Invalidating Your Entire Existence

March 28, 2018

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

Good morning, all of you who are atheists out there. Guess what. America doesn’t want to see you represented on television. Like, at all.

Republicans, already much more likely than Democrats to deny climate science, are becoming even deny-ier. 69% say climate change has been exaggerated versus 4% of Democrats. Only 42% even accept that most scientists believe in the reality of climate change.

In Skeptical Inquirer, Matt Nisbet discusses the benefits of science communicators making connections with opinion-leaders. No, not like David Brooks. Life is too short for that. He means people in a community who are respected by and connected to the people who live there. In his case, a financial advisor. 

Nelle Smith wants you to know that changing the mind of a fundamentalist Christian isn’t just about making some undeniable point:

For an evangelical, there are no small doubts: growing up in many evangelical churches means to be told, repeatedly, that the devil will always seek a foothold, and once you give him one you’re well on the road to hell, to losing your faith, to destroying your witness. That’s scary stuff. To begin to doubt evangelicalism is not simply a mental exercise. For many like me, it’s to feel a void opening, the earth dropping out from beneath you. It’s to face the prospect of invalidating your entire existence.  

A new book called Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang, MD, and Nate Pedersen is declared a “hoot” by “SkepDoc” Harriet Hall.

A high court in Pakistan rules that citizens have to declare their religion on any kind of government document (birth certificates, identity cards, passports, voting lists) and before they join the civil service. This bad news for religious minorities and super-bad news for nonebelievers.

Ben Carson, who for some ridiculous twist of cruel fate is the Secretary for Housing and Urban Development, says he learned how to deal with the criticism of his lavish spending of taxpayer dollars from Jesus:

Later, [Carson] suggested the episode had been a personal ordeal, saying that he modeled his reaction to the criticism on advice that Jesus gave in the Sermon on the Mount, which he summarized as “don’t worry about what people are saying about you, and do the right thing.”

Yes, I’m sure that’s what Jesus was talkling about. Criticism is always invalid, and the right thing is to take someone else’s money and spend $31,000 on a table.

Despite his atheism, the remains of Steven Hawking will be interred in Westminster Abbey

I know this will shock, shock, shock you: Homeopaths in New Zealand are, get this, IGNORING their new code of ethics, selling treatments they know have not been proven to work. IT’S TRUE.

Naturopaths in Alaska are trying to get legislation passed to allow them to have the powers of real physicians. 

Satanists in Chicago (name of a new musical?) protest a conference of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation which pushes the pseudoscience of things like “Recovered Memory Therapy” that fuel “Satanic panic” type freakouts.

Nita Thomason at the Dallas Morning News says kids really need to be taught religious studies:

Next time you see a friend post a comment belittling people from a different faith or hear your child complain about an assignment requiring research on a diverse religion, speak out. Assure them that our community is stronger when we are educated and informed about varying religious views. Promoting understanding and respect for our fellow Americans strengthens our democratic republic. 

Jill Tarter is bullish on discovering extraterrestrial life before the end of the century, and, importantly, believes that such a search is just the kind of thing to get humanity as a species to work together globally. 

Quote of the Day

Elon Musk predicts “everything from iron foundries to pizza joints” once his Mars colony gets up and running, which he discusses in a new academic paper. In its introduction he says:

You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great — and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.

Except that Mars is no more “among the stars” than Earth already is. Technically, since it’s farther from the Sun, it’s less among the stars, or, at least, star. Maybe he means closer to more distant stars? But, is that even true? And if so, wouldn’t the distinction between Mars’s and Earth’s proximity to other stars be so negligible as to be not even worth considering? Elon. Talk to me. 

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