Proof of Rat Heaven

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 13, 2013

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

University of Michigan scientists poke around some rat brains for EEG signals, and found a huge burst of activity just at the point of death. Proof of Rat Heaven? The opposite.

USA Today comes out against businesses claiming exemptions from Obamacare's contraceptive mandate:

Ultimately, the issue is one of balance. The effect of health insurance on business owners is indirect. Employees may or may not use insurance to pay for birth control, just as they may or may not use their salary to pay for something that would violate the company owners' faith.

The circumstance might be discomforting. But the alternative — granting religious exemptions to private organizations — is more troubling. It would be open to abuse, putting the government in the position of determining which business owners were sufficiently religious. 

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What I Wrote To Scientific American

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
August 12, 2013

On August 8, I wrote to the relevant editors at Scientific American after Dr. Karen Stollznow posted her blog piece about sexual harassment. I did so because Dr. Stollznow’s piece contained several inaccuracies, which were repeated in blogs and then showed up in letters to me. These inaccuracies are damaging to the reputation of the Center for Inquiry, an organization to which I have a fiduciary obligation. I asked Scientific American to issue an apology and make three specific corrections. I did not ask for the post to be removed. In my view, it would have been preferable if it had remained posted, but with the corrections. Scientific American decided otherwise. My email to Scientific American appears below.

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Dr. Porter and His Healing Oil

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
August 12, 2013

In doing some research (for my “Historical Sketches” column in my hometown newspaper) I unexpectedly came across a mid-1920s photo showing small tin signs for “Dr. Porter’s Healing Oil” affixed to the front of a store warehouse. I wondered: just who was Dr. Porter, and what was the story behind his medicinal product?

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That Near-Death Experience Sounds Awesome

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 12, 2013

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

Michael De Dora calls out the administration's amicus brief to SCOTUS in support of legislative prayers for its "spotty reasoning."

This actually happened: Tennessee judge orders a mother to change her baby's name ("Messiah") because "it's a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ." 

Charter schools. Held in churches. Discuss

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Why the Obama Administration is Wrong About Legislative Prayer

Democratic Discourse with Michael De Dora
August 09, 2013

The Obama administration has filed an amicus brief in the upcoming Supreme Court case Town of Greece v. Galloway, claiming that prayers before legislative meetings are and should remain legal.

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The Man Who Has Stolen the Straw

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 09, 2013

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

The Obama administration disappoints us beyond all measure, filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in favor of prayer at legislative sessions.

41 people in Turkey reportedly charged with "blasphemy on the religious values of a society fraction" for posts to a social network. 

There are a heck-ton of great videos from the latest Women in Secularism conference, with two new panels just posted

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Who Are You Calling Porous-Bordered?

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 08, 2013

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

The State Department formally launches its  Office of Faith Based Community Initiatives. John Kerry says something that is true for me as well:

[I]f I went back to college today, I think I would probably major in comparative religion, because that’s how integrated it is in everything that we are working on and deciding and thinking about in life today. 

Former CFIer Austin Dacey has reservations:

Constitutional or not, official interfacing with “faith-based organizations” will constitute a troubling form of government endorsement: the defining of some communities, among various porous-bordered normative and discursive communities, as “religions” and the anointing of some individuals as recognized spokespersons for those communities. 

Domestically, the creaky gears of government are moving in making changes to the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

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Unidentified Flying Spellcheck

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 07, 2013

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

Excellent news: DC's Mayor Vince Gray signs into law a bill that allows for "civil celebrants," aka Secular Celebrants, to officiate and solemnize marriages in the nation's capital. CFI's Michael De Dora and Melody Hensley were on hand for the signing, and Melody got a pen

Martin S. Pribble launches the Not Alone Project for nonbelievers, explaining:

My hope is to create a place where the non-believers stories can be published, in a completely safe environment, which doesn’t judge its participants in any way. This is an internet “safehouse” for those who fear coming out, an a place to share stories, freedoms and inspirations that atheism allows you. Those who publish their work here have the choice of remaining anonymous, or publishing their names in their articles. 

I love this picture: CFI board member Leonard Tramiel talks astronomy with the kids at Camp Inquiry. 

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Florida on High Xindi Alert

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 06, 2013

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

Hey, you hear the big news about The Washington Post? It came out against Virginia's religious exemption for homeschooling! Oh, and I guess there was this other thing where it was bought by Jeff Bezos. Pretty sure those two things aren't related.

Point of Inquiry classic episodes are streaming in as we lay the groundwork for its phoenix-like rebirth. This week, we have a 2006 interview with Susan Jacoby by DJ Grothe on America's freethought heritage. 

The town of Greece, NY gets support for its city council prayers from 31 U.S. Senators (30 GOPs plus Mary Landrieu of course), who filed an amicus brief to their Supreme Court case. 

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Croppies Lie Down

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 05, 2013

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

So former Rep. Barney Frank is an atheist. Now you tell us, Barney. 

Avery Thompson writes of the "10 best things" from the CFI Student Leadership conference, and somehow omits one particular bespectacled neurotic who will nonetheless find a way to forgive (and who otherwise pretty much agrees with his list). One of the folks on the list, James Croft, is coming to CFI-DC this weekend.

Ian Pollock asks a hum-dinger of a question in a fascinating post: Do the compromises that make up "secularism" mean that the whole enterprise is, though necessary, without principle? (h/t to Robert Long

Four Republican former heads of the EPA take to NYT to call for action on climate change.  

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