If You Could Please Explain the Crab Monster

October 20, 2015

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.      

Oh hey, Canada! Did you have an election or something? That’s cool I guess. Hey let’s go see what Trump’s up to… 

Delicious, delicious science is the theme for the latest episode of Point of Inquiry, with the chief of Serious Eats, J. Kenji López-Alt, and some culinary mythbusting.

At Skeptical Inquirer, Harriet Hall shows how the Nobel Prize win for Tu Youyou and her discovery of artemisininin, an anti-malarial drug, is actually not a victory for traditional Chinese medicine, but for, yes, actual science. 

Dr. Hall also looks at the claims about the “world’s first digital anti-inflammatory device,” the Willow Curve, and, guess what, “there is no credible evidence to back [the claims] up.” 

The violent Islamist group responsible for the murder of secularist Bangaldeshi bloggers, Ansaraullah Bangla Team, threatens to kill members of the media who report on their crimes. Among their “demands”:

Everyone is being warned against succumbing to provocations by atheists in the country and those hiding abroad. Otherwise, their fate will be like that of Niloy Neel, Oyasiqur Babu, Avijit Roy etc. Not a single atheist will be spared. 

Alexandra Sowa at Slate: For the love of all things holy, please don’t listen to Gwyneth Paltrow if you get sick. 

Trevin Wax opines on Ben Carson’s opposition to the idea of a Muslim presidential candidate, and looks at the broader view of what he thinks is actually acceptable in modern politics:

What the Carson controversy shows us is that many people in a secular society are OK with religion, whatever religion, as long as it doesn’t really impinge upon one’s view of the world or how one votes or what platforms one endorses. The secular mindset is fine with religion, whether it is Christian or Hindu or Muslim or even atheism, as long as it is a thin veil on top of a bland sort of secularism. The problem, for many secularists, is not religion per se, but people who take their religion too seriously. 

Fredrick Nzwili profiles Dr. Farouk Mohammed Jega, a physician undergoing the sysaphean task of promoting to Muslims in Northern Nigeria “evidence-based arguments to try to persuade clerics that Islam supports family planning methods.” 

The governor of my state has appointed as head of the state board of education a fellow who thinks we should teach creationism in public schools. This is in Maine, everybody. [Insert a Tina Belcher “eeeeeeeeuuuuuuugh”

Ben Radford lends some skeptical perspective to the story of a “buxom ghost” appearing at a British museum. “Buxom”? Really? 

Center for American Progress releases a big policy report on “restoring the balance” between religious liberty and all the other liberties. 

Judd Legum uncovers a great conspiracy: It seems that George W. Bush may have actually been president at the same time that 9/11 happened!!! #thetruthisoutthere 

“My name is Dan Arel, and I am a new atheist.” So writes Dan in a piece in which he details his reversal from his former opposition to Sam Harris

Now you too can pay way too much for water that might have been peed in by the Loch Ness Monster.  

Debbi Baker at the San Diego Union-Tribune on how some folks feel NASA is not being upfront about the Buddha (which it obviously is!) found on Mars:

While we’re at it, NASA, wouldn’t it be great if you could please explain the crab monster, the ghost lady, the army hat, the thigh bones, the iguana, and the hood ornament? Thanks.

Quote of the Day:

Two quotes today, very similar in message. Mette Ivie Harrison, whose HuffPo bio is remarkable (“Mormon mother of 5, author of ‘The Bishop’s Wife,’ Princeton PhD, nationally ranked triathlete”), says the religious can benefit from us heathens

Almost every religion looks bad when forced to deal with the criticism of atheists. And almost every religion can be improved by taking these criticisms seriously. … I’m not sure if atheists need theists. I’ve generally found the atheists I’ve met to be moral and deeply thoughtful people. They don’t seem to need religion to treat people well or to find meaning in life. And more power to them if that’s true for them. For me, I still find religion useful, as long as I see it as it truly is, and I thank atheists for making me do that.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on HuffPost Live also has some nice things to say about atheists, or at least their utility:

I love atheists! … Why did God invent atheists? Answer: To stop religious leaders [from] getting too big-headed! … An atheist reminds us the fundamental truth: Never give a religious leader power. We just don’t know what to do with it.

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