Haynes’ Arabian Balsam

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
December 19, 2014

In patent-medicine parlance, the term balsam, originally describing an aromatic resin, came to apply generally to “an aromatic oily or resinous medicinal preparation, for healing wounds or soothing pain,” according to The Oxford English Dictionary (1971).

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Islam, Religious Dogmatism, and Terrorism

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
December 19, 2014

Recent terror attacks in Pakistan, Nigeria, and elsewhere have renewed discussion of whether it’s appropriate to use terms such as “Islamist” or “Islamic terrorist” to describe the perpetrators of such attacks. Some say that these terms unfairly denigrate and stigmatize the majority of Muslims who reject terrorism.

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War on Hanukkah, Anyone?

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 19, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.      

Scientists tally up the medical advice given by Dr. Oz and it's as bad as you think. Reports Julia Belluz at Vox:

[W]hat they found was disappointing but not exactly surprising: about half of the health recommendations had either no evidence behind them or they actually contradicted what the best-available science tells us. That means about half of what these TV doctors say to their millions of satellite patients is woo, and potentially harmful and wasteful woo at that. 

In Skeptical Inquirer, we have the transcript of Josh Zepps' Point of Inquiry interview with the most excellent Ann Druyan of Cosmos.

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You’ve Been Pope’d!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 18, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.      

CFI boss Ron Lindsay joined the panel on HuffPost Live yesterday, hosted by Point of Inquiry's Josh Zepps, and including Faisal Saeed Al Mutar and Deina Abdelkader. The topic: the treacherous line between being critical of Islam without attacking Muslims as people.

Gather 'round, children, and abandon all your dreams of sugarplums or whatever else, and let's listen to ol' Tom Flynn tell us the origin story of the Anti-Claus. You see, there was this radioactive spider...wait... 

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The Article that Started It All

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
December 17, 2014

In my Dec/Jan Free Inquiry op-ed "Thirty Years Yule-Free" I mentioned my 1992 Secular Humanist Bulletin article, "Confessions of an Anti-Claus," the inadvertent beginning of my personal war on Christmas. Apparently there are some readers out there who haven't saved their Bulletins from 1992, who want to see that article -- but it's not archived anywhere online. Okay, if you're terminally curious, here is a PDF scan of the article that started it all.

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Magnificent Collection of Useless Crap

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 17, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.      

Methane on Mars might mean life on Mars. No, really, it might. 

Folks are still talking about our statement to the media on the misuse of the word "skeptic" when discussing climate change deniers. Lawrence Krauss, a signatory, writes in Slate:

Skepticism is all about critical examination, evidence-based scientific inquiry, and the use of reason in examining controversial claims. Those who flatly deny the results of climate science do not partake in any of the above. 

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We’re Not Going to Kill Today

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 16, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.      

People had a lot of good things to say about Ron Lindsay's talk at this past summer's leadership conference on "The Scope of Humanism," and now the video's up! My favorite bit is the part about how skepticism is included in that scope. 

We have an update on CFI's Freethought Books Project from Sarah Kaiser one year into our stewardship of the program, and don't forget to check out the FBP Amazon wishlist to donate more books to the program!

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Too Many Jello Shots

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 15, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.      

The week begins inauspiciously with a hostage-taking at a café in Sydney, still ongoing, where the single assailant has had his hostages hold a black flag to the window reading "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God." The assailant is Man Haron Monis who Vox says has a violent record. As of this writing, five hostages are out, but it's not clear if they escaped or were let go.

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The Ones That Are Doing the Nonsense

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 12, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.      

Our big joint statement on the misuse of the word "skeptic" when it's applied to climate change deniers continues to generate coverage, including at GristInquisitr, the NCSE blog, and a stone-cold dissing from WSJ's link roundup guy James Taranto:

[W]hat these experts don’t seem to realize is that their definition of “denial” describes the behavior of global warmists to a T. 

"Global warmists"? Anyway, this is the same guy who, after the Aurora mass shooting, said, "I hope the girls whose boyfriends died to save them were worthy of the sacrifice." So. 

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A Win for Secularism as Kentucky Rejects Tax Breaks for Fundamentalist Theme Park

by Nicholas Little
December 11, 2014

After investigations and a letter writing campaign by multiple secular organizations, including the Center For Inquiry, the Commonwealth of Kentucky has withdrawn its offer of around $18 million in state tax incentives to the Ark Encounter Theme Park.

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