Please help me identify a critical thinking maxim

I recently heard mention – maybe in a podcast? – of a maxim related to skeptical or critical thinking. The gist, if I heard correctly, is something to the effect of "Before delving into the hows and whys of some claimed phenomenon, confirm that the phenomenon actually exists".

Examples might include: Before offering convoluted explanations for a paranormal sighting, first confirm that the alleged sighting actually took place. Before trying to debunk legends surrounding some mysterious ancient artifact, first confirm that the alleged artifact exists. And so on. Readeth thou more

Religion is reeling?

Sometimes one gets depressed over the latest bit of religious thuggery – Jesus-happy textbooks in Texas, a conviction of "blasphemy" in some Muslim land – but those distract from the big picture. It's always refreshing to take a step back and appreciate anew the incredible fall religion has taken, from its near-global rule of raking in tithes and appointing kings and burning dissenters, to... what's increasingly the position of a "Will Work for Food" bum. At least in some parts of the world.

Is it just me, or are news stories like these more common every day? Readeth thou more

No one's making fun of Mohammed

I was away from the usual web stuff for a few days and missed Everyone Draw Mohammed day. Fortunately, like any worthwhile event, EDM Day sounds like something one could choose to celebrate any old time. So I'll have to get on it – perhaps as part of designing a logo for this site. 

In the meantime, a little web surfing will find you all the Mohammed pics you could like. Let's give a thumbs-up to Google for not caving in to anyone's demand to censor these! Readeth thou more

Worst mental picture ever

This really has nothing to do with anything on this site. It's just... I felt it has to be noted, and I have nowhere else appropriate to put it:

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford coins a most delightful term:

Look, I don't care if Dick Cheney threatened you with razor wire and a concrete pumps. I don't care if Karl Rove said he'd suffocate you with his giant clammy hog thighs if you dared to speak up...

Believers and atheists: How to (sometimes) agree

Quick pointer: Derek Sivers, creator of CD Baby and now a TED Talks-type inspirational kind of guy, relays an overheard conversation between an atheist and a believer. The short version is an argument you've certainly already heard: "You ask how I can disbelieve in your God? Well, the same way that you disbelieve all those other gods." But it's a nice write-up; take a look. Readeth thou more

"God Cares" – The Sequel!

Now here's a guy quick with the FinalCut Pro (or whatever the tool may be). The movie meister behind "God's Wonderful World" spun viewer suggestions into a Part II, featuring more of the horrors that take place under the holy nose of a "God" who just sits up there nodding and drooling, not lifting a finger to help his suffering creations.

(Warning to viewers: "God's" disasters, diseases, predation, and other cruelties make for some upsetting grue.) Readeth thou more

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