A Thousand Separate Indignities

April 21, 2017

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

They actually did it. Russia bans Jehovah’s Witnesses, deeming the sect to be “extremist,” and confiscating its property.

PolitiFact now offers a list of known fake-news websites that you can check against. 

This is by no means a complete list of offenders. Nor does it mean every post on these websites is fake. But in most cases, these sites work hard to fool readers, and you should take that into consideration if should you see a link being shared from one.  

Rep. Don Beyer is enlisting science experts to rebut the misinformation promoted by the House Science Committee in their recent climate change star chamber I mean hearings, and wants more scientists to get involved in the fact checking.   

French journalist Julien Pain has a novel way of dealing with fake news: livestreaming his fact-checking over Facebook Live by talking to passers-by on the street about fake news items. 

According to a survey of New Jerseyans by Fairleigh Dickinson University, those with more political knowledge were more likely to believe false conspiracy theories about the opposing party.

Judge Roy Moore’s suspension by the Alabama Supreme Court has been unanimously upheld, so he’s off the bench for the remainder of his term. I’m sure this means he’ll soon be governor or president or something soon.

Julia Belluz at Vox goes into the lion’s den (Alex Jones subreddits) to talk to Infowars fans and see what they’re all about, and much to her surprise, they did not fit the stereotype:

Most said they believed in climate change and the benefits of vaccines. Some were former NPR listeners who felt the mainstream media had let them down. Others were looking for interesting and alternative opinions online. Still others championed science and were glad scientists are marching in the streets this week. 

Our own Joe Nickell is a guest on the Coast to Coast AM radio show, discussing Bigfoot, UFOs, and the paranormal. 

Snopes tackles the crazypants conspiracy theories propagated by anti-vaxxers about Sesame Street‘s new autistic character Julia.  

Christopher Hale looks at how Bill O’Reilly used religion to deify himself:

O’Reilly regularly invoked religion as a part of his show and acted as an aggressive right-wing prophet decrying the elitist secular left. Perhaps O’Reilly imagined himself as a modern-day King David, a prophet and psalmist, who with eloquence and persistence, would protect God’s people from the Goliaths of today — most notably the left. 

Sarah Jones at TNR discusses how the Hulu adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale exposes the lie that it counts as a win for feminism when women are given positions of power to enforce oppressive conservatism:

Fundamentalism asks you to endure a thousand separate indignities, and tells you this is freedom. They sell it to you by telling you it’s feminism—or “empowerment” or “choice,” if the f-word feels a bit too threatening. They promise you it’ll fix your problems and the world’s, too. Like any authoritarian ideology, it expects you to tire of fighting. 

Benjamin Radford answers a reader’s question about the mysterious “Paulding Lights” in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and yeah it’s probably car headlights. 

Athena Salman, a first-term legislator in Arizona and an atheist, causes a stir trying to offer a secular invocation instead of a prayer to a “higher power.” She was denied, spurring a demonstration. “It doesn’t take an atheist to see this is fundamentally wrong,” said Salman.

Tim Requarth tells scientists to stop thinking that just explaining the facts will win over deniers and opponents, saying, “There’s a certain irony that scientists, of all people, know so little about, well, the science of science communication.”  

George G. Coe, writing at PBS’s Newshour, says that teaching kids the facts about world religions isn’t enough to combat intolerance. They must understand and see religious practices and sites.  

An Ohio company called the Bigfoot Project Investments Incorporated is offering a million bucks for evidence leading to an actual Sasquatch discovery. Good luck.

Quote of the Day:

Henry David Thoreau in Walden:

It is never too late to give up our prejudices. No
way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof. What everybody echoes or in silence passes by as true to-day may turn out to be falsehood to-morrow, mere smoke of opinion, which some had trusted for a cloud that would sprinkle fertilizing rain on their fields. What old people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can. Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new. Old people did not know enough once, perchance, to fetch fresh fuel to keep the fire a-going; new people put a little dry wood under a pot, and are whirled round the globe with the speed of birds, in a way to kill old people, as the phrase is. Age is no better, hardly so well, qualified for an instructor as youth, for it has not profited so much as it has lost. One may almost doubt if the wisest man has learned anything of absolute value by living.

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