Center for Inquiry


Cause & Effect - The Center for Inquiry Newsletter

Issue #105 — May 16, 2018

Cause & Effect is the biweekly newsletter of the Center for Inquiry community, covering the wide range of work that you help make possible. Become a member today!

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The Top Stories


Subsidizing Discrimination One Day, Legitimizing Pseudoscience the Next


The Trump administration has been particularly busy over the past few weeks in its efforts to breach the wall of separation between church and state and throwing LGBTQ and nonreligious Americans under the bus, all while bestowing legitimacy on medical pseudoscience.

A new version of the problematic “faith-based initiatives” office opens the door for religious groups to take in federal funds without serving the public equally, and a new version of the president’s physical fitness council has been weakened with the inclusion of a snake oil salesman.




Rediscover the Great Agnostic for Ingersoll Museum’s 25th Year

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This Memorial Day weekend the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum in Dresden, New York opens for its 25th anniversary season. Visitors to New York's Finger Lakes region can journey through one of America's most transformative eras through the eyes and voice of “the Great Agnostic,” the nineteenth century's most popular, erudite, and electric public speaker.

There’s a lot more to learn about Ingersoll and the museum in the latest issue of Free Inquiry magazine, with contributions from Susan Jacoby, Sally Roesch Wagner, and Free Inquiry editor and Ingersoll Museum director Tom Flynn. The June/July issue also includes pieces from Sarah Haider on Facebook and censorship, Russell Blackford on human cloning, James A. Haught on America’s demographic “secular surge,” and much more.

Plus: The museum’s 25th year will also be commemorated with a special conference, the Ingersoll Museum Silver Anniversary Celebration, August 18 and 19.





Mike Pence Makes Stuff Up about the “Rise” of Faith

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"Faith in America is rising again because President Trump and our entire administration have been advancing the very principles that you learned here in the halls of Hillsdale College." So said Vice President Mike Pence in his commencement address to the Christian school. "Facts are facts. Faith is rising across America," declared Pence, asserting, "The percentage of Americans who live out their religion on a weekly basis ... has remained remarkably consistent over the decades..."

Of course, the opposite is true: belief is on the decline and the portion of Americans that are religiously unaffiliated is going up. This week, CFI’s Nick Little and Jason Lemieux corrected the vice president’s mistakes, because facts are indeed facts.





TIES Update: Morning Zoo


The Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES), a program of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, gives middle school teachers the tools they need to effectively teach evolution and answer its critics.

Two new workshops have been announced, both held in states that are experiencing TIES for the first time!

  • June 2, 2018: Workshop at the 2018 Oklahoma Science Teacher Conference: 3D Science, taking place at University of Central Oklahoma in Edmund and presented by Sephali Ray.

  • October 9, 2018: TIES goes to the zoo! It’s a full-day professional development workshop at the Birmingham Zoo in Birmingham, Alabama, presented by zoo educator Kathy Fournier and Dr. Jason Heaton, paleontologist and professor at Birmingham Southern College.

Plus: Last week Stephanie Keep of the National Center for Science Education presented an online TIES workshop discussing common classroom evolution misconceptions.



CSICon 2018: Bring Your Big Ideas to Vegas


This year’s CSICon is going to be big. Taking place October 18–21 in Las Vegas, there will be big stars, a big venue, big fun, and of course, big ideas. CSICon 2018 is continuing the “Sunday Morning Papers” tradition, recognizing new voices and new ideas by showcasing them in the spotlight of the CSICon stage. If you think you have a big idea worth sharing with a crowd of skeptics, the call for papers is now! Click here for all you need to know to apply. The deadline for submission is August 20.

CSICon 2018 will feature luminaries such as Stephen Fry, beloved writer, performer, and filmmaker; Steven Pinker, one of the world’s most revered intellectuals; Richard Dawkins, the scientist who opened up the wonders of evolution to the world and helped lead a movement for science and reason; and the amazing James Randi, a founding father of the skeptic movement making his triumphant return.

And that’s not nearly all. Register now, and click the link below to learn more.





See Richard Dawkins with Carolyn Porco on Tour


Our own Richard Dawkins will be appearing at two very special live events: October 28 in Dallas and October 30 in Nashville. At both events, Richard will be joined live onstage for a conversation with the brilliant Carolyn Porco.

A world-renowned planetary scientist and science communicator, Carolyn Porco led the imaging science team for the Cassini mission to Saturn, a mission that provided humanity with some of the most awe-inspiring images ever seen. It ended only last year when the spacecraft made several passes through the rings of Saturn, completing its thirteen-year mission by burning up in Saturn’s atmosphere. She was also part of the imaging teams for the Voyager missions of the 1980s and the recent New Horizons mission to Pluto.

Don’t miss this meeting of these great minds. Tickets are available now.




Latest Hot Takes and Longreads


  • CFI’s video series Reasonable Talk is bedeviled with a presentation by Lucien Greaves, cofounder and spokesperson for the Satanic Temple. Greaves came to CFI headquarters in Amherst to discuss the temple’s campaign to expose the malpractice and pseudoscience that resulted in “Satanic panics” over imaginary ritual abuse.

  • In an original Spanish language piece, Luis Alfonso Gámez evaluates the claims of a book on the Roswell incident of 1947 that asserts that the crashed aircraft was not a balloon nor aliens but "human guinea pigs" who were subject to the experimentation of Joseph Stalin and Nazi scientist Josef Mengele. Gámez writes, "Comunistas, nazis y platillos volantes, ¿se puede pedir más?"

  • Kenny Biddle dissects the claims of a Bigfoot sighting in New Jersey and finds more fault in the reporting than in the witness's claims themselves, which forced a narrative that someone believed they’d actually seen the creature.
  • Kylie Sturgess interviews Alom Shaha, author of a new book of science experiments for kids that emphasizes investigation over following instructions, Mr. Shaha’s Recipes for Wonder.

  • Susan Gerbic interviews conspiracy theory expert Joseph Uscinski, discussing how conspiracy theories originate from “a battle between insiders and outsiders over truth.”
  • Benjamin Radford brings the skeptical perspective to two problematic examples of reporting, taking the news media to task for lumping the Cosby conviction in with the #MeToo movement, as well as for misreporting on a study for clickbait, resulting in false headlines like “Men Think They’re Smarter Than Women in College Experiment.”

Don’t forget to keep up with news relevant to skeptics and seculars, peppered with dumb jokes, every weekday with The Morning Heresy.


Upcoming CFI Events


CFI Austin

CFI Long Island


CFI Michigan

CFI Northeast Ohio

CFI Western New York

  • June 1: Special screening of Test of Faith, a film produced by CFI’s own Tom Flynn, based on his script and filmed in ... 1983! Only now seeing the light of day, don’t miss the apocalyptic epic that’s been a “guilty secret” for thirty-five years!


Thank you!

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Cause & Effect: The Center for Inquiry Newsletter is edited by Paul Fidalgo, Center for Inquiry communications director. 

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at 


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