Sam Shore recently completed his B.A. in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While taking a brief hiatus from academia, he continues to be involved in the skeptic movement as Social Media Chair for the Illini Secular Student Alliance.
After a good deal of time to rest and reflect, I am excited to report back on the amazing success that was the 2012 Center For Inquiry Leadership Conference: An intensive weekend for leaders of affiliated groups who share in their mission of promoting science, reason and secular values. From open to close, it was clear that the organizers of the conference were dedicated to providing the tools necessary for the assembled participants to be more effective leaders in the future.
If you've recently been hiding under a rock (or not reading r/atheism), you might have missed the amazing story of 16-year-old Jessica Ahlquist and her recent lawsuit to remove a prayer banner in her public high school. Just last week, a federal judge ruled in her favor and it looks like the school district will take down the banner rather than continuing to futilely challenge the Constitution with taxpayer money.
When discussing the absurdity of organized religion, it's important to recognize that while the tenets themselves may be silly, the mechanisms utilized to instill brand loyalty are so skillfully designed that Madison Avenue can only look on in jealousy.
There's a great post over at The Friendly Atheist's blog this morning where Hemant talks about his experience being on the "Diversity in Skepticism" panel at TAM 9. Apparently, the conversation became particularly focused on the diversity of skepticism present at meetings. The crux of the discussion was, as he put it, "If we truly advocate skepticism, and we want to apply it to all areas of life, then why do we always seem to limit our conversations to the paranormal or science? Why don’t we ever talk about the Drug War, or Gun Control, or Abortion, or the entire panoply of topics for which there’s available data and plenty of false information spread about them?" Hemant concludes that the movement has much to gain from bringing skeptics uninterested in our current focus into the fold.