The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
So, Prince. I don’t have anything of use to say about him on this particular blog, but there is one thing about his death that actually falls right into the skepto-secular wheelhouse is that Prince has previously refused medical treatments due to his religious beliefs.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who last year introduced a resolution on the violence against religious minorities in Bangladesh that CFI supports, took to the House floor yesterday to shine a brighter light on the issue, warning that violence against atheists, secularists, and other religious minorities has “become a regular occurrence,” and that we need to defend the right of free expression for everyone, even and especially those with whom we disagree.
In Port Charlotte, Florida, 81-year-old right-to-die activist Frank Kavanaugh kills his 88-year-old wife Barbara Kavanaugh, who suffered from a degenerative brain disease, and then himself. It is officially described now as a “murder-suicide” but those who knew them say this was clearly a joint decision, in a state where assisted suicide is a felony.
Alexander Krützfeldt at Broadly profiles Stephanie Wittschier, a German woman who became obsessed with Internet conspiracy theories (9/11 truthing, chemtrails, etc.), and then began to dig her way back out. Said Wittschier:
With hindsight, it was like a cult. At first it was very exciting to know secrets that others don’t, and to be able to educate others. They were a close community with rules, hierarchies and so on. It wasn’t until I swung around I realized the pressure they were exerting at the same time—people with different views were, in my opinion, aggresively and systematically attacked and were blocked or deleted within minutes. I was put under observation and everything I did online got recorded, collected, and noted. I can see a lot of similarities to cults like Scientology. For me they are one and the same thing.
At the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Mark Edward unpacks some of the techniques of so-called psychics doing cold readings, and they really do seem ridiculous when you think about it:
If psychics were real, they wouldn’t need to ask even a single question. They would just know. Period. End of story. Yet if we listen to any of the latest crop of psychic mediums in a live situation and not in edited television formats, that’s all they do. Its non-stop question after question after question.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver says that North Carolina’s going to have to change its anti-LGBT “bathroom law,” or risk losing the All-Star Game.
The UK is going so far as to issue travel warnings about these laws. CNN reports:
The update issued by the UK Foreign Office on its website under the heading of “local laws and customs,” highlights potential problems for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT) people. “The U.S. is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards LGBT people differ hugely across the country,” it says. “LGBT travelers may be affected by legislation passed recently in the states of North Carolina and Mississippi.”
You know who thinks transgender folks should be able to use whatever bathroom they like? Trump! No, really! He said so! Rob Beschizza at Boing Boing notes:
His rival, Ted Cruz, is ranting creepily about “grown men with little girls.” If there’s one image to take away with you from the primaries, I think it’s this one. It’s Trump chancing upon principle through sheer indifference, and conservatives debasing themselves with pedophiliac fantasies in a desperate attempt to make that look bad.
Stephen Hawking says black holes could be, well, freaking ruining everything, because, and I don’t claim to understand this they could be eating information itself when something falls into them, meaning somehow that determinism no longer works:
If determinism breaks down, we can’t be sure of our past history either. The history books and our memories could just be illusions. It is the past that tells us who we are. Without it, we lose our identity.
Jeffrey Tayler at Quillette defends Sam Harris from the accusations of bigotry levelled at him by folks like Glenn Greenwald and Reza Aslan.
President of the conservative Rabbinical Assembly, Rabbi William Gershon, resigns because “I have wrestled for many years with questions of my sexual identity.”
Tony Ortega, who is cornering the Scientology-exposing beat, has a sentence that would make a great movie trailer opening: “In Lisa Marie Presley, David Miscavige has cultivated a powerful enemy.”
Given the prevalence of communicable diseases (like the cold from which I currently suffer) that are entirely avoidable, Richard Dawkins wonders if we can find other ways of behaving in a friendly manner to each other in person without shaking hands and kissing cheeks. I’m not big on touching, so I’m all for this.
Oprah is going to star in a new scripted series about a megachurch, worki
ng with the writer of Six Feet Under.
Jesus fetus. Jetus? Fesus?
Quote of the Day:
In the beginning
God made the sea
But on the seventh day
He made me
He was tryin’ to rest, y’all
When he heard the sound
Sound like a guitar
Cold gettin’ down
Tried to bust a high note
But I bust a string
My God was worried
Till he heard me sing
Ow! My name is Prince
* * *
Original image by Shutterstock.
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