UK Supermarket Walks Back Statement on Religious Accommodation

Yesterday, UK supermarket Marks & Spencer made headlines with a policy that allowed Muslim employees to refuse to handle things like alcohol and pork that are against their religion, and even refuse to sell them to customers. Terry Firma began a discussion on that general topic on this site yesterday. It may be however, that this was misunderstood. [Read more...]

Center for Inquiry New Year’s Ad in Times Square Wishes Everyone ‘Peace and Enlightenment’

My organization, the Center for Inquiry, is capping off its Living without Religion campaign with one last ad in Times Square this week, with good wishes for the the New Year. It’s a 15-second electronic billboard ad, which you can see below, with two “slides” saying, “Millions express joy & goodwill without religion,” and ending with, “Wishing you peace & enlightenment in the New Year.” (Our press release is perhaps the warm-and-fuzziest one we’ve ever put out.)

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Do Blogs Have a Future in the Atheist Movement?

So what is going on with blogs these days? If you’re like me, and you keep abreast of news and opinion on technology and media, you’ve already probably been told many, many times that the blog is dead, a medium that served its purpose in the twenty-aughts, but has now been rendered mostly irrelevant by Tweetbooksnaptumblegram.

Apparently Hemant is a little bit like me too (poor guy), and he pointed me to this post at Neiman Journalism Lab by blog pioneer Jason Kottke that, despite Kottke’s entrenchment in the form, prophesies its demise, and in its place are the ephemeral and the institutional:

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New Jersey Rejects Another Atheist License Plate, But Allows a Baptist One

The Motor Vehicles Commission of the state of New Jersey continues its war on nonbelievers!

Well, not so much a “war” as a kind of backward, archaic prejudice. You’ll of course recall the great saga of American Atheists’ Dave Silverman and his battle to exercise his right to wear his atheism on his license plate. After initial refusals to produce his plate, the New Jersey MVC relented, and there was much rejoicing.

But a new gauntlet has been thrown by the Garden State’s regulatory machine. This time, the aggrieved party is one Shannon Morgan, who attempted to get her own godless license plate as such: “8THEIST”

However, as you can see in the screen grab below, Shannon was thwarted.

The decree from the MVC? “Requested plate text is considered objectionable.” That’s right, folks, indicating your atheism on your car is still “objectionable” to the state of New Jersey.

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Can Quora Be Inoculated from Pseudoscience?

For those who don’t know, Quora is a question-and-answer web platform where anyone can log in, ask any question to the community, and potentially have it answered. It’s kind of a Wikipedia for Q&A. The questions can be on any topic, from the highly technical, to the superfluous, to the hilarious (see my posts on Quora questions regarding Starbucks on the Death Star and the geopolitics of Super Mario). As on platforms like Reddit, users can upvote and downvote both questions and answers to better curate the content. It’s a great way to get yourself lost for hours on end and destroy your productivity.

Anyway, this question came up anonymously about Quora itself, and it’s relevant to our little skepto-atheist community:

Are there any Quora policies regarding pseudoscience? If not, should there be one? Let’s discuss. . . . this question is directed towards a Quora moderation perspective.

Wow, what a great question. Quora can’t and doesn’t make any claims to hosting “definitive” answers to anything, but it’s true that an open platform like this easily provides those who shill nonsense, from homeopathy to the paranormal, with a soapbox and with an air of legitimacy.

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