Blog Archives for September 2012

‘The Master’

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Ben Radford
September 30, 2012

In the new film The Master, Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the leader of a New Agey, quasi-religious cult which draws troubled people into their fold. 

1 Comment

The First Amendment Provides Full Protection to Innocence of Muslims

Guest Blog from Edward Tabash
September 28, 2012

Questions have arisen over whether the internet film Innocence of Muslims (or its 14-minute trailer) should be considered protected by the First Amendment. The very core of free speech would be nullified if it were denied constitutional protection.

13 Comments

Sexism, Activism, and All-Male Clubs

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Ben Radford
September 28, 2012

What should we do about private organizations who have sexist policies? Sometimes we stand up to them; sometimes we don't. 

9 Comments

The Morning Heresy 9/28/12: Churning

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

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

Ron Lindsay, on the eve of International Blasphemy Rights Day, previews CFI's upcoming Campaign for Free Expression, which will highlight the many cases you've read about here of doubters and dissidents persecuted for thinking for themselves. 

One reason our concern for the freedom of others should not stop at our borders is because the desire of the dogmatists to regulate speech does not stop at their borders. 

We have an exclusive of sorts on the blog, as a supporter gathers up the news from Greece about the blasphemy charges leveled against an atheist for mocking a deceased Greek Orthodox monk on Facebook. Here's the Change.org petition on the Greek case.

International Blasphemy Rights Day 2012

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
September 28, 2012

International Blasphemy Rights Day (IBRD)—September 30—is almost here, and that’s a good thing because freedom of expression can definitely use a rallying point. From many governments, there has been a stronger push to prohibit “offensive” speech about religion than we have witnessed in years.

1 Comment

“Elder Pastitsios” Arrest Rekindles Debate on Blasphemy Laws in Greece

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

The following post comes to us from CFI supporter Simon, who grew up in Greece and has been following a new case of persecution for blasphemy -- a case which has been largely ignored by the English-speaking media.  

*  *  * 

On Friday September 21 in the village of Psahna in the Evia Prefecture of Greece, the Police Electronic Crimes Unit arrested* a 27 year old male atheist Greek citizen on charges of malicious blasphemy and offense of religion. His name has not been made available publicly due to to the country's privacy laws.

2 Comments

Atheist Giving More Compassion-Driven than Giving By the Religious

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
September 27, 2012

Don't know how I missed this before, but a study appearing in the July 2012 issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science finds that atheists are more motivated by compassion than givers with strong religious beliefs. This was not a study of whether atheists give more or less than churchgoers -- that's a whole other controversy -- but rather a study of why religious and nonreligious givers give.

1 Comment

The Morning Heresy 9/27/12: Fragile, Easily Bruised Feelings

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

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

The big story remains the issue of blasphemy and the fate of free expression. 

Al Jazeera has a TV piece on the relentless calls from Muslim nations to criminalize blasphemy. 

At Friendly Atheist, I highlight President Obama's speech to the UN yesterday, and laud his unabashed defense of free speech and opposition to blasphemy laws. 

1 Comment

“The Master”  (A Nickell-odeon Review)

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
September 26, 2012

Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman in the title role, is a stunning, must-see movie.

The Morning Heresy 9/26/12: Homegrown Blasphemy Laws

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

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

Did you catch the president's address to the UN yesterday? You should. In it, he came down hard on the side of free expression and against using hurt religious feelings as an excuse for violence. Here's the complete text. Lauren Markoe at RNS rounds up some of the bigger points.

A survey from a state-run pollster says that 80% of Russians want a new law that inflicts harsher penalties for blasphemy. Take this with a heavy grain of salt.

The Morning Heresy 9/25/12: A Useful Gift to Dictators

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

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

International Blasphemy Rights Day is very close (this Sunday) and it could not come at a more relevant time. The B-word is perhaps the prime topic of global debate this very moment. 

President Obama is speaking to the UN as I type, and according to prepared text, he will address the violent protests in the Muslim world:

The attacks of the last two weeks are not simply an assault on America. They are also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded. ... Today, we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations. ... There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy. There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan. 

Who Would Jesus Endorse—Pulpit Freedom Sunday

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
September 24, 2012

On October 7, 2012, hundreds of clergy will intentionally defy the law by engaging in actions they might describe as coordinated civil disobedience. I view it as an unjustifiable defiance of the law and a constitutionally unsound attempt to get the government to subsidize political endorsements by clergy.

10 Comments

The Zanzibari Cat

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Ben Radford
September 24, 2012

Reflections of a feline-loving traveler in East Africa.

4 Comments

The Morning Heresy 9/24/12: Rah-Rah for Jesus

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 24, 2012

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

Faith-healers in the UK duping people into thinking they've been "cured" of HIV. 

County judge says Texas high school cheerleaders can go ahead and rah-rah for Jesus.

1 Comment

The Morning Heresy 9/21/12: Criminalize This

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

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

Another day of troubling developments concerning the perilous position in which free expression finds itself around the world.

The EU, OIC, Arab League, and African Union release a joint statement [PDF] condemning the "Innocence of Muslims" video and "religious hatred that constitutes incitement to hostility and violence," without calling for specific measures. The OIC on its own, however, is re-upping its calls for criminalization of blasphemy.

3 Comments

The Morning Heresy 9/20/12: Placate the Barbarians

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

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

Lots of commentary and news today regarding blasphemy, freedom of speech, and the protests around the Muslim world. 

Sam Harris on the response of the U.S. government, and secular liberals generally, to the violence and rage over The Innocence of Muslims:

Either our government is unwilling to address the problem at hand, or the problem is so vast and terrifying that we have decided to placate the barbarians at the gate. . . . The freedom to think out loud on certain topics, without fear of being hounded into hiding or killed, has already been lost. And the only forces on earth that can recover it are strong, secular governments that will face down charges of blasphemy with scorn. No apologies necessary. 

The Morning Heresy 9/19/12: Fret and Vex at Folly

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

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

To all you one-eyed, peg-legged, hook-handed, parrot-shouldered Pastafarians out there, happy Talk Like a Pirate Day

In response to several calls from international leaders for binding international anti-blasphemy laws, CFI released a statement warning against the folly of such a course.

1 Comment

The Morning Heresy 9/18/12: Cupcake Rage

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

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

Rebecca Watson begins a petition on behalf of Alber Saber, the Egyptian atheist blogger arrested for running an atheist Facebook page, and recalls the drive for Alexander Aan:

A few months back, freethinkers campaigned to free Indonesian atheist Alexander Aan, resulting in a failed petition and a lot of soul-searching from secular organizations trying to figure out how to do better next time. If you read the comments on that last link, you’ll see a whole bunch of atheists who were very angry that someone was pointing out that the atheist community completely failed to help someone in great need. I’m hoping those folks have as much energy to devote to getting angry over the arrest of yet another young atheist 

Now go sign and share the damn thing

1 Comment

After Atheism

It’s Only Natural with John Shook
September 17, 2012

The question should not be "What follows from Atheism" but rather "What leads after Atheism".

2 Comments

The Morning Heresy 9/17/12: The Vast Chasm

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 17, 2012

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

 

Most of the news today, folks, is about the protests and mob violence ostensibly in reaction to hurt religious feelings. A lot of the commentary is rather surprising, and much of it disappointing. 

Reacting to the spreading violence and unrest across the Muslim world, UN human rights commissioner Navi Pillay says the right thing, and then the wrong thing, decrying violence as a response to religious offense, and then reminding us that those giving offense could be in legal trouble.

1 Comment

The Morning Heresy 9/14/12: Fatuous and Smug

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 14, 2012

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

Businessweek looks at the prospects for atheist merchandising, and how business around the movement is evolving beyond tchotchkes.  

I interview friend-of-the-Heresy Sharon Hill on the topic of her CSICon presentation, and she offers me (and all of us) some very useful advice about conversing with the less-than-skeptical...

Helping the Truth Get its Shoes On: Sharon Hill and the Long Slog of Skepticism

Guest Blog from Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
September 13, 2012

Sharon Hill has been helping folks discern flim-flam from fact for going on two decades now, exposing “sciencey” sounding nonsense in all manner of formats. She’s a regular contributor to Skeptical Inquirer and the CSI website, she’s the impresario of Doubtful News, a one-stop shop for clarity in a very polluted media landscape, and she’s on the panel of the new Virtual Skeptics video podcast.

Inspired by her upcoming presentation at CSICon 2 in Nashville next month, CFI’s Paul Fidalgo talked to Sharon about what makes her tick, how we can process the implausible claims made in the modern news media, and how to talk about it with friends and family when they seem to be buying the hype.

2 Comments

Public Figures Who Lie About Sports Achievements

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

Rep. Paul Ryan recently lied about running a marathon in under 3 hours, but he's not the first to exaggerate sports achievements.

1 Comment

The Morning Heresy 9/13/12: More Pills Than There are Atoms in the Universe

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

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

Things remain ugly amid the violence, protests, confusion, and absurd statements surrounding the events in Egypt, Libya, and now Yemen (oh, and Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia).

Foreign Policy has the background on the infamous tweet that made everyone think (including me) that the US government was beginning its response to the attacks with a condemnation of free speech. (It wasn't - the tweet from the US embassy in Egypt was written before the attacks and was meant as a diplomatic "cool your jets" message of sensitivity.) 

3 Comments

The Morning Heresy 9/12/12: Violence over Blasphemy in Egypt and Libya

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

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

Our big story is the country's big story: Anger in Egypt over an American-made film by an Israeli-American real estate developer that purportedly "insults" Islam and the prophet Muhammed has erupted into violence and protests at the US Embassy in Egypt. This violence then spread to the US mission in Libya, where the ambassador there, J. Christopher Stevens, and three of his staffers were killed. This is the first death of a US envoy abroad in more than 20 years.

Divisiveness Within the Secular Movement

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
September 12, 2012

Greta Christina and PZ Myers have recently suggested that is it not necessarily a bad thing to be divisive.  True, it is not necessarily a bad thing.  It depends on what one is separating oneself from. 

341 Comments

The Morning Heresy 9/11/12: Typically Ridiculous

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

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

CFI's Debbie Goddard tells a heartfelt personal story to illustrate the need to take part in the Light the Night effort to fight cancer. 

At CSI, LaRae Meadows scores an interview with SETI founder Frank Drake, of the alien-life-predicting "Drake Equation" fame. 

Michael Nugent reports that Alexander Aan's prison sentence has been upheld despite appeals. 

Crommunist on the Atheism+ fracas, so well put in this small sentence fragment:

The fallout has been typically ridiculous. 

The Morning Heresy 9/10/12: An Indistinct Heat Signature

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 10, 2012

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

With Pat Robertson on hand, Mitt Romney falsely implies that President Obama wants to take the word "God" out of the Pledge and off the currency. If only! 

Hemant has a good post on where atheists ought to concentrate their electoral efforts

Sarah Posner highlights CFI boss Ron Lindsay's take on the religious kerfuffles of the party conventions.

Trump Card

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
September 09, 2012


1 Comment

Religious Liberty - A Reality Check

It’s Only Natural with John Shook
September 09, 2012

Let's recall what "religious liberty" really means, before it is too late.

The Morning Heresy 9/7/12: Couldn’t Happen to a Lovelier Bunch

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

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

Rimsha Masih is granted bail

Council on Foreign Relations blog looks at Pakistan's blasphemy laws, hopes the Rimsha case may spur change.

The Economist is aghast.

Bearing the Burden: On Being Chosen to Suffer

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Ben Radford
September 06, 2012

Many people, from those taking care of disabled children to those dealing with traumatic events, believe that they have been specially chosen to bear that burden. Is this healthy or harmful?

1 Comment

The Morning Heresy 9/6/12: Splatform

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

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

Filed under Too Good to Be True: The godless Democratic Party platform gets re-god-ified during a messy, noisy floor vote - Hemant has a roundup. Interestingly, it was the delegation from Utah that fought the changes the hardest from the floor, though many protested merely the other "omission," that of support for Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. 

CFI boss Ron Lindsay shrugs, and looks for the silver lining.

4 Comments

Reality Check: The Nod to God

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

So the Democrats inserted God into the party platform. What did we expect?

13 Comments

Parsing the “God” Blunder

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
September 05, 2012

The blunder I have in mind isn't leaving God out of the 2012 Democratic platform. It's putting it back.

4 Comments

The Morning Heresy 9/5/12: What’s with the Bald Knob?

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

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

CNN's Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, talking about how faith will matter at the Democratic National Convention, highlight the party's godless faction:

Atheists want Democrats to show them a little love. Ever since George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004, the Democrats have worked to remake the party’s secular image, elevating progressive religious voices and talking about issues as “values.” At the same time, America’s atheists – who skew mostly Democratic – have grown more outspoken about wanting the government to represent their values. . . . look for proudly secular Dems to push back against the party’s piety this week. 

The Morning Heresy 9/4/12: 1000 Years of Darkness

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

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

The "Reverend" Sun Myung Moon is "dead." (Can a god really die?) Watch the Washington Times carefully over the next few months to see if sanity now creeps in. 

The new messiah, Chuck Norris, says that an Obama victory will mean 1000 years of darkness.

“The Science of Ghosts”

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
September 04, 2012

I announce my latest book, The Science of Ghosts: Searching for Spirits of the Dead, from Prometheus Books. (It is the first of what I hope to make a series, the next being The Science of Miracles.)

2 Comments