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Member since: Sat Jul 3, 2010, 12:24 PM
Number of posts: 19,705

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Happy Birthday, Carl Sagan!

Carl has done more to promote Science and Reason, and to dispel religious mythology, than just about anyone else.

You sir, are sorely missed. Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday, Carl Sagan!

Carl has done more to promote Science and Reason, and to dispel religious mythology, than just about anyone else.

You sir, are sorely missed. Happy Birthday.

You Know Kids, I Really Love Little Children...

Election Day a Win for Nontheists

Election Day wasn't without its share of disappointments but for the nontheistic community it was overwhelmingly a very good night!

The Good

- In Florida, Amendment 8, which would have allowed for taxpayer funding of religion was voted down.

- Voters in Washington state, Maryland and Maine approved same-sex marriage. "We've lost at the ballot box 32 times," Paul Guequierre of Human Rights Campaign told CNN. "History was made tonight."

- In Minnesota voters rejected a measure that would have banned same-sex marriage.

- President Barack Obama was reelected. Obama received a "C" grade on the Secular Coalition's Presidential Candidate Scorecard, coming in behind Libertarian Gary Johnson, who received a "B." However, of the two major party candidates, Obama came in well above his challenger, Republican, Mitt Romney, who received an "F" on the Scorecard.

- Missouri's U.S. Representative, Todd Akin, lost his seat. Akin, who sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has repeatedly denied scientific evidence in many areas, including regarding climate change, and making explosive claims that the female reproductive system is able to block conception from an unwanted pregnancy. He also objected to removing "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.

- Krysten Sinema, won her Arizona Congressional race, she is the first bisexual member of Congress and now the only nontheist [see "the Bad" below].

The Bad

- Sadly, longtime California U.S. Representative, Pete Stark, lost his reelection bid. Stark was the only open nontheist in Congress.

- Minnesota U.S. Rep, Michelle Bachman, who received an "F" in every category on the Secular Coalition's Presidential Primary Candidate Scorecard and an "F" on our Congressional Report Card, was reelected.

The Opportunity?

- Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin will be the first openly gay Senator. Baldwin lists no religion and could be a strong ally for the nontheistic community.


Your choice of lifestyle is an abomination...

School board prayer out, silence in

Another Pennsylvania school board has decided to drop prayer at board meetings after getting a letter from FFRF. That means FFRF is batting 5 for 5 in recent challenges to prayers by Keystone State school boards.

Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert wrote Aug. 17 on behalf of a local complainant to Glenn Yoder, president of the Eastern Lancaster County Board of School Directors in New Holland. FFRF is a national state/church watchdog with over 18,500 members, including over 600 in Pennsylvania.

Markert noted that state and federal court have repeatedly ruled that prayers by public school boards are unconstitutional, inappropriate and divisive and cited the relevant cases. (The Anti-Defamation League of Philadelphia also wrote the board to complain about its invocations.) On the weekend of Oct. 20, Superintendent Robert Hollister left a phone message at FFRF's office that said the board would no longer be opening meetings with prayer.

According to unofficial minutes from the Sept. 17 board meeting, meetings will instead open with a moment of silence. The minutes contend there's value in "thoughtful reflection," i.e., prayer, but add "the board doesn't not wish to expose our taxpayers to threat of litigation that these outside groups have implied will occur, because our tax dollars are best spent supporting the education of our children." No shit, Sherlock. Thats the whole point.


FFRF for the religious freedom WIN! Can I get a "Whoa, Bundy!"?

How to shove atheism down people’s throats in 10 easy steps.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Stop shoving atheism down my throat!” from non-atheists. We’ve also heard, “Stop shoving your religion down my throat!” from others.

This is a figurative phrase. I means something like, “stop imposing your beliefs on me in a way that is threatening, hostile, oppressive, or inescapable!”

Well, what if we want to shove atheism down some throats?

Here’s a few suggestions, formatted in 10 easy steps.

1. Go after your family: It’s easy to shove atheism down the throats of family members. Make your family a captive audience, especially children. Don’t let your children question atheism. Ban them from going to church or playing with religious children. Hinge important privileges like computer time or time with friends on them going to atheist meetups with you. Let them know that no theist is part of your family. Teach them that all theists lack morals. Withhold your love and affection from your theistic child. Punish them severely and physically if you catch them reading any theistic material or engaging in anything theistic.

2. Go after the children in schools: Children in schools are another captive audience. Make sure your school recites The Atheist Mantra during the morning announcements, daily. Make the children pledge allegiance to godlessness. Invite atheist speakers to give presentations during school assemblies about the virtues of godlessness and the vice of theism. Hang quotes about the evils of the Christian god in the hallways.

3. Go after language: Use language to marginalize theism. Tell people that theism is a slap in the face to this great nation. Define theism and atheism in moral terms: atheists are moral, theists are immoral. If theists try to work toward having more rights, say that giving them rights will take away your religious freedom.


The last 7 are at the link. You're welcome.

A Movie About Noah’s Ark Has Been Delayed for the Best Reason Ever

Noah is the newest movie from director Darren Aronofsky. It’s slated for release in 2014 and looks to be a remake of 2007′s Evan Almighty. [Note: After some further painstaking research, I discovered that it is evidently based on some little-known story in the Bible known colloquially as "Noah's Ark." Amazing!] It also stars some big name celebrities like Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, and Emma Watson.

Unfortunately, filming has been delayed, and you’ll never guess why.

Or maybe you’ll guess it on your first try.


Yup. Hurricane Sandy, what one might describe as a “storm of biblical proportions,” has halted the production by flooding the filming location:

To make it as realistic as possible, the director built a massive ark, which measures 450 feet long, 75 feet tall and 45 feet wide. Unfortunately, it was never meant to be sailed. With production wrapping up within the next few weeks, the ark was forced to deal with flooding as Hurricane Sandy passed through Oyster Bay.


Acupuncture trial for fatigue lacks placebo group, is positive

A new study assesses the effectiveness of acupuncture for cancer-related fatigue (CRF) in patients with breast cancer.

Acupuncture for Cancer-Related Fatigue in Patients With Breast Cancer: A Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial

We conducted a pragmatic, randomized controlled trial comparing acupuncture with enhanced usual care. Three hundred two outpatients with breast cancer participated. We randomly assigned 75 patients to usual care and 227 patients to acupuncture plus usual care (random assignment of 1:3 respectively) with minimization controlling for baseline general fatigue and maintenance treatment. Treatment was delivered by acupuncturists once a week for 6 weeks through needling three pairs of acupoints. The usual care group received a booklet with information about fatigue and its management.

Conclusion: Acupuncture is an effective intervention for managing the symptom of CRF and improving patients’ quality of life.

Another ancupuncture trial, another missed opportunity to do some solid science. These kind of “Pragmatic” accupuncture trials have become common place in recent years. The lack of a placebo group in this trial makes the conclusion that “Acupuncture is an effective intervention for managing the symptoms of CRF and improving patients’ quality of life” a huge overstatement to say the least. Without a proper blinded and placebo controlled protocol the most you can say is that acupuncture might be an effective intervention. The argument from the author that “sham” acupuncture was not appropriate or may be unethical is weak to say the least. Plenty of well controlled well blinded i.e high quality studies have shown that acupuncture has little more than a placebo effect, I think it’s time we let go and started researching things that are more likely to be productive.


How Christian Fundamentalism Feeds the Toxic Partisanship of US Politics

crossposted in GD

When evangelicals attack 'the gay agenda' of an anti-bullying event in schools, something is sick in America's religious culture

October 29, 2012 | Mix It Up at Lunch Day is one of those programs that just seems like a nice thing to do.

The idea is that on one day of the school year, kids are invited to have lunch with the kind of kids they don't usually hang out with: the jocks mix with the nerds, lunch tables are racially integrated, et cetera. Sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center as part of their Teaching Tolerance division, it arose out of a broad effort to tackle the problems of bullying in the schools and bigotry in society – and it appears to have been effective in breaking down stereotypes and reducing prejudice. Over 2,000 schools nationwide now participate in the program, which is set to take place this year on 30 October.

You can argue about how permanent its effects are, or whether other approaches might be better, but the idea of making new friends in the lunchroom seems utterly benign. Right?

Wrong, as it turns out – at least, according to the American Family Association, a radical rightwing evangelical policy group. Mix It Up at Lunch Day is, in fact, part of "a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools," according to the AFA literature . The program "is an entry-level 'diversity' program designed specifically by SPCL (sic) to establish the acceptance of homosexuality into public schools, including elementary and junior high schools," warns the AFA website. "See if your child's school is on the list."


The far right 's fixation on same-sex relationships is so ludicrous that it defines a sub-category of camp. But let's take a step back for a moment. The big question, the one that keeps coming back in every one of these skirmishes in the culture wars, is: why is the loudest religion in American politics today so much about hate?


It is, IMO, the failure of more liberal believers to stand up, speak out, and marginalize the right-wing zealots that is enabling them to have so much power. Sure, there are a few progressive churches and groups that do, but it is the general apathy displayed by not-right-wing-zealot-believers that exacerbates this issue.

If Karl Marx was correct, and religion is opiate for the masses, then one can understand how hard the habit is to kick. But kick it we must.
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