Blog Archives for December 2015

In the Year of Our Trump

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 31, 2015

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

If ever there was a year that needed to be kicked out into the cold, dark night, it's 2015. Or, as future historians will one day refer to it, 1 BT (Before Trump). 

RNS's Lauren Markoe rounds up some of the notable figures in religion who died in 2015, and perhaps due to a friendly tip from a certain heretical link-blogger, the list includes Avijit Roy, "a champion of secularism." 

6 Comments

The Din of Our Rice Krispies

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 30, 2015

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

CNN gives a nod to Skeptical Inquirer, specifically a Bruce Martin piece from 1998, in a look at spooky coincidences and "synchronicities." (Alas, nothing about shouting over the din of our Rice Krispies, or something crawling to the surface from the bottom of a dark Scottish lake.)

A poll by the AP shows, troublingly, that a huge majority of Americans rank Christians' religious freedoms over other faiths, ranking Muslims last (who are nearly tied with the nonreligious). 

2 Comments

“Concussion”: A Nickell-odeon Review

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
December 29, 2015

Concussion soon reveals how the Big Business and fans of an American craze respond to a medical interloper who would cost them money (and fun).

1 Comment

John Gray’s awful review of Dawkins’s “An Appetite for Wonder”

The Outer Limits with Stephen Law
December 29, 2015

John Gray has a review of Richard Dawkins's An Appetite For Wonder at New Republic here. I review Gray's review here.

20 Comments

Authority Over the Airways

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 29, 2015

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

Joshua Hammer covers the crisis for secularists in Bangladesh in depth at the New York Times Magazine.

Science advocacy wunderkind Zack Kopplin, at the Daily Beastgets a look inside the Discovery Institute, with insights from a former employee of the creationism-promoting, faux-science outfit. 

3 Comments

No Mastermind

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 28, 2015

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

So there was going to be a Heresy post on Christmas Eve, but what had started as a bout of influenza turned into several other uncomfortable and non-life-threatening conditions, and the long and the short of it is that I was laid up. I'm never really "healthy," let's be honest.  

The New York Times decries the "anti-science" ban on the study of gun violence placed on the CDC:

Imagine if the tobacco industry had been similarly favored by Congress with a ban on federal research about cigarette deaths. Imagine, too, if the auto industry had such a shield during the years when the government successfully fought unsafe cars in the cause of public health. 

6 Comments

The Bad Santa: A Review of “Krampus”

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
December 23, 2015

The new film Krampus is a Christmas horror-comedy about a boy who accidentally summons Krampus, a hulking, horned, cloven-hoofed demon who terrorizes his family.

Jake and the Neverland Psychics

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 23, 2015

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

NYT's Laurie Goodstein explores how in the midst of terror attacks and fears over ISIS, "some Muslims are beginning to publicly confront the uncomfortable questions that non-Muslims have about Islam and violence, and trying to provide answers, both through words and through the example of how they live their lives." 

In a feature at WaPo, Greg Jaffe looks at how President Obama's faith has informed his view of himself as a uniter, and how things haven't worked out they way he'd hoped.

3 Comments

To the End of the World

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 22, 2015

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

Our boss Ron Lindsay was on a HuffPost Live panel yesterday along with Hemant Mehta, Annabelle Gurwitch, and Jonathan D'Elia, talking about the secularization of Christmas. Point of Inquiry's Josh Zepps was host.

The AP reports on the efforts of a coalition of groups, which includes CFI, urging the State Department to help Bangladeshi freethinkers who fear for their lives. Don't forget you can donate to CFI's Freethought Emergency Fund here to lend a hand. 

6 Comments

Jimmy Quit, Jody Got Married

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 21, 2015

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

2015's last Cause & Effect newsletter came out Friday, chock full of skepto-secular goodness. Go see. 

Georgetown University's Arjun Sethi publishes a piece at Al Jazeera America criticizing Saudi Arabia for using terrorism as an excuse to torture and execute, only to have the piece removed by Al Jazeera, which "did not intend to offend Saudi Arabia." Heaven forbid. (The Intercept republished Sethi's piece anyway.)

2 Comments

Always Looking For That Other Cheek

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 18, 2015

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

Let's just put it this way: Michael De Dora kicked some serious butt for pluralism at the White House yesterday. The Know Your Neighbor campaign, designed to foster better understanding and dialogue between those of differing beliefs, was launched yesterday, and even just from the live stream I could tell that people were heartened by Michael's sincere expressions of his and our commitment to freedom of religion, expression, and thought. I'm a little surprised not to have seen more coverage of the event itself (I mean there were more powerful PR folks than myself pimping the event), but I'm hoping to see more today. At any rate, the Catholic News Agency highlighted Michael's remarks. You can watch the event here, and Michael appears on the second panel.

4 Comments

Animation script - for comments please

The Outer Limits with Stephen Law
December 17, 2015

Here's a short animation script - for comments please.

Some suppose reality is divided by a veil. On this side of the veil is the natural, observable world. Beyond the veil lies another realm - of ghosts and spirits, angels and demons, and of course gods. These beings are supposed to inhabit an unobservable, supernatural realm that science can't touch...

12 Comments

Lend Me Some Sugar, I Am Your Neighbor

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 17, 2015

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

THIS IS A BIG DEAL: CFI has been selected to join a coalition of faith-related groups for a campaign aimed at increasing understanding among people of differing beliefs: the Know Your Neighbor Campaign. Today at 1pm ET, CFI's Michael De Dora will be at the campaign's kickoff event at the White House. You can watch the live stream here. Importantly, CFI is the only group in the coalition to represent the secular/atheist/skeptic/"nones" perspective, and we're honored to do so.

8 Comments

Haunting Tales: Folklore or—?—

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
December 16, 2015

I am often struck by how careless are the writers of those endlessly proliferating articles and books promoting belief in ghosts and hauntings.

Stolen, Polished, and Candied

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 16, 2015

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

At last night's GOP debate, there was a lot of argument about things like banning Muslims, killing the families of terrorists and ISIS members, and carpet bombing. And while a lot of the arguments against such things were grounded in constitutional issues, treaties, and whether or not these things made us "safe," I don't think I heard anyone say anything like, "We shouldn't do those things because they are really wrong and immoral." Just bad tactics. Alas.

Tom Gjelten at NPR reports on the religious right's desire to paint secularism as a "religion" in order to undermine church-state separation. (CFI's firm position is that secularism -- secular humanism in particular -- is absolutely not in any way a religion.)

4 Comments

Sun-Suckers

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 15, 2015

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

Stephen Law, our CFI–UK provost (because of course he deserves a fancier title than "director"), has two new pieces up. One is at Aeon magazine, where he explores why people are "remarkably prone to supernatural beliefs and, in particular, to beliefs in invisible agents." And at the CFI blog, he offers five ways atheists and the religious might find ways to constructively discuss their differences. Among them, he suggests that honesty is the best policy:

I for one would much rather understand what my intellectual opponent really believes about me than have them disguise it. After all, if a Christian really believes that, as an atheist, I am hell-bound, they surely have a moral duty to warn me.  

6 Comments

Follow-up on a Ghost Investigation

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
December 14, 2015

I occasionally am contacted by people who have read my books and articles or seen me on TV and have follow-up questions. Here is a recent e-mail I got that touches on the practical aspects of ghost investigations. 

How should the religious and atheists approach each other in discussion? Five morals.

The Outer Limits with Stephen Law
December 14, 2015

Conclusion of a forthcoming chapter in a book (editor by others) on this theme.

 

 

21 Comments

Perceive Something Threatening

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 14, 2015

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

CFI's Michael De Dora is the guest on the Friendly Atheist Podcast - I haven't listened yet, but I assume he didn't embarrass us or anything. 

195 countries sign on to historic climate change accords in Paris, promising to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Ensaf Haidar says her husband Raif Badawi is on a hunger strike, and tweets: “I call on his majesty King Salman to pardon my husband. Please unite my children with their father."

3 Comments

Crispy Bug Balls

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 11, 2015

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

Rick Jervis at USA Today looks at the tent revival that is the Ted Cruz presidential candidacy.

Republicans courting the Jewish vote are facepalming over Trump's Trumpiness:

“The Jewish community, collectively, has that institutional memory, and institutional scars from previous events in history where a group based solely on religion was persecuted,” said Lee Cowen, a Republican strategist, adding that Trump was damaging the party. 

2 Comments

The Blue Squiggly Line

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 10, 2015

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

Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Dear tells the court he's guilty, declares himself "a warrior for the babies." The San Bernardino killers, meanwhile, seem to have been planning an attack as far back as 2012.

There have been an alarming number of articles about Americans being awful to Muslims in the past couple of days. This woman lectured and then threw coffee at Muslims praying outside, and hit the guy filming her. In Queens, a Bangladeshi shopkeeper is beaten by a guy who allegedly says he was there to "kill Muslims." 

4 Comments

Relieve Stress in Rats

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 09, 2015

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

Yesterday, we announced that Brian Engler has been elected the newest member of CFI's Board of Directors. Brian is a really good guy, and we are very lucky to have him. 

German chancellor Angela Merkel is named Time's Person of the Year

Bill de Blasio will sign into law a bill allocating almost $20 million in public funds for private and religious schools to hire security guards "to protect students in private and religious schools against bias attacks, school shootings and other forms of violence."

1 Comment

Trumps, All the Way Down

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 08, 2015

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

I'm still sick, and if I can't whine about it to you, my devoted fellow heretics, well, then...I guess I probably shouldn't do it in the first place. But still.

Speaking of sick! Donald Trump, you might have heard, called for a ban on Muslims coming into the country. No, he really did! Other GOP candidates condemned him, even though, you know, they advocated barring Muslim (and all other non-Christian) refugees from coming into the country, so someone will have to explain to them that they're condemning themselves. I'll wait. As Hemant put it, it's Trumps, all the way down.

2 Comments

Many God beliefs are empirically confirmable and refutable

The Outer Limits with Stephen Law
December 07, 2015

The theologian John Milbank will be responding in a sort of back-and-forth over at the IAI website in January. This is a preview of my first post.

5 Comments

Editing Perfect Humans Can Wait

Guest Blog from David R. Koepsell
December 07, 2015

A recent three-day conference in Washington DC focused on the ethics of "gene editing" technologies. The "stay-the-course" conclusion to continue to not experiment on viable human embryos and germline cells makes good scientific and ethical sense given the state of the art and our current knowledge on genetics.

2 Comments

Nasty, Noisy Negativist

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 07, 2015

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

There was no Heresy on Friday because I was slammed with the flu. The irony is that I have long been allergic to the flu vaccine, but there's a new one without the allergen, and so this year I got my first flu vaccine in something like 25 years. Still got the flu. A doozie of a flu, which I am still suffering from. I think this means that all science is invalid, and that it's time to choose a really out-there religion.

Our own Joe Nickell is front and center in this VICE video piece on the alien myths around Roswell. It's really a great piece, featuring lots of familiar folks including Skeptical Inquirer editor Kendrick Frazier, and where Joe is referred to by a UFO researcher as a "nasty, noisy, negativist." Check this out, it's great.

4 Comments

Saving the Souls of Robots

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 03, 2015

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

Another mass shooting. I'm going to have to put a shortcut for that phrase in my TextExpander. 14 dead, 17 wounded at least. Details and motives aside, one could not have been on Twitter last night and not been struck by the sudden backlash against the "thoughts and prayers" cliche always uttered by politicians and cultural figures, particularly those who have been more or less the water carriers for the NRA. But things went farther: for every politician who offered the "thoughts and prayers" platitude, ThinkProgress'Igor Volsky would retweet them and attach whatever the gun lobby has given to them. One typical example was: 

Then, this morning, New Yorkers woke up to this...

4 Comments

“Spotlight”: A Nickell-odeon Review

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
December 02, 2015

Here it is at last, the film about priests’ child sexual abuse in Boston—and its cover-up by the Catholic church—seen from the vantage point of the Boston Globe reporters who broke the story.

1 Comment

You Can Eat a Black Hole

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 02, 2015

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

I was off for a few days, so, uh, what I miss?

Oh look! CFI joined up with some other Super Important organizations (USCIRF, Lantos Foundation, PEN) to hold a Capitol Hill briefing yesterday with Bangladeshi-American humanist Bonya Ahmed, survivor of the machete attack that took the life of her husband Avijit Roy. The AP covered it, but, like, somehow forgot to mention us. (This is where I get very Dangerfieldian.) However, and probably more importantly, the event was covered by major outlets in Bangladesh (The Daily Star and BDNews24), with us included.

1 Comment