False Breakfast Memories

September 28, 2015

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

First and foremost, my sincere thanks to Stef McGraw for taking care of the Heresy while I was away for my brother’s wedding. Stef did an amazing job, such that I am considering just having her do the Heresy every day from now on. Seriously, she nailed it. Thanks, Stef.

Second and almost-foremost, I was obviously away for all the coverage of the AP’s change from climate science “skeptics” to “doubters,” which is not as good as “deniers.” But there was a lot of coverage! It’s great! But for me, the crowning achievement was the interview by Bob Garfield on public radio’s On the Media with the AP’s Seth Borenstein on the topic, where CFI/CSI are front and center. On the Media is just about my favorite audio program of any kind, and I am absolutely delighted to have CFI be the catalyst for one of its pieces. The best part? When Borenstein said:

I don’t think the AP’s job is to satisfy the Center for Inquiry. They raised a legitimate question in the use of “skeptics,” and it’s triggered this whole thing. 

Good way to come back to work.

So while I was in South Jersey, a mere hop, skip, and jump down the Atlantic City Expressway was Pope Fluffy, fluffin’ like a gangsta in Philadelphia (which kept some relations from being able to attend said wedding – thanks, Frank!). 

He raised the specter of sexual assault within the Church, saying that “God weeps” over it (which doesn’t say much for God’s commitment to actually doing something about it), and that “all responsible will be held accountable.” Well we’ll see.

Rep. Bob Brady swiped the pope’s water glass, drank from it, and also let his staff sip from it, because it’s clearly magic. 

CFI board member Barry Kosmin, along with Phil Zuckerman (both of which were on the panel I moderated at the big Reason for Change conference) are quoted in a PBS piece on the decline of church attendance. 

At the New York Review of Books, William D. Nordhaus gives the NYRB treatment to Francis’s climate change encyclical

BBC ran a special on the murders of secularist bloggers in Bangladesh, but I haven’t seen it, and it’s blocked in the US for now. Here’s the link anyway

Very bad news: As millions of hajj pilgrims stream into Mecca, over 700 people are killed in a “stampede” of humanity.  

Jesse Hicks at the Daily Dot looks at how the Church of Scientology has tried to fight back against the crappy PR it’s been getting lately, and how it’s not really working. 

Skeptical Inquirer‘s cover story this summer on celebrity scientists is now posted online, with Declan Fahy on the history of science popularizers. 

First, Ecuador’s Got Talent is a thing, and second, the judges apparently grilled a contestant because of her atheism, more or less admonishing Carolina Peña that she would have trouble winning without God’s help. 

Maryam Namazie has apparently been banned from speaking at Warwick University (UK) for fear she might offend some Muslims. 

Aki Muthali at Pakistan’s The Nation says that liberals need to worry less about offending religious belief, and more about the persecution and violence visited upon the nonreligious.

Harriet Hall takes on the hype around alleged “superfoods” for Skeptical Inquirer

NYT’s Gary Gutting wants to rejigger Pascal’s wager:

I propose to reformulate Pascal’s wager as urging those who doubt God’s existence to embrace a doubt of desire rather than a doubt of indifference. This means, first, that they should hope — and therefore desire — that they might find a higher meaning and value to their existence by making contact with a beneficent power beyond the natural world. There’s no need to further specify the nature of this power in terms, say, of the teachings of a particular religion. 

Lindy West explains in The Guardian her hashtag campaign to end the “climate of shame” around abortion

There’s a reason why #ShoutYourAbortion has been getting mountains of positive, mainstream press attention, while the people terrorising us … are ignored on the fringe. It’s because we are right, and however glacially society evolves, it is evolving in the right direction. 

President Obama names a new advisory council on faith-based initiatives

Dave Zirin at The Nation (the U.S. one) is hopeful that pro sports might be subject to less Jesus-talk thanks to folks like the NFL’s Arian Fost

There may be grand divisions over the belief that religion is either a force for a greater good or a fetter on humanity, but it would probably be healthy if we could agree that if there was a God, then this all-powerful force doesn’t care a great deal about football. 

Here’s a weird coincidence: If budget talks fail in Congress, on September 30 the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom will be sunset, which also happens to be International Blasphemy Rights Day. 

By special request of Michael De Dora, here’s Pearl Jam doing “Rockin’ in the Free World” with a bunch of hopping celebs, including Bill-Freaking-Nye. 

Quote of the Day:

Reasons I wish I’d had Stephen Law as a college professor, number a billion:

If I seem to remember having toast for breakfast, it’s reasonable for me to believe I did. But it’s no longer reasonable for me to believe I did once it is pointed out to me that I have been given a drug that often causes false breakfast memories.     

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