Embarrassingly Late

February 28, 2017


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

Trump likes to threaten to sue people, but even he rarely actually does it. Turns out that’s pretty common. Point of Inquiry welcomes David M. Engle this week to talk about how Americans, though stereotyped as a litigious people, actually rarely sue. 

“At some point, embarrassingly late begins to verge on something more disquieting.” So says the Kansas City Star editorial board about the deafening silence from President Trump on the murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla and the wounding of Alok Madasani and Ian Grillot:

Nearly a week has passed since two India-born engineers were singled out and shot at an Olathe bar, presumably because they were immigrants, darker in skin tone and possibly viewed by the shooter as unwanted foreigners.

People around the world were immediately and rightfully horrified. But our president? Mum. Not a word has been spoken, tweeted or prepped for Trump’s teleprompter.

John Abraham at The Guardian looks into this mysterious list of 300 “scientists” who say Trump should back the U.S. out of international climate agreements, and really, they might as well have included “Mickey Mouse” and “Deez Nuts.”

Carl Cederström believes he’s figured out the key to Trump’s aversion to the truth: The influence of Norman Vincent Peale of The Power of Positive Thinking. “Make a true estimate of your own ability, then raise it 10%.”

Read Carole Cadwalladr’s exploration of the various tendrils connecting Breitbart, billionaire John Mercer, Bannondorf, Jared Kushner, and hyper-sophisticated Facebook content targeting…and despair.

The organization that runs the DC school voucher program says get ready, the program is set to expand under DeVos

Mitch Weiss at the AP has a big expose about the Word of Faith Fellowship in North Carolina, a church that has viciously abused adults and children for decades:

Congregants of the Word of Faith Fellowship were regularly punched, smacked, choked, slammed to the floor or thrown through walls in a violent form of deliverance meant to “purify” sinners by beating out devils, 43 former members told The Associated Press in separate, exclusive interviews. Victims of the violence included pre-teens and toddlers — even crying babies, who were vigorously shaken, screamed at and sometimes smacked to banish demons. 

Mark Oppenheimer has a big feature at GQ on Peter Popoff, the prosperity-gospel charlatan than James Randi humiliated in the 80s, and yet remade himself all over again. Oh, and yes, there’s a Trump parallel:

Both seem to be running cons, but both have followers who either don’t notice or don’t care. Both men have produced nothing, except, for their followers, fervent certainty that they can produce anything. 

The AP’s Max Sullivan explores the growing secularization of the Seacoast area of New Hampshire through the eyes of a group of local religious leaders on retreat. “What I think we’re facing today with secularism is basically, there’s been the shift from a reliance upon God and a deeper appreciation for the things beyond what we can see and figure out, to the reliance on self,” said Father Gary Belliveau. 

Yesterday, Bernie Sanders did a Facebook Live interview with Bill Nye about climate change and Nye’s ever-more-difficult-to-muster optimism.  

It makes some folks really mad when a 22-year-old former-Buddhist current-Unitarian-atheist Selectwoman doesn’t say the Pledge at meetings

Steven Novella laments Americans’ rejection of the informed:

The culture and our educational system have created a generation that has little experience being told they are objectively wrong. Everyone feels they are entitled to be right. Combine this with the illusion of knowledge provided by Google, and everyone thinks they are their own expert in anything.

Scientists’ traditional reticence to engage in advocacy may be somewhat unfounded, according to some new research.

Susan Perry at MinnPost conveys some of the myths and harms of alternative medicine

Bangladesh passes its child-marriage law so 12-year-old girls can be married off “in special circumstances.” Oh it’s special alright.

A Hindu advocacy group is accusing a Norwegian brewery of blasphemy for using images of Hindu gods on its bottles. 

Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquits a m
an charged with blasphemy
 for allegedly desecrating a Quran. 

The WHO lists the 12 most dangerous “superbugs,” leading with Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacteriaceae. Superbugs not making the cut: Spider-Man, Ant Man, the Insecticons, the Formics, Jeff Goldblum. 

Quote of the Day:

Now, look. Give me a second here. This is hard. For a decade or more, all of my political energies were utterly devoted to resisting George W. Bush, being angry at George W. Bush, defeating George W. Bush, mocking George W. Bush, and undoing the damage done by George W. Bush. This new world we’re living in, though. Ports in storms, etc. The quote of the day, with my total endorsement, is from George W. Bush:

I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. That we need the media to hold people like me to account. I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere. … 


I think it’s very important, for all of us, to recognize one our great strengths is for people to worship the way they want to or not worship at all. 


* * * 

Photo by Eden, Janine and Jim (CC BY 2.0)

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.

Follow CFI on Twitter: @center4inquiry

Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)centerforinquiry.net!

News items that mention political​ candidates are for informational purposes only and under no circumstances are to be interpreted as statements of endorsement or opposition to any political candidate. CFI is a nonpartisan nonprofit.

The Morning Heresy: “I actually read it.” – Hemant Mehta