Quick, Numerous, Clicky

June 26, 2017


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

We’re just now hearing about the SCOTUS decision on Trinity Lutheran. We’ll have a response shortly. 

Last week, we responded to the news that Turkey would nix evolution from its school curricula, contrasting the claim of evolution’s alleged “complexity” as a subject with our own TIES program:

“The claim that evolution is ‘too complicated’ is absurd and an insult to Turkey’s students and teachers,” said [our boss Robyn] Blumner, “We know from our work with middle school science teachers that students pretty easily grasp the basic principles of evolution. Moreover, learning about natural selection—the process that undergirds the diversity of all of life on Earth—fascinates and inspires students. How can the government even consider withholding that from students?”

Our former boss Ron Lindsay is the guest on the podcast of the New Books Network, discussing his not-entirely-new-but-utterly-relevant book The Necessity of Secularism: Why God Cant Tell Us What to Do

A report by Meighan Stone at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center looks at how media coverage of Muslims contributes to anti-Muslim attitudes: 

In an analysis of the major newscasts of three outlets—CBS, Fox, and NBC—Stone finds that during a two-year period from 2015-2017, there was not a single month where positive stories about Muslims outnumbered negative stories. … In reports where Muslims were the focus, only 3 percent of the voices heard were those of Muslims, while Trump spoke on their behalf 21 percent of the time. 

The TSA may start having passengers remove their dead-tree books from their carry-on luggage when going through security. The claim is that all these books make it harder for screeners to catch the stuff they’re looking for, but the obvious concern is that it’s about having one’s reading choices scrutinized.

Daniel K. Williams, writing in the New York Times, purports to know how Democrats can bridge their “religion divide”:

…secular Democrats need to study the religious language of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. They need to take the time to learn the religious values of their audience. They need to be honest about their own secularity, but acknowledge their debt to the religious traditions that have shaped their progressive ideology.

Maajid Nawaz is suing the Southern Poverty Law Center for defamation for when they put his name on a list of “anti-Muslim extremists.”

When it comes to #fakenews, Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute says that health news is the worst kind:

It’s not just that the current journalism environment rewards quick, numerous, clicky stories—that’s true for all subjects. But it creates additional problems for science news because “the cycle of journalism and the cycle of science are completely incompatible,” McBride said. The scientific process takes a long time, which means new developments happen very slowly. “In science, good information is really boring. Science doesn’t leap ahead the way journalists like to cover it,” McBride said.  

Timothy Caufield writes that naturopaths in Canada, prime culprits for spreading anti-vaccine misinformation, should be compelled by federal or provincial regulation to stop it.

John Oliver comes to save us from the anti-vaxxers.  

He better succeed, because Buzzfeed reports here on the organization Caudwell Children, a billionaire-funded charity that pays for autistic kids to get dangerous pseudoscientific treatments and endorses the false claim that vaccines cause autism. 

Forrest Fenn, an octogenarian artifacts dealer in Santa Fe, has irritated local authorities with a cryptic poem that many people believe leads to some sort of treasure, as people put their livelihoods — and lives — at risk trying to find it. The Santa Fe New Mexican checks in with CFI’s Benjamin Radford for a skeptical perspective.

Ben balances brooms. Ben’s broom…um…is fine.

Canada finds itself in the midst of a heated debate over prayer in schools, but one in which the issue is not compulsory or teacher-led prayer, but the accommodation of students who want a space and time to pray.

Kat Volk and Renu Malhotra of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory say there is evidence of a “planetary mass object” (around the size of Earth or Mars) in the Kuiper Belt. 

Heidi Cullen, chief scientist of Climate Central, talks to Popular Science about connecting the realities of climate change and its impacts to people’s everyday lives

Several state and county-level government websites were hacked over the weekend, vandalized with pro-Islamic State messages.

Ken Ham’s creationist monument-theme-park-boondoggle the Ark Encounter is losing money because atheists are such buzzkills

Quote of the Day:

Steve Salzberg points out the absurdity of Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop’s “energy stickers” or whatever, and offers an alternative:

It took me just a few seconds to find that you can get a sheet with about 50 “dreams come true” stickers at stickersgalore.com for less than $2. These don’t come with any wild health claims, but they do make kids happy. I recommend trying these before you get the Goop stickers. 

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