Blog Archives for June 2012

Seth MacFarland’s “Ted”: Rude Living Teddy Bear Takes Boston by Storm

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Ben Radford
June 29, 2012

Seth MacFarland's new film is crass cross between "Greg the Bunny" and "Family Guy." 

1 Comment

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” (A Nickell-odeon Review)

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
June 29, 2012

Is nothing sacred? Ask that of the novelist (Seth Grahame-Smith) and the subsequent moviemakers behind Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. How else does one explain their cra$$ exploitation of the sixteenth president, who was martyred for emancipating the slaves and saving the Union at the cost of a bloody war? Bloody? Humor here, with fake blood by the barrelful. Ha, ha!

8 Comments

CFI’s New Policy on Hostile Conduct/Harassment at Conferences

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
June 29, 2012

Warning: the reaction of some of you to this post may be “tl;dr.” Fine, I’ve already posted some abbreviated comments on CFI’s new policy and you can limit yourself to reading those comments if you want. Others, however, may be interested in a longer discussion.

10 Comments

CFI’s New Policy on Hostile Conduct/Harassment at Conferences (Abridged Post)

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
June 29, 2012

CFI has issued a new policy on hostile conduct/harassment at its conferences. This post will provide an abridged explanation of why CFI issued this policy. A second post will provide a longer explanation and discuss how the policy will be administered.

D.C. Voucher Program Appears Funded Despite Widespread Opposition, Serious Flaws

Democratic Discourse with Michael De Dora
June 28, 2012

CFI has been working the past couple weeks with the National Coalition for Public Education to urge members of Congress to reject any funding for a controversial voucher program that funnels taxpayer dollars to private and religious schools in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, it seems our our concerns have gone ignored, and the program will receive new funding. 

The Morning Heresy 6/29/12: If We Do Not Destroy Ourselves

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 28, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities

We're putting it in writing. Today CFI announced the introduction of a new policy on hostile conduct and harassment at conferences. CFI's President and CEO Ron Lindsay has published two blog posts on the topic: a short-and-sweet summation of the policy and its reasoning, and a "tl;dr" version that goes into much more detail. 

1 Comment

The Morning Heresy 6/28/12: Platitudinous Syrup

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 27, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities

The personal papers of Carl Sagan will have a new home: The Library of Congress

Ron Bailey writes in Reason magazine about the continuing deep distrust for atheists in the U.S.

Dr. Drew: $elling Out $cience

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
June 27, 2012

Flipping through TV channels (June 11, 2012) I happened upon Dr. Drew, just in time to watch the physician uncomfortably hosting the notorious “psychic medium” James Van Praagh. I say uncomfortably because Dr. Drew Pinsky does not for a moment believe Van Praagh can talk to the dead. So why, in the name of Ethics, you ask, does he have the pretender doing readings on his $how? Can we $olve thi$ my$tery?

7 Comments

The Morning Heresy 6/27/12: Babbling Prophecy

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 27, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities

There's a lot to cover today, folks. I hope your computer has the RAM to handle all the browser tabs you're about to open.

The Unbelief Generation - Millennials are the Secular Future

It’s Only Natural with John Shook
June 26, 2012

A series of striking polls illustrate how the Millennials are very comfortable with unbelief.

The Morning Heresy 6/26/12: The Bloody Sword of Spain

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 26, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

Shall we begin with some horn-tooting? Yes, I think we shall. 

Ed Brayton, whose set before Jamie Kilstein had me guffawing at an embarrassing volume, calls the CFI Leadership Conference "a great weekend in every way." Ophelia hears all the good responses about the event, and concludes "CFI goes from strength to strength. Noticed that?"

3 Comments

The Morning Heresy 6/25/12: Invisible Yo-Yo!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 25, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

Well, everyone is exhausted from the CFI Leadership Conference, but it's a good exhausted. The days were absolutely packed with impactful and practical talks and workshops for both freethinking students and CFI's branch leaders. Just off the top of my head, CFI's own Debbie Goddard blew my mind with her moving retelling of her own journey to secular activism, Deisree Schell's workshop clarified my own thinking on campaign organization like nothing I've yet seen, and Chris Mooney's explanation of this Republican Brain thesis was utterly compelling, making me rethink many prejudices I have of both conservatives and liberals. There were several others (truly) that fully impressed me, and I hope both I and others find the time to more thoroughly digest and synthesize it all. Luckily, videos are coming soon.

2 Comments

The Morning Heresy 6/22/12: Gigantic Money Pit

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 22, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

The first half-day of the Student Leadership Conference is in the can, and everyone's already exhausted. Somehow my hotel room was never booked, so there was some scrambling late last night until I found lodging, as most rooms in the area were already filled. Yes, there was in fact no room at the inn.

But I'll live. In the meantime, make sure you're following the action on Twitter at #CFIcon.

Film Review: Pixar’s “Brave” Aims High But Falls Short

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Ben Radford
June 21, 2012

The new film Brave, about a headstrong Scottish fire-haired archer princess, squanders one of Disney's best characters in a meandering and muddled script. 

4 Comments

The Morning Heresy 6/21/12: The Baptist Convention Formerly Known as Southern

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 21, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

Here I am once again in the Portland Jetport (that's Portland, Maine, you crunchy Oregonian elitists!), on the way to the The Most Important Event of All Time Times Eleventy Billion, the CFI Student Leadership Conference in Amherst, NY. I'm trying to scratch together another edition of the Heresy from my iPad, which, I don't mind telling you, is a little harder to do than with a laptop. I do most of my CFI-ing from my desktop Mac at home, so I am constantly looking for the most efficient workarounds for getting the job done on the road without a full-fledged "computer." Anyway, time is short as I hop from airport to airport, so let's see what I can scrounge together for my tens and tens of readers.

1 Comment

The Morning Heresy 6/20/12: The Kids and Their Jungle Music

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 20, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

I'm completely stressed out about the CFI Student Leadership Conference this weekend. I'm giving a presentation (tentatively titled "Super-Awesome PR Pro-Tips That Will Help You Become Famous and Lose Weight!" -- But that's only if Lauren Becker will let me keep it that way), I'm going to meet lots of important folks from the secular and skeptic movements who are sure to make me very nervous, and of course, I have to find some way to pass myself off as modern and relevant to all the young people who are into that loud jungle music with all those words that you can't even understand and why don't they get haircuts and jobs? It may be more than I can handle.

3 Comments

The Morning Heresy 6/19/12: The Best Possible Time to Be Alive

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 19, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

Yesterday, CFI organized a protest outside the Indonesian Embassy to demand the release and exoneration of Alexander Aan, beaten by a mob and convicted of "spreading religious hatred" via his atheism and satirical Facebook posts. Our boss Ron Lindsay reports that the folks within the embassy were definitely paying attention (how often does their embassy get protests?) so we at least know that our message was heard. Here are some pics, and our thanks to those who helped spread the word.

1 Comment

A Scintillating UFO Experience

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
June 18, 2012

Journalist Jacqui Jeras—reporting on CNN Newsroom, Sunday, May 27, 2012—described a UFO that had been seen over Blue Springs, Missouri, for the previous two weeks. It first looked like a star, “experts” said, but then began flashing red and blue colors, leading to descriptions of “a purple light” and “freaky blue lights in the sky.” Video closeups confirmed the effect.

2 Comments

In this game of Info Survivor, print wins

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
June 18, 2012

One of the joys of blogging is sometimes you just get to rant. Here's one case, at least, where a very good book has lost a bit of its value because its publisher was too quick to jump on the online bandwagon.

4 Comments

The Morning Heresy 6/18/12: Let’s Get it Aan

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 18, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

Over the weekend, CFI roundly condemned the blasphemy conviction of atheist Alexander Aan in Indonesia, and is organizing a protest for his freedom outside the Indonesian embassy in Washington at 2pm. Details are here. If you're in the area, show the Indonesian authorities -- and Alex -- that we demand his freedom, and that we are paying attention.

Population, Consumption Threaten Earth’s Future—Who’s Surprised?

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
June 15, 2012

If a consortium of 105 national science academies and a report by 22 scientists in the June 7 Nature are to be believed, overpopulation and unsustainable consumption may already have set humanity on course for a catastrophic future. If only we'd listened to the "popullution" alarmists back in the 1970s, when human numbers were far lower and remedial action might have been easier.

4 Comments

The Morning Heresy 6/14/12: Therefore it’s Not Happening

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 13, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

Quick note: I'm dragging my kid to see family this weekend, so there will probably not be a Morning Heresy tomorrow (Friday). But don't worry, nothing interesting will happen.  

Media outlets are abuzz over recent Pew data that shows millennials belief in God dropping pretty quickly...

Still Skeptical of Blogs

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Ben Radford
June 13, 2012

Why blogs suck: It's probably true that most blogs are crap-but it's a shame that we must work so hard to find the non-crap. 

20 Comments

The Morning Heresy 6/13/12: The Most Disdained Group of All

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 13, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

There's some religious ugliness in the news today, folks, so if you're looking to start your day with smoke coming out your ears, you've come to the right place. But let's start with some very good news!

North Dakota's "Measure 3," which would have allowed religious belief as an excuse to avoid compliance with all kinds of laws, and which CFI urged voters to oppose, was defeated yesterday! Roundly defeated, even, 64% to 36%.

CFI Tells Obama Administration to Stand Its Ground and Finalize Birth Control Rule

Democratic Discourse with Michael De Dora
June 12, 2012

The Center for Inquiry today submitted formal comments urging the Department of Health and Human Services to make final a rule requiring health insurance providers and organizations providing health care plans to cover preventive health services, such as birth control and contraception, without charging a co-payment. But to make real impact, we need your help.

The Morning Heresy 6/12/12: A Single Menacing Blur

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 12, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

CFI chief Ron Lindsay blogs about balls. Okay, get it out of your system. Now. Once you're done tittering about it, read the thing, because there's an important message:

Language is powerful. Language not only expresses our thoughts, it shapes them. “Balls” is in common use, and that’s precisely part of the problem. It’s embedded so much in our language that we don’t notice it, but that simply means our sexism is burrowed in deep. 

Can We Drop “Balls”?

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

Many people, including many skeptics, atheists, and humanists, use the term “balls” or its myriad equivalents as a metaphor for courage, determination, resolve or similar attributes.  I suggest we should stop using such terms, for a pretty obvious reason: one doesn’t need testicles to be courageous, determined, or resolute.

48 Comments

You Might Be An Atheist

It’s Only Natural with John Shook
June 11, 2012

It's easier than ever to admit what you have been thinking all along.

The Morning Heresy 6/11/12: Worse than Useless

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 11, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

Must-read for science-loving secu-skepties at the New Yorker: Why the hell do we have so much trouble accepting science? Un-learning:

. . . science education is not simply a matter of learning new theories. Rather, it also requires that students unlearn their instincts, shedding false beliefs the way a snake sheds its old skin.

2 Comments

The Morning Heresy 6/8/12: The Garden of Your Mind

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 08, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

First things: Kylie Sturgess posts your must-view video of the day, a love note to all the trolls and haters out there. Now, it's NSFW, but it's delightful and you need it running through your head as your go about your day. So if you're at the office, put on some headphones and maybe crouch really close to your display. Ready? Aaaaaaaaand CLICK!

2 Comments

Stargazing: The Transit of Venus

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
June 07, 2012

As a stargazer (a lighthearted term), I have often looked at the heavens—as in my personas of poet, skeptical UFOlogist, even miracle claims investigator, or often, simply as one interested in the real world that science best explains. As a boy I was taken by my uncle Charlie Cunard to the University of Kentucky observatory to see Mars. Over the years I have witnessed solar and lunar eclipses, Perseid meteor showers, and many other celestial events, both with and without telescopes. (Once, at Conyers, Georgia, where “sun miracles” were being reported, I looked in vain for one, working with Georgia Skeptics who had set up a telescope equipped with a solar filter.)

The Morning Heresy 6/7/12: Meme Abuse

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 07, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

Now look. I know there is a lot of debate going on in the skepto-atheosphere, much of it very necessary (and some of it very much not). And that's fine. That's what we do. We make assertions, we question, we argue, and sometimes things get heated or personal. It's hard to avoid, because as rational as we aspire to be, we are still human. But to my mind, one aspect of all this arguing (much of it going on within the Freethought Blogs network, much of it on Twitter) has crossed a line. A dangerous one. 

4 Comments

The Morning Heresy 6/6/12: No Archaeopteryx Allowed

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 06, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

So last night was interesting. Both in orbit around the Sun and in the voting booths of Wisconsin, two entirely predictable things happened that were also kind of stunning. Greg Laden is hopping mad about one of them (the one not about Earth's sister planet), and Kylie Sturgess was hopping excited about the other (the one not about union-related political tumult).

Coming Out: Gay vs. Atheist

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

June is LGBT Pride Month. And the LGBT movement can take pride in many accomplishments. In the space of a few decades, gays have moved from being pariahs and criminals to being generally accepted in many parts of the U.S. The transformation in the political, legal, and social landscape has been nothing short of astonishing.

9 Comments

“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (A Nickell-odeon Review)

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
June 05, 2012

If you are not a senior citizen and plan never to become one, perhaps you could skip The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. But I wouldn’t recommend doing so.

1 Comment

The Morning Heresy 6/5/12: Damn You, Sling King

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 05, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

Our spies on the ground in Indiana tell us that the weapon used to deface our billboard may have been this ridiculous contraption, the Sling King

Will Gervais talks about his research on the relationship between (the lack of) critical thinking and religiosity on the latest Point of Inquiry

How Not to Unexplain a UFO Debunking

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Ben Radford
June 04, 2012

A brief and enlightening exchange with a UFO believer over a skeptical analysis. 

6 Comments

The Morning Heresy 6/4/12: So-Called Paintball Experts

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 04, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

Ed Brayton speaks on behalf of CFI-Michigan against hospital's use of homeopathic and other nonscientific treatments 

Local news coverage (paywalled) on the CFI-Indiana billboard vandalism reports...

The Morning Heresy 6/1/12: Jen McCreight, Call Your Lawyer

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
June 01, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

The Religious Congregations & Membership Study looks at which states are the "most Christian," and the award goes to Utah (if you count Mormons and UUs who self-identify as Christian). Least Christian? Why, that'd be my adopted home, Maine!