I Say it Right to the Camera

November 14, 2016


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

Tomorrow is Openly Secular Day, your chance to take the Tell One Person pledge, and if you’re nearby, attend the Openly Secular Day flagship event with Julia Sweeney, Hemant Mehta, and Rebecca Markert in Madison, Wisconsin. 

White nationalist, conspiracy monger, and faux journalist Steve Bannon will be President-elect Donald Trump’s chief strategist. Trump’s lead domestic policy advisor for the transition is Ken Blackwell, who believes you can convert the gays. Ben Carson, who has wacky ideas about evolution and what the pyramids were for, may be our next education secretary.

On his 60 Minutes interview last night, Trump is wishy-washy on marriage equality, seems not terribly interested in whether Roe v. Wade is overturned (women needing an abortion can just “go to another state,” I suppose in their private jets), and tells supporters who are harrassing or assaulting women and minorities, “I say it right to the camera: Stop it.” Anyway, it’s a totally bewildering interview, you need to watch it. 

Asra Q. Nomanil — woman, immigrant, Muslim, journalist, and “lifelong liberal” — explains why she voted for Trump:

What worried me the most were my concerns about the influence of theocratic Muslim dictatorships, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, in a Hillary Clinton America. These dictatorships are no shining examples of progressive society with their failure to offer fundamental human rights and pathways to citizenship to immigrants from India, refugees from Syria and the entire class of de facto slaves that live in those dictatorships.

Mark Zuckerberg responds to the accusation that Facebook, a free-for-all for fake news and misinformation, somehow enabled Trump, saying that 99% of the content on Facebook “is authentic” (even if that’s true, 1% of the content of a billion people is, you know, a lot):

Overall, this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other. That said, we don’t want any hoaxes on Facebook. … This is an area where I believe we must proceed very carefully though. Identifying the “truth” is complicated. While some hoaxes can be completely debunked, a greater amount of content, including from mainstream sources, often gets the basic idea right but some details wrong or omitted. An even greater volume of stories express an opinion that many will disagree with and flag as incorrect even when factual. I am confident we can find ways for our community to tell us what content is most meaningful, but I believe we must be extremely cautious about becoming arbiters of truth ourselves. 

Mark Crislip looks at whether there’s anything to the idea that blue light from a phone or tablet before bed can hinder your sleep, and then just kind of throws up his hands about everything because Trump:

To summarize: The truth of blue light? Who cares? 

Paul Ryan refers to access to contraception in health care policy to be “nitty gritty details” not worth getting into. Emily Willingham sets us straight, reminding that birth control is medically necessary. 

We missed this one: Montana avoided having a creationist governor, as incumbent Steve Bullock narrowly defeated Greg Gianforte

Russ Dobler speaks to the artists behind the recent art exhibit based on and inspired by one of our little magazines, “Some Provocations from Skeptical Inquirers.” 

Joe Cochrane at NYT reports on the protests in Indonesia against the alleged blasphemy of Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, and notes that the reaction to this ethnic Chinese Christian is more about politics than theology

In WSJ, Jennifer Anju Grossman, a big fan of Ayn Rand and CEO of the Atlas Society, says there’s no real contradiction between Rand’s staunch atheism and the conservative Christianity of her devotees. “I believe that her atheism closed her to many religious people who would benefit from her aspirational views.” 

Don Bauder at the San Diego Reader reports on the California medical board’s charges of gross negligence against Dan Orville Harper, who dispenses homeopathic treatments and “ozone therapy.” 

Hey look, planet-larvae

Quote of the Day:

Phil Zuckerman reels from the Trump victory, and points the finger at American Christianity and its hostility to women and people of other faiths, and its embrace of authoritarianism:

I know that there are many who will find the tenor and tone of this blog post off-putting. They will say it is too snarky, too angry, and above all, disrespectful of people of faith. That may be so. Perhaps I need to be more accepting of people’s strong religious views and see the good in them. Perhaps my condemnation is just making things worse. I can see that may be so. Forgive me. But today, I’m finding it very hard to feel compassion
or respect for ideologies that denigrate people of color, that embolden sexual harassers, that legitimize Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, that deny global warming, and that prop up a man who seems to have no values at all, save self-aggrandizement.

Are there decent, humane men and women of faith—truly ethical Christians—who do not share Trump’s poison? Of course. They are in abundance. But sadly, their more benign and benevolent version of Christianity did not win the day on November 9.    

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