Critical Links August 21/2014
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.
- New Limbs and New Hope for Africa’s Hunted Albino Children. Thanks to efforts by charities such as Under The Same Sun and The Global Medical Relief Fund.
Albinism is a condition that leaves the afflicted with little or no pigment in their skin or eyes — and makes their body parts valuable on the black market in parts of Africa as ingredients in potions said to give the user wealth and good luck. Albinism affects about one out of every 15,000 people in Tanzania.
These experiments involve the Church of Scientology’s “Purif” detoxifications, a sham treatment based on religious tenets, not science. These experiments not only put desperate veterans’ health at risk, but also blatantly violate the separation of church and state. CFI, which advocates for science, reason, and humanist values, will urge the Department to immediately end these experiments and investigate how they were ever approved.
In comments filed with the FDA this week, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) urged the FDA to subject homeopathic drugs to the same testing requirements as conventional drugs. Failing that, CFI urged the FDA to at least require homeopathic products to be clearly labeled as untested and unproven.
- Huge alliance protests government response to Bangladesh blogger murders; Bloggers, free speech campaigners, humanist associations, religious and ex-Muslim groups, all unite to protest Bangladeshi blogger murders
- Saudi Women Are Registering to Vote For the First Time In History; Four years after King Abdullah announced that women will be granted equal voting rights and the right to run for office in the conservative Muslim country, women in Saudi Arabia began to register to vote this past weekend.
- Sept 6th, Toronto: Come one, come all, to the CFIC T.O. Atheists and Friends meetup, this and every first Sunday of the month.
- Sept 14th, 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.
- Sept 11th, 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. –
- Sept 19th, 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 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.
- 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
- Police arrest three Christians over blasphemous poster; Pakistan Police have arrested three men under terrorism laws for using the word “Prophet” to describe a dead pastor on a poster
CFIC continues to monitor, document and condemn faith based violence and bigotry around the world.
Science, Medicine, and Ethics News
- SOFTWARE CREATED BY Intel was instrumental in giving Stephen Hawking a voice. Now, the company has released this same software under a free software license.
- Myths about Nutrition; Detox, vitamins, and gluten-free nonsense.
- Why People Oppose GMOs Even Though Science Says They Are Safe
Intuitions about purposes and intentions also have an impact on people’s thinking about GMOs. They render us vulnerable to the idea that purely natural phenomena exist or happen for a purpose that is intended by some agent. These assumptions are part and parcel of religious beliefs, but in secular environments they lead people to regard nature as a beneficial process or entity that secures our wellbeing and that humans shouldn’t meddle with.
There will still be people who will buy homeopathic drugs. The level of ignorance among Americans with respect to basic science is appalling, and nowadays marketing anything as “natural” is a surefire way to guarantee some sales. But appropriate labeling will ensure that all consumers have adequate information before their purchase, and it may cause some consumers to think twice about their purchase. Some may even conclude that rather than buy the homeopathic drug, they will just drink a tall glass of water — it would be equally effective and would save them $15.
Wishful Thinking and Superstition/Religion
- Prosperity gospel preacher: People who don’t understand why I need a jet don’t understand God’s word
“What does a preacher need with an airplane?’ They don’t know. They’ll never know because they’re not looking through the Word. They will never know, never never know.”
- HBO Canada finally to air acclaimed Scientology doc ‘Going Clear’; Alex Gibney’s acclaimed documentary “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” will finally be screened by HBO Canada, six months after the expose originally aired in the U.S.
- Exorcism, Male Power, and the Murder of E’Dena Hines
The essential idea that a woman’s body is inherently vulnerable to the powers of a (usually male) demon that can only be defeated by a (usually male) authority figure only works to perpetuate male control over women’s bodies and women’s stories. Exorcism narratives use fear, trauma, and violence to reassert the authority of those performing the “saving.” They frequently justify acts of shocking misogynistic violence, and in many cases, that is all they are—a justification, an excuse.
- Man guarding ‘Muslim free’ gun range accidentally shoots himself; This gun range in small town America might be ‘Muslim free’ but it’s definitely not idiot free.
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