It is time for your semi-regular dose of skepticism from around the world! Since I don’t want to leave you with a feeling that the world is a horrible, horrible place to live in, this time I’m including two fun ways to get involved in making it a better place (well, three if you count my begging slot for you to send in news links).
(From Leo Igwe)
Witch-hunts are much more common than you think. On the last Global Quickies I wrote about witch-hunts in India and this week, Leo Igwe brings us chilling numbers and horrifying stories about witch hunts in Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, and South Africa. An average of 500 people per year are lynched in Tanzania by neighbors accusing them of witchcraft. Poverty, lack of social services and education, and manipulation by people in positions of relative power are at the root of this complex problem that targets mostly women and children. Please read the article (trigger warning).
Sadly, Several Countries
Anti-science anarchist groups have been attacking scientists in Italy, Greece, Mexico, Chile, Switzerland, and the UK. In the latest instance, a group called the Informal Anarchist Federation shot an Italian nuclear engineer. Last year, three nanotechnology researchers were sent explosive packages in Mexico by a group called Individuals Tending Towards Savagery (yes, really). Similar attacks have been reported in Switzerland. In the UK, railway signals were set on fire to disrupt employees of the Ministry of Defense. These groups are starting to network with each other, and I bet they’re not using smoke signals to do it. Some choice quotes:
With this action of ours, we return to you a tiny part of the suffering that you, man of science, are pouring into this world.
(our aim is) to maim or even kill these scientist, researchers, academics, and the rest of the scum that is reducing the earth to mere urbanized waste.
Spanish artist Javier Krahe is on trial for blasphemy. What did he do? Back in the 70s he coproduced a video of a fake cooking show demonstrating how to cook a Christ (a medium sized crucifix feeds two). In 2004, the video was used as a backdrop in a documentary about the artist and a religious institute decided to sue both Krahe and the producer of the documentary. This is the first time this blasphemy law has been invoked and, hopefully, neither of them will be fined (at least no one is talking about jail time). You can join the Cook Jesus Day Facebook page to show your support and share your own recipe. If you’re a vegetarian, maybe you can stuff the stigmata with eggplant instead of bacon.
Here’s the video with subtitles:
Since I mostly bring you bad news, I’ll end with something different: giving you the perfect opportunity to make the world a little bit better. How, you ask? By joining Team Skepchick on Kiva. Microloans are a great way to give back to society and it’s very easy to do. Join the Skepchick team, search for a loan using whatever criteria is important to you and start lending. My criteria are that it has to be a loan to women, preferably in Latinamerica, and the lending group has to be secular. Now, since religious affiliation is not stated directly on Kiva, I use Kiva Secular. This site is being put together by Spanish skeptic, Rinze, and it randomly shows you 25 loans sponsored by non-religious Kiva groups. The site uses the list of Kiva field partners created by the Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious Kiva lending team and will soon migrate to this more detailed list being updated by volunteers. Kiva Secular is a work in progress, if you want to help build it, you can go here.
By the way, I just gave a loan to a Colombian woman named Heroina because she has the most kick-ass name ever. I am a bit worried on how that’s going to look like on my credit card, though.