November 2007

Some FSM pareidolia was spotted in a pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving….

FSM Pie This is not a joke. The Flying Spaghetti Monster has appeared to us in a pumpkin pie. Bless his noodley appendages!

The Manefesto is home to many things, but rarely is it the place of divine revelation. On Thanksgiving night, the Great Divine Deity of Pasta made an appearance in a pumpkin pie baked by no other than my wife, Miranda.

Read more and see larger pic

Are we there yet? A skeptic’s Thanksgiving.
by Robert T. Carroll
Skeptic’s Dictionary

Sometimes skeptics feel like we’re just spinning our wheels. We look like we’re moving but we’re standing still. We feel like we’re standing on the gallows, waiting for the last train or for the fat lady to sing or for the cavalry to arrive. This theme, more or less, was the focus of a recent essay and podcast by Daniel Loxton, editor of Junior Skeptic magazine, which is published by Michael Shermer‘s Skeptics Society as part of Skeptic magazine. The title of Loxton’s piece asked of the skeptic movement “where do we go from here?” My initial reaction was to start talking to myself. There is no ‘we’ to go anywhere, I said. “Nobody cares what you think,” I responded. In fairness to Loxton, he focuses on “classic skepticism” and uses Paul Kurtz’s organization as a model. Kurtz runs CSI, formerly CSICOP, publisher of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, Skeptic magazine’s only competitor. I couldn’t help but wonder why somebody from Skeptic was writing about what the other folks should be doing. Whatever the reason, I’m sure it stimulated a lot of self-reflection in the skeptical community.

Read the full article.

Transcript excerpt from Bill Moyers’ interview with Jonathan Miller about “A Brief History of Disbelief”:

BILL MOYERS: So you wouldn’t be – you wouldn’t have done this series unless people were rising up to confront you with beliefs that you found harmful?

JONATHAN MILLER: Well, there are two reasons. I think that I, perhaps felt inclined to undertake the series because I believe there were harmful outcomes from fanatical and overzealous beliefs. But also, I suppose that once the discussion got out in the open as a discussion, I simply was struck by the logical incoherence and inconsistency of what seemed to be a very strong feature of human mental life. And namely, a belief in supernatural agency. It seemed to me to make no sense. And therefore, I wanted to point out its philosophical inconsistency. Long before I became a scientist, long before I had– knew anything about biology, let alone anything about natural selection, the thought of God never crossed my mind.

Video and transcript available online here:

From Skeptico:

This coming Friday November 16, the credulous Larry King (CNN) is featuring “psychics (sic) John Edward and James van Praagh”. No doubt they will be playing their usual guessing game with callers.
My ID Creationist Bingo card proved popular, so I decided to produce a John Edward / James van Praagh Bingo card. It’s based on the numerous times I’ve seen Edward perform his lame cold reading act, as well as my detailed analysis of the transcript of an earlier Edward appearance on Larry King.

PBS’s NOVA will be airing a new dramatization of the Dover, PA case on November 13 at 8:00 pm.

More details here:

Stephen Pinker will be a featured author at the Sarasota Reading Festival.  It looks like he will be doing a reading from his book around 2:30 PM at Fellowship Hall in the First United Methodist Church on Pineapple (schedule):

Steven Pinker
The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature

New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker possesses that rare combination of scientific aptitude and verbal eloquence that enables him to provide lucid explanations of deep and powerful ideas. His previous books-including the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Blank Slate-have catapulted him into the limelight as one of today’s most important and popular science writers. Now, in The Stuff of Thought, Pinker marries two of the subjects he knows best: language and human nature. The result is a fascinating look at how our words explain our nature. What does swearing reveal about our emotions? Why does innuendo disclose something about relationships? Even the names we give our babies have important things to say about our relations to our children and to society.

Clip from a Stephen Pinker lecture on YouTube: