Blog Archives for October 2016

5 Halloween Scares and Legends: Facts vs. Fiction

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
October 28, 2016

Halloween is just around the corner, and amid the make-believe witches, ghouls, and goblins, there are supposedly real-life villains who hope to harm on children October 31. But are they real or myth? Here are five scary myths and legends about the spookiest holiday

RIDDLEculous XII

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
October 26, 2016

More funny riddles from a skeptical view.

The Trivialization of Dead Bodies

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 26, 2016

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

This will be the last Morning Heresy of the week, because the rest of my corporeal self will be dedicated solely to CSICon (and my survival of said event). WORRY NOT for I will not be absent from these here internets. INDEED, one need only look once again to CFI Live to see me blog til I can't blog no more about all the stuff going on at CSICon. AND LO, ye shall behold said weblog at centerforinquiry.live! YEA, dot-live.

3 Comments

The Common Enemies of Humanity

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 25, 2016

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

Holy crap everybody, CSICon 2016 is just a couple of days away, and I may or may not be freaking out. You'll have to just wonder.

Thomas Larson at the UK magazine Church and State explores nontheistic nomenclature, in particular the choice to identify or not identify by the word "atheist." CFI's Tom Flynn gets a quick mention and a video of one of his talks is included. ... 

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Christopher Marlowe is My Co-Pilot

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 24, 2016

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

Catch up with a fortnight's worth of CFI activity in one easy-to-read roundup, the latest Cause & Effect newsletter

The editorial board of The Oklahoman tells its readers to vote to have Article II, Section 5, which forbids funding religious activities with tax dollars, nixed from the state constitution...and we're one of the reasons:

In other states with constitutional provisions similar to Article II, Section 5, radical secularists have used those provisions to justify similar lawsuits that defy common sense. The Council for Secular Humanism sued to prevent church-affiliated halfway houses in Florida from providing state-funded drug rehab assistance.  

6 Comments

Pig Heads

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 21, 2016

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

Clinton and Trump flanked Cardinal Dolan and jokes were told. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Conatus News profiles our tireless CFI–Indiana executive director Reba Boyd Wooden, who also runs our Secular Celebrant program. 

5 Comments

‘Harmless’ Homeopathy Horror?

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
October 20, 2016

Skeptics often dramatize the uselessness of homeopathic remedies by taking large doses to prove their point. That may be unwise in light of a recent FDA warning.

‘Batman’ Vs. Creepy Clown Panics: What Drives Copycats?

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
October 20, 2016

Why would people dress up as clowns to scare people, and falsely report having seen a stalker clown when they didn't?

Hard for a Normal Person

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 20, 2016

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

At the mercifully-final debate last night, Donald Trump refused to commit to accepting the results of the presidential election, even when pressed by Chris Wallace. "I will look at it at the time. I will keep you in suspense." This of course hinges on Trump's frequent claims that there is a conspiracy to deny him the presidency. There was also stuff about "bad hombres" and calling Hillary Clinton both "a puppet" for no reason, and "a nasty woman."

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Saltwater Cousins

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 19, 2016

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

Sarah Posner has a must-read at NYT on the stakes for evangelicals in the 2016 election, and their confused and wrought support for Trump: 

By hitching their wagon to Mr. Trump, religious-right leaders are also tying their fortunes to the alt-right, the predominant movement supportive of, and bolstered by, the Trump campaign. As a largely secular movement, though, the alt-right not only is uninterested in the religious right’s concerns, it also threatens to eclipse the religious right within the Republican Party. And it’s a movement simmering with racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism.   

4 Comments

Something to Do with Obama

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 18, 2016

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

It's a Radfordpalooza! A clownucopia! Ben Radford brings his scary clown expertise back in-house as the guest on the latest Point of Inquiry.

In Skeptical Inquirer, Matt Nisbet considers whether labeling GMO foods might actually have the effect of normalizing them, rather than seeming like some spooky "franken-food."

2 Comments

They Might Have Honked

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 17, 2016

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

After the Arizona Republic endorses Hillary Clinton, their first endorsement of a Democrat in over a century, the paper is deluged with harassment and death threats. The paper's president, Mi-Ai Parrish, responds with admirable resolve.

In a surprisingly huge climate agreement, 170 countries sign on to significantly cut the use of hydrofluorocarbons, which is used in refrigerators and air conditioners.

5 Comments

700,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 14, 2016

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

Through what is now the Secular Rescue program, CFI helped Bangladeshi secular writer Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury, better known as Tutul, get the heck out of there when he was targeted for death. That was great. Now, he's the winner of the 2016 PEN International Writer of Courage award. That is also really great. 

1 Comment

Evil God Challenge: The Movie

The Outer Limits with Stephen Law
October 13, 2016

A new animated video asks: If belief in an evil God is absurd, then why isn’t belief in a good God?

An Amazing Bastardization

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 13, 2016

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

Is there a difference between religious freedom and religious liberty? Stephanie Russell-Kraft at Religion Dispatches explains that to religious conservatives, the answer is hell yes: "Liberty is the language of exemption," she writes, showing how the word has deep associations among the religious with Christianity as the nation's moral center.

Ruth Graham at Slate looks at the next generation of pro-life activists, and here's a thing: a lot of them are secular...

6 Comments

On Varieties of Knowing

Guest Blog from David R. Koepsell
October 12, 2016

How can the humanities aid the sciences in understanding our world and experiences? Does scientific realism suffice, or are other means useful for exploring the universe and understanding human experience? An upcoming seminar seeks to explore this question at CFI-Los Angeles in November.

‘But…but…it’s the best available explanation!’ Part 3

http://www.pixcove.com/tag/spaceship/

The Outer Limits with Stephen Law
October 12, 2016

A final post on dodgy arguments to the best explanation. An amazing UFO encounter!

1 Comment

Why Trump’s Voter Fraud Conspiracy Matters

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
October 12, 2016

Trump has trafficked in many conspiracy theories for years, but this latest is different. Here's why.

“Magnetic” Medicines

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
October 12, 2016

Various “magnetic” balms, oils, and other products were common in America, especially during the nineteenth century and before the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 (effective January 1907). I have already discussed Prof. Long’s Magnetic Comb, which allegedly stopped falling hair and cured headaches (Nickell 2016). There were numerous magnetic gadgets, but here we look at “magnetic” medicines.

‘But…but…it’s the best available explanation!’ part 2

wikimedia creative commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Gremlins_will_get_you_if_you_don%27t_watch_out%5E_-_NARA_

The Outer Limits with Stephen Law
October 12, 2016

In my preceding post I introduced a popular form of inference called argument to the best explanation, and illustrated how it is popular with folk arguing for the existence of weird, wacky, and supernatrual stuff. Now we start to diagnose what's gone wrong...

We Don’t Know, Therefore We Do Know

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 12, 2016

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

You may have heard that Glenn Beck has now endorsed Hillary Clinton, but this is not quite right. He did, however, give the go-ahead to vote for her:

It is not acceptable to ask a moral, dignified man to cast his vote to help elect an immoral man who is absent decency or dignity [Trump, obvs]. If the consequence of standing against Trump and for principles is indeed the election of Hillary Clinton, so be it. At least it is a moral, ethical choice. 

4 Comments

Gas Music from Jupiter

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 11, 2016

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

Do you like The Morning Heresy? Forget I asked that. Do you like the work done by CFI? There we go, of course you do. Well let me tell you, this is the time to support that work, because Louis Appignani is offering to match every donation up to a quarter million dollars! This is a big, big deal. The thing is, we have to actually meet the quarter-million goal by December 31. So it's also a big challenge. So, you know, help out! Double your power and keep me employed. Forget that last part. Help us advance science and reason!  

3 Comments

The Last Spasm

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 10, 2016

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

So!

Um.

How was your weekend?

...

Good! Good. Mine was fine.

4 Comments

We Made Him Up, That’s Fine

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 07, 2016

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

Hurricane Matthew is turning out to be a real horror story, almost malevolently pummeling an area and then coming back for more. Note how I ascribe a kind of agency to the storm in a rhetorical flourish. But 'ah-ha,' say the conspiracy theorists, as THEY know the truth: That the storm is either 1) mostly fictional, and being exaggerated in order to scare people about climate change, or 2) actually engineered by the U.S. government, at the order of President Obama, so that it might destroy Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago. 

4 Comments

Welcome the Three (biological) Parent Baby!

Guest Blog from David R. Koepsell
October 06, 2016

A process of in vitro fertilization that uses a donor for mitochondria separate from the donor of egg and sperm is therapeutically useful to prevent the inheritance of inheritable diseases related to mitochondrial functioning. The process should not be banned in the US, and has resulted for the first time in a healthy baby born with "three" biological parents, as it were.

Et Tu, Pencé?

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 06, 2016

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

Y'all will like this. Julia Belluz at Vox (who's gonna be at CSICon!) reports on a big trial study in Uganda aimed at figuring out how best to teach kids to spot bullshit health claims:

This study could be the beginning of a recipe book for how create little armies of bullshit detectors. These bullshit detectors would, in theory, be able to tell the difference between a helpful kind of doctor and a Dr. Oz, a useful medicine and a harmful one, and whether a study was designed to give reliable answers. In a world so chock full of hogwash health advice, anything that moves us in the direction of that goal is worth paying attention to.

3 Comments

Criminal Aliens

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 05, 2016

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

What I miss? What I miss? I was off for a couple of days, regenerating in my Borg alcove. Stef McGraw, I tell you, she does such a great job on the Heresy when I'm away. Maybe I should just have her do it every day. You hear that Stef?

2 Comments

Poem: Ark Encounter

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
October 04, 2016

It is, in a word, breathtaking—the replica of an imagined Noah’s Ark built by creationists in northern Kentucky. My wife Diana and I visited the site, called Ark Encounter, August 3, 2016. It prompted the accompanying photo (showing her) and poem (another in the style I call improvisational rhyming).

A cinnamon bun, a bagel, and a pretzel

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 04, 2016

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

Today's Morning Heretic is Stef McGraw. I don't know where Paul is, so I'm guessing that he's so excited for tonight's vice presidential debate that he took the day off to celebrate.

...which is why I won't be the one to tell Paul that research indicates the VP debate will have little to no effect on actual voting in November.

Remember the Secular Rescue fund that CFI launched last week for International Blasphemy Rights Day? So far we've raised $32,343 to help protect the lives of those facing danger simply for speaking their minds about religion, politics, and other social issues. That's really incredible!

They don’t make movies like they used to

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
October 03, 2016

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

Today's Morning Heretic is Stef McGraw. I don't know where Paul is, so I'm speculating that the Trump campaign might be trying snatch him away from us—I hear they might need someone with public relations skills.

This past Friday was International Blasphemy Rights Day, and CFI once again took on a leading roleWe got some good press, and we got Bill Donohue on our case, though some would argue that Bill Donohue's disapproval is just as good as anyone's endorsement.

6 Comments