The Stingless Sting: The Absurd Attack on Planned Parenthood


The latest religious-right attack on abortion rights is a set of undercover videos made by an anti-choice group calling itself the Center for Medical Progress. Posing as potential buyers for a medical research firm, they tried to get Planned Parenthood officials to accept illegal payments in exchange for tissue samples from aborted fetuses. (Profiting from fetal tissue or organ sales is against the law, but accepting payments to cover the costs of storage and transportation is legal.) But they … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Bare Branches


Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter III've written about the things that shouldn't be present in Galt's Gulch but somehow are: handmade tractors, orange groves, an entire industrial infrastructure that seemingly sprang up out of nothing. However, just as important is what's not there, because Ayn Rand either didn't grasp the necessity or simply overlooked it. And one of those lacunae is a huge one.Rand unintentionally betrays the depth of the problem when Dagny asks Ragnar Danneskjold how … [Read more...]

If You Promote a Story That Turns Out to Be False, Don’t You Have an Obligation to Correct It?

In August 2013, almost two years ago, I wrote about a discouraging story in which skeptic Karen Stollznow wrote about years of harassment by a colleague, later alleged to be CFI's Benjamin Radford. Seven months later, in March 2014, I wrote an update when I heard that Radford was threatening to sue for libel and Stollznow was seeking help to put together a legal defense fund.That was the last I heard about this... until Wednesday of last week, when I got an e-mail from a friend alerting me … [Read more...]

Marital Rape in the Bible

The newest Christian site making the rounds on atheist Twitter is Biblical Gender Roles. The author says only that he's a white man and a conservative Christian (so of course he's qualified to tell everyone else how they should conduct themselves in accordance with his archaic notion of gender roles). Today I wanted to focus on one of his recent posts, which is exactly as awful as you'd expect given the title: "Is a husband selfish for having sex with his wife when she is not the mood?"In … [Read more...]

The Hypocrisy of Tolerance at the Touro Synagogue


I'm on vacation this week in New England. Yesterday I visited the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island - the oldest Jewish synagogue in North America, dating back to the colonial era. It was founded by Jews fleeing a long history of persecution in Europe: first the Alhambra Decree expelling them from Spain, then the Inquisition, which harried them from Portugal to the Caribbean. They settled here in Newport and built a synagogue, which survived the Revolution, when most of the city was … [Read more...]

#BeyondMarieCurie: Women in STEM & Medicine

In a bid to give women scientists other than Marie Curie the recognition they're too often denied, science editor Melissa Vaught asked for contributions to a Twitter hashtag, #BeyondMarieCurie, listing women with noteworthy achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Here's the first version of the list:[View the story "#BeyondMarieCurie: Women in STEM & Medicine" on Storify]I suggested a few other names that weren't already there:Some others: Annie Jump Cannon, … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: January 18

• From Valerie Tarico, how religion can let loose humanity's most violent impulses. A thoughtful essay that almost perfectly captures my views on the link between religion and violence.• "Tim is patient, Tim is kind. Tim does not envy, Tim does not boast, Tim is not proud. Tim is not rude, Tim is not self-seeking, Tim is not easily angered, Tim keeps no record of wrongs. Tim does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth."• Alex Malarkey, a boy who wrote a … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: January 10


• A can't-miss account of Charlie Hebdo's first editorial meeting since last week's horrific attack.• One-man outrage band Bill Donohue didn't kill anyone at Charlie Hebdo, but he's understanding and sympathetic towards the Muslims who did. They made fun of the Pope, after all!• "The right to blaspheme religion is one of the most elemental exercises of political liberalism."• The "radical feminism which has assaulted the Church and society since the 1960s has left … [Read more...]

The Suppression of Richard Dawkins

Following up on our little contretemps in September, Richard Dawkins has granted an interview to Kimberly Winston of Religion News Service about the remarks that have made him infamous to pro-social-justice atheists. And although he seems a bit chastened, he insists he has no regrets:"I don't take back anything that I've said," Dawkins said from a shady spot in the leafy backyard of one of his Bay Area supporters. "I would not say it again, however, because I am now accustomed to being … [Read more...]

Rosetta’s Comet Rendezvous


The last few weeks have offered atheists and progressives ample reason to feel discouraged. Down on Earth, anti-rational fundamentalism runs riot, and angry, reactionary conservatism seems stronger than ever. But in spite of all this, in spite of the many obstacles that encircle us and limit us, humanity is accomplishing great things among the stars.The latest of our successful cosmic explorers is the Rosetta spacecraft, a mission of the European Space Agency. Launched in 2004 (!), Rosetta … [Read more...]