Unidentified Flying Spellcheck

August 7, 2013

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

Excellent news: DC’s Mayor Vince Gray signs into law a bill that allows for “civil celebrants,” aka Secular Celebrants, to officiate and solemnize marriages in the nation’s capital. CFI’s Michael De Dora and Melody Hensley were on hand for the signing, and Melody got a pen

Martin S. Pribble launches the Not Alone Project for nonbelievers, explaining:

My hope is to create a place where the non-believers stories can be published, in a completely safe environment, which doesn’t judge its participants in any way. This is an internet “safehouse” for those who fear coming out, an a place to share stories, freedoms and inspirations that atheism allows you. Those who publish their work here have the choice of remaining anonymous, or publishing their names in their articles. 

I love this picture: CFI board member Leonard Tramiel talks astronomy with the kids at Camp Inquiry. 

Stephen Pinker has a big piece in The New Republic arguing that science and the humanities are not adversaries (which Steve Jobs also argued, but he was selling iPads):

Art, culture, and society are products of human brains. They originate in our faculties of perception, thought, and emotion, and they cumulate and spread through the epidemiological dynamics by which one person affects others. Shouldn’t we be curious to understand these connections? Both sides would win. 

Turkish astrophysicist Esat Rennan Pekünlü is looking at jail time for booting out a student for wearing a head scarf. France, meanwhile, is considering extending its own ban to its universities.

Turkey is also a dangerous place, as people are apparently dying via suicide by telekenesis

Andrew Gelman has advice for journalists who, reporting on science, wish to avoid the pitfalls of “speculative research.” 

Pew rounds up the strategies used by many states to send taxpayer dollars to parochial schools

David J. Eicher buzzkills UFO enthusiasts, noting that travel to even the closest star at the fastest conceivable speeds would take 75,000 years. 

Tell that to Orange County folks who were menaced by this hovering ball of poop. 

Discovery Channel gets flack for airing a fake documentary about a “Megalodon” shark during Shark Week. 

Join this outing with the folks at CFI-Amherst, if for no other reason than to use the term “Inger-Hike.” 

You needed a study for this? Research shows that, yes, consuming right wing media will increase your “skepticism” of climate change. 

New Statesman talks to members of London Black Atheists about their unique experiences in coming out as nonreligious. 

Oklahoma is realizing that Rebecca “Actually I’m an Atheist” Vitsmun is not the only nonbeliever in their midst

The ghost of Ronnie James Dio, who I didn’t even know was dead, appears at another band’s concert.  

Sociologist and scholar of American religiosity Robert Bellah dies at 86

Quote of the Day

Seth Shostak on the correspondences he gets about aliens and UFOs:

My e-mail is frequently larded with interesting nuggets, such as this revelation:

“The aliens are in touch. Whenever I use my computer, they underline certain strange words on the screen … It’s a message.”

Possibly. Then again, perhaps the correspondent should turn off the spell-check on his word processor. 

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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul, Ed, Lauren, anyone who can fire them, or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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