Undeniable Likable Sass

December 22, 2014

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

Note: I’m tired of nativity scene stories, so if you want to read about them, use the google machine. 

On Friday, CFI wrote a letter to Sony Pictures volunteering our headquarters for a screening of The Interview, the release of which Sony canceled entirely due to shadowy threats:

Much of our work is centered on securing the right to hold and express unpopular opinions and beliefs in places where dissent is crushed through persecution, violence, imprisonment, and death. It is a sad turn of events that a powerful source of free expression such as Sony Pictures could choose to give in to a shadowy group’s intolerance of dissent. … We believe strongly enough in the right to the free expression of even unpopular ideas that we are willing to shoulder the risk of doing so.

Our offer was picked up by the Associated PressWBFO, and Time Warner Cable News, and covered on WKBW Channel 7 news on Friday night (with their reporter standing outside CFI HQ and a phone interview with me) and on Saturday night with an interview from our boss Ron Lindsay. (They haven’t posted the video of the bit with Ron but they do have a writeup.) Hemant Mehta says, “Well done, CFI. Even if the movie isn’t screened in Buffalo, this is the message more Americans need to hear.”

For their part, Sony is now hedging on the whole “we will never release it” thing. 

And for all the exciting stuff that happened in the two weeks before our thing with Sony, check out the latest edition of our newsletter, Cause & Effect

Karen Kaplan at the LA Times reports on the recent findings that at least one third of the claims made on Dr. Oz’s show are bunk, and references yours truly’s less-than-admiring remarks about the good doctor. 

Ron blogs on the debate over the religious motivations for violent extremism:

Frankly, it’s just silly to say the “real” cause of religiously motivated terror attacks is some political or economic grievance. When terrorists shout “God is great” as they go about killing people, that’s not code for “we want unemployment benefits.” 

Joe Nickell lends the skeptical perspective to a CNN.com piece on “shared-death experiences.” 

James Croft takes the “negatory” side in the debate hosted at Chris Stedman’s site on whether there is any such thing as “fundamentalist atheists,” a term which he says is “a weapon to marginalize critique of religion and the religious, and to maintain a status quo in which religious viewpoints, practices, and communities are privileged over nonreligious ones.” 

CFI-DC’s Simon Davis is now our go-to guy on dead people. Here he is at The Order of the Good Death writing about that corpse that was left in a bedroom awaiting a resurrection.

Phil Plait struggles with the difficult case of Mayim Bialik, on one hand a role model for young women and science, and on the other hand a promoter of woo. 

A former head of Saudi Arabia’s religious police (a real thing) confuses everybody by holding controversial views, such as the belief that women should be allowed to show their faces sometimes. 

Free Inquiry is cited in this piece by David Gibson on the debate over Jesus’s historicity. 

Longreads rounds up four longform pieces on leaving one’s religion

Penny Higgins writes at Skeptical Inquirer on the way creationists sow confusion by trying to assert scientific validity to the Bible’s “kinds” in animal taxonomy.

Salon excerpts Phil Zuckerman’s Living the Secular Life, with a piece tallying up the factors leading to America’s growing secularization.  

Christmas: A time to scare the ever-living crap out of kids with Krampus. 

Jeremy Samuel Faust at Slate says “natural remedies” meant to “boost your immune system” are mainly “expensive placebos.” Those are the best kind!

Despite the headline, these birds are not “psychic.” 

Quote of the Day

Jaime Franchi at the Long Island Press wants to believe in the powers of “medium” Theresa Caputo at one of her shows, but…

For me, this unbelievable experience was simply that: not to be believed. In my humble opinion, Caputo is a damn good performer, and she’s got undeniably likable sass and charisma.

I just don’t think she speaks with the dead.

* * *  

Image by me, that’s my boy.  

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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The Morning Heresy: “I actually read it.” – Hemant Mehta