Alexa, Full of Grace

April 18, 2018

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

In its obituary for Art Bell, former host of the paranormal-focused radio show Coast to Coast, the New York Times notes his receipt of his, let’s say, special recognition from us:

In 1998, Mr. Bell received the ignominious Snuffed Candle Award from the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, a group, co-founded by Carl Sagan and based in Amherst, N.Y., that promotes scientific inquiry and critical thinking. The group cited him “for encouraging credulity, presenting pseudoscience as genuine, and contributing to the public’s lack of understanding of the methods of scientific inquiry.”

Sarah Posner writes a feature in Rolling Stone on the small cabal of radical Christians in Houston who kicked off the whole “bathroom bill” discrimination phenomenon:

“We will be discriminated against” [said Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick,] if LGBTQ people have equal rights. “It’s totally deceptive and it’s deadly,” Young said. “It will carry our city further and further, further down the road of being totally, in my opinion, secular and godless.” 

In Harper’s Bazaar, Jennifer Wright explains that even if one grants all the claims of fetal personhood made by the anti-abortion right, abortion still cannot be considered murder. “Even in the case of human life,” she writes, “there are a great many situations where, when one life poses a threat to another, that life can reasonably be taken.”

Joe Nickell weathers the blowback from the believers of acupuncture, and worries for the state of scientific understanding. “We are being enticed back to an era of quackery that science has been leading us from.”

The Government Accountability Office says Scott Pruitt, Destroyer of Worlds, violated federal spending laws with the $43,000 he had spent on a soundproof phone booth.

A little boy tells Pope Francis that he’s afraid that his father, who was an atheist and recently died, might not be in heaven. According to Carol Kuruvilla:

“A boy that inherited the strength of his father also had the courage to cry in front of all of us,” the pope said. “If this man was able to create children like this, it’s true that he is a good man.”

[. . . ] He asked the young girls and boys in the audience if they thought God would abandon a father like Emanuele’s, who was a good man. “No,” the children shouted back.

“There, Emanuele, that is the answer,” the pope said, according to a translation provided by the Catholic News Service. “God surely was proud of your father, because it is easier as a believer to baptize your children than to baptize them when you are not a believer. Surely this pleased God very much.” 

Trayon White, the DC council member who thinks Jews control the weather, gets email.

Phil Zuckerman sees his thesis confirmed, once again:

 

Quote of the Day

Tim Harford reflects on a lesson learned from Stephen Hawking:

If our goal is to persuade, the curiosity-driven approach works better than the conflict-driven one: the evidence suggests that curious people are less subject to the temptations of partisanship. When the national conversation becomes polarised, we need to encourage curiosity about how things work rather than them-and-us tribalism.

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