The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
So I missed the State of the Union last night because I had a thing, and I suppose I could have watched it later, but you know, there are depths of self-loathing towhich even I dare not descend. Seems to me that it was a lot of the same blah-blah-this-is-the-moment-he-becomes-president kind of sludge we always have to endure. Like, who with any respect for the craft of writing or themselves (I’m looking at the speechwriters now) addresses the American people with crap like this?
Together, we are rediscovering the American way. In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of American life.
The motto is, in God we trust. And we celebrate our beliefs, — our police, our military, and veterans as heroes who deserve our total and unwavering support.
Forget the sentiment behind it. It’s nonsensical, terms that are purely evocative are just mushed together with no connective tissue other than that they “feel patriotic.” Ugh. Whatever. I’m done with that.
Much more important than this imperial sideshow, Julia Belluz explains how Trump has spent his first year rolling back women’s reproductive rights.
Isabel Fattal at The Atlantic writes about the new atheism-studies program at the University of Miami brought into existence by Louis Appignani with CFI’s support. There, we learn that the Appignani Foundation Chair for the Study of Atheism, Humanism, and Secular Ethics will be Prof. Anjan Chakravartty, who teaches metaphysics and philosophy of science at Notre Dame.
500 women scientists sign on to an op-ed in Scientific American denouncing Bill Nye’s decision to attend the State of the Union as the guest of NASA administrator nominee Jm Bridenstein:
As scientists, we cannot stand by while Nye lends our community’s credibility to a man who would undermine the United States’ most prominent science agency. And we cannot stand by while Nye uses his public persona as a science entertainer to support an administration that is expressly xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, racist, ableist, and anti-science. Scientists are people, and in today’s society, it is impossible to separate science at major agencies like NASA from other pressing issues like racism, bigotry, and misogyny. …
… from his position of privilege and public popularity, Bill Nye is acting on the scientific community’s behalf, but without our approval. No amount of funding for space exploration can undo the damage the Trump administration is causing to public health and welfare by censoring science.
Nye himself had said that his attendance “should not be interpreted as an endorsement of this administration, or of Congressman Bridenstine’s nomination, or seen as an acceptance of the recent attacks on science and the scientific community.”
A UCLA Law School report says that almost 700,000 Americans between 18 and 59 have had to endure some form of “gay-conversion” therapy, and half of them were adolescents when it happened.
At CSICOP.org, Stuart Vyse writes of William James and his often-overlooked fascination with spiritualism and the search for a reasonable kind of “belief.”
Hillary Clinton wrestles with her decision not to fire her 2008 campaign’s “faith guru” when he had been harassing a female employee, and interestingly, there’s no mention of the fact that this guy was the faith-and-morals guy. Clinton writes:
I recognize that the situation on my 2008 campaign was unusual in that a woman complained to a woman who brought the issue to a woman who was the ultimate decision maker. There was no man in the chain of command. The boss was a woman. Does a woman have a responsibility to come down even harder on the perpetrator? I don’t know. But I do believe that a woman boss has an extra responsibility to look out for the women who work for her, and to better understand how issues like these can affect them.
Steven Novella knows a few things about brains, and he says that the claims of “vision therapists” or “behavioral optometrists,” that many disorders are really just vision problems that can be tweaked, are pretty much bunk.
Iowa State Rep. Mary Mascher says that if state Republicans want a Bible-literacy bill for public schools, she’s going to tack on an amendment adding classes for the Quran and the Talmud.
The Therapeutic Goods Amendment Bill in Australia would remove the existing requirement for alt-med products to have their claims screened before being allowed to advertise on TV, and instead promise to fine companies shown to be making false claims. Ah okay let’s just wait for someone to be poisoned.
Like the Spock before him, Zachary Quinto will narrate a reboot of the In Search Of... series on paranormal phenomena and whatnot. Um, ggggreat?
So this is a thing where an orca was taught to mimic human speech. Maybe?
Quote of the Day
On Twitter, John Cleese suggests that Trump, for once in his life, try reading a book. Some ding-dong takes offense at this, says Cleese is being arrogant. Cleese responds:
I’m surprised to learn that reading a book is a sign of arrogance. But I imagine it might seem elitist to the Trumpenproletariat. Like using toilet paper
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