The Anti-Vaxx Movement: Where Pseudoscience Meets Ableism — My Latest Paste Magazine Article

In 2015, Sesame Street announced they were introducing a new character with autism named Julia. She first appeared in the 2016 digital storybook “We’re Amazing, 1, 2, 3!” and made her official television debut on April 10th of this year. While many believe Julia will help autistic children feel less alone, some aren’t too pleased. According to the anti-vaxx website Natural News, “The rollout of autistic Julia is Sesame Street’s attempt to “normalize” vaccine injuries and depict those victimized by vaccines as happy, ‘amazing’ children rather than admitting the truth that vaccines cause autism in some children and we should therefore make vaccines safer and less frequent to save those children from a lifetime of neurological damage.” The article further claims that Elmo is “exploited as a literal puppet by the vaccine industry to push a pro-vaccine message” using “social engineering propaganda.” With its debunked claims and disturbing rhetoric, Natural News sums up why the anti-vaxx movement is dangerous: it’s based on both pseudoscience and ableism.

Read the rest here.

Is the March for Science “Playing Identity Politics?”–My latest for Paste Magazine

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In the wake of fake news and President Trump’s anti-science policies, organizers announced the March for Science, which will be held on April 22, 2017. “The March for Science demonstrates our passion for science and sounds a call to support and safeguard the scientific community,” the official website states. “It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted.” Like the successful Women’s March back in January—which had an estimated 4,000,000 attendees nationwide—the March for Science will be held in Washington, DC, along with many other satellite marches worldwide.

Unfortunately, also like the Women’s March, the March for Science is facing controversy over diversity.

Michael Shermer, founder of The Skeptic Society, recently voiced opposition to the March for Science’s diversity principles on Twitter. “By making the March for Science political,” he tweeted, “it will be less inclusive & effective [because] ‘social justice’ means different things to people.” Shermer then wrote a blog post further explaining his position, claiming that society has made a lot of progress “since the 1960s … to correct the biases of the past and open the doors to more people in more fields,” including science. Therefore, as Shermer recently tweeted, the March for Science’s emphasis on diverse representation is “identity politics defining who participates in science. Science is for all.”

“He’s totally missing the point if you ask me,” says ecologist Dr. Kaberi Kar Gupta. She is the Principal Scientist for the Urban Slender Loris Project, which aims to educate people about urban biodiversity and conservation by studying the effects of urban life on slender lorises in Bangalore. According to Kar Gupta, there is still a lack of women and people of color in science because of the way science is taught in schools. “The way we teach science with this very type of fixed mindset that science is not for everybody and you have to be smart enough to do science,” she says. “By saying that, we are actually chasing the students away or making students go away from science instead of being interested in science.”

Click here to read the rest.

Bi Any Means Podcast #94: Humanist Service Corps with Conor Robinson

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My guest for today is Conor Robinson, program director of Foundation Beyond Belief and director of the Humanist Service Corps. The Humanist Service Corps is an international secular humanist volunteering program that services communities throughout the world. It started as Foundation Beyond Belief-sponsored yearlong international service trip called the Pathfinders Project, and from that experience came the Humanist Service Corps. So today we’re going to learn about everything they do, plus a little bit about Conor himself.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #94: Humanist Service Corps with Conor Robinson” on Spreaker.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #89: Women Beyond Belief with Karen Garst

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My guest for today is Karen Garst, author and editor of the book “Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life Without Religion.” She also blogs about feminism and atheism at FaithlessFeminist.com. Today we’re going to talk about her backstory, her book, and how religion hurts women.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #89: Women Beyond Belief with Karen Garst” on Spreaker.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #88: The Resist Podcast with Danielle Muscato

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Returning to the show today is Danielle Muscato. She’s a trans woman and an atheist activist who is starting a new podcast called The Resist Podcast, which is focused on social justice activism to fight back against Donald Trump, fascism, and the alt-right. So we’re gonna catch up with Danielle and find out what all she’s been doing lately.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #88: The Resist Podcast with Danielle Muscato” on Spreaker.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #87: Trans Rights, Inciting Incidents, and the PC Lie with Marissa McCool

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My guest for today is Marissa McCool. She’s the co-host of the Inciting Incident podcast, and is the author of several books, including her latest, “The PC Lie: How American Voters Decided I Don’t Matter.” Today we’re going to get to know Ris and all the great stuff she’s doing.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #87: Trans Rights, Inciting Incidents, and the PC Lie with Marissa McCool” on Spreaker.

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Are LGTBQ Rights Trump’s Next Target? – My Latest Article for The Humanist

During his first weeks in office, President Trump signed several executive orders for an Environmental Protection Agency media blackout, a ban on funding global organizations that either perform or mention abortion, and the now-infamous “Muslim ban.” Several in the LGBTQ community are worried that their rights are next on the list, especially after an anonymous White House official told the news site New Civil Rights Movement that Trump would overturn Obama’s 2014 anti-discrimination protections.

Last week, however, the White House released a statement assuring the public that Trump will keep Obama’s non-discrimination order intact. According to the statement:

President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community. President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election. The President is proud to have been the first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression.

While this may give some a sense of relief, it doesn’t negate the fact that the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) is still on the table.

Click here to read the rest

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Bi Any Means Podcast #85: The Hispanic Atheist with Luciano Gonzalez

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My guest for today is Luciano Gonzalez. According to his bio: “Luciano Gonzalez is a vocal atheist. He’s also Latin American. As a Latin American born in the United States, and raised in Latin America, he has had quite a lifetime of experience with the Church. By the time Luciano was halfway through his freshman year of college he had realized that he was an atheist. Shortly after realizing that he had gradually lost his belief (having been raised by Catholic Puerto Ricans, in North Carolina, Georgia, Honduras, Colombia, and Panama), he made the decision to become a vocal and open atheist, a decision which isn’t easy for many Latin Americans, especially given that he lived (and lives in) the Bible Belt. Luciano is a college student who is studying history at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He also runs the Honduras Report, a digital news group which translates news from Honduran sources (in Spanish) into English and presents them to 900+ people in Honduras, many of whom don’t speak Spanish, or aren’t native speakers and don’t feel comfortable with their level of Spanish who live in Honduras in places like Copan or Roatan. Luciano can be found on Facebook as The Hispanic Atheist and is a founder/administrator of the Secular Latino Alliance, a Facebook support group for Latinos who are no longer (or never were) religious and instead either don’t identify with any religious identity, or consider themselves someone who is irreligious. ” So today we’re gonna get to know Luciano and all that he’s doing.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #85: The Hispanic Atheist with Luciano Gonzalez” on Spreaker.

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Signal Boost: Two Conference Calls and Volunteer Opportunities from the AHA

Just want to mention three things the American Humanist Association is doing right now in the wake of Trump’s inauguration:

1). Tomorrow, January 29th, at 3 pm Eastern, Callie Wright and I will host a conference call on behalf of the LGBTQ Humanist Alliance for LGBTQ people to talk about how we’re feeling and what we’re concerned about now that Trump is our official new president. The number is 712-770-4010, and the access code is 484987.

2). On February 1st at 7:30 pm Eastern, the AHA will host a conference call about the Dakota Access pipeline. Desiree Kane will start the call by giving everyone updates on the situation there, and then there will be a Q and A session. Use the same number and access code as above.

3). The AHA is partnering with NARAL Pro-Choice America, Trans United Fund, and Showing Up for Racial Justice as part of its social justice initiative. If you want to help, contact Sincere Kirabo.

(As a personal aside, shortly after the election, Sincere told me the AHA received countless emails from people wanting to volunteer.)

The Biskeptical Podcast #17: WTF Are Identity Politics?

Just in time for Inauguration Day, today Morgan and I discuss identity politics. What the hell are they, and did they put Trump in the White House. Tune in to find out!

Listen to “The Biskeptical Podcast #17: WTF Are Identity Politics?” on Spreaker.

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