Conspiracy-Minded Response to a Skeptical Crop Circle Explanation

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
January 21, 2014

Earlier this month I wrote a piece about a mysterious 310-foot-diameter crop circle that appeared in a farmer's barley field in California. In response I got an interesting, conspiracy-laden two-page reply from a crop circle believer....

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I Really Don’t Give a Toss

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
January 21, 2014

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

It's the first day back after a long weekend, so it's a long Heresy, folks. Get comfy. 

UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion calls for the repeal of blasphemy laws:

At the national level, blasphemy laws are counter-productive, since they may result in de facto censure of all inter-religious or belief and intra-religious or belief dialogue, debate and criticism, most of which could be constructive, healthy and needed. In addition, many blasphemy laws afford different levels of protection to different religions and have often proved to be applied in a discriminatory manner. 

We're already getting excited about Women in Secularism III, with some fantastic return speakers, and a bunch of excellent first-timers as well. Among the newcomers to WiS is Barbara Ehrenreich, who has a new piece in The Atlantic about how expensive it is to be poor

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Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Universe

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
January 17, 2014

Lynn Sherr has done an excellent job of profiling (in the good sense of that word!) Neil deGrasse Tyson in Parade magazine (January 12, 2014). At the bottom of the handsome cover photo—depicting the astrophysicist who is known through the known world—are the words, “Master of the Universe.” The label, at once lighthearted and profound, perfectly fits Tyson.

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Gott Mit Uns

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

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

Are people still trying to find the geographical Eden? As philosopher Belinda Carlisle once said, "Ooh, baby, do you know what that's worth? Ooh, heaven is a place on earth." 

Public schools in Florida (of course) allow the distribution of Bibles by Christian groups on Religious Freedom Day. Meanwhile, a Florida city council chamber has got a Bible on display, which FFRF has a problem with.

As with any conflict, during the Great War, everyone had the same contention for their side of the fight: “Gott mit uns.” 

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These Are All Lies

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

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

President Obama name-checks "atheists and agnostics" and those of "no faith" in yesterday's declaration for Religious Freedom Day. 

Wow, some folks are really not comfortable with the idea of people in prison being exposed to atheism. After the Christian Post's coverage a couple of days ago of the Freethought Books Project, we saw increasingly angsty articles from Glenn Beck's The Blaze and then The Washington Timeswhose headline declares that CFI "aims to turn inmates against God." JT Eberhard facepalms

Of course, when Christians distribute their books to inmates it’s an act of compassion, a heroic display of god’s good will. When atheists do it?  Well, then we’re “targeting inmates.” 

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More on St. Jacob’s

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
January 15, 2014

I recently acquired another bottle (see previous blog) advertising St. Jacob’s Oil. However, I was immediately suspicious of it, not the least reason being the price—too cheap for such an item. It was also unlike previous bottles of that famous old liniment—in shape and size as well as means of manufacture: it had not been blown in a mold but was produced by an automatic bottle machine. Could it simply be a more modern example of the product?

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“NSA” Stands for “Nazi Space Aliens”

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

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

U.S. Senior District Judge Terence Kern strikes down Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage, calling it "arbitrary" and "irrational," though his ruling is "on hold" for now, so don't plan your wedding there just yet. 

Daniel Burke at CNN gathers thoughts from various secular movement thinkers and leaders about the Ryan Bell atheist-for-a-year experiment, and accidentally includes me. I posit hopefully:

[Bell] might help us to understand what powers we sacrifice when we spend less of ourselves on entreaties to an unknowable being, and direct those energies toward dealing with the real world, as it is, right now. 

The Christian Post takes an interest in our Freethought Books Project for prisoners, and of course has to compare us to Nixon administration convict Chuck Colson and his prison ministry. [Update: And Glenn Beck's The Blaze is also concerned about what we're up to, "targeting inmates."]

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On Pins and Needles

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

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

A citizen of Afghanistan is granted asylum in the UK because his atheism would mean his persecution or death back home, making this perhaps the first time this kind of religiously-based asylum has been granted for an atheist. Said Sheona York of the University of Kent Law School, "The decision represents an important recognition that a lack of religious belief is in itself a thoughtful and seriously-held philosophical position." 

CFI's Sarah Kaiser gives a really encouraging update to the Freethought Books Project, where secular and skeptic books are donated to prisoners. Hemant encourages your participation.

The latest Free Inquiry issue is on newsstands now, and it features a collection of stories from readers as they made their journeys from faith to atheism. It's really great stuff, guys

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An Update From the Freethought Books Project

by Sarah Kaiser
January 13, 2014

Since we announced in December that CFI is relaunching the Freethought Books Project, the support we've received has been huge! I wanted to take a minute, between reading letters and sending packages, to share some of the work we've done so far. 

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Sources Close to Hell

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
January 13, 2014

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

The NPR media criticism show On the Media (my favorite!) does an episode chock full of skeptical goodness. It's got fake science being reported as fact, journalists being duped by political ringers, creationism's stealth campaign, and even telemarketing cyborgs.

If I were a kid again, and not averse to nature, sunlight, and other people, I'd be begging my parents to send me to Camp InquirySave the date: August 3-9!

CFI gets a very cool new addition to its Board of Directors: global development expert Hector F. Sierra. From our announcement...

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