Skepticon 6 is Almost Here!

The free, massive, amazing Skepticon conference in Springfield, Missouri takes place this weekend and there are already upwards of 1,000 registrants!

They’re about to hit their fundraising goal, but if you have the means of donating anything, it’ll just go toward next year’s event. This is one of the few major conferences aimed at those who don’t have the money required to attend the other ones and it’s entirely run by students. Support them any way you can! (***Update***: Skepticon is fully funded for this year, but there’s still next year!)

(On a personal note, while I was scheduled to speak Sunday morning, a personal emergency has come up and I won’t be able to attend. If they invite me back, though, I’ll be there next year!)

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Book Giveaway: Curiosity – Once Maligned, Now Celebrated – Gets Its Own Biography. It’s Free to Three of Our Readers

Curiosity, as we all know, killed the cat. It is also responsible for humankind’s fall from paradise (thanks, Eve), for the spread of evil all over the world (great job, Pandora), and for the humiliations suffered by Goethe’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Our culture and vernacular are full of ancient warnings against inquisitiveness, but most of us no longer believe in them. On the contrary: Over the past few hundred years, curiosity has gone from an affliction born, supposedly, of vanity and lack of piousness, to a virtue that is celebrated in everything from space exploration to family movies (Hotel Transylvania, The Croods).

British author Philip Ball chronicles this journey of liberation in his 2013 book, Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything.



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A Group for Young Atheists in New York Helps Them Come Out

Katie J.M. Baker has an excellent article in the latest Newsweek about young New Yorkers who left their faith.

Like Jacob Link, who spent much of his youth in the grasp of his evangelical Christian megachurch… until he began to change his mind:



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Be Careful What You Wish For: UK to Crack Down on Street Preachers and Other People Deemed ‘Annoying’

Fifteen years ago, tired of yobs and hooligans and a perceived decline in civility, British prime minister Tony Blair and his New Labour cabinet cooked up a nasty little legal concoction. It’s called an ASBO. The acronym stands for Anti Social Behavior Order.

These civil orders were designed to be issued to people whose unpleasant behavior was not otherwise (easily) prosecutable under U.K. law. And as long as we’re talking about things like vandalism and public urination, no argument here.

But soon, British police and magistrates were handing out ASBOs for virtually every behavior that someone, somewhere, disliked, including public cursing, loitering, using (allegedly) racist language, and “being rude to members of the public.” The standard for issuing an ASBO was astonishingly low from the start: anyone thought to be causing “harassment, alarm or distress” could find himself on the wrong end of one.

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Can You Hate Religion but Love Jesus?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, answers the question: Can you hate religion but love Jesus?:

Incidentally, Jefferson Bethke‘s new book about why Jesus > Religion is now out and he spoke about his paradoxical views in the Washington Post yesterday.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

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