On Philosophy, Science, and Fiction

by David R. Koepsell
November 13, 2014

Some of the best and most useful philosophy comes to us by way of stories, and learning to enjoy, tell, and understand their messages is at the heart of humanism, and necessary for both science and art. 

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10, 4 Billion, 40,000

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

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

Once upon a time, a little probe called Rosetta chased a comet for 10 years, and then sent a little box with legs called Philae to land on it, and the world went nuts with delight. 

Here's Rosetta's official Flickr account so you can see Comet 67P in all its rocky glory. xkcd live-comic'd the whole event. ("I'm okay and I'm on a comet.")

A federal judge rules South Carolina's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional (BAM!), the Supreme Court clears the way for Kansas same-sex marriages to go ahead (SHABAM!), but then the people of Miami-Dade, Florida come out in force in favor of discrimination against transgender folks (BOOOOOOO).

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A Statement from CFI’s Management Committee

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
November 12, 2014

As a rule, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) does not disclose to the public the medical conditions of its employees. We respect the privacy of our employees and public disclosure of this information could violate the law. However, the situation discussed in this statement is exceptional.

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Captured by a Vacuum Cleaner

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 12, 2014

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

Hey man, things are tough all over. I totally get it. But you know what? The European Space Agency is about to land a thing on a freaking comet! Come on, a comet! It's supposed to make contact at about 11am ET. Watch the Rosetta mission livestream here

A recent court case involving a federal prison inmate who wanted his humanist study group authorized ended up with a federal judge deciding that secular humanism is a religion. I'm sorry, what? Well, folks on CFI's leadership team have something to say about that, with an important piece by Tom Flynn, Ron Lindsay, and Nick Little: "Secularism Humanism: Not a Religion"...

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Secular Humanism: Not a Religion

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
November 10, 2014

Litigation always carries risk – first of all, the risk of losing one’s case, but also the risk that a court decision will bring unintended consequences. On October 30, 2014, the American Humanist Association had what may prove to be a similar experience. In American Humanist Association v. United States of America, a federal district court in Oregon ruled that a prisoner had a valid legal claim when he alleged that prison officials refused to authorize a humanist study group. So far, so good. However, in reaching this conclusion the court bizarrely ruled that secular humanism is a religion, when the nature of secular humanism was never even an issue in the case. Of course, the judge may have been persuaded to reach this conclusion because in its arguments to the court the AHA vigorously contended that humanism is a religion, and made no effort to distinguish its brand of humanism from secular humanism.

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We Are a Depraved, Disgusting Species

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 10, 2014

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

Did you do anything cool for Carl Sagan Day? Lots of CFI communities have, including this science enthusiast at CFI-Canada

This is actually huge: The new government in Indonesia, the same one that persecuted Alexander Aan, says it aims to protect the religious freedom of all citizensincluding atheists

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Beyond the Obvious Physical Realm

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 07, 2014

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

Looks like we're going to have that big Supreme Court fight over same-sex marriage after all, as the 6th Circuit upholds same-sex marriage bans in four states. 

CFI boss Ron Lindsay considers the implications of the midterm elections, less the new GOP Senate majority, but more the Republicans' expanded majority in the House, which will likely carry over into the next administration. 

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Some Observations on One Aspect of the 2014 Elections

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
November 06, 2014

Everyone is talking about the new Republican majority in the Senate. This is significant. It gives the Republican Party complete control of Congress. It will also make it very difficult for President Obama to have his judicial nominees approved by the Senate. But perhaps more significant in the long term are the Republican gains in the House of Representatives.

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Reflections From Freethinking Pen Pals: Part 2

by Sarah Kaiser
November 06, 2014

This guest blog post is by Michael Cluff, 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 wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Living in the hopeless, hungry side of town.
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
but still is there because he's a victim of the times."

- Johnny Cash, "The Man in Black."

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Honey Island Swamp Monster Film: A Patterson Knockoff

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
November 06, 2014

Louisiana Honey Island Swamp Monster fakery continues to sell, while sometimes common-sense skepticism on the subject has all the currency of—well, a wooden nickel. This was brought home to me personally when I was asked by a production company to look into the latest alleged exploits of the ever-elusive creature. Unfortunately, after I enlisted the aid of Tom Flynn—CFI’s resident photograph, film, and video expert—the producers left us in the lurch. It’s pretty obvious why: the evidence—a brief Super-8 film of the Swampster—is so bad that any critical analysis would leave one asking why the show would be made at all.

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