The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Gary M. Bakker at Skeptical Inquirer looks at the evolutionary and adaptive reasons why people believe in fictional things like gods and ghosts and conspiracies, and one key factor is “promiscuous teleological intuition.”
The New Republic posts its original review of L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics (Scientology’s “founding text”) from 1950 by Martin Gumpert:
This reviewer, in exploring the book, suffered a most painful “cellular engram”—to use the author’s language. And he ardently wishes that something could be done to prohibit the activities of psychotherapists of this sort.
USCIRF puts our a new report on countries where religious freedom is in real trouble, and Brian Pellot has the high/lowlights.
Hey, Kimberly Winston, why does Islam ban images of Muhammed?
The ban stems from the idea that images of Muhammad, Abraham and Jesus might encourage worship of them instead of Allah. But there are images of Muhammad in 12th- and 13th-century Persian manuscripts currently held by libraries in London, Paris and Edinburgh, Scotland. And in some early Islamic texts, Muhammad’s body is shown, but his head is a flame.
Oh, like Ghost Rider! If Ghost Rider didn’t want me drawing pictures of him, I would oblige.
Mike Huckabee is running for president again, and not only is he running to appeal to conservative Christians, but apparently also to cyberpunk conspiracy theorists.
SCOTUS maintains New Jersey’s gay-conversion therapy ban by declining a case against it.
Authorities in the Xinjiang region of China order Muslim shopkeepers to sell and heavily promote things like alcohol and cigarettes, in an apparent effort to weaken their cultural foundations.
Timothy Caulfield at The Atlantic does a deep dive into pseudoscience in beauty products. Best pull-quote:
Apparently, the face-crawling gastropods used in snail facials are fed only organic vegetables.
Marc Bennetts at The New Humanist reports on the glut of faith-healers (as opposed to actual healers) in Russia.
Randy R. Potts was at the Pamela Geller “draw Muhammed” event, and saw some ugliness, to say the least. Ayaan Hirsi Ali reminds us that as “uncomfortable” as she is with Geller’s event and associates, the fact of the attack on them by Islamic radicals should deeply unsettle us.
Aaron Huertas at the Union of Concerned Scientists: “It’s been exactly a year since CNN hosted a misleading debate about established climate science.” Holy crap!!!
Skeptic comic Carbon Dating is coming to hardcover, and there’s a Kickstarter to start-kick it.
And we thought Rick Perry was a little nutty. Check out Texas’s current governor Greg Abbott, who thought Obama was about to take over Texas with the U.S. military, and deployed the Texas State Guard.
Russell Saunders reports on a study showing that there may be no or little rise in actual autism cases, but just a rise in diagnoses.
Elizabeth Loftus was on NPR yesterday talking about the “malleability” of memories in the context of a police shooting that never happened.
Steven Novella rebuts what many supporters of alt-med claim: that they are emphasizing compassion for the patient:
What promoters of pseudoscience want is a double standard, or no standard. They pretend this is about being compassionate, but that is simply not true. True compassion toward patients requires due diligence to ensure that you are doing what is best for them. That means holding yourself to some objective standard.
Sen. Chris Coons posts the transcript and video of his address to the Secular Coalition’s event:
From the purpose of coalition building, whatever the cause may be, we have to recognize we need as many allies as possible. I’m not going to guess how your visit to Senator Cruz’s office went today, but my hunch is as you look at today’s Congress you recognize that we need each other more than we ever have before.
Superhuman Elon Musk’s Space X successfully test-launches its Dragon 2 crew capsule, complete with SuperDraco engines, which sounds very badass.
Quote of the Day:
Kate Cohen explains to her daughter why atheists have it so hard in hypothetical presidential contests, and muses:
We sniff around any candidate we suspect might be a closet nonbeliever. Surely Sen. Bernie Sanders, the non-practicing Jew from Vermont, surely he must be an atheist! Throw us a bone, Bernie! All due respect to fellow atheists, but Sanders may be the one politician who would be forthright about this. He calls himself a socialist, after all. How much worse is atheist? Don’t answer that.
Original image by Shutterstock.
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