The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Jonathan Webb at the BBC interviews Richard Dawkins on the occasion of The Selfish Gene‘s 40th anniversary (a book I read about six years ago, and it blew my mind). One topic is his and other scientists’ role in the discussion of religion:
It’s important to [be involved in those debates]. I think scientists need to get involved in that kind of thing. … Religion is not really a field that you can have. It’s a non-field. And insofar as religion makes claims in the area of science – which it does, because it talks about creation, it talks about the nature of the Universe, it talks about the nature of life – to that extent, all scientists should be involved in it.
Prof. Dawkins can also celebrate for having turned the lead singer of Christian metal band The Order of Elijah into an atheist.
Because of President Obama’s tyrannical overreach by telling public schools to not be awful to transgender students, 11 states (including my own state of Maine, which is led by this guy) are suing the administration. In so doing, they join in common cause with these guys.
Stephen Nadler at Aeon looks at why people still really dig Spinoza, and why they’re right to do so:
The political ideal that Spinoza promotes in the Theological-Political Treatise is a secular, democratic commonwealth, one that is free from meddling by ecclesiastics. Spinoza is one of history’s most eloquent advocates for freedom and toleration.
For Skeptical Inquirer, Massimo Polidoro explores the enduring allure of Mary Magdalene myths.
It turns out that women are abandoning church services at a higher rate than men, and Patricia Miller has an idea as to why:
The years that women’s church attendance began to decline are the very years when religious leaders in the Catholic Church and the evangelical movement fused religion with the culture wars, with overall attendance for women taking it’s first steep drop in the 1980s. This drop in church attendance for women coincided with the period when the Catholic bishops began making abortion a litmus test for Catholic politicians.
Real doctors are trying to use real science and real facts to combat the very real threat of the Zika virus. So of course the conspiracy theorists are making that job harder, and it’s the usual suspects. UPI reports:
[Researchers] found many [conspiracy theories] built on already existing narratives about the dangers of vaccines, calling the virus a side effect of vaccines such as MMR and DTaP, or that the virus was caused by a mosquito larvacide made by Monsanto. Neither theory has been shown to have any truth to it, however they persist online because people have already made their minds up on what they think, the researchers say the study suggests.
Issam Abuanza, a UK physician with the NHS, joins the Islamic State. He’s one year younger than me, which for some reason weirds me out. BBC reports:
On social media, Dr Abuanza has said he wished that a Jordanian pilot burnt alive by IS had taken longer to die.
Jonathan Haidt says there’s a new religion sweeping across college campuses: “The religion of fundamental social justice.” HEY WHO DROPPED THIS BIG CAN OF WORMS IT THINK IT BROKE OPEN AND ALL THE WORMS ARE GOING TO GET OUT.
Trump Steaks are one thing, right? I mean, one way or the other they send you a slab of meat. But Trump Vitamins? The dude wanted you to send him your pee:
Through a multi-level marketing project called The Trump Network, the business mogul encouraged people to take an expensive urine test, which would then be used to personally “tailor” a pricey monthly concoction of vitamins—something a Harvard doctor told The Daily Beast was a straight-up “scam.”
Dan Jackson writes in the Paris, TN Post-Intelligencer, “I am officially endorsing Sasquatch the Bigfoot for president of these United States.”
Sasquatch will be tough on our enemies. He is actually capable of breaking each one of them in half. When was the last time a president did that?
I bet Teddy Roosevelt did.
More anti-homeopathy goodness from Fabian Schmidt at Deutsche Welle:
Homeopathy resembles psychotherapy more than actual medicine. It activates self-healing powers. The paradox: neither doctor nor patient must admit that the remedies are ineffective and merely part of a celebrated ritual. If they did, the therapy and its psychosomatic success would cave in on themselves.
It’s going to be okay: the aliens are protecting us from meteors.
I saw this, I couldn’t believe it was real, and yet it is. Maybe it’s not news to you, but it floored me: Vegetarian water. (I assume it’s made of soy.)
Quote of the Day:
Tweet from Michael McKean:
Seems legit. pic.twitter.com/tXE9mSS1kK
— Michael McKean (@MJMcKean) May 25, 2016
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