March 9, 2016


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

Our International Man of Diplomacy™, Michael De Dora, is in Geneva at the UN Human Rights Council, doing his thing, and we’ll have more on this specific adventures soon. Meantime, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt made a case for considering the freedoms to belief and expression to be “twin beliefs”:

While freedom of expression seems to signal a ‘green light’ to all sorts of provocation, freedom of religion or belief seems to give a ‘stop sign’ instead. That kind of misunderstanding typically originates from the view that freedom of religion or belief protects religions or belief systems per se. … [Both rights] protect unconditionally a person’s inner realm of thinking and believing, where no restrictions can be justified on whatsoever grounds. 

There’s this new book out about the skepto-atheist movement, The Evolution of Atheism by Stephen LeDrew, and it seems to get quite a few things wrong about CFI in particular (Ron Lindsay is a libertarian??? What?????), and Tom Flynn dismantles it in the latest Free Inquiry, saying it is “marred by significant historical, analytic, and conceptual errors” that “permeate LeDrew’s book.”

Want to feel depressed about the state of things? Of course you do. Kristen Ellingboe and my friend Ryan Koronowski at ThinkProgress lay out how entrenched climate change denial is in Congress, with more than 200 million Americans — over 60% of us — represented by a denier. 

CFI–Los Angeles chief Jim Underdown is the guest on The Sharin’ Hour on KX 93.5. “Hear the stories of Sparky The Wonderdog, The Fly Guy and other paranormal visionaries.”

Our own David Koepsell advises us to watch out for the “false consensus effect” when staking out positions, especially on social media:

We see our self-selected community of peers validating our opinions, and it becomes easy to leap to conclusions about the general population’s opinions based upon that, but it would be bad science.  

Luckily, I am almost never validated, so I’m immune to all this. 

Heartbreaking and enraging: parents of a sick 19-month-old boy, who own a nutritional supplement company, refuse to allow their child with meningitis to be treated by real medicine:

She said they tried to boost the boy’s immune system by feeding him with olive leaf extract, whey protein, water with maple syrup and juice with frozen berries. They finally fed the boy, who was becoming stiff and lethargic after two weeks of illness, a mixture of apple cider vinegar, horseradish root, hot peppers, onion, garlic and ginger root.

The boy, of course, died. The parents have plead not guilty because nothing makes sense.

I had not even heard about this kidnapping, but apparently the son of the Pakistani governor who was killed because he supported reforming the blasphemy law had been abducted, and has now been recovered. His father’s killer was executed last week. And the world spins madly on.

Bill Nye, in a video at Big Think, tries to tackle the issue pseudoscience’s grip on the human mind, and how critical thinking is a process that not everyone is game for. 

Howsabout a luxury cruise on a catamaran while you hunt, luxuriously, for the Loch Ness Monster?

The specially-designed catamaran boasts superior features such as monster-sized windows on the main deck, to optimise ‘Nessie’ spotting opportunities. 

Best part? “Toilets and a bar will feature on the main deck.” Priorities, man. 

Democrats in the Missouri state senate filibuster an amendment to the state constitution that would allow religiously-based discrimination against LGBT folks.  

Ted Cruz, a few days ago at CPAC, said:

We are one liberal justice away from the Supreme Court ruling that government can take our religious liberty away and force every one of us to violate our faith on penalty of prison or fine.

SSSSHHHH TED! Just give away our plans, why don’t you!  

Quote of the Day: 

Here’s a nice turn of events. Declan Lang, a Catholic bishop in the UK, writes that Catholics have an obligation to stand up for the rights of atheists persecuted around the world, as in Bangladesh or Saudi Arabia:

Our compassion must never be limited only to people of faith. The persecution of atheists is a grave violation of human dignity throughout the world. … Confronted with these injustices we must not stand by. Moreover we should recognise that the oppression of atheists does not only violate the human rights of people like Fayadh, Alexander, Alber and Karim, but represents a degradation of the fundamental principle that people should be free to hold their own beliefs without fearing for their life or liberty. History has shown time and time again that when one minority group is oppressed with impunity, others soon face
the same fate.

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Original image by Shutterstock

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