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Posts Tagged ‘debate’

“There’s Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life.”

December 2, 2010 2 comments

That’s what was postered on the side of buses in Toronto, Calgary and Montreal last year. And they are planning to do it again.

The Centre for Inquiry (CFI) is launching a campaign which would see similar ads on the sides of buses in Toronto starting in January, pending final approval from the Toronto Transit Commission. This  year’s campaign is “Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence”, and compares the belief in God and Allah to the belief in Bigfoot and Tarot reading.

Photo From Centre for Inquiry

The campaign’s website says:

Why is belief in Big Foot dismissed as delusional while belief in Allah and Christ is respected and revered? All of these claims are equally extraordinary and demand critical examination

Assuming they get approval to run the ads in Toronto, the CFI hopes to move the campaign into other major Canadian cities. 

Justin Trottier, national executive director of the Centre for Inquiry said about the campaign
 
I’d love it if everyone saw the ads and know the point of the campaign is to emphasize not the kind of knee-jerk debunking to anything suspicious but that we’re interested in a genuine debate, a conversation about so-called extraordinary claims. We’re not here to mock people who believe in these claims
 
But of course, there is mixed reaction from both the religious and atheist communities. Many religious leaders felt that the ads were designed to ridicule people’s faith. Others felt that their beliefs can stand atop the belief in Bigfoot, so a discussion on the topic would be welcome.
 
Some in the scientific and atheist communities felt that the ads were too confrontational, and that this was not the proper way to elicit a discussion on these topics.
 
My opinion is that extraordinary claims certainly do require extraordinary evidence. Bigfoot, psychics and the like all need proof before we can accept them as facts. But religion is built on faith; the belief without proof. I maintain my right to believe in a God or not, just as the rest of the world should. Challenging those beliefs on a bus is not a proper forum for this discussion.
 
Furthermore, if people want to worship a God I do not believe in, it is not my place to challenge them about it. They have as much right to believe as I have not to believe. However, if religion starts to influence government policy, then it definitely becomes fair game to argue the proper place of religion in politics. Thankfully, this is not as big a problem in Canada as it is in the USA.
 
I’d love to hear what  you guys think about this issue, so please take a second and answer this poll below, or leave a comment.
 

CNN Gets It Right With Article on Vaccines and Autism

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

The state of science reporting and science journalism is pretty dismal. And in the past few years, there have been few better examples of this than the reporting on the Vaccine/Autism “debate”.

Vaccines DO NOT cause autism. This has been known in the scientific community for a long time, and I’ve blogged about it before. But every so often a story will come up in the news which gives equal representation to the scientists who know vaccines are safe, and the quacks and conspiracy theorists who believe they are evil.

But CNN actually impressed me yesterday. They reprinted an article which was originally posted on Parenting.com concerning the vaccine/autism debate.

The article gave a clear history of the issue, reviewed the scientific evidence and gave a sound conclusion: that vaccines are safe and do not cause autism.

My only problem with the article is the title: “The End of the Autism/Vaccine Debate?” I’m not a big fan of that question mark. If you are going to do an article which debunks the whole “vaccines cause autism” notion, you may as well make that clear in the title. You will still garner lots of attention, and your position will be made clear from the get-go.

But thats me being nit-picky. The article is good, and the fact that it got reprinted on CNN is a step in the right direction. With cases of whooping cough on the rise in the United States and the proliferation of misinformation by the anti-vaccine movement, we need more articles like this to get public attention.