Face Oblivion

August 17, 2016


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

Did you know that Skeptical Inquirer is 40? So what does a skeptics’ magazine do to mark its big anniversary? Why, by being skeptical of course…about skepticism! In the big anniversary issue, leading skeptics contribute their thoughts about what skepticism is doing right, and what it isn’t. It’s got that funny science guy, that new-Cosmos guy, the New Atheist who looks like Santa, and many, many more. Get this issue in print or on your mobile device. 

Point of Inquiry has David Gorski on this week to talk about cupping (why is that word so funny?) and the other pseudoscience health fads on display at the Olympics.

CFI–Kenya’s George Ongere has a new report on his organization’s activities, like the Humanist Orphans Center, fighting HIV/AIDS misinformation, now even helping other African humanist groups get on their feet. Yeah, I got a soft spot in my heart for CFI–Kenya.  

On Twitter and in a Medium essay, Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia thanked CFI for our support of the Freedom of Religion Act of 2016. You, sir, are WELCOME. You can tell more congressbeasts to support the bill here.

This piece by Judith Shaw Beatty, who survived childhood polio in the 1940s and 50s (enduring the iron lung and all), is a punch to the gut of vaccine denial. So many quotable snippets, I can’t choose just one. Oh okay here’s one: 

Either [vaccine opponents] declare that I never really had polio, or else they insist that polio is still around and has new names because the vaccine was ineffective and that this is part of a cover-up by “big pharma.”  … The lack of compassion expressed by these people is startling. I’ve never interacted with a vaccine refuser who cared one way or the other about my life as a polio survivor. They don’t want to hear about it because I’m an inconvenient truth, just like all the other polio survivors I know. On Facebook, I’m lectured and attacked by arrogant people who claim they know a lot more than I do about polio. 

Independent experts at the U.N. call out Bahrain for “the intensified wave of arrests, detentions, summons, interrogations and criminal charges” aimed at the Shiite Muslim community. 

Steven Novella picks apart the tactics used in pro-homeopathy propaganda, including this old favorite:

Ah, the Galileo Gambit – there is no more certain sign of pseudoscience than comparing oneself to the great astronomer. The difference, of course, is this – the medieval Vatican based their beliefs on rigid religious dogma. The modern scientific community bases their tentative conclusions on an ongoing campaign of careful scientific investigation. See the difference? 

Remember earlier this year when Elon Musk said there’s something like a one-in-a-billion chance we’re NOT living in a computer-simulated universe? There’s a new Vox video that actually helps explain what the hell he’s talking about, which I found clarifying. 

Michael O’Loughlin at the Catholic magazine America explores the Methodist faith of Hillary Clinton, and the tension between keeping it private and putting it on display.

But walking squarely into Crazytown is George Neumayr at American Spectator who says Christians “face oblivion under [Hillary Clinton’s] administration. Underpinning Hillary Clinton’s political philosophy is a coercive secularism that eliminates conservative Christians from public life.” WOW. She must have magic powers. 

UK-based radical Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary is convicted of trying to rile up support for ISIS. 

A Brooklyn man, Oscar Morel, is arrested for the murders of Imam Alauddin Akonjee and Thara Miah. No motive has been disclosed.

Amanda Taub at NYT points out how Trump uses honor culture framing to talk about how he’ll protect the West from Islamic honor killings.

NPR’s Around and About talks to psychologist Thomas J. Coleman III about his studies about the possible correlations between autism and atheism, which was quite interesting to me, being an atheist who just a couple of weeks ago found out that I am autistic. (Hat tip to Hemant.) By the way, I resent the ever-living-crap out of the headline used by WUTC, “Do Atheists Have Malfunctioning Minds?” Hey, thanks, guys. Way to make both atheists and autistic folks feel accepted.

Cronkite News profiles some of the “nones” and nonbelievers of Arizona

So, Sausage PartyApparently an atheistic allegory. Tracey Moody says, “Who knew a profane sausage could be a mascot for the godless?” I stil
l think I prefer His Noodliness. 

Rob Owen at the Post-Gazette has a friendly interview with TV “psychic” Tyler Henry, and hilariously ends the piece with, “I still think he’s a charlatan, but he’s such a pleasant, poised kid, it’s hard for me to be a hater.”   

John McLaughlin, who kind of invented the pundits-shouting-at-each-other political TV format, is dead at 89. “Bye-BYYYEEEE.” From the NYT obit:

In a 1992 profile in The Times, Mr. McLaughlin defended his style. “Does this depreciate journalism?” he asked. “Not one damned bit. Journalists can get very pompous, especially in the formalized days of ‘Meet the Press,’ when they took themselves so damned seriously. This show demythologizes the press, and I think people like that.” 

Quote of the Day

Katie Mack, without a doubt, gets, like, quote of the millennium. First, she tweets, “Honestly climate change scares the heck out of me and it makes me so sad to see what we’re losing because of it.” And then: 



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