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The Michigan Skeptics Association Third Anniversary

Jo Randall
Jo Randall is an amazing singer/songwriter and member of the group.

It’s our third birthday!

It’s hard to believe we’ve been going strong for three long years. It’s even harder to believe that we have such a great and diverse group of members as you.

This month we celebrate!

We will look back at the accomplishments of the past year and look forward to plans for the next.

As a special bonus, Jo Randall is coming back to perform for us! This amazing lady has a wonderful voice and a repertoire of her own music. Her first live performance in front of an audience was for us two years ago. She now has more songs and is looking forward to seeing us again.

So come on out and join the party!

Who knows… There may be cake…

Please be sure to RSVP so I know how many are coming. That way I can modify the reservation if necessary. You can RSVP via Meetup, Facebook,or Google Plus.

I hope to see you all there!

What You Don’t Know About Jehovah’s Witnesses And Pedophiles

Candace Conti
Candace Conti.

Everyone in the United States knows that the Catholic Church has a major issue with pedophiles, but hardly anyone knows that Jehovah’s Witnesses have similar problems. Many cases involving Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society have been reported to the public (a search string using “Jehovah’s Witness pedophile” will yield pages of results, including video of various newscasts) but most of these stories have failed to sink into the public psyche. Even Candace Conti, who was awarded millions of the Watchtower Society’s dollars, is mostly known by former Witnesses like me and few others. Many Jehovah’s Witnesses have yet to hear the name of Candace Conti and are blissfully unaware that child abuse is a real issue within the organization on any level.

The Watchtower Society may not be as big as the Catholic church, but officially, there are nearly eight-million Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. Even if there are only eight-million people who believe in the Society’s “truth” (there could be as many as nineteen-million who believe the Society has “the truth” if you go by Memorial attendance) that’s still a lot of people. I’m not suggesting that there are millions of cases of pedophilia here, but I do think the public should know more about pedophilia among Jehovah’s Witnesses and how the Society’s policies have done more harm than good. Especially Bible studies (or students) of Jehovah’s Witnesses who have children. It’s a big enough issue that several organizations like Silent Lambs and JW Survivors were formed specifically to oppose pedophilia within the Watchtower Society’s Kingdom Halls.

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This Saturday, May 25th: The Second Annual Scientists Fair

Participants talking with physicists Dr. Sean Tulin and Dr. Brian Nord. (Including my daughter and I)

Ann Arbor Science & Skeptics is hosting their second annual “Scientists Fair” this Saturday, May 25th from 1:00-3:00pm at the downtown library. This event will feature scientists and researchers in a variety of fields including cosmology, evolution, human cloning, geology, climate change, and nuclear power – all available to answer questions or provide explanations. It is open to the public.

Located in the Multi-Purpose room (in the lower level of the main branch of the Ann Arbor Library), there will be several professors and researchers from the University of Michigan and other institutions with expertise in general fields of knowledge, available to answer your questions. Some of the topics will include particle physics, human cloning, climate change, the Big Bang, and more.

You can watch a short video about the Scientists Fair here (video).

The purpose of this event is to not only acquaint people to scientific knowledge, but also to how that knowledge is obtained. We want people to ask these experts how theories are supported with experimentation, what hypotheses were tested and confirmed or falsified, and to what extent is there consensus amongst their colleagues about a given theory.

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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Shunning: How Jehovah’s Witnesses Discipline Their Own

ShunWhen one of Jehovah’s Witnesses does something that his local elders deem a serious offense against God and Watchtower, he will probably be disfellowshipped and therefore shunned by other Jehovah’s Witnesses. When I say that he’ll be shunned, I don’t mean he won’t get any presents on his birthday or that he won’t be invited over for Christmas. I mean that he is dead to them. In most cases, the Witnesses will simply pretend he’s invisible (like that episode from the Twilight Zone) and many will simply wander off if he attempts to communicate with them in any way. Either that, or they’ll get angry and blast him for it.

They call it “congregation discipline.” When they speak of it, they make it sound like it’s a punishment from Jehovah God himself. In reality, the decision to disfellowship is made during a closed-door session with three local elders. It’s how they keep their followers in line.

So how does it work and how far does it go? Technically, people living in the same household aren’t required to shun one another or expel the wrongdoer. But I know of many cases where the local elders did pressure parents to kick out their adult (18 years old+) children even if those children had no where else to go. Since good Jehovah’s Witnesses are supposed to obey their elders, this can put the parents of the disfellowshipped person in a tight spot. So while the elders can make it hard for the family, at least they do have the right to say no to the elders. That’s mostly because the Society hasn’t made expelling family members from the home mandatory, even though shunning in every other respect is mandatory.

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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!

Our April Get Together is This Saturday!

MISkeptics Get Together
We sell these at our MISkeptics store.

This Saturday, April 13th at 1:00 PM is our April Get Together.

This is a social gathering. There’s a lot that has happened so be ready for good food lots of talk and great conversation!

Please RSVP at one of the following pages:

Our Meetup Page, our Facebook Page, or our Google Plus Page.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Today at 3PM: Peter Sinclair will be a guest on The Magic Sandwich Show

Peter Sinclair, one of our recent Get Together guests and blogger on Climate Denial Crock of the Week will be a guest on The Magic Sandwich Show.

Peter Sinclair \
Peter Sinclair

The Magic Sandwich Show is a bi-weekly live call in show, broadcast every other Sunday on BlogTV and uStream. During the show a panel of 3 or 4 discuss topical issues relating to religion and science.

You can access the show on BlogTV and uStream.

After the show check out his blog for the latest information on his Dark Show Project.

Don’t forget to subscribe to his YouTube channel and follow him on Twitter!

Our March Get Together: MUFON

Michigan MUFON Logo

This month we are pleased to welcome William Konkolesky, the State Director for MUFON, The Mutual UFO Network. He’s going to talk to us about aliens and UFOs.

Because of the large field of of the topic we need to limit today to just UFOs. If there’s time afterwards, we can entertain other questions. We will ask Mr. Konkolesky back to discuss other topics such like abductions, crop circles, and that guy on the History Channel with the crazy hair.

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. That way I can modify the reservation if necessary. We’re expecting a large crowd for this so be sure to RSVP early. You can RSVP at our Meetup site, our Facebook Event Page, or our Google Plus Event Page.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Audio Now Available From Recent Get Togethers

We’ve recorded the audio from the last several Get Togethers that had special guests, and with the help of our super audio engineer, they are now available for download.

We only have two available so far but they are good ones.

Dr. Ron Fleming




Click here to download Dr. Ron Fleming‘s talk on Thorium as a nuclear fuel.



Dr. Zachary Blount
Dr. Zachary Blount




Click here to download Dr. Zachary Blount‘s talk on his paper about documenting the steps of evolution.




We also recorded Peter Sinclair‘s talk about Climate Change and will be posting that as well. In the future we hope to record as many of our guests so that members that cannot make the Get Togethers can still listen and take part. Stay tuned! There will be more great discussions available in the near future.

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