Corruption, Worldliness, Greed, and Lust for Power

November 1, 2016


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

We all just got back from CSICon, and then yesterday my car died in the airport parking lot, so there was no Heresy. Which means I have a lot of catching up to do in this space. Okay. Deep breath.

CSICon: Holy crap what a great conference that was. I can’t do it justice here, but I think I did at least a lot of it justice with my blogathon coverage at CFI Live. Go see! 

Today the D.C. city council is going to vote on the Death with Dignity Act, so if you live there, get clicking on our action alert

CFI’s Michael De Dora weighs in on the religious freedom legacy of the Obama administration for the Deseret News. While Obama’s been right more often than he’s been wrong, Michael says:

The fact that the Obama administration hasn’t fixed the hiring discrimination loophole is one of the biggest disappointments for (the Center for Inquiry) during Obama’s eight years in office, particularly because, while he was campaigning, it was one of the things he promised to do. 

Kimberly Winston reports on the political divide among atheists over Clinton and Trump, and how some of us can’t seem to pick. I can’t imagine how this is possible:

Clinton-Kaine may be the more personally religious ticket, but Trump-Pence is more cozy with the religious right, aka the evil empire among atheists. Then there’s Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who has no chance of victory but is the only candidate who reached out to nonbelievers and asked for their vote.

I’m just saying, just because someone reaches out to you, that doesn’t mean you should vote for them. Again, just a thought. 

Dusty Smith says the Trump alt-right has taken over the skeptic community and that they’ve been fooled into believing that “SJWs” are the greatest threat to humanity — and it’s not like he’s a fan of the social justice types himself.

Point of Inquiry‘s guest this week is Joe Nickell, discussing the origins of what we consider “paranormal,” the subject of Joe’s recent Skeptical Inquirer feature

Pope Fluffy goes to the Lutheran cathedral of Lund in Sweden as the Protestant split with the Catholic Church approaches its 500th anniversary:

“With gratitude we acknowledge that the Reformation helped give greater centrality to sacred scripture in the (Catholic) Church’s life,” he said. … Francis has called Luther “an intelligent man” who was rightly upset by the corruption, worldliness, greed and lust for power that existed in the Catholic Church at the time. 

Daniel Burke at CNN explores the faith and beliefs of Hillary Clinton

Popular Mechanics looks at the “technology” behind self-styled ghost hunters, with a little skeptical perspective from CFI’s Ben Radford. The Baltimore Sun similarly reports on a pair of woman who claim to be able to speak to the dead, and Joe Nickell does the reality check:

“If you had a ghost energy, which science can’t find, it would dissipate after death,” Nickell said. “And for a ghost to not have a brain, that is a brain that is dead and moldered into dust and brain activity to be shown to have long ago ceased, it’s just a fool’s errand to think that’s a brainless ghost energy.” 

Lou Dobbs finally lost it, tweeting in opposition to Evan “Could Maybe Win Utah” McMullin:

Look Deeper, He’s nothing but a Globalist, Romney and Mormon Mafia Tool #MAGA #AmericaFirst #TrumpPence16 #TrumpTrain #Dobbs 

This prompts some delightful tweets about the #MormonMafia, such as:

If you keep mocking the #MormonMafia, you might wake up in your bed tomorrow next to a basket of muffins. 

As Richard Dawkins begins his U.S. tour, Revue interviews Julia Sweeney, who will join him on stage in Indianapolis and Grand Rapids.  

The Southern Poverty Law Center publishes a “field guide” for journalists, labeling figures it deems to be “anti-Muslim extremists.” Among them are names you’d expect, like Frank Gaffney, Pamela Geller, and Maajid Nawaz. Wait wait wait, what? Maajid Nawaz??? Who is himself a Muslim? Holy crap. Nawaz responds:

In today’s climate of vigilante violence, far-right and Islamist terrorism, being included on such lists can forever change the lives of any one unlucky enough to be deemed from high above as “anti-Muslim.” Unaccountable—but never mind for they are righteous—leftists are conferring upon themselves the power to irrevocably alter p
eople’s lives at the click of a mouse button, at the expense of we who live this struggle. 

Also on the list in Ayaan Hirsi Ali, which, speaking just for myself, I think is just as ridiculous, but also sadly not surprising to see. Nawaz again:
There is no “good way” to compile lists. Jihadist terrorists in Bangladesh also had a list. This appeared in 2013 and named 84 “atheist bloggers”, in other words secular free-thinkers. By the end of 2016 ten of them had been assassinated. … Nothing good ever comes from compiling lists. And so I say to the Southern Poverty Law Center: You were supposed to stand up for us, not intimidate us. Just imagine how ex-Muslim Islam-critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali must feel to be included in your list of “anti-Muslim” extremists. Her friend Theo Van Gogh was murdered on the streets of Amsterdam in 2004. And back then there was another list pinned to Theo’s corpse with a knife: it too named Ayaan Hirsi Ali.  

The Secular Coalition for America gets another member organization: the Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations. (The Center for Inquiry has been a member organization since 2010, when the Council for Secular Humanism joined.) 

WikiLeaks may have actually revealed something interesting for once: The UN’s interest in UFOs

Samantha Bee teaches us how to make a conspiracy theory.  

The Friendly Atheist Podcast has the guy who created VeggieTales. Imma listen to that one.  

Proof there is no God

Quote of the Day

Deepak Chopra is going to headline a conference in Edmonton, Alberta on autism. University of Alberta professor Timothy Caulfield isn’t pleased:

Chopra is the icon of pseudoscience. … I’m disappointed that someone who embraces so much pseudoscience has this status, and I’m disappointed that he was selected. … He’s like the great de-educator. He legitimizes these ideas that have no scientific basis at all and makes them sound scientific. He really is a fountain of meaningless jargon. This is a community — the autism community — which is often subjected to treatments that don’t have science behind them, that are portrayed as if they are scientific. This is a community that is struggling with a profound issue, so I would I like to see a more scientifically informed person in that place.


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