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The End of the World is Coming! (again) Let’s Have a Party

The end of the world was signalled in York last night as a horn was blown to herald the beginning of the apocalypse

On November 14th, the Norse God Heimdallr blew the Gjallerhorn to warn of the Viking apocalypse. Actually, Heimdallr was unavailable. This is just some guy in eyeliner.

On November 14th, 2013 the Mythic Gjallerhorn was blown. Which is a sign that the world will end 100 days later. Traditionally it was supposed to be blown by the Norse God Heimdallr, but he was otherwise occupied. Nevertheless, the horn was blown and it means one thing. THE END OF THE WORLD IS COMING!

Ragnarök

The blowing of the horn is a calling of the gods (the Norse ones) to a great battle. According to the Edda, a Norse Epic Poem, the great battle will cause the deaths of the great gods. Odin, Thor, Týr, Freyr, Heimdallr, and Loki will all be slain. Ragnarök, which literally means “Twilight of the Gods” will cause natural disasters, the Sun will turn black, wolves will increase in numbers, and the world will be plunged into the sea. But don’t worry! The gods will fix it all when they come back to life and the world will be born again.

How do we know Ragnarök is at hand? Let’s look at this handy checklist of signs:

How to know the world is ending: Continue reading

Nelson Mandela for our January Get Together

Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gauteng, on 13 May 2008.

Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gauteng, on 13 May 2008.

On December 5th 2013, at the age of 95, Nelson Mandela died. He was South Africa’s first black chief executive, and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. He also served over 27 years in prison for his activism prior to that. The end of Apartheid in South Africa is credited largely to him. He was called a lot of things when he died, a hero, a savior, a great leader, a terrorist, a communist, and a murderer. But what was he really?

On Saturday, January 18 at 1:00 PM, we’re teaming up with Minority Atheists of Michigan to talk about Nelson Mandela. We will cut through the hype and hyperbole and learn the facts of his life and work. We will learn about the good and the bad and decide for ourselves who he was.

Our guest speaker will be Jamon Jordan. He is the Co-Founder and Facilitator of the Black Scroll Study Group. A local organization that researches any and all phenomena related to Black people.

Jamon Jordan Image

Jamon Jordan is the Co-Founder and Facilitator of the Black Scroll Study Group

They present their findings through educational materials for institutions to use in order to present data on Black/African history and culture that is frequently overlooked.

Come and join us for lively discussion, drinks, dinner and debate! This is a good event for Skeptics of Michigan to come together and discuss local, national, worldwide items affecting Skeptics. All are welcome to listen and participate.

You can RSVP for the event at our Meetup Page, our Facebook Page, or our Google Plus Page.

Notre Dame Professor Debunks Christian Myth of Persecution

 

Professor Candida Moss Portrait

Professor Candida Moss teaches early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame.

Candida Moss, a Professor at Notre Dame University and practicing Catholic, has written a book that tackles the “myth of martyrdom in the Christian faith.”

Sunday school tales of early Christians being rounded up at their secret catacomb meetings and thrown to the lions by evil Romans are mere fairy tales, Moss writes in a new book. In fact, in the first 250 years of Christianity, Romans mostly regarded the religion’s practitioners as meddlesome members of a superstitious cult.

The government actively persecuted Christians for only about 10 years, Moss suggests, and even then intermittently. And, she says, many of the best known early stories of brave Christian martyrs were entirely fabricated.

In Professor Moss’ new book, The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom, she maintains that the Catholic Church and historians have known for centuries that most early Christian martyr stories were exaggerated or invented.

[W]hen Christians were executed, it was often not because of their religious beliefs but because they wouldn’t follow Roman rules. Many laws that led to early Christians’ execution were not specifically targeted at them—such as a law requiring all Roman citizens to engage in a public sacrifice to the gods—but their refusal to observe those laws and other mores of Roman society led to their deaths.

Moss calls early Christians “rude, subversive and disrespectful,” noting that they refused to swear oaths, join the military or participate in any other part of Roman society.

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The MISkeptics May Get Together: 12 Angry Men

12 Angry Men Movie Poster

12 Angry Men Movie Poster

The defense and the prosecution have rested and the jury is filing into the jury room to decide if a young Spanish-American is guilty or innocent of murdering his father. What begins as an open and shut case of murder soon becomes a mini-drama of each of the jurors’ prejudices and preconceptions about the trial, the accused, and each other.

This month we are going to watch a classic in critical thinking and a classic in its own right, 12 Angry Men. We’re going to see the movie then review the logical problems in it.

Come and join us for lively discussion, drinks, dinner and debate! This is a good event for Skeptics of Michigan to come together and discuss local, national, worldwide items affecting skeptics. All are welcome to listen and participate.

Remember! We are using our summer hours now. We start at 4:00 PM. We will go back to fall/winter hours in September.

Please be sure to RSVP so I know how many are coming. That way I can modify the reservation if necessary.

You can RSVP on our Meetup page, our Facebook page, or our Google Plus page.

Don’t forget to follow us on Meetup, Facebook, and Google+ for further events, news articles and interesting ideas.

I look forward to seeing you all there!

It’s Time For Our Annual Darwin Day Event

Image of Darwin

February 12th is Darwin’s 204th birthday

This month we are going to celebrate Darwin Day. February marks Charles Darwin’s 204th birthday.

For our third Darwin Day celebration, we are going to watch “Charles Darwin and The Tree of Life”. A stunning BBC documentary hosted by Sir David Attenborough. Last year we tried to see this documentary but no one could hear it because the venue was too loud. We have a better venue this time around and we will finally be able to see the movie.

We’re going to follow that up with a presentation on how Darwin’s work has been twisted into murderous intent.

And we will finish up with one of Chris Lindsay‘s famous games. Which will include prizes for the winners. (Yes, we promise there will be winners.)

You can RSVP for the celebration by going to our Meetup Site, our Facebook Page or our Google Plus Page. Please be sure to RSVP, these events fill up quickly.

Come and join us for lively discussion, drinks, dinner and debate! This is a good event for Skeptics of Michigan to come together and discuss local, national, worldwide items affecting skeptics. All are welcome to listen and participate.

 

This Saturday: A guided tour of The Henry Ford

Museum clock tower, at night.

Museum clock tower, at night. The building is a replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

-UPDATE- I neglected to mention the tour was for the Benson Ford Research Center located at Henry Ford.

We’ve got a little treat lined up.  Our very own Diane has managed to score us a guided tour of the Benson Ford Research Center at The Henry Ford Museum.

This two hour event also includes the archives that are normally off-limits to normal visitors, including the giant refrigerated area designed to preserve artifacts and items. Bring a jacket, it will probably get chilly in there!

This event has a limit of 15 people so be sure to RSVP as soon as you can. This will fill up quickly.

If for any reason you wish to go but cannot use the pay form on Meetup, contact us and we will make arrangements for getting the payment to us.

Tickets for the event will cost $20 to cover the cost of the tour. The ticket price is refundable is you need to cancel. See the refund section below.

The Henry Ford Museum began as a simple yet bold idea to document the genius of ordinary people by recognizing and preserving the objects they used in the course of their everyday lives. It grew into the ultimate place to explore what Americans past and present have imagined and invented — a remarkable destination that brings American ideas and innovations to life. The sheer scope and design of Henry Ford Museum is as grand as the vision that inspired it. It’s impossible not to feel a sense of awe as your mind adjusts to a different sense of scale — more vast, more expansive and more diverse— by far— than anything you’ll encounter in everyday life. The sweeping, single-floor space with its soaring 40-foot ceilings covers nine acres dedicated to showcasing the finest collection of its kind ever assembled.

The MISkeptics September Get Together: 9/11

9/11 Memorial Fountain

Family members line the perimeter of the 9/11 Memorial South Pool during the tenth anniversary ceremonies of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center site on Sept. 11, 2011 in New York City. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

This September 11th will mark the 11th anniversary of one of the most devastating attacks on American soil. The 9/11 attacks by terrorists ran two fully loaded and manned passenger aircraft into the two main World Trade Center Buildings. Causing their collapse and the resulting damage spread to other buildings as well.

A total of 2752 people lost their lives that day, including hundreds of rescue workers rushing to save civilians.

This Sept 8th, at 1:00 PM, we’re going to talk about the facts of that day as well as some of the more popular conspiracy theories about it.

Come and join us for lively discussion, drinks, dinner and debate! This is a good event for Skeptics of Michigan to come together and discuss local, national, worldwide items affecting skeptics. All are welcome to listen and participate.

Please be sure to RSVP so I know how many are coming. You can RSVP at our Meetup site, on Facebook, or on Google Plus.

I hope to see you all there!

Michigan Skeptics is Celebrating Alan Turing’s 100th Birthday

Image of Alan Turing

Alan Turing was born on June 23rd 1912 and died on June 7th 1954.

This month is the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing’s Birth. It’s also the 58th anniversary of his tragic death. So this month at our monthly Get Together we’re going to celebrate the father of modern computing and the one of the key architects of the allied victory in World War II. We’re going to learn about his life and his accomplishments. We will also the events that lead up his death by suicide in 1954.

We’re meeting on June 9th at 4:00 PM. Come and join us for lively discussion, drinks, dinner and debate! This is a good event for Skeptics of Michigan to come together and discuss local, national, worldwide items affecting skeptics. All are welcome to listen and take part in the discussion.

Please be sure to RSVP at our meet-up page for the location and so I know how many are coming. That way I can modify the reservation if necessary.

I look forward to seeing you all there!

The Facts Behind The Kony 2012 Video

Kony 2012 Banner

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Last week Invisible Children, a non-profit organization founded and head by film maker Jason Russell, released a 30 minute documentary video called “Kony 2012“. The documentary details a Ugandan warlord/rebel named Joseph Kony and the crimes he has committed against civilians and children.  The documentary video went viral in a few days with over 37 million views.

Kony is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) a militant group that is an offshoot of an armed resistance in Northern Uganda called the Holy Spirit Movement. The Holy Spirit Movement was formed by Alice Auma in 1987 as a resistance army protected by the holy spirit.

The Holy Spirit Movement fought as a regular army – taking and controlling territory, as well as holding pitched battles with NRA forces – but had a number of practices that outsiders found bizarre. Spiritual “controllers” were integrated into each unit. Along with duties such as tending to Alice Auma while she was possessed, they smeared blessed oil on combatants that was supposed to stop bullets if the combatant’s soul was pure. [via Wikipedia]

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Evidence Found for Alan Turing’s 1950s Tiger Stripe Theory

 

Photo of Alan Mathison Turing at the time of his election to a Fellowship of the Royal Society. Photograph was taken at the Elliott & Fry studio on 29 March 1951. There is another photograph taken at the same session where he is not looking directly at the camera.

Alan Mathison Turing at the time of his election to a Fellowship of the Royal Society. Copyright National Portrait Gallery

Physorg.com is reporting on an online posting in the Nature Genetics journal that Alan Turing’s 1952 theory of Morphogenesis.

The study, funded by the Medical Research Council and to be published online in , not only demonstrates a mechanism which is likely to be widely relevant in vertebrate development, but also provides confidence that chemicals called morphogens, which control these patterns, can be used in regenerative medicine to differentiate stem cells into tissue.

The findings provide evidence to support a theory first suggested in the 1950s by famous code-breaker and mathematician Alan Turing, whose centenary falls this year. He put forward the idea that regular  in biological are generated by a pair of morphogens that work together as an ‘activator’ and ‘inhibitor’.

The tests involved identifying the morphogens used during the formation of ridges found on the roof of the mouths of lab mice. The morphogens were identified as  FGF (Fibroblast Growth Factor) and Shh (Sonic Hedgehog – given that name because apparently laboratory fruit flies lacking the fly version have extra bristles on their bodies).

They showed that when these morphogens’ activity is increased or decreased, the pattern of the ridges in the mouth palate are affected in ways predicted by Turing’s equations. For the first time the actual morphogens involved in this process have been identified and the team were able to see exactly the effects predicted by Turing’s 60-year-old speculative theory.

While the ridges in the roof of the mouth are not very important to biology, the finding does give significant evidence to Turning’s theory.

‘Not only does this show us how patterns such as stripes are formed, but it provides confidence that these morphogens (chemicals) can be used in future regenerative medicine to regenerate structure and pattern when differentiating  into other tissues.

‘As this year marks Turing’s centenary, it is a fitting tribute to this great mathematician and computer scientist that we should now be able to prove that his theory was right all along!’

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