Blog Archives for March 2017

The Loch Ness Lindbergh Baby

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 27, 2017

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

First things first: Catch up with a very full fortnight of freethought with the latest Cause & Effect newsletter. There's a lot about Michael De Dora at the UN Human Rights Council, and Michael has even more on his adventures there in this update

Things are getting absolutely bonkers in Pakistan. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan seeks to assemble a coalition of Muslim nations to devise a global strategy for "dealing with" blasphemous content on social media. 

Interview with Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist: Guest Post by Susan Gerbic

Guest Blog from Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
March 24, 2017

Guest Post by Susan Gerbic 

Hemant Mehta is best known for his blog on Patheos, Friendly Atheist; he also has a podcast of the same name and has written about selling his soul on eBay. He has two other books, The Young Atheist’s Survival Guide and The Friendly Atheist: Thoughts on the Role of Religion in Politics and Media.

Rare Trade Card of “Magnetic Healer”

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
March 24, 2017

The Victorian trade card (a forerunner of the later business card), pictured here, is graced by the engraved portrait and facsimile signature of H.N. Wheelock. He is described on the reverse as a “Mental and Vital Magnetic Healer”—that is, one who treated both mind and body. “WILL THOU BE MADE WHOLE?” he asks.

Subsequent Profuse Sweating

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 24, 2017

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

CFI's Michael De Dora is quoted in the Associated Press's piece on Pakistan's request to Facebook for the personal information of those they consider to be blasphemers. 

Pakistan arrests two men for posting "blasphemous" content to WhatsApp (that's right, not Facebook or Twitter but WhatsApp, which Facebook owns). Islamabad High Court Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddqui seems to be sick of all this heresy, and says social media could be banned in Pakistan altogether. "It will not make any difference if selfies and pictures of food are not shared with others," he said, which, if it were not so chilling, would be kind of funny.

Point-Zero-Zero-Four Percent

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 23, 2017

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

A man plows an SUV into dozens of people in London, killing two, and stabs a police officer to death outside Parliament, before being shot himself. ISIS claims he's one of theirs, but they always do that, and nothing has been confirmed.

Here comes the flood: The House "Science" Committee is going to start holding hearings meant to delegitimize accepted climate science.

Sensitivities

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 22, 2017

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

Facebook is going to meet with Pakistani officials to discuss the country's request for the personal information of users Pakistan deem to have posted blasphemous content, and we asked Facebook to stick to its guns:

Facebook should use its leverage to encourage the government of Pakistan to abandon the theocratic, reactionary scapegoating of critics and dissidents, embrace the equal dignity of its people, and encourage the free and open exchange of ideas.

CBC investigates chiropractors in Manitoba making outlandish claims about what they can treat and cure, including autism, cancer, Alzheimer's, and more.  

2 Comments

What Secular Humanism Means to Me

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
March 21, 2017

It's been a while since I blogged here! Herewith, an oldie-but-goodie from the October/November 2010 issue of FREE INQUIRY. At the time I was kicking off an event inviting readers to describe secular humanism is one word. I picked the word "emancipatory." Subject only to a 1000-word limit, here's what I wrote.

Stupid and Even Cruel

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 21, 2017

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

I forgot to mention yesterday that the day before that was the 5-year anniversary of The Morning Heresy as a web-published thingy. Here's the first one to appear on the web, and as you can see, the quality has not diminished one iota. Nor has it increased. That's the kind of excellence you can expect from, um, whatever we were just talking about. 

Here's some encouraging news. A study from North Carolina State University suggests that studying the humanities can make one less likely to believe in pseudoscience.

Parents in Pajamas, Secular Humanism, Mass Hysteria!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 20, 2017

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

The State Department says the U.S. is boycotting the UN Human Rights Council debate on "agenda item seven," which is about Israeli human rights abuses against Palestinians.

In India, a man named H. Farook is hacked to death by men with sickles for posting atheistic content to Facebook and WhatsApp. 

A Skeptical Review of ‘Get Out’

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
March 17, 2017

The new horror/comedy film 'Get Out,' which has garnered widespread critical acclaim and commercial success, touches on conspiracies, urban legends, and hypnosis.

 

 

 

2 Comments

The Lee of the Stone

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 17, 2017

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

The Trump budget"Cuts" don't do justice to what this would mean if it passed. Gutting science (specifically climate science), diplomacy, help for the poor, the arts, even local police. It's like the plow coming for the Frisby home while Timothy is sick. 

One Can Demonstrate Animus

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 16, 2017

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

Yesterday, CFI's Michael De Dora told the UN Human Rights Council that the U.S. is "regressing" in its role as a human rights defender, saying, "We have been disturbed by the recent rise in baseless, xenophobic rhetoric and actions by political leaders, and heightened social hostilities, in many states — including our home country."

2 Comments

Constant as the Northern Star

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 15, 2017

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

The end of an era for our wider secular movement, as Rev. Barry Lynn announces his coming retirement from Americans United for Separation of Church and State. I can hardly imagine him not being on the scene! He's certainly earned a break after 25 years. Hats off to you, sir.

1 Comment

Permanently Post-400 Parts Per Million

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 14, 2017

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

The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has made its biggest recorded jump ever last year, now at 405 parts per million. Before the Industrial Revolution, the average was about 280. Chelsea Harvey reports:

... we’re now living in a permanently post-400 parts per million world. In September 2016, the time of year when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are usually at their lowest, scientists observed that the monthly average concentration still remained above this threshold. And now, the new NOAA measurements further indicate that carbon dioxide levels are only continuing to grow — and they’re rising at breakneck speed. 

2 Comments

Half Sunk a Shattered Visage Lies

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 13, 2017

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

Before we get into the usual skepto-atheist stuff, please enjoy this short story at The Prompt by my amazing wife Jessica, a look at the reunion of Frog and Toad after 12 years apart:

Toad considered his entree, a plate of balsamic glazed flank steak, resting under an enormous pile of mushrooms. He was just doing the things he was supposed to do, wasn’t he? Why make it so hard, why push back against fate? You were born, you lived a little while, then you died. It really wasn’t any more complicated than that, he thought. It really isn’t anything so remarkable.  

1 Comment

Unique Quassia Cup: Made Its Own Medicine!

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
March 10, 2017

The cures were in the wood of this nineteenth-century medicinal goblet. It supposedly turned ordinary water into a powerful tonic for treating fever and numerous other ailments.

Handmaid’s Tale Scary

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 10, 2017

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

Rep. John Shimkus, who we already consider something of a bonehead for his assertions a few years back that climate change isn't real because only God can flood the Earth, has a question about health care policy. Via WaPo, Rep. Mike Doyle asked Shimkus what his problem with Obamacare is, and Shimkus says:

“What about men having to purchase prenatal care?” Shimkus said. At that point, one could hear the room start to stir. “I’m just . . . is that not correct?” Shimkus said. “And should they?" 

4 Comments

George W.F.O. Bush

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 09, 2017

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

Every member of the U.S. Senate unanimously signs on to a letter urging Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and FBI Director James Comey to help bring to justice those responsible for threatening and vandalizing Jewish Community Centers.

Alex Nichols at The Outline says the time has come for Twitter to just start booting the trolls off its service for good

1 Comment

Stock Phrases and Empty Debates

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 08, 2017

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

It is International Women's Day, which is being marked by many as a strike for the Day Without a Woman.

Jennifer Bardi at The Humanist checks in with Sikivu Hutchinson, Amanda Knief, and Linda LaScola consider what a day without secular women would look like. Hutchinson says:

A strike of nontheist women would have the same grave socioeconomic implications for atheists and agnostics (estimated at around 7 percent of the US population) as it would for religionists.

This May Have Been a Mistake

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 07, 2017

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

Read, and then weep over, Sarah Posner's op-ed at the Washington Post, in which she explains just how committed white evangelicals are to whatever it is they feel that Trump represents:

His religious-right defenders see themselves as warriors in an epic battle for Christian America, not unlike the one underlying the agenda envisioned by top Trump strategist Stephen K. Bannon — and as Trump hunkers down, they are invested in the narrative that Trump’s critics are satanic enemies bent on destroying him. 

1 Comment

I Support the Asteroid

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 06, 2017

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

Happy Monday. This is a long one.

Trump says he thinks Obama wiretapped him. And we're off! 

The UN's Special Rapporteur for cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, gave remarks on the rise of fundamentalist and extremist hate, and CFI's Michael De Dora, who is in Geneva now, reports to us that Bennoune specifically thanked "civil society organizations, including the Center for Inquiry" for our work. Here is our statement on how supporting cultural rights can help prevent terrorism...

1 Comment

We Are Not Great Reasoners

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 03, 2017

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

So Jeff Sessions did wind up recusing himself in a weird press conference, in which he talked about "gossipy" ambassadors. Meanwhile, Mike Pence used an AOL email account to handle sensitive, security-related communications...and was hacked. But her emails.

2 Comments

Supracrustal

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 02, 2017

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

The Washington Post reports that Jeff Sessions lied to Congress about his contact with Russian officials during the campaign. This morning he offered to recuse himself from investigations of Russia's involvement in the election. 

Jake Tapper talks about the attacks on the press on The Daily Show, insists that CNN needs no special access to the White House and that CNN is "kicking ass." Plus he confesses to Botox.

2 Comments

RIDDLEculous XIV

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
March 01, 2017

More funny riddles from a skeptical view.

We Should Know Better By Now

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 01, 2017

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

So Trump played the part of president last night, I suspect very convincingly for many, if not most, Americans. He led the speech, surprisingly, with a condemnation of the threats made against Jewish Community Centers (I'm guessing Priebus won an argument), though earlier he had suggested the threats might have come from "the reverse," implying a false-flag operation to "make others look bad." To make who look bad? Anti-Semites? Do they need help looking bad?