June 2016 Newsletter

The discussion topic for this month: “Street Epistemology”
Presented by Kathleen O’Conner

Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from mere opinion. What is the most productive way for atheists to converse with believers about matters of faith? Should we even try? street-epistemologyThis is a topic that was suggested by an episode of Seth Andrews’ The Thinking Atheist in which Seth interviews Anthony Magnabosco who is an advocate (one of many) of ‘street epistemology’. Magnabosco interviews random people on the street about their religious beliefs with the goal of gently leading the respondent to seriously examine the roots of their beliefs while advancing the atheist/rationalist world view.

Editorial opinions and story selection do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the leadership or members of DS&A.

If you have an item that you would like to see included in the next newsletter, please send the link and your comments to larrybollinger@comcast.net

 Next general meeting, Wednesday June 15

Meetings are at Irish Embassy, 900 Main Street Durango

Dinner, for those interested, from 5:30PM.  Discussion starts at 6:30


There are numerous YouTube videos which demonstrate this reverse-Christian apologetics in action. Here is a link to a 10 minute video of Magnabosco engaging strangers on the street in conversations about religious belief:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8LYTy4DmEs

Searching ‘street epistemology’ on YouTube will reveal dozens of related videos.street epistemology with url

In preparation for our discussion, it may be useful for you to listen to The Thinking Atheist segment…go here:  http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/podcast/can-i-talk-you-out-of-your-faith

If you are not familiar with The Thinking Atheist, you may enjoy reviewing the archived past episodes that are available here:   http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/podcast

These podcasts make an excellent background for times when you are performing mundane household chores!






Book Club for July



Global Climate Change….Not So Much?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/heres-something-you-didnt-know-about-a-cloudy-day/2016/05/27/f3cdde1a-22b3-11e6-8690-f14ca9de2972_story.html      A discovery about how clouds form may scale back some of the more dire predictions about temperature increases caused by man-made global warming.NOAA_CLOUDS-04bf7

That’s because it implies that a key assumption for making such predictions is a bit off.

“What this will do is slightly reduce and sharpen the projections for temperature during the 21st century,” said researcher Jasper Kirkby.

Nonetheless, he added, “we are definitely warming the planet.”


Do CERN Experiments Point To Cosmic Rays As Source of Global Warming?

https://www.skepticalscience.com/print.php?r=386    Well, maybe…but the story is more complicated. Recent CERN experiments point to the possibility that cosmic-rays (in combination with gases emitted from trees) cause cloud formation. More clouds = less solar radiation reaching the Earth = moderating force against global temperature increases (see above).

cern-cloudsConversely, if clouds were prevented from forming there would be greater solar radiation reaching Earth’s surface which might cause temperature increases independent of human contributed ‘greenhouse gases’.

There is a climate skeptic hypothesis that goes like this: The solar magnetic field is getting stronger which is blocking cosmic rays from reaching Earth…this means that clouds, hypothetically seeded by cosmic rays, would not form…which means that more sunlight, normally blocked by clouds, reaches the Earth’s surface resulting in increasing temperatures…meaning that cosmic rays, not human activity, are causing global warming. The only problem with this hypothesis is that the solar magnetic field and the quantity of cosmic rays reaching Earth have remained flat for the past 50 years. Jasper Kirkby, the CERN scientist who conducted experiments on cosmic rays says: “At the moment, it actually says nothing about a possible cosmic-ray effect on clouds and climate…but it’s an important first step.”
Here is some further background if you are interested    http://phys.org/news/2013-10-cern-cloud-climate.html1-earth





Bill Nye: Why I Choose to Challenge Climate Change Deniers

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-nye/why-i-choose-to-challenge_b_10048224.html    “…Since the presentation of the facts and science concerning global warming and climate change have been heretofore insufficient to motivate enough of us voters, I am now challenging the deniers directly. bill nyeBy showing enough people the techniques and ignorance of the deniers, I believe we can make warming and climate change a campaign issue, which will swing the upcoming U.S. presidential election in favor of a candidate who is not out of touch with our worldwide climate situation…”



Larry Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America:‘Bullet Box’ is an Option If Ballot Box Fails


ammo-box“….there are those who believe the ultimate purpose of the Second Amendment is to keep revolutionary violence on the table as a fallback plan if in their view “essential rights” are threatened, including gun rights themselves….”



Atheists Gather at the Mall in D.C.


http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/02/politics/atheist-reason-rally/reason rally

Atheists and free-thinkers gathered June 4th at the Mall four years after the first ‘Reason Rally’. Billed as a ‘voter block party’, the rally attracted fewer people than organizers had hoped for: 15,000-20,000 people instead of the projected 30,000 participants. The stated goal of the event was to demonstrate that the estimated 20-25% of Americans who are non-believers are a political force to be reckoned with.  http://religionnews.com/2016/06/01/politicians-ignore-reason-rally-at-their-peril/impeach god

Lawrence Krauss, Lewis Black, Bill Nye and the Wu Tang Clan were among those featured at the rally.

Are you registered to vote in the upcoming Presidential election?





Oh, God! Mel Is Back With Passion of the Christ 2


Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the theatre, Mel Gibson returns with another film aimed squarely at the lucrative evangelical audience. The gory splatter-fest, Passion of the Christ 1, was the third highest grossing film in 2004 after Shrek 2 and Spider Man 2.


  And now, your moment of Dancing Bug

Tom the Dancing Bug 1289 chagrin falls 17 - transgender

Tom the Dancing Bug is reprinted in the Durango Skeptics and Atheists Newsletter with the permission of its creator, Reuben Bolling.  See more TtDB cartoons at http://www.gocomics.com/tomthedancingbug.

Help support Reuben Bolling’s “Inner Hive”