Blog Archives for March 2016

Insidious Superfluous Consonants

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 31, 2016

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

Housekeeping note: No Heresy tomorrow, which is good, because it'll be April 1, and that means a miasma of not-funny hoax news pieces that I'm perfectly content to avoid sifting through.

Morton E. Tavel's Skeptical Inquirer cover story on why lie detectors are more or less crap is now online, and it's good stuff. He says:

Given such overwhelming evidence of inaccuracy as I have presented here, how can we, as a society, react to such a perversion of science? The logical solution is to completely abandon this method of testing. 

1 Comment

James Bloodworth, Islamism, and a fallacy to watch out for

The Outer Limits with Stephen Law
March 30, 2016

James Bloodworth says the West is not to blame for jihadist attacks. I question his logic.

11 Comments

Psychological Acupuncture

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 30, 2016

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

Jaweed Kaleem at The Atlantic looks at the homeschooling phenomenon among atheists

Utah goes off a pseudoscience deep end, passing a law requiring anesthesia for abortions performed after 20 weeks, all in a pointless move to keep the fetus from feeling pain, which it can't anyway, and thereby putting the woman's health at risk -- a risk that the law says women aren't supposed to know about. 

2 Comments

A Muddled and Troubling Lesson

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 29, 2016

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

Georgia's governor Nathan Deal -- a Republican! -- vetoes the state's anti-LGBT "religious freedom" bill. Wisely not being North Caroline, Deal says:

I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia, which I and my family have been a part of for generations.

You should read Kimberly Winston's piece about the blasphemy law in Pakistan, about real religious persecution, and how it's all really sad.   

1 Comment

You Know Nothing of My Work

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 28, 2016

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

Get caught up with all the Important Things™ we juggle here at CFI with the latest edition of Cause & Effect, which is heavy with International Important Things™, such as Michael De Dora's work at the UN Human Rights Council, which he also summarizes here

Garry Called Me Up and Asked If I Would Write His Link Blog

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

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

Indiana's governor-dudebro, Mike Pence, signs into law a ban on abortions where the fetus has a known disability, which critics say "only serve to shame women who are seeking out a legal medical procedure." Just to twist the knife into secularism's guts, Pence says, "I sign this legislation with a prayer that God would continue to bless these precious children, mothers and families." 

4 Comments

What’s Really at Stake in Zubik: “They Want to Prevent Contraception”

Guest Blog from Nicholas Little
March 24, 2016

It’s 2016. The year which holds the 47th anniversaries not only of my birth, but also of humanity’s first tentative steps onto soil not of this planet with the first lunar landing. And yesterday, on a beautiful spring day in DC, I spent the morning on the steps of the Supreme Court protesting in favor of access to birth control as the justices heard oral arguments in the case of Zubik v. Burwell.

1 Comment

Secular humanism and secularization

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
March 24, 2016

Yesterday a member of the public asked me, "What could secular humanism have done to prevent today's slaughter in Brussels?" Here is how I answered:

9 Comments

“Etiquette”

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

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

North Carolina, which is obviously trying very hard to win the race for "worst state," passes a horrid bill overturning LGBT protections, and requires transgender folks to use public bathrooms that correspond to their biological sex. Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the bill, tweeted:

I signed bipartisan legislation to stop the breach of basic privacy and etiquette, ensure privacy in bathrooms and locker rooms.

Wow, right? First of all, it's not a bipartisan bill, because Democrats in the state senate walked out in protest. And secondly..."etiquette"??? Like, denying people their rights is like using the correct fork with your salad? 

3 Comments

Everybody Should Watch Out

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

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

After the Brussels attack, Ted Cruz wants to "empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized." He means in the United States. I'm sure a constant, threatening police presence will prevent any radicalization that would otherwise have occurred. Trump, meanwhile, says, "Everybody should watch out." He may as well have just said, "BOO!"

1 Comment

Peace in Our Time

Guest Blog from David R. Koepsell
March 22, 2016

Despite appearances otherwise, the number of ongoing wars and deaths due to conflict continues to decline. If we can avoid fear and its offshoots - authoritarianism, isolationism, and militarism, perhaps the spread of enlightenment values and increased prosperity and freedom will help to bring about the elusive peace civilization thrives in and which we desire.

The Sad Reality

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

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

A terror attack in Brussels: Three explosions, two at the airport, one in a metro station, killing what looks to be a couple of dozen people, but it's early yet.

Remember to be skeptical of early reports, as On the Media reminds us in their breaking news guide.

1 Comment

There’s Gold in Them Thar Pills!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 21, 2016

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

Maria Konnikova was a recent guest on Point of Inquiry, talking about con artists. In The New Yorkershe applies her insight to Donald Trump:

If Trump were a con artist, he would be interested in politics only as a means to some other end...

2 Comments

Historic “Gold Cure” for Addiction

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
March 18, 2016

In the latter nineteenth century, as temperance and prohibitionist sentiment flourished, quack cures for alcoholism began to be offered, beginning with the Keeley Double Gold Cure in 1890.

Interbreeding and Whatnot

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

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

The Openly Secular campaign released its latest celebrity video, with rapper Killah Priest, interviewed by Mandisa Thomas. 

The Baptist Standard takes note of CFI's role in calling upon the State Department to label ISIS crimes as "genocide." 

A Frustrating, Brutal, Overheated Existence

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

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

The Heresy is rather late today because of this:

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) applauded the decision today by Secretary of State John Kerry to declare that the Islamic State is committing genocide against Yazidis, Christians, and Shiites in Iraq and Syria.

We're the only skepto-atheist group to be part of a coalition that urged the administration and Congress to make this declaration. 

1 Comment

Doubt and Skepticism at 10 Cloverfield Lane

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
March 16, 2016

One of 10 Cloverfield Lane's most effective themes is essentially a skeptical one: the uncertainty of knowledge.

Hey, Ceres!

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

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

Big day in politics, as Trump and Clinton dominate yesterday's primaries, Kasich ekes out a win in Ohio, and the president is set to announce his nominee to the Supreme Court this morning. 

Laura Turner at Politico says John Kasich's devout Christian faith may actually be hurting him in the GOP primary race, because it "appears to drive his politically moderate stances on immigration, climate change and gay marriage," which of course don't play well these days.

5 Comments

Consecutive Primes

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

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

This is so wild. Louis Daniel Smith is sitting in prison right now for selling a fake cancer/AIDS/etc. cure that was made primarily of bleach, but as Matt Zapotosky at WaPo reports, devotees of the fake drug ("Miracle Mineral Solution"), have made it central to their religion, the Genesis II Church of Health & Healing. Now the Justice Department is trying to crack down on the operation. But holy crap, listen to these guys...

4 Comments

Holey Shroud Theory

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
March 14, 2016

Here’s a limerick I wrote about the Turin Shroud (at approximately the time I was writing my book, Inquest on the Shroud of Turin):

Letter Delivered to Indiana Governor Mike Pence

Freethought from the Heartland with Reba Boyd Wooden
March 14, 2016

  I hand delivered this letter to Indiana Governor Mike Pence this morning on behalf of the HAPA coalition of which I am the president.

The Saint-Making Machine

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 14, 2016

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

"I now give the floor to the distinguished representative from the Center for Inquiry," says the presiding officer of the UN Human Rights Council, as Michael De Dora delivers his second statement of this session, this time on the freedom of expression on social media, and concerns about the rise in government takedown requests. 

1 Comment

Enlightened without a License

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

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

Stanlislaw Burzynski. Ugh that guy. While I'm here fuming about him, Tamar Wilner writes at Skeptical Inquirer about the lessons she's learned about science communication and journalism while trying to report on the fake-savior's exploits. 

“Newsweek”: In Flagrante

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
March 11, 2016

The once-respectable Newsweek has been caught in flagrante. Between the covers, so to speak, we find an editor not only shamelessly touting a notorious Brazilian “healer” but also promoting one of his arch shills, a “psychic” who had a lengthy earlier career as a pornography queen.

1 Comment

Tremendous, Unbelievable, Radical, Very Hard

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

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

Michael De Dora spoke up in support of free expression and freedom of belief at the UN Human Rights Council yesterday, and the video is up

Twitter releases a big transparency report on government requests to pull content, and how often it complies. Briefly, in the U.S. it gets a few requests, but doesn't take anything down, but in countries like Turkey, over 20% of requests are complied with. Russia has lately ramped up its requests to take down content, and Twitter has only complied about 5% of the time.

AUDIOBOOK: The Tapescrew Letters: Letters from a senior to a junior guru

The Outer Limits with Stephen Law
March 10, 2016

A free audiobook by Stephen Law. Narrated by Michael Larkin, this hour long recording presents The Tapescrew Letters, a paordy of C.S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters.

3 Comments

Nessie-Optimized

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

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

Our International Man of Diplomacy™, Michael De Dora, is in Geneva at the UN Human Rights Council, doing his thing, and we'll have more on this specific adventures soon. Meantime, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt made a case for considering the freedoms to belief and expression to be "twin beliefs":

While freedom of expression seems to signal a ‘green light’ to all sorts of provocation, freedom of religion or belief seems to give a ‘stop sign’ instead. That kind of misunderstanding typically originates from the view that freedom of religion or belief protects religions or belief systems per se. ... [Both rights] protect unconditionally a person’s inner realm of thinking and believing, where no restrictions can be justified on whatsoever grounds. 

2 Comments

The False Consensus Effect (and how to avoid it)

Guest Blog from David R. Koepsell
March 08, 2016

Everyone is prone to the cognitive bias of the "false consensus effect." The solution lies in stepping outside our assumptions based upon our circles of affiliation, and looking to the data.

Stem Cell Smoothie

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

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

Point of Inquiry has a fascinating episode this week, where Lindsay Beyerstein talks to New Yorker writer Maria Konnikova about con artists, what motivates them, and what makes even us smartypants vulnerable to their schemes. 

At Skeptical Inquirer, Stuart Vyse stands up for the miserable, like me. He looks at what is being learned about happiness and melancholy as they relate to longevity, health, and education.

3 Comments

Implausibility Upon Implausibility Upon Implausibility

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 07, 2016

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

Let's talk about the God Lady, Denise Ghattas, at the Democratic debate last night. My less well-considered question about that whole exchange is, "WTF was that?" It would have been one thing if a journalist had asked, in a more academic framing, "is God relevant to this campaign?" But instead we had what seemed to me to be a leading question aimed squarely at the one guy in the whole race who has largely eschewed brining God into the discussion...

1 Comment

Undorsement

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

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

When a future civilization -- maybe of this planet, maybe not -- asks, "Where did it all go wrong for the humans of the 21st century? How did they destroy themselves so suddenly," the scholars will, as one, point to the Republican debate last night as the harbinger of the End of All Things. I'm guessing, anyway.

In case you haven't overdosed on Trump yet, allow me. I have a whole slew of Trump stuff here...

7 Comments

The Witch Hunters: how shaming accusations of bigotry are used to shut down legitimate debate

The Outer Limits with Stephen Law
March 04, 2016

It's increasingly common to level  charges of bigotry and prejudice on very flimsy or even non-existent grounds in order to stifle legitimate debate.

17 Comments

Multiple Counts of Pandering

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

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

A man in Russia, Viktor Krasnov, could get up to a year in prison for expressing his atheism on Facebook. The charge? "Offending believers' feelings." I thought Russia was supposed to be tough.

Daniel Burke at CNN looks at what Super Tuesday means for various religious blocs, such as the breakup of the religious right and Sanders' appeal to heathens:

Sanders attracted a majority of voters who don't regularly attend worship services in Arkansas and Texas, and came close (46%) in Virginia, helping him win delegates even where he lost states. The four states that Sanders did win -- Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma and his home state of Vermont -- all have large numbers of religiously unaffiliated voters, or "nones." 

3 Comments

Fall Off of a Cliff

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

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

Sorry about the lack of a Heresy yesterday. I had a thing. Onward!

Lookie here, CFI's Nick Little pens an op-ed for Salon on the big Texas abortion case at the Supreme Court, focusing on the shady character behind the state's case:

Vincent Rue is not a medical doctor, but, through surrogates, he has tried to play one in court. And in this role of a lifetime, he has masterminded the dissemination of pseudoscientific testimony in several state court cases —all in an effort to defeat women’s right to an abortion. His act is about to be reviewed by his most important audience yet – the United States Supreme Court.

3 Comments