Eroded, Eclipsed, Liquidated

May 18, 2016

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

Shadi Hamid joins Josh Zepps on Point of Inquiry to talk about ISIS, caliphates, and the prospects for reform in Islam today.

Eric Fanning is confirmed by the Senate as Army Secretary, becoming the first openly gay Armed Forces secretary. Almost as notable: The Senate actually confirmed something.

Arizona State Senator Kelli Ward is challenging John McCain in the GOP primary, and the McCain camp released an ad attacking her for publicly entertaining chemtrail conspiracy theories (in an ad that is kind of dumb and way overwrought). McCain himself, however, seems to have checked in with the FAA about chemtrails himself as recently as last year.

Now this is cool: As reported by the Eagle Newsthe remains of Robert Ingersoll’s mother, Mary Livingston, were found in an unmarked grave in Cazenovia, NY. The piece quotes our own Tom Flynn who helped coordinate the investigation, and refers to himself in the article as “an outsider with a curious itch.” TMI, Tom. TMI.

Stephen Cave at The Atlantic writes about how free will is probably not a real thing, and the debate as to whether it’s a good idea to acknowledge this. BUT DO WE REALLY HAVE A CHOICE?

John Cook of the University of Queensland wins a Friend of the Planet award from the NCSE for his work debunking climate myths, and Cook just happens to be a Fellow of CFI’s Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

Three “nones” win primaries for Oregon’s State House of Representatives.

Anahad O’Connor at NYT reports on the FDA’s trudge through the very thorny question of what counts as “natural.” Interesting development:

The fear of litigation has already caused food industry giants like PepsiCo, Frito-Lay, Campbell Soup and others to abandon their use of the word on products, said Jason J. Czarnezki, the executive director of environmental law programs at Pace University. Across the food industry, the number of products claiming to be “natural” fell to roughly 22 percent in 2013 from about 30 percent in 2010.

Former CFI policy guy and Iraq War vet Ed Beck guest posts at Americans United about the controversy over a war memorial cross in Albia, Iowa:

For all their well-meaning, sectarian memorials fail to truly understand how deep the values of military service go. Those who defend these memorials nod to the idea of shared sacrifice yet avoid doing it themselves. No one in the U.S. military serves under or alongside the Latin cross; they serve under the flag and alongside one another. They should be memorialized in the same manner.

Joe Nickell shows a part of his collection: A bottle for Dr. Kennedy’s Medical Discovery, from the 1850s, which was supposed to “cure every kind of humor.” That’s humor as in the fluids that were once believed to have influenced health in the body. Best part?

The manufacturers boldly admitted ignorance as to “how, why,” or by what means it does its work”—“satisfy yourself with the explanation you prefer.”

Tim Binga and Kendrick Frazier collect some early articles on the founding and history of CSICOP (now CSI) and Skeptical Inquirer. Lots of good stuff here.

The National Academy of Sciences issues a report on the safety of GMO crops. The conclusion? Meh, they’re fine.

Charlottesville, VA fake-psychic Sandra “Catherine” Marks pleads guilty to defrauding customers of over a million dollars (technically copping to mail fraud and money laundering).

NASA is trying to make it easier for us all to stop thinking their weather balloons are UFOs.

Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah says at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, “In your nation, God is being eroded, eclipsed, liquidated.” TMI, Cardinal. TMI.

Quote of the Day:

Tweet by Dan Shapiro:

Why do birds

suddenly appear

everytime you are near

confirmation bias

* * *

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. 

Follow CFI on Twitter: @center4inquiry 

Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)! 

News items that mention political​ candidates are for informational purposes only and under no circumstances are to be interpreted as statements of endorsement or opposition to any political candidate. CFI is a nonpartisan nonprofit.  

The Morning Heresy: “I actually read it.” – Hemant Mehta