My Darkest Dystopian Paranoia

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 20, 2015

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

More reactions to the New York Times' awful smartwatches-and-phones-cause-cancer piece, with Daniel Engber at Slate calling it, "So weird, and so bad, and so weirdly bad." Dave Pell concedes the point, but tries to strike a middle ground about the general cloud of unknown that surrounds the larger impact of these devices:

Should I be at least a little concerned? I would think so. But I’m even more concerned by the fact that I probably wouldn’t move either device out of reach even if science confirms my darkest dystopian paranoia. And even if our physical health is in no danger, there is absolutely no doubt that our psychological and social worlds are in a state of chaos that is of our doing, but not fully in our control. And that scares us. 

The Times' public editor Margaret Sullivan says yeah, maybe it should have been vetted a bit more, and reveals that no one involved in science at the paper ever saw the article before it was published. Says it all, doesn't it?

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As Ye Have Dumped Water Unto the Least of These My Brethren…

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 19, 2015

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

NYT tech journalist Nick Bilton (who is usually among the very best) publishes a techno-panic piece about how smartwatches might-maybe-possibly cause cancer, and bases it on blatantly weak and tenuous inferences. To make matters worse, consults pseudoscientific Dr. Oz pal Joseph Mercola for comment. Russell Brandom at The Verge, in a piece that is subtitled "Cram it, Bilton," writes:

Bilton tackles an interesting and important question: could smartwatches be raising your risk of cancer? There are decades of research that could speak to the question, since all the relevant radiation is also emitted by cell phones. Unfortunately, Bilton ignores almost all of it, kicking the piece off by comparing the new Apple Watch to smoking cigarettes. 

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Our Curiosity Will Run Out

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 18, 2015

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

Yesterday our own Michael De Dora took Saudi Arabia to task at the UN Human Rights Council for its hypocrisy in hosting a religious freedom conference in the same city in which Raif Badawi and other dissidents are imprisoned and abused (video of his statement will be coming soon):

We welcome, indeed encourage member state involvement in the Istanbul Process [religious freedom conference]. However, given its human rights record, Saudi Arabia strikes us as an inappropriate setting for the next meeting. If Saudi Arabia is sincere about acting as host of the next meeting, it could begin to validate its role rather easily: release all prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally, drop all charges against them, and move to protect freedom of religion, belief, and expression. We urge them to do so, and urge member states to keep them accountable. 

First it's Ted Cruz going after NASA, and now the House Budget Committee insists that the Pentagon stop researching climate change

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Who’s the None-est One of All?

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 17, 2015

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

Truly disturbing, almost sounds like a parody of a blasphemy-law situation: Myanmar sentences a bar manager from New Zealand and two others to two years in prison for posting an "insulting" image of Buddha wearing headphones as a promotion for the bar. 

Michael De Dora will presenting to the UN Human Rights Council again later today, in the mean time we have our colleague Elizabeth O'Casey arguing in favor of free expression as a way to counteract religious violence.

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A Skeptic’s Brief Conversation With a TV Producer

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Ben Radford
March 16, 2015

From the archives: A few years ago I posted this column about my experience with a TV producer and it turned out to be one of my more popular pieces, resonating with many skeptics and the public. It's just as relevant today...

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Hashtag-LizardTruth

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 16, 2015

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

CFI's Michael De Dora delivered what I think was a pretty powerful statement on free expression on and offline at the UN Human Rights Council, specifically stating that "states in this room" were guilty of violating this right. 

Adam Lee at The Guardian highlights CFI as one of the atheist/humanist groups working for social change

The Knights of Columbus refuse to march in the Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade because of the gayness that will be in proximity. I bet whatever monarch bestowed their knighthoods on them is very disappointed.

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St. Pat’s “Miracle,” 1697

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
March 16, 2015

On St. Patrick’s Day, 1697, a painting known as the “Irish Madonna of Hungary” began to weep tears and blood—a “miracle” that has remained unexplained, if not unexplainable, to this day more than three centuries later.

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Service is Denied

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 13, 2015

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

Very good insight comes this morning from two of our fearless leaders in Free Inquiry on the CFI merger with its programs Council for Secular Humanism and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. First, we have CFI boss Ron Lindsay what unites skepticism and humanism:

What is it that skeptics do? Well, as the mission statement of CSI indicates, one of the important things that skeptics do is use science, reason, and critical inquiry to examine controversial and extraordinary claims.

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You Are Just Begging To Be Lied To

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 12, 2015

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

We have a great guest post at the Free Thinking blog from Jahed Ahmed, a good friend of Avijit Roy and co-founder of their website Mukto-Mona. Jahed reflects on the powerful legacy of his friend:

So, what’s Avijit’s most important legacy? I cannot help pondering. In my opinion, it is that he transformed many minds, both young and adult, toward freedom, toward the courage to question convention, authority, tradition the “sacred” — toward a world free from all kinds of shackles and superstitions.

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Avijit Roy and His Legacy: Guest Post by Jahed Ahmed

Democratic Discourse with Michael De Dora
March 12, 2015

Thanks to the Internet, Avijit Roy is now more famous than ever. Several Islamic zealots, who also brutally assaulted his wife, killed him outside a book fair on the streets of Dhaka. Yet these fanatics have achieved the opposite of what they ultimately wished for: obliterating Avijit forever. Now, Avijit will leave a lasting legacy.

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