Blog Archives for January 2012

Four to Watch (Nickell-odeon Mini-Reviews)

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
January 31, 2012

To catch up on our movie watching, my wife Diana dared us to go on a movie marathon. So (after a morning trip to a psychic fair) we embarked on a whirlwind tour, getting home just before the witching hour. With her handling logistics (directions, times, and eating on the run) and me driving the getaway car, we crisscrossed town and watched four new feature films. All were in the good-to-excellent range, and I recommend them to fellow skeptics and humanists. (As I say, a humanist is an atheist with a heart.) Here are capsule reviews (presented in ascending order of excellence).

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How Unnatural Is Religion?

It’s Only Natural with John Shook
January 27, 2012

For a belief system about the unnatural, religion is trying to keep it pretty natural.

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When Lawmakers Don’t Listen to Reason

Graphic designed by Susan Lantzer with permission from original file holder.

Freethought from the Heartland with Reba Boyd Wooden
January 27, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 was a very frustrating day. Beginning at 8:30 am and again at 1:30 pm, I sat in on Indiana Senate committee hearings. Among the bills being discussed were SB 72 in the Health and Provider Services Committee and SB 89 in the Education and Career Development Committee.

Indiana Senate Panel Approves Creationist Bill Despite Center for Inquiry’s Letter, Testimony

Democratic Discourse with Michael De Dora
January 26, 2012

Despite CFI's best efforts, an Indiana Senate panel has approved a bill that would allow school boards to “require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation.”

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Indiana Senate Hates Science, Loves Jesus

Guest Blog from Dren Asselmeier
January 26, 2012

Anti-evolution/pro-creationism bills are popping up in 2012. 

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The Mayan Calendar, 2012, and Doomsday: A Primer

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Ben Radford
January 25, 2012

It's no secret that the ancient Mayans (as opposed to the modern ones, some of whom work in offices and use cell phones) had a famous calendar that "runs out" in December of this year. Just what that means--if anything--is the question. Does it hold any particular significance for Doomday, the Apocalpyse, or Armageddon? Here's a (very) short primer on the Mayan calendar.

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Poland fines pop music star for blasphemy

Democratic Discourse with Michael De Dora
January 23, 2012

Poland has fined Doda for stating in an interview that the Bible is full of "unbelievable tales" that are hard to accept because "it's hard to believe in something written down by someone drunk on wine and smoking some kind of herbs."

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Bozo School of Politics

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
January 20, 2012

Newt, Mitt, and Rick

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Center for Inquiry Urges Indiana Senators to Drop Creationist Bill

Democratic Discourse with Michael De Dora
January 19, 2012

CFI has written to the ten members of the Indiana State Senate Committee on Education and Career Development urging them to withdraw or oppose a bill that would allow school boards and other authorized educational administrators "require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation."

WWJD?

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
January 18, 2012

Among evangelicals it is common to ask, in a situation, What Would Jesus Do? (sometimes shortened to WWJD?). However, evangelicals being a politically conservative lot, it is well to ask, just how much in agreement would Jesus be, regarding their stance on some of today's controversial issues? In other words, we know they are right (even far right), but are they right with Jesus? Here are some answers.

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Why skeptics should embrace political advocacy — and how they can do it

Democratic Discourse with Michael De Dora
January 16, 2012

An essay form of the talk I gave at SkeptiCamp NYC 2011, on why skeptics should get more involved in the political process, and how they can do it.

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More on Hosanna-Tabor

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
January 13, 2012

The U. S. Supreme Court's curious decision in Hosanna-Tabor endorsing an amorphous ministerial exemption against Federal employment law leaves me conflicted. As a secularist, I regret any court finding or legislation that broadens religion's power vis-a-vis a secular polity. Still, as I understand the First Amendment and its unique religion clauses, the Supremes probably did the right thing -- though I wish the Justices had found a way to do it that seems less certain to catalyze a tsunami of new employment litigation.

Blogs Are Valuable and Enrich the Discourse, Says Study. I Agree.

Guest Blog from Debbie Goddard
January 12, 2012

Some commenters say they’re tired of skeptics and freethinkers talking about sexism and privilege; some accuse freethoughtblogs.com and skepchick.org of being echo chambers and commenters of being “ditto-heads” (a term I’d never seen before). In my own organization, there are a few individuals who downplay the value of the skeptic/freethought blogosphere instead of seeing it as a valuable space for getting feedback, evaluating interest, building connections, and impacting attitudes, among other things.

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And another thing, Tebow…

Hollywood Reality Check with Jim Underdown
January 12, 2012


Let's get something straight football fans.

A recent poll revealed that 43% of those asked thought that God helps Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow win.

He (God) does not.

God, almost certainly, does not exist.

Hold on, believers, there's another point here!

 

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Federal judge orders removal of prayer banner in Rhode Island high school

Democratic Discourse with Michael De Dora
January 12, 2012

The case was especially notable for the Center for Inquiry because it was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of CFI-On Campus volunteer high school coordinator, Jessica Ahlquist, and her father, Mark.

The Tebow Effect

It’s Only Natural with John Shook
January 12, 2012

What effect is Tim Tebow having on the rest of us?

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RileyGate: Lessons Learned

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Ben Radford
January 11, 2012

A recent blog I wrote about a viral video featuring a "pint-sized pundit" ranting about gender stereotypes was flawed in several ways, and deserved much of the criticism it got. 

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Hosanna-Tabor and the Weird Status of Religion

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
January 11, 2012

Today the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in the Hosanna-Tabor case that there is a “ministerial exception” to the nation’s laws forbidding discrimination in employment. The Court ruled that both religion clauses of the First Amendment—the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause—effectively provide religious institutions with absolute discretion to select their “ministers.” 

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Good News: Skeptical Inquirer Is Putting A Few More Women in Its Pages

Guest Blog from Julia Lavarnway
January 10, 2012

The Skeptical Inquirer has in the past been accused of publishing the writing of only "old white dudes." SI's stellar January/February 2012 issue is proof that its gender ratio is slowly but surely evening out.

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Standing Up to Gender Bullying

Guest Blog from Julia Lavarnway
January 09, 2012

Kristen, a woman who works as a shift manager for Gamestop, recently witnessed a father trying to bully his son, age 10–12, out of buying a purple game controller along with a game with a female protagonist. Luckily, the boy’s elder brother, a high school wrestler,  stepped in and stood up to the man. Kristen also comforted the boy by assuring him that “There’s nothing wrong with what you like. Even if it’s different than what people think you should.”

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About Free Thinking

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
January 06, 2012

What is the cornerstone of CFI’s mission? Is it atheism or humanism? No, not really. Commitments to atheism or humanism or any other “ism” are conclusions we arrive at, presumably after consideration of the relevant evidence and arguments. The cornerstone of our mission is freedom of expression and critical inquiry. We see freedom of expression and critical inquiry as indispensable tools for arriving at an accurate understanding of just about any issue of importance, including, but not limited to, the truth of religious or fringe science claims. This brings me to the recent controversy concerning Ben Radford’s blog post on Free Thinking, as well as the related controversy about the blog Free Thinking itself.

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Asteroid’s Namesake

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
January 06, 2012

Thanks to my friend, colleague, and fellow UFO researcher James McGaha, I now have the distinct honor of having an asteroid named for me! This fact was revealed at the 2011 CSIcon in New Orleans, held on Halloween weekend.

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“Between Consenting Adults”

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
January 06, 2012

Many of you have probably heard about the resignation of Catholic Bishop Gabino Zavala.  You may have heard of it without even becoming aware of it, because it is the type of news that no longer attracts special attention.  Another day, another sex scandal for the Catholic Church.  Nowadays, weather reports are likely to be more memorable.

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‘Expert Eyewitness’ Shoots Dog Walker: Skeptical Lessons from Tragedy

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Ben Radford
January 05, 2012

A woman was shot last week when a state trooper mistook her two retriever dogs for a deer; what does this say about expert eyewitness testimony?

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Why Students are a Priceless Investment

Guest Blog from Dren Asselmeier
January 04, 2012

Students, young people, and the "30 under 30" that some people reference (the idea that 30% of people under 30 are not religious, which I can't confirm the accuracy of right now, but is still relevant in this context) are part of a growing trend to include students in activism and secular organizations. Some organizations, like American Atheists, have done innovative things to get students involved. Offering free or reduced rates for organization membership, giving free or very inexpensive entry to conferences, and offering grants and scholarships to students for their hard work and dedication to our missions are all simple measures that attract students and make them feel important to our movement.

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“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” (A Nickell-odeon Review)

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
January 03, 2012

"Ah, Watson, do come in. I see you have just been to that latest, ah, ‘movie,' supposedly based on what you so faithfully romanticize as my ‘adventures.' And I perceive you were extremely dissatisfied with it.

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Plantinga’s Closing Argument

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
January 03, 2012

Alvin Plantinga’s latest book, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism, has received a fair amount of attention. Plantinga has even been written up in the New York Times. Having read most of his book, I will acknowledge that it confirms he is a clever polemicist. He can present a thoroughly fallacious argument with confidence, dressing it up so it appears superficially impressive.  God may not have a more skilled advocate. 

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Rebecca and Riley: Tempest in a Doll’s Tea Party

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Ben Radford
January 02, 2012

Skepchick blogger and skeptical colleague Rebecca Watson wrote a scathing blog about a column I wrote on a viral video starring a girl named Riley, and her rant about gender-stereotyped colors and toys. How valid are her criticisms? Decide for yourself. 

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