A Rush to Embrace the Stupid

May 21, 2014

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

CFI has joined a coalition of religious and secular groups asking Congress not to add a prayer to the WWII Memorial

Sharon Hill writes at Skeptical Inquirer about attending a conference mixing academics with the paranormal, and she comes away better for it:

[J]ust after I had been outed as one of the “skeptics” in the crowd, one lady rather brusquely asked, “So you’re one of the skeptics? Why are you here?” For the same reason you are, lady, to learn and explore evidence and ideas. … It’s impossible to get that deeper concept if you are prejudiced against the field entirely. Likewise, if you pigeonhole skeptics and close off the skeptical commentary, you risk continuing to waste effort, make mistakes, and fail to progress.

Pakistani-Canadian political scientist Farzana Hassan joins Josh Zepps for Point of Inquiry, and they have a fascinating discussion about how freaking hard it is to talk about Islam and extremism.  

Another one bites the dust: Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban is struck down by the same judge that presided over the Dover “intelligent design” trial. Wrote Judge John E. Jones III:

We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history. 

10 kids in Florida (of course) are taken to the hospital when it was discovered they’d taken a homeopathic sleep aid. “There was no concern of side effects for the amount taken by the students.” You don’t say. 

Cathy Lynn Grossman reports on the Pew data that shows Americans more willing (but still not too willing) to elect an atheist president, and features Todd Stiefel talking about the Openly Secular campaign, of which CFI is a part. 

The huge Big Bang-confirming news from a couple of months ago faces a new challenge, as it might be that the evidence “could be an artifact produced by dust within our own galaxy.”

The college named for the man who argued against evolution in the Scopes trial, perennial presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, is now Scopes-ing itself. The school requires staff to sign a contract that states they believe that Adam and Eve “are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life-forms,” is now enmeshed in an internal debate as to whether it’s gone too far.

Fake-psychic Sally Morgan completely embarrasses herself at a public event, talking to someone “in the afterlife” who was also in the audience, alive and well. 

Jonathon Gatehouse at Canada’s Maclean’s diagnoses the U.S.:

Everywhere you look these days, America is in a rush to embrace the stupid. Hell-bent on a path that’s not just irrational, but often self-destructive. Common-sense solutions to pressing problems are eschewed in favour of bumper-sticker simplicities and blind faith. 

Ryan Strepp, a doctoral student at the Wisconsin School of Professional Psychology, asked me to share with you this survey he’s doing on personality and belief in the paranormal. If you’d like to take part, click away

The site of Jesus’s last supper is apparently a huge deal for Israelis, as the Vatican eyes the real estate. 

A Christian park in Iowa is getting $140,000 in taxpayer funds. Isn’t there a rule about that? Like a metaphorical wall or something? 

The president appoints two new folks to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom: Rev. Thomas J. Reese and Eric P. Schwartz. 

New York Times didn’t get printed in the United Arab Emirates yesterday because of one story they didn’t like about labor relations.

Sarah Jones at Americans United d’lights in the d’mise of Dinesh D’Souza as he is d’posited in d’slammer for his d’ssembling.  

Former CNN science and space reporter Miles O’Brien (no, not that onetells Neil deGrasse Tyson what he thinks of his former employer’s “view from nowhere”:

Is it fair in a story about climate change … to do this journalistic convention of equal time for both sides? This is a huge mistake for journalism … We’re in the boutique age of journalism. CNN is just the department store — the Wal-Mart of journalism, and think about what that does to quality. There is room for a Madison Avenue boutique, then, for people who care about things that are specific to them, and they will seek you out. 

Jim Wallis of Sojourners says God wants us to fight climate change. Whatever gets you there.

The sun is a miasma of incandescent plasma, and this is what it looks like when you’re right there. 

Chris Stedman unpacks the atheism of Louie C.K

Michael Marshall writes at The Guardian on the ongoing and necessary struggle of skeptics to keep everyone else from “walking into an open manhole.” 

Religious publishing is turning into something of a barnyard.  

Do not taunt magnetic putty

How do you spell crazy-conspiracy science denial? S-A-J-A-K

Quote of the Day

Mary Elizabeth Williams wants an atheist president:

As a Catholic, I want leaders who don’t interfere with my faith but I don’t need them to share in it. In fact, I strongly prefer they not. I want politicians who can serve all their constituents, without moral conflicts of interest. 

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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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