News From Around The Blogosphere 6.9.11

June 10, 2011

I’ve been away for almost a week, so I’m going to have to play catch-up for the next few days.

1. New Pew Poll suggests atheists still unelectable – If the poll is accurate, atheists are less electable than a candidate who is Mormon, gay, divorced, or even an adulterer.

2. ‘Psychic’ leads Texas Rangers and FBI down dead end  – Police followed a tip by an alleged psychic who told them where to find a supposed mass grave containing dozens of dismembered bodies. Now Craig McNair, head of the county commissioners, is looking to hold her responsible for giving a false tip and creating havoc.

3. ‘Expelled’ production company expelled from existence – Premise Media Holdings LP has gone bankrupt and its shitty creationist propaganda film starring Ben Stein is going up for auction:

The high bidder will become the owner of the movie that The New York Times (2008 Apr 18) described as “[o]ne of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time … a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry … an unprincipled propaganda piece that insults believers and nonbelievers alike” and that was denounced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for its “profound dishonesty” and condemned by the Anti-Defamation League for its “outrageous” misuse of the Holocaust to “tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution.” (NCSE’s Expelled Exposed provides a collection of reviews, commentary, and resources documenting the extensive problems with Expelled.)

4. Tennessee passes law banning images that “cause emotional distress” – Though it remains to be seen if anyone will actually try to enforce this new law signed by Gov. Bill Haslam, it’s hard to imagine a greater offense to the First Amendment.

5. Hot nun fired over lap-dancing past – Wasn’t there something in Christian mythology about turning the other cheek? Which cheeks the passage was talking about is unclear.

And on a related note…

6. Pole dancing for Jesus causes controversy – There’s a pole dancing class that allegedly is intended to help women stay in shape while simultaneously bringing them closer to God:

Set to Christian music, church-going women spin and slither around poles. But the instructor and the students say it’s not about sex.

7. South Carolina prison insist lingerie ads lead to “deviant behavior”

But the organization says the jail has gone even further in its screening of mail to inmates by banning publications that contain any level of nudity, including beachwear and underwear.

Oh, and there’s a video in the link above.


And finally…

8. Congratulations to my friend Page Van Meter, who’s been named the new president of the NYC Skeptics!


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NYC Skeptics become victims of a hit piece

May 4, 2011

Just like The Last Supper!

I was sick last week and so I ended up skipping the NYC Skeptic’s monthly Drinking Skeptically. As it turns out though, I might have dodged a bullet. An editorial writer for the NY Observer (I know, I didn’t know that was a real newspaper either) apparently attended both Massimo Pigliucci’s monthly philosophy-themed meet-up, which I’ve never personally attended, and Drinking Skeptically. But the reason I say I dodged a bullet was that the final article he wrote suggests he had no real interest in fairly assessing skeptics and decided to add dramatic license…A LOT of dramatic license.

I know most of the people cited and quoted in the article. Many of them are personal friends of mine. And the descriptions of them here don’t resemble any of them. This can only be described as a hit piece, which may explain why every chance he got (as well as those that weren’t there at all), he attempted to invent a comparison between skeptic’s groups and religions, even comparing the image of a bunch of philosophy-enthusiasts sitting at a table together to The Last Supper. Cause it’s a group of people sitting at the same table eating! GET IT!

The vast majority of human interaction revolves around food, so I’m pretty sure many meetup groups involve a bunch of attendees sitting at a long table together. That the author thinks this attribute alone constitutes an appropriate comparison to religion suggests he understands as little about religion as he does his interview subjects.

This is just a pathetic piece of writing unbecoming of any serious publication, even buried in the Culture section. One of my friends who was shamelessly quote-mined in the piece says the author trapped them with leading questions. That same friend later reported that the article’s author, Jonathan Liu, emailed a sort of apology for how the piece turned out, claiming the final product ended up more “frivolous” than he wanted. According to my friend, Liu said all the “aggressive” and  “messianic” language along with the claim that Massimo Pigliucci was out to “forcibly convert” theists was just his way of innocently expressing that many skeptics are passionate about the cause. Suffice it to say, I find this explanation somewhat dubious.

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