Blog Archives for November 2012

Glassy-eyed Regressive Conservabot Zealot

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 30, 2012

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

Remember all the hubbub about how NASA was about to drop a mystery bombshell about something the Curiosity Mars rover discovered? Not so much. Via Slashgear:

NASA‘s teased data “for the history books” from the Curiosity Mars rover has all been a huge misunderstanding, the space agency now says, with the reference apparently encompassing the mission as a whole – not a specific finding. 

Pat Robertson said this:

I know that people will probably try to lynch me when I say this. . . . You go back in time, you've got radiocarbon dating. You got all these things, and you've got the carcasses of dinosaurs frozen in time out in the Dakotas. They're out there. So, there was a time when these giant reptiles were on the Earth, and it was before the time of the Bible. So, don't try and cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years. That's not the Bible. 

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Dead Relatives Boost Workplace Productivity

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 29, 2012

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

The Netherlands will scrap its blasphemy law. But it's still not okay to diss the queen. Baby steps.

Wendy Kaminer has a thought-provoking piece, sure to rile folks up, on the problem with criminalizing speech and opinions we don't like:

I'm not suggesting that we should resign ourselves to bigotry. I'm arguing that we should tolerate expressions of it.  

Dave Silverman, apparently a fascist, does battle in the War on Christmas with white knight Bill O'Reilly, who says that Christianity is not a religion, which will be news to billions of people. 

 

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Two Cheers for Rhode Island!

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
November 28, 2012

Two cheers for Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chaffee, who has stood tall against religious-Right posturing to insist that the 17-1/2 foot conifer in the state capitol will again be called the Holiday Tree, not the Christmas Tree. He stated that the more inclusive language was appropriate because the state house "is a public building...paid for by people with different religions." So far, so good ... but is even Governor Chaffee being inclusive enough?

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Tax My Church and I’ll Blight Your Crops

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 28, 2012

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

Obviously, the biggest news today in the skepto-atheosphere is that amazing piece of artwork you see at the top of this post. That's right, The Morning Heresy now has its own freaking banner and logo. Isn't it awesome? That guy's tablet is on fire with damnable links. Spilled his coffee, even. My thanks to Chris Fix for designing the logo, and for Lauren Becker's creativity for coming up with the concept. Since I know you like it so much, you should buy a coffee mug with the logo emblazoned on it.

The Morning Heresy 11/27/12: The Dying Man’s Best Friend

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 27, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, defies the NBA over its endorsement of the snake-oily Power Balance bracelets, calling them "a scam," and banning them from the Mavericks' locker room.

Our own Sarah Kaiser interviews Hemant Mehta about his new book, The Young Atheist’s Survival Guide: Helping Secular Students Thrive, for the CFI On Campus blog.

Life of Pi: A Skeptical Review

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Ben Radford
November 26, 2012

The Life of Pi is a fable about a young Indian man who finds himself aboard a freighter headed for Canada. A storm sinks the ship and soon Pi finds himself the sole human survivor, trapped on a lifeboat with a tiger...

7 Comments

“Lincoln” (A Nickell-odeon Review)

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
November 26, 2012

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is a masterful recreation of the Civil War president and the efforts that led to the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (ratified December 6, 1865), abolishing slavery.

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The Morning Heresy 11/26/12: We’re Waterboarding the Easter Bunny Next

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 26, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

CFI boss Ron Lindsay says enough with the blacklisting in the skepto-atheosphere:

We need to cut each other some slack. Nor should criticism of one or the institution with which one is associated necessarily result in placement of the offender on the “To Be Shunned” list. We need to develop thicker skins. Critical thinking and a commitment to free inquiry do not mix well with hypersensitivity. 

Some folks have some feelings about Ron's post, which I'm sure you can find with some light googling.

Hey look! Hemant's new book is available. Go get The Young Atheist’s Survival Guide so you can, you know, survive!

On Shunning Fellow Atheists and Skeptics

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
November 25, 2012

Shunning and boycotting may be gaining acceptance in the atheist and skeptic communities.   In particular, it appears they are being adopted as tactics against fellow atheists and skeptics.  This is regrettable.

172 Comments

In Science, Whose Department is the Ethics Department?: Part 1

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Ben Radford
November 23, 2012

What is the role of ethics in science? 

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The Morning Heresy 11/23/12: Go Directly to Jail

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 23, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

You know what your loves ones really want to get for [insert winter holiday here], but you're too much in denial to realize it. Admit it to yourself and make their year: Get them the all-new, official Morning Heresy coffee mug! Heck, get them nine! I mean, look at that awesome logo, the brain child of Lauren Becker and Chris Fix (and a little bit me, who decided it had to be an iPad on fire). There's lots more CFI swag newly available right this very second. 

"Pantheon" is probably not the word to use in conjunction with a skeptics' organization, but whatever its secular alternative is (Justice League?), Harriet Hall and Steven Novella have been added to CSI's version of said vaunted group: the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry's Executive Council.

Bell Witch Cave

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
November 21, 2012

As a sidelight to the excellent 2012 CSIcon event in Nashville, I was able to make an excursion on October 27 to Tennessee’s “haunted” Bell Witch Cave with a favorite co-investigator, Vaughn Rees (who drove to the conference from his home in Ensenada, Mexico!).

The Morning Heresy 11/21/12: Kahless is the Reason for the Season

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 21, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

The skepto-atheosphere is already having parades and throwing ticker-tape over the news that CFI's Debbie Goddard has been elevated to Director of Outreach for the organization. Debbie replaces Lauren Becker who, thankfully, remains with CFI as the new Director of Marketing. 

Rubidium atoms tickle each other across a distance of 500 feet as Chinese scientists for the first time achieve quantum teleportation of macroscopic objects

Tim Farley presents the long, sordid, crazy story of Dennis "Mabus" Markuze, newly re-arrested for harassing the skepto-atheosphere. Seriously, this has all the details.

Santa Monica Gets It Right: Public Parks No Place for Xmas Displays

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
November 20, 2012

One year after an atheist group smartly gamed a cumbersome lottery, seizing a majority of the exhibit slots under a clumsy system for ensuring diversity in "holiday" displays at a public park, Santa Monica, California, got the message. (Or rather, a wise Federal judge had to get it for them.) The message is that holiday displays with religious overtones have no business in the public square, whether they're Christian, Jewish, Wiccan, Muslim, or whatever. Even atheist or humanist displays that comment on the bankruptcy of all religions can be blocked, it seems to me, if the benefit is that ALL religious displays, especially those representative of majority faith positions, are blocked also. There is more than enough property belonging to religious institutions and private owners where creches, trees, Santas, menorahs, and the like can be displayed at the upcoming time of year. Public spaces should be for everyone -- and "everyone" includes people who are celebrating any number of holidays at this time of year, as well as others with no celebration whatever in their plans.

The Morning Heresy 11/20/12: Operation Archangel, Mission Aborted

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 20, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Yesterday, Dennis Markuze, aka "Mabus," the Internet tormentor of atheists, skeptics, and others in the reality-based community, was arrested by Montreal police -- again -- for violating the terms of his probation by harassing folks over social media. You may have even been a target of his threats or "prophecies" yourself, often appearing on social media services as "Operation Archangel" and raving about atheists, Jesus, and Nostradamus, among other things. More from the Montreal Gazette and fellow Makuze target Ars Technica. (I know! Who would harass Ars Technica for Pete's sake?)

CFI chief Ron Lindsay laments the recent court decision allowing a publisher of Christian books to claim a religious exemption to the contraceptive mandate of the health reform law:

Score one for the Catholic Church and everyone else who thinks religious liberty implies the right to impose their dogma on others.  

Rimsha Masih is acquitted of blasphemy charges. 

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A Distortion of Religious Liberty

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
November 19, 2012

Score one for the Catholic Church and everyone else who thinks religious liberty implies the right to impose their dogma on others. A federal judge has prohibited the Obama administration from requiring a publisher owned principally by a Christian foundation to provide its employees with contraceptive coverage, pursuant to the new health care law. The case is Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. v. Sebelius.

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The Morning Heresy 11/19/12: To Serve Man

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 19, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Selections from the latest Free Inquiry are up online, which features two special sections: One drawing from and inspired by the Women in Secularism conference (introduced by Melody Hensley here) and the other on blasphemy laws (Tom Flynn's editorial here).  

At the Rutgers Humanist Chaplaincy website, our own Michael De Dora makes a powerful case for our involvement in the struggle against blasphemy laws around the world...

The Morning Heresy 11/16/12: A Marvelous Conduit in a Timeless Whole

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 16, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

The Conversation offers guidelines to science journalists who wish to avoid reporting malarkey as fact, in an admittedly baffling environment. 

LiveScience reports on a new study attempting to explain why you think you see Jesus on your toast, or a face on Mars. Spoiler: The religious are more likely to "anthropomorphize."

George Dvorsky at io9: Mountain pine beetles and mosquitos agree - bring on global warming

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An Interview on CFI’s Office of Public Policy

Democratic Discourse with Michael De Dora
November 15, 2012

Recently I had the chance to speak with SkepChick blogger and Surly-Ramics creator Amy Davis Roth regarding the Center for Inquiry's Office of Public Policy and its wide-ranging advocacy efforts.

The Morning Heresy 11/15/12: The Confusion that Ensues

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 15, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Wow, we have a lot of stuff to cover today, folks. Let's dive in. 

As egotistical as I am, yesterday I neglected to link to Kylie Sturgess interviewing little old me for the Token Skeptic podcast, and what do we talk about? Why, The Morning Heresy of course! 

Speaking of me, myself, and I, at Friendly Atheist I cast a skeptical eye on Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal's prescription for conservative success...

Old Anti-Catholic Hoax Continues

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
November 14, 2012

Recently, I bought an intriguing book in an antique shop: Maria Monk: Secrets of the Black Nunnery Revealed. It was undated but was obviously a reprint of an older volume. Purportedly, in the 1830s, the author escaped from a Montreal convent where priests entered through a secret tunnel to have sexual relations with the defenseless nuns. If a child resulted, the infant was baptized, strangled, and thrown into a basement lime pit (Monk n.d., 130–31). Pregnant herself, Monk escaped to have her baby and pen the tell-all tale. Or so she claimed.

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The Morning Heresy 11/14/12: What a Smooth Shave!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 14, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

CFI's John Shook shakes his head (no pun intended) at the evasion of the "atheist" label by some, including perhaps some that might be about to become Members of the U.S. House, and terms them "evatheists" -- a label which can't be refused, for in doing so it confirms the label! Ha ha! 

Kimberly Winston reports on the atheist-friendly OKCupid dating service, which may just be, according to them, representative of America's "secular future." 

Today, the Climate Reality Project begins its "24 Hours of Reality" campaign with live streaming content and presentations online about the climate crisis. 

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Atheists, Nontheists, Agnostics, Faitheists, Apatheists, and now “Evatheists”

It’s Only Natural with John Shook
November 13, 2012

Just when you thought that the zoo for the nonreligious couldn't get weirder.... 

14 Comments

The Morning Heresy 11/13/12: Babies, Trees, and Golf Balls

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 13, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Australian prime minister Julia Gillard orders a national inquiry into child abuse by the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Dolan admonishes the Legion of Doom to take a long look in the mirror after the conservative drubbing in the election, including a majority of Catholics voting for Obama.

In New Zealand, an anti-vax group is stripped of its tax-exempt status, as "its main purpose was clearly political, not charitable." 

2 Comments

The Morning Heresy 11/12/12: Stand There Like a Dummy, Waiting to Be Enlightened

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 12, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Laurie Goodstein at NYT reports that religious conservatives are "reeling" from their election night loss and the "rejection of their agenda." Goodstein also quotes Robert P. Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute who says:

Barack Obama’s coalition was less than 4 in 10 white Christian. He made up for that with not only overwhelming support from the African-American and Latino community, but also with the support of the religiously unaffiliated.

NYT also has a piece on politicians rejecting traditional religious labels, which includes one such rejection that, you know, has some of us in the atheosphere a little taken aback. 

Stephen Prothero lists seven ways religious diversity affected the election

The Morning Heresy 11/9/12: Darwin for Congress

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 09, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.  

It's the most wonderful time of the year, when we celebrate the life of he who was a candle in the dark, Carl Sagan. CFI-Indiana wil mark the occasion with a whole lot of apple pie. Dozens of other groups are celebrating, too. Find an event near you on the Sagan Day Event Calendar.

More election stuff! 

In Athens, GA, Charles Darwin pulls in 4000 write-in votes against Rep. Paul "Lies from the Pit of Hell" Broun.  

Becky Garrison at WaPo wonders if even more progress can be made in unshackling government from Christian entanglements:

What prevents us all from demanding an end to the annual National Prayer Breakfast and other state sanctioned religious events that continue to advance a Christ centered brand of American exceptionalism? 

Remembering Paul Kurtz

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
November 08, 2012

Here is my elegiac tribute to Paul Kurtz (1925–2012), the founder of the worldwide skeptics movement.

The Morning Heresy 11/8/12: Behold the New Jerusalem

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 08, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.  

We have a lot more election news, now that folks have had a day to digest, think, sleep, and, you know, write their stories. 

Greta Christina: "In this election, secular values won big-time." Even the less-than-sunny Jacques Berlinerblau says, "Today, secularism should feel just swell."

Kimberly Winston on the atheist congressional switcheroo: Pete Stark defeated, Kyrsten Sinema is in. 

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln: A Man (and a Film) for the Ages

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Ben Radford
November 07, 2012

It's easy to forget, when in a high school history class or reading a textbook, that the founders of our country were real people. We know them for their achievements, the highlights of history and thumbnail sketches. Benjamin Franklin flying a kite in a storm while planning to open the first post office and work on French diplomacy. George Washington crossing the Delaware river and defying the British. According to noted historian Sarah Palin, Paul Revere famously rode his horse by night to warn the British that they would not be taking away American's right to bear arms.

Florida’s Amendment 8 Soundly Defeated

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
November 07, 2012

Florida's Amendment 8 ballot initiative, which would have eliminated the state constitution's provision prohibiting state funding of religious or sectarian organizations, was soundly defeated at the polls. Only 44 percent of voters approved the initiative, which required a 60 percent vote for passage -- this despite enthusiastic and open-handed support by the Roman Catholic Church. Opponents of the measure included the Florida Education Association, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and a spectrum of both secular and pro-education organizations. If Amendment 8 passed, it would likely have rendered moot Council for Secular Humanism v. McNeil, our lawsuit (ongoing since 2007) challenging state contracts with explicitly sectarian religious charities.

The Morning Heresy 11/7/12: The Smell of a Socialist Utopia

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 07, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.  

Four more years it is. Beyond all the enormous political implications of last night's remarkable victory for the president, it's also important to note for our constituency that it was math, not wishful thinking or conspiracies, that most accurately reflected the actual outcome. 

Pete Stark, the only avowed nontheist in Congress, is defeated by his fellow-Democratic challenger. 

Meanwhile, there remains the prospect that Congress will not be entirely atheist-free, as Kyrsten Sinema holds on to a slim lead in Arizona. 

3 Comments

The Morning Heresy 11/6/12: The Burden Falls on Us to Act

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 06, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.  

Did you vote yet? No? Go ahead. I'll wait.

Good job.

Yes, it's Election Day in the USA! My baby daughter was so excited about it that she got me up at 4am, and as you can see here, right out of the gate my own son is committing voter fraud.

HORROR-SCOPE FOR SKEPTICS

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
November 06, 2012

This incorporates the very latest in astro-illogical forecasting by Nickell-o the Seer.

1 Comment

It’s Time to Represent: Election Day for America’s Seculars and Skeptics

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 05, 2012

Until literally days ago, the political establishment had decided that you don’t matter. Allow me, if you will, to relate an anecdote that I think is relevant to tomorrow’s electoral finish line.

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The Morning Heresy 10/5/12: King Arthur…From SPAAAAACE!!!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 05, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.  

Former CFIer Julia Burke is in the news today for the best reason possible: Going out of her way to help people. Julia's eschewed the NYC marathon before it was cancelled, and opted instead to run to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Her astounding awesomeness is covered in The Buffalo NewsFriendly Atheist, and Skepchicks

Joe Nickell tells the tale of a racoon, a raft, and a "Viking funeral" in Skeptical Briefs.

DC in Detroit has a hyper-exhaustive write-up of her experiences (and award-winning costume of a blood-weeping Virgin Mary) at CSICon. 

The Morning Heresy 11/2/12: No One Takes This Stuff Seriously

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 02, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.  

And just like that, with a handful of days to go, the reality of climate change entered the campaign. It looked like we were about to endure another Storm of Doom without a serious discussion of its connections to global warming, but yesterday New York mayor Mike Bloomberg ("of no party or clique," as it were) endorsed President Obama primarily because he does not deny the reality of climate change and the fact that human beings bear responsibility.

Alongside Bloomberg the man, Bloomberg the magazine splashed across its cover, "It's Global Warming, Stupid.

Important: Center for American Progress publishes a report on courting the "None" vote

Religious War has been declared by the Religious Right

It’s Only Natural with John Shook
November 01, 2012

Historians won't overlook the late hours of this 2012 election when they estimate when a new religious war began in America.  

5 Comments

The Morning Heresy 11/1/12: Curl Up in Fetal Balls

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
November 01, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.  

Greta Christina has great news:

This cancer was caught plenty early, and it is now gone. I don’t mean that it’s in remission: I mean that it’s gone. I had cancer, but I don’t anymore.  

No good can come of this: Chris Mooney and Indre Viskontas do a kind of relay-podcast-hosting of the latest Point of Inquiry as they talk to Richard Wiseman and Jon Ronson about their Paranormal Roadtrip to CSICon. 

Lots of people are fuming about the post at Butterflies & Wheels yesterday by Bruce Gordon attacking "faitheists" (indeed, some are even upset with the Morning Heretic for even linking to it). James Croft is none too pleased about the post's implications for the wider movement...

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