O Captain Janeway! My Captain!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
April 09, 2014

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

So that new "documentary" The Principle that promotes [suppresses laughter] geo-freaking-centrism? We know it has Lawrence Krauss in it, and come on, we all knew it was a situation like the one with Dawkins in Expelled: Krauss couldn't have known what they were going to do, and indeed it is so:

I have no recollection of being interviewed for such a film, and of course had I known of its premise I would have refused. So, either the producers used clips of me that were in the public domain, or they bought them from other production companies that I may have given some rights to distribute my interviews to, or they may have interviewed me under false pretenses, in which case I probably signed some release. I simply don’t know. 

But the real worry was that Captain Kathryn Janeway of the USS Voyager (NCC-74656), Kate Mulgrew, the film's narrator, had gone over the side of crazy, breaking nerds' hearts everywhere (mine included). Well, worry no more...

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Stupider and Wronger

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
April 08, 2014

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

I clapped like a 2-year-old for Elmo when I heard the first words of the latest Point of Inquirywith super-special guest Ann Druyan, co-creator of Cosmos.

Ezra Klein kicks off his new news outlet, Vox, with a kind of lament that kind of kicks groups like ours, as well as his own operation, in the teeth: On partisan issues, more information makes us stupider and wronger.

Sarah Jones of Americans United says Western atheists going on about how they're considered "terrorists" in Saudi Arabia are missing the point of the real crisis...

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My Spirit Does Not Yearn

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
April 07, 2014

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

Before you get all heretical with your Monday morning, make sure you catch up with everything CFI with the latest edition of Cause & Effect. It's like a not-for-profit breakfast. 

Our response to the Sheriff's Office of Vero Beach, Florida using public resources to support a prayer event gets coverage in the region's paper, but it's behind a paywall so I have no idea what it says. But it's got quite a cliffhanger before the paywall: 

When the next Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast comes around, one group will be eager to see event's program. If the Sheriff's Office is listed as a sponsor, the group might sue. 

Eek!

Pakistani husband and wife, Shafqat and Shagufta Masih, are sentenced to death for blasphemy for allegedly sending "sending text messages against the Holy Prophet." Shafqat is paralyzed from the waist down, and says:

...when the police came to their house last year to verify the charges, they had brought along a local cable operator who had some enmity against the couple. Shafqat was thrown from his wheelchair, tortured and made to confess he was guilty of sending the offending text messages, Mr. Saif said.  

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The Most Adorable Exorcist

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
April 04, 2014

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

Alan Greenblatt at NPR reports on the numerous ways lawmakers in states are trying to allow student prayer in public schools. Hedy Weinberg of the Tennessee ACLU said, "What we see — and this is a trend across the country — is that there's an effort to impose one's religious doctrine in school settings."  

The ban on Twitter is lifted in Turkey following a high court ruling (and the end of the elections). YouTube remains blocked. 

Bob Smietana reports that a federal judge has ruled that NYC can now ban churches from using public schools for religious services.

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The Brighter Side of Spite

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
April 03, 2014

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

CFI's Sarah Kaiser considers the wisdom of a New York state bill that would toughen penalties for crimes committed in a place of worship:

[N]ot every citizen of New York is a member of a religious institution, incorporated or not. In fact, many citizens are members of local secular groups (like CFI–NYC and CFI–Western New York), and their communities would be harmed by robbery, property damage, and vandalism just as much as places of worship. 

I can't believe this is a thing: GOP congressional candidate is being attacked for playing live-action role playing games (yes, he LARPs), which I think makes him awesome, but makes fellow GOPers think he's a Satanist. 

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Does a Crime in a Place of Worship Deserve a Harsher Penalty?

by Sarah Kaiser
April 02, 2014

A bill currently under consideration in New York State would increase penalties for crimes committed in "a place of religious worship," as incorporated under state law. Criminal penalties would also be increased for cemeteries or other places of burial.

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Mystery of Belgium’s Glowing Virgin

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
April 02, 2014

On two trips to Belgium (in 1998 and 2006), I investigated several “miracle” claims, including a healing shrine, known as the “Belgian Lourdes”; the “Holy Blood of Christ” at Bruges; and a wonderworking statue at Belgium’s most-frequented pilgrimage site. (See my The Science of Miracles, 2013, pp. 23–25, 101–103, 187–190.) Now, another remarkable statue there—one that glows!—has come to light (so to speak); however, its mystery was quickly solved by scientists. (Belinda Robinson, We have seen the light! MailOnline [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2590014/We-seen-light-Mystery-glowing-Virgin-Mary-statue-visited-hundreds-Belgium-solved-scientists-discover-covered-luminous-paint.html]; March 26, 2014.)

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My Gast Was Flabbered

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
April 02, 2014

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

The two big Skeptical Inquirer pieces on the "cancer quack" Stanislaw Burzynski are now online: David Gorski gives us the full background on Burzynski, and Robert Blaskiewicz writes about skeptics' activism to rein Burzynski in and protect patients.

Investigation by John Burnett at NPR reveals how religious TV networks are getting themselves classified as "churches" by the IRS, which means there's no way for donors to know how their money is spent.

In Pakistan, an Ahmadi man is attacked by a mob and arrested for blasphemy (these things almost go without saying now) for allegedly throwing a child's copy of the Koran. 

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No Desire to Stretch the Truth

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
April 01, 2014

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

Yes, it's April Fool's Day, but please breathe a sigh of relief that your Morning Heresy isn't playing. No (intentional) hoaxes here.

Have you grown to hate April Fool's Day as much as me? You can thank a pope

Our CEO Ron Lindsay wonders if biblical believers might want to distance themselves from God as portrayed in Noah (also now on HuffPo):

Let’s not mince words: if the story of the Flood is to be believed, God is a moral monster. To say his response to the alleged wickedness of humans is disproportionate is a gross understatement. Moreover, God engages in conduct that we would expect from the worst dictators, namely collective punishment that sweeps in the innocent along with the guilty. Children, presumably, were among those drowned (unless we assume that wicked adults had no offspring) as were most all of the animals, who bore no responsibility whatsoever for the misdeeds of humans. Intentionally drowning a kitten is conduct we’d expect of some psychopathic juvenile, not a loving deity.

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Hoaxes

Access Points with Timothy Binga
March 31, 2014

Another April 1 is upon us, and, as always, someone will try to prank, fool, or hoax us. The media usually tries to hoax us in some way at this time of year, and one of our specialties here at CFI is to examine these types of things. From the War of the Worlds radio broadcast to the Cardiff Giant to the Piltdown Hoax, we have accounts of many hoaxes in our libraries.

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