Freedom Weather

September 11, 2017

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

Here’s a thing to contemplate: Those who are just now on the cusp of adulthood would have been toddling around in diapers at the time of the 9/11 attacks. (I was living in Brooklyn at the time, toddling around in unemployment.) Here’s the AP reporting on some of the memorial activities today.

As hurricanes have been battering Texas, Louisiana, the Virgin Islands, and Florida, EPA saboteur-in-chief Scott Pruitt says, hey, now’s not the time to talk about climate change, you know, “with all respect” and whatnot. 

David Robers at Vox notes that as the science of climate change becomes more and more solid, the right only rejects it with increasing rigidity:

One might think, a priori, that the first trend would have some effect on the second trend — that the steady improvement in the evidence for climate change would loosen the conservative embrace of climate denial, or peel off a substantial bloc of Republicans, or give GOP lawmakers pause, or … something. Indeed, thousands of people have devoted millions of hours of time to careful argument and persuasion on precisely that presumption.

But no. The trends have continued steadily on, with virtually no interaction, no sense that they are occurring in the same universe. 

France’s environment minister expresses his dismay over Trump’s inaction on climate change, and looks to American states and cities to take action. I suppose we have to start calling climate change-related events “freedom weather.”

As Irma approached Florida, it seemed to have also heralded the reign of a giant cloud-demon.  

Trump wants FEMA to offer hurricane relief funds to churches. Daniel Politi at Slate says, “Presumably, Trump’s desire to extend these benefits to churches would also apply to other religious institutions such as mosques and synagogues.” And I’m all, well, I would not presume that.

This should crush any remaining hope you have for American scientific leadership. Trump’s nominee to head NASA, Jim Bridenstein (short for “Bride of Frankenstein”) wants to make some significant changes to NASA’s mission. The American Institute of Physics tells us:

Bridenstine proposes that NASA amend its institutional objectives, which would include eliminating current objectives for the “expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space” and the conduct of studies on “the utilization of aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes.”  

What he wants added to NASA’s mission is language about the development of resources in space. So in other words, the Solar System is just a kind of cosmic ATM to him. 

We joined with the European Council of Skeptical Organizations to condemn the assassination of Indian journalist and rationalist Gauri Lankesh. 

Australian anti-vax physician John Piesse has his offices raided by police for helping parents evade vaccination laws. Neelima Choahan at The Age reports:

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has warned that any registered doctors who advocates against vaccination will “have the full force of the authorities come down on them … There will be no sympathy, none at all, from the government if the authorities take the strongest possible decisions.” 

Also in Australia, self-proclaimed “clairvoyant-medium” Ruthie Phillips refuses to have her powers tested by the Australian Skeptics and its chief investigator Richard Saunders. I guess she doesn’t want to $100k they’re offering. Oh well. 

Near the beginning of Hamlet, the troubled prince begins a soliloquiy with, “Oh, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt, / Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew…” Well, Hammy, get ready to get dewy. Because, as Hayley Campbell at Wired UK reports, “liquid cremation” is here, and it seems like a way better option for disposing of corpses than anything else we’re doing. (Good way for Hammy to dispose of Polonius’s carcass too, you know, before someone catches him.)

Malaysia wants to ban the video game Fight of Gods for blasphemy, because it features deities battling each other, like Jesus versus Odin and whatnot. Here’s the thing: Muhammad’s not even in it.

Debra D. Bass at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on the intractability of people’s faith in alternative medicine, no matter the lack of evidence for its efficacy. 

Angelo Stagnero at the National Catholic Register brings us what must be t
he introduction to the Opposite Sketches:

To be an atheist, one must dutifully ignore logic, history, science and mathematics. In short, reality itself. 

This is an amazing lede:

[India’s] Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered central and state governments to appoint police officers to stop hardline Hindu activists from attacking people to protect cows. 

(Of course the issue itself is deadly serious, as radicals are attacking and sometimes murdering people they believe to have eaten beef or who work in the meat industry.) 

Quote of the Day:

You may have seen this video going around: Jagmeet Singh is a Sikh candidate for leadership of Canada’s New Democratic Party, and at a “Jagmeet-and-greet,” he was maniacally heckled (really point-blank heckled) by a infuriating woman who kept accusing him of imposing Sharia and being in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood, all of which is, of course, mind-bogglingly stupid. Singh, however, handles this with extraordinary grace and calm, saying to the heckler and the audience while the woman was still screaming in his face:

Let’s show people how we would treat someone with love. [to heckler] We welcome you. We love you. We support you … we believe in your rights. … [to audience] … It takes love to understand that we’re all in this together. It takes courage to come together, demand better and dream bigger, so that we can build a world where no one is left behind.

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