Blog Archives for August 2017

Gloriously Spiky

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 31, 2017

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

The Los Angeles City Council votes to scrap Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day. I like it.

After the uproar caused by the rape conviction of Indian mega-guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Swati Gupta and Vidhi Doshi at The Washington Post seek to understand the prevalence of spiritual movements in India that are outside of the religious mainstream...

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No Vamos a Pedir Documentos

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 30, 2017

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

The Washington Post correctly denounces the violent tactics of antifa groups.

Mr. Trump’s equation of white supremacists in Charlottesville with those who rallied against them was false and repugnant, but antifa activists’ deeds hardly promote the moral clarity necessary to isolate right-wing hate groups. Over time, such violence only benefits the very forces antifa purports to oppose. 

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Future Catastrophes

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 29, 2017

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

Just how bad is Hurricane Harvey? Meteorologist Eric Holthaus writes at Politico:

Harvey is likely already the worst rainstorm in U.S. history. An initial analysis ... compared Harvey’s rainfall intensity to the worst storms in the most downpour-prone region of the United States, the Gulf Coast. Harvey ranks at the top of the list, with a total rainwater output equivalent to 3.6 times the flow of the Mississippi River. (And this is likely an underestimate, because there’s still two days of rains left.) ... disaster economist Kevin Simmons [says] Harvey’s economic toll “will likely exceed Katrina”—the most expensive disaster in U.S. history. Harvey is now the benchmark disaster of record in the United States.

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Ethics in Spirit Mediumship and Ghostly Communications

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
August 28, 2017

Usually when people think of ghostly communication it's in a positive or light, but there are real ethical issues with the practice.

It Shouldn’t Be a Surprise

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

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

Hurricane Harvey is called "an 800-year event," pounding Texas, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes, with rainfall measured in feet rather than inches. FEMA's William Long said, "We have not seen an event like this. You could not draw this forecast up. You could not dream this forecast up." The onslaught will continue into this week, with the city of Houston (which I didn't know was the country's 4th-largest city) looking at several years of recovery ahead of it. 

Here are ways you can donate to help with relief efforts. 

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H. David Sox (1936–2016)

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
August 25, 2017

H. David Sox—a onetime advocate for the Shroud of Turin who was later persuaded it was a fake and went on to delve into other art forgeries—has died. He and I knew each other only slightly but respected each other’s work, and I am deeply saddened by his loss.

Are You Nuts or Just Plane Dumb

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 25, 2017

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

I admit that I felt (feel) a sense of panic over the white supremacists in Charlottesville and the response of the president. So I needed to talk to someone smarter than me about it, someone wiser, an expert in humanism, and with a sexy British accent. Lo and behold, I bring you the latest episode of Point of Inquiryin which I talk to (and am counseled by) James Croft of the Ethical Society of St. Louis.

Embittered Punitive Nitpicking

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

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

CFI and our legal director Nick Little are front and center in this Deseret News piece by Kelsey Dallas. She reports on our community's efforts to be included in the process of policymaking, particularly regarding religion and international religious freedom. "We will stand with coalitions and groups defending Christians around the world," said Nick, "and it's also important that the U.S. opposes atheists being threatened." 

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And In the Darkness Bind Them

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

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

At ThinkProgress, Jack Jenkins takes a historical view of the rise in white supremacist noise and the spine-chilling acquiescence of many political evangelicals, explaining that Christian nationalism has always been a part of politics, and is a harbinger of worse things to come.

Emma Green at The Atlantic says that not all of the president's evangelical advisers are on board, but struggle with whether they can do more good by keeping close...

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You Can Never Leave

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

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

Did you see the eclipse? I didn't. Hoax. Fake news. Alt-clipse.

Bigfoot and Lizardman were apparently excited about the eclipse, and I have to assume they weren't smart enough not to stare directly at it. Like some others.

None of Us Will Spontaneously Combust

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

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

Trying to plug another hole in the wall of separation, CFI is leading a coalition of secularist groups in petitioning the Supreme Court, urging it to take up a case by the American Humanist Association in which the Fifth Circuit decided that prayers were just fine at public school board meetings. Come on.

Trump disbands the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment. He's not going to listen to them anyway.

She Seems to Have an Invisible Touch (Yeah)

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 18, 2017

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

As you are no doubt aware, in Barcelona and Cambrils, Spain, terrorists plowed cars into bystanders (not unlike the Nazi behind the wheel in Charlottesville), killing at least 14 people. Four men connected to the Barcelona attack are in detention, with one on the loose, and all five of those in the Cambrils attack were shot dead by police. The attacks were clearly at least inspired by the encouragement of ISIS, but it's not clear whether these were planned specifically by ISIS.

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“An Inconvenient Sequel”:  A Nickell-odeon Review

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
August 17, 2017

Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth (2006)—his powerful documentary on global warming—justly helped earn him the Nobel Peace Prize of 2007. Now comes his An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, an engrossing presentation of power-point slides and video footage that updates the dynamics of planetary weather change.

Injecting Your Soul with Poison

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

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

Today in Nazis: The Daily Stormer returns to the web, this time under a Russian domain. Also kicked off Facebook, the publication moved its social media presence to something called VK, also from Russia. 

Like, Russia remembers Operation Barbarossa, right? Nazis? Wanted to use Russians as slave labor? Ring a bell? Nazis aren't your friends, comrades.

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We’ll Always Be Wrong

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

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

WELL.

SO.

First, um, how are you? Yeah? Oh, I'm fine, fine. You know.

Ahem.

Right.

So.

Okay. 

Do Electrons Dream of Sheepish Androids?

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

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

We thought it might be helpful to take a moment to think about what our underlying philosophical principles can offer us in a time when grotesque, atavistic hyper-racism is sucking up so much national oxygen. We put out a kind of informational release, looking back on some of the foundational writings of modern secular humanism, and of CFI's founder Paul Kurtz in particular. ...

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When You’ve Lost GoDaddy…

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

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

I don't think I could have predicted when I started The Morning Heresy that I'd start work on a Monday in order to provide a kind of This Week in Nazis. Yet here we are.

As you no doubt know, white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, instigating violence with peaceful counter-protestors, and one even plowing his car through a crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. A helicopter crash also took the lives of two state troopers, H. Jay Cullen and Berke Bates.

Scratching, Licking, and Chewing

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 11, 2017

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

Apparently Trump got ahold of a wackadoodle national security memo from former NSC staffer Rich Higgins that made all sorts of bizarre claims about the "political warfare" being waged against the president by "‘deep state’ actors, globalists, bankers, Islamists, and establishment Republicans." Foreign Policy has the whole thing, and reports:

The memo calls out those pushing for rights “based on sex or ethnicity,” which is a “direct assault on the very idea of individual human rights and natural law around which the Constitution was framed.” It also says that “transgender acceptance” is “denying a person the right to declare the biological fact of one’s sex.” 

Favorite and Memorable Investigations

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
August 10, 2017


I was recently asked "What are your favorite investigations and what made them memorable?"

Haunted Buffalo Asylum

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
August 10, 2017

Among Western New York’s allegedly most haunted sites stands the architecturally acclaimed H.H. Richardson complex, begun in 1871 and opened in 1880 as the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane. Its two 185-foot towers rose from a four-story structure originally flanked on either side by five stepped wards, with its female wing being completed in 1895. Based on the humanitarian philosophy of Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride, the asylum was intended to provide curative hospitalization for the mentally ill. Crowded by a surge in patients, its occupancy was eventually exceeded by the thousands. In 1927 half the grounds were lost to a college, and more were claimed by modern buildings in the late 1960s.

The Patagotitan in the Room

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

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

BuzzFeed wanted to know what was really in the supplements hawked by Alex Jones on Infowars (Goop for men!™), so they had an independent lab test them -- in triplicate -- and the results are not surprising. While they more or less contain what they claim to contain, and seem to be safe, they don't actually do anything.

Here's something Infowars and Goop may want to look into: The eggs of parasitic worms (specifically, Trichuris suis, the pig whipworm). 

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This is an Amazing Soufflé

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

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

Despite the best efforts of our president, life on Earth has not yet been extinguished. But, you know, give it a day. Besides, Pastor Robert Jeffress says, "God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un," and that he may use "whatever means necessary." Well, if we're sure that God is cool with it...

And here's a thing. You knew Carl Sagan was pretty damned smart. But did you know he was a prophet

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The Old Fringes

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

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

Please imagine now that I am dressed in a silver wig and oversized glasses, not unlike one Sophia Petrillo/Estelle Getty from The Golden Girls. Actually, exactly like that.

Picture it: Earth. 517 A.D. The Year of the Consulship of Agapitus and Paulus. The Byzantine Empire is in tumult, Aryabhata is figuring out the planet's axial rotation, and the people of Illyria are blissfully unaware of the earthquake that will soon destroy the city of Scupi...

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RFID of the Beast

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

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

And we're back. I returned home from my vacation literally 12 hours before starting this post, so I'm a little out of step with what's going on in the news. Here's a stab at catching both you and me up. 

Our own Joe Nickell gets a big profile with a lot of fantastic young-Joe photos in the UK's Daily Mail.

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