Excuses, Insults, and Hand-Wringing

December 29, 2017


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

Climate scientist Mark Boslough, a fellow of CFI’s Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, has for four years in a row challenged climate change deniers to prove their case, and put up $25,000 of his own money to make it interesting. He started this in partnership with us back in the Olden Days, the Long Long Ago, of 2015. (I came up with the line, “It’s time for the Heartland Institute to put their money where its exhaust pipe is.” Well, I thought it was funny, and Ron didn’t veto it.) No one has taken him up on the challenge yet, but Mark is at it again:

As always, I don’t expect any takers who would be willing to give up $25,000 just to demonstrate that they mean what they say. The lack of interest from deniers in my previous three challenges makes it clear that (no matter how much they protest) they know that scientists are right about global warming. The blogging and posturing are just for show. I look forward to this year’s excuses, insults, and hand-wringing. 

As though to make Mark’s point all the more firmly, Trump says, like, stuff:

In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up! 

In Skeptical Inquirer, Amy Frushour Kelly writes about the absolute necessity of critical thinking when it comes to care for a special-needs child:

I’m literally a card-carrying skeptic, and even I had trouble discerning actual danger from what wasn’t dangerous. Can you imagine how much harder it is for the average special-needs parent? 

Also in Skeptical Inquirer, Bertha Vazquez (head of CFI’s Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science) and Christopher Freidhoff have a kind of FAQ on evolution education.

Now this looks valuable: John Timmer at Ars Technica reports on a study that suggests that the way to combat conspiratorial thinking is not to saturate someone with facts, but to make them more news media literate:

News media literacy is the catch-all term for understanding how bias, unconscious or otherwise, influences the creation and consumption of news. This includes an awareness of the priorities of news organizations as businesses and the influence that ownership can have on the slant of news articles. But it also comes down to issues like recognizing that we bring our own biases in to the news we consume, allowing two people to come away from the same article with very different information. 

Scott Gavura rounds up the top ten signs that a detox is a scam. I’d like to add sign number zero: It’s a detox.

This piece from Religion Dispatches by Daniel C. Maguire is, um, grim:

The Holocene holiday is over. We wrecked it. We are now in the ominous Anthropocene Epoch, and the Sixth Great Extinction has us in its sights. In the greatest act of collective denial in human history, we reject all the bad news, telling ourselves that the “nice god” or the “technology” won’t let that happen. 

A Louisiana family’s house burns to the ground on Christmas. Their Bibles, which were protected by leather covers, made it out intact. The family calls it “a blessing.” To each their own?

Lianna Brinded, writing at Quartzy (“Quartzy”? Really, guys?), opens up about atheism and the preciousness of life:

Atheism has infused my life with the mantra that every moment counts, so don’t waste it. That attitude has opened doors, and the happiest moments of my life would likely never have materialized if I didn’t have such a “carpe diem” attitude.

Hey look: The New York Times has a listing for an event called “Happier Hour: Philosophy to Make Your Life Suck Less,” which includes Massimo Pigliucci, and credits him as a fellow of CSI. Neat. 

That lump of something sticking out of the water in Albania, vaguely shaped like the head of E.T., is obviously a Loch Ness Monster.

Swallow a rattlesnake pill, get salmonella.

Quote of the Day:

Sweetcakes is not a rude catcall, it’s the name of a bakery in Oregon that was hit with a $135,000 fine when they refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. An appeals court has just upheld that judgment, and the reasoning is so goddamned simple you almost wonder why this isn’t a settled issue everywhere:

The final order does not impermissibly burden the Kleins’ right to the free exercise of their religion because it simply requires their compliance with a neutral law of general applicability. 

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