Blog Archives for November 2015

Phobos Will Put a Ring On It

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

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

Now hear this: Due to the holiday and other sundry events, The Morning Heresy will go on a brief hiatus, returning December 2. You'll be okay.

At National Journal, Ron Brownstein digs into Pew's religion data, and finds that white Christians no longer make up a majority of the country. There's a lot to unpack here, and Brownstein is, like, the best. 

Paul Bloom explores the way we come to believe things about science and religion, noting that both can require certain "leaps of faith" and deferral to the experts...

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Putin v. Xenu

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

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

Yesterday, CFI joined with the Richard Dawkins Foundation to tell the FTC to use its authority to stop the false advertising of homeopathic products. Or, as we put it elsewhere, tell them to put a cork in it. 

Millennials get a bad rap, most of the time. Not this time! 40 percent of them anyway are earning that bad rap, saying that the government should be able to outlaw speech that might be offensive to some minority groups. Just to be clear, a society having standards about what is and is not acceptable, and distiniguishing between criticism and explicit encitements to violence are in one category. The government deciding that something that is perceived as offensive is therefore illegal is very much in another.


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It Pains Me

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

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

Okay, so here's the big thing I was talking about last week: Thanks to the efforts of some very clever people here at CFI, we launched a new "series" of sorts, a new hub for the excellent presentations and conversations held at CFI events, and we call it Reason Talks. Think of it as a web series of high-quality video for freethought talks, coming in "seasons" of episodes. We launched with three videos, and a new one will come every week until the season is over. To kick it off, we have Rebecca GoldsteinMichael Specter, and Taslima Nasrin

Speaking of Goldstein, at NYT, she reviews Tim Whitmarsh’s new book Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World

Just Big Dudes Walking You Where You Need to Be

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

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

So that thing I said we'd be launching yesterday unless something went terribly wrong? Well, it wasn't terribly wrong, but wrong enough that the thing has to launch today instead. BUT IT'LL BE TOTALLY WORTH IT.

Free Inquiry has opened up a few new articles for free access on the website, including, most importantly, our boss Ron Lindsay's last Free Inquiry column as our boss, where he focuses on humanism and hope.

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Everything Important Happens in New Jersey

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

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

Quick teaser: We have a cool thing we've made that's coming out today (unless something goes horribly wrong). That's all you get! You'll just have to hope you're paying attention to this website or subscribed to our emails.

Ta-Nehisi Coates wins the National Book Award for Between the World and Me, and you can hear him talk about it with Lindsay Beyerstein on CFI's Point of Inquiry from back in August. 

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My Trumpy Sense is Tingling

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

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

We don't take too kindly to religious bigotry or faith-based tests, especially when it comes to people in desperate need. Our official statement on the fearmongering now rampant over the Syrian refugees: "As secular humanists we insist: These refugees are us, and we are them, whatever their religion might be." 

The local Fox affiliate in Springfield, Missouri covers Skepticon, and features our own Stef McGraw and Cody Hashman, plus a lot of our table swag! (The Satanists and Cthulu are there, too.) 

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Argument and Reason and Words

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

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

There's no other way to put this: The Republican presidential field seems more or less unified on the idea that only Christian refugees from Syria should be admitted into the U.S., and Ted Cruz is the standard-bearer. Here's what the president said about that:

When I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims, when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion. 

Or for anything else. 

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Music, Kisses, Life

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

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

At least 129 innocent civilians were killed Saturday in Paris in a coordinated terror attack of suicide bombings and hostage executions, for which ISIS has claimed responsibility. But you know that already. France is carrying out a massive retaliatory military strike, and the city of Paris is on lockdown as police raids swarm across France and Belgium.

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It is a Tale Told by an Acupuncturist

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

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

Religion News Service publishes an op-ed by me on the Bangladesh crisis, and how religious groups ought to join us in trying to stop the killings, that is if they sincerely care about a literally mortal threat to religious freedom (and Washington Post is also running it):

We in the American secular humanist community are doing all we can to save lives and change the course of events in Bangladesh, from the grass roots to the halls of American and international diplomatic power. We have done the same in the past, passionately and proudly, when conservative Christian groups asked for help supporting their fellow believers, like Asia Bibi in Pakistan and Meriam Ibrahim in Sudan. But we can only do so much. Our resources and reach are limited, and frankly dwarfed by those of American churches and conservative Christian organizations. So we’re asking for their help.

Cocky Hospital

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

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

Astronomers have their eyes on GJ 1132b, the closest Earth-like exoplanet yet found. Actually, since its temperature is estimated at about 500 degrees Fahrenheit, it's actually more Venus-like than Earth-like.

In Bangladesh, the prime minister continues not-helping, saying, "I belong to a religion and I would be upset if someone offended my sentiments by writing something obscene or preposterous. ... There will be a similar reaction from Hindus, Buddhists or Christians, if someone hurts their religious beliefs." To which several leading activists in the country say, "Instead of bringing the killers to justice, the government high-ups have suggested that writers show restraint. Writing seems to have become a crime bigger than murder. This is completely unacceptable."

The War on Philosophers

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

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

It seems like the press has had a good chance to digest the whole Ted Cruz atheists-aren't-fit-to-be-president thing. Scott Timberg at Salon sees the larger GOP bias against non-Christians as an example of the party making itself electorally irrelevant in national contests. Christian Science Monitor's Husna Haq looks at existing prejudices against atheists, as well as how demographics will upend this over time. (And relatedly, Robyn Pennacchia ponders how a President Donald Trump might enforce his promise to make us all say "Merry Christmas.")

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The Leaky Universe

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

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

Amber Phillips at WaPo notes that Americans' refusal to accept the reality of climate change may have less to do with science-denial per se, and more to do with ignorance as to what scientists actually think

Holy moly. Forget alien megastructures. New data from the European Space Agency’s Planck telescope might have revealed "an eerie glow that could be due to matter from a neighbouring universe [complete with "different physics"] leaking into ours." Of course, it could also just be dust. But still!

A Two-Bit Civilization

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

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

Happy Carl Sagan Day! Lots of CFI branches and student affiliates are marking the day with events, and for now, you can enjoy this compilation of Sagan's responses and "comebacks." 

Dan Vergaro at BuzzFeed reports on the potential for greater scrutiny of homeopathy from the FDA, with commentary from our own Michael De Dora: "They are on the shelves next to real medicine, they look like real medicine, and there is a lot evidence that people don’t know what they are buying." 

You Can Have My Stickers

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

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

Lauren Markoe reports on how, surprise, politicians have no idea yet what to do with the growing population of religiously unaffiliated voters

Canada, Canada, Canada! Half of your new cabinet ministers skipped the "so help me God" part of their oaths of office.

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Posh Booing Noises

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

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

CFI's Michael De Dora appeared on HuffPost Live yesterday for a really substantive and thorough panel discussion on the crisis in Bangladesh. Do make time for it today. 

The UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, calls on the Bangladeshi government to take action:

There is an urgent need for a concerted response to prevent more killings by promptly bringing the perpetrators to justice, and by taking effective measures to protect writers, publishers and any other people in Bangladesh who are being threatened with violence. The State must not allow extremist groups to take matters into their own hands. 

First They Came for the Fact-Checkers

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

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

Ellen Barry at the New York Times reports on the horror in Bangladesh:

So far this year, four bloggers and one publisher have been hacked to death in Bangladesh — a tiny number for a country with a population of around 160 million. But anonymous threats are common, and the cumulative psychological effect has been profound, prompting public figures to steer away from discussing the terrorist threat openly. ...

With a handful of exceptions, “I can’t think of any Bangladeshi intellectual who is writing under his or her name on this issue,” [PEN International's Salil Tripathi] said. 

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Curbs Nervousness Amazingly

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

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

Pew releases a new study showing changing attitudes toward religion. The main finding is that as the religiously affiliated take a slight dip in numbers, and as the "nones" spike slightly up, they also grow further apart: the religious are a little more religious than they were, and the nones are more secular. (Oh, and the nones are the largest "religious" group within the Democratic coalition.) 

For a recent Skeptical Inquirer cover story, Gary J. Galbreath figures out what it is the crew of the HMS Daedalus saw in 1848 when they thought they saw a giant sea serpent.

Unpublished

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

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

Bangladesh. Every day when I start work, I have this quick thought: "Did they kill another one?" This past Saturday, yes, they did. Faisal Arefin Deepan, a publisher of secularist books, was hacked to death in his office. Three other publishers at another company were also attacked, but thankfully survived. In our statement, we press the point that something affirmative must be done. TimeNPR, and the Dhaka Tribune pick up our response.

Poppy McPherson has a piece at BuzzFeed on the horrifying impact these killings are having.

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