Too Many Rocks

May 18, 2018

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

Finally, finally, finallywe have a new episode of Point of Inquiry, all ready to fill your ear-holes with podcast-tastic wonderment. A confluences of circumstances have delayed new episodes of the show, but I’m happy to say that this long-awaited episode has two amazing guests: Alan Stern, head of the New Horizons mission to Pluto, and his co-author, astrobiologist David Grinspoon. Share and enjoy.

We officially denounced the abysmal, stupid, and revolting appointment of theocratic extremist Tony Perkins to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom:

“The only religious freedom that interests Tony Perkins is his own,” said Lemieux. “He seeks the freedom and the power to impose his restrictive, far-right, dogmatic beliefs on everyone, regardless of their faith or lack thereof. The U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom is far too important for it to be sullied by a man who can only serve to undermine it.”

Gerry Shih at the AP reports on the efforts of the Chinese government to indoctrinate Muslims to renounce their beliefs in detainee camps. It’s really bad:

When they ate meals of vegetable soup and buns, they first had to chant: “Thank the Party! Thank the Motherland! Thank President Xi!” [Omir] Bekali was kept in a locked room almost around the clock with eight other internees, who shared beds and a wretched toilet. Cameras were installed in toilets and outhouses. Baths were rare, as was washing of hands and feet, equated with Islamic ablution. In 4-hour sessions, instructors lectured about the dangers of Islam and drilled internees with quizzes that they had to answer correctly or be sent to stand near a wall for hours on end. 

The president, who kicked off his administration with a ban on Muslims, wishes them a happy Ramadan:

Ramadan reminds us of the richness Muslims add to the religious tapestry of American life.  In the United States, we are all blessed to live under a Constitution that fosters religious liberty and respects religious practice.  Our Constitution ensures Muslims can observe Ramadan in accordance with the dictates of conscience and unimpeded by government.  By doing so, the Constitution also furnishes varied opportunities for all Americans to deepen their understanding of the human soul. 

You think Trump even knows this statement was written? Speaking of things he doesn’t know, he apparently isn’t aware of the difference between HPV and HIV, and figured he’d ask Bill Gates. Twice.

At CSICOP.org, Harriet Hall checks out the claim that the supplement ASEA (“perfectly balanced Redox Signaling Molecules” and “16 chemically recombined products of salt and water with completely new chemical properties”) helped heal a baby’s heart valve.

What’s up with Bibles being displayed at Philadelphia polling places? Victor Fiorillo at Philadelphia Magazine finds out. 

At The New Arab, Khaled Diab says that persecuted Egyptian atheist Sherif Gaber is, like other Egyptian atheists, stuck in a kind of “secular purgatory”:

At its best, this greater openness and presence has led to increased public acceptance of and tolerance towards the a-religious in society, even among some conservative Muslims. My personal experience has been a largely positive one, but this is liable to change at any moment. … At its worst, the more visible public profile of atheists has resulted in shrill panic towards the atheist “tsunami”, mob rule, moral denunciation of atheists as “Satan worshippers” or mentally deranged, a government-sanctioned national plan to combat atheism spearheaded by Al Azhar – the foremost institute of Sunni orthodoxy – Islamist law suits and a constant stream of prosecutions, even though Egypt does not technically ban atheism. 

At first, a YWCA in Arizona was happy to have the enthusiastic volunteer efforts of the Satanic Temple for their “Project Period,” helping out women with menstrual supplies. The Temple called their part of it “Menstruatin’ with Satan,” and everyone was cool, until the YWCA got a nasty letter, and higher-ups forced them to cut ties.

Rabbi Sandy Sasso says there probably shouldn’t be any Congressional Chaplaincy, but if there must be, they have to be free to speak out for those in need.

Faraz Talat at Pakistan Today mocks the idea that there is a “false” Islam and a “real” Islam:

The article that you’re reading right now, which I fear may not to win the next Pulitzer prize, is not a ‘real’ article. The real article, as it exists in my mind, is a literary masterpiece. The real article, the way I imagine, is so insightful and visionary that it would solve most of this country’s problems, and help me knock Allama Iqbal off his pedestal as our national poet. Regrettably, you – the reader – may not be able to experience the sheer bliss and blessed ingenuity of this literary piece that I believe in. You may only read actual words that manifest before you, and judge the content that is presented.

Rick Hinton at the Southside Times in Indiana has gotten in to skepticism of the paranormal, and says, “My new favorite guy is Benjamin Radford, a published author and writer for the Skeptical Inquirer.” Congrats, Ben, on being his new favorite guy.

Paul Biegler at Cosmos rejects the idea that skepticism of “traditional” medicine is some form of cultural imperialism

Few dispute that traditional cultures should be protected and knowledge preserved. But that is a long way from saying that cultural longevity confers legitimacy on a health treatment. 

Charlotte Ahlin at Bustle reminds us that the creator of hyper-rationalist Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was obsessed by a belief in the supernatural, and was kinda made a fool of by some kids and fake fairy photos.

Quote of the Day

You may not be prepared for this level of stupid. Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama knows better than a climate scientist why sea levels are rising…too many rocks!:

Every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you have less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up. 

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