Academics give the most fun birthday presents. So it was a little late. It made for that in sheer mass. I helped move an author’s archives on Saturday, and none of the boxes felt as heavy as this.
By training, Karen Stollznow is an Australian linguist with a background in history and anthropology. In addition, she has spent years writing and talking about pseudoscience and the paranormal. All of this means that when she turns her attention to American foibles of belief, the results should be clear and devastating. This was true in her last book, Haunting America: The Truth Behind Some of America’s “Most Haunted” Places. It is just as true in her newest book, God Bless America: Strange and Unusual Religious Beliefs and Practices in the United States.
Don’t worry, this isn’t just some foreigner poking fun at those daft Yanks. Dr. Stollznow has made the U.S. her home for many years, and her fondness shows through. Though she forthrightly points her fingers at fraud and other injuries to the followers of these beliefs, she demonstrates sympathy for the believers as well. From fundamentalist, polygamous Mormons to Scientologists who believe that the universe started with an alien war, she draws parallels between these “weird” religions and religions that are fully respectable in our current society. Besides, what religious groups didn’t start small and emerge from fringe beliefs?
This Sunday, Dr. Stollnow joins us to talk about her new book and some of the American religious practices that fall well outside the mainstream.
- Karen Stollznow’s website
- God Bless America: Strange and Unusual Religious Beliefs and Practices in the United States on Amazon
- Read Dr. Stollznow’s on the Swift Blog
Listen to AM 950 KTNF this Sunday at 9 a.m. Central to hear Atheists Talk, produced by Minnesota Atheists. Stream live online. Call in to the studio at 952-946-6205, or send an e-mail to [email protected] during the live show. If you miss the live show, listen to the podcast later.
A few days ago, an article came out that excited some people who identify as skeptics. Brain scans had finally revealed what these people had always known: Men’s brains and women’s brains were fundamentally different! As one tweeter put it, “Damned science and facts, always getting in the way of SOCIAL JUSTICE!”
Were gender-essentialist skeptical types the only people to jump on this reporting? No, of course not. However, they are the people who should know that situations like these are exactly the ones in which to exercise a bit of skeptical caution. After all, there are two stances here in which they have a serious emotional investment–that gender roles are dictated by fundamental differences between the (two, discrete, dichotomous) sexes and that we social-justicey, feminist types are completely divorced from science and skepticism. That’s a rather large source of potential bias to be confirmed, so care should be taken.
What kind of care? Continue reading “Um, About Those "Male"- and "Female"-Wired Brains”
Greta Christina has given her talk on avoiding activist burnout many times in many places, but it’s often the short version. I heard the longer version at Skepticon for the first time.
I like this version better. Or maybe I just needed it more. Continue reading “Avoiding Burnout”
We’ve had a little break, some time away from awful movies, but this Wednesday we’re back. Hulu took our planned choice away from us, so we’re going with a classic. What more could you want than Lon Chaney Jr. without the monster makeup in Indestructible Man? What? A plot? Editing? Believable conflict? Don’t be silly.