Permanently Post-400 Parts Per Million

March 14, 2017


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

The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has made its biggest recorded jump ever last year, now at 405 parts per million. Before the Industrial Revolution, the average was about 280. Chelsea Harvey reports:

… we’re now living in a permanently post-400 parts per million world. In September 2016, the time of year when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are usually at their lowest, scientists observed that the monthly average concentration still remained above this threshold. And now, the new NOAA measurements further indicate that carbon dioxide levels are only continuing to grow — and they’re rising at breakneck speed. 

But luckily, Scott Pruitt told us that carbon dioxide isn’t a problem. 

Whoa: The 11th Circuit says that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does NOT prohibit employer discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  

Relatedly, in South Dakota it’s now okay for publicly-funded adoption agencies run by folks with “a sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction” to turn away prospective parents for being gay

We posted two new videos of CFI’s Michael De Dora representing us at the UN Human Rights Council: Here he is on “Beliefs, Individuals, and Rights,” and on “Advancing Freedom of Religion or Belief.” Michael also worked with the NGO Freemuse, and stepped in to deliver their statement on artistic freedom of expression.

The Trial of the Century is getting underway in Russia, where 22-year-old Ruslan Sokolovsky is charged with inciting religious hatred for playing Pokemon Go in a church. No really. If convicted, he could go to prison for more than 7 years. 

David Gibson has a pretty comprehensive report on the opposition to Pope Fluffy within the Church, both real and imagined.  

Donald Trump instructs the State Department to cut the U.S.’s funding of the UN in half, which is not just some bureaucratic version of going “nyeah nyeah.” Foreign Policy calls it:

…an unprecedented retreat by President Donald Trump’s administration from international operations that keep the peace, provide vaccines for children, monitor rogue nuclear weapons programs, and promote peace talks from Syria to Yemen.

Hey, don’t worry. Trump will just cut a better deal. Deals, deals, deals. Winning. 

Flemming Rose, the Danish journalist who published the Mohammed cartoons in Jyllands-Posten in 2005, was invited to speak at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania. Then the protesters came…and it all went fine

School vouchers are super-important to congressional Republicans. Not so important? The civil rights of LGBTQ students and the disabled, whose protections were voted OUT of the latest bill for DC. 

Jaweed Kaleem at LA Times talks to members of Centro Islámico, the only Spanish-language mosque in the U.S. “The congregation, which counts among it dozens of Mexican Americans and other converts, serves one of the fastest growing segments of Islam in the U.S.: Latinos.” The Trump era is, of course, a tough one for them. Their Imam, Isa Prada, says:

What I try to tell people is that Donald Trump becoming president for us is giving us more confidence as Latino Muslims. It’s an opportunity for us to talk about Islam, to talk about our immigrant stories. But we also have to be realistic. You hope it never gets back to what happened to the Japanese. 

The European Court of Justice says that employers are allowed to ban headscarves, even if worn for religious reasons, and require that employees “dress neutrally.” 

Charles Darwin apparently wasn’t thinking too much about posterity when he reassembled his notes to write On the Origin of Species, so now a platoon of hackers is working to reassmble his original notes out of more than 25,000 fragments. 

Thirty education scholars write to The Guardian to oppose what they say is the “neuromyth” of “learning styles”:

…there have been systematic studies of the effectiveness of learning styles that have consistently found either no evidence or very weak evidence to support the hypothesis that matching or “meshing” material in the appropriate format to an individual’s learning style is selectively more effective for educational attainment.  

Julie Beck at The Atlantic has a big piece on why facts don’t change our minds when we’re totally wrong (you’d almost think there was a particular reason for so many articles on this subject lately):

This doubling down in the face of conflicting evidence is a way of reducing
the discomfort of dissonance, and is part of a set of behaviors known in the psychology literature as “motivated reasoning.” Motivated reasoning is how people convince themselves or remain convinced of what they want to believe—they seek out agreeable information and learn it more easily; and they avoid, ignore, devalue, forget, or argue against information that contradicts their beliefs. 

Bill Nye posts an open letter-video to President Trump with five recommendations for the U.S.’s space program. It’s not a polemic, but, refreshingly, very practical (with a few appeals to Trump’s ego).  

An atheist mom in the UK writes about her daughter’s embrace of religion, and why it’s not so bad. 

30% of patients are reluctant to get vaccinated in California. No, NOT California. Croatia. I meant Croatia. NOT California. Don’t know why I mixed that up. 

Dig the pretty “UFO clouds.” 

Quote of the Day:

Traci Yoder of the National Lawyers Guild explains what’s going on with all of these anti-protest bills in state legislatures, and makes one key point I hadn’t considered:

The fact that so many similar bills have been introduced—combined with the spate of news articles that do not always highlight that these are proposed bills that have not yet passed—creates an atmosphere of confusion and fear. The knowledge that these bills are being considered in many state legislatures, regardless of their status, is likely to have a chilling effect on dissent. Few people would be as willing to protest if they thought they could easily be arrested, fined, imprisoned, or even killed. The lack of clarity over where bills stand in the legislative process, the likelihood they will pass in their current forms, and the actual consequences if they do is already enough to cast doubts among those who intend to protest.

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