Confirmation bias to start your Friday

September 25, 2015


The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. (Note: Today’s guest Heretic is Stef McGraw. Paul is still away, but will return Monday. Thank god—I don’t know how he does this day in and day out! Also, shout out to Outreach staffer Cody Hashman for helping collect articles throughout the week.)

We’re going to mix it up and start today by talking about the Republican candi—just kidding we’re talking about the Pope again! The Washington Post has a transcript and video of his full address to Congress yesterday. The New York Times offers a good summary of his speech, also noting, “If his words of unity struck a lofty note, though, his choice of issues effectively fed the very divisions he assailed…In the end, both sides could walk away taking vindication from parts of his message.” Ah, nothing like some good ol’ confirmation bias to start your Friday!

Next stop: New York City. I just hope someone informed him you can’t eat pizza with a fork there, because then he’d end up all over the news!

He already gave a speech at the U.N., and now is delivering a…homily? (I don’t know, I was raised Unitarian) at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. If you’re wondering how Fluffy’s going to spend the rest of his day in NYC, CNN is more than happy to talk about it nonstop for the next 58 hours.

If you want to take a closer look at the demographics of DC’s, NYC’s and Philly’s actual Catholics and not just weird atheist Pope fanboys *cough*PAUL*cough* Pew has you covered.

Alright, enough religion for now, onto something less divisive: politics! And religion. Because this is America.

And in America, neurosurgeons doing well in the polls can effectively rewrite the laws of thermodynamics because Jesus or something.

Speaker of the House and apparent Jergens Natural Glow addict John Boehner is reportedly resigning from Congress at the end of October, leaving his Speaker position up for grabs. Gosh darn, I sure hope he gets replaced by someone who understands how science works and respects the separation of church and state! Or maybe that balled up sock underneath my couch can become Speaker, because both of those things are equally likely to happen.

NPR has a good story on the difference between vaccine concerns in the U.S. versus poor countries. If you’re not sure which has actual vaccine concerns and which has mostly made-up problems, ask yourself this: where can I buy a gluten-free muffin just because I feel like it?

Gizmodo’s got our back on the whole climate denier/skeptic/doubter thing, taking a strong stand by saying,

“Denier” is by far the most powerful word we have. “Climate change doubter” is too soft of a phrase for such an important topic. “Those who reject mainstream climate science” is accurate perhaps, but it’s far too wordy. And the fact that it has “mainstream” in there is troublesome. Perhaps we should just go with “those who reject climate science.”

Or, as Gizmodo staff writer Maddie Stone suggested: Those who reject science, period.

Newsweek also writes about the significance of the AP styleguide change, giving lots of space to CSI Fellow Mark Boslough, who tastefully opted for “This is huge for us” instead of evoking Joe Biden’s signature, “This is a big f***ing deal.”

This is why you pay attention in history class, kids: so you don’t accidentally display a Nazi symbol during your local news station’s Yom Kippur story! Haha, whoopsie!

Hey, we’ve posted a video from this summer’s Leadership Conference where Public Policy Director Michael De Dora gives a fantastic talk on blasphemy rights. TOTALLY UNRELATED PLUG, be sure to mark your calendars for International Blasphemy Rights Day, which is Wednesday, September 30!

This is the type of thing that makes me care about “In God We Trust” on our money—people think it’s our nation’s motto and that gives them (in their minds) a valid reason to slap it on police cars in Missouri.

In really, really sad news: over 700 people were killed in a stampede near Mecca during their pilgrimage. Damn.

Something less terribly depressing: The Atlantic has a short piece on the science of bad science. But…what if that science is bad science? And then we just have an infinite regress of bad science?? Woahhh…my college roommate’s mind would totally be blown by this.

Lastly, here are some ways you can tell if a viral story is a hoax. I, for one, believe it’s our moral duty to send this to every grandparent who has email.

Quote of the Day:

Eh, why not, something feel-good that the Pope said:

We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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