We Are Not Great Reasoners

March 3, 2017


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

So Jeff Sessions did wind up recusing himself in a weird press conference, in which he talked about “gossipy” ambassadors. Meanwhile, Mike Pence used an AOL email account to handle sensitive, security-related communications…and was hacked. But her emails.

Bonya Ahmed reflects on the two years since her husband Avijit Roy was murdered in Dhaka:

I have seen how a new and vulnerable nation such as Bangladesh has slowly given in to fundamentalism, not driven by religion so much as by local and national political power struggles. … it becomes clear that we are not really experiencing a clash of civilisations, rather a clash of two populist and reactionary ideologies exacerbated by a global crisis.

Sean Illing at Vox talks to cognitive scientist Steven Sloman about how humans for opinions and why they believe they know things:

I really do believe that our attitudes are shaped much more by our social groups than they are by facts on the ground. We are not great reasoners.


Krithika Varagur at The Atlantic looks at the religious influence Saudi Arabia is having over Indonesia.

Bagoes Wiryomartono in the Jakarta Post says there is no authority within Islam to punish those who don’t believe:

Because religious matters are never mentioned in the Holy Book as crimes to be dealt with via secular punishment, to what extent is blasphemy acceptable and punishable? … Actually, Islamic teachings guide people toward better manners and social behavior that upholds the dignity of humankind and social justice. All this is based on the imperative of Islamic teachings for peace, fairness and respect and never taking the law into our own hands.

A study by the University of Western Australia shows that Trump supporters continue to back the guy even after his lies are revealed.

Art Levine at Newsweek reports on the goings-on of the Restoration Youth Academy, a “Christian boot camp” that subjects kids to “sadistic torture.”

Susan Gerbic interviews Craig Foster, behavioral science professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy:

This might seem odd, but I did leave CSICon with a greater appreciation for skepticism as a movement. The world would be a much better place if we could mitigate some of the implausible beliefs that are ultimately harmful. I really admire all those skeptics who try to minimize that harm by addressing misinformation.

Tony Ortega says that the LAPD is investigating Scientologist and That 70s Show star Danny Masterson for multiple rapes, and that some in the LAPD are helping the church.

Jeff Bezos wants a Moon settlement. Of course it will be expensive, but it will be cheaper if you get the Moon settlement with special offers.

The ACLU is getting involved in an Indiana case over the rejection of yet another “ATHE1ST” license plate.

Sally Greenberg, writing at The Hill, has a modest proposal for a two-state solution…for the U.S.

In Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania, residents are debating having their town motto to “…a great place to live and work, and worship.

Arian Foster is going to get the Harvard Humanist Hub’s award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism.

Richard Dawkins encouraged folks to donate to Planned Parenthood in the name of Pastor Greg Locke, which made him mad, and now Locke wants to have dinner with Dawkins. Hehehehe.

The Blink-182 guy who just got a UFO award says he’s used his “notoriety” to get some earth-shattering info about some alien conspiracy. Cool.

Trump will promote school vouchers at a Florida Catholic School today. Great.

Meanwhile, it’s homeschoolers vs. homeschoolers, as a group of advocates looks to improve the quality (and safety) of homeschooling, but are being fought by those who want no oversight at all.

Quote of the Day:

Philip Francis answers some questions about his new book When Art Disrupts Religion, and notes this one misconception he’s observed about his topic:

The assumption that people fit into neat categories like believer, atheist or agnostic. I’ve come to see the ways that the men and women whose stories fill these pages inhabit modernity’s middle spaces between belief and unbelief.  Relatedly, there is a common and misplaced notion that modern secular people have “lost religion.” In fact, many of us have simply found a makeshift substitute. We have founded what historian Martin Jay refers to as “the secular religion of art.” That so many of the post-evangelicals in this book come to refer to the arts as sites of “transcendence” and a “stand-in for faith” is in keeping with the times. This book gives us a chance to see how that untidy “substitution” of art for religion takes place within the course of one lifetime.

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Photo credit: Richard Masoner / CC 2.0

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