Paul is communications director for the Center for Inquiry, as well as an actor and musician. His blog is iMortal, and he tweets as @paulfidalgo, and the blog tweets as @iMortal_blog.
The opinions expressed on this blog are personal to Paul and do not necessarily represent the views of the Center for Inquiry.
Some woo just needs to die. Esther Inglis-Arkell at io9 rounds up ten particular examples of nonsense and pseudoscientific beliefs that have overstayed their welcome. A few of them will be some of the greatest hits you’d expect, like vaccines and autism, homeopathy, and the Chopra-esque quantum-this, quantum-that. Others were useful reminders that elicited an “oh yeah, that is a bunch of bullshit” from me, such as “baby genius” programs that purport to spark a kids’ mushy brains at infancy into superintelligence by way of Mozart in the womb and whatnot, or the idea that we can have memories of places and events etched into our DNA. (“We’re not salmon,” she reminds us.)… Read more
Apparently in Russia it’s 1996 all over again, as conservative religious groups are seeking to ban performances by that new, cutting-edge act, Marilyn Manson. The source of the complaint seems to be the Russian Orthodox organization God’s Will (that’s not an arrogant name for your group), who are imploring Moscow’s mayor to cancel Manson’s show because of the performer’s “blasphemous” material, according to the Moscow Times. The organization also said Manson’s performances were “full of elements insulting to the feelings of believers” and promoted “religious hatred, cruelty, murder, suicide, sexual perversion and Satanism among young people, including minors.” Wow, that’s a lot to pack into one show! Read more
The Obama administration has disappointed secular activists on many an occasion (and, to be fair, it’s also done right by us here and there), but there’s probably no more overt snubbing of the secular agenda, such as it is, than the president’s failure to act on this infamous campaign promise from 2008 regarding “faith-based initiatives,” which I like to think of as “Zanesvillegate.” (No one else calls it this.) Let’s all say it together: If you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them — or against the people you hire — on the basis of their religion. Federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples and mosques can only be used on secular programs. Read more
Secular organizations came together last week to support a campaign (going by “#TwitterTheocracy”) that addressed Twitter’s compliance with Pakistan’s request to censor “blasphemous” tweets and Twitter accounts. Or, that’s one way to phrase it. Another might be that secular organizations came together to address the fact that Pakistan was demanding that Twitter censor certain material and block certain users under the aegis of its blasphemy law. See the difference? One version makes Twitter the campaign’s target. The other makes Pakistan the target. Read more