Rare gemstone particles found in an 8th-century nun's mouth shatter a historical misconception

The gem lapis lazuli is the source of luminescent blue in manuscript illustrations.

  • It turns out medieval religious manuscripts were not exclusively the domain of male monks.
  • Fleck of a rare gemstone pigment in fossilized teeth prove women were involved in the making of religious manuscripts.
  • We'll never see these exquisite books the same way again.
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A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
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How religion turned American politics into a bizarre anti-science spectacle

The countdown continues! This is the 7th most popular video of 2018.

  • In the last 30 years, religion has radicalized American politics and seriously harmed the perception of science, says journalist and author Kurt Andersen. This can be directly tied to the rise of the Christian Right in the 20th century.
  • To see this, you only have to look at the response to the same question posed to Republican presidential candidates over three election cycles, from 2008 to 2016: "Do you believe in Darwinian biological evolution?" In 2008, the majority answered yes. In 2012, there were notably less. In 2016? There was only one of 17 candidates who said he did—Jeb Bush, and even he backpedaled.
  • From climate change to Creationism and outright conspiracy theories, Andersen points to how the Republican party has come to increasingly incorporate fantasy and wishful untruths into its approach to social, economic, and foreign policy—and it's turning America into an anti-science spectacle.
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30% of children received trust issues from 'Santa'

Are parents being naughty or nice?

Photo credit: Mike Arney on Unsplash
  • New survey looks at how former children feel about being lied to by parents about Santa.
  • 72 percent of former believers keep the Santa myth alive for their own kids.
  • At press time, about 1,200 people have taken the survey.
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Why the U.S. is an anomaly among democracies

Eboo Patel explains how America's political philosophy broke the democratic mold.

  • From the time of the ancient Greeks, political philosophers believed the only way to have diversity in a society was for it to be an empire or a dictatorship. They thought homogeneity was the core of democracy: one ethnic group, one racial group, and especially one religion. Then America broke that mold in 1787.
  • Eboo Patel cites historical examples of how Benjamin Franklin donated funds to different religious communities and built a pulpit for the Grand Mufti of Constantinople to preach Islam, if he so wanted. George Washington assured the Jewish people protection in a very famous and beautifully written letter. Religious diversity? Turns out it's as American as apple pie.
  • The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
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