Human Overconfidence

July 11, 2016


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

I was on vacation all last week (I hiked! Me! Twice! What the hell is that about?), not off the grid, but with the grid at arm’s length.

OMG Stef McGraw did such a great job filling in for me last week, not just with the Heresy, but with all the other vast (and often byzantine and baffling) communication and PR-hack duties. Thank you, Stef!

It looks like Britain is about to have its second-ever woman Prime Minister, Tory home secretary Theresa May. 

Carrie Poppy writes about how the World Health Organization is warning that very hot beverages might be carcinogenic. Her advice? “Wait five minutes.” 

The Economist looks at the role of faith in Tony Blair’s decision-making about the Iraq War:

Certain religious virtues always seemed lacking in Mr Blair as prime minister. One of the aims of most forms of spiritual development is to cultivate an appropriate sense of humility and self-awareness: a sense of one’s own fallibility, and a sense of how one appears to others, an ability to empathise, at least momentarily, with onlookers in very different places. At the height of his internationalist fervour, Mr Blair had little feeling for how Britain and other European powers were viewed by those members of the United Nations (about two-thirds of them) with recent memories of colonisation. … And above all, he lacked the sense, which is deep-rooted in the great religions, that human overconfidence can have unintended consequences.  

Free Inquiry has a piece by Valerie Tarico on what she is not just pro-choice, but pro-abortion

Ben Radford hosts another blog symposium, “Unco Junto,” on the topic of whether skeptics should be paid for their TV appearances, featuring Mark Edward, Kenny Biddle, Richard Saunders, and Loren Coleman.

1000 veterinarians on homeopathy for pets (paraphrase): “STAAAAAHP.”  

David Gorski sits through all of Andrew Wakefield’s pseudodocumentary Vaxxed, because I guess he doesn’t like himself very much. Someone hug him, quick. 

Joseph Laycock considers why UFO belief seems to be on the rise, and has some grim explanations.  

Robert P. Jones at NYT explores how Trump became the candidate of many Evangelicals:

Mr. Trump’s ascendancy has turned the 2016 election into a referendum on the death of white Christian America, with the candidate appealing strongly to those who are most grieving this loss. 

Similarly, Patrick Blanchfield at The Revealer:

Trump’s sheer force of affirmation that America will be great obviates any need to explain how or why. All we need to do is accept him as a vessel for our fears, rage, and wants, to abandon “political correctness,” and to embrace his promise of a world where taboo can finally be done away with once and for all, where forbidden hatreds and desires will finally be celebrated, and where the previously unspeakable made sayable. 

Azeen Ghorayshi at BuzzFeed reports that religious organizations that get federal funding to help out migrant teens are denying them birth control and abortion services

Ben Hubbard at NYT profiles Ahmed Qassim al-Ghamdi, once an enforcer with the Saudi Arabian religious police, and later a voice for liberal reform, attracting a storm of fatwas. I like what his wife Jawahir says to Hubbard at the end: “[Our goal] was to send a message to society that religion is not customs and traditions. Religion is something else.” Take that, Karen Armstrong!

Hemant gets John de Lancie on his podcast, and I’m a tad jealous. 

Bill Nye’s Reason Rally speech is online now, and he was also recently interviewed by CBS Sunday Morning.  

The state of Illinois orders a Pastafarian to get a new drivers license photo without the colander. I await the pushback from Mike Huckabee.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission proposes that fetal tissue from abortions or miscarriages should be given burial or cremation.  

Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming sue the federal government over the new transgender restroom guidelines for public schools.

Homeopaths in India set out to monitor infectious disease outbreaks in real
time. I bet you feel better already. 

Quote of the Day:

Edzard Ernst reacts to Tory prime minister candidate Andrea Leadsom’s endorsement of “craniosacral therapy,” a pseudoscientific treatment in which a baby’s prefrontal cortex is massaged:

Whenever CTS or other bogus treatments are endorsed by politicians — and, for some mysterious reason, lots of them engage in this sort of activity — we ought to wonder about their competence and ability to think critically. A lack of these qualities is certainly not in the best interests of the country.


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