Did Frank Sinatra believe in God?

In a 1963 Playboy interview, Ol’ Blue Eyes was asked whether he believed in God:

Playboy: All right, let’s start with the most basic question there is: Are you a religious man? Do you believe in God?

Sinatra: Well, that’ll do for openers. I think I can sum up my religious feelings in a couple of paragraphs. First: I believe in you and me. I’m like Albert Schweitzer and Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein in that I have a respect for life — in any form. I believe in nature, in the birds, the sea, the sky, in everything I can see or that there is real evidence for. If these things are what you mean by God, then I believe in God. But I don’t believe in a personal God to whom I look for comfort or for a natural on the next roll of the dice. I’m not unmindful of man’s seeming need for faith; I’m for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. But to me religion is a deeply personal thing in which man and God go it alone together, without the witch doctor in the middle. The witch doctor tries to convince us that we have to ask God for help, to spell out to him what we need, even to bribe him with prayer or cash on the line. Well, I believe that God knows what each of us wants and needs. It’s not necessary for us to make it to church on Sunday to reach Him. You can find Him anyplace. And if that sounds heretical, my source is pretty good: Matthew, Five to Seven, The Sermon on the Mount.

Playboy: You haven’t found any answers for yourself in organized religion?

Sinatra: There are things about organized religion which I resent. Christ is revered as the Prince of Peace, but more blood has been shed in His name than any other figure in history. You show me one step forward in the name of religion and I’ll show you a hundred retrogressions. Remember, they were men of God who destroyed the educational treasures at Alexandria, who perpetrated the Inquisition in Spain, who burned the witches at Salem. Over 25,000 organized religions flourish on this planet, but the followers of each think all the others are miserably misguided and probably evil as well. In India they worship white cows, monkeys and a dip in the Ganges. The Moslems accept slavery and prepare for Allah, who promises wine and revirginated women. And witch doctors aren’t just in Africa. If you look in the L.A. papers of a Sunday morning, you’ll see the local variety advertising their wares like suits with two pairs of pants.

Playboy: Hasn’t religious faith just as often served as a civilizing influence?

Sinatra: Remember that leering, cursing lynch mob in Little Rock reviling a meek, innocent little 12-year-old Negro girl as she tried to enroll in public school? Weren’t they — or most of them — devout churchgoers? I detest the two-faced who pretend liberality but are practiced bigots in their own mean little spheres. I didn’t tell my daughter whom to marry, but I’d have broken her back if she had had big eyes for a bigot. As I see it, man is a product of his conditioning, and the social forces which mold his morality and conduct — including racial prejudice — are influenced more by material things like food and economic necessities than by the fear and awe and bigotry generated by the high priests of commercialized superstition. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m for decency — period. I’m for anything and everything that bodes love and consideration for my fellow man. But when lip service to some mysterious deity permits bestiality on Wednesday and absolution on Sunday — cash me out.

Playboy: But aren’t such spiritual hypocrites in a minority? Aren’t most Americans fairly consistent in their conduct within the precepts of religious doctrine?

Sinatra: I’ve got no quarrel with men of decency at any level. But I can’t believe that decency stems only from religion. And I can’t help wondering how many public figures make avowals of religious faith to maintain an aura of respectability. Our civilization, such as it is, was shaped by religion, and the men who aspire to public office anyplace in the free world must make obeisance to God or risk immediate opprobrium. Our press accurately reflects the religious nature of our society, but you’ll notice that it also carries the articles and advertisements of astrology and hokey Elmer Gantry revivalists. We in America pride ourselves on freedom of the press, but every day I see, and so do you, this kind of dishonesty and distortion not only in this area but in reporting — about guys like me, for instance, which is of minor importance except to me; but also in reporting world news. How can a free people make decisions without facts? If the press reports world news as they report about me, we’re in trouble.

Playboy: Are you saying that . . .

Sinatra: No, wait, let me finish. Have you thought of the chance I’m taking by speaking out this way? Can you imagine the deluge of crank letters, curses, threats and obscenities I’ll receive after these remarks gain general circulation? Worse, the boycott of my records, my films, maybe a picket line at my opening at the Sands. Why? Because I’ve dared to say that love and decency are not necessarily concomitants of religious fervor.

Playboy: If you think you’re stepping over the line, offending your public or perhaps risking economic suicide, shall we cut this off now, erase the tape and start over along more antiseptic lines?

Sinatra: No, let’s let it run. I’ve thought this way for years, ached to say these things. Whom have I harmed by what I’ve said? What moral defection have I suggested? No, I don’t want to chicken out now. Come on, pal, the clock’s running.

World’s first baby born using new ‘three-parent’ technique

It has been announced that the ‘world’s first child created using a controversial “three-parent” baby technique has been born in Mexico.’

Only limited details about the birth are available so far, but more are expected to be revealed at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s scientific congress in Salt Lake City next month.

Stephan Hawking worries about aliens from other planets finding us before we find them

“Stephen Hawking is again warning about announcing our presence to any alien civilizations that might be out there, especially those that could be more technologically advanced.”

There’s a potentially habitable super-Earth, Gliese 832c, only 16 light-years away.

Hawking says:

“One day we might receive a signal from a planet like this, but we should be wary of answering back. Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus. That didn’t turn out so well.”

Can animals commit suicide?

Is it possible for animals to, through grief or for some other reason, form the intention to kill themselves — and then actually carry it out?

In the Scottish Lowlands town of Dumbarton, there’s an old stone bridge all the locals know about. It’s called Overtoun Bridge, and it’s the place where dogs go to die.

“The dogs commit suicide,” Lisa Hamilton, a local from a neighboring town, told Mic. “People have theories of why, but I have no idea personally.”

While theories abound, nobody knows for sure what motivated dozens of dogs over the last half-century to jump from the ivy-coated bridge to their deaths on the rocks below.

What is known, however, is that animals dying by their own hand — or paw or beak or flipper — is a phenomenon that has been widely documented since at least the mid-19th century. In 1847, Scientific American published a brief account from the island nation of Malta titled, “Suicide by a Gazelle.”

“A curious instance of affection in the animal, which ended fatally, took place last week at the country residence of Baron Gauci, at Malta,” the magazine wrote. “A female gazelle having suddenly died from something it had eaten, the male stood over the dead body of his mate, butting every one who attempted to touch it, then, suddenly, a spring, struck his head against a wall, and fell dead at the side of his companion.”

While the magazine’s more modern editors leapt over themselves to contextualize the event in a 2011 blog post, speculating the male gazelle was suffering from “neurological damage,” the specter of deliberate animal suicide has continued to linger.

Today, stories of whales intentionally beaching themselves, bears locked away in grim Chinese bile farms killing their young in seeming acts of mercy or dogs mysteriously leaping from old stone bridges continue to crop up, and the implications remain as unsettling as ever.

Can pets — the dogs, cats and other animals we love — commit suicide? It’s a dark question, and the answer is far from clear.

Another classic finding in psychology, that you can smile your way to happiness, just blew up

The concept of facial feedback has been a standard in self-help for many years. According to its advocates, facial movement by itself can influence emotions.

You can be feeling as miserable as sin, and all you have to do is force yourself to smile and pretty soon you’ll be feeling on top of the world. Or vice versa, if you’re feeling happy and force yourself to frown.

In other words, “Fake it till you make it; sulk until you hulk. Act the way you want to feel, and the rest will fall into place. A frown can rev you up. Smiling can make you happy or decrease your stress.”

Indeed, a famous study conducted in 1988 by Fritz Strack, a Würzburg psychologist, was credited with having shown that “movements of the face lead to movements of the mind” and “proved that emotion doesn’t only go from the inside out but from the outside in.”

What Strack did was place a pen between the teeth of one group of subjects, forcing them to smile; and between the lips of a second group, forcing them to frown. The result was the group with the pen between their teeth scored higher on the “happiness scale” than the group with the pen between their lips.

Then it was decided to conduct a more comprehensive replication of the facial-feedback study.

The results came back — and they weren’t good anymore for the pro-smile advocators.

They showed that “the difference between the smilers and frowners had been reduced to three-hundredths of a rating point, a random blip, a distant echo in the noise.”

A glider is about to attempt a record-breaking flight to the edge of space

In a place in South America, where powerful winds blow, scientists are preparing to launch an attempt to fly a glider and its human pilot all the way up to the edge of space.

That’s a height of 90,000 feet.

If the flight is successful, Perlan would break the world altitude record for a fixed-wing aircraft, and do so without using so much as a single drop of fuel.

Scientists get the first peek at genes in the act of ageing

It’s long been accepted logic that one of the keys to living longer is to refrain from overeating — the reason being that if you overeat, you get fat; and if you get fat, you don’t live as long as you otherwise would.

It’s considered an established fact in the case of humans, and it’s also been proven over and over in laboratory experiments with rodents.

But now there’s been a scientific breakthrough regarding what causes premature ageing and therefore a shortened lifespan.

Scientists have for the first time actually seen cells in the process of ageing. And what they’ve found is that the less you eat, the slower you’ll age — irrespective of weight gain.