The Mysterious Kathy Johnson

November 28, 2017

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

Reporters at the Washington Post not only turned the tables on an attempt by James O'Keefe's operation to embarrass them and manufacture a scandal, they turned the tables, flipped them upside down, cleaned the old gum that had been stuck there, fixed the legs so the tables didn't annoyingly rock anymore, flipped the tables right side up again, and then for good measure set up a fancy place setting for dinner, yanked the tablecloth from underneath the dishes and drinks without disturbing any of them. 

A woman by the name of Jamie Phillips, working with the James O'Keefe outfit that proves LOL nothing matters, Project Veritas, contacted the Post with a fake story about how Roy Moore had empregnanted her as a teenager and helped her to an abortion, all in an attempt to convince the Post to publish a fake story and "prove"(?) that the Post is in the tank for the LIBS. But O'Keefe and Phillips neglected to consider the possibility that the people at the Washington Post are not a bunch of idiots, so upon some fairly pedestrian fact-checking (which I bet included that fancy machine I've heard about called a "gúgül"), the reporters were able to tell that this was a set-up. So fake news tried to use real news to make more fake news and then complain once the people who do real news made fake news that they had themselves faked, but then the people making fake news became the real news. America!

Oh, and Stephanie McCrummen is my new hero and should be Time's Person of the Year. It's not too late, y'all. 

Malaysia's deputy minister in charge of Islamic Affairs told the country's parliament that atheism is a violation of Malaysia's sedition laws, and that it is a "threat" and "unconstitutional." We put out a statement refuting his position, and taking Malaysia's government to task for continuing to exacerbate the threats to atheists in the Muslim world:

“Atheism is only ‘seditious’ if Malaysia considers itself a theocracy,” said [Robyn] Blumner. “But as an ostensibly secular state and a member of the global community, Malaysia’s responsibility is to uphold the fundamental rights of its people, not persecute its religious minorities.” 

The Bureau of Land Management has stopped the launch of a rocket by "Mad" Mike Hughes intended to prove that the Earth is flat. Which is exactly what they WOULD do to keep it all a secret. 

So, really, does religion make people more moral? At NYT, Mustafa Akyol tries his hand at this:

My humble answer is: It depends. Religion can work in two fundamentally different ways: It can be a source of self-education, or it can be a source of self-glorification. Self-education can make people more moral, while self-glorification can make them considerably less moral. 

Well you will not be shocked to know that, according to Pew Research, atheists are the belief group that is most open to transgender identities. Oh, and look the white evangelicals are by far the least accepting. Go figure.

Beth Mole at Ars Technica (doing great work lately) reports on how NIH-supported comprehensive cancer centers throughout the U.S. include "integrative" therapies as part of their repertoir, which brings with it gobs of pseudoscience crap like homeopathy

Islamists in Pakistan formed a blockade of Islamabad when they got all cheesed off about alleged blasphemy by a government official. The army came in to broker a resolution, which is worrying folks that they are overstepping their authority and getting too cozy with the hardliners.

LA Weekly profiles Voices of Reason, the atheist a cappella choir.

This is plain horrible. I didn't know who Scott Smith was, but he was apparently an activist in atheism circles, and yesterday he killed his wife (whose name I don't have from the reports) and himself. I assume we'll be hearing more about this in coming days.

I missed this last week: A US District judge struck down Texas's ban on second-trimester abortion procedures.

Next year, you'll be able to spin a black circle of the Golden Record, as NASA releases the vinyl editions of the Sagan/Druyan record that went aboard the two Voyager spacecraft.

@SonofEther has an idea as to why Christians support Trump:

Ooh ooh I know this one! Because for them Christianity is a tribal signifier of superiority rather than a set of teachings by which to live your life? 

Quote of the Day:

This was my favorite part of the Stephanie McCrummen/Jamie Phillips video, when McCrummen asks Phillips about her alleged job interview at the right-wing propaganda outlet The Daily Caller:

McCrummen: And, so, who was the person you interviewed with?

Phillips: It was a lady named Kathy...

[pause]

McCrummen: ...what was her last name?

Phillips: ...Johnson...? 

Sure. Why not? Oh, and just so we're clear, there is no such person at The Daily Caller. But you knew that.

* * * 

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