The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
First things first: Catch up on the previous fortnight of CFI activity with the latest Cause & Effect newsletter.
Now this is unexpected: Reportedly, Prince Charles intends to intervene on behalf of Raif Badawi when he visits with the Saudi royal family, something by all accounts President Obama would not do. (This is all oddly ironic, given our usual feelings toward Charles as a major proponent of alt-med.)
Here, activists act out a mock-flogging to protest the treatment of Badawi.
Mashable has a great quick-reference for where all the GOP presidential candidates are on science-acceptance, and it’s not pretty. “Moderate” Jeb Bush, for example, hedges on climate change and says evolution doesn’t have to be part of science classes. Scott Walker, by the way, tries to delete the very ideas of “truth and service” and of “public service designed to educate people and improve the human condition.”
Emily Hauser at The Week takes on Mike Huckabee for pushing the national conversation about rights away from the civic arena and into the theological: “As Americans, we’re tasked with building a more perfect union — not a Christian one.”
You can still get your pro-vaccine stickers from CFI. Just sign on up. Meanwhile, New Jersey has its first measles case of the year (and its governor is wishy-washy on vaccines).
And hey, if vaccines really cause autism, somebody better tell the the group Autism Speaks, which is urging parents to vaccinate their kids. All part of the conspiracy, folks.
Matt Novak at Gizmodo says, “We have to use shame if we want to stop the anti-vaccine movement.”
Rick Perry gets three Pinocchios for saying he got the vaccination rate up by 50% in Texas. It actually declined during his tenure, but we understand that numbers are tough for this governor.
The Supreme Court of Canada strikes down the country’s ban on physician-assisted suicide.
Max Fisher at Vox says the blowback over Obama’s “Crusades” reference is “a fight over whether it’s okay to hate Muslims.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates on the whole brouhaha:
If you are truly appalled by the brutality of ISIS, then a wise and essential step is understanding the lure of brutality, and recalling how easily your own society can be, and how often it has been, pulled over the brink.
Stephen Law takes on the idea that satirizing Islam is “punching down”:
Of course I disapprove of insulting depictions of Muslims as a group. … But satire of Islamic beliefs? I see no good moral case for blanket self-censorship of that.
Americans spent $13 billion on dietary supplements in 2014, despite the fact they do pretty much nothing.
Another case against the Pledge of Allegiance is tossed out.
Pope Francis backs a referendum in Slovakia that would deny same-sex couples the right to marry or adopt. What a guy.
Now you can not only be a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, you can now be a card-carrying member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Mark Morford considers E.O. Wilson’s new book, and has this takeaway:
It’s no secret that nearly all religions of the world were designed to, if not completely deny, certainly belittle ideas of conscious, sustainable growth and scientific understanding in favor of blindly believing we are the “chosen ones,” that we have a special, divine allowance to breed at will and abuse the planet as we please. Pestilence? Shortages? Overpopulation? 1,000 times the natural extinction rate? Climate change? “Don’t worry,” power-hungry religious leaders say, “there’s a ‘master plan’ somewhere. Surely ‘God has a reason’ to which puny, flawed humans cannot possibly be privy.” Right.
Dude. Dude. Check it out. No, dude, wait, look. What if, like, artificial intelligence got, like, soooo smart, that, li
ke, the computers were, like, super-smart, right? Dude, would, like, religions, like, try and convert the computers? Like, would my iPhone be, like, Zoroastrian or something? Like I don’t even know.
An atheist former prisoner writes about “the dishonest ways religion is spread in prison. The evangelists I saw used prisoners’ desperation to add to their faiths’ numbers.”
A big, circular rock found underground in Russia is obviously from an extraterrestrial intelligence.
This webcam footage of a featureless figure in the far distance at Yellowstone is obviously Bigfoot.
Mmmm. Chocolate Ganesh.
Jerry DeWitt: “Can I get a Darwin?!?!”
Quote of the Day
Joel Achenbach at National Geographic takes a deep dive into why people refuse to accept the findings of science:
The scientific method doesn’t come naturally—but if you think about it, neither does democracy. For most of human history neither existed. We went around killing each other to get on a throne, praying to a rain god, and for better and much worse, doing things pretty much as our ancestors did.
Now we have incredibly rapid change, and it’s scary sometimes.
Original image by Shutterstock.
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