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How the brain’s face code might unlock the mysteries of perception
Dec 13, 2018

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By Alison Abbott Doris Tsao launched her career deciphering faces — but for a few weeks in September, she struggled to control the expression on her own. Tsao had just won a MacArthur Foundation ‘genius’ award, an honour that comes with more than half a million dollars to use however the recipient wants. But she was …


Tennessee U.S. Rep.-elect Mark Green alleges vaccines may cause autism, questions CDC data
Dec 13, 2018

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By Natalie Allison A soon-to-be congressman from Tennessee told constituents Tuesday he believed vaccines may be causing autism, questioning data from the Centers for Disease Control and other institutions disproving such a theory. Not only did Republican Mark Green, a Congressman-elect from Clarksville who is also a medical doctor, express hesitation about the CDC’s stance on vaccines, …


Once Again, House Republicans Are Trying to Repeal the Johnson Amendment
Dec 13, 2018

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By Hemant Mehta Republicans’ attempts to repeal the Johnson Amendment aren’t over yet. For more than two years now, Donald Trump has promised the Religious Right that he would sign a repeal of the rule that forbids places of worship from endorsing political candidates if they want to keep their tax exempt status. If he were to …


D.C. backs away from special water rate relief for churches
Dec 13, 2018

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By Peter Jamison D.C. officials have backed away from a proposal that would have made it easier for churches to qualify for a break on their water rates than other nonprofits, after critics said the policy could have been unconstitutional. The city is instead moving forward with a plan that would allow religious and secular nonprofits …


Texas State Rep. Files Bill to Let Teachers Post Ten Commandments in Classrooms
Dec 12, 2018

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By Hemant Mehta A Texas Republican has already filed a bill that would allow public school teachers to post the Ten Commandments in their classrooms. State Rep. Dan Flynn says in HB 307 that “The board of trustees of an independent school district may not prohibit the posting of a copy of the Ten Commandments in a prominent location in …


East Antarctica is losing ice faster than anyone thought
Dec 12, 2018

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By Alexandra Witze East Antarctica was supposed to be the stable side of the icy continent, whose western flank is losing ice fast1. But glaciologists are finding that the closer they look at East Antarctica, the more change they see. Four small glaciers in a region known as Vincennes Bay are thinning at surprisingly fast rates, researchers …


Atheists Take Heart (and Office): New Poll Shows Major Support for Nonreligious Candidates
Dec 12, 2018

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By Jennifer Bardi In a nation that consistently ranks atheists near the bottom of the “feeling thermometer,” identifying as a nonreligious or humanist candidate has traditionally been seen as a “bad” political move. But a new poll shows there’s virtually no political cost for elected officials to identify as a member of the humanist community. The poll, …


Canada repeals blasphemy law
Dec 12, 2018

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By the BC Humanist Association Humanists are cheering the passage of a bill repealing Canada’s prohibition on “blasphemous libel” in the Senate today. Canada’s 19th century blasphemy law will be no more once the bill receives Royal Assent. Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association The passage of this Bill is a clear recognition by …


‘Miracle’ Excavation of ‘Little Foot’ Skeleton Reveals Mysterious Human Relative
Dec 11, 2018

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By Laura Geggel Following an epic 20-year-long excavation in South Africa, researchers have finally recovered and cleaned the nearly-complete skeleton of an ancient human relative: an approximately 3.67-million-year-old hominin nicknamed Little Foot. Little Foot is likely a previously unknown species, the researchers said. In four newly posted studies — all available on bioRxiv, meaning they …


The Mental Health of Atheists and the ‘Nones’
Dec 11, 2018

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By Rob Whitley, Ph.D. Christmas is approaching, and religious people across the world are preparing with the appropriate prayers, observations, and services. However, a growing proportion of the population is non-religious, and for them, Christmas can be a meaningless, empty, and lonely period. Indeed, a small but growing body of research continues to explore the relationship …


Florida GOP Gov.-Elect Appoints Anti-Science Members to Education Committee
Dec 11, 2018

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By Hemant Mehta With Florida’s next governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, ready to take the helm, you can bet science education isn’t on the list of priorities. We saw the first sign of that recently when DeSantis “announced his 41-person team to develop a plan aimed at implementing his education goals.” On that list? Two people who are connected …


Atheists in Egypt ‘don’t exist’ but are still considered a ‘threat’
Dec 11, 2018

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By Amr Ezzat Toward the end of 2009, an Egyptian blogger announced the imminent publication of his book, A Muslim Atheist. The title is reflective of a concept he believes in, based on his experiences: he isn’t Muslim currently; he used to be, but then he became an atheist. However, after a while, he found himself not …