July 12, 2017


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

The smart people at Vox wanted to know more about why people believe in — and think they have even seen — ghosts. Obviously, they’d want to talk to Joe Nickell. So they came to CFI HQ and put Joe in their video report, and it’s great.

Bertha Vazquez, who runs our Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES), pens an op-ed for the Palm Beach Post on Florida’s crummy new anti-science education law:

It is ethically wrong to confuse children with supposed alternatives to evolution (and climate change, for that matter). We must equip our children with understanding and critical-thinking skills. If parents want me to introduce intelligent design in my classroom, I will teach my students how to discern real science from pseudoscience. I will explain how intelligent design does not hold up to scientific rigor and why.

Yesterday, our legal director Nick Little was the guest on The Public Morality radio show on Wisconsin’s NPR station talking about, well, us!

Ugh, human presidents. Am I right??? With their feelings and their needs and their offspring. It’s time to hand the reins of the country over to our robot overlords. Michael Linhorst at Politico (I mean POLITICO) explores the possibilities for an iPOTUS:

As soon as technology advances far enough, [some scientists] think we should put a computer in charge of the country. Yes, it sounds nuts. But the idea is that artificial intelligence could make America’s big, complicated decisions better than any person could, without the drama or shortsightedness that we grudgingly accept from our human presidents. 

Besides, we’re running out of all sorts of biological life forms. I am referring to the sixth great extinction, as a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences  — co-authored by Paul Ehrlich who wrote The Population Bomb — tells us that “significant population decline and possible mass extinction of species all over the world may be imminent, and that both have been underestimated by many other scientists.” The culprits, again, are humans:

“There is only one overall solution, and that is to reduce the scale of the human enterprise,” [Ehrlich] said. “Population growth and increasing consumption among the rich is driving it. …  We’re toxifying the entire planet.” 

And sometimes it seems a pity that it’s not humans themselves on the brink of extinction (give it time, Paul), such as when one hears that the Secretary of Education is meeting with the National Coalition for Men, literally a “men’s rights” group that is as bad as it sounds. 

Another example: A majority of Republicans now think that higher education has “a negative effect on the country.” 

CFI Argentina’s Alejandro Borgo, along with two colleagues, reports back from the day-long conference in Buenos Aires, “70 years of Flying Saucers, Science, Myth and Fiction,” which was supported in part by CFI Argentina. And oh lordy, it sounds like quite the mind-boggling event. 

The Economist gives a sense of the public debate over “the real Islam” among Westerners, referencing the views of Sam Harris and Phil Torres as counterpoints.

Speaking of Harris, Malhar Mali at Aero has an interesting piece on the joy many progressives take in loathing him, writing, “The Sam Harris Outrage Machine is a perfect example of moral zealotry in action.” 

Scientists in China, meanwhile, are mastering teleportation! Sort of! They sent “information” about a photon into Earth orbit, or as they put it, “the first ground-to-satellite up-link for faithful and ultra-long-distance quantum teleportation, an essential step toward global-scale quantum internet.” 

Luther Strange, the guy filling in the U.S. Senate seat in Alabama, says, “President Trump is the greatest thing that’s happened to this country. I consider it a Biblical miracle that he’s there.” That is a low bar for a miracle, sir, A low bar.

One of the fellows gunning for that Senate seat is Mo Brooks, who promises to filibuster with Bible readings until the Mexico border wall is constructed.

As you may have already guessed, brain-training games don’t train your brain. Lame.

Steven Novella, meanwhile, exposes some of the quackery around brain-wave therapies (which purport to treat, among other things, autism, of course). 

A pseudonymous Japanese history enthusiast has put a new hole in the we-found-Amelia-Earhart photo, saying the photo predates her disappearance

Quote of the Day:

Coincidences! The Outline has a piece by Laura June on lab-grown meat, a subject that I as an omnivore wracked with guilt am very interested in. So much so, that a few days ago I kicked off a thread of folks on Twitter coming up with good marketing names for this proto-product. Some highlights:

First my opening shot:

If synthetic meat’s ever gonna catch on, it’s gonna need a good marketing name. Some ideas:

– smeat

– meath

– bleef

– olestra 2

– tronc 

And the ensuing brainstorm included: 

I think my favorite comes from Len Sanook:

synthetic Swedish meatballs would be called Meatish Sweetballs 

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