Blog Archives for February 2017

Embarrassingly Late

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
February 28, 2017

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

Trump likes to threaten to sue people, but even he rarely actually does it. Turns out that's pretty common. Point of Inquiry welcomes David M. Engle this week to talk about how Americans, though stereotyped as a litigious people, actually rarely sue. 

"At some point, embarrassingly late begins to verge on something more disquieting." So says the Kansas City Star editorial board about the deafening silence from President Trump on the murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla and the wounding of Alok Madasani and Ian Grillot

1 Comment

The Garshfather

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

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

The latest issue of the super nice and handy CFI newsletter Cause & Effect is out, recapping a fortnight of all the stuff our vast community is up to. 

The Trump administration may pull the U.S. out of the UN Human Rights Council. Un-goddamn-real. 

1 Comment

The Berenstain Bears Go to Prison

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

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

Yesterday we unleashed upon the public our official CFI Progress Report for 2016. Now hold on there, bucko, this ain't no dry piece of propaganda. No indeed! So you stop rolling your eyes right now. 

The 10% Fail: Dieting Girls Statistics (Case Study)

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
February 23, 2017

The second in a series examining regrettable errors in ideas and projects that I otherwise support. 

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Life Releases Gases

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

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

In a petty and spiteful move, President Trump rescinds the protections for transgender students implemented by President Obama last year. Interestingly, the key person opposed to this move against students was the Education Secretary herself, Betsy DeVos (Jeff Sessions was all for it of course). She put out a statement in favor of Trump's order, but it's remarkably, well, almost apologetic? She said:

We have a responsibility to protect every student in America and ensure that they have the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe and trusted environment. This is not merely a federal mandate, but a moral obligation no individual, school, district or state can abdicate. At my direction, the department's Office for Civil Rights remains committed to investigating all claims of discrimination, bullying and harassment against those who are most vulnerable in our schools. 

We'll see.

6 Comments

Extinction in Memory As Well As Being

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

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

Here comes the Trump deportation force, which aims to:

... publicize crimes by undocumented immigrants; strip such immigrants of privacy protections; enlist local police officers as enforcers; erect new detention facilities; discourage asylum seekers; and, ultimately, speed up deportations. 

NYT's editorial board isn't having it...

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The Dregs

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

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

Point of Inquiry this week features James McGrath Morris, biographer of "the First Lady of the black press," Ethel Payne. 

69 threats have now come into 54 different Jewish Community Centers across the country, with the latest "wave" of threats occurring yesterday.

Look what Merriam-Webster added to the dictionary: woo-woo: "dubiously or outlandishly mystical, supernatural, or unscientific" 

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Bureaucratic Doodling

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

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

Happy Presidents' Day. <writer has sudden and seemingly endless coughing fit>  

Five years ago today, I wrote the very first edition of The Morning Heresy, but don't bother looking for it, because it was an internal email for CFI staff so they could be kept up to date with the news. A little while later it became its own blog. 

7 Comments

“Otto’s Cure” for Consumption, Etc.

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
February 17, 2017

“Otto’s Cure for Throat & Lungs” was allegedly effective for diseases including whooping cough and consumption (tuberculosis). (There were many such bogus consumption cures.)

The Smell of Burnt Limes

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

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

Trump, as you probably know, held a deeply bizarre press conference yesterday, in which he lied and lied and lied and lied. Like, not politician-lied. Like Hurricane Lie. "Unhinged" is one way to put it.

Reporter Jake Turx of Orthodox Jewish publication Ami Magazine got to ask Trump a question, began it by saying he thinks Trump is not anti-Semitic, asks about anti-Semitism more generally, and then Trump berates him and tells him to be quiet and sit down and is really mad for some reason.

2 Comments

Margery Presentation Copy

Access Points with Timothy Binga
February 16, 2017

One of the more sensational investigations of spiritualism occurred in the mid 1920s and involved a medium, a scientific magazine, a magician, a writer, a psychologist, and many others.

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Israel, the Two-State Solution, and Humanity’s Flaws

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
February 16, 2017

Let’s forget history for a moment, or at least as much history as is not absolutely necessary for understanding the present situation of Israel and the Palestinian people. Let’s also pretend for a moment that we are all rational, forward-looking beings, who are committed to universal human rights, including the right to a democratic government.

They’re Glassy-Eyed and They Chant

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

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

Good news, everybody. According to Pew, Americans' feelings about atheists and Muslims have moved "from cool to neutral." I just this moment decided that From Cool to Neutral is my next album title.

Make sure you have nothing dangerous in arm's reach that you could throw in anger before you read this next sentence, and maybe take a few deep breaths before and after to read it...

5 Comments

So Many Mechanisms

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

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

Evenings at the White House must be nuts these days. Last evening, NYT broke the big story that Trump's campaign aides (unnamed except for the known quantity, Paul Manafort) were in frequent contact with senior Russian intelligence agents during the election campaign.

Tell your congressmonster right now that they need to lay the hell off of DC's Death with Dignity Act

5 Comments

Mail a Baby Alligator

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

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

It's Valentine's Day, when we commemorate that time when Santa Claus chased all the snakes out of Agincourt. Enjoy the holiday, unless of course you live in Islamabad, in which case, you're under arrest.

While you're eating your Valentine's Day candy, and then having a few pieces more because it's Valentine's Day goddammit and you're a grownup and can eat as many pieces of candy you want, OKAY, listen to CFI's Point of Inquiry podcast where Gary Taubes talks about how the sugar in that candy is killing you. ❤️

Actually Let’s Not

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

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

Know what? Today is my fifth anniversary as CFI's chief communificationist. To celebrate, I will be surrounded by 2 feet of snow, trapped indoors with my children as I try to do my now five-year-old work.

The Columbus Dispatch reports on the efforts to allow Secular Celebrants to solemnize marriages in Ohio. Oh hey, that's us! More specifically, CFI–Northeast Ohio's Monette Richards:

"Why we're pushing the secular celebrant bill is so we'll have a choice, so everyone can have a choice," said Richards, president of the northeast Ohio chapter of the Center for Inquiry, a nonpartisan organization focused on creating a secular society. "No one loses, the churches can still do it their way."

4 Comments

Ghost in the Window: At Toronto’s Colborne Lodge

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
February 10, 2017

According to many sources, Colborne Lodge at Toronto’s High Park (where I visited in 1973) is still the residence of the lady of the house, Jemima. Illness confined her for many years to her upstairs bedroom, until she died in 1877 and was buried on the property. “To this day,” states Dennis William Hauck in his The International Directory of Haunted Places (2000, 155), “her apparition is seen staring out that same upstairs master bedroom window, looking down at her iron-fenced gravesite and massive monument.” Hauck goes on to explain that she was the wife of Sir John Colborne, lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, but he is mistaken.

Nefarious Activity

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

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

Well, they confirmed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. No surprise there. Even got one Democrat. Alabama's governor, Robert Bentley, appoints the state attorney general, Luther Strange (actual name!!) to fill the U.S. Senate seat, which means that Bentley can also appoint a new state attorney general. And I'm sure this part is pure coincidence:

The appointment comes two months after Strange asked an Alabama House committee to pause an impeachment probe of Bentley, who was accused last year of having an affair with a onetime top political adviser. Strange said at the time that his office was doing "related work" though he never publicly elaborated on what it involved or when the work would be completed. 

2 Comments

The Crack

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

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

First things first. We need you to tell the White House not to pull the trigger on this "Religious Freedom" executive order, which we're calling "a religious blank check for conservative Christians to claim special privileges." Go do that, then come back.

The Senate is having issues. Betsy DeVos, Trump's nominee for Steward of God's Kingdom I think, passes Senate confirmation by a single vote, Vice President Mike Pence's tie-breaker. This is the only time that's ever happened with a cabinet nominee. 

4 Comments

Plant Improvement

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

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

With everything going on in the world, it can be easy to forget some of the major crises we're still working on. Secular Rescue still needs your help so we can get more freethinking writers and activists out of danger. 

That "everything going on in the world" is mostly this guy: Trump calls the New York Times and other outlets "fake news" again (so yes, that term is now ruined forever), and claims that The Media has refused to report on instances of terrorism, which is as crazy as it sounds. The Outline takes a particular look at the president's refusal to accept polls that don't favor him.

7 Comments

Yes! Yes! Ye- Oh, Damn: The 10% Fail

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
February 06, 2017

I often encounter blogs and articles that I fully agree with--up until the writer stumbles, making a mistake that I can't in good conscience implicitly endorse. 

3 Comments

Atheism and Muslim Countries: A Conversation with the Moroccan Atheist Kacem El Ghazzali

Democratic Discourse with Michael De Dora
February 06, 2017

An English translation of Stefano Bigliardi's interview of Kacem El Ghazzali for the Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics in Italy. 

3 Comments

2,999 Gods

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

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

I was away for a long weekend, and for about four days I didn't look at social media. You wanna talk about a detox? A cleansing? Holy crap, folks. I can't recommend this highly enough. My only regret is that now that I have to bang out the Heresy, making up for the lost days, I have to dive back into the swamp. The impact of the splash will sting, and the filth in the murky water will make me sick. But I do it for you.

Michael De Dora summarizes a busy January for our advocacy efforts. 

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‘Ingersoll Done in Soprano’

Access Points with Timothy Binga
February 03, 2017

While cataloging, an interesting find: a signed work by Helen H. Gardener

How False Reports Target Muslims and Minorities

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
February 02, 2017

Skeptics and skeptical researchers routinely encounter and investigate a wide variety false reports. When false reports concern "unexplained" topics the result is usually just wasted time. However when false reports involve real-world crimes they often implicate minorities and can result in miscarriages of justice. 

2 Comments

“Hidden Figures”: A Nickell-odeon Review

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
February 01, 2017

Hidden Figures is an important, must-see movie. It tells the inspiring story of three African-American women who rise above the sexism and racism of the 1950s and 1960s to work as “human computers” at NASA, helping to launch Americans into space.

The Winepress of God’s Wrath

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

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

Trump nominates Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. He seems like a very nice man who also seems to have a lot of bad ideas about religion and government and a philosophy in line with Scalia. So we're not feeling good about him (no surprise there). In our statement, we say:

We have grave doubts that Judge Gorsuch is someone who will weigh his duty to the Constitution over ideological loyalty to an administration that has already proven its hostility to secular government and tolerance of dissent. ... Judge Gorsuch’s prior rulings, along with his expressed philosophy, indicate a dangerous antipathy towards the protections of the First Amendment for nonreligious Americans and those of minority religious faiths.

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