At Worst, You Can Die

May 1, 2018

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

It’s official: U.S. Reps Jared Huffman (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), and Dan Kildee (D-MI) announce the formation of the Congressional Freethought Caucus:

The Congressional Freethought Caucus has four main goals: 1) to promote public policy formed on the basis of reason, science, and moral values; 2) to protect the secular character of our government by adhering to the strict Constitutional principle of the separation of church and state; 3) to oppose discrimination against atheists, agnostics, humanists, seekers, religious and nonreligious persons, and to champion the value of freedom of thought and conscience worldwide; and 4) to provide a forum for members of Congress to discuss their moral frameworks, ethical values, and personal religious journeys.

Albert Einstein has had so many quotes and opinions attributed to him, it’s hard to know what is and isn’t true. Andrew Robinson at Nature sifts through the mess, and cites Skeptical Inquirer to help:

[H]ow much of this superabundance actually emanated from the physicist? Take this: “Astrology is a science in itself and contains an illuminating body of knowledge. It taught me many things and I am greatly indebted to it.” These lines, displayed by some astrology websites as Einstein’s, were exposed as an obvious hoax by the magazine Skeptical Inquirer in 2007.  

Homeopathic rabid dog saliva? Turns out that’s a bad idea and they’re not going to sell that anymore.

In the UK, 120 homeopaths form a kind of League of Snake Oil to offer the nation a “cure” for autism. “It involves homeopathic remedies and high doses of vitamin C in excess of those recommended by national guidelines.”

This is hilarious: Liberty University is all disgruntled over the fact that Grand Canyon University surpassed it to become the largest Christian university in the world. Liberty’s response? More or less that GCU doesn’t sufficiently discriminate in hiring to count. Jerry Falwell the Lesser tells RNS:

Our definition of a Christian university only includes universities who hire faculty who adhere to fundamental Christian doctrine. GCU does not. Liberty does. 

Aw. That’s adorable. 

Cardinal George Pell will stand trial in Australia for three complaints of “sexual offenses” while most of the other, more serious charges (more serious?) have been dismissed.

In the Philadelphia Inquirer, David Gambacorta exposes the horrors of abuse suffered by the victims of sexual assault among the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and talks to several people who left the church. 

In FFRF’s lawsuit targeting the parsonage allowance provision of the Internal Revenue Code, the religious right Alliance Defending Freedom files an amicus brief supporting the provision that purports to represent 8,899 Christian pastors. (“How many divisions does he have?” comes to mind.)

You know who else thinks Bavarian government’s decision to place crosses at state buildings is a bad idea? The Catholic Church. Cardinal Reinhard Marx of the German Bishops’ Conference, said,  “This has caused division, unrest and is pitting people against each other.”

A UFO is spotted in Princeton, NJ, the cops are dispatched, and oh it’s a remote control helicopter.

So Trump sort of asked Bill Gates to be his White House science advisor. Could do worse.

This is just dizzying: UK professors Piers Robinson and Tim Hayward will appear with Sandy Hook conspiracy-monger Patrick Henningsen at an event in which they will debate whether journalists who gain access to enemy/terrorist groups could be prosecuted under the UK Terrorism Act. Jeez.

Keith Barnes, a guy in Arkansas who claims to be tracking Bigfoot for the government, is charged with possession of child pornography

This guy who wrote a letter to the editor of the Vail Daily in Colorado says Kim Jong Un can’t be trusted…because atheism. Yeah, that’s why.

Poisonous caterpillars are invading London, and they’re a danger to humans. Says one entomologist, “At best, you can get contact dermatitis. At worst, you can die.” 

Quote of the Day

Jen Kim at Psychology Today on why people so readily believe in conspiracy theories:

They make us feel better. Leveraging the popularity of the Dan Brown novel and film, The DaVinci Code, a team of researchers conducted a study (link is external) to learn the effects of believing in the book’s primary conspiracy (spoiler alert): that Jesus’s blood descendants are still roaming the Earth with us.

What the researchers found was that the participants who believed in the theory not only enjoyed the book more than their non-believer counterparts, but it also helped mitigate some of their anxiety about death. This suggests some conspiracy theories “can alleviate people’s sense of loss of control by giving them a reason that things happen.” It helps us find meaning, control and security in the worst circumstances. 

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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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