“The Conjuring”: A Nickell-odeon Review

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
July 23, 2013

Being given rave ratings by gee-whiz reviewers, while being panned as just another cliché-ridden scary movie by intelligent film critics, The Conjuring is a piece of work. It depicts Roger and Carolyn Perron (played by Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor), together with their five daughters, moving into an old Rhode Island farmhouse in 1971 where, well, hysteria soon reigns. The flames are fanned by Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) the famous—or infamous—paranormal “investigators.”

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A Bright Dot Below the Rings

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

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

Cassini took our picture from Saturn! We're the bright dot below the rings. Did you smile? I think I blinked. Can we do it again?

Our public policy shop put out an action alert yesterday concerning the Buckeye State...hold on...<looks up what a "buckeye" is>...Holy crap, it's a tree! Whose real name is Aesculus, after the ancient Greek playwright! Wow!

What was I talking about? Right, an action alert concerning the Ohio legislature's attempts to impose draconian restrictions on reproductive rights, which, as we write, "are unsupported by scientific evidence and incompatible with logic, reason, and the basic human values of fairness and decency." Take action here.

Kimberly Winston reports on the push for humanist military chaplains.

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Boston Strangler Breaking News

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
July 22, 2013

Between June 14, 1962, and January 5, 1964, eleven Boston-area women—ages 19 to 85—were victims of a serial killer or killers. The cases were linked by similar elements of modus operandi: each victim was attacked in her apartment (except for one murdered in a hotel room); each had been sexually attacked; each was strangled with an article of clothing (although one had also been repeatedly stabbed); and each, with a single exception, was Caucasian.

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Messy, Raw, and Muddled

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

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

Let me tell you folks, Mondays are a beast for the Heresy. All the news from Friday, Saturday, and Sunday must be combed through in one morning, often making the Heresy late and probably too long (though I guess I could be more selective, but you know, information wants to be free or something). Maybe I should start a Kickstarter to fund a "Weekend Heresy" or like a Heresy newsmagazine. I'm sure that'll take off. 

Speaking of Kickstarter, here's one for a Bigfoot caller. No, really. Dig the developers' qualifications:

James is a fitness expert and internationally known bestselling author of over 28 books and Christopher is a former actor that now runs an ad agency and software development company.  

The wife and I saw the documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer this weekend, and I highly recommend it. The footage is absolutely remarkable, as is learning about the ins and outs of how "justice" was dispensed to these arts-activists. Amnesty International is circulating a new petition on behalf of the two members still in prison. Their case is among those highlighted on our own Campaign for Free Expression.

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RIDDLEculous

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
July 19, 2013

What is the difference between a skeptic and a free lunch?

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Why Everything Deepak Chopra Says Can Be Ignored

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
July 19, 2013

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

"I'm an atheist and I'm embarrassed." So opens a piece at Jezebel by Lindy West, asking atheist not to be "dicks":

Religion is awful in a lot of ways, yes. But that doesn't mean you have to be awful too. . . . [T]his article isn't about forgiving or ignoring all of the atrocities—overt and covert—that religion sows. It's about being kind to individual human beings.  

Matt Dillahunty picks West's article apart, concludes she must have no experience with the movement or in engaging with theists:

Beliefs matter because they inform actions and actions have consequences. Caring only about actions is akin to only treating the symptoms. 

Liz Cheney is running for the Senate from Wyoming, and Ryan Koronowski rounds up some of her best/worst science-denying gems

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Do You Have a License for That Rabbit?

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

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

Rev. James Martin attempts to clear up that whole tweet-your-way-out-of-Purgatory thing.  

On June 24, the Apostolic Penitentiary (the Vatican office that deals with matters concerning sin,) issued a document that said the faithful who attend the upcoming World Youth Day in Brazil would receive a “plenary indulgence” for their efforts during pilgrimage. . . . At the end of the document, the Vatican noted that it was not just pilgrims to whom this applied, but another, newer, group: those who might participate “with due devotion, via the new means of social communication.”

You want more videos from Women in Secularism 2? Of course you do. And this pair comes with the announcement that CFI is in the early planning stages for 2014's Women in Secularism 3

Carl Zimmer in SciAm reports on research showing that "[biological] complexity can arise by other means [than Darwinian selection]—as a side effect, for instance—even without natural selection to promote it." 

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Mehta’s Not Too Friendly to Pierce Prison Religion Info Embargo

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
July 17, 2013

"Friendly Atheist" blogger Hemant Mehta wasn't too friendly to use the Freedom of Information Act to shake loose bombshell data on the religious affiliations of inmates in the Federal prison system. This pierces (but does not completely shatter) what I believe has been a six-decade embargo by prison administrators to hold back information on how many prisoners are or aren't religious.

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“Oz”: A Nickell-odeon Review

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
July 17, 2013

A fantasy adventure, Oz the Great and Powerful is a prequel to the 1939 movie classic, The Wizard of Oz (itself based on the 1900 children’s novel by L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz).

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Zero Point Zero Seven Percent

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

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

Research partly funded by CFI and conducted by Barry Kosmin and Ariela Keysar at Trinity College, has a brace of fascinating findings on the views of Millennials:

By relatively large pluralities, the students say that economic inequality is a major issue in the U.S. They strongly believe in freedom of expression, and support same-sex marriage and reproductive rights as well as controls on the sale of handguns. The college students, known as Generation Y or the Millennial Generation, say assisted suicide for the terminally ill should be legalized and they do not believe that immigrants threaten American jobs. 

The full American Religion Identification Survey (ARIS) study is here as a PDF

England is about to enact marriage equality after passage in the House of Commons. 

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