Cause & Effect: The CFI Newsletter – No. 5

May 2, 2014

Cause & Effect is the biweekly newsletter of the Center for Inquiry community, covering the wide range of work that you help make possible.

The Main Events

Raif 170Rally for Free Expression in D.C. Saturday

Tomorrow, May 3, CFI will join allies around the world in calling for the freedom of Raif Badawi, the atheist Saudi writer and dissident jailed for blasphemy (“ridiculing Islam”), who also faces a possible death sentence for apostasy. For our part, CFI will join Muslims for Progressive Values in organizing a Washington, D.C., protest at the Saudi Arabian Embassy at 3:00 pm ET on Saturday. Get the details here. If you’re in the D.C. area, we need you! Please join us in demonstrating support for free expression.  

WiS170A Season of Spectacular CFI Events

Throughout the spring and summer, we’re thrilled that we’re able to offer a wide variety of exciting and enlightening events and programs that span the entire spectrum of skeptic and secular interests. Groundbreaking conferences, life-changing excursions, and illuminating educational experiences are all coming in the next few months with even more to be announced!

●   May 16–18 – Women in Secularism III, Alexandria, VA: Come hear from the bravest and most brilliant women of freethought in what is sure to be among 2014’s most inspiring and thought-provoking events. Spectacular speakers including Barbara Ehrenreich, Susan Jacoby, Rebecca Goldstein, and many more. 

●   June 20–30 – CFI Travel Club cruise to the Galápagos Archipelago: This is your chance to let the land that inspired Darwin inspire you, while enjoying the company of like-minded people. Special guests: Lawrence Krauss, Sir Harold Kroto, R. Elisabeth Cornwell, and CFI president Ronald Lindsay

●   August 3–9 – Camp Inquiry 2014, Holland, NY: An enriching and exciting week for kids age 7–16, taking discovery to a whole new level with how-to workshops, youth-sparked activities, and inquiry-inspired explorations, all taking place under this year’s theme: “CI is DIY!” 

●   August 7–10 – The Skeptics Toolbox, Eugene, OR: Sharpen your critical thinking skills with invaluable, hands-on workshops using model cases to deal with dubious claims, all guided by a phenomenal panel of skeptical experts! 

News from HQ

Greta Randi 170Champions of Skepticism and Atheism on Point of Inquiry

On our flagship podcast Point of Inquiry, Josh Zepps interviewed skeptic hero James Randi, the subject of the new documentary An Honest Liar. The episode is a wonderful and funny conversation full of reminiscences of skeptic triumphs and discussions of skepticism’s future. 

Lindsay Beyerstein spoke to atheist powerhouse Greta Christina about her new book, Coming Out Atheist. They talked about the benefits of avowing one’s godlessness, as well as the particular challenges faced by women and minorities who seek a way out of the atheist closet. 

Rohingya 170CFI to Congress: Tell Burma to End Persecution of Rohingyas

Rohingya Muslims in Burma are subject to discrimination, abuse, and persecution at the hands of the Burmese government. Over 140,000 have been internally displaced, with hundreds of thousands more having fled to neighboring countries. We’ve joined a coalition of groups calling on the U.S. House to approve a resolution urging Burma to respect international human rights standards and end this persecution of Rohingya Muslims. A PDF of the entire joint statement is here.


CFI Community News

EG 170Based on his 25 years with the Environmental Protection Agency, E.G. Vallianatos discussed the “politics and science involved in the poisoning of America” at Sunday’s twice-monthly “Feed Your Brain” lecture series at CFI–Los Angeles on Easter Sunday. His new book, Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the E.P.A., cowritten with McKay Jenkins, concentrates on the dangers of pesticides over the years, including the recent devastation of honey bee hives across the world. He’ll give this same presentation to the Orange County CFI group in Costa Mesa on May 18.

Krauss 170Tonight (Friday), CFI–Los Angeles will host a special screening of the documentary The Unbelievers, followed by a panel discussion with one of its subjects, Lawrence Krauss, plus director Gus Holwerda and producer Luke Holwerda.


Zimmerman 170Also tonight, on the other side of the country, comic-musician Roy Zimmerman sings songs of science, fracking, creationism, and other delightful topics with CFI–Western New York at CFI’s Transnational headquarters. 



CFI in the Media

Tyson 170

●   CFI chief Ron Lindsay was recently a guest on Montana Public Radio, in an interview that turned out to be a genuinely useful introduction and overview of what CFI and other skeptical and humanist activists are working for. Definitely check this out

●   In addition to their conversation on Point of Inquiry, Josh Zepps interviewed James Randi along with his documentarians on HuffPost Live, and CFI’s Paul Fidalgo was invited to send in a video question for Randi toward the end. 

●   Upworthy posts are more or less ubiquitous on social media, but one of their recent viral hits was a happy surprise to us, as they highlighted a bit of Neil deGrasse Tyson wisdom from a past CFI conference, where he talks about breaking what he called the “fences” of racial expectations to become one of the most famous scientists on Earth.   

●   John Mashey at DeSmogBlog praises the work of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and Skeptical Inquirer in a post critical of “pseudoskeptics.”


Highlights from CFI on the Web

Reason Day 170


CFI’s marketing director Lauren Becker has given us two excellent essays for two notable occasions. For Earth Day (April 22), in an audio essay from a classic Point of Inquiry episode, Lauren gets to the heart of what’s important about a day for the planet: the humans who live on it. And for the National Day of Reason on May 1, she makes a powerful case for why a “moral footing” for America can never be achieved through religious ideology.         

Ron Lindsay opines at Huffington Post on the canonization of two former popes, writing, “John Paul’s specific failings are a symptom of a larger problem, which is the Catholic Church’s continuing failure to understand and accept human sexuality.”

This is something we think a lot of skeptics are going to find very useful: “Skepdoc” Harriet Hall has written an “Intro to Homeopathy” for Skeptical Inquirer, a one-stop page that lays down what we know about it, why it’s a big problem, and why it doesn’t work. At all. 

More Great Content from CFI: 

●   Thomas R. Casten in Skeptical Inquirer says both climate realists and denialists should take heed of the potential for profit in fighting global warming

●   Kylie Sturgess interviews satirist Julian Morrow about his group’s consumer rights show. 

●   Joe Nickell investigates the secrets of mummies, the alleged miracles of St. Hyacinth, and the claims of some nineteenth-century snake oil (which has been reconfigured and is still sold today). 

●   Ben Radford explodes myths about near-death experiences, Nessie sightings on satellite maps, and how one can predict the sex of a baby (one can’t).

●   Tim Binga muses on what it means for a place to be a library in the digital era.

And of course, you can keep up with news relevant to skeptics and seculars every weekday with The Morning Heresy.


Save the Date! Upcoming Events

May 4:

     •  Researcher Phil Zuckerman, author of Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion and Society Without God looks at the implications of the “rise of the Nones” in a presentation for CFI–Los Angeles.

     •  CFI–Michigan holds its May service project, a day to help preserve the Long Lake campground.

May 14:

     •  CFI–Michigan presents Andrew Franks and his presentation on anti-atheist bias and nonbelief as a political liability.

     •  CFI–Northeast Ohio hosts a special interactive presentation by web designer Morgan Adams on “Cellular Automata: Simple Laws That Create Complex Things.” (Dig the animated GIF on the event page.) 

May 18:

     •  Donald Prothero comes to CFI–Los Angeles to talk about how science denial poses a threat to public health and society’s prospects for the future.

May 28:

     •  CFI–Michigan hosts a presentation by Justin Schieber of the Reasonable Doubts podcast on “Why Theism is Probably False.”


Thank you!

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Cause & Effect: The Center for Inquiry Newsletter
is edited by Paul Fidalgo, Center for Inquiry communications director.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in
Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a
secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. CFI’s web address is

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at