Feeling Curious about a Particle Physicist Who’s Also a Priest? Ask Him a Question!

A priest and a physicist walk into a bar… and it’s the same guy. Possibly minus the bar part, such is life for John Cunningham, S.J., Ph.D., an associate professor of physics (and chair of the physics department) at Loyola University in Chicago. His bio says that his research interests focus on experimental particle and astrophysics, [Read More...]

Breaking: Fred Phelps Is Dead

America’s biggest hater is dead. Fred Phelps was 84. In 2010, Huffington Post reporter Joshua Kors asked how the frontman of the widely reviled Westboro Baptist Church saw his own demise. Kors: Everybody’s going to die at some point. I’m wondering about your thoughts on going to heaven. Phelps: The Lord himself should descend for me with the [Read More...]

A Century Ago, These Poorly-Done Trick Photos of the Spirit World Had Many People Convinced

These turn-of-the-last-century photos are a visual cabinet of curiosities, all the more wondrous for having convinced anyone, at any point, that spirit mediums and visits from beyond the grave are real.

On the other hand, it doesn’t surprise me very much to learn that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was convinced that the images below were genuine. While his famous protagonist was a cynic who believed in evidence, logic, and reason, Conan Doyle himself was P.T. Barnum‘s proverbial sucker, a man so keen on believing in the existence of the paranormal that he went to his grave with the certitude that fairies exist, based on a hoax photo made by two young girls.

Anyway, this is what you would have seen at a séance a hundred or so years ago:



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Fight Against Polio is a Foreign Cause for Muslim Anti-Vaxers; Assaults on Vaccination Teams Also Cost Kids’ Lives

The polio virus has crippled and killed hundreds of thousands of children. Starting in 1957, the disease was finally, decisively eradicated (thank you, Jonas Salk) — except in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.

Those countries are plagued by sectarian Muslim violence, and unfortunately, Muslim fundies tend to be anti-vaxers. They’ve gotten it into their heads that polio-fighting programs are really Western-led campaigns to make Muslims infertile. As a result, terrorist groups have waged a long intimidation campaign against medical teams and even against families looking to get their children vaccinated. In recent years, dozens of vaccination workers have been assassinated.



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It’s Been 14 Years Since the Mass Murder/Suicide of an African ‘Ten Commandments’ Cult That Took 788 Lives

Most people have at least a passing familiarity with the 1978 Jonestown massacre. But few have heard of the remarkable similar events that shocked the world 14 years ago today, a continent away, in Kanungu, Uganda.

Close to 800 people perished, and maybe more, some 530 of them in locked church that was set ablaze. The rest were stabbed, strangled, beaten, and very likely poisoned to death. The carnage was the handiwork of an all-black Christian doomsday cult that had split off from the Roman Catholic Church, and that called itself the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, or MRTC. (Note: We’ll have to assume that “Thou Shalt Not Kill” had somehow been temporarily suspended when the cult members murdered their prey.)

From the get-go, in the late eighties, the Vatican wanted nothing to do with the group, but the MRTC was nonetheless based on Catholic doctrine: members venerated Catholic icons, and the leadership consisted predominantly of defrocked priests and nuns. At the peak of their influence, they managed to attract around 5,000 members.

Followers’ dedication to the Decalog was obsessive:

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