Perhaps you can help me with a mystery I've wondered about for years now. As many of you know, I post a Sample Course Paper to the blog at the beginning of the semester, along with the APA handouts and instructions for the writing assignment. The title of that fake paper is: A Discussion of the Portrayal of Antisocial Personality Disorder in the Film “Hollyweird”.
Since creating that document, about 1/4 of my students turn in papers with that exact format for their title, substituting their disorder and film name (rather than creating their own title). That part is an understandable mistake, and one that I correct people on a lot.
The really weird part is that, about 90% of those make two bizarre errors that I can't account for. First, they substitute the word "on" for the word "of," making their title begin with, "A Discussion on..."
Also, those same papers fail to capitalize the word "Film," making their papers read something like, "A Discussion on the Portrayal of Asperger Syndrome in the film “Adam."
If it were one or two students, I'd chalk these up to simple typographical errors. But these same two mistakes have been made, literally, by dozens of students over the years. It's enough to make me think there might be a reason.
Below are answers to some of the most common end-of-the-semester questions students have.
I create a new Final Exam each semester, so there is no answer to such questions as "What will be on the Final?," or "Will there be an essay?," etc. TO BE CLEAR, I WON'T/CAN'T ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FINAL EXAM.
Please bring a Scantron, a pencil, and a pen. We will use which ever of these becomes necessary.
Your Course Paper will be graded and returned to you via the same email address you used to send it to me as a .pdf file, but probably not before the end of the semester.
I do not provide study guides, notes, my PowerPoints, etc. for studying for the Final Exam.
I strongly encourage that you try and form study groups (or at least trade contact info.) with class members so you can prepare for Finals in each of your classes. It really makes studying more pleasant, and often more successful.
One of the most disturbing chapters in the history of modern treatment of the mentally ill is the introduction and practice of the Prefrontal Lobotomy. This procedure involved various surgical techniques, each designed to cut off communication between the front lobes and the emotion center of the brain. Now considered "quack" medicine, more than 35,000 of these operations were performed by the late 1950s, on people of all ages, and for a host of mental, emotional, and social adjustment issues.
CLICK HERE to watch a PBS special (separated into several parts) entitled "The Lobotomist," about the most famous proponent of the operation, Walter Freeman.
CLICK HERE to watch the same video, but in streaming format (without the segmentation). Just click the "close" link in the advertisement to get the video to play. I'm not sure how long that link will be active, so I'll leave the previous link in this post as well.
CLICK HERE if you would like to learn more about Freeman and his infamous "Icepick Lobotomy" procedure. The web site contains information, images, and most importantly an audio recording (see link at the top of the page) originally aired on National Public Radio (NPR). It is narrated by Howard Dully, a man who underwent the procedure at the age of 12 at the behest of his step-mother. Dully's narration and subsequent writings on the matter are as touching as they are horrifying.
Freeman is a controversial figure, and I must warn you that the PBS report above can be a bit disturbing for the more sensitive among us, so do not feel you have to visit the site or listen to the report. For the rest of you, please know that the American Medical Association and the APA no longer endorse this procedure (or any lobotomy procedure).
Below, please find the list of Phobias we discussed in class. This list of approximately 500 Phobias is by no means comprehensive, but it should illustrate to you that, since they are all learned, the types of Phobias are endless.
As discussed, a woman named Dorthea Dix is almost single-handedly responsible for sparking a movement that resulted in revolutionizing the treatment of those with mental illness in this country. The fact that she was a woman living in the 19th-century Southern U.S. makes her story all the more astonishing and impressive.
CLICK HERE to read more about this remarkable woman.
If this sort of history piques your interest, please contact Heather McCarty (HMcCarty@ohlone.edu) and ask about taking her new course entitled "History 119B: Bad Girls: Women in America from 1890."
One of my students is working on a simple survey project that he needs help with. The goal is to get as many people as possible to respond to this online survey that will literally take you about 20 seconds to complete. We cannot reveal more than that, of course, because knowledge of the hypothesis might skew the results.
Once the study is done and all data have been collected, I will post more here about what was found.
CLICK HERE if you'd like to participate. All responses are confidential and anonymous, and participation is purely voluntary.
CLICK HERE to watch the video of Jane Elliott's 3rd grade class experiment on the effects of discrimination. (Click on "Watch the Full Program" in the pink box on the picture).
Rather than simply lecturing to students about discrimination, Ms Elliott chose to subject her class to differential treatment by separating them by an arbitrary physical characteristic (eye color) and teaching them prejudices based on that characteristic.
Although controversial, what ensued was a lesson that few could have predicted, and one that has created positive effects for the students well into their adult lives.
CLICK HERE to learn more about Jane Elliott and how she has taken this lesson "on the road" in attempts to teach adults the same lesson.
During the Nazi takeover of Europe, Freud and his family were in trouble like all Jews in the affected regions. They were able to escape due to connections (including Princess Marie Bonaparte of France, who put up the necessary funds to buy his freedom and allow him an exit visa). CLICK HERE to read the details.
In 1938, Freud was recorded by the BBC reading a short speech about his work in psychoanalysis. It is the only known recording of Freud's own voice, and is a rare treat for those of us who work in the field. To save the file, RIGHT click the link and choose "Save file as," then click "Save."
Nine months after this recording was made, Freud's inoperable cancer of the mouth (after a lifetime of smoking cigars) became unbearably painful. He asked for, and received, a fatal injection of morphine. He was 83 years old.
In case you have difficulty understanding him (he was in great pain, and was reading a script written for him in phonetic English), here is a transcript:
"I started my professional activity as a neurologist, trying to bring relief to my neurotic patients. Under the influence of an older friend, and by my own efforts, I discovered some important new facts about the Unconscious in psychic life, the role of instinctual urges, and so on. Out of these findings grew a new science - Psycho-Analysis - a part of Psychology and a new method of treatment of the neuroses.
I had to pay heavily for this bit of good luck. People did not believe in my facts, and thought my theories unsavory. Resistance was strong and unrelenting. In the end, I succeeded in acquiring pupils and building up an International Psycho-Analytic Association. But the struggle is not yet over.
I was recently corrected in class (by several students at once!) when I used the word "sicker" in a sentence. One student confidently exclaimed "because it's a single syllable!"
Having never heard such a rule, I decided to look up the word online and check with some valued sources. I'm happy to report that the word "sicker" is in fact a proper word (as is its counterpart, "sickest"), and not just in a colloquial or "commonly used" sense. Unfortunately, I can find no source for the rule that single-syllable adjectives require the use of "more ________," as opposed to the addition of "er," so that seems to be a case of teachers misleading students.
(Since said-same student also mentioned that one of his teachers told him that the Chihuahua is not a member of the wolf family like other dogs are, I'm beginning to suspect that this school is in need of stricter hiring methods.)
Keep an eye out for a new film entitled "A Dangerous Method," starring Michael Fassbender as Sigmund Freud, and Viggo Moretenson as Carl Jung. The film takes place just before WWI, a time that would test the complex and increasingly strained relationship between Freud and his young protégé. I'm sure it's available on DVD by now.
Reviewers are hailing it as a masterpiece of historical drama, and it seems destined to win many more awards than it already has, as well as to re-introduce the world to the achievements of these two great men. Click below to watch the trailer.
If you would like to experience a modern-day "Personality Test," click the links below and download the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. Based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Keirsey uses a few dozen self-report questions to categorize you into one of 16 different personality types.
After answering the questions, use the KEY to add up the numbers and determine your 4-letter category. Then, look up your "type" on the list of all 16 personalities.
Clicking the hyperlink above will allow you to critically analyze the orignal MBTI and its creators, and to decide for yourself whether these types of tests have any validity.
CLICK HERE to take an online version of the Jenkins Activity Survey, an introspective measure that will allow you to test whether you fit into the category of Type A or Type B personality. This measure is based on research by Jenkins, Ayzanski, & Rosenman (1971), and consists of just 30 items.
More information on Type A and Type B personalities can be found HERE.
Use the link below to download the instructions for creating your online survey using Survey Gorilla. We will discuss the final product, grading, etc. as we go. Keep in mind that this is a work in progress, so bear with me.
Click the image below to watch a performance by Karen Carpenter, of the 70s brother-sister pop group "The Carpenters," singing one of the songs that made her famous. The Carpenters shot to stardom in the mid 1970s with such hits as "Rainy Days and Mondays," "We've Only Just Begun," and "Close to You." She has been cited as a musical influence by Madonna, Pat Benatar, Shania Twain, K.D. Lang, Jewel, and many others.
Karen became famous later in her life for something far less desirable than her beautiful singing voice - an eating disorder called Anorexia Nervosa.
Although most of you likely know quite a bit about the disorder, most people at the time could not imagine why a person would simply starve herself. CLICK HERE to read more about this and other such devastating eating disorders, as well as how to recognize the signs.
Karen managed to start down the path of battling her disorder, but unfortunately, did not survive the disease. Her seriously damaged heart was simply too weakened, and she died of heart failure on February 4th, 1983. She was 33 years old.
I'm pleased to announce that my long-awaited podcast has finally aired. Each week, my co-host Amanda DeVaus (from the Australian Skeptics) will cover a different topic from science or skepticism, and feature interviews from famous scientists, authors, critical thinkers, etc.
NOW AVAILABLE in the iTunes store! Just search for "ShelShocked," then subscribe so that episodes will download automatically each week FREE.
CLICK HERE to join our Facebook fan page where each new episode will post, and related information can be found.
In addition, you can listen to (or download) episodes directly from my website HERE.
In October of 2009, The Ohlone College Psychology Club hosted a discussion with Kim Peek, the man who was the inspiration for Dustin Hoffman's character in the movie "Rain Man." Although the film portrayed a man with Autism, Kim did not fit that classification. He had some unusual differences, including agenesis of the corpus collosum and structural damage from several childhood strokes. Scientists do not yet understand how these may have related to his abilities, but it's clear that Kim's memory was unsurpassed. One of only 50 known MegaSavants in the entire world, he read at lightening speed, and retained about 98% of what he read, saw, or heard. He amassed a vast encyclopedia-like database of knowledge that would fill several hard drives - thus his nickname "Kimpedia."
Kim passed away from complications due to pneumonia on December 19th, 2009. I, for one, felt honored to have gotten the opportunity to know someone with such an extraordinary brain. The first time I met Kim, I introduced myself and joked, "Now, don't forget me." He smiled, and I was treated to one of Kim's trademark hugs. As we chatted, Kim asked for my address, and then began to recite local roads and their cross-streets from the venue to my house (Kim had memorized all of the streets and highways in the United States), and ended with one of his pat phrases, "You have been made known like a man of greatness and love." But he then added, "And your name is Sheldon." Everyone around laughed and applauded, including Kim.
Have you ever wished for a better memory? I think it's a very common (perhaps ubiquitous) human desire. Many might even go so far as to envy those who have "perfect recall," the ability to store and retrieve nearly every experience, fact, thought, etc.
As with many such cases, however, the reality of perfect recall, often a result of Hyperthymesia, is far from the rosy picture many of us imagine. The case of Jill Price (The Woman Who Can't Forget) illustrates this quite well. Studied by researchers for years, always under a pseudonym, Price has marveled memory specialists with her ability to recite dates and facts down to the smallest detail, with little or no error. She even corrects entries in encyclopedias and other authoritative sources.
CLICK HERE to read a report about this fascinating woman, and watch the embedded video for additional details about how this "gift" can also carry a "curse."
Click the video below to watch a short documentary about Jill and her life history.
NEW POLICY: Students who bring a laptop to class to take notes may no longer sit in the back row. It has become obvious that some are doing this to avoid allowing other students to look over their shoulder and see that they are using their computers for things other than taking notes.
Although most of you still rely upon the tried-and-true method of taking notes by hand (a method that research shows to be superior for retention and deep processing), some opt for bringing a laptop to class instead.
I have no policy against the use of laptops, and leave it to each student to decide the best method for him or her to use. I do, however, reserve the right to request that students respect me enough to use their computer for note taking only. An 18-year career in teaching, combined with several advanced degrees in the Behavior Sciences, gives me a better-than-average capacity to recognize when students are not actually taking notes. Lack of eye contact for prolonged periods, occasional smirks or untimely laughter while looking at their screens, or a general non-responsiveness during times in my lecture that other students are reacting, are just a few of the cues that tell me a student is instant messaging, checking her/his Facebook account, or even watching videos (I caught one student watching Netflix in class with the subtitles turned on, and couldn't help wondering why the hell she even bothered to come to class!).
So please take note (pun intended). If you choose to bring and use a laptop in my class, use it to take notes not to childishly "get away with" doing something else.
Thank you for your cooperation, and I'll see you in class.
If you aren't already familiar with Jo Frost (the "Supernanny"), she's a reality show phenomenon who demonstrates effective child rearing techniques on her weekly show on ABC. Utilizing the best in child psychology, Jo shows parents how to change their children's behavior by consistent use of various Operant Conditioning principles.
Watch the video below to see how the "Naughty Spot" is used to punish children when they engage in unacceptable behavior. Such techniques are exponentially more effective in the long term than using corporal punishment (aka, spanking, slapping, etc.), and create none of the unwanted side effects such as an increase in violence.
If solid empirical evidence is more your style, CLICK HERE to read the recent findings by Tulane University researchers. Their study of 2500 children is the largest and most conclusive yet that spanking, although effective in the moment, leads to serious issues such as violence and cognitive deficits.
Proponents -- who don't believe in (and obviously do not understand) Darwin's theory of Evolution by Natural Selection -- argue that complex organs cannot work if even a small part of them is missing or nonfunctioning, so there can be no "gradual evolution" of these organs, thus proving that they were created all at once by a "creator."
A favorite example of such an "irreducibly complex" organ is the human eye. The argument here is that the eye is so complex that, without a single part (the lens, and retina, etc.), it doesn't work. Therefore, the eye could not have evolved in gradual stages. "What good is half an eye?" they ask.
Click on the video below to see an explanation of how eyes likely developed step by step, through a series of gradual adaptations in numerous species. It turns out, the answer to that question is, "Exactly half as good as a normal eye!" : )
In July of 2012, I was honored to join stage mentalist Mark Edward, and a band of merry skeptics in Las Vegas for a protest of Sylvia Browne. In case you don't know here, Sylvia has made millions selling the idea that she's "psychic," is able to talk to angels, and all sorts of other nonsense. Her appearances on the Montel Williams Show have made her a household name to many in the world of woo-woo, and a subject of ridicule and criticism in the world of critical thinking.
Click the link below to enjoy some of the highlights of the day's protest. Although I'm still sickened to think that people pay her $750 for a 20 minute phone call (during which she chain smokes, and rambles in a raspy voice about your guardian angels, your name in a past life, etc.), I slept a bit better that night knowing that we'd had some small part in spreading the truth about her, and encouraging people to be skeptical.
In a recent discussion of gender norms, I was challenged on my statement that treatment of women in the Middle East is horrifying and barbaric. It was one of those challenges that sounds as if it has substance, but is really only a complaint. It went something like, "The Middle East is a large area, with many countries and cultures..." a statement so obvious that it's easy to imagine that the real message was, "I'm offended that you pointed out something negative about that region, so I'll paint you as overstating the problem."
While it's true that the term "the Middle East" is somewhat colloquial, in modern terminology it includes the countries of Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq (with its autonomous Kurdistan), Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. However, I stand by my statement about the unequal and horrifying treatment of women in these countries. In NONE of them are women afforded equal rights with men, and in many women face regular abuse, oppression, and violence.
Western news receives regular reports of abuses against women, even including being beheaded as punishment for unproven criminal charges (following hasty, and clearly biased legal procedures at best).
Women in many of these countries are subject to "perpetual minorship" status, meaning that they must receive permission from male relatives (even their own young children!) before they can work, travel, study, marry, or even access health care. A recent report ranked 22 countries in the Arab world by the their level of unfair treatment of women, and the details are bleak and terrifying.
Women in these countries are often banned from voting (although some have afforded that right of late, they often still must receive permission from male family members to participate in voting and government), prevented accessing education, and have double the rate of illiteracy of their male counterparts. Perhaps most alarming, some countries in the Middle East regularly practice "female genital mutilation," a barbaric cultural practice in which young girls have their clitoris and other parts of their genitals cut away (sometimes in extremely unhygienic conditions) to control their sexuality. Even in the relatively liberal country of Egypt, a recent study by UNICEF found that over 97% of girls between ages 15 and 49 had undergone this horrible procedure, with Palestine, Iraq, Jordan, Yemen, and Oman also engaging in the practice.
Although the news of late has a few small areas where improvement can be seen (such as a few countries where women are allowed to vote, and a few where they are now free to move about their own country without permission or harassment), the overall picture leaves anyone with a conscience wondering when these countries will choose to join us in the 21st century, or at least leave behind their Bronze Age mentality.
Please click the appropriate link below to download your syllabus. I teach a lot of classes, and multiple sections of some, so make sure that you dowload and save only the syllabus for the class that you have registered for. Each syllabus has information (room numbers, test dates, etc.) that is specific to YOUR class. These syllabi will remain on my blog for the entire semester.
Moreover, if I mention a schedule change in class (they're rare, but they are sometimes unavoidable), or if I happen to miss a class due to illness, it is your responsibility to check back here to see if a revised version of your syllabus has been posted.
The primary goal in this assignment is to "provoke" your classmates to learn, process, and utilize the material in the chapter. You may do this by numerous methods of your own choosing, including lecture, in-class assignments, formal or informal quizzing, memorization exercises, handouts, etc. Whatever method(s) you choose will be up to you as individuals and as a group. I choose this "Collaborative Learning" format because 1) you are adult students who do not need to be spoon-fed the material, and 2) my experience is that it is more entertaining and effective than a straight lecture format.
Sadly, Ohlone College does not currently offer even a SINGLE course in "Queer Theory," nor do we thoroughly review the contributions of gay men and women in our History curriculum (the way such is, thankfully, done for Chicano and African American History).
Until this is done (and as I encourage the college to correct this omission), I offer the following information for my students.
1. BIOLOGY OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION: Research on the biological evidence for Sexual Orientation, and a specific reference to the work of Simon LeVay, and to his website where you'll find a good SUMMARY of the biological research to-date.
2. GAY RIGHTS: An explanation of the Stonewall Riots, an incident in 1969 that many view as the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement. (Keep in mind that such violent outbursts share much in common with other riots based in civil rights, namely severe oppression over long periods, a history of violence perpetrated upon the group, as well as a general feeling of institutionalized hatred toward the group.)
3. GAY PRIDE PARADE: The history of the Gay Pride Parade, the major symbol of the end of oppression of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) individuals. (Many ask why such "flamboyance" is shown at these events, and I have two answers as a Social Scientist. First, media coverage is usually focused on the "best story or picture," and results in a skewed image of the folks who usually attend. Second, like Mardi Gras and Carnival [in Rio de Janeiro], participants like to be as outrageous as possible to enhance the fun; however, such portrayals hardly represent the entire population they come from.)
6. TOLERANCE: Please CLICK HERE to be taken to some recent research on the correlation between familiarity with gay people and greater tolerance for differing sexual orientations.
The James Randi Educational Foundation recently announced the release of a FREE e-book entitled, "Magic in the Classroom - Using Extraordinary Claims to Teach Critical Thinking." I'm proud to say that three of its 28 chapters were written by me (so you know they're good!).
In each section, a topic is introduced along with guidance in encouraging rational answers to complex issues. These include paranormal events, psychic powers, Creationism, pseudoscience, and other topic, accompanied with professional references for supporting the author's claims.
CLICK HERE to visit the download page where you'll find copies for iPad, Kindle, and PDF.
A recent discussion in some of my classes led me to look further for sources to answer some questions my students brought up. In the search, I was reminded of V. S. Ramachandran's amazing works (which see). Although Dr Ramachandran specializes in neurology, don't let that put you off. He writes in the style of Oliver Sacks (one of his biggest fans!), and Richard Dawkins (who wrote the forward in one of his books), making the information accessible to the professional and layperson, alike. My advice is to purchase only ONE of these books. They have a great deal of similar content, so you won't get much more if you buy them both.
One of my favorite topics in the field of psychology is the true story of an attempt by neurologist Oliver Sacks to help people suffering from a never-before-seen disease called Encephalitis Lethargica (Sleepy Sickness).
Sacks' book about this, "Awakenings," quickly became a best seller and was later made into a motion picture by the same title (with some liberties taken in the subplots) starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro.
and a number of other books, each of which chronicles true stories of people with bizarre and interesting neurological disorders. Rather than presenting his patients' stories as "freak shows," Sacks details each with compassion and respect, while also providing a glimpse into the fascinating and mind-boggling complexities of the human brain.
Watch an interview with Dr. Sacks below (fully captioned):
For a more complete listing of Sacks' books as well as some information on his personal and professional life, click here.
As many of you may know, we have a thriving Psychology Club here at Ohlone College. One of the most visible and active clubs on campus, the Psychology Club regularly hosts guest speakers, organizes off-campus field trips, has regular fund raisers, and engages in regular discussions related to the field of psychology.
Our meetings are held every Tuessday, from 3:15- 4:15 pm.
We meet in Room 7107 (in the new Student Services Building).
Please join our Facebook page (see sidebar on this blog) for more info and updates.
As you already know, your Course Paper is to be constructed using peer-reviewed journal articles only as your scientific source material. To that end, please use the Ohlone Library's databases to find these. Click the link below to open this blog post and follow the instructions:
We are going to die. And that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born.
The potential people who could have been here in my place, but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton.
We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.
Spring Semester text books for my classes are shown below. If you use the ISBN displayed here, you can be certain that you're purchasing the exact book I am teaching from.
This information is also available in the Ohlone College Bookstore on campus, with classes organized in the store by department, instructor, and course. Just ask any of the floor staff to help you find the section marked "Psychology," and find the book(s) with my name on the tag.
Please download and complete the Student Data Sheet below, then bring it to class next time we meet.
You can insert a picture of yourself and then print it out on the sheet, or just staple a picture to the sheet if that's easier. Please make sure it's one that allows me to recognize you (no big sun glasses, artistic turns of the head, etc.). I'm using these to get to know my students by name and face, in the hope that the information will help me adjust my teaching to students' needs and backgrounds.
I have included the document below in two different file types, due to complaints from students who do not yet have Microsoft Office 2010.
Some of the most dedicated and underappreciated parents on the planet are those whose children have been diagnosed with Autism, a pervasive spectrum disorder that presents varying degrees of cognitive, emotional, and developmental problems beginning in childhood.Although Autism is not likely to have a single cause, scientists are hard at work trying to determine its etiology.As yet, very little is known. Working to uncover more information about what might contribute to its prevalence is important, as are the development of effective therapies to help autistic children and their parents deal with the struggles of daily life.
In the past several years, an increasingly vocal minority of well meaning parents has begun focusing attention on, of all things, childhood vaccinations, creating a classic (albeit intractable) Correlation vs. Causation scenario that threatens the lives of literally millions of children in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
Over the past 100 years, American football has grown from a little known sport played on ivy league campuses, to a multi-billion dollar industry with thousands of employees. The NFL is one of the largest employers in the nation, and carries with it a terrible secret that has only recently come to light. Concussions. And the picture is far worse than you ever imagined.
CLICK HERE to watch an important PBS documentary entitled "League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis." In it, doctors, former sports reporters, and former NFL players, and the wives of former players dicuss the toll the sport has taken on the health and safety of thousands of young men, sending many to an early grave. Until recently the NFL has taken great pains, and spent millions in payoffs and lawyer fees, in an attempt to deny and/or conver up just how bad the problem is.
Here's hoping the scientific information will continue to be discussed so that measures can be taken to at least make the sport less dangerous for those who choose to play it.
For millions of people, the pennacle of charity and selflessness can be found in the life of an Albanian nun named Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, more commonly known as Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
In the 1980s, an investigation by author Christopher Hitchens revealed a more complex woman behind this myth. From a dubius beginning with stories of "miracles" that could more appropriately be attributed to Kodak film, to financial donations from financial scam artists, and the sad truth that Mother Teresa's mission was never about relieving suffering, but instead was a concerted effort to fight against the use of contraception and access to abortion (as well as building more convents full of nuns to convert people to Catholicism), Hitchens' story is as both illuminating and shocking.
Click the video below to watch a short documentary from the BBC that summarizes Hitchens' writings on the subject.
I see plenty of horrible blog posts and news reports about people rejecting their children after they come out as LGBT, and far too often such people use their religious beliefs to justify his most "ungodly" of actions.
So imagine my surprise (and joy) when someone sent me THIS ARTICLE today about a North Carolina pastor who wrote a blog post about what he would do if one of his children grew up to be gay or Trans! How very refreshing it was...and how very typical that he's suffering a huge backlash, even by some in his own congregation. Think about this for a moment. This guy wrote a blog post about LOVING and ACCEPTING his own children, and he got hatred and vitriol for it...by his own congregation! We live in a very disappointing world...but people like Pastor Pavlovitz keep me encouraged that it's getting better all the time.
I'm happy to report that Operation Bumblebee (San Jose) was a rousing success. Several of us to took part have written up articles about the experience, and some are already taking part in podcast interviews to spread the word. In addition to tricking self-described psychic Chip Coffey into connecting with our fake dead relatives, we also hoped to spark skeptical activism in our community. When you have a moment, click the link below to read (or listen to) my take on the evening. It was an emotionally exhausting experience, but very gratifying, nonetheless.
CLICK HERE to read a report of the evening's events (also available in audio format on that page). We have some interest from several major publications and a TV show, and I'll keep you posted about those as they develop.
Many of you laughed when I mentioned the Flat Earth Society in class (and it is, indeed, laughable). But believe me, I'm not kidding. There are litereally thousands of otherwise normal, everyday folks around the world who believe that our planet is flat.
This view of the world is ancient, and derives from staggering ignorance. Even Christopher Columbus knew that the world was a sphere (regardless of the children's tale that says otherwise). To find people who believed this, you'd have to go back much further than the 1400s. In fact, it was the Greek philosopher Pythagoras who first proposed a spherical Earth in the 6th century (the 500s)!
CLICK HERE to read a report about the Flat Earthers and their ridiculous beliefs. Then, consider what other beliefs people hold (homophobia, Creationism, sexism, anti-GMO, racial superiority, vaccine denial), as well as any that you yourself may hold that aren't supported by the facts.