St. Hyacinth’s Miracles

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
April 18, 2014

Known as “The Apostle of the North,” Saint Hyacinth (ca. 1185–1257) is a much honored figure in Roman Catholicism. He is the subject of a painting, Apparition of the Virgin to Saint Hyacinth by Ludovico Carracci (1592, now in the Louvre) and, among lesser artworks, a mosaic mural dominating the front of a church named for him in Dunkirk, New York. (CFI colleague Tom Flynn, Executive Director of the Council for Secular Humanism, called it to my attention, and I visited it to take the accompanying photo.) The mural depicts the future saint performing miracles, and therein lies a tale—or rather, several tales.

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Libraries in an Information Age

Access Points with Timothy Binga
April 18, 2014

Whenever you hear the word library, what is the first thing that pops into your head? For most people, it connotes a musty room or building with many, many books, a few other media sources such as magazines or microfilm, possibly a computer or two, and a quiet place to read. What if I told you that libraries are about information first and foremost?

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That’s It, I’m Moving to Kepler-186F!

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

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

Yesterday, I went on HuffPost Live with Jaweed Kaleem, Anila Ali, and Soul Dancer (that's his real name!) to talk about various beliefs about life after death. None of us, it turned out, had first-hand experience. 

And speaking of death! Wowee-wow, you need to check out this series of charts from Bloomberg View and Matthew C. Klein on how Americans expire, and what's changed over time. A really great bit of data and design. 

The leader of the breakaway, pro-Russian section of Ukraine denies he or his unofficial "state" have anything to do with leaflets demanding that Jews in the region register themselves and pay a fine. 

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It’s Not the Religion of the Vikings

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

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

Yesterday, CFI assembled a coalition of experts to urge the FDA to finally rein in "cancer quack" Stanislaw Burzynski, reminding them that "the FDA has an obligation to minimize the damage being done by purveyors of false medical treatments who harm others."

While I wasn't looking, three more outlets took note of the big Bill Nye exclusive in Skeptical Inquirer, where he offers his first-person account of his Ken Ham debate: The APSalon, and the Christian Post. There are probably more. 

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D’oh-klahoma!

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

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

Sasha Sagan, daughter of Carl, recounts discussions of death with her father, and how being "alive this second" is "an amazing thing."

Nida Kirmani at Open Democracy argues, "the explicit linking of religion and human rights can be highly problematic for particular people groups, especially women and sexual and religious minorities."

Chris Stedman scores an interview with the amazing Stephen Fry about his work with the British Humanist Association, and I'm so envious I could just puke. 

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At Least He’s Beginning to Think

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

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

Two big, exciting things from CFI-land today, folks. First, we've got a hot-off-the-servers Point of Inquiry with Women in Secularism III headliner Barbara Ehrenreich, who talks to Lindsay Beyerstein about reconciling atheism with mystical experience. This is no fawning interview, either, as some of what Ehrenreich has to say is sure to raise both questions and one's hackles.

And this guy you may have heard of, a "science guy" if you will, by the name of Bill Nye pens an exclusive for Skeptical Inquirer in which he gives his own reasons for debating Ken Ham and his first-hand account of the debate experience. HuffPo's picked it up, and you must not miss this. (And this issue of Skeptical Inquirer is on newsstands right now!) 

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Haunted Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: ‘Oculus’  Film Review

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Ben Radford
April 14, 2014

There is a long history of folklore and legends about magical mirrors, ranging from the Bloody Mary urban legends to the sycophantic mirror in Snow White to the centuries-old practice of covering mirrors in the room of a dying person lest either Death or the Devil be seen in them. The new horror film Oculus tells the story of a cursed mirror.

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A Sighing Debunker

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
April 14, 2014

A TV producer, visiting me to shoot segments for a new series, told me of his experience with another skeptic, unnamed, whom he had talked with by phone.

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We Back Off and Stroke Our Chins

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
April 14, 2014

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

Iowa governor Terry Branstad signs a proclamation more or less telling Iowans to get with Christianity

Ayaan Hirsi Ali posts what she would have said to Brandeis's graduates in the Wall Street Journal:

I stand before you as someone who is fighting for women's and girls' basic rights globally. And I stand before you as someone who is not afraid to ask difficult questions about the role of religion in that fight. The connection between violence, particularly violence against women, and Islam is too clear to be ignored. We do no favors to students, faculty, nonbelievers and people of faith when we shut our eyes to this link, when we excuse rather than reflect. 

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Touched and Inspired by Some Nutter

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
April 11, 2014

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

Usually, when an article is headlined in the form of a question ("Is Google Making Us Stupid?" "Was the Malaysian Plane Swallowed by a Black Hole?"), rule of thumb says the answer is always "No." (Thus this Twitter account.) But lookie here, in a piece by Kimberly Winston, the question posed is "Is the Internet Bad for Religion?" Guess what:

[A new] study shows that as Americans reported more Internet use, their religious identification dropped. Those who reported only a few hours of weekly Internet use were 2 percent less likely to claim a religious affiliation than those who use no Internet. And those who use the Internet more than seven hours weekly are even less likely to adhere to a religion — by an additional 3 percentage points.

That newly discovered bit of text referring to the wife of Jesus? Not a forgery. But then what does it mean? 

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