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All Sorts of Atrocities

April 4, 2019

Whoa, have you seen the new website for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry? No longer confusingly found at the URL for CSICOP, it now resides, wisely, at skepticalinquirer.org. NICE.

A brand new Point of Inquiry episode has Kavin Senapathy talking to Susan Gerbic about her big celebrity-psychic sting operation that was covered prominently by the New York Times.

The LA Times publishes a letter to the editor by CFI chair Eddie Tabash responding to an op-ed on the religiosity of presidential candidates. Eddie says:

Read literally, the Bible has God causing and commanding all sorts of atrocities. All societies become more humane and moral the more they pull away from the literal words of their holy books. We become more moral when we no longer execute women suspected of being witches or kill those who beckon us to worship another deity.

We must reach a point where we judge all candidates by the content of their character and not by their theology.

Just under half of all voters, according to a Morning Consult poll, say that Christian nationalism is “an important or critical threat to the vital interests of the country.”

Last month, Andreas Kyriacou did his first official stint at the UN Human Rights Council as CFI’s new UN Advocate, and we’ve got the text of his statements and video of one of his addresses.

Mars is emitting methane. Scientists don’t know why. Kenneth Chang at the Times writes:

It might have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life — specifically methanogens, microbes that release methane as a waste product.

Bloomberg reports that YouTube executives told its employees not to pursue any means of dealing with, or even keeping track of, false and dangerously radicalizing content in order to keep engagement numbers high. It looks really bad.

Manuel Roig-Franzia at the Post tells of the rise and the writhing, convulsing fall of WorldNetDaily, the extreme right-wing, conspiracy-obsessed outlet that just can’t seem to keep it’s totally-not-crazy house in order.

This American Life devotes an episode to exploring the obsession with conspiracy theories titled, ominously, “Anything Can Be Anything.”

Sarah Kaiser updates us on the goings-on at CFI HQ for the Western New York branch, where we learn that Sarah was interviewed on the Small Talk Big Talk podcast!

Religion & Politics interviews Jemar Tisby, author of The Color of Compromise, about the American church’s role in systemic racism. Here, Tisby explains why he uses the term “complicity” to describe it:

It’s not that every Christian was a foaming-at-the-mouth racist hurling racial slurs and burning crosses on peoples’ lawns. It’s that when they had the opportunity to intervene in everyday ways, they chose complicity over confrontation, and this enabled a larger atmosphere of racial compromise.

Gov. Gary Herbert signs Utah’s hate crimes bill into law. It was an arduous path to passage, and it has quite a list of protected categories:

age; ancestry; disability; ethnicity; familial status; gender identity; homelessness; marital status; matriculation; national origin; political expression; race; religion; sex; sexual orientation; service in the U.S. Armed Forces; status as an emergency responder.

Are there hate crimes against emergency responders? Is that actually a thing??

New York State’s education commissioner rejects a religious-exemption claim to mandatory vaccinations from a member of the Temple of the Inner Flame Church, whose rules forbid vaccines because they count as “foreign substance that is not naturally found in the body.” Sort of like, um, food?

A group of Ahmadi Muslim activists go to Capitol Hill to advocate for the religious freedom rights of Uighur Muslims in China.

Tara Isabella Burton at RNS says that Jordan Peterson may not be such a great choice to deliver divinity lectures, but he and his ilk would make for an important subject for such a lecture.

Thanks to CQ Roll Call, the U.S. Congress now has one Member officially categorized as “Humanist,” good ol’ Rep. Jared Huffman. Hemant adds, “With a goddamn capital ‘H’ whether he likes it or not.”

The pope says, hey, you know what? We’ve sometimes been jerks to women:

A living church can look back on history and acknowledge a fair share of male authoritarianism, domination, various forms of enslavement, abuse and sexist violence. With this outlook, she can support the call to respect women’s rights, and offer convinced support for greater reciprocity between males and females, while not agreeing with everything some feminist groups propose.

Joe Nickell returns to the CFI blog to recount his investigation of a thirty-five-year-old alleged UFO-abduction mystery, solved using Joe’s “secret weapon,” retired Air Force Major James McGaha.

The FTC smacks down a “predatory publisher” of scientific papers by winning a $50 million summary judgment. John Timmer at Ars Technica reminds us how tough it is to stop these junk journals:

Many of the companies that engage in predatory practices are small and based overseas, so it’s not clear how well the FTC will be able to pursue them. And, as long as these journals are willing to provide crackpot ideas with a veneer of scientific legitimacy, it’ll be tough to shut them down entirely. Still, it’s nice to know that there’s legal recourse should predatory publishers become a large-enough problem.

Texas throws up its hands and bars chaplains from execution chambers altogether.

CNN reports on two things that climate change is ruining: The Great Barrier Reef and your sex drive. On the issue of the reef, a researcher says “dead corals don’t make babies.” And neither do humans bummed out by global warming.

Quote of the Day

Robert Peoples of the Affinis Humanity Coalition delivers a humanist invocation before the Arizona State Senate:

In classical times, we’ve been asked to look above us for inspiration. But today, I ask that you look within and be the curators of inspiration. …Please open your eyes with me. Our eyes were closed not to [receive] the guidance from a divine artificer or the tenets of religiosity. But today our eyes were closed to excavate the catacombs of our humanistic moral fibers — empathy, love, and reason. All these attributes to be the barometer of just law.

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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.