Blog Archives for May 2015

The Second-Least of These

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
May 27, 2015

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

Point of Inquiry has The New Yorker's Michael Specter, talking about the whole gluten-free thing and why it's silly. Specter is going to be at the Reason for Change conference next month!

Our boss Ron Lindsay insists that his analysis of the death penalty doesn't make him deficient in empathy, and he cuddles a kitten to prove it.

Syed Tashfin Chowdhury at VICE covers the plight of freethinkers in Bangladesh, coping with threats from radicals and the murders of friends and colleagues. 

Backwards Religions and Flyover States

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
May 26, 2015

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

Ireland votes in favor of marriage equality with 62.1%, becoming the first nation to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. 

Daniel Loxton looks to the example of Carl Sagan, who helped found what is now CFI's Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and emphasized kindness in our quest for truth.

Ben Radford is the guest on the Big Picture Science radio show, talking about (not) visiting the afterlife

A Stark, Soulless, Inhuman Edifice

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
May 22, 2015

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

Before I was "executive producer" (cough cough) of Point of Inquiry, I was its biggest fan. I still am, so I'm doubly excited that Spotify picked Point of Inquiry as one of the few podcasts for the launch of its brand new podcast streaming offerings. See our announcement/brag here, and read me gushing about the show. Congrats, guys.

You wanna help CFI become an even more powerful and unstoppable force online? Maybe apply for this web content job.

First of all, I had no idea Bob Gates was now head of the Boy Scouts, but that's on me. Second of all, he just said he wants to reverse the ban on gay leaders.  

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19th Century Misunderstandings

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
May 21, 2015

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

Hey look! It's our own Michael De Dora on a religious freedom panel at the Newseum!

Transhumanist philosopher Zoltan Istvan is running for president, which spurs me to write about some of my own concerns about transhumanism

Philip Ball at Nautilus looks at the often-troublesome human equation in the practice of science

Books are Pointy

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
May 20, 2015

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

Big news in Oregon, as the state's House of Representatives easily passes a CFI-backed Secular Celebrant bill! In Ohio, meanwhile, while we still don't have a Secular Celebrant law passed, this can still happen

Articles from the new Free Inquiry issue on the population crisis are now posted and available for all to read. There's some sobering stuff there. 

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Trading in Christ for Thor

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
May 19, 2015

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

Ron Lindsay opens up a new series of posts that will challenge what he calls "humanist orthodoxies," the positions our community tends to hold that might not be sufficiently backed up by evidence:

My forthcoming essays are designed not so much to persuade, but to make us think carefully about the grounds for our opinions. It seems to me this work is in furtherance of CFI’s mission. We are the Center for Inquiry, after all, not the Center for Ideology. 

Point of Inquiry is super-cool this week, as Josh Zepps interviews the writer and director of Ex Machina, Alex Garland, and they talk about the ethics and perils of artificial intelligence. Neat stuff.

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The Complete Absence of Physical Matter

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
May 18, 2015

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

I know I say this a lot, but seriously, things have been incredibly busy. Check out Friday's Cause & Effect newsletter to see what I mean. 

The Environment and Energy newswire talks to ThinkProgress's Joe Romm about the skeptic-vs-denier debate spurred by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry's letter to the media. Rightwing outlet Newsmax quotes folks who worry about being "smeared" by us who "hold the reins of power." Wow!

Michael Newdow is back, trying to use RFRA "religious freedom" laws to challenge "In God We Trust" on currency

Insufferably Messianic

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
May 15, 2015

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

The California State Senate easily passes SB 277, which removes most "belief" exemptions from required vaccinations. The Assembly may be a different story.

Yesterday we announced that CFI filed for summary judgment in our lawsuit in Florida to stop the public funding of explicitly religious prison rehabilitation programs ("ministries," by their own description). It's kind of a legalese way of saying to the judge, "Come on. I mean, really. Come. On." 

Ishaan Tharoor at WaPo reminds us that Sweden rejected the visa application of Ananta Bijoy Das, now dead from Islamist attack...

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Mayberry Leads to Hell

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
May 14, 2015

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

Yesterday we announced that a bill authorizing Secular Celebrants in Oregon to solemnize marriages, championed by CFI-Portland, had passed a key committee vote, and it looks like the bill will be voted on by the full House tomorrow! If you're in Oregon, tell your state rep to vote for it

Meanwhile, a little under the radar, atheists win the right to officiate at weddings in Washington County, Minnesota. ...

A Cramped Coffin of Orthodoxy

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
May 13, 2015

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

Readers of the Heresy, imma be honest with you. We're really freaking busy over here at CFI. Yesterday, we were talking a lot about the new Pew survey showing "nones" overtaking Catholics in the U.S., and CNN's widely-distributed article on the news features some commentary from yours truly (in which I use the terms "cognizant" and "straight-up" in the same sentence, because that's how I roll). 

Sky News uses Ron Lindsay's statement as its lead quote. Even better, Ron was a guest for the hour on the Diane Rhem Show today.

The Oldest and Stupidest of Them All

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
May 12, 2015

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

There's a lot of news today, so to quote Samuel L. Jackson in Jurassic Park, "Hold on to your butts."

First: Pew has released a major new survey that shows "nones" -- the religiously unaffiliated -- overtaking Catholics in the U.S. to hit number 2 with 23%. We call it a "tectonic shift" and an indication of religion's loosening grip over policy and culture. 

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Not in Every Way Nice People

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
May 11, 2015

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

Rafida Bonya Ahmed, who survived the attack on her and her murdered husband Avijit Roy, speaks to Reuters:

This [attack] was well planned, choreographed – a global act of terrorism. But what almost bothers me more is that no one from the Bangladesh government has reached out to me. It’s as if I don’t exist, and they are afraid of the extremists. Is Bangladesh going to be the next Pakistan or Afghanistan? 

Amy Davidson explains what the hell is going on with "Jade Helm 15" and the conspiracy theory propagated by Texas's governor that his state is about to be invaded by the United States.

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I’m Sorry, Ms. Jackson

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
May 08, 2015

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

The New York Times' public editor Margaret Sullivan considers the challenge posed by our Committee for Skeptical Inquiry on not calling science-deniers "skeptics." 

Norway finally scraps its ridiculous blasphemy law. Better late than never. 

Hatemonger Gold

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
May 07, 2015

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

Our boss Ron Lindsay takes to HuffPo to weigh the relative morality of capital punishment versus life in maximum security prisons:

Because of the unacceptably high possibility of an erroneous conviction, I am a reluctant opponent of the death penalty. Reluctant, because some murderers undoubtedly deserve to die. But for me at least, it is no consolation to be told these murderers will be locked away in isolation for decades. Except for the extremely rare Hannibal Lecters of the world, there's no possible rationale or justification for supermax facilities. They are vehicles for prolonged psychological torture. 

Ensaf Haidar asks the Saudi royal family for amnesty for her husband Raif Badawi, on the first anniversary of his sentencing. 

The Face-Crawling Gastropods

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
May 06, 2015

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

Gary M. Bakker at Skeptical Inquirer looks at the evolutionary and adaptive reasons why people believe in fictional things like gods and ghosts and conspiracies, and one key factor is "promiscuous teleological intuition."  

The New Republic posts its original review of L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics (Scientology's "founding text") from 1950 by Martin Gumpert:

This reviewer, in exploring the book, suffered a most painful "cellular engram"—to use the author's language. And he ardently wishes that something could be done to prohibit the activities of psychotherapists of this sort.  

From Gwyneth to Pepsi

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
May 05, 2015

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

Our response to Al Qaeda's claim of responsibilty for the murder of our friend and ally Avijit Roy:

They were capable of such atrocities in part because of the hostile environment for free expression created and fostered by the governments of states such as Bangladesh and Pakistan. ... While whoever is ultimately responsible for these killings must face justice, so must governments make fundamental changes in their approach to Islamic extremism, and allow free expression to flourish. 

This would have been nice for me when I was in high school, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth: Point of Inquiry hosts a conversation with David Seidman, who has a new book for young atheists figuring things out.

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I’d Like You to Know That I’m Particularly Smart

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
May 04, 2015

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

Shocking news to us at CFI. Claiming responsibility for the murder of our friend and ally Avijit Roy: Al Qaeda. We'll have more to say about this. 

Relatedly, Michael De Dora will be part of a congressional briefing with friends from the Hindu American Foundation on the Roy murder and religious extremism in Bangladesh on June 10.

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