The James Randi Educational Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Michael Blanford as its new Director of Educational Programs.
"Michael is the ideal mix of science educator and grassroots skeptics organizer. We are all excited to have him join the JREF team, and to get to work developing our new JREF in the Classroom initiative, as well as free educational resources for the grassroots and online skeptical movement," says D.J. Grothe, President of the JREF.
With an academic background in zoology, Blanford began his career as a field biologist, studying amphibians and reptiles in the United States and Costa Rica. While he enjoys doing research, he has spent much of the last 15 years promoting science literacy and appreciation. He has developed science curricula, programs, and informal content for a number of institutions, including schools, community centers, and museums. Most recently, he was coordinator for the Saint Louis Science Center’s Life Science Lab, an innovative space with the mission of exposing the public to the tools and methods of scientific research.
June 18-20, I'll be appearing at an international conference in Copenhagen, Denmark in the Royal Danish Library. This meeting is hosted in collaboration with the Danish Atheist Society and the Atheist Alliance International. Now, JREFers know that though I'm firmly an atheist, my stance is not quite in accord with the one commonly adopted by so many of the atheist groups, who say that there is no God. I can't accept that definition, because I cannot prove that contention; proving such a negative claim is, essentially, impossible. My stance is that I find no good evidence to support a belief in any deity, which is, to me, much more reasonable... I trust that I'll be able to make that point in my talk, and continue to enlist the support of rationalists both here in the USA and abroad.
This conference already has a list of great speakers such as Dan Barker, P.Z. Myers, A.C. Grayling, Victor Stenger, Rebecca Watson, Richard Wiseman, and others. The full list can be seen here.
PLEASE NOTE: As part of this trip, I'm hoping to interest other groups abroad to employ my talents as a lecturer while I'm in their area of the world this June. I'm now fully back in lecture mode, healthwise, and rarin' to get into action, folks. I've lots of new material, some selected from my forthcoming book, A Magician in the Laboratory, and other interesting discussion matters that have come my way in the two years I've been "out of action."
As always, I'll be available for press conferences, interviews, and even actual examination of paranormal claims for the JREF million-dollar prize — still unclaimed! — if and when time permits. Inquiries about my availability as a lecturer can be made to my assistant, Brandon K. Thorp, at the JREF.
If, as is claimed to prospective members, Scientology is the “only major religion to have emerged in the 20th century,” then it is currently experiencing a growing pain common to all religions entering adolescence: The schism. David Miscavige, the slick little salesman who took over the Church of Scientology after the death of noted junkie and fugitive L. Ron Hubbard, has lately been accused of abusing his underlings and lying to his flock to obfuscate his own failures as a spiritual leader. Scientologists around the world are breaking off from the official Church, claiming that it has “strayed from the original philosophy and purpose of the group which Hubbard first researched and developed."
But some ex-Scientologists have less regard for the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. One of them is Aaron Saxton, a New Zealander who spent eight years — from his mid-teens through his early 20s — as part of Scientology’s elite paramilitary corps, Sea Org. Read on to learn his thoughts on Independent Scientologists, Sea Org, violence, coerced abortion, rape, false imprisonment, and the many other delights allegedly awaiting those who take seriously L. Ron Hubbard’s declaration that “your search is over, but the adventure has just begun.”
Conspiracy theorists have seized on Lady Gaga’s latest music video, “Telephone,” as evidence that she’s a mind-controlled agent of the CIA. If that sounds like a stretch, consider that VigilantCitizen.com has raked in over 1,300 comments on its conspiratorial analysis of “Telephone.” Hundreds of thousands of people have likely read it, and perhaps many believed.
Vigilant Citizen’s warning to America is that Gaga and other singers have been given the full Manchurian-Candidate treatment under the CIA’s “Monarch Program” and unleashed on pop culture to rep the devil-worshipping Illuminati. The wider goal of the conspiracy remains hazy, but it has to do with seducing and softening up the hoi polloi with a mind-controlling pageantry of outrageous sex, decadence, murder, madness, and technological excess — all elements in “Telephone” and preparatory ingredients in a transhumanist, authoritarian New World Order.
But let’s backtrack. What is this CIA “Monarch Program”? Vigilant Citizen talks about it as if it’s a well-established fact. Curious and unwilling to put anything past the CIA, I went in search of credible sources testifying to its existence. But the whole notion of the program originates with one woman named Cathy O’Brien and I wouldn’t call her credible. I would call her batty.