Impressively Slippery

April 30, 2015


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

No Morning Heresy tomorrow, folks. Please feel free to make your own dumb jokes about Dr. Oz and James Inhofe while I’m away. 

Skeptical Inquirer has just posted a really interesting magazine piece by Ryan Shaffer on the late fake-psychic Sylvia Browne, her claims to have done “detective work,” and the very real criminal investigation of her activities:

In particular, the government was interested in Browne and an unknown person using “fraudulent documents, including income tax returns and financial statements to enhance her net worth in making these loan applications” (FBI Document 29A-SF-10056 1989). Browne then used the “loan proceeds to support an extravagant lifestyle.” 

Here comes the presidential candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the born-Jewish-raised-Catholic-not-really-all-that-religious socialist. 

Pakistani communications professor Waheed ur Rehman is murdered by killers on motorcycles, likely targeted for his association with a liberal Islamic studies professor who had himself been gunned down, Muhammad Shakil Auj

Also in Pakistan, the ten men accused of plotting the assassination of Malala Yousafzai are sentenced to life in prison. The actual gunman is still out there somewhere.

Hey look, it’s Bill Nye hanging out with President Obama and some birds in the Everglades. 

Herb Silverman has a quick Abrahamic theology lesson, and some commentary:

I’m not interested in trying to decide the best and worst “holy” books because all contain both ridiculous and reasonable passages. Adherents can quote portions to justify loving their neighbor or killing their infidel neighbor. I’m more interested in behavior than belief.   

Lindsay Abrams at Salon goes to climate science denial school. No, not to learn how to deny, but to learn to understand what’s going on with science denial.

At The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin seems to have had enough of Antonin Scalia, the Fox News Justice, who found an anti-gay protestor’s rant about supports of equality burning in Hell “refreshing.”

Rep. Mike Honda introduces a resolution to recognize the National Day of Reason, and a guy in Stokes County, North Carolina gets the county commissioners to consider an “In Reason We Trust” sign.

Not only was Robert Ingersoll the Great Agnostic, he also thought opening up live animals to do experiments on them was nuts. Tim Binga reveals a letter of Ingersoll’s in which he writes, “Never can I be the friend of one who vivisects his fellow-creatures. I do not wish to touch his hand.” 

For discriminating against same-sex couples, an Oregon judge rules that bakery owners owe $135,000 in damages

Dig this: Gorgeous photos of Mercury, and at the other end of the Solar System, Pluto and Charon star in the best GIF ever, at least since this one

High Court in Kenya rules that an LGBT rights advocacy group must be allowed to form.

The U.S. House will vote to undo a DC law that protects women who have used contraception or family planning services from employment discrimination. Because freedom.

Forced vegetarianism for chickens makes for good marketing to Whole Foods shoppers, not so much good for the chickens. 

Hey but at least we can all agree that eliminating gluten is the most important thing you can do, right? Roberto Ferdman at WaPo:

There is a growing sense that people — in particular those who don’t suffer from celiac disease — are being a bit ridiculous about avoiding the protein. 

Oh. Okay. Scratch that. Maybe gluten is okay, but it’s a good thing that Pepsi knows that aspartame is bad and needs to be nixed. Steven Novella says:

Aspartame is one of the most studied food additives in the world. It has been a common food additive for over 30 years, and there is a strong consensus among sc
ientists and regulatory agencies that it is completely safe. 

What? Um, alright. Well. One thing we know for sure is that things that are “natural” are better, right? Michael Pollan at NYT:

The adjective [“natural”] is impressively slippery, its use steeped in dubious assumptions that are easy to overlook. Perhaps the most incoherent of these is the notion that nature consists of everything in the world except us and all that we have done or made. 


Quote of the Day:

A Missouri woman, working to get around Missouri’s ridiculous 72-hour waiting period to be allowed to have an abortion, plays the religious freedom card. The religion? Satanism. She writes to her doctor:

The waiting period interferes with the inviolability of my body and thereby imposes an unwanted and substantial burden on my sincerely held religious beliefs. This letter constitutes my acknowledgment that you have notified me of the state mandated waiting period, but demands that you do not abide by this obligation because the waiting period offends my sincerely held religious beliefs, which take precedent. 

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Original image by Shutterstock. 

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