Chicago Tribune Covers the Upcoming ‘Humanism at Work’ Conference

This summer, in Chicago, Foundation Beyond Belief will be holding its first ever conference to discuss how non-theists can come together to make the world a better place:

The Chicago Tribune‘s Manya Brachear Pashman has a great story on the event and why we feel it’s so necessary. (Unfortunately, it’s behind a paywall. Good thing atheists don’t spend a lot of time online or anything…)

Anyway, here are some of the highlights:

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Quadruple Score: Drunk, Speeding Priest Is Found In Possession of Pot, Guns

Alaska parish priest Sean P. Thomson broke the law in four different ways last week when he got pulled over for speeding and the trooper discovered that the good shepherd was drunk out of his skull (at three times the legal limit) and in possession of a small amount of marijuana. Also, the padre was carrying two firearms, one of which he allegedly failed to declare when asked.



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Saudi Arabia Doubles Down on Atheism; New Laws Declares It Equivalent to Terrorism

We’ve seen before how Saudi pundits find it easy to conflate atheism and terrorism, but now it’s official: Saudi Arabia’s new terrorism laws say outright that nonbelievers and others who commit thought crime are the same as violent terrorists.



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Right Now: A Conversation Between an Atheist and a Catholic

I don’t normally do debates, but at 3:00 (CT), I’ll be having an online conversation with one of Patheos’ Catholic bloggers Billy Kangas:

We’ll be discussing the importance (or not) of traditions, the World Vision U.S. controversy, the Pope, and whatever other questions you may have for us.

You can watch the whole thing right here (and feel free to chime in with questions):



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This Must Be the ‘Jenny McCarthy Effect’ in Action

When it comes to autism, what does the science tell us? And how does the media cover it?

Neuroscientist Sam Wang, in an essay for the New York Times, goes into both issues:

A study published last week found that the brains of autistic children show abnormalities that are likely to have arisen before birth, which is consistent with a large body of previous evidence…

Over the last few years, we’ve seen an explosion of studies linking autism to a wide variety of genetic and environmental factors. Putting these studies in perspective is an enormous challenge. In a database search of more than 34,000 scientific publications mentioning autism since its first description in 1943, over half have come since 2008.

That’s all well and good, but the graphic included in the piece is a doozy. It shows that when it comes to the science, we ought to be paying closer attention to genetic and environmental factors (the risk of autism is much higher if you have an autistic twin or had an injury to your cerebellum before birth)… and we should stop pretending that vaccines have any connection to it, as shown by the final item on the list:



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