Why We Have to Pay for Media

I think it's a good moral principle not to be a free-rider. I want to pay my fair share of upkeep for whatever I use. If you agree, then this John Oliver segment on the decline of print news is essential:This is something I've been concerned about for a long time. It's no accident that freedom of the press is written into the First Amendment, making it as foundational as freedom of speech or religion. But that vitally important right is empty if there's no one to exercise it. And in the … [Read more...]

How Billionaire Lawfare Threatens Free Speech

I didn't have a strong opinion on Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker Media for posting his sex tape, until I found out that Peter Thiel was secretly funding it. (You may remember him as the billionaire libertarian who's against democracy in general and women's suffrage in particular.) Thiel has held a grudge against Gawker since it outed him as gay a few years ago, and ever since then, he's been quietly looking for a lawsuit to back that could destroy the company. With this case, he may have … [Read more...]

Movie Review: Spotlight

Spotlight tells the true story of four journalists at the Boston Globe who broke the story of how the Catholic church protected priests who molested children. Their reporting proved the complicity of Cardinal Bernard Law, the archbishop of Boston who'd been quietly shuffling pedophile clergy from one parish to another for decades, and led to an explosion of copycat reporting as cities and towns throughout the country and the world realized the same evils were happening in their midst.Stories … [Read more...]

Update on Fort Worth Bus Ads

I have a short update on the atheist ad campaign running on Fort Worth buses. In my last post, I mentioned that a coalition of city pastors were furious over the ads and tried to organize a boycott. (Would it help to tell them that this is how atheists feel all the time? Probably not.)The boycott appears to have gone nowhere fast, but something else did happen: another Christian group paid for vans displaying a religious message to follow the buses around town all day. Personally, I think … [Read more...]

Atheists Don’t Debate (Except When We Do)

A Review of When Atheism Becomes Religion, Part IIIn chapter 3, Hedges gives a two-and-a-half-page-long excerpt of a debate he had with Sam Harris at UCLA in May 2007, moderated by the columnist Robert Scheer, about whether Islam encourages suicide bombing:HARRIS: OK, well, let me deal with your taking the measure of the Muslim world. Happily we do not assess public opinion by having New York Times journalists go out and live in the Muslim world and make friends and get a vibe... A single … [Read more...]

The Bechdel Test for Religion

If you're an informed observer of media, you may have heard of the so-called Bechdel test, popularized by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, that's used to judge the female-friendliness of movies and other media. For a movie to pass this test, it has to have:(1) two or more female characters; (2) who talk to each other; (3) about something other than a man.Despite this being such a low hurdle - it doesn't establish that the movie is in any way feminist, merely that it treats women as something more … [Read more...]

Find Me in Free Inquiry

By EbonmuseBefore my flight leaves, I'm just dropping by to post a quick note: the newest (June/July 2010) issue of Free Inquiry magazine contains an original article by me, "Diplomats and Rabble-Rousers". The article discusses my views on the New Atheist movement and those who criticize it, pointing out that our accommodationist opponents are overlooking a basic lesson from history about what makes social reform movements successful. Go check it out! I'll post a web link at a later date if … [Read more...]

The Science Gap

While we're on the topic of science and the public, I came across another opinion poll worth mentioning: a survey released this month by Pew, Public Praises Science; Scientists Fault Public, Media, which analyzes how the public views scientific achievement and what professional scientists think of how their work is covered in the media (HT: Obsidian Wings). There's lots to chew over in this report, but I want to focus on this section, which shows how many ideas that are accepted by an … [Read more...]

Science Needs Good PR

My recent post on Project Steve brought several comments arguing that it's pointless to take a survey of scientists, like this one from Freidenker:Frankly, I have no idea whatsoever how many scientists accept or reject evolution, and furthermore - it doesn't matter: even if all scientists all over the world rejected evolution, the evidence for evolution is still there....to really survey the scientific community for evolution support is truly a stupid thing to do: popularity has no bearing … [Read more...]

New Post on Dangerous Intersection

I've put up a new post on Dangerous Intersection, "A 24-hour news network lineup I’d like to see".This is an open thread. … [Read more...]


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