Science Moms: Fighting Fear with Facts and Empathy

Science Moms is a short but important documentary that provides a calm, measured, evidence-based response to the many irrational, anti-science narratives that try to sell fear to parents and which are perpetuated by groups like Moms Across America and by individuals like Zen Honeycutt and Vani Hari (aka the “Food Babe”). The brainchild of Natalie Newell, one of the hosts […]

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The Passion of the Christ: Torture, Anti-Semitism, and Ideological Fantasy

During the filming of Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie The Passion of the Christ, the actor portraying the character of Jesus (Jim Caviezel) was struck by lightning twice, in two separate incidents and in two separate places. Apparently the filmmakers, most of whom were Catholic, did not take the hint. The movie was finished and released to the public on Ash […]

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Doing It Wrong: Addressing Common Anti-Porn Arguments

1. Introduction: Opening Up and Revealing Pornography has elicited at least as many heated words as it has orgasms. While the etymology of the word is clear and uncontroversial, defining pornography in a clear and unambiguous way has proven difficult. The word derives from the Greek compound porne (“prostitute”) and graphos (“to write”).[1] This compound word denoted “the depiction of […]

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Rock ‘n’ Reverse: Skeptical Lessons from the Backward Masking Scare

“Just ‘cause you feel it, doesn’t mean it’s there.” ~ Radiohead, “There There”   In the campy 1986 horror film Trick or Treat, directed by Michael Martin Smith and written by Rhet Topham, a devil-worshiping rock star named Sammi Curr meets an untimely death in a mysterious hotel fire. His biggest fan, a high school student with no friends and […]

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Why the Devil Has the Best Tunes: Rock Music, Satanism, and Religious Fear

They say I worship the Devil / They must be stupid or blind / I’m just a rock ‘n’ roll rebel. ~ Ozzy Osbourne [1] In the summer of 1990, heavy rock music went on trial for murder. Five years before, two young adults named James Vance and Raymond Belknap of the small town of Sparks, Nevada spent a winter evening […]

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Spirit of Paranoia: A Critical Analysis of “Zeitgeist” (Part III)

The third and final part of Peter Joseph’s Zeitgeist is by far the most fascinating – and perhaps the most delusional and paranoid – of the film’s three sections. Part III, titled “Don’t Mind the Men behind the Curtain,” takes a decidedly darker and more sinister turn. In the film’s previous chapter, we were assaulted with a barrage of media […]

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Spirit of Paranoia: A Critical Analysis of “Zeitgeist” (Part II)

Part II of Peter Joseph’s Zeitgeist, titled “All the World’s a Stage,” describes the events of September 11, 2001 in a manner very similar to Dylan Avery’s 2005 conspiracy documentary Loose Change. In fact, many portions of Part II are pulled directly from Avery’s film. [1] In Joseph’s film, as in Loose Change, we are presented with the basic 9/11 conspiracy […]

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Spirit of Paranoia: A Critical Analysis of “Zeitgeist” (Part I)

The discussions on the origins of Christianity in Zeitgeist may sound very compelling to those “village atheists” who make a hobby of searching for that elusive single argument that destroys Christianity as a credible belief system in one fell swoop. But any such easy argument is bound to be an oversimplification of historical or philosophical complexities. The main thesis presented […]

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Spirit of Paranoia: A Critical Analysis of “Zeitgeist” (Introduction)

When you are studying any matter, or considering any philosophy, ask yourself only: ‘What are the facts and what is the truth that the facts bear out?’ Never let yourself be diverted either by what you wish to believe, or by what you think would have beneficent social effects if it were believed, but look only – and solely – […]

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The Tribeca Film Festival vs. Anti-Vax Propaganda

The tension between good science and conspiracy-happy fearmongering about some of the most important innovations in science has manifested itself in every aspect of social life, including and perhaps especially in popular culture. A recent instance of this tension can be seen in the kerfuffle that arose in this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. Robert De Niro, […]

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