March 22, 2017

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

Facebook is going to meet with Pakistani officials to discuss the country’s request for the personal information of users Pakistan deem to have posted blasphemous content, and we asked Facebook to stick to its guns:

Facebook should use its leverage to encourage the government of Pakistan to abandon the theocratic, reactionary scapegoating of critics and dissidents, embrace the equal dignity of its people, and encourage the free and open exchange of ideas.

CBC investigates chiropractors in Manitoba making outlandish claims about what they can treat and cure, including autism, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and more.  

The Nile is, in fact, just a river in Egypt, but perhaps it would like to attain personhood status. Three rivers, two in India and one in New Zealand, have been granted the legal status of human beings. Expect bodies of water to begin giving millions of dollars to super-PACS.

The Wall Street Journal — that commie, left-wing, hippy rag — has had it with Trump lying all the time, writing that the president “clings to his assertion [about being wire tapped] like a drunk to an empty gin bottle.”

Tom Flynn writes at his blog that secular humanism is, for him, emancipatory:

Rather than freeing us from morality, secular humanism frees us to develop a truly relevant morality, one rooted in the real world and in the physical and social consequences of life as humans live it. Instead of accepting unverifiable assertions, we can come together with others to forge pragmatic values whose worth and value can be inter-subjectively confirmed.  

A new study published in Intelligence suggests that students perform more poorly in science and math in countries with higher levels of religiosity. 

Lawrence Krauss warns that Trump’s proposed cuts to science harm the United States’ very standing in civilization:

Whether future historians will view the United States as a truly great nation will not depend upon our military strength or our ability to successfully assimilate immigrants, any more than we celebrate the greatness of ancient Greece or Rome by counting their military victories. As for those civilizations whose contributions to art, literature, and science provided the heritage on which modern western civilization is based, our greatness will be judged by our contributions toward subsequent human progress. 

To the surprise of no one, Christians can’t seem to agree on whether Jesus would approve of Trump’s budget with its cuts to programs for the poor. Indeed, even the students of Liberty University, where Trump will deliver the commencement address, can’t reach a consensus about the man:

A member of the Board of Trustees who criticized Trump and questioned Falwell’s endorsement of him was pushed into resigning. In the student newspaper, the Liberty Champion, a student-penned column criticizing Trump’s grotesque “Access Hollywood” comments about women was preemptively censored at Falwell’s request (that writer has since resigned). And Liberty’s faculty — all of whom work without the possibility of tenure—are reluctant to speak out, with many fearing retribution and the loss of their positions. 

Quietly, often anonymously and in private, students and faculty are speaking out—many in condemnation of Trump, and a smaller group in opposition to Falwell and the direction he’s led Liberty. 

As we all know, religion never plays any role in global diplomacy or conflict, so no wonder the State Department might save some moolah by nixing or gutting the Office of Religion and Global Affairs

Here comes the Trump plan to tear down all of Obama’s climate efforts.

Sundays at the home of Reza Aslan:

I have a Christian wife; I have twin sons, one of whom is convinced he’s Jewish, and one of whom, after he read the Ramayana, was like, “That’s it, I’m Hindu.” I have a 2-year-old boy that we just assume is a reincarnation of the Buddha in some way. So every Sunday, we get together and share one particular religious story, whether it’s of the Buddha or Ganesha or from the Gospel, and then we pick some value to learn from it, and then we, as a family, put that value into practice in our home and in our lives. 

Benjamin Radford offers a skeptical look at the outrage over the CIA and its newly revealed hacking abilities:

America’s spy agencies don’t have enough staff to monitor the residents of Cleveland, much less the entire country or the whole world. It would easily tie up every national security employee indefinitely. This doesn’t mean that raw data may not be gathered, but whether anyone ever actually looks at it (or has reason to analyze it) is a whole other matter. The problem that intelligence agencies face is not having too little data, but precisely the opposite: having too much.

Rina Raphael at Fast Co
profiles SereneBook, an alt-med subscription service that centralizes the practices of fake medicine peddlers. No mention that I noticed of the fact that most of what they’re selling is crap.

The rusty patched bumblebee has been declared endangered, which was rather upsetting to the American Petroleum Institute, the National Association of Home Builders, and the National Cotton Council of America.

Perhaps this bee can be saved by genetic engineering or some such, as the ethical debate over the resurrection of extinct species is well underway. Steph Yin at NYT looks at the pros and cons (many cons) to bringing back the disappeared. 

Tomi Lahren is in trouble with Glenn Beck and The Blaze for admitting she’s pro-choice. Robyn Pennacchia writes:

Beck, responding to this kerfuffle, said that he doesn’t only hire people for The Blaze who agree with him, but nonetheless suspended Lahren for her comments. Because saying abortion should be legal is far more controversial than demanding that black people get to thanking her for Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves, instead of protesting racist police officers. 

Rob Lowe and his sons will star in a reality series in which they investigate the paranormal. WHY. 

Quote of the Day:

Conor Friedersdorf highlights the hypocrisy and bullying of Trump’s boasts about somehow harming the career of Colin Kaepernick:

At that Kentucky rally, Trump behaved like a Social Injustice Warrior. And those who cheered him demonstrated that they have no principled opposition to political correctness––just a desire that their sensitivities dictate who gets punished. They just happen to be more sensitive to perceived insults to the U.S. flag than perceived insults to African Americans or Hispanics or gay people or women.

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