Quirkology

Richard Wiseman is an English psychology professor well known within the skeptic community for his debunking of fraud and his gifts as a public speaker. He won an award from CSICOP in 2000.

He has a site called “Quirkology” where he posts surveys, and you can also watch the Quirkology videos he posts on Youtube.. Currently on the website he’s running a survey to examine people’s thoughts about romance. It’s a brief survey that just asks for your country, age and sex and then asks you to rate a couple of dozen actions by a man towards a woman on a scale of romance from 1 to 10. There are also online experiments, such as one to find out whether laughter is contagious.

If that’s not your cup of tea, you might like to visit his Laughlab website, about his year long quest to find the world’s funniest joke.

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Victorian bill to decriminalize abortion

In Victoria, John Brumby‘s Labor government last month introduced the Abortion Law Reform Bill, which aims to decriminalize abortions in the state.  Currently abortions are only available in Victoria for women who can show they are at risk of harm.  The law would decriminalize all abortions up to 24 weeks, and permit abortions after that subject to the agreement of two doctors.

The parties are allowing their members to vote on their conscience.  The bill is expected to pass in the lower house, but may face considerable resistance in the upper house.

BC appeal court approves “no-go” zones around abortion clinics, rejects appeal by protestors

British Columbia’s court of appeal has rejected an appeal by two anti-abortion protesters against a conviction that affirmed the constitutionality of British Columbia’s Access to Abortion Services Act which, in 1995, created an “access zone” or “bubble” around abortion providers in which interference of any kind with those seeking service was prohibited.

The Attorney General, Wally Opal, has welcomed the decision: “We’re pleased with the result. The Crown conceded that this legislation is an infringement of freedom of expression but it’s justifiable, it serves a legitimate purpose in a free and democratic society,”

The law was introduced after a series of unruly protests and the shooting of a doctor, Garson Romalis.  The protestors, Donald Spratt and Gordon Watson, were each appealing a conviction under the provisions of the Act, in a 1998 protest in east Vancouver in which they set out to test it.  They argued that the law unreasonably abridged their rights of free expression.

NASA chief Griffin blasts White House in leaked email

Michael Griffin, Administrator of NASA since 2005, blasts the Bush administration’s approach to manned space policy in a recently leaked email. (Orlando Sentinel).

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