Critical Links 2015/7/14
CFI Canada’s mission is to provide education and training to the public in the application of skeptical, secular, rational and humanistic inquiry through conferences, symposia, lectures, published works and the maintenance of a library.
- More than half of Canadians polled support a ban on prayer in public life, such as council meetings and legislative sessions. Same poll found only 7% of respondents want to see the lyrics to O Canada changed so that reference to God is removed.
- CFI Canada sponsors a discussion with Eugenie Scott, outspoken proponent of church/state separation and one of the strongest voices against creationism and so-called ‘intelligent design’ in schools
- Netflix has acquired the rights to a handful of indie movies, including The Most Hated Woman In America, which will document the life of none other than Madalyn Murray O’Hair.
- In the U.S., Obama has guaranteed birth control for all, despite religious exemptions.
For a company to receive a religious exemption from providing coverage for the methods of birth control outlined in last year’s Hobby Lobby case — that is, any form of birth control that prevents implantation, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and the emergency morning-after pill — the new standard will be that it must be a for-profit company that’s not publicly traded, with 50 percent ownership by five or fewer individuals, and with members of a nuclear family all counting as one individual. Additionally, the company must produce a formal corporate statement that expresses its religious beliefs.
- Christopher DiCarlo is a long-time member, advisor and friend of CFI. Here he is debating the topic ‘Has Science Made God Irrelevant’ with outspoken Christian apologist John Lennox. (From the Veritas Forum at the University of Toronto, 2015)
- July 27th, Toronto: Every last Monday of the month, everyone is welcome to attend the Science & Philosophy Book Club, where we provide a friendly, free-thinking environment to discuss books that inspire rewarding conversation on subjects related to science and philosophy. Next up for cordial confabulation is Bertrand Russell’s The Conquest of Happiness.
- July 18th, Toronto: (Every third Saturday of the month) Come one, come all to CFI Ontario’s Cafe Skeptique, a fun and fascinating discussion group that focuses on a range of topics within the realm of skepticism such as pseudo-science, alternative medicine, conspiracy theories, etc. It’s open to the public and everyone is welcome to join in! See you all at Free Times Cafe, 320 College St. just west of Spadina Ave
- July 20th: Okanagan Branch hosts How Does The Creative Process Work? How do we come up with new ideas? Dr. Liane Gabora will introduce a theory of creativity which need not involve multiple distinct candidate ideas or selection. At Okanagan Jewish Community Centre, 102 Snowsell St., Kelowna
- July 27th, Okanagan – Secular Social. Now every second and fourth Monday of the month! Come to the pub and hang out with other skeptics and freethinkers. Mission Tap House and Grill, 3110 Lakeshore Rd., Kelowna. If you don’t recognize anyone, look for the table with the CFI sign.
- August 2-4: CFI Canada has begun plans to greet colleagues from CFI China!
- September 19 & 20: River City Reasonfest in Manitoba October 17-18: Society of Edmonton Atheists is hosting a secular conference
- November 25-27: Canadian Science Policy Centre Conference
Let us know if you have an activity you’d like to share!
Faith-Based Violence and Bigotry
CFIC continues to monitor, document and condemn faith based violence and bigotry around the world.
- In Britain, a reported 11,744 incidences of honour crimes between 2010 and 2014. “The crimes are usually aimed at women, and can include abductions, beatings and even murders.”
- The Irish Government is proposing a Bill to protect LGBT teachers, while allowing discrimination against atheist and minority faith teachers. Atheist Ireland is campaigning to change this Bill so that it protects all teachers equally.
Science, Medicine, and Ethics News
- Mother in Australia sought natural therapies advice for her infants eczema; naturopathic advice leads to severe malnourishment and developmental issues. Both the ‘naturopath’ and the mother have been charged.
- While homeopathic ‘remedies’ are harmless to ingest, the risks occur when parents choose them over proven medicine ie, when their kids are sick. James Randi proved the uselessness of homeopathy in his famous Ted Talk, where he swallowed down a ‘fatal’ dose of homeopathic sleeping pills.
- Interactive charts detailing the major gaps between the views of the public vs. scientific community on broad range of issues. The gap between citizens and scientists in seeing GM foods as safe is 51 percentage points. This is the largest opinion difference between the public and scientists.
- The great gluten-free diet fad. Valued at $9 billion in the U.S., but could it be that ‘a great swathe of America is really undergoing what doctors refer to as “mass sociogenic illness” when it comes to gluten?
In his new book, The Gluten Lie, (author) Levinovitz points out that it is not the first time that a treatment for coeliac disease has become hip. American doctors in the 1920s, ignorant of the role of gluten, put coeliacs on a diet of bananas and milk, supplemented with broth, gelatine and a little meat. They thought the bananas contained special enzymes that helped the patients – in fact, the diet worked merely because it excluded any gluten-containing foodstuffs. However, by the 1930s, the “bananas and skimmed milk” diet had become a weight-loss craze in the US.
- Fish oil is one of the most popular dietary supplements in the U.S., worth $1.2 billion annually. But the pills remain popular without any conclusive evidence of their efficacy.
Wishful Thinking and Superstition/Religion
- The idea of the cult hit its peak in the 1970s, and many still exist. Here’s a quick refresher on the Branch Davidians, the Mansons, the Children of God, Heaven’s Gate, and the People’s Temple.
- As the movie heads overseas, The Church of Scientology has been fighting the release of Going Clear; “Every step of the way, every distributor, every festival has received multiple threatening letters from the Church of Scientology.
When 21-year-old nurse Carol Felstead went to her doctor complaining of repeated headaches, she wasn’t just prescribed painkillers. Instead, she was referred for psychotherapy that would ultimately involve hypnosis to “recover” so-called repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse. Carol subsequently came to believe that her parents were the leaders of a Satanic cult and that her mother murdered another of her children, sat Carol on top of the body and then set fire to the family home.
- The New York Times has a good write-up on the Satanic Temple, ‘A Mischievous Thorn In The Side of Conservative Christianity‘
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