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Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious

This group is named for the discussion group on (founded by Peter Kroll) which shows that critical thinkers can (and do) act compassionately, without the need for magical sanction.

The idea for this room is to highlight the genius of the unwieldy name: a place to share and discuss content about issues of atheism/agnosticism/secular humanism from a truly skeptical and non-religious point of view.

It's difficult to label lack of belief (much like "not collecting stamps" doesn't work as a hobby). Names like "brights" are kind of lame, and neither "skeptic" nor "atheist" is comprehensive enough. Maybe AASFSHNR will catch on?
Graham Priest on Buddhism and logic by Massimo Pigliucci -
Graham Priest on Buddhism and logic by Massimo Pigliucci
"Graham Priest is a colleague of mine at City University of New York’s Graduate Center, a world renowned expert in logic, a Buddhist connoisseur, and an all-around nice guy [1]. So I always pay attention to what he says or writes. Recently he published a piece in Aeon magazine [2] entitled “Beyond true and false: Buddhist philosophy is full of contradictions. Now modern logic is learning why that might be a good thing.” I approached it with trepidation, for a variety of reasons. To begin with, I am weary of attempts at reading things into Buddhism or other Asian traditions of thought that are clearly not there (the most egregious example being the “documentary” What The Bleep Do We Know?, and the most frustrating one the infamous The Tao of Physics, by Fritjof Capra). But I quickly reassured myself because I knew Graham would do better than that." - Maitani from Bookmarklet
"I took part on Saturday in a panel discussion at the World Humanist Congress in Oxford on ‘Is there something about Islam?’ which debated whether ‘there is anything distinctive about Islam’ that leads to violence, bigotry and the suppression of freedom. Other panellists were Alom Shaha, Maajid Nawaz and Maryam Namazie. This is a transcript of my introductory comments." - Maitani from Bookmarklet
"Every year I give a lecture to a group of theology students – would-be Anglican priests, as it happens – on ‘Why I am an atheist’. Part of the talk is about values. And every year I get the same response: that without God, one can simply pick and choose about which values one accepts and which one doesn’t." - Maitani
"My response is to say: ‘Yes, that’s true. But it is true also of believers.’ I point out to my students that in the Bible, Leviticus sanctifies slavery. It tells us that adulterers ‘shall be put to death’. According to Exodus, ‘thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’. And so on. Few modern day Christians would accept norms. Others they would. In other words, they pick and choose." - Maitani
A very good piece. - Eivind
And it is on such an important issue. I want to ask everyone of my acquaintances who are self-appointed critics of Islam and Quran to read it. Islamophobia is strong in Germany. - Maitani
What Would Krishna Do? Or Shiva? Or Vishnu? - -
"This is the ninth in a series of interviews about religion that I am conducting for The Stone. The interviewee for this installment is Jonardon Ganeri, currently a visiting professor of philosophy at New York University Abu Dhabi and the author of “The Lost Age of Reason: Philosophy in Early Modern India 1450–1700.”" - Maitani from Bookmarklet
I’m raising my kids atheist in a God-obsessed culture: How I learned to parent godless children
April Russo
I guess their "magic water" forgot how to cure this shit. :D
The Barefoot Bum: Does epistemology matter? -
The Barefoot Bum: Does epistemology matter?
"A number of articles recently assert that the epistemology of religion doesn't matter; what matters are the practices. (The latest of course, being Religion, Heuristics, and Intergenerational Risk Management, with my response.) And it is asserted that epistemology doesn't matter in a deep way: even if we know that the underlying structure of a set of practices is false, even in the "worst" sense of falsity, that doesn't matter. I find this position deeply problematic." - Maitani from Bookmarklet
Faces of Vaccine Denialism
Faces of Vaccine Denialism.jpg
denialism ne demek - moreya
İnkarcılığa rahatsız gerçeği ile ilgili önlemek için bir yol olarak gerçeği inkar seçmektir. - Eivind
I'm not an anti-vaxer, but my moderate distrust of flu shots is influenced by the fact that of the couple of people I know who regularly get them, one developed Guillain-Barré syndrome within a week of receiving the shot. The CDC says the correlation is negligible, but my personal study indicates it's closer to 50%. :) - Ken Morley
I think you just highlighted an important problem. Lots of "personal studies," often based on news items and dodgy sites, end up with numbers like that, or worse :) - Eivind from Android
thanks :))) - moreya
Or maybe the CDC is lying to us. ;) - Ken Morley
Sure. More like Center for Mind Control, amirite? :) - Eivind from Android
You can definitely get Guillain-Barré from the flu shot, but it's like 1:1 million (EDIT: sorry, 1:100,000) , so I haven't seen any cases yet. - Victor Ganata
It took him about a year to mostly get back to normal. He never did regain his fine motor control completely. - Ken Morley
correlation does not imply causation. the flu shot isn't that likely to have caused it, no matter how awful his suffering. - Big Joe Silence
There was a statistically-significant increase in risk though, but that was the 1976 swine flu vaccine. We don't really know the mechanism. But, yeah, Guillain-Barré can certainly happen even if you aren't vaccinated. - Victor Ganata
I mean, you can get Guillain-Barré after getting the flu—it's probably the exact same mechanism—but who really knows? - Victor Ganata
It's possible my sample size was not large enough to be statistically significant (n=2). Your results may vary. :) - Ken Morley
I've gotten a flu shot twice, so I'm 100% sure it has no side effects. :) I also got the HPV vaccine with no side effects, so it's also 100% safe. - Heather
I'm pretty sure my n is somewhere between 1,000 to 10,000 by now, but it's definitely not powered enough to see Guillain-Barré. I'm just taking the CDC at its word. - Victor Ganata
at the risk of being classified as your friendly vaccine denialist... I suggest you read CDC and then search for official Finnish news on Pandemrix effect, ie. gooogle for _pandemrix finland site:yle.fi_ - непростые коротышки
first GSK simply denied effect goes above (their) statistic expectations, then they denied scale of effect, then they denied that most vulnerable between 4 and 19... then they denied those who "reported too late"... and then they used Finnish state as last-line "insurance" for damage over their 30 million EUR fund (in 2011 official number had been 92, but official confirmation of link had been in 2012 only). - непростые коротышки
Of course the Dalai Lama's a Marxist | Ed Halliwell | Comment is free | (via -
Of course the Dalai Lama's a Marxist | Ed Halliwell | Comment is free | (via
"Perhaps because Buddhism came to the west on a wave of post-war hippy soul-searching, and was then co-opted as friendly religion of choice by new ageism and the self-help movement, its radical economic and social messages have been lost under an avalanche of laughing fat-man statues, healing crystals and copies of The Secret." - Eivind from Bookmarklet
You can't be a Marxist if you don't believe class struggle is the key. That's the whole point. - Todd Hoff
When you're the 14th iteration of the Lama di tutti Lami, you can be anything you damn well please :) - Eivind
If you thought that then you wouldn't be worthy. - Todd Hoff
True. But they probably won't even let me try to pick up the right items when this iteration's done anyway. - Eivind
btw: Marxism - Political Ideology - Marxism is a worldview and method of societal analysis that focuses on class relations and societal conflict, that uses a materialist interpretation of historical development, and a dialectical view of social transformation. - непростые коротышки
"As university students today well know, power-point obsessed lecturers have internalized the idea, drawn from evolutionary biology, that the primary mode of perception for primates is vision. As university students today also well know, this modern pedagogical axiom can suck the life right out of a room. Back in ancient times, or in the 1980s when I first attended university, only the dullest of lecturers required anything so fancy as plastic slides on an overhead projector. Everything was oral, chalkboards were sufficient, and it was wonderful. Or at least I thought it was, the occasional droning aside. My how things have changed. Today it would be unthinkable to deliver a lecture without the aid or crutch of power-point. If the slides are especially busy, students need pay no mind to the babbling person, or reader, who advances them." - Maitani
"Those who study traditional cultures in general and hunter-gatherers in particular are no doubt aware of these issues, but awareness and understanding are two different things. I’ve been groping toward some understanding, inspired in this task initially by Jack Goody’s Domestication of the Savage Mind (1977). While Goody’s classic opened my eyes to these issues, my ears were not opened... more... - Maitani
Walter J. Ong, Orality and Literacy - Maitani
Note to David Brat: Free Markets Are Not Calvinist | Religion Dispatches -
"The confusion may go back even farther than Max Weber’s “Protestant ethic” thesis, all the way to the 16th century, when the Protestant reformer John Calvin waxed poetic in his Institutes of the Christian Religion about the importance of “freedom” in a Christian’s life. A Christian is no longer a slave to the law—neither the Torah nor the laws of the Roman Church. The Christian is free from condemnation, free to obey God joyfully, and free to make individual choices about earthly matters—even including usury (lending money at interest). So thus far it may seem that Calvin put his stamp of approval on the market free-for-all that’s so popular with bankers, business owners, financiers, and Brat voters." - Maitani from Bookmarklet
"But this is nothing like John Calvin’s own thinking. Despite his love of freedom, Calvin also had what we might call “Talibanesque” tendencies, since he believed in the sovereignty of God and the total depravity of humankind; humans are so sinful that even believers get it wrong most of the time and thus need strict rules to save them from themselves and others. In particular, Calvin worried about how the rich and powerful would use their privileged positions to exploit the poor and vulnerable." - Maitani
You shouldn't read Calvin's texts literally. If you just read between the lines and interpret the stuff that is meant to be interpreted rather than just taken at face value and disregard the stuff that absolutely doesn't fit this ideology, you'll find that Calvin was, indeed, a right-wing, free-market wingnut libertarian. - Eivind
I haven't read Calvin yet, but I have no doubt about that, Eivind. I wonder who else we could monopolize as free market libertarians with this approach. :-) - Maitani
Nelson "Laissez-faire" Mandela would be a respectable addition :) - Eivind from Android
April Russo
Sunday creationists
April Russo
Man Sees the Apocalypse in Miracle Whip Commercial -
""The Third Eagle of the Apocalypse" is a batshit crazy man who considers himself a prophet ordained by Jeebus. The guy is obviously off his rocker, but sometimes his videos are amusing in the same way monkeys throwing shit makes kids giggle at the zoo. This time, however, the "Co-Prophet of the End Times" has outdone himself. (As a side note, I've always wondered if his nickname comes from those bumper stickers that say "Jesus is my co-pilot.") What could possibly have our protagonist up in arms this time? A Miracle Whip commercial that obviously is an allegory for Satan, the anti-Christ, and the fall of the church. Because Jeebus. All you have to do is count the number of deviled eggs the woman makes, divide by two, subtract a dozen, turn it into a fraction and then turn that into the Devil's phone number. Don't forget, the woman's name almost spells Satan if you rearrange the letters and drop a few plus she "looks like a transvestite" witch. Oh, yeah. It just keeps getting better the longer you watch." - April Russo from Bookmarklet
Pure comedic gold! - April Russo
"There are two aspects to what we call the death of God. The first is the decline of religious belief. The second is the growth of a new kind of faith – faith in the capacity of humans to act without guidance from beyond. What I want to suggest is that the decline of religious belief has been overplayed. But faith in human capacities has been undervalued. We have been so obsessed by idea of the decline of religious belief that we have almost ignored the significance of faith in human capacities – and the decline of that faith in the post-Enlightenment world." - Maitani from Bookmarklet
Slenderman & Christian Credulity | Genealogy of Religion -
Slenderman & Christian Credulity | Genealogy of Religion
"When the Chicago Tribune claimed that “our culture” was to blame for these girls’ inability to distinguish between “fantasy and reality,” it got things only partially right. The Tribune should have said: “our Christian culture.” It is a culture in which the majority of people believe that God, Satan, angels, and demons actually exist. America is a spirit-filled place, where invisible agents run rampant, making it difficult even for adults to distinguish between fantasy and reality. How, in this fantastic milieu, can we hold these 12 year old girls to a different standard (or call them “deluded” and “mentally ill”) for believing in Slenderman?" - Eivind from Bookmarklet
Why Superstition Works: The Science of Superstition in Sports and Life -
Why Superstition Works: The Science of Superstition in Sports and Life
"In the South Pacific there is a place so remote that few people have ever heard of it, let alone seen it: the Trobriand Islands. The Trobriands are located off the east coast of Papua New Guinea, and no white man had set foot there until the late 1700s. During World War I, however, the islands were visited by a man who would one day become a legend in the field of anthropology, Bronislaw Malinowski. Malinowski was a stork of a man—thin, pale, and balding—often seen wearing a pith helmet and socks up to his knees. He had terrible eyesight, was a hypochondriac, an insomniac, and on top of it all had a strong fear of the tropics—in particular, an abhorrence of the heat and the sultriness; to cope, he gave himself injections of arsenic." - Maitani from Bookmarklet
"Malinowski was, nonetheless, a keen observer of humankind. And as he watched the Trobriand Islanders go about their lives, he noticed something odd. When the islanders went fishing their behavior changed, depending on where they fished. When they fished close to shore—where the waters were calm, the fishing was consistent, and the risk of disaster was low—superstitious behavior among them was nearly nonexistent." - Maitani
I wonder if everyone avoided shaking Moises Alou's hand on game days. ;-p - rönin
BBC News - Invented tradition and the religion of the ancients -
BBC News - Invented tradition and the religion of the ancients
"There in the fading evening light six priests standing on plinths on the riverbank were surrounded by thousands of people sitting on ancient stone steps that led down to the water. The priests - some with long hair tied back - were dressed in white robes from head to toe. They started by blowing into some conch shells, creating a low timeless sound and then came the bells and the incense swirling through the air. As the rhythmic chanting lulled the spectators into a state of spiritual relaxation, attendants produced lamps, each one with a thousand candles. On the Ganges itself some candles in small bowls were launched on the calm, wide waters - they floated into distance, diminishing specks of light." - Maitani from Bookmarklet
"And then to my side there appeared a convoy of wooden boats - a long procession meandering up the Ganges. All eyes turned to them and on board there were children dressed as gods, their smiling, proud faces frames in swirls of gold and red braid." - Maitani
"..."Ah yes," he replied. "The invention of tradition. Happens everywhere."" - Maitani
Ken Morley
How the Internet Is Taking Away America’s Religion | MIT Technology Review -
How the Internet Is Taking Away America’s Religion | MIT Technology Review
Ken Morley
Are Atheists the New Mormons? - The Daily Beast -
Are Atheists the New Mormons? - The Daily Beast
"Really, though, the American Atheist convention in Salt Lake City is not a clash of opposites. It’s the convergence of unlikely cousins. The convention this week will bring together in Salt Lake City two distinctly American movements, with remarkably similar demographics, that are in the process of emerging into a public sphere that has long considered them suspicious outsiders." - Ken Morley from Bookmarklet
Ken Morley
A sense of scale... (source file:
LOL - Eivind
Five Flood Stories You Didn’t Know About | (A)theologies | Religion Dispatches -
Five Flood Stories You Didn’t Know About | (A)theologies | Religion Dispatches
"The first known flood story comes from Sumer in the tale of Atra-hasis (19th century, BCE). This story sets the basic elements of the ancient genre: gods try to eradicate humanity, while a flood hero builds a boat to save the animals. A tragicomedy about polytheism starring petty gods who complain like tired parents annoyed by their noisy children. With plans to destroy a boisterous humanity, they are thwarted not once but three times by the flood hero’s personal god and eminent trickster, Enki. With each divine attempt at total genocide, Enki gives the flood hero secret knowledge about which god to appease with a sacrifice. This worked against the first two rounds of disease and drought. However, Enki had to get creative for the third and final attempt. For the deluge, Enki instructs the flood hero to build a boat for family and fauna." - Maitani from Bookmarklet
A well-written article, pleasurable to read, and informative. - Maitani
Eric Logan
Should biotech make life hellish for criminals? -
Should biotech make life hellish for criminals?
Even in my most religious moments, I have never been able to take the idea of hell seriously. Prevailing Christian theology asks us to believe that an all-powerful, all-knowing being would do what no human parent could ever do: create tens of billions of flawed and fragile creatures, pluck out a few favourites to shower in transcendent love, and send the rest to an eternity of unrelenting torment. That story has always seemed like an intellectual relic to me, a holdover from barbarism, or worse, a myth meant to coerce belief. But stripped of the religious particulars, I can see the appeal of hell as an instrument of justice, a way of righting wrongs beyond the grave. Especially in unusual circumstances. Take the case of Adolf Hitler. On the afternoon of 29 April 1945, Hitler was stashed deep in his Berlin bunker, watching his Third Reich collapse, when he received word that Benito Mussolini was dead. Hitler was aghast at the news, not because he’d lost yet another ally, but because of... more... - Eric Logan from Bookmarklet
Catholic Magic | Genealogy of Religion -
"According to early evolutionary anthropologists, magical thinking is supposed to be the province of “primitive” or traditional societies. As some of these societies progressively made their way toward modernity and became “civilized,” magical thinking was supposed to have disappeared. If it did not entirely disappear, then it was supposed to have given way to right proper religion. This is the progressive myth, found in both religious and secular forms, that prevails among civilized folk. The faithful among those folk tell themselves that religion has nothing to do with magic. The positivists among those folk tell themselves that science has replaced, or is inexorably displacing, residuals of magical thinking." - Maitani from Bookmarklet
NeuroLogica Blog » Can Thinking Change Reality -
NeuroLogica Blog » Can Thinking Change Reality
"I love the documentary series, The Day the Universe Changed, by James Burke. It’s a follow up to his equally good, Connections (I know, they have their criticisms, but overall they are very good). The former title is a metaphor – when our collective model of reality changes, for us the universe does change. When we believed the earth was motionless at the center of the universe, that was our reality." - Maitani from Bookmarklet
"But Burke was not arguing that the nature of the universe actually changed, just our conception of it. Thinking alone cannot directly change external reality. That is magical thinking." - Maitani
"Such thinking, however, lies at the center of much new age spiritual claims. The secret of The Secret is that you can change your world by wishing. Proponents of such ideas are desperate for scientific validation of their basic premise. Such evidence does not exist. In fact over a century of such research shows rather conclusively that there is no such effect in operation in our world to any significant degree." - Maitani
True Detective - Rust talks about Religion
True Detective - Rust talks about Religion
Chris Topher
Note to self: Do not engage Creationists...
Celebrity Touch Confers 'Magical' Value to Memorabilia - D-brief | -
Celebrity Touch Confers 'Magical' Value to Memorabilia - D-brief |
"King Midas famously turned anything he touched to gold, a fun thought even if it didn’t work out too well for him. We like to say successful (or lucky) people today can metaphorically do the same, but it turns out that celebrities — certain celebrities at least — have a more literal version of the Midas touch. A new study quantifies this “magical thinking” in regards to celebrity memorabilia — and it finds that, the more likeable a celeb, and the more time they spent touching the object, the greater its perceived value." - Eivind from Bookmarklet
Abstract: "Contagion is a form of magical thinking in which people believe that a person’s immaterial qualities or essence can be transferred to an object through physical contact. Here we investigate how a belief in contagion influences the sale of celebrity memorabilia. Using data from three high-profile estate auctions, we find that people’s expectations about the amount of physical... more... - Eivind
Cooties. - Stephen Mack from iPhone
Cooties Theory of Value :) - Eivind from Android
Rakesh Nair
Pastor becomes an atheist, makes shocking online announcement - -
Rakesh Nair
You said it girl - LOL Indian - Funny Indian Pics and images -
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