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Blue Ball Skeptics – Episodes 6 & 7

James brandishes the now-infamous thumb

James brandishes the now-infamous thumb

For the next two episodes, Chas and Damion talk with James Garrison, the founder of the Oklahoma Skeptics Society. We discussed all manner of profoundly skeptical things, such as how to form a local skeptics group and how to quickly convince a Sasquatch to release his grip on your valuables.

Part One (Episode 6)

Part Two (Episode 7)

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The continuing decline of American religiosity

Good news, godless heathens!

Why Evolution Is True

The Richard Dawkins Foundation website highlighted a post by Tobin Grant, a professor of political science at Southern Illinois University whose interest is the sociology of religion, and who writes about it at the site “Corner of Church and State” at the Religion News Service.

Grant’s post reports 61 years of measuring “religiosity” (the degree of religious belief) in the US, using statistics he developed in a 2008 paper (reference and free download below). In that paper, Grant combined 14 indices of religiosity into one, and developed a way to not only present that statistic in a way comparable among years, but to check its reliability. (You can read about the “validation” of his measure, the Aggregate Religiosity Index [ARI] in the paper at the bottom.

The components of the ARI are the indices below; the “correlation in the right column is the correlation of each component of the index with…

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Carol Tavris on accusations vs. skepticism

Brace yourselves…rageblogs are coming.

Why Evolution Is True

After this post I’m going back to atheism, cats, food, and biology—at least for a while; but I thought that this talk, given by Carol Tavris at this year’s The Amazing Meeting, was a good complement to the discussion we had about Dawkins two days ago. Not all will agree with what she says, of course, but I hope to inspire civil discussion.

Tavris is a well-known social psychologist who has worked at UCLA, the New School, and has published widely. Twof her better-known public books are Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me):Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts (with Eliot Aronson)—a book I’ll read soon—and The Mismeasure of WomanBecause both her academic and feminist credentials are strong, she’s one of the few people with the credibility to pull off a talk about such a hot-button topic: skepticism around claims of sexual abuse.

The YouTube…

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Blue Ball Skeptics – Episodes 3 & 4

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Being relatively new to the skeptic movement, Chas and Damion sought out mentors to give them the scoop on how things are, how they have been, and whether there is anything new under the sun since the days of The Zetetic.

As a result of this process, they met some pretty awesome people, and spoke with two of them on the record here . . .

Episode 3:

Episode 4:

 

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Stifling discourse, on your Left

Excellent piece by Massimo Pigliucci on how best to pursue public discourse

Scientia Salon

PSM_V03_D380_John_Stuart_Millby Massimo Pigliucci

I may be in danger of becoming a libertarian. No, not the Rand Paul or even Pen Jillette type (or, worse, a Randian objectivist!). I’m talking of a version of libertarianism closer to the one famously espoused by John Stuart Mill. Mill put forth the idea that there should be little or no restriction on public discourse, on the grounds that bad notions will eventually wither away, defeated in the open marketplace of ideas.

Here is how he puts it in On Liberty [1]:

“There is the greatest difference between presuming an opinion to be true, because, with every opportunity for contesting it, it has not been refuted, and assuming its truth for the purpose of not permitting its refutation. Complete liberty of contradicting and disproving our opinion, is the very condition which justifies us in assuming its truth for purposes of action; and on no other…

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