From TED: Most of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. But what if we’re wrong about that? “Wrongologist” Kathryn Schulz makes a compelling case for not just admitting but embracing our fallibility.
Derren Brown, British magician and skeptic, takes on the faith healing
ministry industry in his new special “Miracles for Sale.”
From Channel 4:
With the cameras in hot pursuit, Derren faces his toughest project yet, going in search of an unsuspecting member of the British public prepared to adopt the guise of a pastor and miracle worker.
His chosen one then has six months to learn the trade and flourish across the pond as a convincing pastor.
The final phase of the volunteer’s extraordinary challenge sees them attempt to perform faith healing miracles live in Texas, but will Derren’s new recruit be accepted as a faith healer or cast away as fake healer?
Check out Derren Brown’s other specials; you’ll find some of them on YouTube. He’s pulled of some impressive stunts, like converting a room full of atheists.
One of the most anticipated films to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this year was Kevin Smith’s Red State. The plot of Red State isn’t overtly political (it’s a horror film), but its portrayal of small town America and conservative Christians is pretty unflattering.
The film drew protests from the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, whose leader, Pastor Fred Phelps, was the inspiration for one of Red State‘s characters. The liberal Sundance goers enjoyed sparring with and ridiculing the group. And all this played to Red State’s advantage, as I’m sure many people (wrongly) saw the Westboro Baptists as representative of Christian fundamentalism and American conservatism.
It’s easy to identify the crazy in other people, especially when those ‘other people’ are the Westboro Baptists. But I also identified another kind of crazy at Sundance.
Here, in his closing remarks in a debate against leading Intelligent Design proponent William Dembski, Christopher Hitchens gave a rather stirring defense of doubt.
Watch the entire debate. Dembski made some formidable points, and Hitchens, despite his failing health, was unusually spirited.
Watch the video and decide for yourself.
Not convinced? You of course shouldn’t be. But unfortunately, millions of people buy this nonsense. A poll conducted earlier this year found that 24% of Republicans believe that Obama “may be the Antichrist.”
For the record, Obama is hardly the first president to be accused of Satanism by Christian conspiracy theorists. Back in 2004, at a John Kerry meet-up in Salt Lake City, I remember an old man trying to convince me that George W. Bush was the Antichrist. So both parties have their fair share of crazies at the extremes.
I mentioned Phil Plait‘s talk a while back in my post “On dialogue and changing minds.” The video of the talk was recently released. I was going to tuck it into another link bomb post, but I think it deserves to stand alone.
I actually disagree somewhat with Plait’s contention that we (atheists/skeptics) need diplomats, not warriors. As Greta Christina argued at the Secular Student Alliance conference, both are important. My approach is to try to balance the roles by being a ‘diplomatic warrior.’
To compliment yesterday’s discussion about how to promote skepticism, here are Penn and Teller discussing the greatest skeptical achievement with their show “Bullshit!”.
Expect to see more “obscenity, and naked breasts and genitals” at the SHAFT site. ;)
Welcome a new entry to the blogroll: You Are Not So Smart. In my unsolicited opinion, it should be bookmarked by every skeptic.
The blog bills itself as “a celebration of self delusion.” It has some really informative posts on subjects like confirmation bias, logical fallacies, popular myths, and our species’ susceptibility to irrational thinking.
I particularly enjoyed the article on the malleability of memory. There, I found this fun video about a created memory involving Jackie Onassis: