Disavow the Holy Spirit, Get 10% Off

May 10, 2013


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

There’s lots more reaction coming in regarding fake-psychic Sylvia Browne and her super-wrongness about Amanda Berry being, you know, not dead.

Joe Nickell, outraged over Browne’s fake predictions, notes that it’s not the first time she’s been wrong in almost the exact same way. 

At Discovery News, Ben Radford looks at how psychics “play the odds” and are given enormous latitude:

In any other career, such a track record of failure would be fatal: if police detectives solved only a tiny minority of the crimes they investigated, or doctors correctly diagnosed and treated patients at a rate no higher than random chance, they’d soon be fired. But being a psychic is a unique career in which routine failure is simply denied or glossed over.  

And if anyone’s psychic, it’s Ben! I 2009 he wrote:

. . . there are thousands of self-proclaimed psychics and psychic detectives in the world who claim to be able to find missing persons. Some are rich and famous, such as Sylvia Browne, Allison DuBois (inspiration for the NBC show Medium), Noreen Renier, and Carla Baron; others are known only locally. If they have the powers they claim, perhaps they should take a break from their TV appearances and lucrative lecture circuits to actually help find these and other desperate missing persons. 

David Moye at HuffPo rounds up skeptic responses to Browne-gate, including from Joe and Ben. 

Winton Ross at Daily Beast notes that many think Browne’s career “may not survive the backlash.”

CFI joins AAI and IHEU in asking the Appeal of Conscience Foundation to reconsider its “World Statesman Award” to Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, considering the crackdown on religious freedom and free expression in Indonesia (think Alexander Aan, the schoolgirls arrested for dancing to Maroon 5, etc.).  

CFI’s Michael De Dora writes about the delicate and difficult choices secular organizations must make with limited resources, and whether expansion into broader social justice issues constitutes “mission drift.”

Here’s some big, ugly pseudoscience for you: Conservative mega-think-tank the Heritage Foundation now under scrutiny for a study that purports to show that illegal immigrants to the U.S. are dumb, and for that reason should not be allowed in. 

The death toll from the Bangladesh building collapse passes 1000, as one woman is rescued from the rubble after being trapped for two weeks.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom provides information on Bangladesh’s uproar over blasphemy laws and the arrest of atheist bloggers.

Minnesota House of Representatives votes in favor of gay marriage. 

Former Republican and former Florida governor Charlie Crist comes out for gay marriage. Tell me where the people are going so that I may lead them.

Religious research organization the Barna Group releases new data on the young folks and discovers:

. . . between high school and turning 30, 43% of these once-active Millennials drop out of regular church attendance—that amounts to eight million twentysomethings who have, for various reasons, given up on church or Christianity. 

At CSICOP.org, Kitty Mervine becomes the skeptic at the Bigfoot club

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain declares May 15 “International Imad Day” for Moroccan atheist-in-hiding Imad Iddine Habib, who also delivers a video message. 

Ultra-orthodox Jewish men attack women attempting to pray at the Western Wall. 

John Shook’s take on the implications of the skeptic movement eschewing religious criticism:

Why does modern theology benefit from scientific skepticism? It’s a simple matter: so long as religion’s supernatural claims cannot be contradicted by anything science would ever say, then religion can continue to enjoy its own reasonable autonomy as a source of genuine knowledge about god. All scientific skepticism has to do is agree to this proposition: Where science can never disprove, science must fall silent 

Hemant has an excerpt from Sikivu Hutchinson’s new book Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels

Nepali teacher in Qatar reportedly arrested for allegedly “making derogatory remarks on Islam.” 

Sean Carroll won’t take money from the Templeton Foundation, unless they give him the big prize:

. . . if anyone is tempted to award me the
Templeton Prize, I will totally accept it! And use the funds to loudly evangelize for naturalism and atheism. (After I pay off the mortgage.) 

F***ing cicadas! How do they work

HuffPo on how megapastor Joel Osteen leverages social media to evangelize. 

Ugandan priest trying to blow the whistle on abuse in the church gets suspended

Christian teachers in Louisiana Louisville get training on how to deal with religion in their classes. 

Vatican on Mexico’s “Santa Muerte”: No me gusta

Voice of Young Science network seeks to keep supermarkets honest about what they promote as healthy or beneficial:

Do I choose the product that is “free from artificial sweetener” or has “no MSG”? What about the one that “contains no GM” or is “paraben-free”? But these are false choices: supermarkets are misinforming their customers about health risks. 

Arkansas school can’t have prayer at its graduation, so it takes its ceremony and goes home

Drexel Freethought Society is CFI On Campus’s Affiliate of the Week. 

Brazilian pastor is charged with the rape of six women in order to exorcize the devil from them. 

North Carolina state senate, of course, unanimously approves a student prayer bill. 

Quote of the Day 

South Carolina atheists post an ad on Craigslist for a yard sale:

Come to our moving sale to help two godless liberals get the funds to move to California. What do we have? Books, naturally. . . . You’ll be helping to make SC a little more red. . . . Preaching and proselytizing welcome, however it will cost you 10 cents a word to attempt to convert us. Mormons pay double. Mention Richard Dawkins and disavow the Holy Spirit will get you 10% off.
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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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