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Trick and Treat with "green" chocolate and spooky reading

Happy Halloween, and what better way to celebrate than by kicking back with some fair-trade chocolate and our in-depth look at the science of the occult?

Yes, your Halloween can be eco-friendly: Chocolate produced with cocoa from sustainable farms, which minimize soil disturbance and pay their workers a living wage, may help mitigate the environmental costs of shipping, trucking and packaging the products — and help alleviate poverty, this week's 60-Second Earth podcast reports. This Halloween, churches around the U.S. are promoting the sale of fair-trade chocolate, which doesn't use child labor to produce it, Religion News service notes.

"It's creating awareness of mission on a socio-economic scale," said Ellen Comstock, a pastoral counselor and member of Centenary United Methodist Church in Portsmouth, Va., whose church is pushing products with the fair-trade stamp of approval. (The nonprofit TransFair USA certifies fair-trade goods.) "What we do affects the global market, and this makes us aware of what our luxury does in terms of creating poverty for some people."

You might need lots of that fair-trade chocolate to console yourself as you read about the nature of evil in our special Halloween series. A Rensselaer philosopher uses a scary computer character dubbed E (for, you guessed it, “evil”) to pick apart the logic and motivations of the morally bankrupt.

"It's creepy, I know it is," researcher Selmer Bringsjord says.

You can also find out why children have trouble discerning real from make-believe, what happens in the brain when we “see” ghosts, persistent hauntings on military bases, and why even grown-ups get scared. And you may want a look at one scary Halloween frog.

Trick or treat!

(Image of diabolical pumpkin by iStockphoto/Francesco Rossetti)

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