Smell the Faith

May 25, 2016

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

Mary Lou Bruner, the creationist running for the Texas Board of Education who also believes that President Obama used to be a gay prostitute, is defeated in a primary runoff.

We’ve been getting a little heat from some corners over the fact that we hosted a web presentation last night by Lindsay Beyerstein (who is awesome) entitled “On Bullshit: Donald Trump, Harry Frankfurt, and Indifference to Truth.” This is an academic look at what to us seems pretty obvious, that Trump is not terribly concerned with being correct about the things he says. This isn’t a political statement, but a statement of demonstrable fact. Nonetheless, we got a few complaints about focusing on Trump.

WELL. Please allow the news of the day to hammer home the justification for all of this. NYT has a big piece on how Trump is now reveling in baseless conspiracy theories, to the delight of the tinfoil-hat wearing part of the right wing, and there are many others from around the mainstream press. Jake Tapper took Trump to task on CNN specifically over Trump’s resurrecting the long-dead and long-disproven accusation that Hillary Clinton had something to do with the death of Vince Foster. So look, this is just what Trump does. 

Rob Brotherton at Psychology Today examines the roots of conspiracy-thinking about EgyptAir MS804

Despite the threat of a lawsuit, students at an Ohio high school held a big prayer at graduation, which got big cheers from the crowd. Imagine how the non-Christians must have felt there.

Donovan Schaefer writes about how the the trappings of religion may be heavily influenced by smell:

Social theorist Teresa Brennan calls this “the transmission of affect.” She describes how when we enter a room we “feel the atmosphere,” and suggests that this is a result of not only how the people in the room look (are they tense? relaxed? close together? smiling? scowling? leaning in or ignoring each other?), sound (are they laughing? loud or hushed? speaking in clipped sentences or tumbling over each other’s words?) and smell (she believes that we sample the pheromonal cocktail in the room and are affected by it). … Rituals, congregations, and sacred spaces may be much more than just a shared hallucination, as Freud thought: they may be tinged with a chemical force that binds bodies to each other in important ways—or with other vectors of experience that can be hard to see at first glance. 

In Skeptical Inquirer, Matt Nisbet discusses how warnings about climate change can get lost in the abstract data, and that real efforts will only be made once the message is tailored more specifically to connect with various audiences. 

Scottsdale, Arizona will prohibit a representative of the Satanic Temple from delivering an invocation to a city council meeting. 

Fabian Schmidt at Deutsche Welle rants against homeopathy:

This hocus-pocus is no more scientific than Santeria incantations by Haitian voodoo priests. Homeopathy has been clearly proven to be pharmaceutically useless in proper medical trials. Therefore, its only place is in the cabinet of horrors of historical medical and anthropological research institutions.

Samantha Bee educates us further on the religious right, this time focusing on how evangelicals drummed up the abortion issue as their ticket to political and cultural power. 

I hadn’t heard of the Chewbacca lady until Hemant posted about this, because I guess I’m old and out of touch or something, but apparently her fame has enabled her to talk up her devotion to that ancient religion

Quote of the Day:

This piece is so wonderful, just a quote won’t do it justice. Veteran political journalist John Ralston writes about his daughter’s gender transition, but, really, he writes about how much he loves his kid. Your heart will burst. So, no quote, just go read.

* * *

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