The Dead Person Standing Behind You

January 5, 2017

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

The big news is that CFI has scored another big win for secular folk and against religious privilege, as a U.S. District Judge rules that our Secular Celebrants are now authorized to solemnize marriages in Illinois!

Ed Brayton makes a good point on the political calculus around this:

For some bizarre reason, the Illinois legislature refused to pass legislation to fix their unconstitutional law, which prompted this lawsuit. Why they decided to fight it when the matter was already settled and they had zero chance of winning is beyond my comprehension. They will now be forced to pay not only their own legal fees but those of the winning side as well. I’d call that political malpractice. 

New from Free InquiryRebecca Goldstein walks us through what it means to matter, and how to think about what matters:

It doesn’t take all that much reflection to glimpse the gap between I matter to me and I matter full stop. Grant us any leisure at all from the violent struggle for existence, advance us any distance beyond the Hobbesian “nasty, brutish, and short” state of nature, and the gap is there to be glimpsed. We can’t help feeling both that we categorically matter and, at the same time, feel compelled to demonstrate that we categorically matter.  

Tom Flynn looks at what we secular folks are in for when Trump takes power, and rounds up some of the things that are in trouble, like, you know, secularism itself

And Greta Christina isn't interested in letting things play out:

We don’t have time to wait and see. We don’t have time to give the new administration a chance. If we dismiss the early signs of fascism, by the time it becomes obvious it will be too late. 

Dylan Roof, in the sentencing phase of his trial where he could get the death penalty, says he is not at all sorry

Apple agrees to remove the New York Times' apps from its App Store in China, because the Times is apparently "in violation of local regulations," according to Apple. I bet it is.

In Skeptical Inquirer, Steven Caldwell Brown reviews the book Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories by Rob Brotherton. 

Oh hey we have a new organ. Well, not "new," but a few smaller parts of our guts are now considered one thing, the "mesentery":

The mesentery is a double fold of the peritoneum, which is the lining of the abdominal cavity. It connects the intestine to the abdomen. 

Apparently people are excited about this click-baity "demon" picture going around, and Hemant does a table flip (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ over the coverage, where USA Today says "we may never know" if it's real or a fake:

“We may never know”? What sort of bullshit reporting is that?! We can absolutely know — it’s just a matter of someone figuring out where Christianson took this picture and going there. It’s irresponsible for a newspaper to suggest that there’s a real possibility that someone “opened the gates of Hell.” 

Violence breaks out in Lahore, Pakistan as Islamists rallied in favor of harsh blasphemy laws

First sentence of a Star Tribune piece on a local "psychic":

When you meet Jodi Livon, you would never know she sees the dead person standing behind you.

No thanks! 

Well, crap: Naturopaths may be given more legitimacy by the Massachusetts state legislature very soon by creating a licensing board for them:

If Governor Charlie Baker signs the bill into law, he will end a two-decade effort by naturopaths to obtain the legitimacy, oversight, and protection of having a professional license. Massachusetts would join the 21 other states that license naturopaths, including every bordering state. 

Relatedly, 90-year-old Queen Elizabeth II is still suffering from a "heavy cold," and some folks think she's having more trouble shaking it because she won't use actual medicine, but instead relies on garbage like homeopathy. 

ABC 7 News in California has an article about a MUFON UFO-hunting guy who is defensive about his quest. There's no actual news here, just this guy saying, in effect, "yuh-HUH aliens are here!" 

Quote of the Day:

Speaking of UFOs that aren't aliens, Colin Wolf gets a tip of the hat for this headline in the Orlando Weekly (assuming he wrote the headline):

Orlando man films 'glowing UFO craft,' most likely billowing garbage bag


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