In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and misinformation, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe; natural wonders and supernatural blunders.

"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


This Ex-Muslim Started a Tumblr for Women Who Have Abandoned the Hijab | VICE United States


Hi! We’ve been featured in VICE. Head over and take a look at my interview with Simon Davis about this project and my personal history with the hijab.

How cool!

You won’t allow me to go to school.
I won’t become a doctor.
Remember this:
One day you will be sick.

Poem written by an 11 year old Afghan girl 

This poem was recorded in a NYT magazine article about female underground poetry groups in Afghanistan. An amazing article about the ways in which women are using a traditional two line poetry form to express their resistance to male oppression, their feelings about love (considered blasphemous).

Here’s the link

(via conansdoyles)

(Source: chidealist)


Michele Bachmann against National Women’s History Museum because it would ‘enshrine the radical feminist movement that stands against the pro-life movement, the pro-family movement, and the pro-traditional marriage movement’ (Found at Joe, My. God.; For a related video, click here

Texas Public Schools Are Teaching Creationism

When public-school students enrolled in Texas’ largest charter program open their biology workbooks, they will read that the fossil record is “sketchy.” That evolution is “dogma” and an “unproved theory” with no experimental basis. They will be told that leading scientists dispute the mechanisms of evolution and the age of the Earth. These are all lies.

The more than 17,000 students in the Responsive Education Solutions charter system will learn in their history classes that some residents of the Philippines were “pagans in various levels of civilization.” They’ll read in a history textbook that feminism forced women to turn to the government as a “surrogate husband.”

Responsive Ed has a secular veneer and is funded by public money, but it has been connected from its inception to the creationist movement and to far-right fundamentalists who seek to undermine the separation of church and state….


Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson: Girls Should Carry A Bible And Marry 'When They Are 15'

Recently uncovered video indicates that Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson may have fringe views — other than those on homosexuality and civil rights — that most Americans would find far outside the mainstream

"Make sure that she can cook a meal, you need to eat some meals that she cooks, check that out," he said. "Make sure she carries her Bible. That’ll save you a lot of trouble down the road. And if she picks your ducks, now, that’s a woman."

"They got to where they’re getting hard to find," Robertson remarked. "Mainly because these boys are waiting until they get to be about 20 years old before they marry ‘em. Look, you wait until they get to be 20 years old, the only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket."

The Duck Commander company founder added: “You got to marry these girls when they are about 15 or 16, they’ll pick your ducks. You need to check with mom and dad about that of course.”…

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Protestors Smash Bus Windows In Beit Shemesh, Israel

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish protestors attacked three buses in Beit Shemesh, a city 30 miles west of Jerusalem, in response to the arrest of a couple who reportedly asked a female passenger to move from the front of a bus to the back, which she did, according to The Associated Press.

Though ultra-Orthodox Judaism requires men and women to be separated in public, gender segregation is a voluntary practice on public buses. The issue is a heated one. Reuters noted recently that some Israeli lawmakers have called for public gender segregation to be abolished throughout the country.

According to Israeli news outlet Hareetz, the disruption began this week when one woman passenger approached another woman sitting at the front of a bus and told her to move to the back. After the bus driver reported the incident to local police, two arrests were made: The woman who had asked the passenger to move was taken into custody, as was the woman’s husband. Protestors wielding hammers smashed the windows of the bus where the incident took place and attacked two other buses in the area, reported Hareetz.

Tensions are high between the ultra-Orthodox Jews who reside in Beit Shemesh and those who are secular or modern Orthodox Jews, largely because of disagreements surrounding women, according to The Associated Press.

Protests erupted in 2011 after a group of ultra-Orthodox men spat on an 8-year-old girl and called her a whore as she walked to school in her uniform.

In early 2012, a group of ultra-Orthodox men attacked a woman in Beit Shemesh as she was hanging up posters. The men pelted the woman with stones and slashed her car tires.

The prevalence of these types of attacks against women in the area have given rise to a movement of radicalized Orthodox women in Beit Shemesh. The New Republic notes in a cover story this week that women in the area are becoming increasingly feminist: “They have decided that they won’t tolerate abuse anymore. Their quest for justice has thrown them into the arms of unlikely allies, feminist activists from the reform and conservative movements.”

(Source: The Huffington Post)

When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?

Why have young children’s clothing styles changed so dramatically? How did we end up with two “teams”—boys in blue and girls in pink?

“It’s really a story of what happened to neutral clothing,” says Paoletti, who has explored the meaning of children’s clothing for 30 years. For centuries, she says, children wore dainty white dresses up to age 6. “What was once a matter of practicality—you dress your baby in white dresses and diapers; white cotton can be bleached—became a matter of ‘Oh my God, if I dress my baby in the wrong thing, they’ll grow up perverted,’ ” Paoletti says.

The march toward gender-specific clothes was neither linear nor rapid. Pink and blue arrived, along with other pastels, as colors for babies in the mid-19th century, yet the two colors were not promoted as gender signifiers until just before World War I—and even then, it took time for popular culture to sort things out.


"Hysterical Literature is a viral video art series exploring mind/body dualism, distraction portraiture, and the contrast between culture and sexuality. Viewed over 18 million times in 200 countries…”


*****What religious puritan America/Europe/UK historically did to it’s women…with it’s insane denial of the female orgasm…is nothing short of obscene…and many women are still struggling to recover from these screwed up religious notions passed down from generation to generation


"Until the 20th century, American and European men—including physicians—believed that women did not experience sexual desire or pleasure. They believed that women were simply fleshy receptacles for male lust and that intercourse culminating in male ejaculation fulfilled women’s erotic needs. Women were socialized to believe that “ladies” had no sex drive, and that duty required them to put up with sex in order to keep their husbands happy and have children.

Not surprisingly, these beliefs left an enormous number or women sexually frustrated. They complained to doctors of anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability, nervousness, erotic fantasies, feelings of heaviness in the lower abdomen, and wetness between the leg. This syndrome became known as “hysteria,” from the Greek for uterus.

Read in full

It’s almost comical how confused men have always been about the female body. I say almost because that confusion has resulted in a lot of suffering and humiliation for half the population.

The Linchpin to a better world: Free Women

Must the world forever remain the victim of ignorant passion? Can the world be civilized to that degree that consequences will be taken into consideration by all?

Why should men and women have children that they cannot take care of, children that are burdens and curses? Why? Because they have more passion than intelligence, more passion than conscience, more passion than reason.

You cannot reform these people with tracts and talk. You cannot reform these people with preach and Creed. Passion is, and always has been, death. These weapons of reform are substantially useless. Criminals, tramps, beggars and failures are increasing every day. The prisons, jails, poorhouses and asylums are crowded. Religion is helpless. Law can punish, but it can neither reform criminals nor prevent crime. The tide of vice is rising. The war that is now being waged against the forces of evil is as hopeless as the battle of the fireflies against the darkness of night.

There is but one hope. Ignorance, poverty and vice must stop populating the world. This cannot be done by moral suasion. This cannot be done by talk or example. This cannot be done by religion or by law, by priest or by hangman. This cannot be done by force, physical or moral.

To accomplish this there is but one way. Science must make woman the owner, the mistress of herself. Science, the only possible savior of mankind. Must put it in the power of woman to decide for herself whether she will or will not become a mother.

This is the solution of the whole question. This frees women. The babes that are then born will be welcome. They will be clasped with glad hands to happy breasts. They will fill homes with light and joy.

Men and women who believe that slaves are purer, truer, then the free, who believe that fear is a safer guide than knowledge, that only those are really good who obey the commands of others, and that ignorance is this soil in which the perfect, perfumed flower for virtue grows, will with protesting hands hide their shocked faces.

Men and women who think that light is the enemy of virtue, that purity dwells in darkness, that it is dangerous for human beings to know themselves and the facts in nature that affect their well-being, will be horrified at the thought of making intelligence the master of passion..

Robert Green Ingersoll - What is Religion, article 10


Susan Jacoby: Why the Lost History of Secular Women Matters Today

Susan Jacoby is an author, most recently of The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought, and the New York Times best seller The Age of American Unreason, about American anti-intellectualism. Jacoby, who began her career as a reporter for The Washington Post, has been a contributor to a wide variety of national publications, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, American Prospect, Mother Jones, The Nation, Glamour, and AARP Bulletin and AARP Magazine. She is currently a panelist for On Faith, a Washington Post-Newsweek blog on religion. Her book Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism was named a notable book of 2004 by The Washington Post and The New York Times. The Times Literary Supplement and The Guardian also named it an ‘Outstanding International Book of the Year.’ Her book Wild Justice: The Evolution of Revenge was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Recorded at the Center for Inquiry “Women in Secularism2” conference, Saturday, May 18, 2013, in Washington, D.C.

Duration: 26:40

via Center for Inquiry.

When Men Experience Sexism



“Yet, what’s striking about instances of sexism against men is how often the perpetrators are not women but other men. The gendercides in Serbia and Rwanda were committed against men, not by feminists, but by other men.”

(H/T Esther Armah)

From the article:

Many of these examples—particularly the points about custody inequities and conscription—are popular with men’s rights activists. MRAs tend to deploy the arguments as evidence that men are oppressed by women and, especially, by feminists. Yet, what’s striking about instances of sexism against men is how often the perpetrators are not women but other men. The gendercides in Serbia and Rwanda were committed against men, not by feminists, but by other men. Prison rape is, again, overwhelmingly committed by men against other men—with (often male) prison officials sitting by and shrugging. Conscription in the U.S. was implemented overwhelmingly by male civilian politicians and military authorities, not by women.

Even in cases where women clearly benefit from sexism, it’s generally not the case that women, as a class, are the ones doing the discriminating. Neither alimony nor custody discussions are central to current feminist theory or current feminist pop cultural discussions. Thereis no ideological feminist commitment to either of these discussions in the way there is to, say, abortion rights, or workplace equity. On the contrary, the alimony and custody inequities we have at the moment seem mostly based, not on progressive feminism, but rather on the reactionary image of female domesticity that feminism has spent most of the last 60-odd years fighting against.

When men suffer from sexism, then, they do so in much the same way women do. That is, they suffer not because women rule the world and are targeting men, nor because feminism has somehow triumphed and brainwashed all of our elected officials (most of them still men) into ideological misandry. Rather, men suffer because of the same gender role stereotypes that hurt and restrict women—though men, being of a different gender, fall afoul of those stereotypes in different ways. Women are supposed to be passive and domestic and sexual—so their employment options and autonomy are restricted and they are fetishized and targeted for sexual assault and exploitation. Men are supposed to be active and violent—so their claims to domestic rights are denigrated and violence directed against them is shrugged off as natural or non-notable.


History Meme > 1/10 moments: The 16th-18th Century Witch-craze

Between the 1500’s to the early 1700’s the witch-craze reached its height, this was the era of the witch hunters and tens of thousands perished at the hands of prosecutors. Though many records have been lost of destroyed, most historians believe that  around 200,000 people were tried for witchcraft and about half that number were executed during this time. Around 90% of “witches” were elderly or widowed women and children.

“All wickedness, is but little to the wickedness of the woman… What else is woman but a foe to friendship, an un-escapable punishment, a necessary evil, a natural temptation, a desirable calamity, domestic danger, a delectable detriment, an evil nature, painted with fair colours… Women are by nature instruments of Satan… they are by nature carnal, a structural defect rooted in the original creation.” - Heinrich Kramer (Malleus Maleficarum/Hammer of the Witches, 1486)

“The devil wins over more women than men, because they are naturally more imbecile. And we see among those brought before the parlemants on charges of witchcraft, there are ten times more women.” - Pierre de Lancre (Tableau de l’inconstance des mauvais anges et démons/On the Inconstancy of Witches, 1612)

“It is the power of bestial desire which has reduced women to extremities to indulge these appetites, or to avenge themselves…for the internal organs are seen to be larger in women than in men, whose desires are not so violent: by contrast, the heads of men are much larger, and in consequence they have more brains and prudence than women.” - Jean Bodin (De la démonomanie des sorciers/Of the Demon-mania of the Sorcerers, 1604)

This mentality is still alive and well. It’s just migrated with missionaries, for instance, to Africa:

Video: Child Witches

"That Witch Must Die", the resurgence of Pentecostal witch-hunts in Nigeria.

Accusations of sorcery still drive women from their homes in Africa.

Law Protecting Afghanistan Women Blocked By Conservatives

KABUL, Afghanistan — Conservative religious lawmakers in Afghanistan blocked legislation on Saturday aimed at strengthening provisions for women’s freedoms, arguing that parts of it violate Islamic principles and encourage disobedience.

The fierce opposition highlights how tenuous women’s rights remain a dozen years after the ouster of the hard-line Taliban regime, whose strict interpretation of Islam once kept Afghan women virtual prisoners in their homes.

Khalil Ahmad Shaheedzada, a conservative lawmaker for Herat province, said the legislation was withdrawn shortly after being introduced in parliament because of an uproar by religious parties who said parts of the law are un-Islamic.

"Whatever is against Islamic law, we don’t even need to speak about it," Shaheedzada said.

The Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women has been in effect since 2009, but only by presidential decree. It is being brought before parliament now because lawmaker Fawzia Kofi, a women’s rights activist, wants to cement it with a parliamentary vote to prevent its potential reversal by any future president who might be tempted to repeal it to satisfy hard-line religious parties.

The law criminalizes, among other things, child marriage and forced marriage, and bans “baad,” the traditional practice of exchanging girls and women to settle disputes. It makes domestic violence a crime punishable by up to three years in prison and specifies that rape victims should not face criminal charges for fornication or adultery.

Kofi, who plans to run for president in next year’s elections, said she was disappointed because among those who oppose upgrading the law from presidential decree to legislation passed by parliament are women.

Afghanistan’s parliament has more than 60 female lawmakers, mostly due to constitutional provisions reserving certain seats for women.

There has been spotty enforcement of the law as it stands. A United Nations analysis in late 2011 found only a small percentage of reported crimes against women were pursued by the Afghan government. Between March 2010 and March 2011 – the first full Afghan year the decree was in effect – prosecutors filed criminal charges in only 155 cases, or 7 percent of the total number of crimes reported.

The child marriage ban and the idea of protecting female rape victims from prosecution were particularly heated subjects in Saturday’s parliamentary debate, said Nasirullah Sadiqizada Neli, a conservative lawmaker from Daykundi province.

Neli suggested that removing the custom – common in Afghanistan – of prosecuting raped women for adultery would lead to social chaos, with women freely engaging in extramarital sex safe in the knowledge they could claim rape if caught.

Another lawmaker, Mandavi Abdul Rahmani of Barlkh province, also opposed the law’s rape provision.

"Adultery itself is a crime in Islam, whether it is by force or not," Rahmani said.

He said the Quran also makes clear that a husband has a right to beat a disobedient wife as a last resort, as long as she is not permanently harmed. “But in this law,” he said, “It says if a man beats his wife at all, he should be jailed for three months to three years.”

Lawmaker Shaheedzada also claimed that the law might encourage disobedience among girls and women, saying it reflected Western values not applicable in Afghanistan.

"Even now in Afghanistan, women are running from their husbands. Girls are running from home," Shaheedzada said. "Such laws give them these ideas."

More freedoms for women are one of the most visible – and symbolic – changes in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led campaign that toppled the Taliban regime. While in power, the Taliban imposed a strict interpretation of Islam that put severe curbs on the freedom of women.

For five years, the regime banned women from working and going to school, or even leaving home without a male relative. In public, all women were forced wear a head-to-toe burqa, which covers even the face with a mesh panel. Violators were publicly flogged or executed.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, women’s freedoms have improved vastly, but Afghanistan remains a deeply conservative culture, especially in rural areas.

Saturday’s failure of the legislation in parliament reflected the power of religious parties but changed little on the ground, since the decree is still the law of the land, however loosely enforced. Kofi said the parliament decided to send the legislation to committee, and it could come to a vote again later this year.

"We will work on this law," she said. "We will bring it back."

Some activists, however, worry about potential changes to the law. Bringing the legislation before parliament also opened it up to being amended, leaving the possibility that conservatives will seek to weaken it by stripping out provisions they dislike – or even vote to repeal it.

"There’s a real risk this has opened a Pandora’s box, that this may have galvanized opposition to this decree by people who in principle oppose greater rights for women," said Heather Barr, a researcher for Human Rights Watch.

That’s true for lawmaker Rahmani, who said President Hamid Karzai should never have issued the decree and wants it changed, if not repealed.

"We cannot have an Islamic country with basically Western laws," he said.

(Source: The Huffington Post)