Worldly Babbling

February 23, 2015

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

Mondays are crazy. Don’t even think about delving into it without catching up with the previous 14 days with Cause & Effect, the CFI newsletter

Wei-Hock Soon, the scientist heavily cited by those who wish to deny humanity’s role in climate change, is exposed as being bought by the fossil fuel industry to the tune of over $1 million. 

CFI’s Ed Beck was on hand for the swearing-in of Rabbi David Saperstein as the U.S.’s new ambassador for religious freedom, as seen here. Here’s what Saperstein said were his priorities (emphasis mine):

To use this position fervently; to advocate for freedom of thought, conscience, and belief; for the rights of individuals to practice, choose and change their faith safely; not only living their faith through worship, but through teaching, preaching, practice, and observance; as well as the right to hold no religious beliefs; and consequently, to seek strongly the end to blasphemy and apostasy laws

On that topic, here’s Tomas Byrne on blasphemy laws:

The problem is that if you start placing limits on free speech, every single interest group in the world is going to get in queue and say ‘I don’t want to be offended,’ and nobody will be able to talk about anything. That’s why it has to stop. 

Tim Farley exposes the online astroturfing efforts and sock puppetry of the herbal supplement industry as New York state takes action against them.

Edward Frenkel at NYT on what “quantum weirdness” means for our real lives, and it’s not Chopra-esque:

We should be careful to recognize that the weirdness of the quantum world does not directly imply the same kind of weirdness in the world of everyday experience. That’s because the nebulous quantum essence of individual elementary particles is known to quickly dissipate in large ensembles of particles (a phenomenon often referred to as “decoherence”). This is why, in fact, we are able to describe the objects around us in the language of classical physics. 

The AP reports on Austria’s rejection of Saudi Arabia’s two-faced posture in terms of “religious understanding” when it comes to the flogging of Raif Badawi, as many look to boot out a Saudi cultural center in Vienna.  

Something-something Oscars, I dunno, I didn’t watch, but I do know that Kirk Cameron has a lot of Razzies

While American women remain more religious than men overall, Cathy Lynn Grossman reports that the trend is toward non-religious parity.  

Erick Erickson, the chief blowhard at RedStateknows for certain that Barack Obama is not a “real Christian”:

We know God cares about everyone. We know Christ came to die for sinners. But Christians know Christ is truth itself. To have truth, we must have Christ. To suggest that everyone can have some version of God and some version of truth is worldly babbling, not Christianity. 

North Dakota GOP state legislators freak out when the House invocation is delivered by a Muslim cleric, and fail to grasp the irony of their complaint, “you’re going to force [Christians] to listen to a prayer that they don’t agree with?” 

In the other Dakota, a state representative has a new bill to forbid the beheading of unborn children (I know, I know, and it gets weirder), and says Planned Parenthood is more or less just like ISIS. I’m beginning to think it must not be too hard to be a state legislator these days.  

Rand Paul gets wishy-washy about his faith. Or lack thereof. Or his return to faith. Or his resistance to it. Hmm. 

Boko Haram and ISIS look like they’re teaming up. Oh f***. 

We’re glad Prince Charles is working to help save Raif Badawi. But we’d rather he didn’t get involved in U.S. medicine, advocating for homeopathy and other alt-med at a health symposium. 

UK’s The Skeptic magazine is taking votes for the Ockham Awards for Skeptical Activism

Quote of the Day 

Political scientists Eric Oliver and Thomas Wood release a study on conspiracy beliefs, finding that about half of all Americans believe in at least one conspiracy. They tell the Washington Post:
We think of conspiracy theories as simply another form of magical thinking. And as with a
ll types of magical thinking, people engage in conspiracy theories in order to cope with difficult emotions.
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