The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
You know, things are so crazy lately around the world, that everything going off the rails has become the new normal. I mean, look at the Senate’s health care bill! It’s just one space alien short of To Serve Man! (Except of course women are among its prime victims.) I feel like there must be some newer, more novel catastrophe that needs to occur to really shake us out of our stupor…
…what’s that? … What if an important, populous country, with a rich history that spans the cultures of east and west, decided to stop teaching evolution to all of its students? Well, yes, that’d certainly qualify as a novel and really tragic catastrophe. … Hmmm? … oh I see. You’re saying this has in fact happened. Well.
Everybody wave goodbye to Turkey, as the government as decided that evolution will no longer be taught, starting in 2019.
After you wave goodbye to Turkey intellectually and academically, then you can wave goodbye to West Antarctica…entirely. Douglas Fox at National Geographic chronicles the melting of a continent:
“These are the fastest retreating glaciers on the face of the Earth,” says Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory [ . . . ] he believes the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is only a matter of time. The question is whether it will take 500 years or fewer than a hundred—and whether humanity will have time to prepare.
Meanwhile, North Carolina continues to aspire to dystopia. First of all, it already has a law saying that women may not revoke consent to sexual intercourse once consent is given. That’s right, there’s no changing your mind according to the law. A bill designed to correct this awful law is, of course, going nowhere. An influential conservative blog in the state mocks this bill, SB 553, as “pandering to the Wimmen’s Studies Department alumni.”
Laura Huss at Rewire reports on a new study the Guttmacher Institute on how anti-abortion/forced-birth advocates rely on pseudoscience and “alternative facts” to make their case. As she points out, this was a particular issue in the Whole Woman’s Health case in Texas, which we hammered home in our amicus brief and a Salon op-ed.
Benjamin Radford uses the Megyn Kelly/Alex Jones interview as an example of how difficult it can be to walk the line between exposing conspiracy theories for what they are and inadvertently promoting them. Ben is also interested on equinoctial broom-balancing.
Kavin Senapathy (coming to CSICon!) previews a new documentary by Scott Hamilton Kennedy and narrated by the inescapable Neil deGrasse Tyson, Food Evolution, that seeks to “reset the conversation on GMOs, and the importance of science on how we feed our children and shape policy.”
Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop is hawking stickers you’re supposed to put on yourself called “Body Vibes” that is claims are made from “NASA space suit material” to “rebalance the energy frequency in our bodies.” Rae Paoletta at Gizmodo asked NASA about this, to which they replied, “Wow. What a load of BS this is.”
Speaking of BS, Yvette d’Entremont explains in a lengthy and mind-bogglingly revealing piece for The Outline why those “BS” initials apply to chiropractors:
In 2017, if a man claimed that he fixed someone’s hearing by cracking their back and then dreamed up an entire field of medicine by conducting séances, he would either be laughed out of the medical community or get his own reality show.
Nishat Amber at Feminism in India looks at the ways organized religion has served to oppress women, and begins by citing CFI’s Free Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism.
An Israeli court makes the right call, ruling in favor of 82-year-old Holocaust survivor Renee Rabinowitz, declaring that airlines may not force women to change seats because of the religious objections of ultra-orthodox men.
The 10th Circuit Court says police are not violating anyone’s First Amendment rights when, “in the midst of a legitimate investigation,” they need someone to stop praying. Can you believe they actually needed to rule on something like that?
Dan and Fran Keller ran a day care facility until 1992 when they became victims of the “Satanic panic” of the time and were convicted of sexual assault charges, and were accused of sacrificing babies and other horrors. They were sentenced to 48 years. They have now been exonerated, after about a quarter-century behind bars.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Q. Nomani coauthor an op-ed at NYT accusing Democratic senators of “moral relativism” and a “betrayal of liberal values” for insufficiently “defending universal principles against Islamist ideology.”
Because real life is apparently just like M*A*S*H, Rep. Steve Russell of Oklahoma says that soldiers will pretend to be transgender in order to get out of serving.
In Iraq, Islamic political leaders are stepping up their rhetoric against the alleged threat posed by nonbelievers, and “the need to confront atheists.”
The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland upholds a complaint against a homeopath who advertised that he could treat autism symptoms with homeopathy.
Ho boy, the big Roswell UFO festival will be kicking off next week, marking the 70th anniversary of the alien spaceship crash that almost certainly didn’t actually happen.
Clickhole is just like, you know what, we’re just going to rank the world’s religions. Hinduism wins (congratulations). Here’s their entry on the fifth-best religion, Mormonism:
Didn’t see that coming, did you? We just gave Mormonism the five-spot, and we haven’t even touched Christianity yet. Why? Because Mormonism is better. If Christianity were better, we would’ve ranked it at number five. But we didn’t. We ranked Mormonism at number five. Mormonism is at number five on our ranking of all the religions.
Quote of the Day:
The whole “not The Onion” thing is really overdone. Everything that seems a little out of sorts gets tweeted with “not the onion!” which just dilutes the point. But here, seriously, you may indeed be fooled into thinking that this is from some parody blog, but no, this is Slate, it is not #fakenews, and it is not The Onion. Ben Mathis-Lilley reports:
The Trump administration, acting on the fairly sound logic that its supporters don’t care in any way whatsoever about the civic principle that the government should be scrutinized by a free press, has started to cut down on the number of press conferences it gives that occur on camera. Wednesday, the administration announced that Thursday’s press briefing by Sarah Huckabee Sanders would be one such no-video affair, then introduced a Kafka-esque twist by declaring that the announcement itself was “NOT REPORTABLE.”
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