Jony Ive and the Borg

April 9, 2018


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

On our Reasonable Talk video series, we’ve got David Gorski at CSICon talking about the infiltration of alt-med fake medicine into legitimate medical academia. In a post at Science-Based Medicine, Gorski continues on this theme, discussing how small examples of infiltration are “pebbles in an avalanche.”

Showing what a classy institution it is, the Washington Times posts an editorial mocking atheists and the idea that humanists in the military might want a chaplain that represents their lifestance:

If the U.S. Navy appointed its first atheist chaplain, as the organized atheists demanded (twice), what could his duties as a chaplain be? Perhaps he could tell a sailor seeking spiritual solace in the face of death not to worry, he has no soul, anyway. 

Yes, that’s what we’re all like. 

The U.S. Navy won’t allow a secular humanist chaplain, but UK’s National Health Service will. In fact, a humanist is now leading one of the chaplain teams at the Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS trust. 

This is apparently not pseudoscience? Hard to say. MIT researchers show off a device called AlterEgo, which is worn on the head and across the jaw, and “reads your mind” in that it detects the neuromuscular movements that happen when you think certain words to yourself. One of the developers says, “I think we’ll achieve full conversation some day.” It’s a little like Jony Ive started working for the Borg.

A federal court dismisses a lawsuit from a high school graduate and her dad who said that being taught about Islam in a history class violated the Establishment Clause. And if you think that’s a stretch, the court agrees:

The First Amendment does not afford the right to build impenetrable silos, completely separating adherents of one religion from ever learning of beliefs contrary to their own.

Pope Fluffy gets back to being affirmatively fluffy, telling Catholics not to be so hung up on being stridently doctrinaire, and instead aim to be part of the “middle class of holiness” and be “the saints next door.” I know what he’s getting at, but next door or not, isn’t it, like, specifically very, very difficult to live a life that makes one a saint? Well, maybe not anymore.

Steven Salzberg shows how anti-vaxxers are exploiting religious-belief loopholes to cover objections to vaccines that have nothing to do with religion, just very wrong beliefs.

Jerry Falwell the Lesser instructs the student journalists at the Liberty University school paper, the Champion (of course that’s what it’s called) not to write a story about a protest event held by progressive evangelicals on campus. The assistant news editor, Erin Covey, told RNS:

I do think that currently the level of oversight we have does make it difficult to pursue the accurate journalism that we’re taught in classes. … We’re taught to be unbiased, to pursue both sides of the story, to show both sides fairly. But sometimes, when it comes to these controversial topics that we cover at the Champion, we know we can’t do that. 

Apparently there is a psychoactive drug called Kratom that is often touted as an “herbal supplement,” which is nuts. Worse? It’s giving people salmonella.

This is telling. Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg is the target of the conservative conspiracy-mongering website Hoggwatch (clever, guys), and who writes the content there? Almost all of it is done by Mike Adams, the guy behind Yep. 

The Foundation Beyond Belief formally becomes a member organization of the Secular Coalition for America, which includes the Center for Inquiry. 

I know there’s this cartoon that has something to do with Mike Huckabee about American history and God and Trump and MAGA and whatever, but I can’t click play. I just can’t. 

You know how hot-air hand dryers are supposed to save trees and stuff? It seems to be at the expense of having all the bacteria in the bathroom blown onto your hands. Happy hand-washing! 

Quote of the Day

Remember how we learned that the universe might end a million trillion trillion (…etc.) years from now from another Big Bang? Well we did learn it, but maybe you weren’t paying attention, and you can hardly blame me for it. I was here the whole time. Apparently, some people thought this meant that the End of All Things was coming soon, but it’s not. Ryan Mandelbaum at Gizmodo writes:

You should not worry about vacuum instabilities causing the universe to end. If you’re worried about the fate of humanity, you should worry about nukes, climate change, antibiotic-resistant pathogens, food insecurity, or clean water. The universe will be just fine. 

Hey, I tried to tell them. 

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