Faith Healer Played a Major Part in the Spread of Ebola in West Africa

Via Richard Preston‘s fantastic and alarming New Yorker article on the genesis and spread of Ebola, we learn that a major early vector of the current epidemic was an unidentified faith-healing fraudster. Preston tells of a Sierra Leone woman who

… had been at the funeral of a faith healer who had recently been to Guinea and had died after attempting to heal a number of people sick with Ebola. … Teams of epidemiologists and health workers spread out from Kenema and identified twelve more women who were sick with Ebola. All of them had been at the funeral of the faith healer.

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A Skeptic is Born

Lexi is 9. She wrote her parents a little note: Dear “Tooth Fairy”: I don’t believe in the tooth fairy Any more. I know it’s you who gets the money and puts it under my pillow, mom and dad. I’m sorry if this is hard for you, but I am 9 now. (P.S) – I [Read More...]

Editor at Charisma News Thinks “Atheists” Are Trying to “Stir Up Witches” Against Her

Over at Charisma News, editor Jennifer LeClaire (whom we met previously here and here) outdoes herself with a piece entitled “When Atheists Try to Stir Up Witches Against You.”

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This Video, Drawing on Pew Research Data, Claims That the “Tiny Minority” of Radical Muslims Is Actually a Majority

Ben Shapiro probably isn’t Ben Affleck‘s favorite person, but that’s OK – the feeling is mutual.

Shapiro, who co-founded the conservative media-watchdog group TruthRevolt, put together a video in which he painstakingly tallies (using Pew data) what proportion of Muslims worldwide subscribe to ideas that most people in the West would most likely consider radical — things like favoring Sharia law, expressing support or understanding for al-Qaeda and other terrorists, saying that “honor killings” can be permissible, and so on.

Shapiro comes up with a truly eye-popping number: More than 800 million Muslims are “radicalized,” he says, or more than half of the world total of approximately 1.5 billion.

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Is It the Year 2014 A.D. or 2014 C.E.? One Hard-to-Offend Atheist Offers an Alternative (of Sorts)

When I say that we all have gaps in our knowledge, of course that’s meant to make my knowledge deficits sound no worse than yours. But sometimes I wonder.

A few weeks ago, I beheld the term C.E. (coupled with a four-digit calendar year) for the first time. Oh, I’d seen it before, and had easily inferred from the context that it meant the same as A.D., but I suddenly realized I didn’t know what the two letters stood for. So I Googled it.

Common era. Also, B.C.E.: Before Common Era. Right.

They did strike me as fine inventions on one level: I can appreciate that they offer neutral alternatives to what I and probably billions of other people have been taught in school over the generations: the quintessentially Christian terminology of B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini = the Year of the Lord).

But both sets of terms still take as their zero point the birth of the (possibly fictional) Christian savior, so I couldn’t quite see how we’d booked real progress in disassociating ourselves from normative Christianity.

And neither, it turns out, can this guy.

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