People Who Can Explain Stuff

December 22, 2016


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

Amanda Marcotte joins Lindsay Beyerstein on Point of Inquiry this week to talk about the Trump transition, and where opponents can find some footing to resist him. 

Trump says his ideas about banning Muslim immigration and creating a Muslim registry have “been proven to be right. One hundred percent correct.” To help Trump with his Muslim registry is Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel and his data-mining company Palantir. 

Thiel also seems to be behind this odd course at the Berkeley Institute on “heterodox science,” and The Verge‘s Melissa Batchelor Warnke helps explain what that’s about:

In the modern political context, heterodoxy has been adopted by conservative groups concerned about what they view as a suffocating echo chamber in the liberal academy. … Heterodoxy can be fraught in execution because its framework doesn’t adequately distinguish between valid, non-mainstream arguments and so-called bad science; a conversation among heterodox researchers may start out with reasonable critiques of liberalism in the academy, and devolve into theories that have been roundly disproven and / or are widely perceived as dangerously intolerant. Such theories can include creationism, climate change denial, or scientific racism. 

That other guy, Ted Cruz, along with his brother-in-self-righteousness Mike Lee, are going to reintroduce the ridiculous “First Amendment Defense Act,” which doesn’t actually defend the First Amendment (the First Amendment does that by itself), but actually protects people who want to discriminate against gays and anyone else their religion says is bad. 

Alabama’s Gov. Robert Bentley is considering as Jeff Sessions’ replacement in the Senate, I kid you not, Judge Roy Moore. Nothing matters.

The North Carolina legislature decides, meh, let’s keep on discriminating against LGBTQ folks, as the “bathroom bill” deal with Charlotte is broken. 

Allie Gross at VICE shows how the “school choice” folks ruined Detroit’s school system, and what that means for the country:

“You can’t overstate how devastating charter schools and DeVos’s political influence has been for Detroit and the state of Michigan,” [Wayne State law professor Peter] Hammer said. “So if the nation is going to experience what Michigan has experienced, it’s frightening.” 

Brianna Wu, game developer and anti-harassment activist, announces that she is running for Congress from Massachusetts in 2018. 

A health care educator in Texas who is a devout Catholic is fired for refusing to inform patients about contraception, so of course she’s suing.  

Raheel Raza, who has collaborated with CFI in the past at the UN Human Rights Concil, wants more plain speaking about global jihad and the threat posed by Islamists. But she also says:

Now that Donald J. Trump is officially the President-elect of the United States, moderate Muslims like myself are hoping he changes course and refuses to surround himself with radical Muslim advisors, or members of the so-called “Islamophobia Industry” – who actually have the nerve to call real moderate Muslims – like me – an Islamophobe.

And I’m all, like, I don’t think that’s the approach to radical Islam that we need to be worried about under the Trump administration. 

Three Oregon students were able to earn scholarships to attend CSICon this year, thanks to Jeanine DeNoma and Oregonians for Science and Reason. Susan Gerbic interviews her and the winning students. 

The Times of India looks at the challenges faced by the Bangladeshi bloggers and activists who seek asylum elsewhere, but face a backlash against Muslims. CFI’s efforts to rescue these folks is mentioned here: 

In October 2016, Bangladeshi blogger Arnab Goswami, shifted to an undisclosed location in Germany. He was planning to apply for asylum in end of January. So far, he has been involved in a writing scholarship in Germany that was offered jointly by Amnesty and Centre For Inquiry. “I was facing death threat back home. At least it’s better in this country. But, I am apprehensive that the recent attack might ignite an anti-immigrant attitude among the general Germans. This uncertainty is forcing me to get depressed. Nowadays, I can’t concentrate on my writing,” said Goswami, who has cousins living in Kolkata. 

Martha Mukaiwa at Religion News Service reports on the pain and alienation of LGBTQ people in Namibia, as churches look to “pray the gay away.” 

There’s a spoon on Mars. (No there isn’t.) 

Let’s ask Neil deGrasse Tyson what his position on the existence of God is. Why not. 

Quote of the

Joel Achenbach on Carl Sagan, 20 years gone:

Carl Sagan died 20 years ago Tuesday, at the far-too-young age of 62. He had many strong beliefs, none greater than his conviction that science was a candle in the dark. …  There’s a lot of darkness these days — science denialism in its various forms. It’s certainly not a novel development, but it’s a bigger problem than ever given the scale of our scientific and technological challenges. The list of scientifically mediated, politically divisive issues is a long one, and Sagan would have been a busy man these last 20 years. … What kind of world are we creating? The world still needs people who can explain stuff — and so it misses Carl Sagan.

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