A Jaunt around the Sun

December 31, 2012

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

I hope you enjoyed this last jaunt around the Sun. The neat thing is that there's really no "start" to Earth's orbit, so any day can be New Year's Day. If you like, you can at any moment say, "This is the beginning of my new year." You don't have to go by the Gregorian calendar. 

Of course, if you don't, you'll be late for all kinds of stuff and miss appointments. But it's your new year!

Anyway. 

1) NYT publishes a feature piece on how humanists are "absent" from times of great grief and crisis such as the Newtown atrocity. Read that.

2) Our own Tom Flynn responds in a blog post/letter to the editor, challenging assertions by the author and those quoted in the piece. Read that.

3) People comment on Tom's post, Tom comments back, etc. Read those, too. Good stuff! 

Norman Lebrecht wants to save Mozart (now!) from deification:

Once we invest music with supernal qualities, once we maintain (there are learned papers to this effect) that Mozart can ease childbirth pains and stimulate brain cells in laboratory rats, it ceases to be music at all and becomes a part of humdrum mundanity, along with unemployment statistics and the football results. Sooner or later, you will read that Mozart can cure cancer. 

Barry Lynn is not pleased with the Obama administration's efforts on reforming faith-based initiatives:

Organizations – religious or otherwise – that take government money must abide by certain rules. That some religious groups don’t want to follow the rules does not mean their religious freedom rights have been violated; they aren’t entitled to these funds, nor are they required to take them. The organization can continue to do their work and discriminate with their own money. 

At Skeptical Inquirer, Anderson Cooper gets positive marks from Joe Nickell when it comes to UFO skepticism. 

David Gorski laments the abuse of the word "quantum" by alt-med practitioners. 

Here's a little facepalm for you, from the NYT:

A ban on YouTube, which Pakistan imposed after an anti-Islam video caused riots in much of the Muslim world, was lifted Saturday, only to be reinstated — after three minutes — when it was discovered that blasphemous material was still available on the site. 

Okay, fess up. Who Rick-rolled the Pakistanis?

Fake psychic Rose Marks and family are charged with $25 million in fraud.

Orac has had it with Dr. Oz and his embrace of quackery. 

Michael Nugent notes that while atheists cannot solemnize marriages in Ireland, plenty of other ne'er-do-wells sure can. 

reject the notion that we "need" the threat of Hell (or its equivalents) to appreciate the beauty of life. 

Ghost of woman's mom steals her resume. Which is apparently worth $5000.  

Ed Brayton notes that while nonbelievers are right to focus attention on the young heathens, we may be neglecting the elderly ones

A roundup of failed 2012 psychic predictions, a post I totally prophesied someone would write. 

Iranian "apostate" Christian pastor is arrested for the second time

The NYC subway death has a religious bigotry element. Said the accused pusher:

I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up. 

The Belgians may bring down Scientology as a "criminal organization." 

A.C. Grayling is interviewed for The Humanist

Say what you will about atheists, but we can sure package fruit.  

Quote of the Day

Brian Switek in the Charlotte Observer, calling the futility of further Bigfoot hunting:

Jeff Meldrum wants to search for Bigfoot by using a remote-controlled blimp. Because when you’re looking for a mythical creature famous for eluding all who search for it, a giant, buzzing, looming balloon is clearly the way to go.

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)centerforinquiry.net! 

The Morning Heresy: "I actually read it." - Hemant Mehta

Comments:

#1 KelleyRene (Guest) on Monday December 31, 2012 at 2:41pm

The news piece immediately points out that, “All the victim’s families chose religions services.”  The question might have been valid had some of the grieving families chosen non-religious gatherings of support. For most humanists and atheists I know, the only reason most of us try to be subtle during events like this one is because in so many cases, people of certain religions become upset or offended by our beliefs if not our very presence. Most humanists are aware of this and stay back out of sensitivity to these families that are clinging desperately to their beliefs (ones that we eschew)in order to cope with their losses.  Picture a herd of cats being let loose among a herd of sheep.  I can think of a lot of words to describe the ensuing scene, but comforting is not one of them.

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