December 21, 1890 – Geneticist Hermann J. Mueller is born in New York City. He is best known for his work in identifying the the genetic effects of radiation exposure, and in educating the public on the associated dangers of nuclear war. Â He was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1946, and was named Humanist of the Year in 1963 by the American Humanist Association. Mueller died in 1967, aged 76.
December 21, 1925 -Â Paul Kurtz, perhaps the most influential skeptic and secular humanist of the 20th century, is born in Newark, New Jersey.Â He founded the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP, now the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry), the Council for Secular Humanism, the Center for Inquiry, and the publishing house Prometheus Books. He also contributed to Humanist Manifesto II. He had leadership roles in numerous other organizations, and wasÂ a member of the American Humanist Association and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Although he contributed more than nearly anyone to the secularization of humanism, in 2010 he was pushed out of the three major organizations he founded because of his desire to take a less adversarial approach to religion.
December 21, 1940Â -Â Musician Frank Zappa is born in Baltimore, Maryland. His musical output was eccentric, eclectic and prolific: he released nearly 60 albums in his lifetime in genres ranging from jazz to classical. He was an outspoken libertarian, appearing on television and before the US Senate to oppose censorship in the music industry. He was also understandably skeptical about entanglement of church and state. In 1986 he appeared on CCN’s Crossfire and said, “The biggest threat to America today is not communism–itâ€™s moving America toward a fascist theocracy. And everything thatâ€™s happened during the Reagan administration is steering us right down that pipe.”
December 21, 2012 – The Mayan calender ends (but the world doesn’t). Actually, the calendar didn’t “end” so much as turn over to a new era, much like a car’sÂ odometer rolling over every 100,000 miles. Misinterpretation of the calendar cycle led to a great deal of New Age malarkey.
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