The Amazing Randi Did His Job. Now It's Up to Us.
What will you do to promote critical thinking?
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The James Randi Education Foundation (which hadn’t tweeted anything in nearly five years) made the announcement:We are very sad to say that James Randi passed away yesterday, due to age-related causes. He had an amazing life. We will miss him. Please respect Deyvi Peña’s privacy during this difficult time.
“The Amazing Randi” was widely known as a magician (although he preferred the term “conjurer”), but his sleight of hand was a powerful tool of skepticism which he used to liberate his audience from being taken advantage of by pseudoscience, psychics, and other charlatans. Randi blazed the trail for those of us who spend our days calling attention to bullshit, religious and otherwise. While we’ll miss seeing The Amazing around skeptic world events, his legacy is well-established and his rest is well-deserved.
We’ll be posting further reflections about him on the site Thursday morning. As I (Hemant) was looking through old pictures earlier tonight, I came across this one from 2007. It was my first time meeting him and he was as delightful as everyone said he would be. Watching the joy he brought to the faces of everyone who spoke to him that weekend — telling him story after story about how he shaped the way they think — was incredible.
If you’re not familiar with him, though, here’s a classic “overdose on homeopathic sleeping pills” TED Talk to get you started:
March of 2020 cannot end quickly enough…
Speaking of noticing flim-flam, beware of faith-based pseudo-insurance companies that claim to offer health coverage in a “pool,” where all members chip in to pay the bills of other members. (Wait, aren’t these the same people who meltdown over socialism…?)
While this sounds like the basis of how insurance works, these companies are not regulated. But with trustworthy conservative names like “Samaritan Ministries" and “Liberty HeathShare,” what could go wrong? Apparently enough that states are starting to step in.
According to a New York Times story that broke yesterday, The State of New York says Trinity Healthshare and Aliera (which markets the plans) broke the law by offering fake insurance to 40,000 residents over the past four years.
New York regulators said patients were often left with thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills. A woman with leukemia was denied coverage for an emergency hospital stay that cost thousands of dollars because she was told she had a pre-existing condition. Aliera denied a $15,000 claim for breast cancer treatment, according to regulators, while another patient said even routine doctor’s visits were not covered by Trinity.
The state said it would seek civil penalties and other relief on behalf of consumers, and had issued a cease-and-desist letter in April that prevented the group from enrolling new customers.
Should I tell them? I’m going to tell them.
Conservatives, you don’t have to throw your money into a racket. There’s a bill called the Affordable Care Act— it offers regulated healthcare that guarantees you coverage on pre-existing conditions.
Pope Francis loves the gays and thinks civil unions ought to be legal… or so the latest PR out of the Vatican tells us. Here are some of the pope’s remarks from the new documentary titled Francesco:
“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,” Pope Francis said in the film, of his approach to pastoral care.
“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” the pope said. “I stood up for that.”
We couldn’t agree more and we’re glad he said it. BUT there’s a lot of history to be considered with Pope Francis and the unchanging doctrine he follows. You should read more about it before assuming there are no strings attached.
Separate but equal is never equal. Still, for the Catholic Church to even budge in this direction should mean something.
How about we make a swap?
The head of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Christy McCormick, ought to resign from what is meant to be a non-partisan position. McCormick appeared on a YouTube channel for the Christian Right group “Intercessors for America” and told viewers:
“The most important thing is to pray. The second most thing is to make sure you vote. … The third thing is to get your co-workers, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your church members, get them to vote. One of the things that we’ve seen over the years is that Christians don’t vote. Millions and millions, tens of millions of Christians do not vote. And if we did vote, if we did rise up and then voted, we can decide just about every election in this country.”
But it got a lot worse.
“… we’re voting for life, we’re voting for Israel, we’re voting for marriage, we’re voting for the nuclear family.” … “speaking the name of Jesus publicly without being silenced.” … “We need to vote the platform and look at what it is the Lord would want us to do.”
She’s not shy about her goal — getting Trump a second term — and that should make everyone uncomfortable considering she oversees voting requirements for states as well as equipment.
The bigotry is strong with this one:Televangelist Kenneth Copeland says that just as God put Trump in the White House, the Devil has put Muslims in Congress.
The Muslims Kenneth Copeland refers to as being seated in Congress by the Devil are: Reps. Rashida Tlaib (MI), Ilhan Omar (MN), and Andre Carson (IN). But let’s be honest, it’s just the first two. They’ve held their own against a litany of threats and hatred in order to serve the people of their states and country.
If there’s a less obvious reason we need this election to be over, it’s so pastors will stop groveling at Donald Trump by making up stuff God told them to tell him.
A preview of tomorrow: We have a lengthy commentary on PragerU videos coming into public school classrooms. (Yikes.)