Upsetting at Best

December 16, 2016


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

2016 will be over in 15 days. 

Dylan Roof, who killed nine black parishioners in Charleston last year, is convicted on 33 counts of federal hate crimes. He could face life in prison or execution. A state trial for his crimes begins next month.

Sean Omar Rivera at Blavity says, “I am black, I am a humanist, and I support Black Lives Matter.” He makes a case for the secular movement’s alliance with Black Lives Matter:

Today’s secular movement has been dominated by those with the resources to find their way beyond religion, leaving many groups of color behind. Organizations like Black Non-Believers have done a fantastic job of addressing this disparity, but it is the job of allies to follow their lead and demonstrate that the secular movement is for people of all colors and backgrounds. Today’s secular community sees itself as an increasingly urgent part of the social justice movement. As the troubling ideologies of Donald Trump and his administration continue to reveal themselves, it becomes increasingly important for movements to work together in the fight for social justice, and the secular community must be committed to doing its part.

Ryan Houlihan at The Outline exposes the tricks of Tyler Henry, the “Macaulay Culkin look-alike” and so-called “Hollywood Medium”:

If Henry can truly speak to the dead, it would be the most important discovery in the history of the world. But rather than take his gift to scientists or religious leaders, Henry has decided to speak to actors about their grandmothers and deceased pets on a reality show. 

National Geographic does a special issue on gender, and features a 9-year-old transgender girl on the cover. 

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins is opposed to Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Why? “The ExxonMobil executive may be the greatest ally liberals have in the Cabinet for their abortion and LGBT agendas.” Wutchyoutalkinbout, Tony?

To hear that Donald Trump may be appointing a man who not only led the charge to open the Boy Scouts to gay troop leaders but whose company directly gives to Planned Parenthood is upsetting at best. …  The last thing Americans need is a leader who would continue to advocate (however subtly) the leftist social policy of the Obama years.

I like Rex better already. 

Saudi Arabia will launch a new program to confront threats to “ideological security,” which is a term I think they just made up. Lizzie Dearden at The Independent says the program is intended to “‘inoculate’ children against Westernisation, atheism, liberalism and secularism.” Ron Lindsay (who’s really been getting feisty on the twitters lately) calls it, “Child abuse on a mass scale.”

Congress approves an amendment to the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 with language that includes nonbelievers. Here’s some of it:

The freedom of thought, conscience, and religion is understood to protect theistic and non-theistic beliefs as well as the right not to profess or practice any religion. … Though not confined to a particular region or regime, religious persecution and the specific targeting of non-theists, humanists, and atheists because of their beliefs is often particularly widespread, systematic, and heinous under totalitarian governments and in countries with militant, politicized religious majorities and in regions where non-state actors exercise significant political power and influence.   

Snopes announces its participation in Facebook’s initiative to flag fake news. Margaret Sullivan warns against legislating the fake news problem:

Government involvement is a seriously bad idea. It could put the question of what constitutes real news and what constitutes fake news in the hands of those who may be most affected by it. And given the ascendancy of Trump, who traffics in falsehoods on a regular basis — and has been clear about wanting to limit long-established press rights — it’s an even worse notion. 

Stuart Vyse writes about the collapse of claims about the “Power Pose,” and what science journalism can learn from it. 

Sam Harris writes of missing Hitchens, 5 years after his death:

More times than I can count, strangers have come forward to say, “I miss Hitch.” Their words are always uttered in protest over some new crime against reason or good taste. They are spoken after a bully passes by, smirking and unchallenged, whether on the Left or the Right. They have become a mantra of sorts, intoned without any hope of effect, in the face of dangerous banalities or lies.  Often, I hear in them a note of personal reproach. Sometimes it’s intended. 

Greg Prazar writes a letter to the editor of the Portsmouth Heraldcriticizing the promotion of climate change denial:

Creating mistrust by reporting or discussing pseudoscience is similar to the falsified news that was uncontrolled during the 2016 election. Both falsified news and pseudoscience take on a life of their own when news outlets and social media ignore basic fact checking.  

Saikat Bhowmik at Cracked rounds up five myths about science, a couple of which were straight up news to me, like the thing about the Solar System’s barycenter. (I’m trying to think of a clever line to reference Steely Dan’s “Barrytown,” but it eludes me.)

Quote of the Day:

Commander William T. Riker, first officer aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-D, gets his hand caught in a Pringle’s can. Our quote of the day is really his googling story, which includes:

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