Last Week at Science-Based Medicine PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harriet Hall, MD (The SkepDoc)   
Tuesday, 20 April 2010 10:21

Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo in medicine. 

Homo Religiosus: Why We Are Hardwired For Belief In God PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Shermer   
Monday, 19 April 2010 09:37

This week the Wall Street Journal published a debate between myself and Gregory Paul on the question of whether or not belief in God is innate. You may find those two articles here and here.
The online version was well edited but shorter than my original draft, which I present here just for the record. Enjoy. - MS
According to Oxford University Press’s World Christian Encyclopedia, 84 percent of the world’s population belongs to some form of organized religion, which at the end of 2009 equals 5.7 billion people who belong to about 10,000 distinct religions, each one of which may be further subdivided and classified. Christians, for example, may be aportioned among 33,820 different denominations.[1] Among the many bionomial designations granted our species (Homo sapiens, Homo ludens, Homo economicus), a strong case could be made for Homo religiosus. And Americans are among the most religious members of the species. In a 2007 Pew Forum survey of over 35,000 Americans, the following percentages of belief were found:
    God or a universal spirit  92%
    Heaven                     74%
    Hell                       59%                                      
    Scripture is word of God   63%
    Pray once a day            58%
    Miracles                   79%

So powerful is the belief that there must be something else out there that even 21% of those who identified themselves as atheists and 55% of those who identified themselves as agnostics expressed a belief in God or a universal spirit.[2]

Why do so many people believe in God? Although there is much cultural variation among different religious faiths, all have in common the belief in supernatural agents in the form of God, gods, or spirits who have intention and interact with us in the world. There are four lines of evidence pointing to the conclusion that such beliefs are hardwired into our brains.

JREF in the Media PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Wagg   
Saturday, 17 April 2010 12:00

The JREF has been featured in the media quite a bit lately, and here's a roundup of the latest events:

1. Mythbuster and perennial TAM Speaker Adam Savage plugged the JREF and Randi on a recent Nerdist podcast.

2. There was a brief mention of James Randi and the Million Dollar Challenge on the TWIT (This Week in Tech) Podcast with Leo Laporte. It was at about the 1h 33 minute mark and was along the lines of "I really like that guy" referring to Randi, of course.  Why the JREF? Because the topic of over-priced audio cables came up.

3. The Conference Board featured an article with quotes from D.J. Grothe, Karen Stollznow, Brian Dunning, and Ben Radford.

4. ran a feature about Randi's now-famous First Card Trick in Space.

As always, any news items you happen to come across are always welcome. Send them along to

Seth Shostak on Skeptics Guide to the Universe PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by JREF   
Saturday, 17 April 2010 00:00
This week's topics The Skeptics Guide to the Universe:
  • Interview with Seth Shostak
  • News Items: Apollo 13, Water on Mars, Bioprinting, Scientific Literacy in the US, Dawkins vs The Pope
  • Who's That Noisy
  • Your Questions and E-mails: Colour Therapy
  • Science or Fiction
Listen at
On For Good Reason: Simon Singh and Libel Reform PDF Print E-mail
Latest JREF News
Written by JREF   
Friday, 16 April 2010 16:35

Simon Singh details recent news regarding the libel case brought against him by the British Chiropractic Association for an article he wrote in the Guardian criticizing chiropractic. He talks about English libel laws, and explains why he says they are the worst in the Western world. He details how the recent appeals court decision in his case could have a positive effect on the scientific community.  He describes the difference between “honest opinion” and facts as they are viewed both in libel cases and in science. And he reveals how the skeptical community in Britain organized a coordinated campaign against chiropractic, leading to investigation of one in four chiropractors there.

In this week’s installment of the Honest Liar, Jamy Ian Swiss allows us to witness a street-side scam in the heart of Times Square. Listen at

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