In Praise of Catfish: The TV Show

Ask any group of skeptics what their favorite TV show is and I guarantee you Mythbusters will be in the mix 97% of the time. There’s good reason for that: The hosts are entertaining and the show finds amusing ways to test extraordinary claims with the power of science. (Also: explosions.) Other shows on the Favorites list include Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, The Big Bang Theory, and the upcoming reboot of Cosmos (sight unseen).

What I haven’t heard from the skeptic community over the past year is any mention of Catfish: The TV Show. I don’t know why. Because it’s MTV? Because it’s a pseudo-reality show? Because it’s not “science”? Who knows. But this should be right up there in our pantheon of shows that extol the virtues of skepticism.

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After Atheist Writes Book, a Christian Formatter May Have Added in His Own Links

When an atheist author looked over the chapter titles in his new book, it appeared that the person who formatted the book had quietly responded to the content in a way you could only see if you hovered your mouse over the chapter name…

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Is Atheism a Religion? That Question’s at the Heart of a Lawsuit Over Housing Credits for ‘Ministers of the Gospel’

For a couple of years now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has been in a legal battle to end the “parish exemption” that allows ministers to deduct the cost of their mortgage/utilities/parking/furnishings from their taxable income. FFRF argues that this shows preferential treatment for religious leaders.

In fact, FFRF’s own board has paid its co-presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor $15,000 each as part of their housing allowance, but because they don’t qualify as “ministers of the gospel,” they’re arguing that the law doesn’t apply to them and, therefore, it’s illegal. (For what it’s worth, they didn’t try to obtain the exemption and get rejected; they’re simply speaking on principle.)

In a recent twist to the case, the U.S. Department of Justice is arguing that atheism is a religion, so Barker and Gaylor should be able to qualify for the exemption:

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Another Great Rebuttal Against Ray Comfort’s Film

Courtesy of Jaclyn Glenn:

The highlight comes at the 9:30 mark :)

In case you missed it, my interview with Comfort is here. [Read more...]

New Video Series for Secular Student Group Leaders

Admittedly, this is total shameless self-promotion. However, it’s done with the intention of trying to help. 

Gordon Maples and I (Kelley Freeman) have started a video advice series for the leaders of Secular Student Alliance affiliate groups. We are both alumni of really strong SSA groups with at least six or seven years of group running experience between us. While this is not an official project of the Secular Student Alliance, we want this to be as helpful as possible and we take questions on Twitter (or in the comment sections of the YouTube videos).

We plan on doing a video every Monday night at 7:30p (ET) — and they are Google Hangouts on Air so they are live! So far, Gordon and I have covered starting your own secular group on campus and tabling effectively. This coming week, we will be talking about how to run meetings and choose meeting topics.

These videos shouldn’t last much longer than half an hour each week. Occasionally, we’ll have other experts on to talk about topics (Hemant has promised to show up at some point)!

Here is our latest video, about tabling:

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