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Jun 2011 16

by Keith Daniels

“The Religious Right will continue to wage this war against women until we as secularists stand up with the feminists and say, ‘No more.’”
– Rebecca Watson

I first heard of Rebecca Watson in her role as the lone female host on The Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast, on which she appears as one of a quartet of co-hosts led by Dr. Steven Novella, but she first gained notice within the skeptic community because of her work with the collaborative blog she founded, Skepchick.org.

Skepchick advocates for the interrelationship between critical thinking, science, secularism, and feminism. One of the most passionate, articulate, and fearless secularists in the public eye, Rebecca divides her time between Skepchick, the SGU podcast, and frequent speaking engagements at atheist and skeptic-oriented conferences and conventions. In 2009 Skepchick started its own convention, SkepchickCon, which occurs annually as part of the larger CONvergence at the end of June in Minneapolis.

We spoke recently about Skepchick, the Religious Right’s war against women in the United States, and the difficulties women face even within the secular community.

Read our exclusive interview with Rebecca Watson on SuicideGirls.com.

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Apr 2011 06

by Keith Daniels

“What I’d like my daughter to do is to be a critical thinker.”
– Kari Byron

MythBusters, Discovery Channel’s hit show which attempts to test popular legends, misconceptions, and tropes, is coming back on April 6th for their eighth year of bringing science with a heavy dose of explosives to television.

Co-host Kari Byron started as an intern at fellow host Jamie Hyneman’s special-effects shop M5 Industries at practically the same moment the show first began filming. From her first appearance as a model for an experiment, her critical thinking, artistic sensibility, and on-screen charisma allowed her role on the show to grow until she became part of a trio of co-hosts with special-effects veterans Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci who now have their own shop, M7, and test myths for the show in parallel with the original core duo of Hyneman and Adam Savage.

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Mar 2011 30

by Keith Daniels

Moving into academia after a career in the field of “taking your clothes off on the internet” can be tricky, however tattoos might actually have an upside professionally. A 2010 study published in the journal Psychological Reports found that college instructors with visible tattoos are perceived more positively by undergraduate students.

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Mar 2011 26

by Keith Daniels

The Bible is often presented by believers as a monolithic creation, as if it descended from Heaven whole, perfect, and in King James’ English. The truth, as in so many things, is so much more complicated and interesting. The text of the Hebrew Tanakh which became what Christians dismissively call the “Old Testament” began as an oral tradition that was eventually written down in Hebrew and Aramaic by unknown scribes over hundreds of years in what’s called “abjad” script – a system of writing in which only the consonants are set down and the reader is intended to fill in the vowels. These individual writings were eventually collected into a generally accepted canon by around 400 BCE and finally codified at a later but unknown date, probably by 100 CE.

And that’s just the “Old Testament”.

Similarly, the New Testament is a disparate collection of texts from numerous and mostly unknown authors – despite traditional ascriptions – writing from between around 50 to 200 CE. None of the books of the New Testament were written during the lifetime of a historical Jesus. And according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the popular conception of one singular ancient council of the Church that decided what books were in and what were out is inaccurate:

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Mar 2011 24

by Keith Daniels

“I grew up understanding the Bible to be myth.”
-Michael Moorcock

Michael Moorcock is among the greatest of all writers alive today – irrespective of genre. Alan Moore wrote, in his introduction to Moorcock’s Into the Media Web, “Look up the word ‘author’ in a dictionary and you’ll find a photograph of Michael Moorcock.”

At an age when most are barely learning to drive, Moorcock wrote and edited for magazines. He first attained fame (and notoriety) during his legendary tenure as the editor of the science-fiction magazine New Worlds from 1964 to 1971, and was the center of what many called the “New Wave” of science-fiction writers.

The material New Worlds published was often politically radical and wildly experimental, more William S. Burroughs than Robert Heinlein (who, in fact, called it a “‘sick literature’ of ‘neurotics’ and ‘sex maniacs”).

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Mar 2011 17

by Keith Daniels

“I see this all the time, where people are just confused by the misinformation”
-Dr. Steven Novella

Dr. Steven Novella eats, sleeps, and breathes science. An academic clinical neurologist by day at the Yale University of Medicine, he spends much of the rest of his time promoting science and rationality through the massively popular weekly podcast he hosts, The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, his own blog, Neurologica, and the influential blog he founded, Science-Based Medicine. He is also the President and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society.

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Mar 2011 14

by Greg Palast

I need to speak to you, not as a reporter, but in my former capacity as lead investigator in several government nuclear plant fraud and racketeering investigations.

I don’t know the law in Japan, so I can’t tell you if Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) can plead insanity to the homicides about to happen.

But what will Obama plead? The Administration, just months ago, asked Congress to provide a $4 billion loan guarantee for two new nuclear reactors to be built and operated on the Gulf Coast of Texas — by Tokyo Electric Power and local partners. As if the Gulf hasn’t suffered enough.

Here are the facts about Tokyo Electric and the industry you haven’t heard on CNN:

The failure of emergency systems at Japan’s nuclear plants comes as no surprise to those of us who have worked in the field.

Nuclear plants the world over must be certified for what is called “SQ” or “Seismic Qualification.” That is, the owners swear that all components are designed for the maximum conceivable shaking event, be it from an earthquake or an exploding Christmas card from Al Qaeda.

The most inexpensive way to meet your SQ is to lie. The industry does it all the time. The government team I worked with caught them once, in 1988, at the Shoreham plant in New York. Correcting the SQ problem at Shoreham would have cost a cool billion, so engineers were told to change the tests from ‘failed’ to ‘passed.’

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