Episode 83 – Skepticon Report

I have to preface this episode with an apology to our listeners. I know I haven’t released a new episode in a few weeks, despite recording a few. Sometimes life just gets in the way of editing. We’ve had family over helping with basement renos, which I’m still doing, and an intolerable situation arose at work that has stressed and preoccupied me the last few weeks. Seriously, we were talking “Mutiny on the Bounty” threat level. But we had a meeting yesterday that hopefully has resolved things and I can get back to putting out podcast episodes, and I have a short backlog to clear. Anyway, in this episode, recorded November 16, 2013, Haysn and Kris join Twylla and I from Skepticon for another potpourri episode. Topics include opposition to a BC company introducing genetically-modified apples which do not brown (http://www NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/health/groups-against-non-browning-gm-apples-fear-u-s-approval-1 NULL.1539832). Why would anyone oppose eating something that isn’t the color as going in as going out? An Alberta school district debates the existence of prayer in public schools (http://calgary NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/alberta-school-board-mulling-decision-to-drop-lord-s-prayer-1 NULL.1541754) – in the 21st century, no less! Maybe this is the secret behind why Taber corn is so sweet. In typhoon-ravaged Philippines (http://m NULL.now NULL.msn NULL.com/jesus-statue-survives-typhoon-in-the-philippines), Jesus shows he loves statues of himself more than those that worship him. USA Today publishes a wonderfully critical exposé on Stanislow Burzynski (http://www NULL.usatoday NULL.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/15/stanislaw-burzynski-cancer-controversy/2994561/) and his claims of a cancer cure, the clinical trial for which has been going on for a quarter of a century without result! An Illinois bishop plans to exorcise “teh gay” (http://religion NULL.blogs NULL.cnn NULL.com/2013/11/15/illinois-bishop-plans-gay-marriage-exorcism/) out of his state. What a maroon. But first, we get a Skepticon report from Haysn and Kris…

Episode 82 – Another potpourri episode…

It’s Rememberance Day, November 11, 2013 and Haysn, Kris, Twylla and I are back with episode 82 of the Legion of Reason! Later in the podcast we examine the claim made by Calgary Flames’ NHL franchise part-owner Allan Markin that his vitamin regimen will save Albertan’s half a billion dollars (http://www NULL.cbc NULL.ca/news/canada/calgary/pure-north-health-program-spurs-alternative-public-care-debate-1 NULL.2287199) through prevention of disease and his rather unethical way of bribing the homeless into signing onto his pet project. The secular movement goes on the offensive as Sean Faircloth along with Peter Boghossian will be outlining their strategy to marginalize religiopolitics and the Republican ultra-right (http://www NULL.examiner NULL.com/article/sean-faircloth-and-peter-boghossian-to-speak-at-psu-on-new-secular-initiative). A measles outbreak is underway in southern Alberta, where pseudoscience, religion and complacency has lowered the vaccination rate to a mere 50% (http://www NULL.theglobeandmail NULL.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/the-vaccination-problem-cant-simply-be-prayed-away/article15348786/). On CBC’s The Current conservative commentator Tim Powers’ rhetorical gambit (http://www NULL.cbc NULL.ca/thecurrent/episode/2013/10/21/is-there-a-war-on-science/) of demanding that those who believe there is a war on science in Canada ask brain researchers at Dalhousie University if they feel that the Harper government is giving them the support they need. Too bad for him brain researchers at Dalhousie University heard him and they respond (http://impactethics NULL.ca/2013/10/30/the-decreasing-funding-of-scientific-research-in-canada/). But first, the Vatican issues a questionnaire to its clergy (http://news NULL.yahoo NULL.com/vatican-issues-global-questionnaire-modern-families-145433172 NULL.html) around the world on how well they are able to get their flocks to adhere to dogmatic nonsense.

On Honey

[originally posted on the Freethinkers Mailing List (https://groups NULL.google NULL.com/d/msg/freethinkers-club/xgoDM-Gbg1E/zTSacb3L1VcJ)]

At one point I found myself controlling a bee with Richard Dawkins on its back, attempting to grab as much honey as I could from the clutches of the religious.

Before that, I spotted a Photoshop of the cover of Dawkins’ memoir, altered so that he now had an “appetite for honey” as he gazed intently into a little jar of the stuff.

Before that, I was puzzled at the uproar over Dawkins’ silly little tweet (https://twitter NULL.com/RichardDawkins/status/396956105869250561).

Bin Laden has won, in airports of the world every day. I had a little jar of honey, now thrown away by rule-bound dundridges. STUPID waste.

And it is silly, really. Complaints about the TSA were boring way back in 2008, and people who look nothing like distinguished English professors have suffered far worse than the loss of a jar of honey. It was more blind privilege from Dawkins, but that’s not news either and this was trivial compared to his previous Twitter escapades.

I’m not the only one puzzled. Here’s the man himself:

I say nothing of the feeble jokes on “bee” and “be” and Pooh Bear. My point here is the one brought out by my encounter with the bank clerk. What is it that renders some people incapable of conceiving how a person might be motivated not by narrow self-interest but by a public-spirited concern for the common weal?

The pieces never clicked into place for me until I read a blog post by Tom Foss (http://dubitoergosum NULL.net/2013/11/03/perspective/):

Dear Muslimo

Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you get stopped and harassed and interrogated and strip searched every time you try to travel . . . yawn [. . .]  But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor British brothers have to put up with.

Only this week I heard of one, he calls himself “Richard Dawkins,” and do you know what happened to him? A TSA security agent took away his jar of honey.

A-ha. Dawkins’ infamous “Dear Muslimina (http://skepchick NULL.org/2011/07/the-privilege-delusion/)” was an admonition to be silent. Don’t bring up trivial things like the harassment of women, because there are less trivial things happening elsewhere. It was also a green flag to the trolls and harassers now plaguing skepticism, a signal that the most prominent members of the community would look the other way or silently support them.

So when Dawkins’ silly little tweet floated into the ether, a segment of the skeptic/atheist community decided to Muslimina right back. Fueled by long-simmering frustrations over his privilege blindness, and aided by religious opponents eager to poke him with a stick, the mockery quickly went viral. This only caused everyone to push harder; at long last, Dawkins would get a taste of what happened to Rebecca Watson after ElevatorGate, he’d experience a full plate of mockery and derision flung into his face (but with the rapey bits removed; even the mob has standards, sometimes). A small bit of justice would be served.

And true to form, Dawkins is completely clueless to it all (http://www NULL.theguardian NULL.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/05/honey-trap-plane-richard-dawkins-twitter).

Unfortunately, when I returned to make a similar point on Twitter this week, I foolishly chose a peg that was vulnerable to misinterpretation as self-interested. And the result was a puerile display of sniggering frivolity such as only Twitter can serve up.

Dawkins spends most of the article beaming about all the good works he’s done elsewhere; the honey-related bits are practically a footnote, and he doesn’t even try comprehending the point of the circus.

Admittedly, I needed some assistance to grasp what was happening. But when Dawkins is faced with tweets like (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/11/he-had-a-little-jar-of-honey/)

@RichardDawkins Oh. And @rebeccawatson not wanting creeps hitting on her in lifts is *not* a matter of PRINCIPLE? #DoubleStandards

What excuse does he have?

Episode 81 – The Galapagos Report

It’s my first Sunday back from the Galapagos Islands which means we’re back in the saddle for another episode of the Legion of Reason. Kris, Haysn and I take a look at a Calgary chiropractor that thinks spinal manipulation can help with recovering from brain trauma (http://globenewswire NULL.com/news-release/2013/11/03/586041/10055064/en/Calgary-Chiropractor-Concentrates-on-Concussion-Therapy-for-Sports-Injury-Patients NULL.html), Naomi Lakritz’s shatters my irony meter by decrying stereotypes about women and children while propagating a false one with respect to us atheists (http://www NULL.calgaryherald NULL.com/opinion/columnists/Lakritz+stereotypes+many+about+women+children/9093593/story NULL.html), and – while way outside our mission statement, but far too delicious to ignore – we discuss the self-destructing mayor of Toronto Rob Ford (http://www NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/canada/rob-ford-apologizes-to-toronto-says-he-s-made-mistakes-1 NULL.1526006). We also present the first installment of what I hope will be a series of monologues on rhetoric by Kris. But before we get to all that, I talk about my recent experiences south of the equator and my quest for the Panama hat.