Actually Let’s Not

February 13, 2017

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

Know what? Today is my fifth anniversary as CFI’s chief communificationist. To celebrate, I will be surrounded by 2 feet of snow, trapped indoors with my children as I try to do my now five-year-old work.

The Columbus Dispatch reports on the efforts to allow Secular Celebrants to solemnize marriages in Ohio. Oh hey, that’s us! More specifically, CFI–Northeast Ohio’s Monette Richards:

“Why we’re pushing the secular celebrant bill is so we’ll have a choice, so everyone can have a choice,” said Richards, president of the northeast Ohio chapter of the Center for Inquiry, a nonpartisan organization focused on creating a secular society. “No one loses, the churches can still do it their way.” 

Openly Secular scores a testimonial from author and actress Annabelle Gurwitch, who identifies as a “caffeine addicted secular humanist Jewish mother.” 

ICYMI since I was gone on Friday, there’s a lot to catch up on from the past fortnight with our Cause & Effect newsletter.  

Jeremy Peters at NYT reports on how giddy the Religious Right is about Trump, regardless of the fact that he’s “a profane, bombastic, thrice-married New Yorker.”

On the flip side of that are the Christians who oppose Trump, or simply don’t like everything about him, but as Emma Green at The Atlantic reports, are facing harsh consequences:

Some who have spoken out against his presidency or his policies, though, have encountered backlash. For a small group of people working in Christian ministry, music, and nonprofit advocacy, the consequences have been tangible: They’ve faced pressure from their employers, seen funds withdrawn from their mission work, or lost performing gigs because of their political beliefs. 

Daniel Oberhaus at The Outline looks at the recent Mark Zuckerberg statement that he’s not an atheist (anymore), and considers how the atheism-to-religion conversion happens, which is not often. “It’s far more common for religious people to become atheists than it is for non-believers to find God.” 

Susan Gerbic interviews Mick West of Metabunk about his presentation at the last CSICon on chemtrail-belief.   

Joe Nickell tells of the ghost of Colborne Lodge in Toronto, the sightings of which were likely due to a mannequin in the window.

Shadi Hamid considers the idea that the Trump administration might label the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organization”:

The Brotherhood’s badness, one way or the other, has no bearing on whether or not it is a terrorist organization. Being a terrorist organization involves, among other things, ordering your members to commit terrorist attacks, something no one argues the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is doing. 

NASA is looking at ways to place a lander on Jupiter’s moon Europa that would dig into the ocean of water below its surface and look for signs of life.  

Looks like certain species of algae and cyanobacteria have survived 450 days in space while enduring a wide variety of cosmic abuses, which could help inform how humans might grow food on Mars.

LIGO is listening hard for gravitational waves, and guess what’s making that more difficult? The Trump travel ban, and the likely cuts in funding from Trump and his congressional allies. 

Most of the religious-minority refugees coming to the U.S. are Christians, not Muslims, but Trump says the Christians will get priority anyway.

Climate change is depleting African penguins’ food supply, resulting in an 80% population drop in some areas. 

In a “healthy kids” column at the Philly Inquirer, Emiliano Tatar reassures us that GMOs pose no threat to farmland. “Literally everything we eat has had their genes modified. EVERYTHING.”

Child-marriage is still a thing. I mean in the U.S. Fraidy Reiss of the nonprofit Unchained at Last writes in WaPo:

While most states set 18 as the minimum marriage age, exceptions in every state allow children younger than 18 to marry, typically with parental consent or judicial approval. How much younger? Laws in 27 states do not specify an age below which a child cannot marry. 

Richard Dawkins proposes a solution to the Electoral College that doesn’t require a constitutional amendment, and it’s quite similar to the plan I helped work to promote when I was at FairVote. 

David Gorski
dismantles RFK Jr’s claims that a Yale study links vaccines to autism.  

John Oliver is back, talking about faith, facts, and that president guy. 

Look upon these survey findings, and despair (via The Week):

Over 50 percent of people who voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election say that the Bowling Green Massacre — which never occurred — is proof that Trump’s ban on travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries is necessary, a new Public Policy Polling survey found.  

Now this is government doing some good work. Amanda Kooser at CNET reports:

If a bill heading for the New Mexico state legislature becomes law, it could cut off public funding for a very unusual hobby: searching for Bigfoot. … The list of mythological things includes Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, abominable snowmen, Pokemon, leprechauns and bogeymen.

Meet the Q Society, a group in Australia that really, really, really hates Muslims. I mean Islam, not Muslims, of course! Oh wait:

“Let’s be honest, I can’t stand Muslims,” said Larry Pickering, cartoonist and VIP guest at the Q Society fundraising dinner held in Sydney on Thursday night. “If they are in the same street as me, I start shaking.” 

They also seem to really hate gay people. So, actually, let’s NOT meet the Q Society ever.

Also a problem in Australia: about one third of pharmacists are recommending crap alt-med to consumers, including homeopathy. I’m just going to start wearing a white lab coat around so people will believe anything I tell them.

Quote of the Day:

James Croft responds to Dave Rubin’s rejection of progressivism with a rebuttal grounded in sympathy for Rubin’s position:

The classical liberal dream of a level playing field in which individuals, each judged by their character and not their group membership, make their own way unfettered, is precisely that – a dream. It cannot exist until all the restraints of class, money, race, sexuality, gender, ability etc. are removed – exactly what the “progressives” Rubin disdains are trying to achieve. …

There are definitely problems with the intellectual frameworks of contemporary progressivism, and activist communities have to constantly evaluate our practices to ensure we are promoting healthy discourse and respecting everybody appropriately. The truth is, any community of people powerfully dedicated to a set of values can become toxic and limiting, closed to new ideas. This is true on the left, and is certainly also true on the right … Sometimes, progressives do indeed close down discussions which need to be had, and assume that those who disagree do so out of stupidity, privilege, or bad faith, instead of for good and honest reasons. But this happens in every community of ideas: it is not unique to Rubin’s detested “progressives”, or even particularly bad among them.  

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