Hey guys! Hope you all had a great week! Radio Show stuff first and then we'll get to some links!
But first! I trickle out Sunday School links throughout the week on Google+. No reason to wait to read all the fascinating stuff! There's a great community of people I share the links and interact with. And on Twitter is where we do our book giveaways! Say it with me: FURREEE-BUKSSS. :P If you connect with me at either place, let me know you found me through Sunday School, say hi!
This week on the Think Atheist Radio Show we have our interview with Dr. Russell Blackford for you. Dr. Blackford is an Australian philosopher, writer, and literary critic. A columnist for Free Inquiry magazine, he is a Conjoint Lecturer at the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle and the editor-in-cheif of the Journal of Evolution and Technology. Well known for his excellent book, 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists, written with co-author Udo Shuklenk, his new book is Freedom of Religion and the Secular State. Where do the rights of the religious to practice end and civil law begin? How should a secular state be structured? Anyone interested in church/state issues must tune in!
If you missed last week's interview with Dr. Sebastian Seung you can still tune in for that! Dr. Seung is a professor of computational neuroscience at MIT. A leading researcher in the emerging field of connectomics– the field of study that is attempting to map the connections in our brains– he has made important advances in artificial intelligence, neuroscience, neuroeconomics, and statistical physics. His recently published book, Connectome, does just what the subtitle says, explains how the brain's wiring makes us who we are. With implications for personality, identity, intelligence, memory, and even disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, this is a wide-ranging and fascinating book on a subject that would be right at home in a sci-fi movie but is in fact real!
Okay, let's get to those links!
In a new anti-science assault on US schools anti-evolution campaigners and climate change denialists are teaming up to undermine public education.
Read the first and the second posts at RD.net about the recently conducted poll that the RDFSR commissioned. Turns out Britain is far less Christian than supposed and even the people that identify as Christian don't take their religion seriously in their lives. Commentators have helpfully recapped some of the high points of the survey's conclusions. PZ Myers had some thoughts. Hemant Mehta too.
Ethics is a human invention. It sprung not from the will of a divine commander, nor coalesced from pure reason, but was a cultural technology concocted by our distant ancestors to solve the problems inherent in social living.
Could this be the case that removes "Under God" from the pledge?
The dirty secret in American public schools is that, quite besides church/state lawsuits and academic standards, creationism is already being taught there.
Sayeeda Warsi, the British Conservative Peer and Cabinet Office minister alleged this week that secularism shares the characteristics of totalitarian regimes. Jerry Coyne had some thoughts. But is religion really under threat in Britain?
Lots of press in recent weeks about the team of Russian scientists and their success at finally breaking through into Antarctic Lake Vostok, the subglacial lake that's been undisturbed and unexposed to the surface for perhaps 20 million years. But how the hell did they drill down through almost 3,800 meters (almost 12,500 feet, or two and a third miles!) of ice?
For Valentines Day, your brain in love. Scientists have done tremendous work on figuring out just how the brain's workings produce the feeling of different types of love.
In a confirmation of something Darwin surmised more than 140 years ago, new research is suggesting that life really did start in a "warm little pond" rather than the oceans.
Much of the rest of the world seems to have no problem electing scientists to top level public office, why not Americans?
Someone going by the name "Heartland Insider" has anonymously released documents belonging to the libertarian "think tank" the Heartland Institute and the picture is not flattering. Bank rolling climate denialist bloggers and plans to undermine science in public schools. The documents show that Heartland has been making payments to experts and scientists in order to cast doubt on climate science. Heartland lashed out asking for a return to journalistic ethics and common decency. But a look at their tactics and that of their ilk has the request sounding hollow. The list of names and companies contributing to Heartland is certainly interesting. The hilarious thing is the comparison to Heartland's reaction to the release of their documents with their reaction to the hacking of East Anglia's emails in the "climategate" manufactroversy. A group of climate scientists have written an open letter to Heartland asking them to think seriously about their role the "debate" over climate science. While a whistleblower has notified the IRS of improprieties owing to non profit laws and Hearltand's activities.
A pastor and his wife are accused of killing their children. Why? Well. The kids were possessed by evil spirits and had to be starved to ward off those spirits. Obviously. What's the harm in believing in nonsense?
A new study shows that mercury is still not correlated with autism. And in other autism news, new research shows that autism can be spotted in children as young as 6 months, before most vaccines are even delivered!
The Virginia House passed a bill that would stipulate that woman have a transvaginal ultrasound before they can have an abortion– that women must have a ultrasound inserted into their vagina in order to be forced to look upon the face of their prebaby before they can have an abortion. And some legislators are saying things that boil down to "they've already been penetrated in order to get pregnant, what's the problem with being penetrated again??"
This supermassive blackhole is the last remnant of its galaxy that was eaten by a larger galaxy. Now it just orbits this galaxy out there...
After the Cranston High School prayer banner was found unconstitutional the Cranston School Committee had to vote on whether to appeal the judges ruling in the case. Finally some good decisions from these people...
Christians should unite with atheists to defend secularism.
The Vatican owns about 20% Italy's properties. The Italian government is moving to revoke the Vatican's tax exempt status on these properties to the tune of a $945 million.
Sightless cells hidden within the eye may set our circadian rhythms, trigger migraines, and explain the seasonal ebb and flow of our moods.
Same sex marriage passes the Maryland House of Delegates virtually assuring it'll be a law in just a few days. Meanwhile NJ legislators have passed a same sex marriage bill but the governor has vetoed the bill setting up a fight to try to override the veto.
Scientists have found an oasis of life below the driest place on Earth with implications for the possibility of life on Mars.
Saturn's moon Titan provides clues to the origins of life in the universe.