The ‘Growing’ and ‘Common’ Threat of Something We Have Little Data On
December 5, 2018


In a recent article in The New York Times, Sharon Otterman describes cyber flashing, in which objectionable images are shared anonymously to random available mobile devices using the AirDrop platform, as “a growing trend of technology-enabled sexual harassment,” though she later notes that “Danielle Citron, a professor of law at the University of Maryland and …

Shaky Scaremongering
December 5, 2018


Apparently a paper by NASA researcher Silvano Colombano has caused some excitement by suggesting the possibility that aliens might have visited Earth, but of course that’s not quite what he was saying. Speculating about the wide variety of forms extraterrestrial life might take, he wrote, “I simply want to point out the fact that the intelligence …

Less Than Stellar
December 4, 2018


Sir David Attenborough addresses the UN climate change summit in Poland with a stark warning: If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon. … The world’s people have spoken. Time is running out. They want you, the decision-makers, to act now. …

Shining Light on Reality
December 3, 2018


We are bombarded with information on a daily basis.  It is often said we live in the information age, but we also live in the misinformation age. How do we decide what qualifies as knowledge and what qualifies as nonsense? Maybe there are no wrong or right answers but just opinions. Those promoting a multiplist …

A Real Caricature
December 3, 2018


As you know, former president George H.W. Bush died this past Friday. Hemant Mehta takes the opportunity to evaluate the claim of the late Rob Sherman that Bush had said that atheists should not be considered U.S. citizens. It is as iffy now as it ever was. Mark Silk, meanwhile, looks at how Bush had …

Seeing Clearly Now: Death of Psychic Bernice Golden
November 30, 2018


“International psychic Bernice Golden dies,” reported radio station WKBW of Buffalo on the date of her death, October 8, 2018 (Mason 2018). Although she did promote herself as an “International Psychic,” the label is overblown. Nevertheless, she certainly became, in her day, “Buffalo’s best known psychic” (Evans 2016). On a few occasions, she did get …

A Massive Airburst and a Bubbling Brine
November 30, 2018


This surprised me a little: According to a new study, people who pray after disasters and tragic events are less likely to actually do something substantive to help. I think I hoped that as much as we know prayers don’t fix anything, that at least they put someone in a generous state of mind. I …

A Petty Clique
November 29, 2018


Neil DeGrasse Tyson takes over Stephen Colbert’s show to interview Colbert himself, and they get into stuff like philosophy, Hobbits, Catholicism, and the fear that A.I. won’t take over. The Catholic Church in Pennsylvania is just getting started with its troubles: A former priest and bishops from the Scranton Diocese are being sued over sexual …

The Residents Gasped and Groaned
November 28, 2018


Sorry for the absence yesterday, but the flu done got me. It’s still gottin’ me, actually, but I care too damn much. NASA’s InSight spacecraft lands safely on Mars. On December 5, Richard A. Conn will talk to Brenda Vongova at Shakespeare & Co in NYC about his new book, The Earthbound Parent, on encouraging parents to “help stop …

Disingenuous Calculations
November 26, 2018


It’s a long one today, folks. Post-holiday and whatnot. Without religion, the trope goes, how could one possibly find meaning? Well, apparently most Americans are already well beyond all that. Yonat Shimron at Religion News Service reports on a Pew Research survey: …nearly 70 percent of Americans mention their family as a source of meaning …