This is a Tricky Move

March 16, 2018

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

Ah the Freethought Trail! A way to enlighten oneself with the rich history of American radical movements from the 19th century, both in real life and on its old, creaky, what-the-hell-is-this-thing website…what’s that? The Freethought Trail’s website has been redesigned? …. Radically redesigned? I see what you did there! Let’s go check it out!

CNET checks in with Joe Nickell about a video of a UFO posted by To The Stars Academy. “Science has not authenticated a single extraterrestrial craft,” said Joe, adding that these folks “are attempting to create a mystery.” Further:

Nickell thinks some of it ties in with the naturally self-centered human worldview. He says we see mythical creatures like Bigfoot as a remnant of the human past, and big-eyed, big-headed aliens as a futuristic version of us. We would like to think Earth would draw a highly advanced extraterrestrial race to come visit. “Hopes springs eternal,” he says. 

Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics (AHA) of the University of Wisconsin—Madison hold their Freethought Festival starting today, and tomorrow the day kicks off with a talk from our own Debbie Goddard. 

A federal judge has blocked the new Ohio law that bans abortion in the cases of a Down syndrome diagnosis of the fetus. Jurist reports:

…the court rejected the state’s suggestion that Planned Parenthood v. Casey only applies to women who accidentally become pregnant or that a woman’s right to choose only applies to the question of whether she can have a child as opposed to the “right to decide whether to have a particular child.”  

Oregon’s Supreme Court suspends Judge Vance Day (which is not a holiday in which we all judge people named Vance, though that is a cool idea) for three years for misconduct, which included instructing staff to discriminate against same-sex wedding applicants and some bad behavior with firearms. Sounds like a charming fellow.

South Carolina governor Henry McMaster seems confused about what the student walk-outs over guns was about yesterday:

It appears that these school children, innocent school children, are being used as a tool by [this] left-wing group to further their own agenda. … This is a tricky move, I believe, by a left-wing group, from the information I’ve seen, to use these children as a tool to further their own means. It sounds like a protest to me. It’s not a memorial. It’s certainly not a prayer service. It’s a political statement by a left-wing group and it’s shameful. … What we should all do and what these students should do — I imagine a lot of them intend to do — is to pray and to hope for the families of those who were slain.  

The Economist reports on the increase in the number of ex-Muslims in America, and why it’s still really hard for them:

The vast majority, whether young or old, are silent about their faithlessness. One Muslim college student, who came home drunk one evening, was confronted by his father. Not thinking clearly, the son confessed to his father that he was an atheist, whereupon the father revealed that he too had lost his faith many years ago. Yet he still admonished his son for not hiding his secret well enough.

At Pakistan’s Daily Times, Annie Zaman laments how a blasphemy accusation brings on “an instant vigilante death sentence.”

GMO crops ain’t even mad at the non-GMO crops. They’re like, “Hey, lemme help you guys out, too.”

In 1995, Joe Nickell solved the mystery of reports of a bat-winged creature that would attack people who didn’t believe it exists in their beds and, you know, do things to them. In fact he solved it in about 5 seconds. More than two decades later, people are still pissed at him about it! 

The Vatican fires and exiles Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron for his alleged sexual abuse of kids in the 60s and 70s. 

Apparently there is some confusion among those who really should know better as to the separate identities of two British scientists, one dead, one alive. Thankfully, we at CFI and the Stephen Hawking Foundation for Reason and Science never make such mistakes. Wait. Who is this “Richard Dawkins” fellow?

Many excellent young science graduates would give their all for a job in television. So where did a leading TV company find the “Editorial Producer” who just invited to me “to talk to us about the life and legacy of your colleague Richard Hawkins”? 

Later…

Now another TV producer wants me to talk about “the death of Professor Hawkins.” I heard Prince Philip make the same mistake when presenting Professor Hawking with a big medal. Once, after a talk at a Lit Fest, the first question I got was “Why aren’t you in your wheelchair?” 

And to cap it off, this tweet from @Covanoil:

Professor Hawkins?! You’re alive and tweeting again! Resurrection confirmed! Checkmate, atheists! 

Quote of the Day

Rebecca Boyle at FiveThirtyEight muses on what she learned from Stephen Hawking:

Hawking realized that black holes, by warping spacetime, apparently leak out a form of radiation. This will eventually cause them to dry up and evaporate. Even black holes have a thermodynamically limited lifespan, it appears. They will fade away. The sun will fade away. Eventually, everything fades away. 

Yep. 

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