Plant Improvement

February 7, 2017

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

With everything going on in the world, it can be easy to forget some of the major crises we’re still working on. Secular Rescue still needs your help so we can get more freethinking writers and activists out of danger. 

That “everything going on in the world” is mostly this guy: Trump calls the New York Times and other outlets “fake news” again (so yes, that term is now ruined forever), and claims that The Media has refused to report on instances of terrorism, which is as crazy as it sounds. The Outline takes a particular look at the president’s refusal to accept polls that don’t favor him.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit hears arguments today on the Muslim ban. Yes, I’m calling it a Muslim ban, Twitter-eggs, because that’s what THEY called it before they realized it wasn’t going over so well.

Point of Inquiry this week talks to computer scientist Jen Golbeck about the implications of the ban for science in America.   

Jim Rutenberg at the Times looks at the repercussions for Kellyanne Conway’s erroneous invocation of the fictional Bowling Green Massacre, and how the mass mockery of this transparent fabrication has caused a “turning point” in the alternative-facts/fake news phenomenon.  

Former conservative radio personality Charles Sykes says Trump is eroding the very concept of credibility itself by exhausting our ability to think critically about every lie tossed into the public discourse. 

Senate Democrats have been talking all night from the Senate floor in the lead-up to the DeVos confirmation vote. It’s looking like they will wind up with a tie (thanks to Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski), and Mike Pence will have to cast a tie-breaking vote so we can start to advance God’s kingdom in our public education system. 

Oh, here’s this: Rep. Steve Womack introduces a constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration. Guess what. We. Are. Opposed. 

Kimberly Winston explains the “Free Speech Fairness Act,” a bill meant to undo the Johnson Amendment, which has kept tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates. The new bill would allow for this in the “normal course” of these orgs doing their business. Blah blah, what it’s really about is allowing clergy to do some politicking from the pulpit without coming under the scrutiny of the IRS. Of course, most Americans oppose the idea of preachers backing candidates in church.

The organizers of the Women’s March on Washington announce that they will call for a general strike, “A Day Without Women,” at a date to be determined. 

William Milam in the Dhaka Tribune places the reality-abuse of Trump in the same light as the disappearance of the Pakistani bloggers charged with blasphemy and the slaughter of Bangladesh’s, all harbingers of a world in which dissent and facts are rejected and punished.

Speaking of the Pakistan disappearances, Mohammed Hanif at NYT writes:

Blasphemy is a killer charge. Any word or action that is seen to cause offense to any religious group — in fact, anything construed as insulting a religious figure — can make you an open target for religious zealots. Calling someone a blasphemer is a blood sport. 

715 advocates, including CFI’s Michael De Dora, sign on to a request that Trump appoint an ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, like we had in David Saperstein under Obama. 

Jacob Steinblatt at Vocativ looks at how ex-Muslims in the Arab world are using the Internet to find ways to connect and, sometimes, escape.

Ben Radford writes on a topic that might be familiar to many of you: What to do with well-meaning, mythbusting, skeptical articles that also contain something wrong or unsupported by evidence:

Just as my finger is reaching to share or like the post, I wince. The writer or commenter stumbles, making a gaffe or mistake that I can’t in good conscience implicitly endorse. It’s frustrating because I agree with the overall point, and think the comment or piece merits a wider audience. 

Dave Rubin severs all ties to the left, doing a video for Dennis Prager’s “university” video channel, in which he defends special privileges for religion and grieves for the oppression of the straight white Christian male.  

Coming to market soon are Arctic Apples, apples that don’t bro
wn when exposed to air. STAT publishes a piece about how troubling this “tinkering with nature’s DNA” is, and Kavin Senapathy calls them out for getting their facts wrong: “The technique used to achieve the non-browning trait is no more or less risky than other plant improvement techniques.”

There is apparently a dust-up on Wikipedia over acupuncture.  

The Arkansas House scrambles to pass legislation to stop the installation of a Satanic Temple monument on Capitol grounds. Chickens.

GetReligion‘s Bobby Ross frets over the use of the term “religious group” to describe atheists in an ideological conflict with evangelicals over Gorsuch. (Specifically, in a CNN piece in which CFI appears, hell yeah.)

Those poisonous homeopathic teething tablets that the FDA has been warning about? Still on shelves in the U.S. (because the company refused to issue a recall) and Canada. 

A meteor wows folks across the Midwest, appearing as a “giant green-lighted orb.” Cool.

This black hole, about 1.8 billion light-years away, is (was?) taking its sweet time nibbling away at a star. Nearby black holes are all, “Come ON can you get ON with it?” 

Quote of the Day:

This is an ad for a TV station in Denmark, but there’s a lot more going on.

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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

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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