Archive for September 2010

Give Fox News a great big hug

Sep 28th, 2010 11:46 am | By

Ajita Kamal of Nirmukta is thinking about many of the same issues we’ve been thinking about around here.

A common misconception is that freethought implies treating all ideas equally. This could not be farther from the truth. Freethinkers are extremely discriminatory of bad ideas, and adopt a refined reasoning process in judging factual claims.

Exactly, and this is why the idea that the Center for Inquiry (for example) is and should be in the business of promoting “diversity” is so silly. Free inquiry isn’t some default state that flourishes is left alone; it has to be protected and encouraged, because there are always lots of people who want to shut it down the better to promote their own … Read the rest



Whose “squawk”?

Sep 28th, 2010 10:42 am | By

It’s strange to see The Chronicle of Higher Education giving Carlin Romano space to promote the Templeton Foundation.

The Templeton Foundation, which specializes in prodding believers and nonbelievers to discuss such things in civilized ways, has published all sorts of booklets, like “Does Science Make Belief in God Obsolete?”…

That’s a very flattering way of describing what Templeton specializes in. To a less infatuated observer it looks more as if Templeton specializes in flattering its own self – as in the CHE blurb for Romano’s piece:

Carlin Romano, critic at large for The Chronicle Review, is a professor of philosophy and humanities at Ursinus College. This essay is adapted from a talk he gave this summer as a Templeton-Cambridge

Read the rest


Ajita Kamal on moderating freethought groups *

Sep 28th, 2010 | Filed by

Most freethinkers are wary of all ideologies. These are not usually the ones that are politically motivated towards promoting freethought.… Read the rest



Narendra Nayak on the rise of intolerance in India *

Sep 28th, 2010 | Filed by

It is not just the saffron gang or the green gang that is responsible for this sort of thinking; it is just that they are the most vociferous and violent.… Read the rest



Jason Rosenhouse on Swinburne on God *

Sep 28th, 2010 | Filed by

The God hypothesis should be given such a low prior probability that truly extraordinary evidence is needed to render it plausible.… Read the rest



Carlin Romano does his Templeton homework *

Sep 28th, 2010 | Filed by

“This essay is adapted from a talk he gave this summer as a Templeton-Cambridge Fellow in Science and Religion.”… Read the rest



Remember the nerds of South Dakota

Sep 27th, 2010 3:29 pm | By

Since I wrote a tut-tutting post about Caspar Melville’s tut-tutting post about gnu atheism last week, in fairness I should add that he promptly asked me to write a piece responding to his for the New Humanist, which I have now done; it will be in the next issue. That’s a generous way with critics, do admit.

The truth is, I really don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with being bored by gnu atheism. I’m very easily bored myself; I find a great many things irritating; I can certainly understand being fed up with something even if I agree with it. What makes a difference is the context. The context right now is an endless flood of commentary about … Read the rest



Bad science education impairs US economy *

Sep 27th, 2010 | Filed by

US mathematics and science K-12 education ranks 48th worldwide.… Read the rest



How a journalist should report on a scientific paper *

Sep 27th, 2010 | Filed by

First make an obvious pun, then ask an inane question, then say which existing scientific ideas this new research “challenges.”… Read the rest



Hossein Derakhshan could face execution *

Sep 27th, 2010 | Filed by
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and PEN Canada say the prosecutor in Derakhshan’s case has called for the death penalty.… Read the rest


Blogger Hossein Derakhshan on trial in Iran *

Sep 27th, 2010 | Filed by

He has been charged with “collaborating with enemy states, creating propaganda against the Islamic regime, insulting religious sanctity” and more.… Read the rest



Pragna Patel at protest the pope rally *

Sep 26th, 2010 | Filed by

“Nor am I surprised to learn that the Muslim Council of Britain will be taking part in the papal visit.”… Read the rest



Ben Goldacre on medical ghostwriting *

Sep 26th, 2010 | Filed by

Academics put their names on papers written by commercial medical writing companies working for drug companies.… Read the rest



Should science journalists take sides? *

Sep 26th, 2010 | Filed by

If you just report what people have said, you’re a megaphone, not a journalist. Analysis is part of the job.… Read the rest



Salil Tripathi on the ‘incompetence Raj’ *

Sep 26th, 2010 | Filed by

This is not a failure of the Indian people or Indian culture. It is the Indian government who have failed so badly with the Commonwealth Games.… Read the rest



Ignore the logo, no matter how big it is

Sep 25th, 2010 6:07 pm | By

I saw John Shook’s Huffington Post article on “O lord how awful are the ways of thy gnu atheists” a few days ago, and even read a bit of it, but I got bored so I didn’t finish, or comment on it. But Jerry did a post on it today, and the response has been energetic. A good many gnu atheists are irritated at yet another bucketful of crap being thrown at them by another atheist.

In turn, Ron Lindsay is irritated that Jerry criticized the Center for Inquiry (where Shook works) because Shook wrote what he wrote.

Jerry Coyne: I am extremely disappointed that you would make such an unsupported and rash accusation against CFI. If you can point

Read the rest


A little list

Sep 25th, 2010 11:51 am | By

A beautiful takedown of Ahmedinejad by Muhhamad Sahimi at Frontline. One ludicrous boast after another countered with a statement of the reality.

“Sakineh Mohammadi has not been condemned to death by stoning”:

This is while activists have already posted a copy of the judiciary verdict and punishment for her, and the judiciary chief of East Azerbaijan province, where Mohammadi is from, has stated repeatedly that she will be executed as soon as Sadegh Larijani gives the go-ahead.

Oh – er – ah – that’s a different Sakineh Mohammadi.

“No one has been imprisoned for taking part in demonstrations”:

This is while the Tehran police chief acknowledged last year that on the anniversary of the Revolution on February 12

Read the rest


Australia’s “saint” exposed a paedophile priest *

Sep 25th, 2010 | Filed by

And was excommunicated partly for revenge, a new documentary claims.… Read the rest



Scattering blessings

Sep 25th, 2010 10:45 am | By

The archbishop of Westminster is full of advice to fellow Catholics (I beg your pardon, I mean to his “flock”) on how they can make themselves disliked by pestering and nagging people.

The Archbishop of Westminster says Catholics should be more ready to make the sign of the cross and say “God bless you” to people.

The Archbishop called on Catholics to respond to the Pope’s hope that they would become “ever more conscious of their dignity as a priestly people”.

Brilliant suggestions. Make intrusive public displays of superstitious gesturing and invoke something called a “blessing” from a non-existent being. Force your religious beliefs on people so that they will be impressed by your “dignity as a priestly people.” Act … Read the rest



Muhammad Sahimi on Ahmedinedjad’s lies *

Sep 25th, 2010 | Filed by

Some of his lies are so brazen that even his supporters in Tehran have expressed astonishment and rebuked him.… Read the rest