Blog Archives for August 2016

Repealing the Burkini Ban Doesn’t Address the Real Problem

Guest Blog from Nicholas Little
August 26, 2016

The ban and the way it was enforced were wrong. But while our commitment to religious freedom and free speech and expression requires us to support the right of women to dress as they wish, whether that be in “revealing” or “modest” attire, or anything in between, whether for purely personal or religious reasons, in the significant majority of cases, religious dress codes for women are not voluntarily adopted by their wearers.

3 Comments

Additional Monsters

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 26, 2016

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

So there's these "nones," right? And you're all, hey, why'd these nones all decide not to be a part of a formal religion? Totally good question. Oh hey! Pew has answers. Half of nones just don't believe in any religions (ahem, but they're not all "atheists," ahem). 20% simply didn't like organized religion for various reasons, and 10% were just non-practicing believers...

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Prox B or Bust

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 25, 2016

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

Astronomers discover an Earth-like planet orbiting within the "Goldilocks zone" of the star closest to our own, Proxima Centauri, 4.2 light-years away. It's a huge, huge deal. "The planet’s proximity to Earth gives hope that robotic probes could someday be zooming past the planet for a close-up look," writes Kenneth Chang at NYT. The planet is for now designated "Proxima Centauri b" or "Proxima b" and I'm seeing it shorthanded sometimes as "Prox b," which begins to sound like a California ballot measure.

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The School Auditorium Ghost

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
August 24, 2016

Sometimes a ghostbusting skeptic just gets lucky. So it was, following my luncheon speech at a CFI conference, when an attendee told me she knew the true facts behind the “haunting” of Pembroke Middle School in Corfu, N.Y.

No One Blows Like Gaston

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 24, 2016

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

It's pit bulls and the paranoid on Point of InquiryLindsay Beyerstein talks to Bronwen Dickey about 1) the myths about pit bulls and 2) the "Conspira-Sea Cruise" that she reported on for Popular Mechanics (and to which I linked in a previous Heresy). 

Yesterday we announced that at CSICon this October, the Balles Prize in Critical Thinking will go to Julia Belluz of Vox.com. If you read the Heresy, you already know how awesome she is, and what good she does exposing pseudoscience nonsense. 

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Humanism and the Born-Godless

Guest Blog from David R. Koepsell
August 23, 2016

My kids and I are part of a growing set of people who were born and raised without religion. This trend poses a challenge for those of us who consider ourselves not just atheists, but humanists. Having been born without a religion, only curiosity and pragmatic concern made humanism, as a school of inquiry, relevant to me. It did not come from a rejection of once-held beliefs. It had to offer more, standing on its own. 

Picard Did Wolf 359

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 23, 2016

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

For CSI's Skeptical Briefs, Joe Nickell recounts his journey to Newfoundland, where he investigates local monsters and mysteries, and becomes an "honorary Newfoundlander" in "a rather drunken ceremony." Did no one film this?? 

Also for CSI, Kylie Sturgess interviews Tara Moss, author of Speaking out: A 21st Century Handbook for Women and Girls, which emphasizes critical thinking over stereotypes and myths (and comes with an Anti-Feminist Gas-Lighting Bingo card).

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The Waters of Pure Insanity

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 22, 2016

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

The Miami Herald publishes a new op-ed by our boss Robyn Blumner on the Democratic Party's stubborn unwillingness to embrace and defend atheists and nones.

Democrats in officialdom need to ask themselves why they fight for the dignity and respect for every other marginalized group — racial and ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities — except atheists. If the answer is because they can, since the Republican Party shills for the Religious Right and liberal atheists have nowhere else to go, for shame.

5 Comments

Islamic Extremists Don’t Have To Be Islamic Scholars

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
August 22, 2016

This past week, the Associated Press published a story based on its analysis of leaked Islamic State (ISIS) recruitment documents. These documents indicate that, based on the recruits’ own self-evaluation, most ISIS recruits have only a basic knowledge of Islam. Some have argued that these “findings suggest religion has nothing to do with people joining [ISIS].”

Prepare to Submit to Tyranny

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 19, 2016

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

Katherine Krueger at TPM wonders why Jill Stein, who insists she's not anti-vax or anti-science, continuously leaves a little anti-science wiggle room for herself. 

Emily Willingham (who's coming to Women in Secularism 4!) breaks down the problems with Stein's postures, focusing on the inferences regarding autism...

14 Comments

New Tests: Dawson Was Piltdown Forger

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
August 18, 2016

After an eight-year examination, a team of researchers has concluded that the infamous Piltdown Skull hoax—consisting of human skull fragments together with an ape-like jaw having two teeth—was the work of a single forger: the “discoverer” and original suspect Charles Dawson. The study clears other suspects touted over the years, including the French priest Teilhard de Chardin, English paleontologist Arthur Smith Woodward, Scottish anatomist Arthur Keith, and, among others, famed Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle.

Abstract, Jargonistic, and Near-Mystical

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 18, 2016

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

The editorial board of Scientific American, not known for partisan polemic, castigates Trump for his "outright contempt" for science:

When the major Republican candidate for president has tweeted that global warming is a Chinese plot, threatens to dismantle a climate agreement 20 years in the making and to eliminate an agency that enforces clean air and water regulations, and speaks passionately about a link between vaccines and autism that was utterly discredited years ago, we can only hope that there is nowhere to go but up. 

Relatedly, Wired does something novel for this year: It endorses a candidate. You can guess which one. 

8 Comments

Face Oblivion

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 17, 2016

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

Did you know that Skeptical Inquirer is 40? So what does a skeptics' magazine do to mark its big anniversary? Why, by being skeptical of course...about skepticism! In the big anniversary issue, leading skeptics contribute their thoughts about what skepticism is doing right, and what it isn't. It's got that funny science guy, that new-Cosmos guy, the New Atheist who looks like Santa, and many, many more. Get this issue in print or on your mobile device. 

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A One-Dollar Browbeating

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 16, 2016

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

John Fea at RNS lauds the wisdom of America's founders for their aversion to having clergy serve in public office, comparing the intermingling of politics and religion to mixing "horse manure and ice cream":

The Founding Fathers understood something about the role of clergy in American society that Lane and his Christian nationalist friends do not. Those who care for the soul have a “great” spiritual duty that should never be compromised or tarnished by politics. This is why they thought that the “separation of church and state” was important.

3 Comments

Adultery and Gluttony and Greed and Pride

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 15, 2016

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

The new video just posted for CFI's series Reasonable Talk has good ol' Matt Dillahunty at CFI HQ talking about his experiences in debating the religious, and how we all can hold beliefs that don't jibe with reality.  

Friday's issue of Cause & Effect (which is the official CFI newsletter, by the way) is just busting with good stuff. It's like Reader's Digest of Awesomeness. I may be overselling it a bit.

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“Hillary’s White House Dreams Shattered?”

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
August 12, 2016

The other day I saw an alarming headline: “Hillary’s White House Dreams Shattered?” Aghast that Clinton’s campaign was in such serious jeopardy, and I began reading the piece, by K. O’Donnell of the Health Sciences Institute. It did strike me as odd that someone from a health sciences institute would be reporting on politics, but nonetheless, the details that O’Donnell offered were alarming. 

Yoda-Old

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 12, 2016

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

The Center for Inquiry thinks the idea that the U.S. would start banning particular religions from the country is a crap idea. There's a new bill that seeks to put the breaks on this bananapants idea, the 2016 Freedom of Religion Act, and we want you to tell your congressmonster to support it

The entirety of this week's New York Times Magazine is one big story: How the Arab world has shattered since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.  

5 Comments

Diplopia, Estropia, Nystagmus, and Strabismus

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 11, 2016

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

Okay, now we're talking. The State Department releases a new religious freedom report and comes down hard on countries with blasphemy laws on the books, particularly Muslim countries:

Such laws conflict with and undermine universally recognized human rights ... False accusations, often lodged in pursuit of personal vendettas or for the personal gain of the accuser, are not uncommon. Mob violence as a result of such accusations is disturbingly common. 

Before Trump has even been elected (cough cough), and well before the much-derided "Muslim ban" has been enacted, Mike Pence decides to get an early start on the snowball effect, saying that other faiths could be added to the list of prohibited religions. What year is it? 

3 Comments

Dr. Hartshorn’s Medicines

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
August 10, 2016

Dr. Edward Hartshorn (1817–1887) was a physician who marketed various cure-alls during the patent medicine era.

The Names of a Few Demons

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 10, 2016

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

We put out a statement yesterday expressing the serious concern that useless and often dangerous alt-med is getting way too much of an endorsement from the Olympics, and that those in a position to do so need to make clear that things like cupping are not based in any science. Luis Alfonso Gámez at the CSI site has more on Michael Phelps and his bruises -- in Spanish!

We have a brand new interview for CSICon Las Vegas, this time with Paul Offit who discusses his work on vaccines, and teases his conference talk on the "never-ending quest for pain relief without addiction." 

3 Comments

Succor Punch

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 09, 2016

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

You may have heard of the problem where Facebook seems to be targeting posts and pages from secularists and progressive Muslims for takedown when anything having to do with Islam is criticized. On Point of Inquiry this week, Josh Zepps focuses on the issue with guest Faisal Saeed Al Mutar.

So this McMullin guy who apparently deserves mass media attention because he's I guess running for president. Maggie Haberman at NYT notes the one aspect of his candidacy that actually could have an impact: His religion...

4 Comments

Unco Junto-  Art’s Obligation to Truth: The Case of ‘Wild Thing’

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
August 08, 2016

A controversial poem about a controversial racial attack in New York City turned out to be wrong. Does art (or poetry specifically) have an obligation to truth? 

The Type Who Walk into Traffic

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 08, 2016

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

I don't follow the Olympics, but I do stare at Twitter for unhealthy lengths of time, so I do know two things: Team USA swims real good, and somehow the pseudoscientific alt-med practice of cupping has become a thing with some of the athletes. Mark Oppenheimer tweets:

if, like the Olympians, you're cupping, are you 3 clicks from homeopathy? and are you worried about microwaves? 

3 Comments

Messy, Fractious, Contextual Relationships

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 05, 2016

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

Idaho is going to take a hard look at its "faith-healing" exemptions, which let parents not provide their kids with actual medical care if it conflicts with religious beliefs. Ada County Prosecutor Jean Fisher says, "I don't think the rights of the parents should so supersede the rights of a child." I don't either.

Three crisis pregnancy centers (fake abortion counseling clinics that pressure and proselytize to women) are warned by the Los Angeles City Attorney to follow the law or be fined.

4 Comments

No Bugs Go to Heaven

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 04, 2016

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

We have a new action alert, where we need you to tell Congress to support the Restore Honor to Service Members Act, which will correct the military records of those discharged from the military under Don't Ask Don't Tell. 

Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina thinks that disaster relief isn't nearly as important as his state's anti-LGBT "bathroom bill," so $500,000 have been moved from disaster relief to the legal defense of bigotry. Good thing natural disasters never happen in North Carolina. 

9 Comments

Aura Friction

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 03, 2016

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

So much good stuff today. The DNC accepts the resignations of staffers involved in the leaked emails that included the suggestion by CFO Brad Marshall to use atheism as a way to attack Bernie Sanders. If you recall, we asked for Marshall to step down, and while I'm not saying this is all our doing, I will at least pretend it was. 

In the run-up to our big fall conferences, Women in Secularism 4 and CSICon Las Vegas, I interviewed a woman who will be speaking at both, one of my favorite skeptic writers, Kavin Senapathy. She had so much smart stuff to say! Here's one thing she said about the overlap of secularism and skepticism...

4 Comments

Stupid Is

Guest Blog from David R. Koepsell
August 02, 2016

Max Boot’s editorial in today’s New York Times makes the case that the overall trend of American anti-intellectualism, noted by many for centuries, and coming to a head in the 20th and 21st centuries, is to blame for some current political candidates, especially one he calls an “ignoramus.” The title of the piece is “How The ‘Stupid Party’ created Donald Trump.” Trump-lovers and some on the left may be offended by such language, tarring a segment of the population as “stupid” and using “ableist” language. But we should come to grips with the fact that stupidity exists, even among the allegedly intelligent, and that it should be avoided, even as we try to educate everyone in order to decrease stupid behaviors

2 Comments

A Marginal Constituency

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 02, 2016

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

Just under 100 days to go before the election, and the conspiracies are in full swing. Donald Trump believes that the election will be rigged against him, which conveniently means that he wins no matter what happens, and also happens to be what he thought happened in 2012 too.

Trump backers are accusing Khizr Khan as being an agent of the Muslim brotherhood, and the late Captain Humayun Khan of having been a "double-agent" for Al Qaeda. Of course, right? Of course.

2 Comments

Red Hot Pointy Things

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 01, 2016

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

You almost certainly are already aware of Trump's public battle with Gold Star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan. Do give a read to Ghazala's op-ed in the Post on Trump's attempt to take a whack at them for seeming to him to be subservient:

Donald Trump said that maybe I wasn’t allowed to say anything. That is not true. My husband asked me if I wanted to speak, but I told him I could not. My religion teaches me that all human beings are equal in God’s eyes. Husband and wife are part of each other; you should love and respect each other so you can take care of the family. 

5 Comments