The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
So Trump played the part of president last night, I suspect very convincingly for many, if not most, Americans. He led the speech, surprisingly, with a condemnation of the threats made against Jewish Community Centers (I’m guessing Priebus won an argument), though earlier he had suggested the threats might have come from “the reverse,” implying a false-flag operation to “make others look bad.” To make who look bad? Anti-Semites? Do they need help looking bad?
He also made the obligatory and vaguely-generic theological claims that presidents do: “We are all made by the same God.” Citation needed.
Anyhow, keep an eye on Ohio, where our Northeast Ohio branch is working to support a new Secular Celebrant bill in the state senate, this one co-sponsored by the minority leader:
“As roughly 20% of the population does not align themselves with a church, giving the churches majority control over solemnizing marriages is an injustice,” said Monette Richards, executive director of CFI–Northeast Ohio. “All Ohioans deserve to begin their lives together with the ceremonies they want.”
Julia Belluz points out the problems with Trump’s desire to weaken the FDA, which he promoted by shining the spotlight on a young woman with a genetic disorder called Pompe.
Deniz Yücel, a reporter for the German newspaper Die Welt, was arrested in Turkey on February 14, charged with “propaganda in support of a terrorist organisation and inciting the public to violence.”
Dutch publication The Correspondent and The Guardian reveal that Shell Oil was not only well aware of the climate crisis as far back as the late 80s, but actually created reports and a video about the catastrophic risks of global warming. But:
… since then the company has invested heavily in highly polluting oil reserves and helped lobby against climate action, leading to accusations that Shell knew the grave risks of global warming but did not act accordingly.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX says it will send two “space tourists” around the Moon next year. The tickets have been bought, as it were, but we don’t know by who. Whoever they are, they’ll be stuck with each other in a small craft run by autonomous systems for about a week.
Steven Novella weighs in on the notion that ADHD is a mostly made-up disorder. Nope:
At this point there is no reasonable disagreement about the fact that ADHD is a disorder of brain function. Children who meet the strict diagnostic criteria are demonstrably different, in consistent and predictable ways, than children who do not (controlling for other possible factors). They have impaired executive functions, and we can see this in changes to the relevant parts of the brain. We still have a lot to learn (again, the brain is complex) but a consistent picture is emerging.
Edzard Ernst notes how homeopaths are helping the anti-vaxxers and capitalizing on fear of real vaccines.
Craig Silverman at BuzzFeed shows how the fake news/outrage news sausage gets made.
In Skeptical Inquirer, Richard Saunders says what led him to skepticism was “James Randi and his testing of a paranormal claim and Carl Sagan’s soothing tones.”
At The American Conservative, Daniel L. Davis and Frances L. Garcia promote the idea that faith and science are not in conflict:
Given that we believe in a God that powerful, we aren’t threatened by even ardent atheists who believe the opposite, recognizing that He is likewise not threatened one way or another by anything man believes. We also recognize, however, that many of these same atheistic scientists have contributed great things to our society and are thus grateful for them.
That’s nice. This is also really a defense of Mike Pence’s positions on creationism and his belief in things akin to intelligent design:
The vice president’s beliefs are no more anti-science than Dr. [Francis] Collins’s. Both men accept that the scientific method provides valuable insights while emphasizing it cannot tell us all that is important.
Rabbi A. James Rudin warns about Trump’s collusion with the religious right, and of “the ominous specter of bullied Americans kneeling in submission to a dangerous perversion of religion and politics that can destroy our precious American democracy.”
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina touts a “zero tolerance” policy for “militants,” saying that the government is rehabilitating said militants.
Pakistan says Islamist groups are no longer allowed to hold rallies is praise of the assassin who killed blasphemy-law critic, Punjab governor Salman Taseer.
A new report from Freedom House shows t
hat Chinese Christians are facing increasing levels of persecution.
Derek Beres at Big Think says there is no such thing as “alternative” medicine (“medicine is medicine”), adding, “Distrust in one doctor should not imply blind faith in another.”
And come on, an alien ship just flew over Tasmania. And by “alien ship” I mean an airplane. Ariel Bogle at Mashable says:
We should know better by now. We’ve said it before: It’s not aliens. It’s never aliens. Stop saying it’s aliens.
A boost to Georgia’s school voucher funding passes the state House.
Kalamazoo County Commission caught contravening a court command to curb its calls to the Creator when convening communal convocations.
Bobby Henderson, he who brought the Good News of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, suggests an alternative to Trump’s border wall. It’s…something.
Quote of the Day:
Alex Jones is a false flag for the Lizard People:
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