Van Gogh “Murdered”—Again

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
November 25, 2014

The two writers whose notion of Vincent van Gogh’s “murder” helped promote their new biography of him (Naifeh and Smith 2011) have dug in their heels despite much intelligent criticism, notably from scholars at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam (Tilborgh and Meedendorp 2013). Now the biographers are back, supposedly vindicated by a forensic expert, pathologist Vincent DiMaio (Naifeh and Smith 2014).

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Politicians in the Pocket of Big UFO

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 25, 2014

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

Today my little boy turns 5. He's the best. And related programming note: The Morning Heresy will be off for the rest of the week, so we wish you a safe and happy feasting period.

Okay, so, last night it was announced that a grand jury would not indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown. In this context, Sincere T. Kirabo calls upon his fellow nonbelievers to more overtly pursue a social justice agenda:

I know not all atheists identify as secular humanists, but for those that do—for the nonbelieving individuals and groups who, like me, contend for secular rights and ethical reasoning conducive to the wellbeing of all humans in the here and now—I need you.

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Does ISIL Terrorism Represent “True Islam”?

by Bill Cooke
November 24, 2014

The CFI Free Thinking blog featured a very interesting conversation, begun by Dr Stephen Law, in response to the English writer Karen Armstrong, who had made a case for the “myth of religious violence.” Not surprisingly, Armstrong endorsed Barack Obama’s and British prime minister David Cameron’s denials of any link between the barbarism of ISIL fighters and “true Islam.” Dr Law was moved to call this sweeping dismissal “silly.” We can understand why Western leaders feel the need to distance ISIL violence from “true Islam.” The West could not mount its under-strength response to ISIL without significant help from Muslim countries like Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. And Western leaders need to take care not to alienate Muslim communities within their own borders.

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Amazing, Baffling, Incredible, Bizarre, Seemingly Miraculous

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 24, 2014

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

Examinations of exit polls from the midterms shows that 62% of those who never attend church or religious services went Democratic.  

One big reason Americans are so divided on climate change: belief in the end of the world...

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There’s a Trilobite in My Latte

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 21, 2014

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

The city of Royal Oak, Michigan authorizes "ghost tours" led by "ghost hunters" of a 19th century farmhouse. CFI's Joe Nickell is disappointed (the piece says "upset," but Joe doesn't get "upset" about this kind of thing), and tells the Free Press:

When you allow ghost tours to operate, you are sanctioning mysticism and pseudo-science ... Most people don't want to believe that you actually die. This gives them the promise that your spirit lives on somewhere. 

The American Astronomical Society releases a definitive statement on the "Shirtstorm" regarding the poorly-chosen shirt and analogies made by Rosetta scientist Matt Taylor...

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Ode to Bolts and Screws

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 20, 2014

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

This might be the most irresponsible "news" article I've ever seen. The Daily Mail claims definitively that homeopathy can cure Ebola:

Homeopathy could have cured Ebola if the World Health Organisation had not stepped in to prevent a trial, according to members of a group who travelled to Liberia hoping to try out remedies including rattlesnake venom and the aphrodisiac Spanish Fly. ... Organisers of the trip are still inviting donations from supporters of homeopathy - whose ranks include Prince Charles - to fund a second attempt to run an Ebola trial in Liberia. 

Tom Chivers at The Spectator pounces:

Take a moment to think about this....

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Jupiter Looking Askance

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 19, 2014

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

Kimberly Winston talks seriously with Richard Dawkins about the controversies that have erupted over some of his recent statements, and gets perspective from backers and critics alike. I like Todd Stiefel's thoughts, which show an all-too-rare generosity of spirit:

It is wonderful that we have such a brilliant asset with a keen, logical mind and passion for integrity. But he is not perfect. He has flaws and weakness, just like we all do. I forgive Richard his faults and try to care for him as a human being, just like I would any other person. I think it is OK to admire Richard for his strengths and forgive him his weakness. 

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Frog Falls and Fallacies

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Ben Radford
November 18, 2014

I wrote a piece about the classic Fortean phenomenon of frogs falling from the sky, and I here address two rebuttals--one old and one new.

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God the Insurance Agent

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 18, 2014

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

Jessica Steinhauser, aka Asia Lemmon, aka Asia Carrera, is a member of Mensa with an IQ of 156, a mom, a Utahan, a former porn star, and now an out and proud Pastafarian with a colander on her head. I think we've found our new leader.

Pope Francis disses physician-assisted suicide and its “false sense of compassion,” which he also compares to abortion. Meanwhile, HuffPo publishes CFI president Ron Lindsay's article on the connection between public acceptance of physician-assisted suicide and same-sex marriage. Take that, Pope Fluffy! 

CFI's Michael De Dora, current president of the UN NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief will moderate a panel discussion on the economic benefits of religious freedom on December 10.

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Tea After Death

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 17, 2014

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

The New York Times reports on a Chinatown "aura" business, with skeptical perspective from CFI's Joe Nickell.

New Jersey's General Assembly passes a bill for physician-assisted suicide, and it's not at all clear what its ultimate fate will be in the hands of the White House-eyeing governor. 

CFI president Ron Lindsay considers the movement in favor of physician-assisted dying, and connects it to the growth in acceptance of same-sex marriage rights...

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