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A License to Secular Parenthood

September 2007

In the 1989 Ron Howard film, Parenthood, the Keanu Reeves’ character, Tod Higgins, a wild-eyed young man trying to find his way in life after being raised by a single mom, bemoans to his future mother-in-law: “You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car — hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.” (continue reading…)

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Rational Atheism

September 2007
An open letter to Messrs. Dawkins,
Dennett, Harris and Hitchens
magazine cover

Since the turn of the millennium, a new militancy has arisen among religious skeptics in response to three threats to science and freedom: (1) attacks against evolution education and stem cell research; (2) breaks in the barrier separating church and state leading to political preferences for some faiths over others; and (3) fundamentalist terrorism here and abroad. Among many metrics available to track this skeptical movement is the ascension of four books (continue reading…)

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Bad Apples & Bad Barrels

August 2007
Lessons in Evil from Stanford to Abu Ghraib
magazine cover

The photographs of prisoner abuse from Abu Ghraib shocked most Americans. But social psychologist Philip Zimbardo had seen it all 30 years before in the basement of the psychology building at Stanford University, where he randomly assigned college students to be “guards” or “prisoners” in a mock prison environment. The experiment was to last two weeks but was terminated after just six days, when these intelligent and moral young men were transformed into cruel and sadistic guards or emotionally shattered prisoners. (continue reading…)

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God is Only a Theory

July 2007

I have given much thought to the creationists’ demand that evolution be stricken from public school science classes, or that it be taught side-by-side with creationism because “evolution is only a theory” and since “no one was there to witness the creation” we cannot say for sure what really happened. (continue reading…)

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Shermer on Larry King Live with the UFOlogists

July 2007

A couple of times a year, in between his celebfest of stars, Larry King hosts the UFOlogists who regale the talk show king with an endless parade of blurry photographs, grainy videos, and breathless tales of government coverups and conspiracies. This night Larry included a couple of skeptics: Michael Shermer of Skeptic magazine and Buzz Aldrin, of Apollo 11 fame, who described his own UFO experience during his trip to the moon (it turned out to be one of the rocket panels carried out with them). (continue reading…)

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