Blog Archives for February 2015

The Endeavors of Bold Human Beings

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

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

Yesterday was a bad one. As most people on the Internet were rightfully energized by the passage of net neutrality and less-rightfully-so about llamas and dresses, we at CFI lost a close ally to violence.Dr. Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-American writer who has worked closely with us on the fight for free expression, particularly in the case of the persecuted Bangladesh bloggers in 2013, was murdered by machete and/or cleaver-wielding attackers yesterday, as he left a book fair in Dhaka with his wife Rafida Ahmed Bonna, who was also badly injured and remains hospitalized. 

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Anti-Duelist Discrimination

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

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

Yesterday we released our 2014 annual Progress Report: Winning Landmark Victories, Confronting New Challenges. 2014 was huge, guys. This report should give you a good idea of the roller coaster ride it was, and how the support of our community helped us score some really important wins.

Jeff Guo at WaPo rounds up the various license-to-discriminate "religious freedom" bills in several states. Meanwhile, Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed talks to Mike Bowers, the man who successfully argued in favor of "sodomy bans" at the Supreme Court, who has done a 180 and now looks at these bills in horror...

Middle-Class Rain Dance

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

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

So the ultraconservative American Family Association has this "bigotry map," which is their version of an enemies list, showing the groups they say are "anti-Christian." Thing is, CFI wasn't on their list, and we were all "what's up with that," so I had a little fun with it:

“Of course, the Center for Inquiry is by no means anti-Christian, and we work to combat bigotry of all kinds, be it against atheists, Christians, or any other group,” said CFI communications director Paul Fidalgo, nervously, between gulps of overly sweetened coffee. “But come on. The AFA listed Americans United for Separation of Church and State, American Atheists, and, get this, the AARP! The AARP!”

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Poke at It and Sniff It

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

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

I feel like the National Geographic Society is confused. On one hand, their latest magazine cover is a powerful acknowledgement of the assault on science from deniers, magical thinkers, and conspiracy theorists, with the feature store being the exploration of science non-acceptance by Joel Achenbach the Heresy linked to last week. But then our boss Ron Lindsay turns up this gem from NatGeo's books for kids, 1000 Facts about the Bible, released only a few weeks ago, which includes the parting of the Red Sea by Moses as, well, fact! NatGeo, which is it??

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Worldly Babbling

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
February 23, 2015

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

Mondays are crazy. Don't even think about delving into it without catching up with the previous 14 days with Cause & Effect, the CFI newsletter

Wei-Hock Soon, the scientist heavily cited by those who wish to deny humanity's role in climate change, is exposed as being bought by the fossil fuel industry to the tune of over $1 million. 

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We Deserve to Be Wiped Out

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

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

Ohio public radio covers the bill championed by CFI-Northeast Ohio to allow Secular Celebrants to solemnize marriages.

The brilliant and delightful Oliver Sacks reflects on his mortality, having been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He handles this kind of imminent end much, much better than I would

NYT's Laurie Goodstein looks at the challenge faced by American imams trying to keep ISIS from recruiting young men

What the Hell, Indeed

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

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

Yesterday, we announced that CFI-Northeast Ohio has been working with Ohio State Senator Michael Skindell on a bill to allow Secular Celebrants to solemnize marriages in Ohio. The AP covers the story

Meanwhile, fifty Ohio lawmakers who aren't Sen. Skindell are sponsoring a "fetal heartbeat abortion ban," which effectively bans abortions as early as six weeks

President Obama yesterday: "No religion is responsible for terrorism — people are responsible for violence and terrorism." Yeah, sort of. 

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A Hopeful and Non-exclusionary Delusion

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

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

Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder calls for a national moratorium on the death penalty:

Our system of justice is the best in the world. It is comprised of men and women who do the best they can, get it right more often than not, substantially more right than wrong. But there's always the possibility that mistakes will be made. 

Ross Pomeroy at RealClearScience picks up on our statement to the media on skeptics vs. science-deniers, and backs our distinction:

A true skeptic never dismisses an idea out of hand. A true skeptic is willing to be wrong, and recognizes an echelon of evidence that will change their mindset. And most importantly, a true skeptic doesn't only question the beliefs of others, he also questions his own. Because skepticism isn't just about doubting things you disagree with, it's about keeping yourself honest, open, thoughtful, and true. 

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Marry Your Mop

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

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

Another day, and another response from CFI to violence and murder over expression and religion, this time in Copenhagen and Libya:

It is a deeply troubling commentary that so much blood is being shed because a tiny minority of extremists has decided that they cannot countenance having their ideas challenged in any form, be it in writing, in sketches, or even in the very existence of people who simply believe differently. To resort to violence and murder is to declare oneself incapable of rising to that challenge. It is a confession of the weakness of one’s position that it must be defended with bullets instead of words.

Not Helping

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
February 16, 2015

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

More killing over free expression and, yes, cartoons. The Economist:

On Saturday afternoon, one person was killed and three police officers wounded when a gunman opened fire on a free-speech debate at a Copenhagen cafe hosted by a controversial Swedish cartoonist, Lars Vilks. Hours later, a Jewish man was killed and another two police were injured near a synagogue.  

Michael De Dora takes a serious look at the polarized responses to the Chapel Hill murders, making the case that the atheist can learn from the tragedy, without having to own it.

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Knuckleheads and Visionaries Alike

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

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

Today marks three years for me at CFI! I've had plenty of time to become jaded, like I've done at most of my other jobs (though in college when I worked at Blockbuster, I started jaded, so that doesn't count), and I still remain inspired and driven by the mission, character, and ethos of CFI and its people. In other words, you're going to have to drag me out. 

The New York Times covers our statement to the media on the difference between deniers of climate science and science-accepting skeptics (a.k.a. us). Justin Gillis writes:

The climate scientists see themselves as the true skeptics, having arrived at a durable consensus about emissions simply because the evidence of risk has become overwhelming. And in this view, people who reject the evidence are phony skeptics, arguing their case by cherry-picking studies, manipulating data, and refusing to weigh the evidence as a whole. 

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The Vast Majority Simply Don’t Care

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

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

Michelle Boorstein at the Washington Post looks to our own Ron Lindsay, as well as Sam Harris, to weigh in on the tension between atheism and Islam, in the wake of the horrific murders in Chapel Hill.

Elizabeth Stoker Bruening at The New Republic aims a somewhat accusatory admonition at "New Atheists":

Because it is more critical of religion than introspective about its own moral commitments, it assumes there is broad agreement about what constitutes decency, common sense, and reason. Yet in doing so, New Atheism tends to simply baptize the opinions of young, educated white men as the obviously rational approach to complicated socio-political problems. Thus prejudice in its own ranks goes unnoticed. 

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The Capacity to Do Good

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

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

Horror of horrors, as three young people in Chapel Hill, Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, all Muslim, are gunned down by a single monster of a human being. My heart is breaking as I type this for their friends and families. You will no doubt have heard that the alleged shooter at some point professed his support of "atheism" as some kind of cure-all for violence around the world, which is just stupid.

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You Can Be On the Toast

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

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

Like me, you may be a soulless slab of animated meat. If you're not sure, check out the latest Point of Inquiry, where Josh Zepps talks to Julien Musolino, who wants us all to let go of the idea of the existence of a soul. 

Highly recommended today, CFI-Los Angeles's Jim Underdown picks apart a reading by fake-psychic Rebecca Rosen to show just how arbitrary her "powers" are (and it's a nice little bit of comeuppance after their meeting on the Dr. Phil show in 2012). 

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Breed at Will and Abuse the Planet

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
February 09, 2015

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

First things first: Catch up on the previous fortnight of CFI activity with the latest Cause & Effect newsletter.  

Now this is unexpected: Reportedly, Prince Charles intends to intervene on behalf of Raif Badawi when he visits with the Saudi royal family, something by all accounts President Obama wouldnot do. (This is all oddly ironic, given our usual feelings toward Charles as a major proponent of alt-med.) 

Here, activists act out a mock-flogging to protest the treatment of Badawi.

Lest We Get On Our High Horse

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

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

Did you get your sticker yet? Sign up at the Keep Health Care Safe and Secular website, and get your two free "Vaccinate" stickers. If you put one on your bumper, it might inoculate you against Rob Schneider. Because what are viruses good at? MAKIN' COP-PEEEES!

Meanwhile, legislators in California are looking to end the personal-belief exemption for parents who don't want to vaccinate their kids. 

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He Doesn’t Look a Day Over 199

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

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

What's the best possible way to spread the word about the importance of getting vaccinated? Stickers, of course! So as part of our Keep Health Care Safe and Secular campaign, we're offering a FREE sticker saying "Protect yourself. Protect others. Vaccinate." to everyone who wants one. And just because we're nice people, we're throwing in a second sticker for you to give to a friend. Check it out, get your pro-vaccine propaganda, drive Jenny McCarthy nuts, and help us get the word out on Facebook and Twitter, and heck, why not, on Google+ too. 

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One Ring to Fool Them All

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

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

There's been some clarification on various politicians' beliefs about vaccines. Some thought the bit about the president in 2008 talking about the (fictional) vaccine-autism link was taken out of context. I don't think so. Here's what he said:

We've seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it's connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it.

Now, I thought it was obvious that the "This person included" was referring to someone who was not him, someone who had that belief...

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Measles Are the New Black

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

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

Everything is coming up measles! Measles are busting out all over! Measles are the new black! Point of Inquiry this week has the one and only Paul Offit to talk about the measles crisis and the anti-vax movement that fanned its flames. 

So, you're looking at the field of potential 2016 presidential candidates, and you think, well the first criteria should be that the person I support is not, like, entirely wrong about something as serious and indeed obvious as the necessity of vaccines. And then you see, wow, Chris Christie is hedging on vaccines...

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Just Won the Superb Owl, But Definitely Not Going to Disneyland

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
February 02, 2015

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

The story this weekend, other than superb owls, was vaccines and their discontents. I guess now that the measles virus has breached Disneyland, folks are finally starting to wake up. Sarah Kliff at Vox (which has been really good on this issue) makes the case for vaccinations being a social obligation because of the realities of herd immunity. Even the president is having to tell people to get their heads out of their posteriors. 

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