The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Yesterday was crazy. I mean, just ridiculous. The mind reels just trying to recall all the weird, troubling, inspiring, depressing, hilarious, and bizarre things that happened.
President Obama gave his farewell address, releasing oceans of tears and unleasing waves of anxiety from people like me. He came close to echoing CFI’s own tagline, saying (emphasis mine):
Without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to admit new information and concede that your opponent might be making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, then we’re going to keep talking past each other.
He seemed pretty fixated in his speech on threats to the foundations of democracy, but who can say why I sure can’t.
Anti-vax activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., meanwhile, told the press that Trump had asked him to head up a “vaccine safety” commission, which send me into a tizzy of rage, and we put out this denunciation of the idea, whether it’s actually true or not. And it might not be true, as the Trump team began to push back on it (though they mentioned autism, not vaccines, which either way also fails to inspire confidence).
We’re not done. Sen. Jeff Sessions had his hearing for his nomination for Attorney General. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island asked Sessions whether “secular people” could claim to understanding the truth as well as religious people, and Sessions said, with a smartass smirk, “Well, I’m not sure.” He did say that “we are not a theocracy,” so that was frankly more than I expected from him.
There’s more! Dylan Roof was sentenced to death for the Charleston shooting that massacred nine people in 2015.
And now more stuff.
Today Exxon’s own Rex Tillerson will have his hearing as the likely next Secretary of State. We have a LOT of questions about this guy, and we want the Senate to ask them:
Is he aware of the plight that millions of humans face due to their religious beliefs or lack thereof, or else their sexual orientation or gender identity? Does he strongly support the rights to freedom of religion, belief, and expression and fully oppose restrictive and discriminatory measures, such as blasphemy and similar laws, that governments and societies use to muzzle minorities and dissenters? Does he oppose policies that restrict the rights of citizens based on their religious affiliation?
A science advocacy group called 314 Action (yes, named for pi) is trying to recruit scientists to run for office. One reason may be, as Eric Armstrong of the New Republic puts it, even the Democrats aren’t trustworthy on science issues such as homeopathy, GMOs, and nuclear power.
This happened a couple of days ago: 16 separate Jewish community centers got bomb threats on the same day.
Harriet Hall reviews Edzard Ernst’s Homeopathy: The Undiluted Facts, and says it should be the last word on homeopathy, but, expressing the despair that I more or less live in, “the people who most need to read this book won’t.”
Catholics for Choice releases a report on how Catholic-owned hospitals jeopardize health care.
Remember that “alien megastructure”? Now the thinking is that it’s just a “stellar collision.”
Sam Harris posts the audio of the second part of his conversation with Richard Dawkins.
That large footprint-looking hole in North Dakota was obviously made by Bigfoot. Plus, someone smelled “a stench so severe he was almost sickened.”
Ali Rizvi must be feeling pretty good: His book is being reviewed in the New York Times by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
In a battle between Islamophobia and doughnuts, bet on the doughnuts.
Quote of the Day:
Responding to the RFK Jr. “vaccine safety” news, @pourmecoffee tweets:
Trump Announces Email Sender ‘email@example.com” To Chair Committee On Enlarging Your Penis
(Relatedly, I tweeted, “Trump to announce plans to send humans to the Moon, ‘but for real this time.'”)
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