like Norway in their support of woo-woo beliefs, but remember, even in the U.S. at the recent presidential inauguration a religious leader recited a nutty benediction loaded with racial references and was lauded for it. Irrational thought knows no borders.
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written by Skeptiker, February 03, 2009
I think there is some overdue fact checking to be done here.

First of all, the original proposition was NOT, as stated by Bjarne, to categorize religious criticism as hate crime. It was a proposition to give relgious minorities the same protection as under normal rascism laws. Muslims would have no more field day from this law than under the existing conditions due to their ethniticity.

Norway is hugely secular and religious communities should be protected like other minorities. And they are also accountable by the same laws. Like rascism, the explicit law may seem redundant.

The snåsa man has been around for ages, and seriously, how one person affects another person is not indicative of a paranormal phenomenon. Even though his therapy form is somewhat eccentric, there is nothing to suggest that there is anything paranormal happening. The body can be well, and sometimes all it needs is the excuse. The context. The media reports from political officials becoming well after visiting. So frigging what?!

Now, the government made, in my opinion, a couple of blunders with this new law proposition:
* They used the term "blasphemy". Even though the term is defined within the proposition, it does not coincide what religious people think of as "blasphemy". In the proposition, blasphemy had to be devoid of all intelligible content to be considered a hate crime. That is the reverse of the common perception of blasphemy, which is a statement that somehow has to speak against the doctrine of the religion. Therefore, blasphemy will always have a content.
* They did not see how the opposition would be able to use what seemed like a trivial matter of protecting a minority against discrimination. They did not see the political mine field that they are now into.
* They suffer for that protocol was not observed for an important change of policy. So it seemed as if they tried to sneak it in, when it was actually meant to be a inclusion of religious minorities into the protection against rascism and discrimination.

Due to the fact that they did not recognize what could come off this proposition. Three secular parties are now in disarray with regional bodies demanding that the national body affirm its position on important principal questions and may lose the next election.

They are making themselves abundantly clear that neither Danish cartoons nor Life of Brian would be breaking this new law.


One should never let the guard down and one should be super careful and elaborate when laws and religiousity intersect. They were simply stupid and sloppy. But it is not acceptable to be sloppy when dealing with religious fervor.

Norway is feeling just fine, folks.
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Withdrawn
written by klogd, February 03, 2009
The proposal was withdrawn, at least the politicians got another chance to show everyone what a bunch of idiots they are smilies/smiley.gif
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written by BillyJoe, February 03, 2009
Can anyone say "mountain out of a mole hill"?

....except for that faith healer who's more like a mole in a mountain of BS.

Nothing more to see here.
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Espmell
written by legne, February 03, 2009
Can you refer to a source where our minister of health says he believes in witchcraft? I haven't seen it.


My sincere apologies, it was Olav Gunnar Ballo who stated that he believes in witchcraft. A politician, physician and CEO of the Institute of forensic science. Right-o.

I'll roughly translate an article:

- A patient of mine explained to me how you could stop bleeding. He could do it himself, and told me that it occurs when reciting a specific religious text, Ballo says.

He says that there are many examples of this happening, and that he believes it has had an effect, but points out that he himself would never incorporate it with his role as a physician.
Ballo condemns the medical associations critique of minister of health Bjarne Håkon Hanssens phonecalls to the Snåsa man, and expresses that the medical industry shouldn't repudiate that people can be cured in unexplainable ways.

Vice chairperson of the Labor party and minister of fisheries & coastal affairs, Helga Pedersen, states that she's sick and tired of all the criticizers who discredit the Snåsa man and the special abilities of other healers, and states that she herself wouldn't hesitate to call him or other healers.
The party secretary of the Labor party, Martin Kolberg, informs that he does not believe that Joralf Gjerstad can cure and alleviate ailments.
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Espmell
written by legne, February 04, 2009
Hanche wrote:
There was a similar TV series not too long ago, where they tested psychics ("Jakten på den skjette sans"). If I remember correctly; they all failed. Not too surprising.


Ok, then my view on your memory is consistent with your view on psychics!


First off, I wrote that, not Hanche. Second, you know nothing about my view on psychics. The accuracy of the alleged psychics was chance at best, so therefor - they failed. But most of the time, they failed completely. And I did use the term "if I remember correctly", which suggests that everybody should feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.


I'll write this in norwegian as I guess you will understand it, for me the email is quite similar to a conversation between two middleaged women like VG-dama.

"du, nå skal du høre her Vigdis, nå har det blitt ille gæli der hjemme i Norge. Han Pølse-Hansen trur på hekser og ballo har jo gått helt av skaftet og har begynt å stoppe blødninger på legekontoret sitt, erre muli. Og bussen var forsinka i dag og jeg sa te bussjåføren at nå var det jammen meg på tide atte..........

slik sånn ca høres startinnlegget ut.


I'll translate what you just wrote so that the non-Norwegians can have a reason to give your comment thumbs down. Instead of middle-aged women, I'll use teenage internet slang instead.
"Omg dude things are like totally f-ed up up in norway lmao. That sausage-Hanssen dude thinks witches exist OMG LOL and that other dude, Ballo, is ttly insane he stops bleeding in his office LOL OMG(i dont see the problem with this, he IS a physician), omg srsly and like the bus was ttly late today and i was all like oh dude it's ttly about freakin time!"

I question your level of reading comprehension if you managed to interpret Foshaug's email as well.. that!


Legne wrote:
PS. Ridiculing someone by asking or claiming that they're young of age might work for the debates on DB.no, but it doesn't work here.

After this reply; "And yet........ lol." a neutral observant might say he started. When somebody are incapable of understanding even your most basic statements and replies with ""laughing out loud" as to say; I didn't understand what you meant or I don't want to understand what you meant so I'm just laughing" it's acceptable to question his age.


OMG HE STARTED IT!!! Seriously? A person uses "lol", which is a perfectly acceptable abbreviation on the internet, and you assume he's 12. And I do believe he understood what you said, I interpreted the "lol" as a way of pointing out the irony.
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Espmell again and Mr Randi, please give some feedback
written by legne, February 04, 2009
In Norways largest newspaper, VG, Randi admits he probably should have checked the facts behind the comment made by Bjarte Foshaug before attacking Norway.

Told you!


It's ironic how you were the one complaining about Foshaug leaving out facts in his e-mail when you yourself is leaving out facts.
"Randi admits that he perhaps should have checked the facts behind the comment more carefully before he had a go at Norway, but after the conversation with VG Nett he still firmly believes that there are tendencies of the middle ages in the country"

Mr Randi, I would love to hear YOUR side of that interview.

Randi invited the Snåsa man to his million dollar challenge, woooh.
http://www.vg.no/nyheter/innenriks/artikkel.php?artid=557784

Mr Randi, the skeptics here tell people to sign up for this challenge whenever they make claims of having supernatural abilities - but they always have some excuse.
I think further input from you in the Snåsadebate would be appreciated, I hope you will follow this story and give us some feedback.

As mastee pointed out, suddenly the media has shifted their stance. They've been hyping up the Snåsa man since November, and there hasn't been any room for discussion until late January, and now suddenly they're focusing on presenting the skeptics' side of the story; explaining the placebo effect and psychological mind-trickeries.
Very strange.
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and
written by legne, February 04, 2009
written by Josh111485
If the day ever comes in the United States that blasphemy is against the law I will break down, cry, eat some ice cream, and move to Canada. I can't get through my day unless I've had a cup of blasphemy. Blasphemy gets me up in the morning. Where would we be without blasphemy? Seriously, though, when anti-free speech laws are legislated it makes me want to cry and puke.


Josh, I wrote to our prime minister and stated that I would move out of the country (most likely to America, where you have real freedom of speech) if the proposal was implemented. People here were seriously pissed off, we ARE a christian nation but, paradoxically, we are also the least religious nation in the western world. We're vikings after all, all we worship is mead, cheap women and good food! smilies/wink.gif
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To Legne
written by Espmell, February 04, 2009
Legne wrote:
My sincere apologies, it was Olav Gunnar Ballo who stated that he believes in witchcraft. A politician, physician and CEO of the Institute of forensic science. Right-o.

I'll roughly translate an article:

- A patient of mine explained to me how you could stop bleeding. He could do it himself, and told me that it occurs when reciting a specific religious text, Ballo says.

He says that there are many examples of this happening, and that he believes it has had an effect, but points out that he himself would never incorporate it with his role as a physician.
Ballo condemns the medical associations critique of minister of health Bjarne Håkon Hanssens phonecalls to the Snåsa man, and expresses that the medical industry shouldn't repudiate that people can be cured in unexplainable ways.

Vice chairperson of the Labor party and minister of fisheries & coastal affairs, Helga Pedersen, states that she's sick and tired of all the criticizers who discredit the Snåsa man and the special abilities of other healers, and states that she herself wouldn't hesitate to call him or other healers.
The party secretary of the Labor party, Martin Kolberg, informs that he does not believe that Joralf Gjerstad can cure and alleviate ailments.

This i what i mean about getting all the facts on the table. Knowing which politicians said what is a good start. But everyone can do mistakes, even I smilies/wink.gif

Finally someone took their time to quote those politicians. as I said earlier, do you think Randi would have said what he said if Bjarte Foshaug had written his email in your style? I don't think so.

I meant the email was written in a way that didn't give a good base to make up an opinion on the situation in Norway, without getting more detailed information (i'm not saying he lied). Then Randi said in an interview he should probably have checked the facts behind the email before going public. Don't you think that Mr Randi might have seen the same as I, that going out public with those critics of Norway just based on that email was wrong. This has basically been my main argument the whole time, and it seems like Mr. Randi might agree.

And now the sixth sense. It's quite unbelievable you manage to state that everybody failed that test. I don't know what criteria your using. I agree that scientifically it might not be a valid test but if you saw all 10-12 programs you got to be quite arrogant to say that it was chance at best. In the forest several of them managed to "see" there had been an airplane crash at that site. When they hid a guy in the forest i think 2 or 3 of them managed to find him. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to start at a certain point in the middle of the wood and then try to find a hidden guy within a radius of maybe 1 km? Even rescue teams and dogs struggle with that task. When that doesn't make you think there's no point continuing this discussion. I'm not saying it's proof of psychics existence but it sure makes me wonder, in the same way as our minister of health, but he's not a human, he's a politically correct politician so he's not allowed to state those opinions obviously, cause then the public will stop going to the doctor and line up outside Joralf Gjerstads door instead.

As I said earlier I know I could have included the rest of what Mr. Randi said. The point is I think fans of James Randi in here, that means everyone in here except me obviously, I can write "God day" and get - 20 votes, have more control of what James Randi thinks and says than Mr. Randi have control over what the media and politicians in Norway is saying and doing. I was quite confident that the rest of the interview would be on this website within ten minutes. Therefore I quoted the one part that basically underlined my main point in this discussion. I'm not even going to dream of someone in here agreeing with me on that. But I dare people in here to find an alternative explanation to why Mr. Randi said he could have checked the facts behind the email.

To the others replying to my posts, I'm busy from now and the next two days so I don't have time to respond, I'm not running away from it. I'll get back to you.
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...
written by Mastee, February 04, 2009
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It's all a hype
written by Flarre, February 04, 2009
This thing has blown out of its propotions. It's all a hype made by the Norwegian media, and now it seems I'm the only one in Norway without any healing or telepathic abilities.

I doubt Norway is any worse than any other countries in the Western world when it comes to beliefs in the supernatural. Generally though this is just a proof that human beings need to believe in something "greater" than the material world. As Norway is defined as a protestantic christian country, most people only visit church when they have to, that is during a baptism or a wedding, or at Christmas eve, wich really got more to do with tradition than faith. Rest of the year the churches in Norway are more or less empty.

But as Norwegians turn away from religion many turn this another spiritual world, where no gods are defined, but still miracles happend. Someone better educated in the human psyche can probably write pages up and down on why this is the case, but Norway is, as alot of other Western countries, highly materialistic. So it's more convinient to turn to a belief where you're not told to how to live your life, but where miracles still happend.

I'm not to judge, neither is anyone else, if this is right or wrong. Talk about it, critisize or celebrate it, but don't judge. Judging people was also something they were good at during the Middle Ages.

As for the law about blasphemy, the proposal has been withdrawn and probably will not happend. It was proposed by a small party, with less than 2% of the population backing them and with it's core voters among the farmers and fishermen, realized this was highly unpopular.


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written by Cuddy Joe, February 04, 2009
legne: "We're vikings after all, all we worship is mead, cheap women and good food."

BOSS? I QUIT AND I'M MOVING TO NORWAY!

Congratulations to the people of Norway for insisting that saner minds prevail on the issue in contention.
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written by Espmell, February 04, 2009
Flarre wrote:
for the law about blasphemy, the proposal has been withdrawn and probably will not happen.



The feather that turned into ten chicken, turned back to a single feather again.
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"Critics of Norway"
written by Pelle41, February 04, 2009
Hi, Espmell, your energy does our country proud (you probably drink a lot of cod liver oil smilies/cheesy.gif), but - with all due respect - why is it so extremely important for you to stop those "critics of Norway" on behalf of all Norwegians?

Yours,
Pelle
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written by BillyJoe, February 04, 2009
I'm not to judge, neither is anyone else, if this is right or wrong [belief in miracle]. Talk about it, critisize or celebrate it, but don't judge. Judging people was also something they were good at during the Middle Ages.

How about, because miracles don't happen.
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written by Medusa, February 04, 2009
To Legne. I thought about answering you for a while, since your statements are both offending, and somewhat not worth answering. Your slandering says more about you than me.
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Anti religion
written by Morrigan, February 04, 2009
http://www.metal-archives.com/...origin=161
So... would that make all these people criminals now? I doubt this anti-blasphemy law will go anywhere - it probably won't be enforced.
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Espmell
written by legne, February 05, 2009
This i what i mean about getting all the facts on the table. Knowing which politicians said what is a good start.

Oh my, I got two politicians mixed up in the heat of the moment - that changes everything! Did you also notice that I managed to write "you is"? Who cares. The facts have still been presented.

I meant the email was written in a way that didn't give a good base to make up an opinion on the situation in Norway, without getting more detailed information


What relevant information do you feel that Foshaug should have included? I can't think of any.

Then Randi said in an interview he should probably have checked the facts behind the email before going public.

No, he said that he "perhaps should have checked the facts behind the comment more carefully". There's a big difference there, and so your next argument is void.

It's quite unbelievable you manage to state that everybody failed that test. I don't know what criteria your using. I agree that scientifically it might not be a valid test

Well there you go.

in the same way as our minister of health, but he's not a human, he's a politically correct politician so he's not allowed to state those opinions obviously

As I, and others, have previously stated; it's reason for concern that a politician lacks basic judgment and reasoning. He became a victim of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, which is quite a blunder for someone whom you'd expect to be intelligent and rational.

I was quite confident that the rest of the interview would be on this website within ten minutes.

Why would it be? The interview is in Norwegian and Randi has done hundreds, if not thousands, of interviews throughout the years; the VG interview is irrelevant for the purpose of this website. If this was a James Randi fansite, sure - the interview would be posted.
I am, however, very interested in hearing Randi's side of that interview - in case VG were biased.

why Mr. Randi said he could have checked the facts behind the email.

Checked the facts more carefully. Do you honestly believe that Randi would go by good faith of what someone says? Do have any idea how absurd that statement is?

written by Flarre
now it seems I'm the only one in Norway without any healing or telepathic abilities.

I don't have any abilities either! Let's form a support group!!

To Legne. I thought about answering you for a while, since your statements are both offending, and somewhat not worth answering. Your slandering says more about you than me.

Translation: My Queen. I spent two days in a dark room, alone, trying to decide whether or not I ought to respond to your vicious but truthful statements aimed in my direction. But I realized that the risk of you making me appear to be an idiot in public once more was too great, and so I decided to simply state how I was considering replying but chickened out. But have no fear, I am to make the greatest comeback of all times! *clears throat* NO U!1

written by Cuddy Joe
BOSS? I QUIT AND I'M MOVING TO NORWAY!

Did I mention that psilocybin grows wild here? It's true, the berserkers would munch shrooms before they cut someone's head off. Yarr!! I mean uh... Rawr!!
Come to Norway; where the beer is expensive but the women are cheap!
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written by Espmell, February 05, 2009
"Critics of Norway"
written by Pelle41, February 04, 2009
Hi, Espmell, your energy does our country proud (you probably drink a lot of cod liver oil) but - with all due respect - why is it so extremely important for you to stop those "critics of Norway" on behalf of all Norwegians?


It's not important to me to stop the critics of Norway, I really don't give a shit. The only thing i reacted to was James Randi posting an article on this site, purely based on an email, in my opinion poorly written by a reader of the Norwegian magazine Se & Hør. At least his style made the impression he's reading that magazine. I've written several times that it would be ok if some of the information that has turned up during this discussion had been included but he didn't do it. When James Randi then states in an interview he maybe should have checked the facts behind the comment a bit closer I consider that to be proof that I was right.
If the email had been written in another way I can bet all of my money that James Randi would have used other words in his blog. That was basically it. Bjarte Foshaugs email is like listening to a boy running home crying to tell his mum after being in a fight with some other boys.
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snåsa mann
written by geirsture, February 05, 2009
Snåsamannen. There is just released a book on Snåsamannen.. It's all just a pr thing i think=)
http://www.haugenbok.no/resultat.cfm?st=free&q=sn
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correct url
written by geirsture, February 05, 2009
http://www.haugenbok.no/resultat.cfm?st=free&q=sn
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To legne
written by Espmell, February 05, 2009
1. Oh my, I got two politicians mixed up in the heat of the moment - that changes everything! Did you also notice that I managed to write "you is"? Who cares. The facts have still been presented.

Answer:
When you're making such a point out of our top politicians telling personal experiences with healers to the people I think it's quite important whether it's the minister of health believing in witchcraft, the main leader of health in Norway, or a more anonymous politician. For most people there's a big difference between Bjarne Håkon Hansen and Mr Ballo. I think that's a bigger mistake than writing "you is". I don't expect you to see the difference.

2. What relevant information do you feel that Foshaug should have included? I can't think of any.

Of course you can't, I wouldn't expect anything else. I have already stated what I meant. It's the style of the email, without any details about what our politicians actually have said. mentioning some of Mr. Hansens statements would give the reader a bit more information than just stating he believes in Joralf Gjerstad. As stated earlier I don't expect you to see the difference so don't bother replying to this part. Maybe the best way to describe it is to refer to the last part of the email, the part about "the new law"
Quote:" Perhaps even more worrying is the recent decision to criminalize criticism of religion as a hate crime" and "I can only conclude that speaking the truth about religion is now officially a crime in our society"
Knowing now what it ended up with, isn't that a strange statement? Has the new law already been accepted? It sure looks that way reading Bjarte Foshaugs email. The smartest thing Mr. Foshaug did that day was to end his email saying; "the last word may not have been said quite yet." I think we can agree that was a wise way to finish his speach.

3.
No, he said that he "perhaps should have checked the facts behind the comment more carefully". There's a big difference there, and so your next argument is void.

Answer:
"Randi innrømmer at han kanskje burde ha sjekket opp fakta bak kommentaren nærmere før han gjøv løs mot Norge"

That's the excact words copied from VG. If you feel that "more carefully" is a valid translation of "nærmere" that's fine with me. In my head "burde ha sjekket opp nærmere" is a way of saying, I actually didn't check it out at all. I really don't think Mr. Randi did a lot of research before writing that article.
We should probably mention that Mr. Randi after talking to VG still thinks there are middle age TENDENCIES in Norway.


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To legne, continues
written by Espmell, February 05, 2009
4. Well there you go.

Answer:
So now it's not whether or not they failed the test on TVNorge that is important. It's the fact that the test is not scientifically valid. That's what I call changing your opinion as you go. You said they all failed the test. I find that to be an amusing statement, first giving the impression you think the tests were ok but the failed it. Then saying the tests are not valid. I don't expect you to see this either.

5. As I, and others, have previously stated; it's reason for concern that a politician lacks basic judgment and reasoning. He became a victim of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, which is quite a blunder for someone whom you'd expect to be intelligent and rational.

Answer:
It's quite amazing concluding that a person lacks basic judgement and reasoning purely based on his view on healing. It's so unbelievable it's hard to take seriously. If you should apply that thought to all the doctors in Norway 90 percent of them would loose their lisence as probably most of them have once stated something or taken a decision that in your opinion shows lack of basic judgement and reasoning.

In my opinion, with everything we know in 2009, I think that people believing in God shows lack of basic judgement and reasoning. There's no scientific proof that God excists, so believing in him shows nothing but a lack of basic judgement and reasoning.

Do you believe in God Legne?

6. Why would it be? The interview is in Norwegian and Randi has done hundreds, if not thousands, of interviews throughout the years; the VG interview is irrelevant for the purpose of this website. If this was a James Randi fansite, sure - the interview would be posted.

Answer:
How many minutes did it take before someone in here, other than me, quoted parts of the interview with Mr. Randi? Two minutes? five? Ten? Do you think that the reason why I was so sure was that probably half of the people discussion this excact issue is norwegians?


7. I am, however, very interested in hearing Randi's side of that interview - in case VG were biased.

why Mr. Randi said he could have checked the facts behind the email.


Checked the facts more carefully. Do you honestly believe that Randi would go by good faith of what someone says? Do have any idea how absurd that statement is?

Answer:
Yes, I'm quite confident he would. His statement in VG suggests he actually did. I know my position in this excact discussion is solid when your main argument is that the newspaper is lying, or is biased as you call it.
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Espmell
written by BjartesF, February 05, 2009
Since you have previously described my comments to Mr. Randi as "5 % of the whole truth", I can only assume that you wish my email was 20 times as long. I limited my comments to the things that actually concerned me, and I don't think any of the details that you would like to see included makes this caving-in to unreason by our media, much of the public and some of our leading politicians any less troubling. I was pleased with the title of Mr. Randi's entry by the way. It reflects my view of our current situation admirably. If the media-attention provoked by that title will encourage some more critical voices to enter the arena, I can only be pleased with the outcome.

If anybody wants to discuss this matter further with me, they have to do so via my blog at: http://svevendeord.blogspot.co...yr-ls.html
or:
http://svevendeord.blogspot.co...langt.html
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To BjartesF
written by Espmell, February 07, 2009
5% was a way of saying you didn't tell enough for James Randi to have a fair opinion about the case. I didn't use a calculator to come to the number 5 and it's quite obvious I didn't mean it literary . I think I've written enough about your email. It should be quite clear by now what I mean. James Randi's statement in VG also seem to underline my point.
I can give you two examples. I think Bjarne Håkon Hansen would like people to know more about his background for his statement and what he actually has said. Just stating he has declared his faith in Joralf Gjerstad just isn't enough in my opinion. people reading that sentence might as well believe he's a naive, stupid guy believing everything that comes to his attention without a hint of skepticism. Just swallowing everything that is alternative and supernatural. I don't think that's the case, and I don't think Mr Hansen's belief in this one concrete subject automatically means he's not able to make sound decisions and show good judgment skills.
The other example is the way you wrote the last part. As I have already written in another answer, based on what we now know. Wasn't that part a bit overkill. Talk about selling the skin before the bear is shot.
I recommend you apply for a job in VG or Se & Hør. You're going to have an amazing career.
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Bjarne Håkon Hanssen
written by Mastee, February 08, 2009
Bjarne Håkon Hanssen is seriously considering giving government funded heroin to heroin-addicts.
(That theory sounds very familiar.)
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