The Gullible Tool of Liars

April 3, 2017

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

The Los Angeles Times, it seems, has freaking had it, beginning a multi-part editorial on the dishonesty of Donald Trump. Part one is an introduction:

What is most worrisome about Trump is Trump himself. He is a man so unpredictable, so reckless, so petulant, so full of blind self-regard, so untethered to reality that it is impossible to know where his presidency will lead or how much damage he will do to our nation. 

Part 2 looks at why Trump lies so much, and it’s no more flattering:

He is dangerous. His choice of falsehoods and his method of spewing them — often in tweets, as if he spent his days and nights glued to his bedside radio and was periodically set off by some drivel uttered by a talk show host who repeated something he’d read on some fringe blog — are a clue to Trump’s thought processes and perhaps his lack of agency. He gives every indication that he is as much the gullible tool of liars as he is the liar in chief. 

This is some bizarro-world, uber-dystopian insanity: The Chechen authorities are killing gay men while denying such men exist. A spokesman for Chechnya’s leader says:

You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic. If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.

Bill Nye will be at the March for Science. Oh, and so will we! You should come with us! We’ll have cool signs.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali cancels her Australia and New Zealand appearances over security concerns.

New Reasonable Talk episode: From Women in Secularism 4, it’s Wendy Kaminer: “Secular Feminism, Liberty, and Social Justice.”  

Here come the nanobots. David Koepsell, writing in the latest Free Inquiry, explores the ethics of nanotech (and even has a web-only companion piece). 

Here’s something I never expected to see. Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, resigns over concerns about racial discrimination in hiring for leadership roles.  

Molly Owen at The American Conservative makes the conservative’s case for funding the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities:

The arts and humanities give us the resources to step back from continual progress and consider the meaning of human life. They may even be able to prevent us from destroying ourselves. 

Thanks to the global anti-vax movement, Romania has an abysmally low 86 percent vaccination rate against measles, and 17 kids have died

On Friday, a bunch of anti-vaxxers and their cult leader Robert F. Kennedy Jr. protested and lobbied in DC. STAT reports:

One advocate held a sign saying “Polio was a false flag” and “Jonas Salk was NOT a hero,” referencing to the virologist who developed the first safe and effective polio vaccine that experts consider to be one of history’s greatest public health triumphs.

Margaret Sullivan wants to save you from sharing or believing fake news and lies with a handy little guide

Massimo Polidoro in Skeptical Inquirer has his own guide for investigating mysteries. You have to love that rule number one is “Make sure that the mystery 
actually exists.” 

Trump wants to crush the prohibitions on pastors endorsing candidates from the pulpit. You know who doesn’t want him to do that? 89% of Evangelical leaders. Also us. 

Here’s a more detailed look at how the EPA is going to stab itself repeatedly with a garden trowel and scoop out its own guts, all the while laughing through tears. 

Michelle Goldberg looks at the open hostility toward Muslims among the Trump-devoted right as compared to the veiled anti-Semitism that’s risen of late:

Naturally, a government that decides certain groups of people “don’t mean anything” shakes many Jews to the core. But the horror of the president&
rsquo;s vision isn’t that “the other people” might include Jews. It includes people. 

That blue light filter on your phone may not save your sleep. There is no sleep. MacBeth hath murder’d sleep. MacBeth shall sleep no more.

Rep. Jodey Arrington has a totally ironclad justification for making it way harder for poor, hungry people to get food — the Bible:

But there’s also, you know, in the Scripture, tells us in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3:10 he says, uh, ‘for even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: if a man will not work, he shall not eat.’ And then he goes on to say ‘we hear that some among you are idle’ …  I think it’s a reasonable expectation that we have work requirements.

Meanwhile, it’s those monstrous Satanists in New Zealand who are raising money to buy socks, hats, and clothing for homeless kids.  

Betsy DeVos thinks “neurofeedback” is a better way to treat ADHD than meds. Oh, she also has millions invested in a neurofeedback company, but I’m sure that’s a coinci…HEY LOOK A SQUIRREL 

Caroline Beaton at VICE reports on research showing that those who leave religion do so not just because of the scientific implausibility, but the “culture of science” as well.

The Dayton, Tennessee courthouse, cite of the 1925 Scopes trial, will soon have a new statue of Clarence Darrow to go along with that of William Jennings Bryan that already stands. 

Iowa atheist Justin Scott will be delivering the invocation at the Iowa State House on Wednesday. 

A scientist in New Zealand is going to test DNA found in the water of Loch Ness to see if the monster is there. Best of loch to you. 

Sam Harris, remarking upon the president’s conversation with the Financial Times:

Who will pass the Turing test first, @POTUS or Siri? 

Quote of the Day:

With sensitivity to the potential of beating dead horses, this is from the aforementioned LA Times editorial:

Our civilization is defined in part by the disciplines — science, law, journalism — that have developed systematic methods to arrive at the truth. Citizenship brings with it the obligation to engage in a similar process. Good citizens test assumptions, question leaders, argue details, research claims.

Investigate. Read. Write. Listen. Speak. Think. Be wary of those who disparage the investigators, the readers, the writers, the listeners, the speakers and the thinkers. Be suspicious of those who confuse reality with reality TV, and those who repeat falsehoods while insisting, against all evidence, that they are true. To defend freedom, demand fact.

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