As the title suggests, we
do like to look at
Occasionally, we get bloggers to write
something for us; at other times we go and
look for ourselves. This issue features the
blog of someone you just may have seen on
TV. We’re impressed with this one and have
put it on our sidebar over at Pink
He’s gay. He’s an
illusionist extraordinaire, a mentalist and
a painter. And he’s a sceptic. You may well
have seen him on British television (and
possibly outside Britain, too).
He’s Derren Brown, and he has
blog, and it’s an interesting blog full
of links to things any thinking atheist – or
just thinking doubter, or just those who
like to think and be challenged – would
Earthworms form herds and make group
decisions is one recent
headline, complete with a
picture (delete as applicable, but we’ve
reproduced it here).
Earthworms forming herds
Where do you stand on aliens?
This post was at the top of the blog
when we checked out for “Blogwatch”.
So what is your take? That they
definitely exist somewhere in this vast
universe? That they don’t? That they
probably do but, if they were going to come
to Earth, they’d be here by now, so we’ll
never get ET visiting this planet (with or
without young Earthly friend)?
I suspect Brown is sceptical about aliens.
I’d like to think he keeps an open mind,
although he doesn’t comment here, just
points us to a Telegraph article, and
quotes it as saying:
The poll questioned 23,000 adults in 22
countries and found that more than 40
per cent of people from India and China
believe that alien life exists with a
human façade on this planet.
European respondents in the survey were
more sceptical with only eight per cent
of people from Belgium, Sweden and the
Netherlands convinced that life from
outer space exists on earth.
Men were more likely to believe in
extra-terrestrial life than women with
22 per cent convinced compared to 17 per
cent of women.
Still on the subject of matters “out there”,
a more recent post points us to an
Independentarticle looking at the conspiracy
theories surrounding the Apollo moon
landings. After 9/11 and the assassination
of John F Kennedy, it’s perhaps the biggest
generator of conspiracy theories.
The impression that comes over is that it’s
a very useful blog for aggregating stuff, in
that it brings together several elements (in
Brown’s case interesting links to articles)
to make the whole, but there seems to be no
comment from the blogger himself (except in
one section, dealt with below). He’s
probably leaving it up to us to decide on
the likely truth or otherwise of the stories
he links to.
Take CO2 may cause near-death
experiences, for instance. Many
people have claimed to see lights at the
ends of tunnels, to have left their bodies,
to have seen dead loved ones, but it could
be down to too much of one particular gas in
We do come across some rather startling
evidence that seems to support near-death
experiences from time to time, but, short of
doing an experiment oneself, it’s hard to
say. Again, Brown is leaving it to us to
read the article and make up our own minds.
His categories include “Amazing”,
“Interesting People”, “Art”, “Funny Ha Ha”,
“Interesting Theories” and “Misdirection,
Deception and Magic” (which is something the
talented Mr Brown is very good at).
He also has a category called “Religious
Matters”, and the first post that caught our
the story of a talented artist aged just
10, called Jackson Potts II:
A (very) young artist makes waves (as opposed to Jackson
Pollock I, who made splatter).
The boy was tasked with representing one of
the Stations of the Cross with photography,
and his dad asked him whether he wanted to
do a modern or more traditional
interpretation. Modern, said the lad, and he
staged a disturbing scene in a photo, titled
Station 7. It shows a modern-day
policeman beating a child in front of a
crowd of onlookers, and is meant to depict
the moment when Jesus falls for a second
time and is beaten by soldiers. The boy
represents the supposed innocence of Jesus.
But – wouldn’t you just know it? – some
decided this wasn’t acceptable. The Ecclesia
Church, described by the Wall Street
Journal, which Brown is citing, as a
“progressive Christian house of worship”.
Progressive? Are you thinking what we’re
Well, they let him keep the picture up there
only for the opening of the exhibition
(which is due to close on 25 April), but
then a substitute had to be mounted. Pity.
It’s been worth dwelling on that one. It’s
just an illustration of the types of story
Brown chooses to feature (and you can tell
he’s been tipped off on many of them,
because he offers due thanks where it’s
You might also like the
story of the aye-aye, a small creature
in Madagascar that weighs under 2 kilos
(about 4 pounds) and is harmless. But it’s
threatened by superstition, because the
local population thinks it’s a harbinger of
If you want to hear from DB direct, you need
to go to, well, “DB
direct”, where Brown shares some of his
personal experiences and chat. We learn that
he likes a rather unusual martini. In a post
about a sojourn in Sunderland, he says, “I
sometimes like to request a chocolate
martini, asking the barpersonage to make
whatever he or she feels fits that term.
Sometimes you get clear, subtle versions;
sometimes thick gloopy brown lovelinesses.”
The aye-aye – believed to be a harbinger of
Like any performer, he doesn’t like to see
audience members disrupting the show by
constantly getting out of their seats to go
for a pee.
The audience [in Bradford] was
definitely not a theatre-savvy one
(plenty of getting up to go to the loo
and so on), so I caught myself glaring
uncharitably at some offenders who were
shattering the atmosphere for the
audience at the wrong moments by noisily
getting up and squeezing past people in
their row. Such things don’t affect me
on stage, but it’s infuriating to put
all the work into the show and then have
a few people spoil it for large blocks
of the audience by treating it like
casual TV watching. You have my
permission to throw your drinks at these
people if they annoy you. Rant over.
Finally, his trusty assistant on the blog,
known as Mr Coops, has re-edited a scene
from the animated comic show Family Guy
as an unashamed promotion for Brown himself.
It’s under all these words. Enjoy!
And enjoy the blog, too. Lots of stuff of
interest, some funny, some serious, some
neither. Highly recommended.