I Experimented with Atheism, But I Didn’t Inhale

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
January 29, 2015

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

You know who's huge on Twitter? The new King of Saudi Arabia. You know who'd like to control exactly what you're allowed to say on Twitter? Etc. 

Wow, there's a bill in Oklahoma that would make the issuing of marriage licenses an exclusive power of clergy, meaning no more nonreligious marriages. (I presume that those that are married already shall keep as they are.)

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Ideas Just Want to be Free

by David R. Koepsell
January 28, 2015

It's time to seriously question the current regime of Intellectual Property (patents and copyrights, primarily). They have been an interesting but ultimately failed attempt to spur innovation, and they run counter to basic principles of freedome of inquiry and expression.

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That Chaos is Our Destiny

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
January 28, 2015

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

Our own Debbie Goddard gave the opening remarks at FTBCon, and the people, they really liked it.

James Randi announces his retirement.  

The Federal Trade Commission declares that the weight-loss supplements hawked by Dr. Oz are junk, and it's no innocent mistake on Oz's part. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at his snake oil show. 

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Dr. Taft’s “Asthmalene”

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
January 27, 2015

A product with the unique name “Asthmalene” was sold as an asthma “cure” by the Taft Brothers, physicians, who joined forces in 1868 and settled in Rochester, New York, where they formed a medicine company, Dr. Taft Bros.

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Quetzalcoatl Didn’t Return on His Raft of Snakes

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
January 27, 2015

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

Yesterday, we called upon President Obama to push the Saudis to free Raif Badawi and other jailed dissidents when the president was to meet with King Salman. But given Obama's discussion with Fareed Zakaria, I'm going to guess he won't.

Vox has a useful primer on Saudi Arabia and how it came to be what it is, though I wish it didn't have to be framed in that "but were afraid to ask" trope. Can we just not be afraid to ask? Can we just be okay with the idea that not everyone knows everything about everything? Okay I'll stop. 

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Fudging a Fatwa

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
January 26, 2015

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

Our boss Ron Lindsay sits down to talk about the ideas behind his new book, The Necessity of Secularismin this short video. "If we want to live together in peace, we need to reason together. We can't have God tell us what to do." I bet Ron didn't expect to find praise for his book in the Jamaica Gleaner, where Ian Boyne says, "His is an excellent, irenic book that should appeal to well-thinking theists, showing why their best bet is a secular state, not a religious one." (Irenic means "aiming or aimed at peace." I didn't know that before.)

Before you do anything else this week, you should probably catch up on the last fortnight of CFI activity with the latest Cause & Effect newsletter

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He Kept His Head

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
January 23, 2015

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

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is dead. Mainstream obituaries and condolences from world leaders are fairly warm and fuzzy about the absolute dictator of a medieval theocracy that subjugates women, and tortures and executes dissidents. But he was a "reformer," you see.

As President Obama said in a statement:

I always valued King Abdullah’s perspective and appreciated our genuine and warm friendship. As a leader, he was always candid and had the courage of his convictions.

Well, that he did. 

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No Owls, Bats, or Moths

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
January 22, 2015

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

Amnesty International says Raif Badawi's second round of flogging may be postponed for medical reasons for the second time. The Guardian profiles Raif's wife Ensaf Haidar, and it's fairly heartbreaking, but boy is she an inspiring person.

Kevin Sullivan at WaPo looks at the big picture of Saudi Arabia's crackdown on human rights, and notes that the Saudis are "allies" in the West's fight against ISIS. Meanwhile, Adam Taylor, also at the Post, compares the legal punishments of Saudi Arabia with those of ISIS, and, well, you'd be forgiven for getting them mixed up.

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“Selma”: A Nickell-odeon Review

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
January 21, 2015

My wife Diana and I celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday by seeing the movie Selma. It brought back many memories of our civil rights work in the sixties. She was at the iconic March on Washington, and I marched with Dr. King in Frankfort, Kentucky. I also picketed the Lexington, Kentucky, federal building during the Selma crisis (along with several friends, including famed agrarian writer Wendell Berry), and I became a community organizer in Georgia. In 1968, in Atlanta, wearing a black armband, I stood in a long line and walked past Dr. King’s open casket following his assassination.

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It’s a Small(pox) World After All

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
January 21, 2015

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

The Supreme Court unanimously decides that a Muslim prisoner may wear a beard, in violation of prison policy. Howard Friedman says the floodgates are now open:

The Supreme Court has now reaffirmed the conclusion of most courts that an inmate may invoke [the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act] to require accommodation of a totally idiosyncratic belief-- so long as it is sincerely held. Religious visions shared by no one else apparently still qualify. 

Thomas Friedman (no relation I assume) is irritated with the Obama administration's dancing around the "Islamic" part of "Islamic extremism":

I am all for restraint on the issue, and would never hold every Muslim accountable for the acts of a few. But it is not good for us or the Muslim world to pretend that this spreading jihadist violence isn’t coming out of their faith community.  

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