Durango Skeptics and Atheists NEWSLETTER MARCH 2017

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

If you have a news item that you would like to bring to the attention of our members, please send the link and your comments to larrybollinger@comcast.net

Thanks to members Laszlo Szuecs, Ernie O’Toole, and Marc Masor for contributing to this month’s newsletter!

“God is a comic playing to an audience that’s afraid to laugh”           – Voltaire (1694-1778)


Next general meeting:


Meetings are at Irish Embassy, 900 Main Street Durango

Dinner, for those interested, from 5:30PM.

Discussion starts at 6:30


The topic for this month’s group discussion: ‘Longevity’   I regret that I don’t have more information about this month’s discussion topic other than the title. Sorry!longevity

An Additional Discussion Topic?     Laszlo Szuecs wrote to say that he’d appreciate a fact-based discussion of the upcoming fluoride vote, noting that there is a surfeit of emotion driving the forces that oppose fluoridation of Durango’s drinking water.ßÜÞþ Since there are a number of medical professionals in our group, perhaps several of you might be willing to comment on this topic during the March meeting?




Book Club for APRIL 2017

“The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic”        Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1967)



An Evening With Richard Dawkins

(Contributed by Ernie O’Toole)  http://www.centerforinquiry.net/dawkinstour   Richard Dawkins will be appearing in Boulder CO on May 22, 2017. Tickets can be obtained at the above link. In addition to hearing him speak, there will be a VIP reception for 50 people prior to the presentation





How to Treat Trump Voters: Two Views

Trump Voters Are Not the Enemy  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/23/opinion/even-if-trump-is-the-enemy-his-voters-arent.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&_r=0  Nicholas Kristof tweeted, Yes! Democrats still too often sound patronizing when they speak of Trump voters, and it’s hard to recruit people you’re patronizing.”  NOTE: I hope you are able to access this article even if you are not a subscriber to the New York Times. (Maybe you’d consider taking out a digital subscription to the NYT?) Voting 2In case you are unable to see the whole article, this paragraph sums it up: “I understand the vehemence. Trump is a demagogue who vilifies and scapegoats refugees, Muslims, undocumented immigrants, racial minorities, who strikes me as a danger to our national security. By all means stand up to him, and point out his lies and incompetence. But let’s be careful about blanket judgments.” 

Empathy for Trump Voters? No Thanks.  http://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/2/23/14702772/empathy-trump-voters-understanding-economic-anxiety-racism Understanding? Yes. Empathy? Not so much. This article is summarized by its author like this: “I think…that the goals of the pro-empathy advocates are the right ones — it’s just that empathy is the wrong way to attain them. What we actually need more of is understanding.”

In Slate, author Jamelle Bouie writes: “All the solicitude, outrage, and moral telepathy being deployed in defense of Trump supporters — who voted for a racist who promised racist outcomes — is perverse, bordering on abhorrent.” Save your empathy for those whom Trump has maligned, such as immigrants and Muslims. See the Slate article here: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/11/there_is_no_such_thing_as_a_good_trump_voter.html


Despotism 1946 (An Encyclopaedia Britannica Film) http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/despotism-1946/  (Contributed by Marc Masor) From the 10-minute film: “A community is low on a respect scale if common courtesy is withheld from large groups of people on account of their political attitudes; if people are rude to others because they think their wealth and position gives them that right, or because they don’t like a man’s race or his religion.”  A comment on the Internet Archive makes this point: “A very interesting film that has one major flaw. Distraction rather than control is the key to the Despotism of Huxley’s “Brave New World”. The information scale is pushed through the roof to the point of trivialization which paradoxically results in the *quality* of the information going through the floor. Critical thinking is crippled not so much by control but by overload.”




Haute Couture in the Age of Trump     Marc Masor also brings this item to your attention. Available in sizes  S to XXXLAmerican

tRump T-Shirt



Data Firm Claims ‘Secret Sauce’ Aided Trump; Many Scoff   https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/06/us/politics/cambridge-analytica.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share   February’s newsletter contained an item (“Big Data is Watching…and Influencing Our Elections”) about how a data collection firm boasted that it could manipulate US elections by identifying the personality profiles of 220 million American voters and then targeting them with specific news feeds via social media. But this article, which appeared in the NYT in early March, refutes part of that argument, saying the ability to exploit the fears, prejudices and biases of specific Americans for the benefit of a specific candidate for public office is over blown. The Cambridge-based media company, Strategic Communication Laboratories Group, now concedes that such ‘psychographics’ were not employed in the 2016 Presidential election. Still, it’s an emerging use of technology that may have a bearing on the future of American politics.



Why ‘Believe In’ Science?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxyQNEVOElU&app=desktop    This link is to an excellent TED Talk by Naomi Oreskes….it’s worthy of 19 minutes of your time just to remind yourself that Science is not a matter of ‘faith’.  “Many of the world’s biggest problems require asking questions of scientists — but why should we believe what they say? Historian of science Naomi Oreskes thinks deeply about our relationship to belief and draws out three problems with common attitudes toward scientific inquiry — and gives her own reasoning for why we ought to trust science.”

belief in science


Trump vs. Vaccines: 350 Organizations Endorse the Safety of Vaccines   (Contributed by Marc Masor)  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/02/08/more-than-350-organizations-write-trump-to-endorse-current-vaccines-safety/?utm_term=.b66dc7af25d9&wpisrc=nl_sb_smartbrief     Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to fan the flames of the anti-vaxxer movement. Here are two samples: “Lots of autism and vaccine response. Stop these massive doses immediately. Go back to single, spread out shots! What do we have to lose.” And: “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!”vaccine

In response, 350 medical and professional organizations addressed a letter to Mr. Trump stating their unequivocal support for the safety and efficacy of vaccines. It’s worth noting that Trump’s vaccine views do not match up with that of the majority of Americans. See this link:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/02/02/trumps-vaccine-views-at-odds-with-those-of-most-americans-study-says/?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.ca7d4268dfad




The Clash of American Values: Religious Freedom vs. Freedom From Discrimination  http://www.npr.org/2017/02/28/517092031/in-religious-freedom-debate-2-american-values-clash?sc=ipad&f=1001     “For some conservatives, religious freedom means the right to act on their opposition to same-sex marriage and other practices that go against their beliefs. LGBT advocates and their allies, meanwhile, say no one in the United States should face discrimination because of their sexual orientation.”


White Evangelicals in the U.S. Believe They Face More Discrimination Than Muslims https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/perceptions-discrimination-muslims-christians/519135/     White evangelicals are never shy about playing the ‘victim card’…and they’re at it again. They seem to believe that since they cannot force others to live by their rules, they are being discriminated against. “In February, pollsters at the Public Religion Research Institute asked Americans about their impressions of discrimination in the United States. Two religious groups were included on the list of those who might face bias: Christians and Muslims. Depending on who was answering, the responses were wildly different.”religious freedom v freedom from discrimination



Tom the Dancing Bug

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”

Now through April, Reuben Bolling will contribute $25 to the ACLU for every new membership ($11.25) in the ‘Inner Hive’.








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