The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Catch up with the previous 14 days with Cause & Effect, the official propaganda outlet of the Glorious Democratic People’s Republic of the Center for Inquiry. I mean newsletter.
For his podcast, Sam Harris posts the first of his two conversations with Richard Dawkins, recorded at the Alex Theater last month on Dawkins’ recent U.S. tour.
Embattled climatologist Michael Mann (who also has a piece in the latest Skeptical Inquirer) pens an op-ed for WaPo on his fears for the integrity of science and the safety of scientists during the reign of Trump:
As we’ve seen recently, a segment of Americans is receptive to fake news, and some are eager to act on it. Wild conspiracy theories have propelled a woman to make death threats against the parent of a child killed at Sandy Hook Elementary and motivated a man to discharge an assault rifle in a family pizza restaurant in Washington.
I fear the chill that could descend. I worry especially that younger scientists might be deterred from going into climate research (or any topic where scientific findings can prove inconvenient to powerful vested interests). As someone who has weathered many attacks, I would urge these scientists to have courage.
White supremacists, in their publication The Daily Stormer, call for the harassment of Jews in Whitefish, Montana.
Meanwhile a GOP candidate for the Louisiana state legislature, one Michael “Duke” Lowrie (I always worry about people nicknamed “Duke”) says the U.S. should boycott businesses run by or employing Muslims, and will hate-by-example: “I for one will no longer knowingly go to or do business with any establishment that has someone who I know is a follower of Islam working there.”
I for one would be glad not to have him.
Ex-Muslims of North America post a video telling the story of Stephanie, someone who adopted Islam but later had doubts and fears for her children. “No extreme is ever an answer to anything.”
Google, Apple, Uber, and IBM say they will not assist in any efforts to build a “Muslim database” for the Trump administration should they be asked. Oracle, they’re not saying.
Marcia S.B. Bernicat, U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh, explains in an interview how the country has become a top priority for ISIS and Al Qaeda.
GOP members of South Carolina’s legislature propose a new bill that would allow public school teachers to “express a religious viewpoint” or “conduct or participate in any student-led prayer or student-organized prayer groups, religious clubs, or other religious gatherings organized by students.”
Chris Jones ay NYT profiles Sara Seager, an MIT astrophysicist who’s “obsessed with discovering distant worlds.”
Let’s say one of those distant worlds has some living beings on it. Brandon Ambrosino at BBC explores how Earth’s religions might react.
The Awl, which has become incredibly unpleasant, responds to Ambrosino’s musings with:
Or maybe aliens and religion are both bullshit. Still, it’s something to think about to not think about the other things, which are real and which are actually going to happen.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief releases a conference summary on “Freedom of Religion or Belief and Sexuality.”
Fred Karger, head of the group Rights Equal Rights, says the Mormon Church should no longer be tax-exempt, and is pushing an effort to rescind their status.
Star HIP68468 is eating its planets.
A memorial for Rob Sherman, the atheist activist who died in a plane crash, will be held at chaumburg Regional Airport on Thursday.
Quote of the Day:
Charlie Jane Anders at Wired on the casting of Sonequa Martin-Green as the lead in the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery series, and the franchise’s humanist foundation:
From its beginnings more than 50 years ago, Star Trek has always been about humanism. Creator Gene Roddenberry was famously a secular humanist himself, and he spoke eloquently about wanting to portray a future in which people use science to solve our
own problems. That commitment to humanism is why Captain Kirk is always meeting gods—and refusing to worship them—in the Original Series. And it’s why Captain Picard, in The Next Generation, tells the all-powerful Q that humanity has left behind our old bloodlust. Picard would always rather talk than fight. …
… That’s why Roddenberry inserts all those dorky messages about “Infinity Diversity in Infinite Combinations.” It’s why he and his successors pushed for representation of marginalized groups among Star Trek‘s heroes, beginning with Lt. Uhura and continuing with Captains Sisko and Janeway. Inclusion isn’t a distraction from Trek‘s humanism; it’s the very heart of that ethos.
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Original image by Jason Dunne
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