The Second Episode of the LoR Podcast….

Randy, Christine, Haysn, Matthew and Graham profile Calgary psychic/clairvoyant Kim Dennis (aka Clairvoyant Kim). We examine the credulous beliefs she espouses and critique an episode of her now-defunct Public Access television show “Antiques Psychic”. We also take a look at a fundamentalist religious group appealing to the (nonexistent at this time) Office of Religious Freedom to intervene in the William Whatcott case before the supreme court. Should that not work, a day of fasting and prayer surely will! We also find time to discuss the deafening silence from the Vatican over what they will do now that ex-Bishop Raymond Lahey has been sentenced for posession of child pornography right after settling a lawsuit filed by victims of molestation in Maritime Canada. He was released this last week for time served.

Four out of Seven Candidates Agree

that Dominionism is the best way to go. Never heard of it? Read this, and weep:

There are Christians and then there are Dominionist Christians — the ones who think they have a biblical mandate to take dominion over the entire world for Christ. [… Some of them are now] denying that anything called Dominionism even exists; others are changing the definition of Dominionism, claiming that the word dominion is just used figuratively and doesn’t really mean that they want to control all areas of American society and eventually “reclaim” the world for Christ.

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There is no Honor

Courtesy Ophelia Benson (http://freethoughtblogs, I’ve got a tale The Fifth Estate (http://www NULL.cbc bills as

the next chapter in the story of Jassi Sidhu, the beautiful, young Canadian woman who defied her family when she fell in love with and secretly married an impoverished auto-rickshaw driver in India.

Not long after, she was murdered in a roadside attack, her new husband left for dead by her killers. In the years since, four men were convicted of Jassi’s murder and sent to prison in India.

Evidence gathered by Indian authorities at the time, and presented on the fifth estate, pointed to Jassi’s family allegedly arranging her murder from their home here in Canada.

Now, acting on new information, the fifth estate’s Bob McKeown presents stunning new information about those accused in the killing.

When your belief system encourages you to murder your own child, for the high crime of falling in love with someone, you should ditch it and look for alternatives (http://en NULL.wikipedia

HJ Hornbeck

On Names and Labels

[This is a repost of something I typed up for the Freethinkers mailing list (http://groups]

I’ve heard many people disavow titles like “atheist” or “agnostic” because they don’t like to be labelled, and I’m pretty sure I did it myself for a time.

There’s a power behind names and labels, isn’t there? I have a tough time even writing an ethnic slur, because I know the weight of prejudice behind it. Not only does it claim nasty things, it claims them for a large group of people. Everyone under that label is implied to be identical, exchangeable, and we insist that isn’t true. Am I identical to Karen Armstrong, Eric Steinhart, or Julian Baggini? No, and yet we all call ourselves atheists. Taken to extremes, this sanding down of difference allows us to commit the worst atrocities we’re capable of, and form protected spaces that filter out “the other,” for an arbitrary definition of “other.”

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Lacking Church, or Church-like, Behavior

Just read this from a local skeptic, Dean Morrison, and thought it was worthy of sharing:

I know that there’s at least a few of my friends that feel […] my efforts in skepticism are basically my replacement for religion.

Why Skeptics in the Pub is not “Church for Atheists” (http://demonhaunted NULL.blogspot NULL.html?m=1)

HJ Hornbeck

400 Crazy Rednecks? I Don’t Think So

400 people converge on Cherryville, North Carolina each year to scare away witches. Justin Griffith has an excellent takedown of this (http://freethoughtblogs In short, it turns out the “ancient” chant that accompanies the ritual actually dates from the 1800’s, rather than the 1300’s as claimed. It’s all pretty silly and a waste of time.

But my beef is not with these rednecks. No, it’s with Justin’s characterization of them as “crazy.” If I applied that label to everyone who forced their rituals on others, who were utterly ignorant of that ritual’s origins yet so enraptured with it that they cannot see how silly the entire thing is, who demand special priviledges for their ritual, I’d have to call at least six billion people “crazy” and the word would stop being useful.

HJ Hornbeck

In defense of determinism….

Jerry made quite a kurfuffle with his op-ed piece in USA Today denying the existence of ‘free will’ (http://www NULL.usatoday, and ably deals with his detractors (http://whyevolutionistrue NULL.wordpress

We can dispense with those critics that are dualists. This is simply an untenable position both philosophically and experimentally. It isn’t just that there is no evidence for dualism, but that there is a mountain of evidence against it. Split-brain studies, behavior modification through pharmaceuticals and pulsed magnetic fields, and brain injury case studies – all point to the mind being what the brain does. Nothing else is required. (And, please… No mention of near-death experiences. One need not be near death to experience NDEs, as they can be induced in the laboratory, and occur in a well known disorder known as ‘autoscopy’ (http://en NULL.wikipedia There were even those that cited CS Lewis, and as Randy’s First Rule of Argumentation states, anyone that uses CS Lewis as an authority automatically loses the argument. Yeesh.
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But I Thought Pink Was For Boys…

Oh, how I love it when Rebecca gets on a rant:

EDIT: I’m sorry, this is my second major edit but sometimes when I rant I forget to include some important points. Like this: Ben [Radford]’s idiotic idea that girl toys are pink because of their dolls’ skin ignores all the dolls for boys that are Caucasian, like GI Joe, which are still packaged in blue or camo. Also, his point ignores the central issue: why are baby dolls “girl toys” in the first place? ARG SHUT UP
Intellectual Cage Match: Ben Radford vs a 4-year old (http://skepchick

Alas, it’s all too human to fall victim to cognitive dissonance (http://en NULL.wikipedia While skepticism is a great tool to combat that, it’s no magic sword.

HJ Hornbeck

Ringing in the New Year… the wrong way

So Cee-lo Green sings “Imagine” before the ball drop and, as has been done before, the lyrics are appallingly sanitized, changing “no religion too” to “all religion is true”. It’s sheer cowardly pandering bullshit. If you can’t respect the ideas of the song then just don’t sing the song. Leave it alone.

I’m with Daniel Fincke (http://freethoughtblogs; it drastically changes the song, and is an insult to any god worth their salt. If your belief is so weak that you can’t even entertain the concept of atheism, you don’t deserve to believe.

HJ Hornbeck

Sometimes, the impossible does happen

I’m a little embarrassed that I missed out on this, because if someone just casually mentioned it to me I wouldn’t have believed it:

Confession, they say, is good for the soul. So Dan, I was a faith fibber. Sorry about that.

Yes, that’s a defender of religion admitting he lied in the line of duty, and apologizing for it (http://www NULL.huffingtonpost NULL.html). I’ve read the piece a few times, and can’t detect any sign of sarcasm or parody. It looks completely legit. Admittedly, the apology was for something small and trivial, a mis-attributed quote, but still…

… bravo, Karl Giberson.

HJ Hornbeck