atheist news feeds

Turkish lawmaker: Jew or atheist behind Erdogan corruption scandal - Jerusalem Post

"Atheist" in google news - March 9, 2014 - 1:10pm

Turkish lawmaker: Jew or atheist behind Erdogan corruption scandal
Jerusalem Post
A member of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling party has said that he would understand if a Jew or an atheist were behind the premier's graft scandal, but he questioned how a Muslim could be involved. Turkish lawmaker and former ...

Categories: Atheist News

US atheists' group sues over inclusion of 'Ground Zero Cross' in new 9/11 museum -

"Atheist" in google news - March 9, 2014 - 11:17am

US atheists' group sues over inclusion of 'Ground Zero Cross' in new 9/11 museum
What is wrong with having a plaque that says “atheists died here, too”?” The crossbeam, a familiar sight for visitors to Ground Zero for more than decade, has already been installed in the new museum ahead of the centre's much-delayed opening in May.

Categories: Atheist News

Today is my birfday!

Pharyngula - March 9, 2014 - 9:38am

I had such plans, such grand plans for today. We’re on spring break, and I am 100% caught up on my grading, so I have no obligations hanging over me. I had a list in my head:

  • Pancakes!

  • A little writing, off and on, on my big super secret project.

  • Build a model airplane. My daughter got me one as a souvenir of her trip to Japan, and my first thought was, “I haven’t built one of these since I was a teenager, 30 years ago”…and then I had to recalculate. 40 years ago. 40. So I was going to aggressively regress to a spotty gangling teen nerd today.

  • Cosmos on the TV tonight!

Doesn’t that sound relaxing? But no, instead I have come down with the Mother of All Colds, and I am hacking and weezing and got little sleep and am feeling miserable.

So plans…revised.

  • Sit.

  • Ooze slime from cranial orifices.

  • Hot tea.

  • Archer season 4 on NetFlix.

  • Hope I’m conscious for Cosmos.

Thst’ll have to do. Maybe later this week I’ll have my party, belatedly, once I finish destroying this virus.

Categories: Our friends

There’s a secular argument for wearing underpants on your head. So?

Pharyngula - March 8, 2014 - 9:28pm

Sarah Moglia points out that David Silverman has been saying some weird things recently.

Yesterday, an article was published about atheists at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference). Featured prominently in the article was Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists. In it, Dave was quoted as saying, “I will admit there is a secular argument against abortion. You can’t deny that it’s there, and it’s maybe not as clean cut as school prayer, right to die, and gay marriage.” Is that so?

I’m trying to figure out what this ‘secular argument’ actually is; he didn’t say. I have encountered anti-choice people tabling at an atheist convention, and they couldn’t say either — I got the impression these were actually religious people trying to evangelize to the atheists with a pretense, and they stood out oddly from the rest of the crowd…rather like an atheist shilling at CPAC. So speak up, Dave, tell us what these secular arguments are.

I’m also wary because in my business we’ve run into folks peddling religious bullshit under the guise of being secular before: we call them intelligent design creationists. No one is fooled. Similarly, the anti-choicers who claim to be making a rational secular argument are easy to see through, since they ultimately always rely on some magical perspective on the embryo.

But here’s the bottom line: it is not enough to make a purely secular argument. It has to also be a good argument, unless atheism is to become a smokescreen for nonsense, to be accepted purely because of its godless label. And then atheism might as well just be another religion.

Categories: Our friends

Megyn Kelly shreds atheist's spin on World Trade Center cross appeal - BizPac Review

"Atheist" in google news - March 8, 2014 - 6:14pm

Megyn Kelly shreds atheist's spin on World Trade Center cross appeal
BizPac Review
American Atheists President David Silverman used a return appearance on television's most-watched cable news network to suggest that at least five members of his group have suffered a variety of ailments – chiefly dyspepsia – because their intestines ...

Categories: Atheist News

An Atheist Reacts to Atheist Boorishness - Patheos (blog)

"Atheist" in google news - March 8, 2014 - 4:51pm

Patheos (blog)

An Atheist Reacts to Atheist Boorishness
Patheos (blog)
In a March 7 opinion piece, lifelong atheist David Lawrence chides his fellow atheists for their boorish behavior. In the process, he admits what any thinking person knows: Atheism, which as a movement is an unbelief system about nothingness, has ...

Categories: Atheist News

How creationists distort science

The Panda's Thumb - March 8, 2014 - 2:18pm
By David MacMillan Following the joint interview with Dan Phelps and Terry Mortenson on WEKU-FM, David MacMillan wrote a letter to Dr. Mortenson. This article is based on that letter. Dr. Mortenson responded to Mr. MacMillan’s letter, but unfortunately requested that his response be kept confidential. Odd behavior, it seems to me, for someone who is itching for a debate; Dr. Mortenson is welcome to respond here any time he likes. Panda’s Thumb recently posted... Matt Young

Second Circuit Court Hears Atheist Arguments Against 9/11 Cross - Christian News Network

"Atheist" in google news - March 8, 2014 - 11:46am

Second Circuit Court Hears Atheist Arguments Against 9/11 Cross
Christian News Network
As previously reported, the group American Atheists filed a lawsuit against the presence of the cross in 2011, asserting that it has caused individuals to suffer “depression, headaches, anxiety, and mental pain and anguish,” and even indigestion. It ...

Categories: Atheist News

I don’t understand how this was made

Pharyngula - March 8, 2014 - 11:20am

You’d think I’d have noticed if ever someone had cracked my chest open.


Unless…there are others like me?

Categories: Our friends

Christ, but I actually hate these people

Pharyngula - March 8, 2014 - 9:53am

Fox News Republicans and Libertarians — every once in a while they do something that just ignites this white hot flash of rage in my brain. I can’t help it. The Daily Show had a segment on conservatives getting angry at poor people for buying good food with food stamps; apparently, it would be OK if they had to use their pittance on garbage and rotting offal, but how dare they buy the same kind of fish rich people would buy!

The Daily Show
Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,The Daily Show on Facebook

Average food stamp benefits per person are between $125 and $200, depending on what state you live in, so your dietary budget is $4-$7 a day. You can do OK on that; you’ll be eating lots of filling starchy staples, livening up your meals with a bit of fruit or cheap cuts of meat, and if you economize, you can occasionally splurge on something a bit more luxurious than hamburger. But it does not allow the kind of excess these Fox News idiots are getting outraged over.

I grew up in a family on food stamps, and I knew lots of poor people. Nothing focuses the mind on budgetary discipline so much as the fact that if you overspend this week, you will go hungry next week. I trust the poor to be sensible, because the consequences are dire. Yet these rich assholes who blithely spend as much in a single meal at a fancy restaurant as the poor are allotted for an entire month want to micromanage every penny spent by the unemployed and unfortunate, and congress just made massive cuts to the food stamp program. No, poor people, you aren’t allowed to enjoy anything. It’s all their fault they’re poor.

They remind me of that skeevy ratbag, Mr Pink, from Reservoir Dogs (clip NSFW):

It’s a whole network and a whole political party stuffed full of Mr Pinks.

Their indignation at the possibility that the poor might even get to eat lobster now and then also reminded me of the awful Mr Hawkins. There’s another Pink.

Categories: Our friends

The brain is a complex and funny thing

Pharyngula - March 8, 2014 - 9:22am

Can you generate the illusion that your mind has left your body? This woman can.

After a class on out-of-body experiences, a psychology graduate student at the University of Ottawa came forward to researchers to say that she could have these voluntarily, usually before sleep. “She appeared surprised that not everyone could experience this,” wrote the scientists in a study describing the case, published in February in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

So what does the modern researcher do when someone has a weird perceptual sensation? Stick their head in an MRI and look at what’s happening.

To better understand what was going on, the researchers conducted a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study of her brain. They found that it surprisingly involved a “strong deactivation of the visual cortex.” Instead, the experience “activated the left side of several areas associated with kinesthetic imagery,” such as mental representations of bodily movement.

Her experience, the scientists wrote, “really was a novel one.” But just maybe, not as novel as previously thought. If you are capable of floating out of your body, don’t keep it to yourself!

OK, I won’t. I used to be able to do that. When I was roughly 5 to 7 years old, and with declining frequency in years afterwards, I experienced this phenomenon routinely, and it was exactly as described. As I was drifting off to sleep, I’d have this peculiar sensation of heightened kinesthesia — I’d be acutely aware of my body, where every limb was, and I’d also lose my other senses — my hearing was muffled, with a kind of low hum, and I wouldn’t be able to see anything. But at the same time, I also had an exaggerated consciousness of objects around me, so I’d literally feel like a small boy with an awareness expanding to fill the room, losing the disconnect between self and other. And then I’d fall asleep.

Even as a child, though, I didn’t describe it to myself as floating outside myself; I called them my “big head dreams”, because of the way my awareness of space increased. I might have been annoyed at my bedtime, but I didn’t will myself to float out into the living room and watch TV, ghostlike, with my parents. I saw it as an odd shift in the focus of my attention as I drifted off to sleep, a kind of hallucination, nothing more.

I enjoyed the sensation and would voluntarily succumb to it, but it occurred less often as I got older. Probably the last time I experienced it was in my teens, but I still vividly recall what it felt like.

It was not out-of-body travel. Rebecca Watson has a reply to the article, and clarifies for the gullible that no, scientists aren’t studying out-of-body experiences, they’re looking at sensory processing and mental imagery.

The word “hallucination” appears ten times in the case study yet zero times in the Popular Science article. Because of this, a naive person who reads the PopSci article but not the original paper may walk away with the belief that the brain scans show what happens when a person actually leaves their body, as opposed to showing what happens when a person feels as though they are leaving their body. Again, the difference seems small but is actually quite large: the former describes a study that would be at home on an episode of Coast to Coast or Fringe or those episodes of Family Matters where Urkel did science experiments, and the latter would be at home in a scientific journal to be used as the basis for further study and experimentation.

Move along, it’s all mundane brain science. No spirits involved.

Categories: Our friends

The diversity panel at CPAC

Pharyngula - March 7, 2014 - 10:45pm

Look at their ties! It’s like a rainbow!


There’s more: here’s a photo of the audience they were talking to:

It’s Clint Eastwood writ large!

Categories: Our friends

David Silverman: CPAC is crawling with closet atheists - Raw Story

"Atheist" in google news - March 7, 2014 - 6:56pm

Raw Story

David Silverman: CPAC is crawling with closet atheists
Raw Story
We've been fans of alicublog writer Roy Edroso for years. Is there anyone who understands the angst of conservatives better than Roy? He's our man on the ground at CPAC — Ed. I finally got to talk to That Atheist Guy, American Atheists President David ...

Categories: Atheist News

Atheist Group Forces Calif. Mother to Remove Cross Honoring Dead Son - Christian Post

"Atheist" in google news - March 7, 2014 - 1:04pm

Atheist Group Forces Calif. Mother to Remove Cross Honoring Dead Son
Christian Post
The American Humanist Association previously sent a letter to the city of Lake Elsinore, claiming a local atheist was irked by the cross and alerted them of its presence. The city had originally removed the cross in December, only to replace it a few ...

Categories: Atheist News

Atheist group wants WTC cross removed from 9/11 Museum - New York's PIX11 / WPIX-TV

"Atheist" in google news - March 7, 2014 - 10:32am

Atheist group wants WTC cross removed from 9/11 Museum
New York's PIX11 / WPIX-TV
NEW YORK (PIX11) – The American Atheists group asked an appeals court to remove the “miracle cross” from the 9/11 Museum. The 17-foot, cross-shaped beam became a famous symbol of Ground Zero after the terror attacks. Atheists called it a religious ...

Categories: Atheist News

Yay, brilliant UMM students!

Pharyngula - March 7, 2014 - 10:11am

We’ve only had our HHMI undergraduate research program in action for a year, and we’re already seeing success: one of our students has landed a prestigious summer research position.

Ellie Hofer ’15, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is one of only a few students nationwide selected for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Exceptional Research Opportunities Program (EXROP). EXROP provides outstanding summer research experiences to bright, motivated undergraduate students from groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences.

We like getting rid of our students by kicking them upwards.

Categories: Our friends

More like the Dork Enlightenment, am I right?

Pharyngula - March 7, 2014 - 9:59am

I am told I’m supposed to take The Dark Enlightenment seriously. I can’t. I just can’t. What it is is mostly a bunch of pretentious white dudebro computer programmers with a fascist ideology who write tortuous long-winded screeds off the top of their heads, with most of their ‘data’ coming from pop culture movies like The Matrix, and a few similarly clueless nerds who think it’s neat-o. I take it seriously only in the same way I take Libertarianism seriously: it’s a nucleus for idiots to coalesce around.

They also throw the term HBD around a lot. If you’re not in the know, HBD is short for Human BioDiversity, and it’s the hot new sciencey word for racism. The only people who use it are racists.

Human biodiversity is the rejection of the “blank state” of human nature. Creepily obsessed with statistics that demonstrate IQ differences between the races, the darkly enlightened see social hierarchies as determined not by culture or opportunity but by the cold, hard destiny embedded in DNA. One blogger calls it “The Voldemort View” (adding Harry Potter to the Star Wars/Matrix mix), claiming that, “mean differences in group IQs are the most likely explanation for the academic achievement gap in racial and SES [socioeconomic status] groups.”

Oh, please, fuck the whole “blank slate”, nature/nurture dichotomy. Biology affects everything human, and everything human is affected by the environment.

Categories: Our friends

Fox's Megyn Kelly laughs off atheist claims that 9/11 cross is Christian - Raw Story

"Atheist" in google news - March 7, 2014 - 9:36am

Fox's Megyn Kelly laughs off atheist claims that 9/11 cross is Christian
Raw Story
Fox New host Megyn Kelly cross-examined an atheist activist Thursday night about his group's lawsuit over a Christian symbol's inclusion in the 9/11 Memorial. The former corporate litigator belittled claims made by the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and ...

Categories: Atheist News

Aren’t we all tired of that dude?

Pharyngula - March 7, 2014 - 9:19am

I very much like Kameron Hurley’s take on l’affaire @wossy, the obnoxious television presenter who was appointed to emcee the Hugo awards in London, provoking howls of outrage. I think she’s right, that what’s happening is the privileged assholes have finally pissed everyone off, and we’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

We speak out because we are brave, not because we’re baying for blood. We speak out because we’re tired of being hit, and we need to know that if you’re coming into our house, you’re not going to act like an asshole. We went to school with that dude. We deal with that dude on the internet everyday.

We are fucking tired of that dude.

But what I really like is that she goes a step further and suggests how said privileged asshole could have short-circuited the whole mess.

So instead of snarking back at people on Twitter and calling them nutjubs and invoking Neil Gaiman’s name as a ward of protection, it would have behooved the privileged person to stand back and say, “Hey. Wow. I’m so sorry! I didn’t realize so many of you had that impression. Let me assure you that I love and support this community and I take this gig seriously. I respect and love every single one of you and please be assured I’ll be respectful and welcoming, just as I hope you will be respectful and welcoming to me as a host.”

I don’t see it happening very often, though: that approach requires a smidge of humility and honesty, and that dude usually lacks both.

If you want a real world example of that positive response, I think Anton Zuiker’s comes close. Zuiker was cofounder of Science Online with Bora Zivkovic, and annoyed everyone with a post a few months ago, titled ‘Roots and Bitters’, that tried to redeem Bora. Zuiker has retracted that post, and his latest is an expression of honesty and humility and a lot of regret. He’s basically withdrawing from the online world, which is unfortunate — but it is sincere.

Categories: Our friends
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