Matt’s debates and podcasts and upcoming schedule…

So, I’ve been busy.

I did a debate in Frisco, TX at the NTSSC. JT Eberhard and I teamed up against John Ferrer and Sloan Lee. That video is now up here:

I couldn’t have asked for a better partner or been more pleased about the heavy lifting he did. It made room for my meta-level strategy and sermonizing. :)

I also did a debate in Binghamton, NY against Jay Lucas. That video is up here (for now, only the left channel is working):

Then I spoke at the Freethought Fest in Madison, WI. No video yet, but I had a great time!

Last week, I served as the officiant in a wedding for some friends of mine and then I ran off and got re-elected as President of the ACA.

This week, we’re going to try to do a Non-Prophets via Google+ hangout. No word yet on whether we’ll broadcast it…but there’s a lot to talk about.

Last night, I was fortunate to sit in as a guest on the Cognitive Dissonance podcast.

Next week, I’ll be at the Imagine No Religion 2 conference in Kamloops, British Columbia. I’m giving a talk and doing a team debate with Chris DiCarlo.

Because Photoshop is more fun than doing responsible adult stuff

With the recent anti-gay vote in North Carolina, followed by Obama’s belated “sure, why not?” pronouncement of same-sex marriage acceptability, a number of Christians are doubling down on the hate, and this photo of a billboard is making the rounds on Facebook today.

Being white with perfect teeth is presumably optional.

Wag that I am (check my name), I couldn’t resist firing up Photoshop to create some of my own variants of the message. (Politically incorrect yet bluntly accurate interpretations of scripture and religious patriarchalism below the fold.)
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Climate change “skeptics” in the creationist role

We received an email from a relatively new atheist who is still coming to grips with various science-related issues now that he’s shed his theism.  He wrote:

After de-converting I’ve started reassessing some long held political beliefs that were based on my old religious beliefs. I’ve found that when I look at things from a skeptical point-of-view it is much easier to come to a rational political position than if I just accept things on faith or along party lines. Unfortunately I might be looking at things a little too skeptically. Here’s my current dilemma:

I’ve been studying the merits of accepting the concept of global warming. I am not a scientist, so I have to base my decision on the information that is available to me, which is usually dumbed down for mass consumption. I have done quite a bit of research outside of news articles, but I couldn’t really get far without hitting the political side of things. Unfortunately, I see way too many logical loopholes in the presentation; especially the Al Gore/liberal democrat presentation, which to be honest, sounds like it’s based on religious indoctrination.

It’s taken me quite a while to compose a reply, but the response touched on quite a lot of useful concepts about scientific claims, peer review, how laymen learn about complex scientific issues, and the political tactics of creationists.  While this isn’t always directly related to atheism, it’s one of those issues that comes up from time to time from atheist viewers, and it’s worth a discussion.

The rest of his letter, as well as my response, is below.

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Thoughts on the SCA’s new Executive Director

For those who aren’t aware, the Secular Coalition for America represents 11 member groups and it serves as the lobbyists for the secular community. I’ve been a vocal supporter of the SCA (and many of their member organizations) for years.SCA logo

A few days ago, they announced their new Executive Director and the secular community got very excited. Unfortunately, most of this excitement was rather negative. You see, the new Executive Director is Edwina Rogers, a republican lobbyist with a history that reads more like someone we’d be working against, than with. [Read more…]

The structure of social revolutions, part 1

As I see it, atheism as a movement is about two things.  First, it’s about skepticism and the advancement of knowledge free of dogma.  Second, it’s about achieving social change.  We want to remove the stigma of atheism, allowing atheists to be open and honest about their non-belief while minimizing fear of prejudice and hostility against them.

Speaking as someone actively involved with atheist visibility, I know that it can be really frustrating when it seems like progress is not happening.  In fact, people commonly write us to ask, “Why do you bother?  It’s not like you’re going to turn Christians into atheists.”

Social progress always happens slowly, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the possibility of long term change, and even reasons to believe that you might have a small part to play as an instrument of that change.  In this post and the planned follow-up, I want to talk a bit about taking a big picture perspective on social change.

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Racial Profiling – a data mining perspective (WARNING: WONKY)

Sam Harris posted a piece called “In Defense of Profiling.”  PZ Myers posted a response explaining why that’s a terrible idea.

In general it should go without saying that I agree with PZ, unless stated otherwise.  I just want to add a little something from the perspective of a computer science nerd whose been around a bit with the notion of data mining.  I also want to prove that I didn’t go to grad school for nothing.  (It cost me thousands!  <drum fill>)

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