Personal Science Skepticism/critical thinking

The Orac Christmas tree

My readers might not think that a Plexiglass box full of blinking colored lights cum most advanced computer in the galaxy would go to the trouble of celebrating Christmas, much less putting up an actual Christmas tree. Well, actually, he didn’t. His wife did. But, then, Orac is a Plexiglass box of blinking colored lights. Be that as it may, there are a couple of cool decorations that I can’t resist showing off. First, courtesy of the James Randi Educational Foundation, we have the infamous Season of Reason ornament:


By the way, if you’re looking for a good secular organization dedicated to skepticism and critical thinking, you could do a lot worse than donating to the JREF’s Season of Reason campaign. For one thing, it’s a great organization. For another thing, there’s an anonymous donor who’s pledged to match, dollar for dollar, every donation up to a total of $100,000, meaning you get twice the bang for your buck. And, no, I’m not doing this just because D. J. Grothe interviewed a certain “friend” of the blog on For Good Reason. (Well, maybe just a little…)

But enough shilling for skeptical organizations, as much as I may like them and as deserving of a little Christmas green as they may be. Let’s take a look at my other favorite ornament, which happens to have been my wife’s, which she’s had since long before she ever met me:


Yep. It’s a dinosaur with a Santa hat. What says Christmas better than that?

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

41 replies on “The Orac Christmas tree”

Yay dinosaur! I have Domo with a Santa hat at work, offering candy to all my co-workers.

I like decorating and presents, so I do Christmas, but it’s a lot closer to the old English pagan celebrations (food, music, friends, presents) than any religious thing. Which is the way it should be – the cold and dark times need to be leavened with fun.

(The fact that I spent my childhood Christmas Eves singing in a freezing cold Anglican church had nothing to do with it. Honest.)

My Mom gave me that dino ornament long before I met Orac. I’m guessing one of her friends made it.
My Mom was super cool!

We will be decorating our tree today. Under the tree we will put in a tiny sleigh, where a tiny teddy bear will be placed. The bear was given to my younger son in the hospital on the day he was born (they were doing remodeling, so it had a little T-shirt asking us to “Bear with us during construction”).

He used to carry that bear every year, but I had to make him leave it in the car after I interrupted a Cocaine-Anon meeting at the Rec-Center because he left it in the playroom earlier that day (where the meeting was being held). When he was four he asked me to make it a little red rain coat, and sat on my arm watching and “helping.” When he was ten he made the bear a little Santa hat.

So the bear will be under the tree with a little red coat and Santa hat. Poignant now that that little boy is 20 years old, six feet tall and lives in his own apartment (though he is staying over for Christmas Eve). I plan to give it to him when he either graduates from college or gets married.

We aren’t doing a tree this year, because we ran away to Idaho for skiing until yesterday. Instead, we have a tree-shaped wreath.

But a few ornaments are coming out: the helicopter & airplane beloved of the daughter’s late father; a snake, because the now-30 yo stepson 24 years ago announced that snakes felt left out of Christmas and so I bought a bunch of brightly-colored snakes; and a lump of coal, because good children get coal in their stockings to run their steam-powered trains.

I’m cutting up sourdough bread to get stale for the Christmas Morning Savory Bread Pudding. I’ll post the recipe later today.

(Sorry for #12 – fat fingered the blockquote tag. Mea culpa.
Should have read:

Diplodocus – the reason for the season.

No way. Santasaurus, definitely. You can tell by the frill. (Though the modeler may have taken some liberties with the color scheme – clearly seeing this as a more polar representative of the species.)

We’ve gone with the aluminum pole of Festivus this year, but we have several poinsettias around it–but no tinsel–tinsel is not allowed.

I’m also going to cut back a little on the grandkids and give a bit to the JREF thing. Thanks for the suggestion.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

nlgirl: I have a smaller, secondary Christmas tree decked out with our Star Trek ornaments. I’m a little sad that Hallmark decided to start over this year with TOS; I already have a Kirk! Where are my Trek (new movie) characters? What about finishing the ST:TNG character ornaments? They stopped after Picard, Riker, and Data. 🙁

Enkidu @16

Haven’t bought a new ornament in a couple of years although hubby gave me one last year of Kirk and Spock on either side of Captain Pike (a little conversation goes on when you push a little button). But my fave is my shuttle craft with a very jolly message from Spock. I LOVE that ornament! Also have TNG Enterprise and a Romulan and Klingon ship. They all plug into a strand and light up. Pure joy!

Ahh yes. Santasaurus preposterosus. I know it well.
It’s fossils can be found near fireplace chimneys all over.
Usually among a small amount of cookie crumbs, and sometimes with some milk left in a glass.

Eneman is probably more appropriate for New Year’s.
You know, bring the new year in with a blast!

We’re visiting m’lady’s family in Iowa per our usual custom. The hotel has a Charlie Brown Christmas tree in the lobby, which I think is just the perfect touch.

We have a very similar dino ornament (convergent evolution?). The cat likes to bat it around. We also have a Cecil the Coelophysis from the Museum of the Earth.

How cute. The secular depressive made an ornament to fit on his CHRISTMAS tree even though he doesn’t celebrate CHRISTMAS. Secular depressives are so weird.

Next year I will give my friends in the UK a bottle of Colloidal Silver for CHRISTMAS. Maybe that will help with the swine flu becuase those dangerous vaccines didn’t seem to work. Then again, it’s probably illegal over there like. UK has become a fascist dictatorship for sure. We are next if we don’t get the secular depressives out of power, out of business, and out of the education system, and out of our lives. Then again hell does freeze over at times. I guess global warming cuases that too.

Waiting on that dramatic expose of vaccine whatever you’ve been panting about for the last year, Doctor “Smart”…waiting with bated breath.


If you think that was something, wait until 2011.

Have you heard the news? Swine flu is rampant in UK even though 70% were vaccinated. I guess your magic needles had no effect after all except the ones it killed or mamed.

Secular depressives suck. In 2011, they will suck more as they whine about not being able to take over the world with their wonderful socialism / population control/facism. Good! They should fail. There plans are evil.

I’ll send them all a large peice of coal. Nevermind. They want to make that illegal too. Coal causes global warming. Let me guess. Alien abductions cause global warming too? Might as well. Everything else does.


Waiting on that dramatic expose of vaccine whatever you’ve been panting about for the last year, Doctor “Smart”…waiting with bated breath.

That would be STY, a completely different loon.

Nevertheless …

Will my stalker still stalk me in 2011. Something tells me yes. Maybe they will come up with a vaccine to cure liberals n 2011. If so, I nominate them for a nobel prize for solving the world’s biggest problem.

Christmas is a pagan holiday celebrating the winter solstice. Despite the fact that Jehovah witnesses and some of the more hardcore Calvinist groups are generally nuts, at least they are historically right about Christmas. It is a pagan holiday contrived by the Roman Catholic Church (the early church didn’t celebrate Dec 25) to supersede the population’s zeal for the solstice.

Additionally, the Christmas tree is a pagan symbol. Read Jeremiah 10:2-4 for biblical condemnation of the tree and the festivities surrounding it.

Yet fake Christians like Smart continue to act as if the reason for the season even has vague connections to Christ’s birth. Orac and his fellow evil atheist, liberal heathens have every right to celebrate the solstice season.

@22, 24, 26

Waiting for your evidence for your comments, which, judging by your statements, will almost certainly never come forth.


You should be careful about weapons grade derp like that. The US bombed Iraq for less stupidity.

One of my favorite Doctor “Smart” quotes:

Technicians make better workers than engineers becuase engineers think too much.

Gotta love he is a good little worker bee, and does not think too much!

I’ve always thought it best to conceptualize local year-end festivities as being an up-dated Saturnalia**: banquets,school holidays, gift giving, special markets, special costumes, orgies, gambling, and less punishments for “slaves”( read underlings), but then again, I *do* live in NJ.

** wikipedia – can actually be useful.

@Denice Walter: I’m in NJ too. Saturnalia would be fun to celebrate but it’s too darn cold in this state for true outside fun. But Orac left us to go back to another cold, snowy state so it’s all good.

I need a Bronner’s fix…it’s been too long since I was there oogling ornaments. We have a dinosaur from there, a selection my daughter made many years ago when she was a dino fan, but it isn’t a Santasaurus like Mrs. Orac’s.

So what’s a secular depressive? A depressed secularist? Someone who alternates between secularism and depression? Someone whose secularism depresses Doctor Smart?

@ MI Dawn : actually, even 20+ inches of snow hasn’t discouraged shopaholics from their appointed rounds in nearby Paramus ( a/k/a Mall-ville, USA); I confess I did visit my “adopted uncles” ( Calvin, Karl, Micheal, etc.) for the holidays.

Another holiday gift for us : Mike Adams has produced his “Health Freedom” Manifesto ( NaturalNews, 12/30/10). He has out-done himself- and that’s saying a lot.

So what’s a secular depressive?

It’s a new play-toy for Doctor Fart. He thinks it’s clever.

Secular depressive! Secular depressive! Secular depressive!

Hey, this is fun!

A secular depressive is the new name for liberals. They are often secular and becuase they wish to enslave humainty under “collective” freedoms (marxism) rather than individual sovereignty they depress and oppress society in general. Henceforth, they shall be called secular depressives. Perhaps we could change it to secular opressives instead? Would you like that better? It would fit better.

In this spirit of making up new labels, doctor smart, you’re no longer a reactionary dumbass. You are now known as a “theocratic shit bucket”.

@ John V

That’s fine. At least I’m still an individual sovereign citizen whose rights come from God, not government. As long as I am that, you can call me anything you want. I still know I am being opposed by an oppressive anti-God anti-freedom enemy of the human race. Yes socialism is the most oppressive form of slavery in the universe. Everyone suffers under it.

Secular oppressives like equal opportunity. They want misery spread equally.

Apparently, Doctor Smart, being sovereign, is his own government. I assume, then, that he does not utilize any service provided by the local or Federal government of his state or country (e.g., roads, police, fire, schools, etc.). Further, I assume that he pays no taxes, nor does he own any land within whatever country he calls home, unless of course he has entered into a treaty with the government of that country or has his own island somewhere that he conquered and claimed from some other nation.

I think the doc may be the only individual in the world to be a sovereign individual.

Then again, if you do dwell in some nation, like the U.S., remember Jesus’ words: “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.”


It is a pagan holiday contrived by the Roman Catholic Church (the early church didn’t celebrate Dec 25) to supersede the population’s zeal for the solstice.

Well, yes and no. The Roman Catholic Church did not exist yet, as such; Christmas celebrations start in the historical record about the same time Christianity became legalized, so it’s as likely to be the Emperor’s fault as the Pope’s.

Additionally, the Christmas tree is a pagan symbol. Read Jeremiah 10:2-4 for biblical condemnation of the tree and the festivities surrounding it.

Jeremiah predates the Christmas Tree by probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500-2000 years (depending on when we think the book may have been written). It fits the “imperialistic Christians taking over pagan celebrations” storyline, but in this case it’s not actually true.

Jeremiah 10:2-4 is often taken by modern readers as a description of Christmas trees, but it’s awfully prophetic if true, given that nobody had thought of them yet. The text could as easily describe a totem pole, and is basically just another warning against idol worship. Things you or I would recognize as Christmas trees didn’t come on the scene until around 1500 AD in Germany, and they weren’t a pagan ritual — they were an entirely, 100%, manufactured tradition about as full of meaning as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Their purpose was mostly to not be a nativity scene, which was what all the Catholics were doing for Christmas decorations.

So while the narrative of “Christmas symbols are actually pagan traditions co-opted by imperialistic Christians” is appealing, it’s not actually very accurate. And that’s not to say the reality is any more noble. It’s just more complicated and interesting. 😉

@ Todd

Yes, like most white Americans I pay around 60% of my income in taxes and get little in return. I understand paying taxes for roads, bridges, emergency personell, etc. That’s fine.

I do not agree with my taxes going to the UN or any other rogue group who hates us to start with. I also disagree with MY money payng for bailouts which could have been prevented in the first place.

You too are a sovereign individual. Government cannot take way you rights simply becuase government has no authority in giving rights. Rights come from God (Creator) not government. Yo are born with certain inalienable rights in which no other human or group of humans has authority over.

As fa as taxes go, our government should eliminate the unconstitutional income tax and substitute with a fair tax in which EVERYONE, not just 45% of Americans pay. In other words illegal aliens and anyone who purchased anything would pay this tax. Of course since we would have many more people paying the tax rate could be lower – say 10% or less. It would be enought to cover important spending, but not so much excessive to give government money to burn on crap that is not important (UN, global warming, Mars, HELLthcare mandates, etc.)

Technically we can afford to cut government size by 50% and decrease spendng by 60% and still be able to have the government do its job which is defending the borders and the homeland against outside threats – according to the powers given in the constitution. All other mandates are optional if any money is left.

@ everyone else:

Pagan blah blah blah

If we were to change the date of Christmas to June 3 you would still have an excuse to ridicule it. Of course Christians took over a pagan holiday. Pagans, according to my Bible, were supposed to be wiped out back in the Old Testament. Joshua failed to wipe them all out, so now we are stuck with their evil witchcraft crap to this very day. Even they were worshipping false idols which was the reason that God told Joshua to make war with them.

We don’t worship a pagan idol, we celebrate the birth of the savior of the human race. Now wether that birth actually occurred on December 25 or in April makes little difference. The important thing is that it is celebrated.

Easter is not the recognition of the death of Jesus, it is the celebration of His ressurection and our future hope of ressurrection and eternal life. Paganism will be destroyed when that day comes.

Get over the pagan idol worshipping stuff already. They are doomed. get over it.

Comments are closed.


Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading