CFI Critical Links July 31/2015
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.
- Canada’s Outdated Criminal Code Provisions; The Centre for Inquiry Canada has been instrumental in establishing the International Coalition Against Blasphemy Laws (ICABL) and the End Blasphemy Laws website. Click here to join our Action List and keep in touch with the CFIC’s End Blasphemy Laws Campaign.
- Bangladesh: Protect Secular Bloggers
It is essential that all Canadians, whether they participate in a faith-community or if they are part of the growing non-religious (secular) world, recognize and defend the essential fundamental right to freedom of thought and freedom of speech. Recently, CFI Canada National Executive Director, Eric Adriaans and many CFI Canada members travelled to Amherst, New York to participate in the Reason For Change conference and participated in dialogue on such commonplace subjects as scientific skepticism and how to advance social justice through humanism.
As an educational charity, CFI Canada’s primary mission is to educate Canadians about the importance of evidence-based approaches of secularism and science. When secularism and science – when fanaticism is allowed to push reason aside, human right violations and violence seem to be inevitable. CFIC provides examples from several of the world’s trouble spots as an educational tool for the public to inquire about the importance of a secular society.
From time to time, people in the community – whether driven by fear, competitive business models, or other factors – make health claims or statements that do not have scientific evidence backing them. CFI Canada and the scientific skeptic community has an important role to play in questioning not only the claims themselves but also the processes which encourage further incursion of pseudoscience into the healthcare system.
- U.S.-Center for Inquiry Backs House Resolution Urging Bangladesh to Curb Extremists, Protect Minorities
The Center for Inquiry welcomed the introduction this week of a resolution in the U.S House of Representatives calling on Bangladesh to protect human rights and curb violence caused by religious extremists.
- U.S.-The Federal Bureau of Prisons has agreed to recognize humanism as a religion. The prison bureau also agreed to add a section on humanism to its handbook on inmate beliefs and practices.
- August 2nd, Toronto: Come one, come all, to the CFIC T.O. Atheists and Friends meetup, this and every first Sunday of the month.
- August 10th, Toronto: Every second Monday, CFIC T.O. – Living Without Religion– The group discusses past and present religious issues and looks at a positive life free of guilt, fear and shame. While the group is still dedicated to dealing with problems and issues revolving around religion, it is also a place for those interested in exploring larger issues in a non-judgmental welcoming atmosphere.
- August 14th, Toronto: (second Friday of each month), CFIC T.O. : Board Games Night! Join us for an evening of relaxing and thinking fun as we mostly play classic and strategy board games, and partake in trivia. Sometimes even charades, jai alai, Octopush – whatever strikes our fancy. Feel free to bring your own games to share. You could even just come and hang out on the comfy-chairs with like-minded folks for a little more conversation and a little less action. –
- August 15th, 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
- August 31st, 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. This month we discuss The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty by Dr. Baron-Cohen
- August 10th and 24th, 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
Karla’s Atheist Breast Cancer Support Facebook group is now available. It’s private so you have to ask to join. Say you are an atheist with breast cancer and Karla will approve your request.
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.
- An apparent Islamic State recruitment document found in Pakistan’s lawless tribal lands reveals that the extremist group has grand ambitions of building a new terrorist army in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and triggering a war in India to provoke an Armageddon-like “end of the world.”
Science, Medicine, and Ethics News
- Nearly one in four wrinkle removal claims were found to include ‘outright lies’, a study of cosmetic adverts found; if the claims have always sounded too good to be true, that is because most of them are
- Thirteen of America’s best-known companies — including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Walmart and Bank of America — have pledged $140 billion toward efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
- Cell phones and risk of brain tumors: What’s the real science?
“We know quite a bit (about the risk) actually and it seems extremely unlikely that there is an effect. We are down to the range that there is no risk or a risk that is almost too small to detect”
- “Any attempts aimed at mobilizing the public against taking their children for vaccination is a serious violation of the right of children to health and survival.” And yet; Kenya Catholic bishops call for polio vaccine boycott
- Another unnecessary death in the making, thanks to cancer quackery
Ms Wynn is hoping to beat the deadly disease with a diet which includes 2kgs of juiced carrots a day as well as taking Vitamin C and regularly wearing an oxygen mask
“I won’t be detoured from taking on the tough issues that are important to people in my district simply because there are some that use anti-science rhetoric to ignite division and fear”
- A vaccine against Ebola has been shown to be 100% successful in trials conducted during the outbreak in Guinea. Rapid development and testing of drug may bring current epidemic in west Africa to an end and control future outbreaks, experts say
- CLINICAL drug trials are conducted by pharmaceutical firms to establish the effectiveness and safety of new treatments, but failure to publish the results of all trials is skewing medical science. Using our interactive simulator, run a series of clinical trials for yourself and discover how to play the system by publicising results in favour of your own product
Wishful Thinking and Superstition/Religion
In a country teeming with IT graduates and higher-education institutes, such attacks are sadly and strangely common. Ninety people in Assam, a majority of them of them women, lost their lives in the last six years because they were branded as witches. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 2,097 murders between 2000 and 2012 were committed when the victims were accused of practicing witchcraft.
“…the Catholic Church was more concerned about its name, its organisation, its brand, than it was about the very reason for it being — and that was the protection of the most vulnerable that were under its guidance”
- Most people of faith believe atheists are welcome in America, but the nonreligious themselves are less likely to agree. Two-thirds (67 percent) of Christians and 78 percent of those in other religions say America is a welcoming place for atheists, but that view is shared by only 62 percent of the nonreligious.
- Nepal temple bans traditional mass animal slaughter
“It won’t be easy to end a 400-year-old custom… but we have four years to convince people that they don’t need to sacrifice animals to please the goddess”
The people I met during my trip were mostly devout Christians, but who had imported traditional beliefs to shape the way they explain disability…for many people, disability was considered not a physical or mental impairment, but in fact a spiritual sickness or curse that could either be healed by prayer or by confinement, and in some cases by physical violence.
“They will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
- A priest has performed an exorcism from a helicopter to banish evil from an Italian seaside town said to be beset with social and moral decay. It is not yet clear whether the exorcism, which took place on 9 July, has had the desired effect.
- A former Halifax chef wants an apology from Porter Airlines, alleging she was asked to move from her seat to accommodate a man who did not want to sit beside a woman for religious reasons.
- The Inner Workings of the Apologist Mindset
Apologists…will often go to unreasonable lengths to protect inhuman ideas at the expense of real-life human beings. They will also label criticisms of ideas, books, and beliefs “bigotry” or “racism” in the absence of any substantive counter-argument.
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