Reflections From Freethinking Pen Pals: Part 1

by Sarah Kaiser
November 04, 2014

This guest blog post is by Addie Lass, one of the pen pals with CFI's Freethought Books Project. The Freethought Books Project provides donations of freethought and secular literature to inmates. We also have a pen pal program that matches up freethinking volunteer pen pals with inmates looking for a connection with someone who shares their worldview.

I decided to become a pen pal with the Freethought Books Project because I've always enjoyed writing and receiving letters. It is a dying art that I would like to keep alive as long as possible. It has always been important to me to find people who have a different world view and I'm always looking learn something new.

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He Suckered Me

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 04, 2014

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

It's Election Day in the U.S., but it's a midterm election, meaning that most of us have no idea what it is we're about to vote for. (For example, here in Maine, we have a referendum on the best/most ethical way to hunt bears.) Luckily, I accidentally discovered how handy (and concise) Google can be in times of ignorance like this. And please vote!!!

This is pretty cool: We have a special episode of Point of Inquiry, recorded before a live audience in New York, where Josh Zepps talks to two experts in epidemics about the facts and fiction of Ebola. Really good stuff.

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The “I Am…” Meme: Co-Opting Identities for Social Change

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
November 03, 2014

It has become fashionable in recent years for social justice protestors to choose a person who symbolizes a tragic event and then declare to the world that they are that person. It certainly sends a clear message of solidarity, but but it raises thorny questions about the ethics of speaking on behalf of others.

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The Vision Thing and the Tinfoil Hat (post 2 of 3 on Young Earth Creationism)

The Outer Limits with Stephen Law
November 03, 2014

How the strategy of explaining all evidence against what you believe can have soke interesting psychological effects. Start making that tin foil hat now...

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A Dog Might As Well Speculate on the Mind of Newton

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 03, 2014

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

Bill Nye was our keynote speaker at the CFI Summit last year, and we have the audio of the first part of his presentation at our Center Stage podcast. The next big conference is happening June 2015, with keynote speaker Rebecca Goldstein.

In case you missed it, Point of Inquiry did a special Halloween extra, where new producer Nora Hurley interviews Joe Nickell, and Joe attempts our 18th annual Houdini Séance. 

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I Have a Peculiar Character

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 31, 2014

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

We have a special bonus Point of Inquiry going up later today, a Halloween extra with our own Joe Nickell, who attempts to contact the spirit of Harry Houdini, and talks about Houdini's skeptic side. Stay tuned.

And when it's posted, you'll ask, well who's that person Joe's talking to in this episode? Why it's Point of Inquiry's new producer Nora Hurley! We welcomed her officially yesterday, and we're happy she's on board.

One more Joe Nickell thing: He has a new blog post in which he describes a sub-genre of books on the occult, which he terms "haunting hokum"...

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Haunting Hokum

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
October 30, 2014

Walk into a large bookstore and note the signs for different genres: True Crime, Photography, Nature, the Occult. . . . Threatening to take over the latter is a sub-group that is proliferating so rapidly I think it deserves its own genre: Haunting Hokum.

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Judas Was Just This Guy, You Know?

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 30, 2014

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

Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly acknowledges that he's gay for the first time. In a piece for Bloomberg Businessweek he writes:

Let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me. ...

If hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy. 

The U.S. Navy approves its first Atheist Lay Leader, a kind of nonbelievers' chaplain. 

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Block the Camera and Scoop Up the Cash

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 29, 2014

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

Pope Francis is fluffy for exorcists, thanking them for sharing the church’s “love for those possessed” by Satan. Folks this is right after he made news for saying he's cool with evolution. Come on, Pope Fluffy! What's with the two-steps-forward, two-steps-back thing?

An Antares rocket, contracted by NASA from the private company Orbital, explodes six seconds after liftoff. No one was hurt. The rocket was sending supplies up to the ISS. 

Good on the Today show, they more or less humiliated a parade of fake-psychics who charged a hefty fee to detect the spirits within a brand new house. 

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Civility, Tone, and Emotions in Debates

by David R. Koepsell
October 28, 2014

There is no overarching moral necessity to be nice or kind in debating issues, or in pursuing an intellectual agenda. However, the use of derogatory, violent, undermining language threatens to alienate your audience and divide potential supporters. There is an argument to made in favor of forceful but civil expression of ideas based upon strategy, as well as on well established norms of civlity and manners. Finally, respect for the emotions of others suggests that we attempt not to hurt others unnecessarily, even while promoting our ideas freely.

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