Admiral Vindictive
August 9, 2018


We already know that to be religiously unaffiliated (aka a “none”) does not necessarily equate to nonbelief or atheism. So then why aren’t they part of a faith group? Pew Research digs up some fascinating answers. For example, about half of nones say it’s because of churches’ positions on social and political issues. About a …

Atheist Godfather, Holy Home Runs, Black Jesus
August 8, 2018


Celebrant: Do you reject Satan and all his works?
Me: I do. This was easy. Satan is fictional. I reject him, Santa Clause, and leprechauns.
Celebrant: Do you reject sin, so as to live in the freedom of God’s children?
Me: I do. For me sin is dropping a good slice of deep dish pizza onto a dirty floor. Or sitting on a $9 cigar. I’m against lots of those kinds of sins.
Celebrant: Do you reject the glamor of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin?
Me: I do. I mean… I’ll try. I won’t let any bad habits master me, though I reserve the right to dip my foot into Lake Sin every now and then.

Sensational Journalism: Blowing up the New England Supervolcano Story
August 8, 2018


Look out, New Englanders! Did you know there’s a rising, bubbling supervolcano right below the surface of New Hampshire? Better get to living free, before you die! At least that’s the conclusion you might draw from the headline of a June 26 story (Fox News 2018), “A new supervolcano is brewing under Massachusetts, Vermont and …

Lively Experiments
August 8, 2018


At Skeptical Inquirer, Stuart Vyse looks at how the baseless practice of “facilitated communication” for autism patients made a comeback in recent years, only to face renewed scrutiny and pushback from the scientific community. However, Stuart writes, “Despite these few glimmers of light on the side of science and reason, the current state of the …

Undervaluing the Abstract
August 7, 2018


According to new data from PRRI, there has been a small increase in the percentage of Americans who believe that discrimination against LGBTQ Americans is okay if it’s based on someone’s religious beliefs. It’s up 3 points from last year just among Democrats. The Dallas Observer profiles Bob Nygard, a private investigator who targets con …

Mystery of the “Miracle” Stairs
August 6, 2018


“. . . I only saw it because I was looking for it.” —Sherlock Holmes in “Silver Blaze”   A claim circulated on the Internet holds that an antique spiral staircase in a Santa Fe chapel “miraculously” stands despite having “no discernible means of support.” True? This was a case I investigated on site in …

Popesplaining
August 6, 2018


Facebook takes down four Alex Jones/Infowars pages from its service for repeatedly violating hate speech and bullying policies. Apple has also taken all five Alex Jones podcasts off its podcast directory, which is by far the most popular podcast service, and Spotify has removed all episodes of The Alex Jones Show. Speaking of Jones, Keith …

Do Antidepressants Actually Work?
August 3, 2018


The use of antidepressant medications, particularly the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac and Zoloft, have skyrocketed in the past thirty years. If you’re reading this column, then there is an excellent chance that you have either taken an antidepressant medication or know someone who has. The latest data shows that in the U.S., …

Post-Mortem on a Misunderstood Post: Online Misunderstandings and How to Avoid Them
August 3, 2018


I’m always fascinated by how thinking goes wrong. Given an Event A or a Factual Statement/Observation B, what are the ways in which people come to misunderstand the nature of that event or statement? Sometimes it’s the result of intentional deception or obfuscation, such as is often found in advertising or political speech. But more …

Clever Hostile Propaganda
August 3, 2018


Podcast provider Stitcher drops Alex Jones from their service. HA HA HA HA! Stitcher said in a statement: We have reviewed Alex Jones’ podcasts and found he had, on multiple occasions, harassed or allowed harassment of private individuals and organizations, and that harassment has led listeners of the show to engage in similar harassment and …