Blog Archives for October 2012

The Morning Heresy 10/31/12: Squirrel Beats Sea Monster

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 31, 2012

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

Happy spooky day! I know we're all looking forward to an evening of dissecting our kids' candy as we check each individual piece for razor blades and evidence of poisoning. My baby daughter Phoebe will be donning a puppy costume, presuming she's awake and not screaming, and my almost-3-year-old son Toby will be a Tyrannosaurus Rex, pictured here with my lovely wife. You could just die, he's so cute, right?? 

CFI's new campus organizer Sarah Kaiser takes a valiant stab at chronicling last week's CSICon using mainly tweets. Remarkably effective.   

James Croft discovers an "interfaith" organization that, rather than pretend all religions are the same (<cough>Karen Armstrong<cough>), puts religious differences front and center in a Stephen Prothero God-is-not-one kind of way. I'm intrigued.

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The Morning Heresy 10/30/12: Rational Suspension of Instinct

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 30, 2012

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

If you want to help out those affected by Hurricane Sandy, here's the Red Cross's donation page. Google has a pretty robust map with information on the storm, power outages, and shelters. 

You knew it was coming. Hurricane Sandy is a manifestation of God's wrath for Israel or gays or yadda yadda. 

Fake hurricane photos quickly proliferate on the Internet, which seems like a weird waste of fakery-creativity.  

Defying a ban on their demonstration, thousands of secularists in Turkey march in opposition to the imposition of Islam on Turkish government and culture. Protesters were attacked with tear gas and water cannons and the like, but did not back down

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The Morning Heresy 10/29/12: Nones for Nader

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 29, 2012

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

The Tennessean's Bob Smietana has a great report on CSICon (which just ended yesterday), talking to CFI's Debbie Goddard, board member Leonard Tramiel, and that other guy with the blog and the thing for tentacles. 

Twitterers could follow the hashtag #CSICon to keep up with the conference's goings-on, and Kyle Hill has even Storified his copious live-tweetings.  

Our own Michael De Dora gets a fancy profile in the Washington Examiner. 

The Morning Heresy 10/26/12: Folklore-for-Profit

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

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

The conference is now officially in full swing, and tonight is the big CSICon Halloween party. I'm actually missing the first event so I can deliver all this crucial information to you, the Morning Heresy readers. You are so welcome. Also of note: Because I forgot my own razor, I had to use the hotel's cheapie razor to shave, and now my face looks and feels like I just nuzzled up to a cheese grater. Can only get better from here, I hope.

And just in time for our skeptical conference, NBCNews.com profiles Joe Nickell and his quest for truth about the paranormal, calling him, "the world's longest-running full-time professional paranormal investigator." 

Tom Flynn's latest salvo against Florida's religion-funding Amendment 8 addresses the Blaine Amendment's 19th century anti-Catholic baggage.  

Billy Hallowell at Glenn Beck's The Blaze does a pretty detailed treatment on CFI's lawsuit in Indiana to allow secular celebrants to solemnize marriages. 

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The Morning Heresy 10/25/12: A Minute Amount of Intelligence

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

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

Ladies and gentlenerds, CSICon 2012 kicks off today in Music City. Your Morning Heretic is a little discombobulated from late night travel and time zone changes, plus being in the human presense of people who I have known exclusively as email addresses or Twitter handles. But all signs from the ineffable consciousness of the universal spirit point to a really fantastic event.

FoxNews.com covers the CFI lawsuit in Indiana to allow for secular celebrants to solemnize marriages, and wherein I inartfully try to make the distinction between just getting a government functionary to sign a paper and having an officiant of the secular community do the business of sealing the matrimonial deal.  

The Morning Heresy 10/24/12: The Seeds of its Own Destruction

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

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

CFI founder Paul Kurtz gets full obituaries in both the New York Times and the Washington Post

Prometheus Books, run by Kurtz's son, posts its official obituary. 

Herb Silverman pens his own memorial of Kurtz:

A true visionary, he gave meaning, substance, and a philosophical grounding to the importance of advancing ideas of reason and science over religion. He will be remembered as a significant, and perhaps the most significant, force in the second half of the 20th century in support of secular humanism and living a good life without religion.

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A Tribute to Paul Kurtz, Secular Philosopher

It’s Only Natural with John Shook
October 23, 2012

His organization of the secular movement won't be soon forgotten. His organization of a positive philosophy to replace religion won't be forgotten by the ages.

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Skepcook: Grape Tomatoes and Basil Salad

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
October 23, 2012

This healthy, delightful little salad was inspired by Italian pesto, which the Skepcook learned to make on a trip to Genoa, the home of pesto. (Thanks to Massimo Polidoro and the other great skeptics of CICAP, the Comitato Italiano per il Controllo elle Affermazioni sul Paranormale, for inviting me.)

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The Morning Heresy 10/23/12: One of “Those” Atheists

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 23, 2012

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

Reports and remembrances of Paul Kurtz, CFI's founder who died this weekend at the age of 86, continue to stream in throughout the web.

Carolyn Thompson at AP tells the story of Kurtz's life and work.

Robert Evans at Reuters writes that Kurtz "devoted his life to fighting prejudice against people who reject belief in a god and promoting a non-religious stance in life," and notes that CFI has "spawned a movement" that has spread globally. 

Ed Brayton: "You would be hard pressed to find anyone who did more to advance secular humanism, atheism and skepticism over the last century."

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The Morning Heresy 10/22/12: The Tree of Life

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

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

CFI is mourning the passing of our founder, Paul Kurtz, who died Saturday at the age of 86. We have a comprehensive obituary here, which gives a lot of detail on his work and incalculable impact on secularism, humanism, and skepticism. I actually have never met the man, being a relatively recent hire for CFI, and working remotely from home, but I still feel the loss, and I am enormously grateful for the movements he helped ignite and philosophical foundations he helped lay down -- from which I and many others benefit today.

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Paul Kurtz - a Personal Reflection

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
October 22, 2012

Our movement has lost a titan. Paul Kurtz died at his home in Amherst, New York, on October 20, 2012. Among his legacies are a vast treasury of books and articles, an independent publishing house that has continued to thrive in an environment deeply corrosive of such institutions, and of course the Center for Inquiry, the world's foremost humanist and skeptical organization.

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Memories of Paul Kurtz

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

I heard with a heavy heart that CFI founder Paul Kurtz has died...

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The Morning Heresy 10/19/12: Now Pork-Free!

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

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

CFI's Michael De Dora heralds the news that a bloc of Islamic nations is dropping is efforts to lobby the UN to adopt binding blasphemy laws, but cautions:

. . . concerned secularists should not sit back and relax. As evidenced in the Center for Inquiry's new report "Dissent Denied," many countries around the world simply international agreements and have in place blasphemy laws that punish innocent people for victimless crimes. But also, the OIC has signaled that, instead of pushing for a blasphemy ban, it will appeal to member states to apply hate speech laws to criticism of religion. 

Speaking of free expression, Michael joined the panel on HuffPost Live to talk about Twitter's recent censoring of a neo-Nazi group in Germany.

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Islamic bloc abandons push for blasphemy ban at UN

Democratic Discourse with Michael De Dora
October 18, 2012

In important but underreported news, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has abandoned its push for a global ban on blasphemy at the United Nations.

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The Morning Heresy 10/18/12: I Could Fly Like a Blue Heron

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

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

This is a big deal: The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has declared that it will drop its efforts to pursue a binding blasphemy law at the UN. Kuwait is not satisfied, nor are other members of the coalition.

Also today in blasphemy:

Egyptian atheist Alber Saber is "defiant" as his blasphemy trial resumes. You can sign a Change.org petition on his behalf here

Visiting a “Miracle” Statue

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
October 17, 2012

On September 16, 2012, after years of hearing about it, I finally stood before the “miraculous” Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima, which travels worldwide to bring a supposedly supernaturally obtained message of world peace.

The Morning Heresy 10/17/12: D’Souza? D’oh!

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

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

Takeaways from last night's debate? Not a whole lot for our skepto-atheosphere. Most notable, really, is what wasn't said. Not once was there discussion of things near and dear to our hearts like, oh, the global rise in temperatures that may result in the destruction of human habitats and spur a series of environmental catastrophes. But hey, they both like coal!   

Baptist Press trumpets an effort by lawmakers in nine states to form "religious freedom caucuses," which of course means essentially the opposite of what it says. The piece quotes CFI chief Ron Lindsay:

Unfortunately, 'freedom of conscience' and 'religious liberty' are sometimes improperly invoked by those who seek to impose their religious views on others, directly or indirectly. Whether the American Religious Freedom Program will help strengthen the right to freedom of conscience or subvert this right largely depends on the understanding of religious liberty that will guide its activity.  

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Some Curious GOP Campaign Literature

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
October 16, 2012

It’s presidential campaign season and I’ve received some literature from the Romney campaign that I find curious for a couple of reasons.

Center for Inquiry Issues New Position Paper on School Vouchers

Democratic Discourse with Michael De Dora
October 16, 2012

The Center for Inquiry's Office of Public Policy has released a new position paper critical of school voucher programs that divert taxpayer dollars from the public education system to private and religious schools. 

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The Morning Heresy 10/16/12: He Breaks Things

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 16, 2012

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

Rebecca Watson one-ups Newsweek:

But last night, after seven hours of rest during which the human part of my brain (i.e., all of it) showed significantly slowed brainwave patterns, I experienced something so profound that it gave me a scientific reason to believe in Narnia. 

CFI's Michael De Dora talks with Jamila Bey on Voice of Russia Radio about blasphemy and incitement laws around the world. 

NBC Nightly News does the first in a series of pieces on alternative medicine -- it's highly uncritical, and even says that insurance companies need to do some "catching up" to cover CAM treatments. 

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What the World Needs Most is Critical Inquiry

It’s Only Natural with John Shook
October 15, 2012

And the Center for Inquiry is always at the forefront of advancing reason!

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The Morning Heresy 10/15/12: Some of Us Were Blushing

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 15, 2012

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

As Election Day approaches, it's not the presidential race that has the exclusive attention of the Florida political class. It's "Amendment 8," a proposed change to the state constitution to allow taxpayer funds to flow to religious institutions -- and a reaction to a lawsuit brought by the Council for Secular Humanism concerning a proselytizing prison ministry.   

A piece by Robyn Blumner in the Tampa Bay Times quotes CFI legal guru Steven Fox on the implications of the amendment, and Blumner concludes that its passage would mean:

. . . proselytizing by the likes of the Lamb of God Ministries, the local mosque or Scientology center, and, heck, even the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster could become just another government-funded program, with all of us compelled to foot the bill. 

The Morning Heresy 10/12/12: Release the Biden!

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

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

I enjoyed the hell out of last night's debate, my friend. And yes, there was even fodder for the Heresy, as Joe articulated the whole point of secularism in a religiously pluralistic society:

My religion defines who I am. And I’ve been a practicing Catholic my whole life. . . With regard to — with regard to abortion, I accept my church’s position on abortion as a — what we call de fide. Life begins at conception. That’s the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life. But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews and — I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the congressman. 

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Rare Spiritualists Photo Discovered

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
October 11, 2012

I often spend weekends searching area antique stores and malls for treasures for my paranormal and pseudoscience collection (a small amount of which is online at www.skeptiseum.org). So it was that I came across the old stereoscopic card pictured here. (Placed in an antique viewer called a stereoscope—one of which is included in my collection—such a double picture appears in 3-D.)

The Morning Heresy 10/11/12: Ladybugs’ Picnic Day

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

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

I declare today Ladybugs' Picnic Day. Why? Sing it with me!

One-two-three, four-five-six, seven-eight-nine...(and today's date!) 10-11-12!!! Get it???

Sunshine State News chronicles the tit for tat over Florida's Amendment 8, which would allow state money to fund religious institutions, and is a reaction to the Council for Secular Humanism's lawsuit against the funding of proselytizing prison programs in the state. So obviously, we're against it

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The Morning Heresy 10/10/12: Unaffiliate This!

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

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

Holy moly, did the media get excited about the rise of the so-called "nones" yesterday! Honestly, the new numbers from Pew showing that a fifth of Americans eschew religious affiliation surprised almost everyone. In a press release yesterday, our boss Ron Lindsay talked about how this bodes well for policy and culture in the long run as religion loses ever more of its influence.

CNN's The Situation Room checked in with Ron to talk about the political implications of this new data. 

ABC News picks up our release, and includes some political implications, including the possible election to the US Congress of Arizona nontheist Krysten Sinema.

Some thoughts on the Nones

Democratic Discourse with Michael De Dora
October 09, 2012

A couple thoughts on today's survey from the Pew Research Center that shows one in five Americans are unaffiliated with any religious tradition.

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The Morning Heresy 10/9/12: Nones, Above

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 09, 2012

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

Big news for us seculars today, as the Pew Forum releases an important new survey showing that the religiously unaffiliated, the "nones," are very much on the rise in the US. Now, this is not to say there's a huge uptick in self-described atheists, but those not bound to a particular religious tradition now make up one-fifth of the population -- 33 million people, with 13 million atheists and agnostics. 

The Morning Heresy 10/8/12: Not a Complete Loser

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

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

I spent the weekend representing CFI at the Religion Newswriters Conference in Bethesda, MD, and I met a lot of very interesting people (journos and otherwise) and made some really valuable connections. (Some of those connections are now new readers of the Heresy, so to all those new eyeballs, welcome!) The pic in this post shows the folks from the "atheist corner" of the exhibitor hall, an unholy alliance of nontheist PR flaks: Myself, American Atheists' Teresa MacBain, SSA's Jesse Galef, SCA's Lauren Anderson Youngblood, and AHA's Brian Magee (photo taken by the charming Kimberly Winston). What a neat and utterly-damned bunch. 

Here's a little bit of the reportage from the conference that might interest all you heathens...

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The Morning Heresy 10/5/12: Have Your Newborn Stuck with Needles

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

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

We're doing another short Heresy today, folks, as I'm stationed here at the Religion Newswriters Conference in Bethesda, and I really should be, you know, representin'. Squeezed into my little corner of the exhibitor room are some of my heathen allies, Teresa MacBain from American Atheists, Jesse Galef from SSA, and Brian Magee from American Humanist Association. We're talking shop and shooting the breeze about the gadgets we brought. Now you know. On to the news!

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The Morning Heresy 10/4/12: Off the Record

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

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

It's is a quick one today, as your Morning Heretic is going to catch a plane to go see a bunch of reporters in a big hotel.

Tim Farley, jealous of the riches and glory that The Morning Heresy brings me, has begun his own daily product focused on news and tools of use to skeptics. Here's the Morning Toolbox.

Barbara Bradley Hagerty at NPR sees the 2012 campaign as less focused on candidates out-Godding each other

Jacob Sollum in Reason says Obama "pandered" to radical Muslims in his UN speech. I could not agree less

How the West Was Civilized Despite Christianity

It’s Only Natural with John Shook
October 03, 2012

Yes, there’s a clash of civilizations. Before pondering some East-West clash, understand the war for the West first. 

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The Morning Heresy 10/3/12: Not Significant Enough to Mention

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 03, 2012

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

CFI's Michael De Dora joins the panel on HuffPost Live to talk about the uproar over blasphemy

Washington Post chats with Mark Hatcher, a big part of our own African Americans for Humanism.  

CSM: Greek atheist arrested for blasphemy for his "Elder Pastitsios" Facebook page had his information provided to authorities by Facebook itself

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Secular Groups Release First Annual Report on Global Discrimination Against the Nonreligious

Democratic Discourse with Michael De Dora
October 02, 2012

Five prominent secular groups -- the Center for Inquiry, American Humanist Association, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, and the Secular Coalition for America -- release a 45-page collaborative report titled, "2012 Report on Discrimination against Atheists, Humanists, and the Nonreligious."

The Morning Heresy 10/2/12: Look on in Horror

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 02, 2012

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

The Campaign for Free Expression is on. See the website, watch the goosebump-inducing video, follow @CFICFE, and get involved. Here's the press release announcing the launch.

Well, this surprises me. Supermajority of Danes support the country's blasphemy law. 

Jonathan Zimmerman opines at the Philadelphia Inquirer that as Americans "look on in horror" at reactions to blasphemy around the world, "we should also confess the sins of our own past."

The Morning Heresy 10/1/12: Cause the Greatest Offense

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

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

Today, CFI is launching the Campaign for Free Expression, aimed at awakening the world to the assault on free speech being waged in the name of religious sensitivity, and on behalf of those who have been and are being persecuted for speaking their minds about religion, timed to begin following yesterday's International Blasphemy Rights Day (See CFI president Ron Lindsay's post on IBRD here).

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