In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and religion, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

saturdaychores:

Saturday Chores #7, Saturday, July 19, 2014
When we arrived, the “Babies Are Murdered Here” people put away all their signs, stopped yelling at the people going into the clinic, and prayed for “Grayson’s wife.” Victory. 

saturdaychores:

Saturday Chores #7, Saturday, July 19, 2014

When we arrived, the “Babies Are Murdered Here” people put away all their signs, stopped yelling at the people going into the clinic, and prayed for “Grayson’s wife.” Victory. 

Top 10 Worst Anti-Science Websites

My list of the worst offenders on the web in the promotion of scientific and factual misinformation. By Brian Dunning

Was Christianity Too Improbable to be False? by Richard Carrier

A “massive rebuttal of Robert Turkel’s article ‘The Impossible Faith,’” in which he argued that Christianity was too improbable to be false. The article showed an appalling ignorance of improbable religious claims that have gained wide acceptance, and Richard Carrier’s rebuttal of Turkel’s 17 “points” has effectively relegated Turkel’s article to that enormous trashheap of failed apologetic attempts to prove the truth of Christianity.


This article would eventually be made into the book “Not The Impossible faith” by Richard carrier.

Anonymous asked
Describe the color red without using the word red.

iranianatheist:

the colour of her lovely lips

It’s the color you get when you remove all the yellow from orange.

It’s what your eyes make of light at a wavelength of ~620–740 nm and a Frequency of ~480–400 THz

Michigan mayor says giving atheists equal treatment is like favoring the Nazis or the KKK

A Michigan mayor compared atheists to Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan to defend his decision to exclude secular groups from setting up a “reason station” alongside a “prayer station” on public property, reported the Detroit Free Press.

7 Things to Consider Before Choosing Sides in the Middle East Conflict

Are you “pro-Israel” or “pro-Palestine”? It isn’t even noon yet as I write this, and I’ve already been accused of being both.

These terms intrigue me because they directly speak to the doggedly tribal nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You don’t hear of too many other countries being universally spoken of this way. Why these two? Both Israelis and Palestinians are complex, with diverse histories and cultures, and two incredibly similar (if divisive) religions. To come down completely on the side of one or the other doesn’t seem rational to me.

It is telling that most Muslims around the world support Palestinians, and most Jews support Israel. This, of course, is natural — but it’s also problematic. It means that this is not about who’s right or wrong as much as which tribe or nation you are loyal to. It means that Palestinian supporters would be just as ardently pro-Israel if they were born in Israeli or Jewish families, and vice versa. It means that the principles that guide most people’s view of this conflict are largely accidents of birth — that however we intellectualize and analyze the components of the Middle East mess, it remains, at its core, a tribal conflict.

By definition, tribal conflicts thrive and survive when people take sides. Choosing sides in these kinds of conflicts fuels them further and deepens the polarization. And worst of all, you get blood on your hands.

So before picking a side in this latest Israeli-Palestine conflict, consider these 7 questions…

This genius video perfectly explains the history of the “Holy Land”

Who’s Killing Who? A Viewer’s Guide
Because you can’t tell the players without a pogrom!

Satanists want to use Hobby Lobby decision to exempt women from anti-abortion laws

cognitivedissonance:

"The Satanic Temple set up a website where women seeking an abortion can print out a letter for her healthcare provider explaining why she is exempt from informed consent mandates.

The letter reads that ‘[a]ll women who share our deeply held belief that their personal choices should be made with access to the best available information, undiluted by biased or false information, are free to seek protection with this exemption whether they are members of the Satanic Temple or not.’”

YES.

Science is still struggling to understand what space and time actually are. Are they real physical entities or simply useful ideas? If they’re real, are they fundamental, or do they emerge from more basic constituents?


What does it mean for space to be empty? Does time have a beginning? Does it have an arrow, flowing inexorably from past to future as common experience would dictate?

Brian Greene, The Fabric of the Cosmos (via whats-out-there)

New York Times Editorial Board Calls For Legalization Of Marijuana

thepoliticalfreakshow:

The most authoritative paper in the United States has put its weight behind the federal legalization of marijuana, a momentous endorsement in the prolonged fight to end to the criminalization of marijuana that has been in place since 1937.

Debuting what is to be a six-part seriesThe New York Times editorial board called for an end to the “prohibition” of marijuana, saying the current ban “[inflicts] great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.” The interactive series is to run from July 26 to August 5, beginning with Saturday’s editorial, “High Time: An Editorial Series on Marijuana Legalization.” An accompanying blog post by editor Andrew Rosenthal stated the decision to back legalizing marijuana was “long in the making,” and “as more and more states liberalized their marijuana laws in open defiance of the federal ban, it became clear to us that there had to be a national approach to the issue.”

The board argues that after weighing the pros and cons of legalization, the scale tips in favor of ending the ban. The Times acknowledges that there are concerns about certain forms of marijuana use, including that by minors. Thus, the board advocates for restricting sales of marijuana to those under the age of 21. Addressing other health, social and legal concerns, the board writes that “there are no perfect answers but neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol.” But as the Times argues, the concerns are outweighed by the “vast” social costs of marijuana laws.

From the Times editors:

There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.



As Politico notes, the “The Times is the biggest U.S. newspaper to endorse the legalization of marijuana.” Adding to the significance is the Times’ history of being conservative when it comes to legalization. In 2013, an article stressed the dangers of more potent forms of marijuana as well as use of the drug by teenagers. Following Colorado’s legalization of marijuana in January 2014, a Times article sounded alarm over having more users of the drug behind the wheel. The article was accompanied by a photo of Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin in the film “Up in Smoke,” lighting up in a vehicle. Fears over food laced with marijuana being more accessible to children were sparked by tales of a rise in youth being taken to the emergency room after consuming snacks with the drug. As Washington state moved to join Colorado in legalizing recreational marijuana, the Times wrote on the manyhurdles that medical marijuana providers would encounter. In June, the Times hosted an op-ed column where the writer said “Marijuana is more dangerous than many of us once thought,” pointing to a link between marijuana use and schizophrenia. And of course, there was New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s “bad trip,” where she detailed being “curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours,” after trying a marijuana candy bar while on assignment.

Given the Times influence, it could be that the endorsement of federal legalization of marijuana could spur politicians, organizations and publications to do in kind. The Times’ endorsement is strengthened by the paper’s history on issues concerning marijuana and strong language, likening the ban on marijuana to the prohibition of alcohol. Set beside an interactive American flag where stars transform to marijuana leaves as readers scroll, the editorial opens:

It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.



The Times editors close with certainty, “It is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition.”

President Barack Obama said in 2012 that prosecuting pot users in states that have legalized it would not be a top priority for his administration, telling ABC News’ Barbara Walters, “We’ve got bigger fish to fry.” The New York Times editorial board endorsement of legalizing marijuana counts as another key voice sounding for a change in how the U.S. approaches marijuana.

CORRECTION: 10:30 p.m. ET — This article previously stated that marijuana had been banned in the United States for 40 years. As Frontline notes, the Marijuana Tax Act effectively criminalized marijuana in the U.S. in 1937.