Archive for February, 2010

Science is the Poetry of Reality

Posted in Skeptic on February 27, 2010 by koinosuke

I just can’t resist science and music.


FYB: Lecture-Greenwashing and Corporate Moral Motivation

Posted in Feed Your Brain, lecture with tags , on February 26, 2010 by saskskeptic

There is a lecture today Friday, Feb. 26 at 3:30 by:
Chris MacDonald
(St. Mary’s University, Halifax)
Greenwashing and Corporate Moral Motivation
3:30 PM
Goodspeed Theatre (Room 18), Edwards School of Business

This is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy.

More about the topic:

TITLE OF PROJECT: “Greenwashing” and Corporate Moral Motivation

AUTHOR: Dr. Chris MacDonald Saint Mary’s University
ABSTRACT: This project seeks to examine the moral category of “greenwashing”, and to enquire into normative issues related to the motives that corporations have for highlighting their environmental accomplishments. “Greenwashing” is the term applied to what is perceived to be dishonest representation of corporate environmental records. Corporate communications are typically labeled “greenwashing” when observers are skeptical about what is motivating either a) the environmental project or policy being publicized, or b) the corporation’s decision to publicize it. The current project seeks to apply the tools of Rational Choice Theory to illuminate the motivational structures behind a) corporate communications about environmental practices, and b) consumer and activist responses to such communications.

Bridge City Boogie

Posted in news with tags , , , , on February 26, 2010 by saskskeptic

Registration for the Bridge City Boogie has opened up.  Come join the Saskatoon Freethinker’s team.

Overheard last year—”I think they are atheists!”.

Go here to register.  You have to register through When you register, they ask you what team you want to be on.


Sunday, June 13, 2010 @ 8:00 AM local time

Course Maps

2km Course
5km Course
10km Course

Team Members

Select Register Now from above and pick the Team category that pertains to you. Then select your Team Name from the drop down box on the registration form. Continue through the registration process.

Additional Information

All participants must pick up race packages, timing chips, race number, and t-shirt during the Package Pick-up Saturday June 12 between 10am-3pm. Visit our website for more information.

Boogie on Saskatoon!

Individual Rates

Event until APRIL 14 until May 14 until June 11
2k $15 $15 $20
5k $25 $30 $35
10k $35 $40 $50

Team – Student Rates (18 years or younger)

Event until APRIL 14 until May 14 until May 21
2k $5 $10 $15
5k $15 $20 $25
10k $25 $35 $45

Team – Adult Rates

Event until APRIL 14 until May 14 until May 21
2k $15 $15 $20
5k $25 $30 $35
10k $35 $40 $50

Secular Parenting meeting

Posted in Event on February 25, 2010 by saskskeptic

The next Secular Parenting Meeting is:

Mindfulness Parenting, Friday March 5th

7-10pm, Mayfair Library branch (602 – 33rd Street West)

As a parent, how do we survive the daily-ness of it all? How do we get past the guilt of our “bad mother” or “bad father” moments, and focus on the positives of parenting? This month we’ll discuss this post on mindfulness parenting from the Greater Good Institute, and we’ll swap stories about the good and ugly moments of parenting we’ve all been through.

As always, feel free to bring your kids, spouse, or anyone interested in the issues of secular parenting.

UofS Freethought In the Pub

Posted in Event with tags on February 25, 2010 by saskskeptic

The U of S Freethought campus group is having a pub night Tuesday, Mar. 2

At Louis’ Pub. Come anytime after 7:00. Beer is $1.

Who can argue with the price of beer.

Andrew Wakefield’s Legacy

Posted in Skeptic on February 24, 2010 by koinosuke
Most scientists toll in obscurity – checking, rechecking, and ever-so-slowly pushing scientific understanding forward. Few lucky individuals will make the big breakthrough and live on forever in the history books, with such luminaries as Albert Einstein, Louis Pasteur, or Edwin Hubble. History also preserves the infamous as well: Pons and Fleischmann, Franz Mesmer, and now Andrew Wakefield. These are the ones who – well intentioned or not – were not content to wait for their work to be vetted; they took their discoveries directly to the public and to our detriment.
In February, 1998, Andrew Wakefield called a press conference to announce he had found a cause of autism. After placing a scope into the intestines of a handful of autistic children, he had found inflammation which he said was the result of the measles virus. This virus, he claimed, came from the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. Just like Mesmer, Pons and Fleichmann, Wakefield’s claim was about to crumble under scientific scrutiny, but he had already opened the Pandora’s box: he had falsely implicated the greatest life-saving intervention ever invented, and worse, told the public before his claim was verified. Public confidence in the MMR vaccine was shattered, and even Wakefield’s solution of separating the MMR vaccine in to three shots did not prevent vaccination rates from falling. Hundreds of children were hospitalised, and dozens died from what should have been a preventable disease.
Other scientists tried to repeat Wakefield’s findings but were not successful. More and more of Wakefield’s results were found to be anomalous. Eventually, disturbing news about the original Lancet trial began to emerge due to the investigations of Brian Deer. Andrew Wakefield’s funding was provided by a lawyer who was trying to build a case on the behalf of parents who believed their children suffered complications after receiving a vaccine. Wakefield also had a patent on a separated MMR vaccine, and stood to make a lot of money if the public lost confidence in the combined vaccine. The lab that found the measles virus in the children’s intestines has serious methodological issues, to the point of incompetence. The children’s medical records did not match Wakefield’s records, and therefore raising the spectre of outright scientific fraud. The Lancet, after far too long, finally retracted the Wakefield paper, and Wakefield was found guilty of grossly unethical behaviour by the Britain’s General Medical Council.
Over a decade has passed since the original study, and where are we now? We are certain – as certain that the earth revolves around the sun – that vaccines do not cause autism. Yet the fear the Wakefield spawned remains with us and the return of vaccine-preventable diseases remains a constant threat. The anti-vaccine movement given wings by Wakefield’s study is still going strong despite study after study refuting Wakefield’s original claims. There are also the children, now numbering in the hundreds, who suffered and died from diseases that should have been a distant memory of a time before vaccines. This is Andrew Wakefield’s legacy, and he has left it to us to pick up the pieces.
More Reading:

Vaccines and Autism
What’s the Harm?: Vaccine Denial
Jenny McCarthy’s Body Count
Autism’s False Prophets by Paul Offit MD

Nate Phelps in Calgary [Update]

Posted in news, Skeptic with tags , on February 24, 2010 by saskskeptic

Nate Phelps will be in Calgary to give a talk on Sunday March 14th from 2-4:30 pm.

Nate is the atheist son of Fred Phelps. Fred is the head of the Westboro Baptist Church (hate group).  You know that God hates Canada (NSFW, or children).

There is likely a group of people from Saskatoon going to Calgary for the talk.  Leave a comment if you are interested.

From the facebook page for this CFI Calgary event

Nate Phelps: An Atheist looks back on growing up in Westboro Baptist Church

“The Uncomfortable Grayness of Life”

Sunday, March 14, 2010
2:00pm – 4:30pm
UofC ICT102
880 Campus Place NW
Calgary, AB

Nate Phelps is one of the estranged children of Pastor Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church. Since Pastor Phelps began his latest assault on various segments of the world in 1991, Nate has been providing his perspective on the dark (or perhaps darker) side of Pastor Phelps.

Centre For Inquiry has invited Nate to Calgary to share his insights with the Calgary community. Knowing how groups like Westboro Baptist work is not only fascinating, but helpful in countering their message.

Westboro Baptist is famous for their “God Hates Fags” campaign and protesting of high profile funerals. Though based in the United States, WBC still attempts to influence Canadians, but they have been blocked at the border while traveling to protest funerals in our country.

Cost: $5, or free with CFI membership.