How to Think Critically I

Extraordinary ClaimsIn the Popular Delusions series, I have explored just a few varieties of the vast number of nonsensical beliefs which afflict humanity. From the belief that astronomical bodies millions of light-years distant control our destiny here on Earth, to the belief that water remembers what substances were once dissolved in it, to the belief that reality is just a construct of the mind and can be altered by wishing hard enough, it seems there is no kind of absurdity a skeptic could … [Read more...]

Other Shores

When we were young, we looked up at the twinkling lights in the night sky and wondered. Most of them were immovable, fixed stars rising and setting in the same place every night as if pinned to the dome of the firmament. However, a very few of those lights were not so steady. Instead, they seemed to meander, moving perceptibly across the sky from night to night - sometimes even changing course and moving backwards for a time, as if in a spirit of play. We named these vagabond stars planets, … [Read more...]

The Tomb of Jesus?

The media has been abuzz lately over a Discovery Channel special about a tomb in Israel that, according to the show's producers, may once have contained the bones of Jesus Christ.The tomb was discovered in 1980 during an archaeological excavation in Jerusalem. Inside, researchers found ten ossuaries - carved stone boxes used in many ancient cultures to inter human bones. Six of the ten ossuaries bore inscriptions of the names of their occupants, including, allegedly, "Jesus, son of Joseph", … [Read more...]

A Daylight Atheism Consumer Warning

Consumers, be advised! When you want to know the future or ward off bad fortune through the invocation of magical power, don't trust just any fake dime-store psychic. Be sure to choose only the best fake psychics for all your supernatural needs.Such is the message of a bulletin issued recently by the United Kingdom's official consumer-protection agency:The UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has warned consumers not to fall for scams perpetrated by bogus clairvoyants, fortune tellers and … [Read more...]

Some Thoughts on Evolution Sunday

Yesterday, February 11, was Evolution Sunday, a nationwide project in which hundreds of Christian pastors and denominations voice their belief that the theory of evolution, and science in general, is compatible with their religious principles.My standpoint on this matter is not as combative as some people's. While I, too, would like to see all religious people become atheists, I recognize that this is not going to happen any time soon, and encouraging the majority of theists to find … [Read more...]

Sylvia Browne: Enemy of Free Speech

I have written previously about the "psychics" so popular in our culture, whose pretense of being able to speak to the dead and otherwise gain knowledge through supernatural powers wins them wealth and accolades from a credulous public and a shallow, sensationalist media, despite the total lack of convincing evidence to date that any of them can do what they say they can do.One of the worst of the lot is Sylvia Browne. After agreeing on national television to take James Randi's million-dollar … [Read more...]

Witch Hysteria Is Alive and Well

One of the great tragedies of the human species is the violence and turmoil still happening in Africa. Africa is the continent of our origins, the place of our species' birth, and the one place on Earth to which everyone now living can trace their ultimate ancestry. It should be a place of peace and human togetherness, an enduring and living monument to our past. Instead, the continent is still struggling to overcome the shameful legacy of colonialism and its own ethnic divisions, and much of it … [Read more...]

Priming the Mind

In a previous post from Daylight Atheism titled "On Presuppositions" (all the way back in February 2006!), I wrote about how subconscious biases and prejudices, instilled in us by culture and surroundings, can exert a disturbingly measurable effect on our behavior. However, there is more to this story that deserves to be told. In the previous post, I wrote about persistent biases, those that are apparently supported and reinforced frequently enough over long enough periods of time to become … [Read more...]

Popular Delusions V: Santa Claus

I write the Popular Delusions series to critically investigate widely believed pseudosciences and superstitions. And while the topic of my latest entry in this series may seem odd, I think it fits - for after all, are there not tens of millions around the globe who are taught to believe in Santa Claus or other seasonal gift-givers? There are many pseudosciences believed by adults that do not command such a wide following.The figure of Santa Claus is uniquely paradoxical for atheists. On the … [Read more...]

Holy Water, Frail Hope

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Shivering under a tattered blanket, a young woman tries to sleep at the foot of the mist-shrouded Entoto Mountain, north of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa...."I decided to come to Entoto to seek a cure from the holy water after a doctor told me that I am HIV-positive," Abebech Alemu, 35, said."I am a follower of the Orthodox faith. I strongly believe that I will be cured by drinking the holy water rather than drugs," she added.—Tsegaye Tadesse, "Believers … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X