Interstellar Spam

March 3, 2015


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

Authorities in Bangladesh arrest Farabi Shafiur Rahman as a suspect in the murder of Avijit Roy, a man who Dr. Roy said in his final article for Free Inquiry had been issuing death threats against him over social media. (Note: Rahman’s name is ordered differently depending on the outlet. Dr. Roy referred to him as I have here, the New York Times calls him Shafiur Rahman Farabi.)

The Baltimore Sun notes their local connection to Dr. Roy’s murder, noting that his daughter and Free Inquiry co-authorTrisha Ahmed, attends Johns Hopkins. 

As we hope that real criminals get caught and punished, Point of Inquiry this week covers the troubling topic of false memories leading to false confessions, where Dr. Julia Shaw explains how people can be convinced into copping to crimes they didn’t commit…and believe it! 

Would you like to feel unsettled about religious extremism in the U.S.? Great! Here’s American Christians rejoicing over ISIS and the hastening of the apocalypse. Ooooohhhh I wish I were kidding.

Some great CFI-UK programming has been posted to YouTube: We have Stephen Law, Jessica Monteith-Chachuat, Deborah Hyde, and Owen Davies on monsters; and Stephen talking about “consciousness beyond the individual“; and also Stephen is featured in a new bookGoodbye God?: An Illustrated Exploration of Science Vs. Religion, where he tells me he is “looking like an evil Kevin Bacon.” Which I thought was redundant.

So on public policy and diplomacy, CFI had a busy February, and March is proving to be even busier. 

Frank Drake, of the eponymous equation, says we oughtn’t bother with attempts at extraterrestrial communication right now:

I think it’s a waste of time at the present. It’s like somebody trying to send an e-mail to somebody whose e-mail address they don’t know, and whose name they don’t know.

Wait, so SETI is interstellar spam? 

Oh hey look! The video of the CBS San Francisco piece on Ceres’ bright spot with our own Leonard Tramiel

Ranjana Srivastava at The Guardian: “In 10 years of being an oncologist I have witnessed some devastating consequences when practitioners recommend ‘alternative’ therapies.”

This is unexpected: Ana Marie Cox, founder of Wonkette back in Ye Olden Tymes, comes out as a Christian. But it’s not the disapproval of seculars she’s worried about:

My hesitancy to flaunt my faith has nothing to do with fear of judgment by non-believers. My mother was an angry, agnostic ex-Baptist; my father is a casual atheist. (I asked him once why he didn’t believe in God, and he replied easily, “Because He doesn’t exist.”) … No, I’m nervous to come out as a Christian because I worry I’m not good enough of one. I’m not scared that non-believers will make me feel an outcast. I’m scared that Christians will. 

Sarah Jones at Americans United writes about the pope’s “undue influence” over international diplomacy, citing our own Tom Flynn’s criticism of the pope’s involvement in U.S.-Cuba relations. 

Meanwhile, scandal at Americans United!! Rob Boston has gone off his rocker, and advocated that the United States become a Christian nation!!! Well, actually, he says to establish the United Church of Christ, and, well, I see what he did there. 

North Carolina will seek the death penalty for Craig Stephen Hicks, the Chapel Hill murderer. 

Pakistan arrests hundreds of parents for not vaccinating their kids against polio. Guys! COME ON THAT’S NOT HELPING. 

Egyptian atheist blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad, after a year in prison:

As long as it’s grounded in mutual respect, this is perfectly possible. I have ideas to share on democracy and human rights, and I don’t mind if my hosts are liberal, socialist or conservative. But I would refuse to speak to an extremist group whether it was religious or atheist. 

Quote of the Day 

Here’s one you wouldn’t have guessed. He of the intense faces and profound gestures, illusionist David Copperfield in the New York Times, on attempts to suppress art and speech:

My fellow artists and I are here to create, if only for an hour or two, a concord among every member of the audience. Art has the ability to unite people into a collective mind. That’s the real magic, what those in the hate business can’t countenance. The would-be suppressors in the world haven’t learned that suppression, fortunately, is counterproductive. Charlie Hebdo is more popular than ever. “The Interview” got exposure the world’s greatest publicist couldn’t have dreamed of. Undoubtedly it’s a matter of time before magic returns to Syria, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, tenfold.

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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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