Cause & Effect: The Center for Inquiry Newsletter

Cause & Effect: The CFI Newsletter - No. 4

April 18, 2014

Cause & Effect is the biweekly newsletter of the Center for Inquiry community, covering the wide range of work that you help make possible.

The Main Events

WiS170Take Advantage of Special Hotel Rates for Women in Secularism III by April 21!

The Women in Secularism III conference is less than a month away! Taking place May 16-18, 2014, in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., it’s sure to be one of the most inspiring and enlightening events of the year. Have you registered yet? Don’t wait, because special discounted room rates for the Westin Alexandria end Monday, April 21! Register now


BurzynskiCFI to FDA: Rein in Burzynski

A coalition of physicians, medical officials, scientists, and public policy experts have added their names to a joint letter from CFI urging the Food and Drug Administration to reverse its recent decision to allow cancer patients access to the unapproved drugs provided by Texas-based doctor Stanislaw Burzynski. “The FDA has an obligation to minimize the damage being done by purveyors of false medical treatments who harm others,” the letter states, which also asks the FDA to rescind Burzynski’s status as a medical researcher. You can read more about the Burzynski case from Dr. David Gorski and about the efforts of skeptic activists to raise awareness from Robert Blaskiewicz in their articles in Skeptical Inquirer


NyeBill Nye: Why I Debated Ken Ham

In an exclusive to Skeptical Inquirer magazine, science guy Bill Nye gives a first-person account of his controversial debate with Ken Ham of the Creation Museum, explaining in his own words why he accepted the invitation to debate, how he prepared for it, and who really “won” in the end. Writes Bill, “I held strongly to the view that it was an opportunity to expose the well-intending Ken Ham and the support he receives from his followers as being bad for Kentucky, bad for science education, bad for the U.S., and thereby bad for humankind.” The Associated Press, Salon, Huffington Post and Friendly Atheist all took note. Check it out online and in the May/June 2014 issue of Skeptical Inquirer!


News from HQ

DruyanTwo Amazing Women on Point of Inquiry

Point of Inquiry, the official podcast of CFI, presented two unmissable interviews in a row with two amazing women. Last week, Josh Zepps talked to the brilliant and delightful Ann Druyan, cocreator of Cosmos, both the new iteration and the original with her husband the late Carl Sagan. This week, acclaimed author Barbara Ehrenreich, a headliner at the upcoming Women in Secularism III conference, had a spirited discussion with Lindsay Beyerstein about reconciling atheism with mystical experience.


UN flagsFighting for Human Rights at the UN

CFI representatives, led by writer and activist Raheel Raza, addressed a wide range of human rights issues facing the global community at the recent 25th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), held March 3-28 in Geneva. There they delivered statements on the persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan, the crackdown on free speech in Bangladesh, the spread of harmful religious practices against girls around the world, the brutal human rights record in Saudi Arabia, and violence and discrimination against LGBT persons in Russia and Uganda. All of us are grateful to Raza and CFI’s UN team for this important and meaningful work.


Skeptics ToolboxRegister Now for the Skeptic’s Toolbox!

Sharpen your critical thinking skills with the invaluable workshops at the 2014 Skeptic’s Toolbox, August 7-10 in Eugene, Oregon! This year’s event is centered on using model cases to better deal with dubious claims and features hands-on training with experts like Ray Hyman, James Alcock, Harriet Hall, Lindsay Beyerstein, and Loren Pankratz. Registration has just opened, so you can sign up now!


JacobyEhrenreichGreat Conversations with Women in Secularism

In addition to Barbara Ehrenreich’s interview on Point of Inquiry, we’ve rounded up some great conversations with many of the brave and brilliant women who will be speaking at Women in Secularism III. Don’t miss these Skepchick interviews with Susan Jacoby and Lindsay Beyerstein; Soraya Chemaly talking to CFI–Northeast Ohio’s Monette Richards; and Rebecca Goldstein’s conversation with Josh Zepps on Point of Inquiry.


TurtleDon’t Miss the Boat for a Cruise to the Galápagos

It’s one thing to go on a cruise. It’s another thing entirely to go on a Galápagos adventure with Nobel Laureate Sir Harold Kroto and celebrated physicist Lawrence Krauss. Book your passage for the CFI Travel Club’s cruise to the land that inspired Darwin, the Galápagos Archipelago—and do it now while a few cabins are still available!


CFI Community News

KnutsonCFI–Los Angeles had a full house for Heather Knutson, assistant professor at Caltech and the world’s first exoplanetary meteorologist, and one of Popular Science magazine’s Brilliant Ten Young Scientists in the country. Knutson spoke about how she and her colleagues use the Hubble and Spitzer telescopes to find and determine characteristics of some 4,000 planets already discovered in the galaxy. Awe was shared by all. Check out some photos of the event here.

RRAlso, at CFI–L.A.’s Steve Allen Theater on Saturday, none other than Robert Redford announced a Fossil Fuel Divestment-Climate Action Model approved by the Pitzer College Board of Trustees, at an L.A. Press Club press conference. The Press Club’s home office is at the Center. Learn more about it here. 

Ron MICFI’s president and CEO Ron Lindsay visited CFI–Michigan, where a packed house listened to his talk on secularism as a fundamental requirement for democracy and human rights. It’s the subject of his forthcoming book The Necessity of Secularism, due out later this year.

OhioCFI–Northeast Ohio held a major civic and lobbying day with its Ohio Secular Summit in January, and several participants have shared their experiences of the event with the Humanist Community of Central Ohio. One such civic-minded secularist called it an “empowering experience,” saying, “the presentations reinforced that change starts with a group of like-minded people, organizing and broadcasting their message.”

CushingNicole Cushing, author of the new novel I Am the New God, visited with CFI–Indiana on April 3 to give a reading from her book and discuss some its themes. She recently posted video of the discussion, which touches on, among other things, the connection between faith and violence.


CFI in the Media

Paul HPL

●   CFI’s Paul Fidalgo went on HuffPost Live with Jaweed Kaleem, Anila Ali, and Soul Dancer (that’s his real name!) to discuss beliefs about life after death. 

●   Ross Pomeroy of RealClearScience says pseudoscience should be taught in science classes so it can be better combated and touts the efforts of organizations like our own Committee for Skeptical Inquiry that “constantly battle these forces of nonsense.” 

●   At the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Rev. Pamela Dolan makes common cause with humanists, citing CFI’s Paul Fidalgo’s remarks about the impact of Carl Sagan. 

●   As Minnesota considers a bill to allow marriages to be solemnized by secular celebrants, Huffington Post quotes CFI president Ron Lindsay on the importance of nonbelievers’ right to be married by their own officiants. 

●   Mother Jones cites the research of Ben Radford on the myth of the chupacabra

●   The Scripps news service covered our opposition to a Florida sheriff’s office using public resources to support a prayer event.


Highlights from CFI on the Web

Carrie Trudeau

●   Carrie Poppy reviews recently-convicted fraudster Kevin Trudeau‘s weight-loss book, and creates what might be Skeptical Inquirer‘s first animated GIF!. 

●   CFI communications director Paul Fidalgo writes at Friendly Atheist about UK Labour leader Ed Miliband’s admission that he does not believe in God, and compares his openness about his nonbelief with the overt Christianity of David Cameron and Tony Blair. 

●    Joe Nickell takes aim at “sighing debunkers” who roll their eyes at paranormal believers and subjects they find beneath them. Joe says “skeptical burnout” is common for debunkers as opposed to investigators “who are willing endlessly to seek explanations for mysteries and use them to teach science and the scientific method.” 

●   Ben Radford reviews the new horror flick Oculus and finds its attempts at portraying scientific investigation “pretty absurd.”

And of course, you can keep up with news relevant to skeptics and seculars every weekday with The Morning Heresy.


Save the Date! Upcoming Events


April 19:

     •  CFI–Michigan offers a service opportunity as they beautify the banks of the Grand River.

     •  CFI Skeptics of Eugene, Oregon, celebrate “Zombie Jesus Day,” where one is encouraged to come dressed as “a bunny rabbit, zombie or just yourself.”

     •  CFI–Indiana holds its Arts and Science Day for Kids.

April 20:

     •  Nobel Laureate Sir Harry Kroto speaks to CFI–Tallahassee with “The Birth of Natural Philosophy and its Prodigal Son: Science.”

     •  CFI–Indiana presents a screening of American Freethought, a documentary produced by the Council for Secular Humanism on the history of nonbelief in the U.S.

     •  E.G. Vallianatos presents on the subject of the political power of big agribusiness and its dangers for CFI–Los Angeles.

April 21:

     •  Ron Lindsay speaks before the Missoula Area Secular Society about the virtues of secularism.

April 22:

     •  Ron Lindsay closes out his Montana “Three Cheers for Secularism” tour by speaking before the Flathead Area Secular Humanist Association.

April 23:

     •  CFI–Michigan hosts Rabbi Jeffrey Falick for a talk on Humanistic Judaism.

April 24:

     •  CFI–Northeast Ohio’s Unholy Rollers bowl to raise funds for the Preterm Access Fund, which assists with abortion access for women.

April 27:

     •  Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State will talk to CFI–DC about what “religious liberty” does and doesn’t mean. 

May 3:

     •  CFI–Los Angeles hosts a special screening of the documentary The Unbelievers, followed by a panel discussion with Lawrence Krauss himself, plus director Gus Holwerda and producer Luke Holwerda.

     •  Comic-musician Roy Zimmerman sings songs of science, fracking, creationism, and other delightful topics with CFI–Western New York at CFI’s Transnational headquarters.

May 4:

     •  Researcher Phil Zuckerman, author of Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion and Society Without God looks at the implications of the “rise of the Nones” in a presentation for CFI–Los Angeles.

May 14:

     •  CFI–Michigan presents Andrew Franks and his presentation on anti-atheist bias and nonbelief as a political liability.


Thank you!

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Cause & Effect: The Center for Inquiry Newsletter is edited by Paul Fidalgo, Center for Inquiry communications director.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. CFI’s web address is