Blog Archives for September 2016

Make Your Face Boil

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 29, 2016

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

Day four of our "blasphemy week" action items is here, and it's time to take action. See what you can do to make a difference

I was delighted yesterday by two, yes two, Christian news outlets for two very different reasons. First, Rev. Mark Woods of Christian Today wrote in strong support of blasphemy rights and International Blasphemy Rights Day...

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Dimming the Paulding Light

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
September 28, 2016

Having investigated on site in North Carolina the famous Brown Mountain Lights mystery (Nickell 2016), I have learned more about another example of the ghost lights phenomenon (of which there are several): The Paulding Light of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The Fear is Not There

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 28, 2016

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

Today in the week's run-up to International Blasphemy Rights Day, we're asking you to spread the word, share what you know and what you feel is important about the fight for free expression. The Gospel Herald reports on our efforts.

The head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, condemns the killing of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar, saying, "This crime constitutes a grave attack on freedom of expression and affects Jordanian society as a whole." 

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Establishment Claus is Coming to Town

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 27, 2016

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

Well, that was exciting! Now this isn't a roundup of general politics news of course, but I can tell you that Donald Trump denied that he denied the reality of climate change, and there was confusion as to whether his staff was deleting tweets in which he denied it (they weren't), and then later said that global warming was not a major crisis. He also continued to spin his ever-evolving tale of his role in birtherism conspiracy mongering, but nothing new there, other than perhaps being notable for its brazenness...

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The Folly of “Liberal” Religion

Guest Blog from David R. Koepsell
September 26, 2016

When a religion is based upon inerrant, revealed text having divine authority, attempts to liberalize them by disregarding certain elements of divine law will, over time, undo that religion entirely leaving the only alternative to be humanism.

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Ugh

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 26, 2016

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

CFI is the freight train of freethought, I tell ya. This past weekend we held a very moving, evocative, and inspiring Women in Secularism 4 conference, one of those "trust me, you wish you'd been there" kind of events. I did my best to give a sense of what was happening at CFI Live, so go check it out now

And THIS week, we're all-in on defending dissent, because International Blasphemy Rights Day is this Friday. So starting today and every day this week, we're giving you a little something to do to help make an impact in the struggle for free expression (with some badass memes), culminating in a big announcement on Friday. Come back every day this week to the Campaign for Free Expression.

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Another Whopper

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
September 23, 2016

In an earlier article, I detailed my examination—conducted for National Geographic Wild’s TV show, Monster Fish—of an old photograph of a humongous catfish. It proved not to be a fake photo, but rather a genuine photo of a faked scene. (See the Jan./Feb. 2015 Skeptical Inquirer for my “Monster Catfish,” pp. 20–22.). Here is another whopper, from a vintage postcard I am just adding to my collection. Take a look.

Your Brain in a Fridge

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 22, 2016

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

I'm hopping on another plane today for yet another conference, this time it's the long-awaited Women in Secularism 4, where once again we'll be running the CFI Live blog to cover it all as it happens. Bookmark it! Do it!

Kimberly Winston at RNS reports on new data from PRRI which tells us something which confirms what you probably already thought: The rise of the nones is not primarily a result of some unhappy experiences relating to religion, or because of the anti-progressive bent of faiths. They just stopped believing in it...

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Ta République!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 21, 2016

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

Women in Secularism 4 is just two days away, and we're bringing back the CFI Live website for coverage and analysis of the event as it happens, just like we did with the Reason Rally, although hopefully with less sweating. Bookmark centerforinquiry.live now and come back to it Friday!

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit makes the Town of Greece SCOTUS decision even worse, by okaying the practice of lawmakers themselves being allowed to offer explicitly sectarian prayers at public meetings, to the exclusion of all others.

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Privacy, Surveillance, and Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
September 20, 2016

Stone's films convey his bluster and moral outrage, but often stop just short of really offering a sincere or nuanced discussion of his controversial topics, and 'Snowden' is like a civics teacher who can't or won't tackle alternate viewpoints or answer questions that might challenge the textbook's conventional wisdom.

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Misinterpreted as Marketing

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 20, 2016

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

Holy freaking crap: Pigeons can READ:

After narrowing down to the four brightest birds out of 18, over eight months of training, the advanced-class pigeons were taught to distinguish four-letter words from non-words...

10 Comments

These Presidents Go To 11

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 19, 2016

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

Emma Green at The Atlantic has a fascinating interview with Leigh Eric Schmidt, author of Village Atheists, and they cover a lot of territory about atheist combativeness, the religious view of atheist women as "monsters," and more. 

The presidential polls have tightened, for some reason. Perhaps it's cosmic forces preordaining a Trump victory...

6 Comments

Misperceive, Mischaracterize, and Misremember

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 16, 2016

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

Another quick one today, because oh, me-oh my-oh, goin' to CFI–Northeast Ohio, for their big biannual conference, where they're actually going to have me talk. Big mistake.

More interviews with CSICon speakers! CSICon's website is turning into like a Fresh Air for skeptics, and Susan Gerbic is Terry Gross! This time we have science communicator and biotech enthusiast Kevin Folta

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Pastor’s Anthem Enforcement Threat Goes Viral-But Is It Real?

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
September 15, 2016

An Alabama pastor allegedly told a high school football game crowd that people who don't stand for the national anthem should be killed, according to news reports. But there's more to the story.

Triumvirate of Delusion

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 15, 2016

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

Kimberly Winston reports on a University of Minnesota study that shows that atheists, while still really unpopular, are now slightly less disliked than Muslims. I do not feel at all good about this minor change in favorability. Also interesting, "nones" (the religiously unaffiliated as opposed to straight-up atheists) are mistrusted by 12 percent of Americans, and 40 percent of Americans says the rise in "nones" is "not a good thing."

Relatedly, Kelsey Dallas at Deseret News notes that the Democratic Party is becoming religiously-unaffiliated at a faster clip than the public at large....

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Stepping Back from Secular Movement Leadership, Lyz Liddell to Leave CFI

Guest Blog from Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
September 14, 2016

Lyz Liddell, who recently came on board to serve as CFI’s Vice President of Programming, has decided to step down for personal reasons unrelated to her position at CFI or the organization. 

Lyz explains her decision in the following statement...

Fink’s Magic Oil: Secret of the Magic

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
September 14, 2016

Fink’s Magic Oil was a supposed cure for rheumatism, cholera, and numerous other ills, developed by Ohioan Henry George Greatrake Fink, an erstwhile Methodist minister who moved to Pittsburgh to reap a worldly fortune in the patent medicine business.

Je n’ai pas besoin de ce vaccin!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 14, 2016

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

ScienceDebate.org gets presidential candidates on the record with answers to a series of science policy questions. After a glance at some of the answers, it's pretty clear that Donald Trump had absolutely nothing to do with the responses attributed to him. "He" brushes off climate change as something to be further "investigated," while Jill Stein calls it "the greatest existential threat that humanity has ever faced," which is probably true. Stein is 100% against nuclear power, while Clinton and Trump offer it as part of an overall solution...

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A Certain Amount of Stoicism

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 13, 2016

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

I'm going to die, you're going to die, life is often awful, and it's all we have. Excited? Dive deeper into this rainbow of a topic on Point of Inquiry with guest Andrew Stark, author of The Consolations of Morality: Making Sense of Death

The NCAA pulls all of its championship games out of North Carolina as a result of the state's odious anti-LGBT laws. NCAA's Mark Emmert said:

Fairness is about more than the opportunity to participate in college sports, or even compete for championships. We believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events. 

4 Comments

That is So Yuck

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 12, 2016

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

First things first: Go see last week's Cause & Effect newsletter, if for no other reason than that I work really hard on it, and maybe it will inspire you to become a member of CFI.

Yesterday of course marked 15 years since the 9/11 attacks, and it blows my mind that there exist now adults who were too young to remember it, yet we're still utterly entangled in the decisions made in the immediate response to the attacks. Some related news relevant to our little community...

5 Comments

We Admit That We’re Killers

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 09, 2016

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

Donald Trump releases a "school choice" plan, meaning millions in tax dollars going to private and religious schools. Caitlin Emma at Politico notes that the plan resembles Lamar Alexander's 2014 bill which we helped to defeat. 

This is rather cool: At the CFI blog, Ben Radford hosts another blog-symposium, this time on the subject of being offended, specifically on behalf of others: "offense by proxy." Joining him are skeptic comedian Ian Harris and cartoonish Celestia Ward (whose response is an actual cartoon).

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Unco Junto: Offense by Proxy and the Moral Right to Indignation

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
September 08, 2016

It's one thing to be offended as the target of an objectionable action or insult, but what about being offended on behalf of others?

2 Comments

“Magnetic” Comb Cured Headache?

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
September 08, 2016

Wow! A “Prof. Long’s Magnetic Comb” not only removed dandruff and stopped falling hair but cured headaches—or so it was claimed at the turn of the last century (see photo—author’s collection).

Value Your Ignorance

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 08, 2016

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

Emily Willingham is the guest on Point of Inquiry this week, discussing the myths and stigma surrounding medical cannabis, and showing how both sides of the debate are trafficking in misinformation. (Willingham and host Lindsay Beyerstein will both be speaking at Women in Secularism 4 this month!)

In the new Free Inquiry, Leah Mickens picks up where she left off, surveying humanists' leading role in major social changes, and focuses now on little ol' us, the Center for Inquiry -- especially our work on the international stage...

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The Virtue of Failure

Guest Blog from David R. Koepsell
September 07, 2016

It would be a shame if we embrace empiricism and science in everything except that which we feel defines us and our modernism best. Our firmly held beliefs, even those that place humanism at the forefront of progress in philosophy, could well be like the aether, and nothing privileges them beyond testing and falsification, though for now we have a good deal of evidence that they are leading the way toward a better understanding of our world and ourselves.

2 Comments

Getting Blinkered

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 07, 2016

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

Fazıl Say, the Turkish pianist who was convicted of blasphemy four years ago for Tweeting poetry that authorities said "insult[ed] religious beliefs held by a section of society," has been acquitted.

Gina Miller, a "psychic" in Ohio, is charged with stealing $1.5 million from clients. 

3 Comments

All You Need to Do Is Be Cynical

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 06, 2016

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

Okay, big week. Lots to do. Let's get to it.

Richard Dawkins is going on tour in the U.S.! I will be playing rhythm guitar. Kidding! But he is coming to a bunch of cities to chat with special guests. Clicky clicky to get the details.

The delightful Carrie Poppy interviews The New Yorker's Maria Konnikova for CSICon Las Vegas, reminding us that yes, even we brilliant skeptics can be conned...

2 Comments

Argumentum ad Ignorantiam

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 02, 2016

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

They're about to make Mother Theresa a saint, but Joe Nickell shows us in a piece for the upcoming issue of Free Inquiry that the miracles attributed to her are very weak tea:

In both cases “miracle” was defined as it always is in such matters as “medically inexplicable.” The evidence is therefore not positive but negative, resulting in a logical fallacy called argumentum ad ignorantiam “an argument from ignorance”—that is, a lack of knowledge. One cannot draw a conclusion from “we don’t know”—least of all that a miracle (supposedly a supernatural occurrence) was involved. 

2 Comments

‘But…but…it’s the BEST AVAILABLE EXPLANATION!’

The Outer Limits with Stephen Law
September 01, 2016

Folk who believe in fairies, or miracles, or alien visitation, are generally fond of an argument called ARGUMENT TO THE BEST EXPLANATION.

 

Here's an example of argument to the best explanation:

 

I see feet poking out from under the curtain and the curtain twitching slightly above them. I can also hear breathing. I infer there's someone standing behind the curtain. Why? Because that's the best available explanation of what I observe. True enough, the twitching might be caused by an open window and the shoes were just coincidentally placed in the same place. But I reckon that's a bit less likely than that there's someone standing there (for what explains the breathing noise?)

4 Comments

Additionally Also Make Heresy As Well Great Again Too

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 01, 2016

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

As of this typing, the Space X Falcon 9 rocket, set to launch a satellite this coming weekend, looks to have exploded on the launch pad. No news on why or if anyone was hurt. 

Not too long ago CFI launched a new-and-improved membership program. Well now it's also got the option to do your membership in monthly installments. So what are you waiting for? ONE OF US. ONE OF US.

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