News From Around The Blogosphere 10.27.11

October 27, 2011

1. Skeptical zombies ignored by James Van Praagh – In possibly the best PR stunt the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) has ever come up with, their president, DJ Grothe led an army of zombies on a mission to get self-proclaimed “psychic” James Van Praagh to finally take the JREF’s Million Dollar Psychic Challenge. Not surprisingly, Praagh’s goons kept the zombies from meeting with him but of course that doesn’t matter as this story is getting a lot of press.

2. Church’s bogus AIDS cure causes 3 deaths – Though this is an isolated incident, this is precisely the kind of tragedy that can be expected in a culture that demands unquestioned belief and condemns skepticism.

3. 60 Minutes pisses off anti-vaxxers – As part of their Steve Jobs-centered episode this week, 60 Minutes ran a segment on the remarkable benefits that iPads and other tablet devices have demonstrated for people with autism. And somehow by simply highlighting an important, practical tool in helping autistic people communicate, they’ve pissed off Age of Autism. And bravo to Age of Autism’s commenters for declaring war on Temple Grandin of all people. That takes serious balls. Maybe their next target will be blind nuns, adorable puppies, and AIDS-infected orphans. I’m just shocked Age of Autism didn’t rant about the fact that Pfizer is a major sponsor of the show.

4. ‘Sybil’ admits she never really had multiple personalities – The most famous alleged case of multiple personality syndrome, or what’s now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder was based on lies and manipulations.

5. Atheists doing volunteer work – This is something I want to see more of in atheist groups. This is one of the ways we’ll change people’s negative stereotypes about atheists.


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News From Around The Blogosphere 7.30.11

July 30, 2011

1. Pay attention, American Atheists. THIS is how you win friends and influence people
While American Atheists and NYC Atheists are looking to sue everyone in sight and battle it out against 9/11 first responders and their families, Chris McCoy did something very different. He launched a campaign to raise $50,000 for charity using GiveBack and recruited fellow atheists to help him. This is how you change people’s opinions about atheists, not by behaving like Scientology.

2. Lesbian couple saves 40 in Norwegian shooting – If “God” had his way, Hege Dalen and her partner, Toril Hansen would have been stoned to death long ago. But fortunately for 40 presumably mostly straight Norwegians, most Christians lack the courage of their convictions and never got around to obeying that particular command from their god.

3. The Richard Dawkins Award goes to Hitch! – Last year, a controversy began over the award going to Bill Maher because of Maher’s outspoken superstitious views about medical science. But I doubt many will object to this year’s winner, Christopher Hitchens, who last year was diagnosed with terminal Cancer. And yet, in spite of the Big C, Hitch has remained as active as ever in battling religious superstitions while showing enormous grace in the face of almost certain death. I can think of no one who better deserves the award.

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Skeptics & YouTube atheist superstars unite to help Doctors Without Borders

September 17, 2010
Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

This weekend, the YouTube atheist community is once again organizing a 24-hour BlogTV event to raise money for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) aka Doctors Without Borders. For those unfamiliar with it, MSF is an international medical humanitarian organization working in more than 60 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe.

James Randi, PZ Myers, and Matt Dillahunty will all be participating, as will the Marc Dubois, head of the MSF UK and the following awesome YouTubers:  dprjones, Zomgitscriss, NonStampCollector, ZJemptv, ThePeach, AronRa, Thunderf00t, FactVsReligion, DonExodus2, cOctOpusPrime, Darkmatter2525, LaciGreen, and healthyaddict, COncOrdance, among others.

Please check it out and help Médecins Sans Frontières in the name of reason and freethought.

The Show:
The show will start at 4pm (BST) on Saturday 18 September.
It will be shown here;
To see what time that is where you are go to;…

The Charity:
If you want any information about the charity please contact me or watch my previous videos or go to one of the websites, some are which are;
MSF(US) (Doctors without Borders)

The MSF(UK) youtube channel is here;

How to donate:
On MSF’s recommendation I have set up donation pages at the following sites;

Both these sites provide an effective, safe and secure method of making donations. You will not get junk e-mails not will your details be distributed.
The pages are open now if you want to donate. They will also remain open for a further 2 months after the show.

The schedule of the hosts and co-hosts:
This video contains the best information that I can give at the moment. There are likely to be some minor changes before the event. I’ll be posting an update video nearer the time with a full schedule.
For the avoidance of doubt, Michael Shermer will not be on the show, but was kind enough to provide the clip used at the beginning of this video.

The e-bay auction:
If you have any items that you wish to donate then please contact;…

The MSF’s got Talent competition is open until 12th September. Please watch the video below for details on how to enter. NOTE, mirroring of the video is no longer a necessary requirement.…

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Rational Giving

August 10, 2010

Atheists and rationalists of all kinds are often accused of not being charitable. Now I’ve blogged before about how atheists groups dominate Kiva, a site that allows anyone to loan money to those in need but this past week, I’ve seen other great examples of giving among secular humanists.

1, For instance, atheist billionaire Bill Gates this week convinced 40 other billionaires to publicly pledge to give half their fortunes to those less fortunate:

Together with Warren Buffett, their “The Giving Pledge” project nabbed Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle), George Lucas, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Barry Diller from IAC (an internet media company that owns, Bloglines, Vimeo, and others), along with many others.

2. Then I learned that popular atheist YouTuber dprjones is organizing another charity drive with other popular atheist YouTubers to benefit Medecins Sans Frontieres (also known as Doctors without Borders):

3. Lastly, and certainly the most controversial of the bunch, atheist Robert W. Wilson has recently given $5,600,000 to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York.

“Most of what the Catholic schools teach are the three Rs,” said Wilson, 83, in a phone interview, referring to reading, writing and arithmetic. “And they do it better than the union-controlled inner-city schools.”

Wilson began making donations to the New York archdiocese in 1997 with a gift of $10,000, and he continued at that level for several years. Then Susan George, executive director of the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, asked him to consider giving more money to the schools. Wilson responded in 2007 with a $22.5 million gift to the archdiocese’s Cardinal’s Scholarship Program. He later saw a need for a better alumni support network.

Now regular readers will know that I’m no fan of Catholic institutions, but I have heard from others that some Catholic schools do actually provide a solid education and I don’t know the detail behind this particular case. Certainly, I’d rather see that money go to New York City public schools but regardless of where I personally would rather see the money go, it’s inspiring to see an unbeliever being so giving, especially to an religious organization in which they don’t even belong.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 5.11.10

May 12, 2010

1. Psychic scams Oregon man out of $150,000 – In order to remove a demon, a man gave a “psychic” boat loads of cash and a Hummer totaling $150k and now he’s bankrupt. Let that be a lesson for you. Sometimes having a demon around isn’t that bad after all.

2. Mojave cross from Salazar v. Buono Supreme Court decision was stolen – And while I think it’s outrageous that the thing was allowed to remain there in the first place, I have to condemn the actions of whoever was responsible. If it was an atheist or atheists responsible, I apologize for them. I always criticize the religious for not condemning the bullshit actions of their fanatics, so it’d be hypocritical for me to not do the same when it’s possible fanatical atheists were involved.

3.TV stations everywhere fall for fake Yo-Yo trick champ – In one of the best executed pranks in recent memory, some dude fooled a whole bunch of TV stations to give him air time to demonstrate his amazing Yo-Yo skills…which look remarkably like the worst Yo-Yo-ing in human history. But all we really know about “K-Strass,” aka Kenny Strasser aka Karl Strassburg is that he’s gotten on TV at least six times in the past month.

4. Constance McMillen’s Second Chance Prom a huge success – After her high school held a prom without her because she was gay, the American Humanist Association and philanthropist Todd Stiefe donated money to give her and her classmates another prom, an inclusive one. Even the band Green Day donated money  Lance Bass made a personal appearance. Suck it, small-minded assholes running her school!

5. Pope blames church’s own sins for sex scandal – So does that mean then that all the other Catholics like Bill Donohue and Church leaders were lying when they claimed that it was demons, gays, and the media who were to blame?

6. Woman claims 3-D porn got her pregnant…seriously:

Fighting hate with charity

March 26, 2010

This is a great example of how to use religious hatred against them to make the world a better place. The WBC know how to get attention. That’s the one thing they do right. It’s about time we started someone thought of a way to piggyback on their media whoring and turn their bigotry into opportunity:

Thanks Westboro Baptist Church!

Update on Constance McMillen

March 12, 2010

Yesterday I reported about the high school in Itawamba County, Mississippi that canceled its prom in retaliation for 18-year-old McMillen getting the ACLU to explain that the school can’t keep her out of the prom just because she’s gay and her prom date is a woman. Well now there’s been a flood of support for her.

Using a $20,000 donation, the American Humanist Association (AHA) is arranging a dance that will be open to everyone. There’s also a Facebook group, Let Constance Take Her Girlfriend to Prom! that currently has over 132,000 fans.

My friend, Michael De Dora Jr., executive director of the New York City branch of the Center For Inquiry has written an a great letter to the Itawamba County school board expressing his support for Constance.

Constance has also posted a video on Facebook thanking her supporters. And people are invited to send messages of support to Constance here.

Atheists Help the Homeless

March 9, 2010

News From Around The Blogosphere 2.19.10

February 20, 2010

1. Wearing a bra does NOT increase your likelihood of getting cancer – I don’t know how this silly myth got started and never heard it before but I’m glad the NY Times decided to address it.

2. Religious parents learn the wrong lessons from Devo and really do whip it good – Eric and Elizabeth Schatz (yes, that’s really their name) whipped their 7-year-old daughter, Lydia. . .to death. She died while being disciplined “for hours” because she mispronounced a word during her home-schooling lesson. I have feeling she’ll never make that mistake again.

3. Ten Commandments plaque to go up in Arizona’s Capitol? – A certain political party is pushing for it. I know you can guess which one.

The 5-3 vote came over the objections of the [I’M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU WHICH PARTY OPPOSED IT] on the panel who said it amounted to the state imposing what are the beliefs of the majority on everyone else.

Sen. Amanda Aguirre said that while she believes in the Ten Commandments, she felt posting them in front of a government building amounts to “imposing our religious beliefs on other folks that have their own God.”

3. J.B. Handley suffers another embarrassing defeat – Yesterday, Handley saw a minor mistake in an article by Steven Novella about another study that further showed no link between vaccines and autism. And so what did he do? What any propagandist would do, jump on the opportunity to attack one of his critics while deliberately missing the point. Well now Novella has fired back and has delivered yet another crushing blow to Handley.

4. The Vatican leaves Dylan off their list of best albums – I thought Rock N Roll was devil music. And who made the Vatican the arbiters of great music?

The article by Giuseppe Fiorentino and Gaetano Vallini said that Dylan was excluded from the list despite his “great poetic vein” because he paved the way for generations of unprofessional singer-songwriters who have “harshly tested the ears and patience of listeners” with their tormented stories.

Yeah, but he’s the only musician in history to have a Nobel Prize for Literature for writing a song! But what can you expect from the Vatican. None of them along the line know what any of this is worth.

5. Greenwich Village “psychic” sued over $10,000 – Unfortunately, it wasn’t the one on West Third Street off of MacDougal. I want my money back, woman!

In two instances, Mitchell told Chan to put nine $100 bills in a jar — for a total of $1,800 — to help cleanse her. In both cases, Mitchell took the cash-filled jars.

6. Non-theists will attend religious services for charity – Let me go on record as loving this idea. Not only is this a great way to get donations but it draws attention to atheists doing charity work, spreads a positive image of atheists in a way that can’t be viewed as an attack on faith, allows the religious to see this as an opportunity to win over non-believers, and takes advantage of people’s competitive nature using a method I’ve only previously seen from Greenwich Village street performers who would shout out the name of the last donor’s hometown. Those from Queens wouldn’t like Brooklyn-ites being the last to give and so would give more, leading to French tourists giving last, to which no one from any other country could tolerate, leading to even more donations, ad infinatum.

News From Around The Blogosphere 2.15.10

February 16, 2010

1. Ken Ham doesn’t understand why real museums don’t get mocked for featuring saddled dinosaur rides for kids – PZ Myers sums out quite concisely how Ham just doesn’t get it:

Yes, other places will display dinosaurs as fun exhibits for the kids, and I have no problem with that. The natural history museum at the University of Utah had a talking dinosaur out front — throw a coin in its mouth, and it would roar and thank you for your donation, and my kids were always pestering me for my spare change. That’s fine; they knew it was for fun, and when you went upstairs, you saw serious displays of real fossils with accurate ages and relationships posted by them, and no one argued that they could talk, or that people coexisted with them, or that they could be saddled and ridden.

2. Jim Carrey blocks Orac on Twitter – It’s truly sad that Jenny McCarthy took a talented guy like Jim Carrey, who only sometimes pretended to talk out of his ass and turned him into a guy who really talks out of his ass. Last week I responded to Jim and Jenny’s insipid and delusional letter defending the indefensible Andrew Wakefield. And Orac had responded on his blog too. He also decided to send his reply to Carrey directly via Twitter a whole bunch of times. Carrey’s reply initially was to throw a few insults back at Orac:

@oracknows BS

@oracknows have a smoke. science says it’s healthy. ;^)

science bloggers and media snow jobbers, if selling your soul to big pharma has you depressed, try Abilify + “Show Me The Monkeys!” RT ;^)

Then eventually, Carrey decided to block Orac. Orac has since declared it “a badge of honor.” And just for fun, I also tweeted Carrey.

3. Facilitated Communication debunked againI’d blogged about the Rom Houben case before and how this coma patient was being repulsively used by either a scammer or self-deluded individual. Now the truth comes out once and for all. And guess what? No real Facilitated Communication took place. Shocker:

Laureys has now carried out those tests, and his results hold that it wasn’t Houben doing the writing after all. The tests determined that he doesn’t have enough strength and muscle control in his right arm to operate the keyboard. In her effort to help the patient express himself, it would seem that the speech therapist had unwittingly assumed control. This kind of self-deception happens all the time when this method — known as “facilitated communication” — is used. (As a result, the things that Houben was attributed as saying to SPIEGEL for an article printed in November 2009 were also not authentic.)

In the more recent test, Houben was shown or told a series of 15 objects and words, without a speech therapist being present. Afterward, he was supposed to type the correct word — but he didn’t succeed a single time.

Too bad they didn’t conduct this same exact test when us skeptical bloggers explained it to them months ago.

As I wrote on December 2:

And it’s not like this hypothesis would be hard to test. We could blindfold the facilitator or show the motionless body of Houben one image and the facilitator another image without either seeing the other’s image to find out which image is identified. If the image shown only to Houben is identified, congratulations, facilitated communication works. But if, as I suspect, the image seen only by the facilitator is identified, congratulations, facilitated communication is a fraud.

And skeptical bloggers far more popular than me said the same thing.

4. Barbie becomes a computer engineer! – This is further proof of the enormous power wielded by internet nerds!

5. New study shows atheists are ‘just as ethical as church-goers

Dr Hauser added: “The research suggests that intuitive judgments of right and wrong seem to operate independently of explicit religious commitments.

Ya think?