Confirmation Bias and Expectations Influencing Perceptions: A Micro-Case Study

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
October 23, 2013

As a skeptical investigator with a degree in psychology, I often encounter (and discuss) people whose expectations have colored their perceptions. We often see what we expect to see, whether it's there or not. Of course everyone does it, including me. Here's a personal account of my recent experience.

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More Off-Putting Than Hasselbeck!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 23, 2013

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

The CFI Summit starts tomorrow, where humanists and skeptics will gather to solve all world problems. <listens to earpiece> I'm sorry? <pause> Ah. I'm now being told that this is not true. But I think we ought to at least give it a shot.

CFI-Michigan's Jennifer Beahan, our shining media darling lately, is a guest on WKAR radio to talk about our Living without Religion campaign and the mission of CFI. 

Ali A. Rizvi's posts are always must-read, and he's done it again, this time trying to lend comfort to a grieving friend through the perspective of the nonbeliever. 

Anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy might be rejected by The View's own immune system...

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Not the Genetic Mutagen We Thought it Was

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 22, 2013

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

Today is a big day for my own religion, the Cult of Apple, in which the prophet Tim Cook, emissary of The Steve (peace be upon him), reveals the latest Holy Gadgets of Loveliness. It seems as of this moment that the Apple online store is down...it's a sign!!! Steve be praised.

CSI Fellow Mark Boslough uses a metaphor involving a child's blocks to help us understand why we are really in trouble with global warming, no matter the small fluctuations:

Not knowing exactly how energy is "partitioned" into its various forms at any given time is like not knowing how much melting an asteroid will cause, how small the pieces will be when a boiler explodes, how the victims of a drunk driver will die, or how many minutes it will take for the Titanic to sink. 

CFI expresses its disappointment with a Long Island-area public library that hosted a psychic's event, serving mainly as a commercial platform for fake paranormal services. 

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Atheism Times Infinity

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 21, 2013

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

Hemant is not so sure about AHA's choice of Barney Frank as "humanist of the year":

Barney Frank came out as an atheist only after he left office, and he did it in a passive manner on the segment of [Bill] Maher’s show that most of his viewers never even saw. For 32 years, Frank’s official religious affiliation was “Jewish,” but he kinda-sorta-wishy-washily came out as an atheist only after it was too late to have made a serious impact on society. 

The Economist reports, troublingly, that science as a discipline may be getting, well, sloppy:

Various factors contribute to the problem. Statistical mistakes are widespread. . . .

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Hitler and Satan Ruin Your Coffee

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 18, 2013

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

Point of Inquiry has a new team! Yesterday we announced two new hosts: Lindsay Beyerstein and Josh Zepps, and producer Joshua Billingsley. Completely awesome.

CFI-Michigan makes the news again with the Living without Religion campaign, this time hitting the Detroit Free Press and by extension USA TodayAnother piece from Calvin College's paper in Grand Rapids goes further into the mission of CFI. 

Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis considers our campaign, and seems to think we're in trouble...

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I Am Not Shake-and-Bake

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 17, 2013

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

The shutdown is over, but not before the House stenographer began shouting from the dais about how the Freemasons wrote the Constitution, who were "against God," and how "You cannot serve two masters."

The State Department's religious freedom ambassador, Suzan Johnson Cook, resigns.

The great Eye of Google maps the Galapagos.

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Tea Party Movement

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
October 17, 2013

 

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Bigfool Times

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
October 16, 2013

My article that presented the evidence for standing bears as the source for many Bigfoot sightings (Skeptical Inquirer Sept./Oct. 2013) was reasonable and respectful of other views. The response from Daniel Perez of Bigfoot Times was anything but—accusing me of dishonesty and stupidity. Perez got me in his sights (he thought) and squeezed off a few shots—shooting himself, well, in his big foot. It seems, for starters, that he did what he accused me of.

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One Big Buzzkill

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 16, 2013

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

Tibor Krausz at Killing the Buddha rants against what he sees as the pig-headed arrogance of his fellow atheists:

Any self-respecting nonbelievers should champion a rational view of the world where informed decisions are based on empirical evidence, progressive morality and simple common sense, yes. But they also ought to try and live up to the exacting ethical standards that Enlightenment values entail — or, for that matter, to standards of morality that several liberal schools of religious thought require of the faithful. 

Yesterday, CFI announced the winners of our Twitter contest for International Blasphemy Rights Day. Congrats to @SkepticalPoet, @marit_rogne, and @krow9768 (who also have real names).

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Malaysia v. Amazing Mumford

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 15, 2013

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

Bill Nye talks to the Tacoma News Tribune for a front-page interview about the CFI Summit

Q: How does the Center for Inquiry fit with your own beliefs?

A: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. We want everybody in the world to be aware of that message. … The Earth is round. The universe is not only expanding, it’s accelerating. … These are extraordinary things, and they can be proven. When someone says I can determine your personality by the date of your birth, that can be shown to be absolutely not true in any way.

At Discovery News, our own Ron Lindsay casts doubt on the recent Jesus-as-hoax claims:

The reality is we are unlikely ever to know the ‘facts’ about Jesus . . . On the one hand, we have many who will take things on faith, accepting some subset of the stories as unquestionably true. On the other hand, there are those who insist that Jesus is an invented figure, a myth or a hoax. I think both of these extremes are almost equally implausible. 

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