Blog Archives for August 2015

It’s a Scam, Sir

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 31, 2015

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

Oliver Sacks has died, at age 82. He knew, and we knew, it was coming, but it's a punch in the gut nonetheless. And boy does he leave a lot for people to chew over for the next few centuries. Check him out on our podcast Point of Inquiry from 2012, interviewed by Indre Viskontas, or read the transcript at Skeptical Inquirer

Rome is Built Over It

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 28, 2015

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

I'm at the Religion Newswriters Association Conference as I type, meeting and catching up with a lot of genuinely cool and smart people. I'm going to try and get the Heresy done today in rapid fashion, so let's see what happens.

I've got two statements from the UN human rights folks: One on how the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief will be visiting Bangladesh next week, which is a big deal, given the horrors being visited upon secularists there. The other is a condemnation of Sudan for the public lashing of a woman the government considered indecently dressed.

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Adorable Jingoism

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

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

Quick housekeeping note: I'm traveling to the Religion Newswriters Association conference tomorrow, so no time to do the Heresy. I intend to pick it back up Friday, but that's a little up in the air. 

95 years ago today, women finally got the freaking right to vote in the U.S. Can you believe it's not even been 100 years yet? That there are people alive now who were born before we let half the population vote? Amazing.

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One Hundred Trillion Blessings

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 25, 2015

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

Yesterday we announced the winners of the No God But Funny contest, where folks were asked to come up with lovable atheist sitcom characters in the form of a pilot script and/or webisode. They're great! The best script was forThank God I'm an Atheist, and the best webisode is this charming, fully-produced piece, Earth Angel. (Hemant wants more Earth Angel episodes so he can binge-watch.) Congrats to all!   

You're gonna like this, heathens. Point of Inquiry this week has Eugenie Scott, chatting with Lindsay Beyerstein about things like alien-human hybrids, yetis, the interesting genetalia of particular insects, and how biological anthropologists define "race." It's a good one!

That is Some Unstable Derp

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 24, 2015

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

I know you've already seen Friday's edition of Cause & Effect, so you're aaallll caught up on the previous fortnight's news. 

CFI isn't the only organization who thinks the FDA should crack down on homeopathySo does the FTC! In its press statement about its comments the Federal Trade Commission says:

The comment states that given the FTC’s long-standing advertising substantiation policy that health claims must be substantiated by such evidence the FDA’s current regulatory framework may harm consumers and confuse advertisers. The comment discusses the mistaken belief by some advertisers that homeopathic products that are in compliance with the FDA policy guide do not have to comply with FTC advertising substantiation requirements.

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Definitely Not a Pterosaur

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

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

In our seemingly endless struggle to get the FDA to give a darn about the flimflam that is homeopathy, CFI filed comments with the FDA urging them to put homeopathic products through the same ringer that they put real drugs through, and failing that, at least have them labeled as being unevaluated and unproven. 

Sarah Posner, reporting on the coalition of 130 groups (including CFI, y'all!) calling on the Obama administration to fix a 2007 legal memo on faith-based contractors, looks at the potential conflict brewing...

I’m Gonna Have to Scare the Pope

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

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

The Patheos blog network hosts a Public Square discussion on humanism, and features a piece by our boss Ron Lindsay, looking at the rise of "nones" as not an atheistic phenomenon, but a boon for inquiry:

[These surveys] indicate Americans are increasingly rejecting religious dogma, and with it the notion that there is a particular, rigid creed they need to abide by. 

It's just so perfect. I mean, come on, it's just...I don't know. Of course this happened: Josh Duggar -- Christian fundamentalist, religious right hero and confessed child molester -- was a paid subscriber to Ashley Madison, the cheat-on-your-spouse online service...twice over! Of course he was! Of course he was.

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If You Want to Feel Bad For the Rest of the Day

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

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

Bloggers at Mukto-Mona, the Bangladeshi site of people like Avijit Roy and Asif Mohiuddin, demand that their government take the threat to their lives and the threat to free expression far more seriously:

If, instead of uncovering the true nature of these heinous attacks on secular, humanist atheists, instead of taking steps to tackle this, the government of Bangladesh wants to resolve the issue by laying blame on the victims, by threatening the victims with imprisonment, then Mukto-Mona would like to remind them that while today we are the ones under attack, and you are blaming us, the time will come when the fundamentalists will have done away with us and will come after you. 

Our own Michael De Dora is a signatory to the big joint open letter to the government of Bangladesh to protest the "institutional attack" on the country's secularists. 

A Tinfoil-Hat “We Didn’t Start the Fire”

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

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

Well you really don't even need me to link to this, but what the heck. The thing breaking the Internet more than a Kardashian's butt is John Oliver's establishment of a religion in order to expose the awfulness that is television, money-begging, prosperity-gospel-ing evangelists.

Get ready to be punched in the gut, fellow omnivores, as Point of Inquiry has Lindsay Beyerstein's interview with Paul Shapiro of the Humane Society on all the awful things going on in factory farming. 

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Breakfast Cereal or Toothpaste

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 17, 2015

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

On Friday, we released a statement urging the Defense Department to stop the funding of experiments on Gulf War vets using the Church of Scientology's pseudoscientific "purification" treatments. Expect to hear more from us on this. 

At Huffington Post, our boss Ron Lindsay explains why homeopathy is such a crock, and how the FDA could at least make a little progress by pulling medicine out of the 18th century...

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Concentrated Versions of Various Smelly Things

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

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

Bangladesh police say they've arrested two Islamists in connection to the murder of Niloy Neel.

Research outfit the Barna Group creates a metric to define who is and isn't "post-Christian," and says that despite 78% of Americans identifying as Christian, 44% are post-Christian, an uptick from 37% just two years ago. To me, post-Christian is sooooo 2013. I'm post-paleo-Judeo-skepto-sub-Norse.

Seeing Carl’s Face

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

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

CFI's Michael De Dora was on MSNBC's Road Map for a good amount of time to discuss the crisis for secular bloggers in Bangladesh. Good, important stuff.

90-year-old former president Jimmy Carter reveals he has cancer that is spreading. 

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The 100-Billion-Year Bucket List

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

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

CFI's Michael De Dora will be on MSNBC today, probably about the time this publishes, talking about the killings in Bangladesh. We'll get the link out as soon as its available. Right now, you can contact your U.S. House representative and tell them to support Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's resolution calling on Bangladesh to protect its people.  

Rukhsana Hasib explains the stakes for Bangladesh:

The extremists in Bangladesh, like those in Pakistan, are strongly principled and are willing to kill anyone who opposes their philosophy of a distorted view of Islam. And they are willing to die for their cause. Their philosophy makes them powerful and dangerous.

The Hospitalities of the Brain

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

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

What do the Bangladeshi police do when four atheist bloggers are murdered in one year? Threaten other bloggers with jail

Point of Inquiry this week has Matt Crawford, talking to Josh Zepps about dealing with a world full of distractions and oh hey did you see the new Iowa poll for the GOP primaries and I never watched The Apprentice but of course I don't get cable and...wait, what? 

My Socks Belong to Jesus

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 10, 2015

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

The murder by Islamic militants of Bangladeshi blogger Niloy Neel, the fourth such act of terror this year, is covered with our commentary by outlets such as BloombergMashable, and Voice of America. Nicole Scott writes up the news for Free Inquiry. The United Nations Special Rapporteurs on religious freedom and extrajudicial executions condemn the attack. Al Qaeda claims responsibility, which is not a surprise.

Tragedies aside, the past couple of weeks had a lot of wonderful things going on in the CFI community. Get caught up with the latest Cause & Effect

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

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

The Heresy is very late today because we've been scrambling over the news of the fourth murder of a secularist blogger in Bangladesh, Niloy Neel. Our statement is here. And our patience has run out.

ESPN profiles, in a rather bewildered tone, the newly-avowed atheist NFL player Arian Foster. You'd think he came out as a different species or something.

Misinfographical Bigfootage

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

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

The Advisory Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships releases its reform proposals, something with which CFI's public policy office has been intimately involved. Director of the program, Melissa Rogers, writes in a blog post:

The proposed rules clarify the principle that organizations offering explicitly religious activities may not subsidize those activities with direct federal financial assistance and must separate such activities in time or location from programs supported with direct federal financial assistance.  For example, if a faith-based provider offers a Bible study as well as a federally supported job training program, the Bible study must be privately funded and separated in time or location from the job training program. 

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Look at Our Magic Rock

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

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

Well, well, well. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unveils the little brown rock that Joseph Smith allegedly used to translate, magically, the text on the golden plates (now lost of course!) that became the Book of Mormon. With no HD display and I presume no GPS, I bet that thing gets crazy battery life. Does it come carrier unlocked?

More than 400 clergy sex abuse claims pour in against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. A settlement of $21 million is reached with 330 of them.

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Sifting Through Urges

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

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

I'm so thrilled about the guest on the latest episode of Point of InquiryLindsay Beyerstein interviews Ta-Nehisi Coates about his new book, justice, civil rights, atheism, and forgiveness (or the lack thereof). Do not miss it.

The Senate fails to block funding for Planned Parenthood. All those who helped us and contacted their senators can now pat themselves on the back.

Obama’s Exaflop

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
August 03, 2015

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

The 2015 CFI Leadership Conference has come and gone, and it was really great. It was my fourth such event, and I really sensed the generational shift in attitudes and priorities to a degree I never had before. One highlight for me was when Michael De Dora enjoined all attendees to get on their phones to call their U.S. Senators and ask them to oppose S.1881, the bill to defund Planned Parenthood. It was so cool to see an auditorium full of young leaders contacting their lawmakers to make change. Here's the group photo