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This week on Think Atheist Radio we have our chat with Dr. Paul Cliteur. Dr. Cliteur is a legal and ethical philosopher and Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. He's well known in the Netherlands as a columnist and writer with strong opinions on a host of issues including religion, politics, animal rights, and multi-culturalism. He has published numerous journal articles on topics relevant to his interests and areas of expertise. The President of the Humanist Association of the Netherlands from 1993 - 1995, Dr. Cliteur is the author of several books published in Dutch and one in English. It's his English book publication we invited him to speak to us about. Within the pages of The Secular Outlook: In Defense of Moral and Political Secularism can be found a tour through the ways that the threat of terrorism can be answered by secularism, why ethics must be secular, and an examination of the place and importance of free speech and criticism of religion. Join us for a fascinating discussion on these issues!
So... Didja hear there was an election?? Some interesting tidbits:
Florida's Amendment 8 which would have allowed state funds to be funneled to religious groups was soundly defeated.
California's unscientific Proposition 37 whose premise was that GMO foods pose a danger despite a lack of scientific evidence justifying this conclusion was also defeated.
Pete Stark, the only openly non-theist in Congress has lost his seat. Though, according to this piece, that may not be a bad thing from a pure who-do-you-want-representing-you-in-government standpoint. Kyrsten Sinema was initially thought to at least be a replacement for Stark as she won her race and was reported to be a non-theist as well. However, more recent information has her saying that she doesn't claim the label non-theist even while she does favor secular approaches to government.
Of course you can now have some fun looking back at the right wingers that got the election hilariously wrong.
We'll have a record number of women serving in the new congress. The Republican "rape caucus", the group of them that have made disgusting comments about rape, has crumbled as each loses. Phil Plait acclaimed the results but rightly pointed out that we have plenty to do.
Ethicist Alonzo Fyfe hopes that the Republican defeat prompts some much needed moral reforms within the party.
Paul Broun, the Republican (obviously) running unopposed for Congress in Georgia who said that evolution and the Big Bang were "lies from the pit of hell"... Yeah, sane people not interested in voting for his particular brand of douchebaggery wrote in some hilarious things on their ballot. My favorite: BURNING BAG OF DOGSHIT. Charlies Darwin got 4,000 votes.
Sarah Posner offered that this election seems to be evidence of a great religious realignment. That realignment should be an opportunity for us. Others are raising questions about the religious right's influence in the aftermath. Surely this has been a victory for secular values. We are a political force.
Following the fantastic news on the marriage-equality front (and it's better than you realize), some are asking whether this election signals the beginning of the end of the anti-marriage equality movement. Indeed, the election results could even sway the SCOTUS when it considers DOMA.
4 out of 5 of a group of members of congress referred to as the "Flat Earthers" for their staunch denial of science have been voted out.
Now to your regularly scheduled links...
A former police officer and veteran of the war in Afghanistan is suing his hometown due to the Christian symbols around a veteran's memorial there.
New research shows that omega3, while appearing to have some benefit when you consume them in the fatty fish in which they're found, don't have the same benefit when taken as a supplement. There's also new research showing again the lack of value in a daily multivitamin supplement too.
In the ongoing discussion over abortion some people are increasingly looking to neuroscience to answer questions about consciousness and the ability to feel pain. But can neuroscience actually say much on the subject?
Evidence continues to mount showing that insofar as autistic persons either lack or have a diminished capacity for what cognitive psychologists call a "theory of mind"– the ability to make complex and intuitive inferences about other people by putting yourself in their shoes– these people also are significantly less likely to be religious. This bolsters theories of the mechanisms of religious thought that point to this theory of mind.
Interesting new research finds that people that believe in the paranormal are also more likely to see "faces" in in objects.
For 150 years no one has seen a full spade-toothed whale. Then 2 just wash up on a beach.
Michael Shermer wrote to defend his belief that there cannot be anything supernatural that science can discover. Jerry Coyne disagreed, saying that science could in principle, it just hasn't. For his part, PZ Myers disagreed with both of them.
Many people will ask "What's the harm?" when you point out that herbal remedies don't work. So you'll point out that often people take herbal remedies as a replacement for medicine that actually works. And you might have someone say "But I don't do that. I take both." So you respond by explaining that they're putting themselves at risk for a dangerous drug interaction.
Our recent guest on TA Radio, geomorphologist Dr. David Montgomery, has published a peer-reviewed article in GSA Today, the professional magazine for the Geological Society of America. Dr. Montgomery takes an interesting walk through the evolution of creationism.
Scientists have detected the oldest yet observed supernova at 12 billion light years away.
Religious right activists are funding climate science denialism in part because in undermining science they hope to undermine evolution.
A recently concluded medical trial of chelation therapy for heart problems claims to have found a beneficial effect. The list of criticisms of the study is long including that too many participants dropped out before conclusion, and that there's just no scientific basis for any benefit in the first place. An ethicist calls the study a waste of 30 million dollars.
English physicist David Deutsch is attempting to tie together cosmology, philosophy, computation, and evolution into a theory of everything.
A possibly habitable "super-Earth" exoplanet has been spotted in orbit around its parent star 42 light years away as part of a 6 planet system.
A new study describes how the brain sees things differently, trading away accuracy for speed when snap decisions are required.
Pseudoscientific "facilitated communication" persists despite continuing scientific criticism.
It's time to stop invoking the phrase "fire in a crowded theater" in the context of discussions on censorship and free speech.
Chris Stedman has just released a new book defending religion even while he himself is an atheist. Chris Halquist has offered his thoughts on why he thinks Stedman is so obnoxious.
A team of researchers have examined the accuracy of predictions made by climate models and have found that the most accurate are those that predict the greatest increase in temperature between now and 2100. Good thing then that, swept in by hurricane Sandy, the topic of climate change is back in Washington DC.
Skeptics, nerds, and atheists are on the march across the US.
A former priest in Australia alleging a "system of abuse cover-ups" exists within the Catholic Church.
A "UFO expert" (whatever that is) explains why modern technology has left him concluding that UFO's are little more than a myth.
There's lots of buzz about this article, being shared everywhere, that says that NASA is planning a manned return trip to the moon for President Obama's second term. Trouble is, while NASA may have plans for a manned mission, there seems to be little reason to think we're going to the Moon.
Go inside the largest computer simulation of the universe ever created.