Nickell’s Skeptickles: Daffynitions A-Z

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
October 10, 2013

Here are some wacky definitions that skeptics may find amusing. (I am, of course, following the lead of Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary, 1911, originally published as The Cynic’s Word Book, 1906.)

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A Community of Galactic Civilizations

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 10, 2013

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

Defeated former congressman Allen West is none too impressed by our Living Happily Without Religion campaign, and took to Facebook to tell us all why:

America has a Judeo-Christian faith heritage and promotes the free exercise of religion. However, it has been my experience in life that people who possess no deep faith are not happy. 

Hemant shakes his head:

I would urge you all to let West know that atheists and others without “deep faith” are perfectly happy without God… but I don’t think he’s capable of changing his mind no matter what the evidence says. 

Paul Thornton, letters editor at the LA Timeslays down the law on science-denial: If you send in a letter about how climate change is a hoax, you're not getting published, because it's not true.

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Fear My Fanfic!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 09, 2013

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

Claudia Dreifus interviews Bill and Melinda Gates for NYT, and it's really quite interesting, but she clearly doesn't understand what Richard Dawkins means about "the selfish gene":

Bill Gates: I gave [Warren Buffett] a copy of “The Theory of Moral Sentiments,” which is the Adam Smith book that predates “The Wealth of Nations.” It’s got the idea that generosity is sort of this inherent characteristic of mankind.

C.D.: So you don’t hold with Richard Dawkins about the “selfish gene”?

B.G.: Well, I believe in most things Richard Dawkins says. 

Adam Frank discusses one of the ways the shutdown harms science, the loss of ability for students at all levels to train. "In science, you don't get to skip a generation."

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You’re Looking At Me As Though I’m Weird

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 08, 2013

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

Peter Higgs (of boson fame) and François Englert win the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Meanwhile, Alexander Aan, the persecuted and imprisoned atheist of Indonesia, is among those the Guardian offers up as a possible Nobel Peace Prize winner (and you can vote for him in their poll). 

Prepare to have your mind blown by the utter sincerity with which Justice Antonin Scalia believes in the Devil. This interview with New York Magazine is a freaking doozy:

I mean, c’mon, that’s the explanation for why there’s not demonic possession all over the place. That always puzzled me. What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament. . . . He got wilier . . . You’re looking at me as though I’m weird.

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The Science of Keyboard Cat

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 07, 2013

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

Persecuted Egyptian atheist Alber Saber, though away from his home country as he struggles for justice, is nonetheless a proud papa. Welcome, Hypatia Alber Saber!

Politico runs a report largely critical of vouchers (aka, taxpayer funding for private and religious schools). I know, I'm surprised too. They quote secular wunderkind Zack Kopplin:

Nationwide, many schools participating in voucher programs infuse religion through their curriculum. Zack Kopplin, a student activist who favors rigorous science education, has found more than 300 voucher schools across the U.S. that teach the biblical story of creation as science; some also instruct children that the world is just several thousand years old and use textbooks describing the Loch Ness Monster as a living dinosaur. Parents at one such school in Louisiana received a newsletter calling secular scientists “sinful men.”

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Put This in Your Pipe for Separation of Church and State

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 04, 2013

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

Now how cool is this?! MLive expands on its coverage of the CFI Living without Religion campaign with short video interviews of some of the folks at CFI-Michigan, who talk about how they find meaning and purpose.

Some folks are surprised to find the body of Christ in their burger

Brian Pellot rounds up some other blasphemous examples that have been attacked by believers. 

Scalia opens mouth, makes secularists die a little inside...

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German ‘Wild Boy’ Sentenced for Fraud

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
October 03, 2013

In 2011 a young man wandered into a German police station and told office workers, "I'm all alone in the world, I don't know who I am. Please help me."

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Armies of Pestilence

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 03, 2013

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

Arab League member states collaborate on drafting a blasphemy law that expands jurisdiction to blasphemy practiced outside national borders. Living in Opposite Land, one official said:

The law does not interfere in any way with the freedom of opinion and expression which is well protected and guaranteed.    

Jim Downard in Spokane alerts his community that the godless are coming! Of course I'm referring to the CFI Summit this month!

And hey, remember that big ARIS survey about secular, religious, and spiritual college students? Well, at the Summit, Barry Kosmin will drop more new data, this time focusing specifically on we seculars. I can't wait! 

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A Lesson in “Spin”

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
October 02, 2013

As we know, political groups put their own “spin” on news stories. Let’s suppose that, while strolling near the White House, President Obama discovered a wallet on the sidewalk and returned it to its owner. Here is how some different sources might report the story.

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We Shoulda Seen This Coming—Oh, Wait, I Did!

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
October 02, 2013

Way back in the October/November 2011 FREE INQUIRY, I sounded the alarm about the danger of unintended consequences from the drive for humanist chaplains in the military. Since then, the issue has only mushroomed. Now (partly but not solely by way of Harvard's humanist chaplaincy) tearing down the fences between humanism and religion has become a game almost anyone can play. Today even Peter J. Reilly, an online tax columnist (!) for Forbes, has weighed in with an essay asking "Should Humanist Groups Seek Church Status?"

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