Walter Peck, Forgotten Hero

April 14, 2015

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

A very different and fun episode of Point of Inquiry is out, where Josh Zepps interviews both Bassem Youssef (“the Egyptian Jon Stewart”) and comedian Ahmed Ahmed together. 

Speaking of Point of Inquiry, we’ve now got two special episodes up relating to the Reason for Change conference in June, with Phil Zuckerman and Leighann Lord. I assume you’re making your plans? Register now! 

The Curiosity rover discovers that Mars is briny. There is honest to goodness liquid water beneath the surface! 

Judd Legum notes that an important message was missed in the hoopla over Hillary Clinton’s presidential announcement and her logo, this tweet by John Podesta:

Helping working families succeed, building small businesses, tackling climate change & clean energy. Top of the agenda.

Says Legum, “This would make Hillary’s campaign the first major presidential campaign ever to make combating climate change a central issue.” Which is cool! (Although Obama did have the “planet in peril” line in the ’08 race.) I should disclose, Legum was briefly my boss when I was on the first Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, until my nerves and health gave out and I had to exit early, for which I think he never forgave me, but that has nothing to do with anything, but I’m glad I got it off my chest. [deep breath] 

(Oh, John Podesta is also the guy who really wants to get to the bottom of UFOs.) 

Joe Nickell tackles the speculation over a “human torch” baby in India, as burns are now appearing on the first kid’s sibling. “So much for the dung hypothesis.” 

Texas State Rep. Molly White refuses to meet with constituents she knows she disagrees with, mostly because of God, and, “White’s staff informed Carlson that the lawmaker ‘is against anything LGBT.'” ANYTHING, guys. 

Niraj Chokshi details the tense negotiations between legislators in Utah battling over gay rights and Mormon resistance.

Pope Fluffy seems to be responsible for a rise in Satan-belief and exorcisms. So much for the progressive pope. [slow clap]  

Meanwhile, the Vatican drags its feet on whether it will accept France’s ambassador, who is gay. I saw we have a new rule: All ambassadors to the Vatican must, from now on, be either gay or atheist.

Paul Offit is impressed by Jesus

A skeptic-journalism trifecta! Thoughtful posts on how reporters should cover quack-gurus like Dr. Oz and the Food Babe by Keith Kloor at DiscoverMichael Hiltzik at the LA Times, and most usefully, Julia Belluz at Vox:

Even when journalism doesn’t change minds, it can still serve a greater good by getting cranks on the record, showing the gap between what they say and what science says, and holding them accountable. 

Gareth Higgens says Rand Paul’s opening campaign video is “messianic.” I think it’s just scary-silly. 

Australia’s government may take away welfare benefits from parents who don’t vaccinate their kids, which seems a kind of crappy way to deal with the problem, targeting poor parents like that.

Iowans are getting their money back from a fake psychic who duped them with promises of riches. 

Tennessee’s attorney general brings a little bit of sanity, saying making the Bible the official state book would be unconstitutional and “an endorsement of the Christian faith.” You think?? 

Islamic political parties in Indonesia seek to ban alcohol consumption. Good luck, guys, that worked out great for us.

There’s apparently a big reward to anyone who successfully nabs a selfie with Nessie.  

I don’t believe in microwaves. My son used one and now he’s gay.” 

Quote of the Day:

Ben Radford interviews filmmaker Mike Celestino, who explains the idea for his new film Scully:

The germ really goes back to Ghostbusters, a movie I’ve seen a thousand times and most of which I could probably recite, and more specifically William Atherton’s character Walter Peck. I’ve just always thought it was funny that in reality, Walter Peck would be the good guy in that story. In the real world, our world that we live in, the Ghostbusters are con artists and Walter Peck, this professional environmentalist who’s skeptical of the Ghostbusters and the paranormal from the get-go, is the hero. But because it’s a movie and we know ghosts are real in the world of this movie, we’re of course on the Ghostbusters’ side, and Walter Peck, who Atherton plays (wonderfully) as a real asshole and a foil for everybody’s favorite person in the world-mine included-Bill Murray, we boo him and we hiss him. For being skeptical! And wanting to protect the environment! I can’t help but feel like that attitude bleeds over to, or maybe has bled over from, our perception of skeptics in the real world. Now I want to talk about that phenomenon for 90 minutes, with visual aids. That’s the idea for the movie. 

* * *  

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. 

Follow CFI on Twitter: @center4inquiry 

Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)! 

The Morning Heresy: “I actually read it.” – Hemant Mehta