Weblog of Enlightenment

April 29, 2016


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

So dig this, we released our big annual Progress Report yesterday, and it’s a great way to get an overview of all the bazillion things CFI works on, and I bet there’ll be things in there that’ll make you go, “Whoa, I didn’t know they did THAT TOO! What a crazy-great organization!” Go see.

This is fascinating. At CFI’s Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Stuart Vyse details how Apple may (inadvertently?) be helping to fund and promote pseudoscience through a particular autism treatment, “Rapid Prompting Method,” or RPM:

To its credit, Apple pioneered user-friendly interfaces, and for years the company has made special efforts to increase the accessibility of their machines for people with a wide range of abilities.12 But in this case, Apple has given its support to an organization that promotes pseudoscience, and indeed Apple is profiting from that pseudoscience. Apple may not be selling the snake oil, but at very least Apple is selling the bottles the snake oil comes in.

Philip Bump at WaPo, serving the public’s need to understand what’s going on with our political system, checks with an exorcist to discuss John Boehner’s assertion that Ted Cruz is “Lucifer in the flesh”:

“If you’re going to address any being, you need to know their name to get any significant connection,” [Pastor Bob] Larson said. So he asks three questions: Who are you? How did you get there? Why are you there? (In the example he gave, the spirit was “the spirit of lust.” Demons, by the way, are always male — misandry! — but they may assume a female persona for their purposes.)

Speaking of demons, Jennifer Miller at Slate does a substantive report on the experiences of women who have been through the ringer with the evangelical mental health treatments of Mercy Ministries:

It was, and is, a place that treats the devil as something frighteningly real—the kind of approach that may work for many residents but overwhelms others with guilt and fear. In a larger sense, Mercy illustrates what happens when a hard-line, religiously oriented organization inserts itself into a gaping hole in the United States’ mental heath system. Because organizations like Mercy are barely subject to government oversight, it’s likely not an anomaly.

John Kerry personally contacts Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Hasina to demand justice for the murder of former U.S. embassy employee and LGBT activist Xulhaz Mannan. While it’s pretty clear that Daesh and Al Qaeda types are using Bangladesh as a breeding ground, the government keeps dismissing the idea.

The Dhaka Tribune tallies up the dead in the Bangladesh attacks, and WaPo highlights some of their writings.

Two journalists in Turkey, Ceyda Karan and Hikmet Cetinkaya, are sentenced to two years on blasphemy charges for reprinting a Charlie Hebdo cover.

This should not really be a surprise, but Pew research shows that Muslims in different countries have widely varying takes on how much influence Islam should have on government.

Joe Schwarcz reminds us that while Bernie Sanders may be less religious than most candidates, he’s got serious problems on the issue of alt-med pseudoscience:

Sanders claims that “more and more people are looking for natural, non-invasive or non-pharmaceutical means to alleviate their health problems rather than take a pill.” He has apparently swallowed the “natural is safe and better than synthetic” fallacy, hook, line and sinker. And “non-pharmaceutical?” Why is some traditional Chinese herb or some plant extract that has gone through elaborate chemical processing non-pharmaceutical? What about non-invasive? It certainly is more seductive to think that disease can be treated with therapeutic touch rather than with a scalpel. But medicine requires evidence, not magical thinking. It doesn’t claim to have all the answers and changes as research furnishes new data. Pseudoscience on the other hand is mired in mud and sticks to its beliefs, blind to any novel information that emerges. Of course nobody has a monopoly on the “truth,” but when it comes to controversial arguments the question to ask is “what is the evidence?”

Senator Sanders also seems to believe that cancer can be caused by mental stress and at one time wrote an essay arguing that sexual repression causes cancer in women.

NPR’s Diane Rehm has a new book discussing the need for the right to die, after her late husband had been denied that right as he suffered from Parkinson’s.

Allison Wint, a middle school substitute teacher, says she was fired for using the word “vagina” when discussing the work of Georgia O’Keefe.

Klamath County, Oregon’s county commission puts “In God We Trust” up in the building, because how else will God know they trust him???

The parents who were just convicted of letting their baby son die from meningitis because of their insistence on non-medicine, David and Collet Stephan, seem to have learned nothing.

Ray Comfo
rt is coming to the Reason Rally to show us all how wrong we are.

Dig it, you’re in a poorly-lit, disorganized room. You see in the corner, on a desk covered in papers and cables, a laptop. On the screen is a blog, and the language appears to be English, and it seems to called The Morning Heresy. You cast Detect Magic and realize that it’s a Weblog of Enlightenment, and to determine the impact it will have on your Intelligence and Wisdom attributes, you’ll need to roll this: d120.

Quote of the Day:

The State Department’s special representative for religion and global affairs, Shaun Casey, takes to Facebook to answer some questions, and our own Michael De Dora gets one in, asking, “During your tenure, has your office had any engagement with atheist, humanist, or secularist actors and institutions, and what do you see as their role in U.S. foreign policy?” The answer is vague, but at least it was an answer:

Since I came to the State Department, I have met with literally hundreds of groups – religious, secular, humanist, and atheist. We seek to be as inclusive as possible. Meeting with a wide range of groups makes us smarter on issues and allows us to enrich the foreign policy debate.

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Original image by Shutterstock, and possibly messed with by Paul.

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