Cause & Effect: The Center for Inquiry Newsletter

Cause & Effect: The CFI Newsletter - No. 71

December 30, 2016

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

The Main Events

131529_550x814 copy.jpgAn Evening with Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris 

This past November, thousands of people were fortunate enough to catch Richard Dawkins on his tour of North America, presented by the Center for Inquiry and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. At each engagement, Richard was joined by a special guest for a live conversation between friends and colleagues on a wide array of topics. His conversations with Sam Harris in Los Angeles were particularly popular, both selling out almost immediately.

For those who didn’t have the opportunity to see Richard on tour (or for those who did and want to experience it again), CFI is proud to be able to offer the full two-part video of Richard’s events with Sam Harris at the Alex Theatre in Los Angeles. Current members of CFI (at the “Planet” level or above) already have free access to this special event as a benefit of membership. It’s a great reason to become a member yourself.

Plus: these videos are also available for purchase on demand at Vimeo for download or streaming. Parts 1 and 2 can be bought separately for $4.99 each or together for $6.99.

Whichever way you go, you won’t want to miss this fascinating conversation between two of the most provocative and influential thinkers of our time. Richard and Sam discuss advancements in science and technology, religious extremists and the challenge they pose, ways to find meaning in life without religious belief, a bit of politics, and so much more. At the closing of a year of seemingly endless unreason, this is a great way to enjoy some insightful and inspiring discourse.


e3eae759cec7b5ecec952a1aea2d5f70.jpgFree Inquiry Now Offers Digital Subscriptions 

Gather ’round, my young friends, and let me regale you with a true tale of a time when articles, reviews, and essays were bundled up into a single publication known as a “magazine,” and their text lovingly printed out on a substance known as paper. (It was thin, sort of floppy, made from trees, not worth getting into.) Eventually, of course, humankind all but abandoned paper and published nearly all of its “magazine” content on the Internet. 

One magazine, however, had yet to so liberate its prose, despite the cutting-edge ideas and imminently sharable content contained within its leaves (“pages” in the archaic sense).

This great magazine was Free Inquiry, which to this day remains the leading journal of secular humanist thought, published by the right noble Center for Inquiry and the highly esteemed Council for Secular Humanism. 

But hear me, oh young ones. For one day in the year two thousand and sixteen (common era), the magazine swung a mighty blade and severed the last bonds that held it back from marching proudly into The Cyber. For on the sixteenth of December (Gregorian), Free Inquiry offered digital-only subscriptions for the first time.

Now the wise and well-informed readers of the best in secular humanist thought could choose: a “print” subscription just as before, along with access to the same content on the “world wide web,” OR a digital-only subscription, with neither paper nor postage, and at a reduced price (I will tell you tales of “money” and “disposable income” at a later date). 

For more information about this important moment in the history of civilization, interested parties were invited to direct their “web browsers” to And so they did. And so they did.

And so may you. Now go.


News from HQ and the CFI Community

Mary_Edwards_Walker.jpgNew Stops and New Stories on the Freethought Trail

The Freethought Trail is a collection of historical sites in Western New York, as well as a deeply researched website that tells the story of progressive and radical nineteenth-century political and cultural movements: secularism and freethought, certainly, but also the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, and even forms of utopianism. A project of CFI’s Council for Secular Humanism, the Trail hosts tourists, scholars, and curious travelers alike who want to learn more about figures such as Robert Green Ingersoll, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and many others. 

In the past few months, additional sites have joined the Trail, and more detail about the area’s rich history has been brought to light. Some examples of recent additions:

  • Meet Mary Edwards Walker, who became a medical doctor in 1855, became the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor, and spent the last decades of her life dressed as a man.
  • Learn about the cause known as Fourierist Utopianism, “one of the oddest phenomena ever to sweep America,” which “involved some level of communalism, whether in the form of shared labor or something more radical, such as sexual access to one another’s spouses.”
  • Hear the wild story of the Skaneateles Community, the only fully freethinking Fourierist intentional community among some 300 that sprang up—and died—in the 1840s. 
  • Speaking of odd, here’s the picaresque tale of John Anderson Collins, the most peculiar character ever to inconvenience the causes of abolitionism and utopianism.
  • You can also read a significantly expanded biography of Charles B. Reynolds, the man whom Robert Ingersoll defended in a famous blasphemy trial.

And there’s so much more. Browse the website and plan a visit soon.


donald-trumpsanta.jpgTroubles with Trump and Santa on Point of Inquiry

There is no denying that the incoming Trump administration will mean major changes to the direction and priorities of the federal government, and CFI has been clear about the need to be ready for the challenges ahead. But what, specifically, can we expect? On Point of Inquiry, Lindsay Beyerstein spoke with journalist Amanda Marcotte, currently at Raw Story. Marcotte lays out which issues of concern to seculars and progressives are the most vulnerable, which ones stand a fighting chance, and how best to push back.

And this week, Lindsay welcomed CFI’s own Tom Flynn, editor of Free Inquiry and executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism. Tom is known for being strictly against Christmas, arguing that nonbelievers celebrating this co-opted holiday only validate Christians’ stereotypes about atheists. Lindsay disagrees, and the two of them hold a friendly debate on whether or not we should all follow the example of the Anti-Claus. 


Highlights from CFI on the Web and in the Media

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


Upcoming CFI Events

December 31:

January 14:

  • CFI–Tampa Bay takes part in SkeptiCamp2, presented by the Atheists of Florida. 

January 16

January 17:

January 20:


Thank you!

Everything we do at CFI is made possible by you and your support. Let’s keep working together for science, reason, and secular values.  Donate today!

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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, the Council for Secular Humanism, and will soon be home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at