How a subway step explains Ferguson

Girl and her dog

At Religion Dispatches, Andrew Aghapour has a great piece about the cognitive psychology behind our failures in blame. My favorite metaphor he highlighted (because those are important) is a subway stairwell that has one stair taller than the others, which person after person trips on. He links to the following video and writes: When the video was posted three years ago, it prompted this jewel of an observation by Metafilter user James Bording: “On its own, when you see one person slip, you aut … [Read more...]

Explanations and story-telling, or how to write about science


I've had a steady gig at The Daily Beast for a half-dozen months or so which, more than paying me too generously, has given me a great opportunity to do some more science writing. I've enjoyed this a lot.I took a science writing seminar my senior year in college with Carl Zimmer, an award-winning science writer and a weekly columnist at The New York Times. He's great, and I still think back often to what I learned from him. It was easily one of the best classes I took, and I was lucky to … [Read more...]

5 Ways to Avoid Being a Jerk in the Workplace

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Jerks --- we all know at least one person we’d describe as such. Because we have to deal with their ish from time to time, I thought I’d compile a short list of ways all of us can avoid becoming one of them. Using the context of my past workplace experiences, I will offer some anecdotal examples to tie in recent research from Stanford, Yale and the University of Southern California. Having been consistently employed since my early teenage years, I have quite a bit of work experiences to draw upon … [Read more...]

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My Interview with David Pizarro for Religion Dispatches

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I recently had the pleasure of interviewing David Pizarro, professor of psychology at Cornell University and host of the fantastic podcast, Very Bad Wizards. He and I had a great conversation about the psychology of hiding cocaine and how we're inconsistent with religions like Islam:VC: I’ve always found it really interesting that there also seems to be an asymmetry in how we treat religion as a cause for some actions and not others. People are very quick to blame Islam for terrorism in the M … [Read more...]

San Francisco LGBTQI Pride: A Humanist Reflection

Atheist/Humanist contingent marching down Market St.

If you are anything like me,  last Friday's SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality completely overwhelmed you. Tears of joy were present with me throughout the day. Since not all NonProphet Status readers live in a city quite like San Francisco, where Pride is celebrated in a very major way, I thought I'd take this opportunity to share a few photos from my weekend.  Every year, the secular communities of the San Francisco Bay Area come together to march as a large contingent in the LGBTQI Pride p … [Read more...]

A Reason to Celebrate: An Incomplete List of Not-So-Holy Days

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For some reason, when I first became an atheist, I began distancing myself from rites of passage, celebrations of life or anything that resembled religious ritual. Early on, my atheism took the form of rebelling against the dominant Christian norms that prevail here in the U.S. It was my way of living into my new label of choice. My phase of ‘opting out’ did not last long however, as I began to see the very real necessity of celebration.What is life without the joyous acknowledgement of this … [Read more...]

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Introducing our guest editor, Vanessa Gomez Brake


I've been living New York City for the last week in a mini-residency to focus on some more substantial writing projects, and I'll be here for the next three weeks. Vanessa Gomez Brake, interviewed below, will be NonProphet Status's guest editor while I'm gone!Gomez Brake's interfaith credentials are impressive. She oversees campus programming at the Stanford University Office for Religious Life. She graduated from Arizona State University with degrees in Religious Studies and Psychology, and … [Read more...]

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Trigger warnings are more important than spoiler warnings, so why are they more controversial?

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This post originally appeared on my new website, which you should check out.A few fair warnings: First, I’m about to discuss events from two recent episodes of this season’s Game of Thrones, “Unbowed, Unbent Unbroken” and “The Gift.” Second, I’m also going to discuss graphic depictions of rape. Those who aren’t up to speed with the show or who might be triggered by depictions of sexual violence may want to proceed with caution.Sansa Stark, the oldest living daughter of Eddard Stark, was a … [Read more...]

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My religion was co-opted by the Right

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The following is a guest post by friend of the blog Emma Connell.I’m not usually one to discuss my religious or spiritual beliefs in public. That’s partly because conversations about belief are always awkward. However, in recent years my hesitations have been exacerbated by the actions of those with whom I share a faith. As a Christian, I’m concerned about how my fellow believers are influencing and harming our society.The Pew Research Center’s recently released “America’s Changing Religi … [Read more...]

Chris Stedman on MSNBC: “This is a really good thing, and I think people of faith should agree”

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My good friend and founder of this blog, Chris Stedman, was on the Melissa Harris-Perry show yesterday morning to discuss the recent pew data showing a rise in the religiously unaffiliated (now up to 23% of the American public). Stedman was joined by Reverend Samuel Cruz, Christopher Hale from Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and Kelly Brown Douglas, an episcopal priest and a professor of religion at Goucher College."What do you think is going on with this decline, particularly … [Read more...]