Monday, December 31, 2012

The Left Hemispheres Podcast Ep.10-He Had a Little Too Much Jesus

As always please direct questions, comments, suggestions, or discussion via email at Of course you can also find us on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter @lefthemispheres. Please rate us if you're an iTunes subscriber. 

Happy Relatively Arbitrary Date Demarcating One Complete Solar Orbital Period of Our Planet.


Saturday, December 29, 2012


We haven’t been as active on LH as we would like to have been the last few months and that is a result of many factors, not least of which is somewhat of a burn out on the topic and the effort that goes into running one of these things. In retrospect it’s actually been a hell of a year for our little blog in a remote corner of the atheosphere. I think we wrote some interesting stuff, made some new friends, the Reason Rally and Rock Beyond Belief events took place (that feels like a million years ago), and we started the LH podcast. We surpassed 250,000 page hits and 1000 posts a few months ago and the numbers continue to grow. Even with the slacking it still feels like a lot has gone on. I can’t say what we will do or what is going to happen for the next year so I won’t try. We just want to say thanks for visiting, reading, and listening.

Nothing fancy. Just going to list some of things we posted in 2012.







Thanks everyone!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Link Dump 12/28/12

 It was a quiet week in the news.  Most of us were celebrating the birth of our lord and savior while others were still shocked that the Earth’s poles were not shifted last Friday because of gays or Mayans or (worse) gay Mayans.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thoughts on Godless Parenting in the Holiday Season

By Adam Taylor

I took my son to see Rise of the Guardians at the movie theater. It was an excellent movie about the power of faith in imaginary characters. Afterward, my son tells me who he believes in and why.
In this movie Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and The Sandman are all superheroes that protect children and preserve hope, wonder, dreams, etc. A new hero is chosen in the character Jack Frost who has to learn what his purpose is while helping the other guardians defeat the Boogie Man. It's full of celebrity voices and meta-jokes. Everything you come to expect from a high budget CGI movie.
As luck would have it my son's tooth fell out that morning. So he was psychologically primed, and about to have his beliefs validated when I sneak into his room and replace his tooth with two gold $1 coins. A note on tooth fairy myth-inflation: if you give your kids paper money they are forced to imagine a fairy at the ATM machine (a little preparation, dear reader goes a long way).
I have written before about the push in recent “holiday fiction” to focus on belief in Santa. Modern Santa mythology tells us that Santa’s magic powers are so directly related to the spirit of Christmas that the holiday frequently needs to be “saved” by unusually attractive children and/or animals from “non-believers.” This serves as a handy plot device when you want to sell to a wide audience but it also provides a framework for faith in a secular world or “faithless” culture. In a multicultural world, it provides a framework to explain the existence of non-believers (and in many instances blame the non-believers/faithless). I should also mention that in each of these plotlines, the main characters are almost always provided with immediate proof of the existence of the entity they are supposed to have “faith” in. This is essentially all that non-believers ask for.
The following day on the walk to the school bus stop and for the next few days my 7 year old Child Psychology lab rat proceeds to break down his belief structure:
He believes in Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and God (relax, I’ll get to that). He does not believe in Jack Frost, The Sandman, The Boogie Man, or the Devil.
I asked him why. Specifically, how does he determine who is real and who is imaginary and he starts with Santa Claus.
Dad” he says, “I can see Santa. I see him all the time at school and at the little city (our local outdoor shopping mall). I didn’t ask him if he noticed the differences between Santas in different places.
He continues “I know the tooth fairy is real because she gave me money this morning. And the Easter Bunny puts eggs in the back yard on Easter.” He then fixed me with his eyes and said, “Wait a minute, do you dress up like the Easter Bunny and hide the eggs?” I asked him if he could picture me dressed in a bunny costume hopping around the back yard and we laughed. He didn’t believe in Jack Frost because he knows what frost is. He understands the principles of temperature and condensation so frost already had a scientific explanation.
We spoke later about gods and devils. He has a recent fascination with ancient Egyptian gods and I have used it as an opportunity to discuss other cultures and beliefs. As it turns out, he does not believe in Horus or Osiris. He has (presumably Christian) friends at school that have talked about “devils” but he does not believe in them because they sound too much like monsters and “monsters aren’t real”. He understands that the god that most people in his life talk about is just one of many gods people have believed in over time. He has told me that he believes in “...the god that is all around us. The God that is love.” He did not ascribe any other traits to this god and I didn’t press him.
This budding belief system is based on two major concepts: Authority and Evidence.
He believes in God because almost everyone he knows does. He has heard the word “atheist’, and may understand what it means but does not ascribe it to anyone he knows (not even Uncle Steve). I do not tell him that God is not real because I don’t want to use my authority to influence him to accept that premise blindly. Instead, I use my authority to remind him many people believe in many different gods and some believe in no gods. I also assert that no one knows the answer to this question with absolute certainty.
He believes in things he has evidence for. Sure its not airtight evidence but like most children, even the ones in the movies, he needs proof to believe an extraordinary claim.
You may wonder why I would participate in validating the Santa or Tooth Fairy myth if I’m an atheist. There are a few reasons for this. First is the most obvious: he is a child. His fantasy life is richer and more complete at his age than it it will be for the majority of his life. Imagination and play are vital to his emotional and intellectual development. We also encourage daydreaming in my house. The harsh realities of the “real world” will find him soon enough. Second, deciphering these myths are the first critical thinking exercise that most of us remember. I make a concerted effort to provide him with the language and conceptual framework to place these ideas in. We talk about myths and legends. The former being things that people believe now or in the past that are not true. The latter are fictional stories that people used to believe that may be rooted in truth. They may not be dictionary definitions but they function to hold the concepts.
So I perpetuate the mythology by hiding coins under his pillow or dragging my ass out to the back yard at 5 am to hide plastic eggs on Easter Sunday.  I smile when he says that he does not believe in magic aside from a handful of legendary magical creatures.  I have no problem with his absorption of faith culture.  He has already started to evaluate claims based on evidence.  When the time comes, he will undoubtedly outgrow myths, legends and more than a few gods.

Friday Link Dump 12/21/12(!)



Moving on...


Our Stuff


The Funny
  • Lots of videos.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Left Hemispheres Podcast Ep 9.5 - Holiday Bonus show

Big ol’ bunch of extras from last week’s recording with Adam, Steve, and Jack.

As always please direct questions, comments, suggestions, or discussion via email at Of course you can also find us on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter @lefthemispheres.

Wednesday December 19, 2012 Episode 9.5 intro

  1. Intro Music: Don’t Hug Me-I’d rather be naughty
  2. Things to do at Christmas
  3. Scheduling announcement: From now on we record on Fridays

Friday December 14, 2012 Episode 09 Continued with Adam, Jack & Steve

  1. Will Churches Be Forced To Conduct Gay Weddings?
  2. Religious Discrimination (all stats released on Human Rights Day)
    1. Atheists around world suffer persecution, discrimination: report
      1. Freedom of Thought 2012: A Global Report on Discrimination Against Humanists, atheist and the Nonreligious
    2. FBI Releases 2011 Hate Crimes Data; 19.8% Are Motivated By Anti-Religious Bias
    3. Christian Lies About 'Violent' Atheists  
  3. Religious Privilege
    1. Christian privilege in U.S. reinforces prejudice against non-religious: report
    2. The God Glut
    3. Rick Warren: Religious liberty the civil rights issue of the next decade
    4. How To Talk To Someone About Privilege Who Doesn’t Know What That Is
  4. Elf on a Shelf
  5. Clip: The Hogfather-Death explains belief
  6. Outro Music: Worm Quartet (via The FuMP)-The night before christmas

Check out this episode!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Left Hemispheres Podcast Ep.09-Not allowed to talk about Marsupials

This week Jack, Adam, Nick, and Steve are joined by Martin S. Pribble. (Also note: we ran way long after Martin had to take off so I've got a lot of extra material. Expect a bonus show.-Jack)
Show notes:
As always please direct questions, comments, suggestions, or discussion via email at Of course you can also find us on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter @lefthemispheres.

Friday December 14, 2012

  1. Welcome Martin S. Pribble from the curiously named blog Martin S. Pribble.
  2. Primate species: new slow loris found in Borneo
  3. North Korea’s Satellite Is Out of Control: Why This Is Very Bad News
  4. Newton, CT
    1. Police: 20 children among 26 victims of Connecticut school shooting
    2. Huckabee Says Connecticut School Massacre Occurred Because We ‘Removed God From Our Schools’
    3. Fischer: God Didn't Stop School Shooting Because He Doesn't Go Where He's Not Wanted
  5. Gun Violence
    1. Australia’s 1996 gun law reforms: faster falls in firearm deaths, firearm suicides, and a decade without mass shootings
    2. Snopes: Australian Guns
    3. Knife attack at Chinese school wounds 22 children
    4. Could 3D printers make a gun?
  6. Xmas & Xiantity
    1. O'Reilly backtracks on philosophy comment
    2. Penn Jillette: There's No War on Christmas. Let's Just Spread the Joy, Man!
    3. Formal act of defection from the catholic church no longer a thing the church will do
    4. Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse
      1. Cardinal Pell flip-flops over Royal Commision into clerical sexual abuse
  7. Growing up in Amurrica (general discussion)
  8. Will Churches Be Forced To Conduct Gay Weddings? 
  9., be honest. It’s just Christians you have issue with, not religion in general…

Check out this episode!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Link Dump 12/14/12

Star Trek The Next Generation: 
Episode 09 of The Left Hemispheres Podcast will be slightly delayed in airing as we aren’t recording until tonight. This episode will feature one Martin S. Pribble from the curiously named blog Martin S. Pribble

I don’t know, I don't get it either.

Left Hemispheres


Religion:  The discrimination and privilege topics are also in the podcast, but I thought some of it belonged in the FLD as well.




Superman is the superior savior character. Just saying.


Honestly, I didn't think I would like the new Soundgarden as much as I do.