Invalid and Pointless

May 20, 2016

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

More things! Things are a constant! How the things do continue to EMERGE and MANIFEST.

For example! Yesterday we made an announcement about all the cool things we’ll be doing for the Reason Rally, both at the rally itself and online. The gist: At the rally, the combined CFI/RDFRD/Openly Secular presence will be a Big Deal™ with lots to get involved with. At the same time, we’ll have a frequently updated website just for the rally, CFI Live at the Reason Rally, where we’ll have interviews, impressions, commentary, pictures, sounds, bad jokes, etc. And the domain? Yeah, dot-live! 

Also! The New York Times reports that the University of Miami is endowing the first-ever chair for “atheist studies,” thanks to Lou Appignani. Richard Dawkins is quoted in the piece, and we have a press release out with more from Dawkins and CFI chief Robyn Blumner. 

Also also! CFI President Ron Lindsay writes that even for proponents of the “right to die,” who specifically gets that right, and under what circumstances, are questions to which there are still no definitive answers:

Besides the usual autonomy-based arguments, we have the additional consideration that denying assistance is effectively compelling these individuals to stay alive. Their lives will have been appropriated by the state. But can we say the same for an individual who retains physical capacity but who is tired of living? Most humanists would not dispute the right of such individuals to end their lives. But are we required to provide them with assistance? And in such cases, who would make the determination that someone is truly “weary of life”? A psychologist —or a philosopher?  

Not news: Congress is a mess. The House passed an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act to overturn the president’s executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating based on religion. House GOPers LIKE discriminating based on religion, thus the amendment. THEN a House Democrat, Sean Maloney, offered a measure that would prevent federal funds from enforcing that reversal. You following so far? THEN a lot of GOP House Members started to seem like they were voting for Maloney’s thing, and then got all weird, and a bunch switched, and Maloney’s measure went down. So, a mess.  

So there’s this crowdfunding project that aims to prove some 9/11 conspiracies. Ben Radford shows why this is a fool’s errand:

[Paul Salo] says he plans to “recreate as best as we can” the circumstances of the World Trade Center attacks. The problem is that “as best as we can” will leave an enormous margin of error, one so big as to make any results invalid and pointless. 

Michael O’Sullivan at WaPo reviews Andrew Wakefield’s pseudo-documentary Vaxxed, gives it one-half a star, and says, “Vaxxed should come with a warning label: ‘May cause irrational anxiety, especially if taken with an empty head.'”

On the other side of reality, Joe Nickell favorably reviews The Man Who Knew Infinity, about math genius Srinivasa Ramanujan.

Quote of the Day:

The House did something good. It passed an amendment to the International Religious Freedom Act that explicitly now protects nonbelief

The freedom of thought, conscience, and religion is understood to protect theistic and non-theistic beliefs as well as the right not to profess or practice any religion. … Though not confined to a particular region or regime, religious persecution and the specific targeting of non-theists, humanists, and atheists because of their beliefs is often particularly widespread, systematic, and heinous under totalitarian governments and in countries with militant, politicized religious majorities and in regions where non-state actors exercise significant political power and influence.

Of course, it also protects the right to practice ritual animal slaughter and male circumcision, so, there’s that. 

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Photo credit: vvvracer via / CC BY-NC-ND

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