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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

[mukto-mona] Yes, a secular newsletter on Christmas!

Center for Inquiry

Yes, a secular newsletter on Christmas!

Cause & Effect No. 145: December 25, 2019

Cause & Effect is the biweekly newsletter of the Center for Inquiry community, covering a wide range of work that you help make possible.
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The Top Stories

CFI Appeals Texas Secular Celebrant Decision

The Center for Inquiry trains and certifies its own Secular Celebrants so that those of us who embrace reason, science, and humanism can have our major life milestones, such as weddings and funerals, officiated by someone who shares our deeply held worldview. But not everyone agrees that our Secular Celebrants should have the same authority to solemnize marriages as religious clergy, which amounts to a blatantly unconstitutional privileging of religion.

CFI has won several key victories for Secular Celebrants over the years, and in other instances we have met frustrating resistance. That was the case in Texas when we challenged the state’s laws that barred Secular Celebrants from solemnizing marriages. This past summer, a judge dismissed our case, claiming that our celebrants could not be trusted with the solemnity of a wedding. We have never let setbacks like this stop us before, and that’s why CFI is appealing this decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Photo: IDoCandids – Adobe Stock


Pseudoscience in Children’s Psychotherapy: Skeptical Inquirer Tackles Dubious Claims

Well-meaning parents can endanger their children when they are fooled by the false promises of pseudoscientific “natural” alternative medicine and the fears stoked by anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, and this is no less true when it comes to mental health. The latest issue of Skeptical Inquirer, the magazine of science and reason, assembles of roster of experts to take on the dizzying array of fad psychotherapies to which children are subjected, evaluating what evidence exists for their efficacy, and weighing what risks they might pose to our kids.


Point of Inquiry: Richard Dawkins on Morality, Great Science Writing, and More

After helping to inaugurate the Center for Inquiry West’s new facilities in Los Angeles, which included the opening of the brand new Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan Theater, Richard Dawkins sat down for a conversation with Jim Underdown, host of CFI’s Point of Inquiry podcast, as well as executive director of CFI West. Dawkins answers questions on a wide range of topics, including the moral value of the Bible, the themes of his new book Outgrowing God, the need to recognize those science writers who awaken curiosity and inquiry, and whether he prefers the Beatles or the Rolling Stones.

Subscribe to Point of Inquiry with your favorite podcast app and never miss an episode.


CSICon 2019 Videos: Richard Dawkins and Jonathan Jarry

CSICon 2019 was such a fantastic event that we couldn’t wait until 2020 to start sharing some of its best presentations with everyone. Two great videos from CSICon 2019 have just been posted, with many more on the way in the coming weeks.

We kick things off with the one and only Richard Dawkins presenting “Taking Courage From Darwin.” Inspired by Charles Darwin, Dawkins celebrates the nonreligious worldview as not just scientifically valid but courageous, explaining that we need moral courage to eschew comforting but empty illusions, and face into the cold but bracing wind of reality.

Speaking of courage, we then have Jonathan Jarry of the McGill Office for Science and Society, host of the YouTube program Cracked Science. Jarry urges us to be inspired by the skeptical activism happening all around us, to take courage from the work that’s being done right now, and let it move us to keep up the fight against misinformation.


TIES Update: A New Homeroom on the Web

2019 has been a tremendous year for the Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES), a program of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science that gives middle school teachers the tools they need to effectively teach evolution and answer its critics. In November, TIES held a workshop in its 50th state, Hawaii. Plus, it provided free training in 161 workshops and webinars for over a thousand teachers, recruited a talented group of seventy official presenters, and even brought a little Stardust to its online workshops with special guest, 13-year-old author Bailey Harris.

To close out a great year, TIES has now gotten the online home it deserves with a brand new, fully redesigned website. “Within every experienced classroom teacher lays a wealth of pedagogical and content knowledge just waiting to be tapped,” writes TIES director Bertha Vazquez on the new site. “We are our own best resources.” Go check out TIES’s great resources at


Latest Hot Takes and Longreads

Highlights from CFI magazines, online columns, blogs, and media appearances

New at Skeptical Inquirer

New at CFI’s Free Thinking blog



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

Get The Morning Heresy delivered to your inbox every weekday morning (more or less)! Subscribe by submitting your email address in the box on the right of this page.


Upcoming CFI Events

CFI Austin

February 8, 2020: Darwin Day Austin 2020. Learn More

CFI Indiana

February 8, 2020: CFI Indiana 8th Annual Civic Day. Learn More

CFI Michigan

January 4, 2020: Secular Service Project at Kids’ Food Basket. Learn More

CFI Northeast Ohio

January 10, 2020: Twenty-Five Years Of Humanism: A Reflection. Learn More

Thank you!

Everything we do at CFI is made possible by you and your support. Let’s keep working together for science, reason, and secular values.

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

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"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".
               -Beatrice Hall [pseudonym: S.G. Tallentyre], 190