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Giving Me the Vapors

October 14, 2020

After you deal with your kids’ disappointment over whatever Halloween turns out to be this year, you’ll need some affirming ritual to psychologically reset. Luckily, CFI and a bunch of other orgs are partnering to hold a Secular Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos Secular) Zoom event on November 1. Our boss Robyn Blumner will be there lighting a candle for one of the “secular saints,” CFI founder Paul Kurtz, as will Sasha Sagan, honoring her dad.

Speaking of Zooms, have you registered for the big Richard Dawkins/Javed Akhtar event October 24? You must! You don’t wanna be that person who, years from now, is all, “I had this chance to watch Dawkins and Akhtar have this awesome conversation, live, from the comfort of my home, and I TOTALLY BORKED and missed it.” Don’t be that person. Register now.

Speaking of Halloween (I mean, in the item before the last one), at Skeptical Inquirer, Kenny Biddle rounds up—and summarily debunks—a bunch of alleged ghost videos that inevitably crop up among “a surge in spooky fluff pieces” in the news media.

Benjamin Radford takes important lessons from Netflix’s documentary series on the Challenger disaster, dispelling some of the persistent myths. “Fueled by patriotism, a lucky streak, and NASA’s confidence, Americans were coaxed into complacency about the safety of manned space flight.”


You will all be glad to know that Judge Amy Coney Barrett has “read things about climate change” (hey, me too!), but, alas, would not say she has “firm views on it.”

You know who does? The COVID-embracing pastor John MacArthur, who says, “God intended us to use this planet, to fill this planet for the benefit of man. Never was it intended to be a permanent planet. It is a disposable planet. Christians ought to know that.”


Trump has lost a few percentage points of support from white evangelicals, according to Pew, and Biden now beats Trump with every religious group other than white Protestants.

“Abortion providers are doing Jesus-work,” says Viva Ruiz, musician and creator of “Thank God for Abortion.” Shannon Melero at Wonkette explains: “As everyone knows from the very important film Wonder Woman, only a god can kill a god. Ruiz’s plan to counter Conservative God is to battle him with Compassionate God.

Media Matters reports on the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights senior counsel Sarah Perry and her history of pseudoscientific “extreme anti-LGBTQ comments,” referring to conversion therapy as “psychologically beneficial” (it’s not) and the affirmation of trans youth as “diabolical.”


Kate Blanchard on the Christian right’s refusal to don masks: “I can’t help thinking of snake-handlers when I see the President and his minions going maskless.” You too, huh?

Tanya Lewis at Scientific American dispenses with eight ongoing myths about COVID-19.

Novella: Emphasizing herd immunity as a strategy is “a terrible idea.”


Symbols and rituals of Catholicism are being phased out of Irish state secondary schools.

Tanishq, a jewelry company India, pulls its TV ads featuring an interfaith couple after Hindu nationalists lose their minds over it, accusing the company of engaging in a “love jihad.”


Okay, so serious people don’t talk about “UFOs” anymore. It’s now “UAPs,” unidentified aerial phenomena. And now the European Space Agency wants everyone’s help in gathering up reports of UAPs. It’s the Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena Observations Reporting Scheme, or UAPORS, which almost looks like “vapors,” and there are a lot of potential jokes right there, but I’m trying not to let this get too long.


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.