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A Black South African Woman’s Journey to Atheism

Nov 20th, 2015 | By Leo Igwe

South Africa is one of the least religious countries in Africa. About 15 percent of the population identifies as having no religious affiliation and that includes atheists. While some would argue that the country’s non-theistic demography is mainly white, there is a growing number of black South Africans who are atheists and who do not profess any religion. So, the religious demography in the country is undergoing a rapid change. Recently I conversed with a black South African woman, Nosipho, who narrated how she abandoned her Christian faith and embraced atheism.

I am 39 years and was raised by my grandparents, my mother had me when she was just completing school and when she got married, my grandparents thought it

Read the rest

In Defense of Modern Industrial Agriculture, Agribusiness and Our Food Supply: Appendices

Nov 14th, 2015 | By Thomas R. DeGregori

In the following Appendices, we provide a selection of authors and their data including some used in the text that reinforce the argument being made here.

Appendix  I – Dairy production – Capper and

The environmental impact of dairy production: 1944 compared with 2007 by Jude Capper, Journal of Animal Science, Vol. 87, March, 2009, pp.2160-2167.


A common perception is that pasture-based, low-input dairy systems characteristic of the1940s were more conducive to environmental steward-ship than modern milk production systems. The objective of this study was to compare the environmental impact of modern (2007) US dairy production with historical production practices as exemplified by the US dairy system in 1944. A deterministic model based on the metabolism and … Read the rest

In Defense of Modern Industrial Agriculture, Agribusiness and Our Food Supply: A Spirited Response to the Critics part 2

Nov 13th, 2015 | By Thomas R. DeGregori

Part 2

“In 1950, the U.S. had 22 million head of dairy cows producing an average of 2,415 kg of milk per year. In 2,000, the U.S. dairy industry had 9.2 million cows averaging 8,275 kg milk per year. Total U.S. milk production in 1950 was 53 MT, compared to 76.2 MT in 2000. The dairy industry produced 44% more milk in 2000 with 58 percent fewer cows than in 1950” (Blayney, 2002, cited in  Havenstein, 2006). Blayney, D. P., 2002. The changing Landscape of U.S. Milk Production, USDA/ERS, Stat. Bull. 978, June,

Contrary to the critics of modern agriculture, there is no scientific evidence that “organic” is healthier. There is substantial evidence in peer reviewed scientific literature that Read the rest

In Defense of Modern Industrial Agriculture, Agribusiness and Our Food Supply: A Spirited Response to the Critics

Nov 13th, 2015 | By Thomas R. DeGregori

In some circles, there is now what appears to be an established, unquestioned and largely unchallenged consensus that modern agriculture is an unsustainable failure and responsible for any number of ills in our society. The media and our larger cultural discourse are riddled with well-orchestrated misinformation about our food supply and how it is produced. Every ill is blamed on modern food production. An outbreak of E coli 0157:H7 in spinach was widely blamed on industrial. Months later when the source was identified as being organically grown spinach and that the E coli probably came from free range cattle in a low density ranch across the river, it was old news and largely unreported. In fact, it is difficult to Read the rest

The Challenge of Atheism in Contemporary Zimbabwe

Nov 8th, 2015 | By Leo Igwe

The saying, ‘There are no atheists in foxholes’ is used in arguing against atheism. The line of reasoning is that in situations of fear, danger or stress, people profess some belief in God or in some higher being. So this expression is employed to discredit the atheistic position and to question the authenticity and integrity of the godless life stance. But let’s face it; uncertainty, despair and hopelessness drive people to seek imaginary help and imaginary intervention from imaginary beings.

However this is not always the case. Many godless people maintain their disbelief in god no matter the dire situation which they may find themselves; they stand their ground and refuse to budge even in the face of extreme fear … Read the rest

A Pesticide as Medicine? Medicine as Poison? Or What is in a Name? 3

Nov 3rd, 2015 | By Thomas R. DeGregori

The Type III (or Type IV) ranking of glyphosate was long ignored by the anti-biotech opponents of Ht cotton as was the assessment by WHO and various Cancer societies that it was not likely a carcinogen. Suddenly with the new findings, the same groups are now demanding policy actions based on the findings of a source which they long implicitly discredited by ignoring it. Any credible evidence that does not support their firmly held beliefs does not exist in their universe. Nor did they indicate any awareness of the array of more toxic pesticides that were replaced by glyphosate or the resulting significant improvement in the Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ – “The EIQ impact assessment is based on the three … Read the rest

A Pesticide as Medicine? Medicine as Poison? Or What is in a Name? 2

Nov 3rd, 2015 | By Thomas R. DeGregori

The concern over the Bt. Is a subset of the obsession, some might legitimately call it hysteria over the safety of transgenic using recombinant DNA (rDNA) to produce agricultural crops, particularly food plants generally called genetically modified or GMOs. It is easier to scare people than educate them. Need a new term for some forms of ignorance that is less pejorative. In the vast array of human knowledge, the best any one of us can do is to master small portion of it. In another words, all of us are uninformed or ignorant or at best minimally informed about all the rest of knowledge.  True ignorance is when an individual or group has an absolutely unshakeable conviction on a subject … Read the rest

A Pesticide as Medicine? Medicine as Poison? Or What is in a Name?

Nov 3rd, 2015 | By Thomas R. DeGregori

What is in a name?  Plenty! The mere hint or even question suggesting that a pesticide might have any medicinal value would strike many as being ludicrous while to many others if not most others, it is beyond belief and therefore there is no need to continue reading. PESTICIDES ARE POISON! They are inherently evil and any attempt to define them in any other way makes one a member of a corporate cabal or a servant of them.  For those brave souls still reading, let us begin with a few definitions or concepts – oversimplified but not incorrect.

Poison – disrupts a vital function or functions in a living organism or organisms that could lead to death but not necessarily … Read the rest

Reverse Missionaries: Are African Churches Exporting Homophobia to the West?

Oct 12th, 2015 | By Leo Igwe

In recent years, the issue of gay rights in Africa has generated intense debate and discussions. Some countries have tried to tighten the laws against homosexuality and prohibit same sex marriage. They claim homosexuality is an evil, corrupt and immoral lifestyle which western societies are trying to impose on African nations.

Concerned individuals, state and non-state actors have been campaigning and lobbying to beat back the tide of homophobia that is threatening to engulf the region. It is frustrating to know that as is often the case when dealing with Africa-related issues, many people have tried to infantilize African agency in the raging homophobia by looking for some western or colonial scapegoats, and they have found one in the activities … Read the rest

Against Sainthood for Benedict Daswa : Why Replace Sangoma Witchcraft with Catholic Witchcraft?

Sep 18th, 2015 | By Leo Igwe

I am against the ongoing efforts and campaign by the Catholic Church to make the late South African schoolteacher, Benedict Daswa, a saint. While I acknowledge the heroic struggle waged by Daswa against witchcraft based violence and exploitation of his Venda people, a struggle that eventually led to his brutal murder; while I understand the need to celebrate and commemorate his life, legacy and achievement, this initiative to make him an object of ‘worship’ or reverence by the catholic establishment is a self-serving scheme and is literally an insult on the memory of this critical and courageous mind.

Why do I think so? First of all, making Benedict Daswa a saint sends a wrong message and confusing signals to people … Read the rest

A Milestone in International Freethought

Aug 31st, 2015 | By Center for Inquiry

A press release from CFI

The Center for Inquiry is delighted to announce the formation of its first branch in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. CFI-Pakistan will be operated by “Emanuel Enoch,” and work to promote science, reason, and secular humanism in a country beset by religious extremism and sectarian violence.

// // // // //


Pakistan is a flashpoint for almost all of the core issues of concern to the Center for Inquiry. In Pakistan, blasphemy is a crime, and a charge regularly invoked to persecute atheists, secularists, and political and religious dissidents. It is a deeply religious country, with extremist forms of Islam holding enormous sway over the public and the government. At the same time, … Read the rest

African Atheist Woman Reveals Why She is in the Closet

Aug 22nd, 2015 | By Leo Igwe

She is from one of the countries in Southern Africa and is in her 20s. She asked me not to reveal her true identity so I will call her Sara. Sara comes from a strong Catholic background and knows a lot about Catholic faith and rituals. Recently she told me why she is a closeted atheist and may remain so for some time.

“I was very religious and almost became a nun… I come from a staunch Catholic home. I used help out at the church and when people asked for some assistance. I was that good that the bishop heard about me and invited me for a lunch,” she told me during an online chat.

Unfortunately the lunch did … Read the rest

Humanism and Anti-Intellectualism in Nigeria

Aug 17th, 2015 | By Leo Igwe

A lot has been said about militant Islam and extreme Christian traditional religious practices in Nigeria. There has been much focus on violent attacks by the jihadist group Boko Haram, on the abuses perpetrated by sharia policing agencies, and the nefarious activities of homophobic Pentecostal churches and witch hunting pastors in the country. Unfortunately not much attention has been paid to the efforts of humanists, atheists, skeptics and agnostics in the country to address these problems. Not many Nigerians know about the campaigns by humanists against witch hunting, blasphemy law and harmful traditional practices. In fact not many Nigerians know that humanists and humanist groups exist in the country.

Thanks to the internet, things are beginning to change. There is … Read the rest

Save the Kano Nine: An Open Letter to Buhari, Ganduje and Sanusi

Jul 2nd, 2015 | By Andrew Copson and Leo Igwe

To President Buhari
To Governor Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje
To Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II

We are writing from the International Humanist and Ethical Union, a human rights advocacy organisation accredited as an NGO at the United Nations Human Rights Council. We write to express our distress and deepest concerns over the death sentences reportedly handed down to nine individuals in Kano state this week. Our concerns include the following:

We are appalled that a death sentence should be considered a legally enforceable punishment in any circumstance. In this case where the “offence” committed appears to be little more than the expression of a minority religious belief, the death sentence is particularly disproportionate and constitutes an egregious violation of the right … Read the rest

Humanism and the New Pessimism

Jun 28th, 2015 | By Bill Cooke

What should humanism stand for in the decades to come? Are the assumptions and values of humanism easily transferable to these new conditions? Many would see even posing such a question as laughable. Is not humanism as a voice of reason, progress and optimism, thoroughly discredited in an age where such things ring hollow?

It’s true that many of the promises of the twentieth century have proved to be illusory. And even when they have been realized, only a relatively few have benefitted. Looking to the future, even if we take the more alarmist forecasts with a pinch of salt, the changes ahead are going to be enormously challenging. Climate change, population growth, peak oil, failed states, rogue states, religious … Read the rest

Kpatinga: Another ‘Witch’ Village in Ghana

Apr 8th, 2014 | By Leo Igwe
Kpatinga: Another ‘Witch’ Village in Ghana I just returned from Kpatinga, another village in northern Ghana where alleged witches take refuge. One unique thing about witchcraft belief in Northern Ghana is that there are safe spaces for ‘witches’. A ‘witch’ must not be suffered to die as the scripture says. There are villages that welcome and rehabilitate victims of witchcraft accusations. Kpatinga is one of them. It is around 75 miles from the regional capital, Tamale. The major challenge to anyone visiting the ‘witch’ camp is access. Kpatinga is remotely located. To visit the village from Tamale one must stop over at Gushegu town. The journey from Tamale to Gushegu town is about 3 hours. Apart from the Metro Mass Buses, other commercial buses ply this Read the rest

Interview with Rebecca Goldstein on Plato at the Googleplex, philosophy for the public, and everything

Mar 20th, 2014 | By Rebecca Goldstein

OB: As a fan of philosophy I’ve been delighted to see the rave reviews for Plato at the Googleplex in major media – the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, Slate, NPR, The Atlantic. This has to be a good thing: a sign that philosophy can be made interesting to the reading public, and itself a step to getting more people interested in philosophy. It’s all the more gratifying because part of your point, as I understand it, is to show readers that philosophy has value and has not been rendered superfluous by science. Can you tell us a little about why philosophy does indeed have value?

RG: I’ve been delighted to see the rave reviews, too.

Okay, why … Read the rest

The Good Juror Pose

Feb 9th, 2014 | By Bruce Everett
The Good Juror Pose

Preamble: This essay focuses on a common source of contention in discussions of accusations of rape. It is understood that for some rape survivors, this article will file under “Too Long – Didn’t Read”, purely for reasons of mental health and self-preservation. An obligatory trigger warning also applies.

It is also understood that for many people, a simple “fuck off!” is the best, and a perfectly justifiable, response to what I am calling ‘The “Good Juror” Pose. I’m tentatively offering my prescription to those best able to help, rather than making expectations of those who have been hurt.

I think there is a need, for those in a position to make a difference, for more reflection on what is actually Read the rest

What to do with all the “Witches”?

Dec 19th, 2013 | By Leo Igwe

There is a great problem brewing in Ghana – What to do with all the witches? The government has decided to eradicate witchcraft. The plan is to close down the safe camps where those accused of witchcraft fled to get away from their accusers. The victims are to be sent back to their accusers who will kill them in all likelihood.

Witchcraft is big business in Ghana. Soothsayers, priests and chiefs wield great power over largely helpless people through the threat of exposing common people as witches. Once accused, the “Witch” is usually killed or expelled from the village. The accused witches that escape with their lives end up in witch camps where they are protected from execution.

Now Nana … Read the rest

CFI combating superstition in Uganda

Nov 9th, 2013 | By Bill Cooke

Fifty or so miles out of Kampala is a small town called Wobulenzi, and here CFI–Uganda runs a clinic devoted to testing the local population for HIV/AIDS and educating them how the disease is contracted. The education program is vital because, as in much of Africa, superstition and misinformation are rife.  So much of what is not understood is attributed to witchcraft and, not infrequently, whoever is identified as the witch ends up dying a horrible death. The churches and the mosques do little or nothing to prevent this superstition, and in many cases are the chief propagators. So, against huge odds, CFI–Uganda is fighting these debilitating superstitions.

CFI–Uganda is also helping an organization called HALEA, or Humanist Association for … Read the rest