Sir, I Protest, I Am *Not* a “Fuzzy None”!

March 10, 2014

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

So how was Cosmos? I haven't seen it yet, because we don't get cable or broadcast TV, so I'll need the Information Superhighway to help me out with seeing the show. I get the sense, though, that people liked it. 

Matt Zoller Seitz at New York Mag notes the secularist overtones:

The new Cosmos makes it clear that the war [against science] is still going on, and that this series is determined to be on the right side of it, by painting organized religion as an irrelevant and intellectually discredited means of understanding factual reality.  

Willa Paskin at Slate says it's less overt than that, writing, "Cosmos is offering viewers a way to reconcile science and faith: Don’t let your god be too small."

On Friday, we introduced a big, new thingCause & Effect: The CFI Newsletter. It's a new fortnightly product that aims to keep you up to date on all the activity and developments that supporters make possible in the vast CFI universe. And it's a pretty easy read!

Hemant Mehta calls the goals of the Women in Secularism III conference "a worthy cause," and lauds the "incredible" lineup of speakers this year

Four same-sex couples in Indiana file suit to challenge the state's ban on same-sex marriage. 

As a passenger plane from Malaysia to China goes missing, conspiracy theories begin.

The editors of Bloomberg View come down hard on anti-vaxxers.

For too long a tiny minority of people -- often in well-off, educated communities -- have risked the lives and health of everyone else.

Australian anti-vax group, forced to change its name from the misleading "Australian Vaccination Network," goes with the again-misleading "Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network." 

Oh, and there's a measles outbreak in NYC.  

New Pew research shows only 36% of millennials describe themselves as "religious," which jibes with CFI-Trinity data from the ARIS survey of college-age Americans last year. 

Women in Baghdad protest Islamic law in Iraq. Reuters reports:

The legislation goes to the heart of the divisions in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, as Shi'ite Islamists have come to lead the government and look to impose their religious values on society at large. It describes girls as reaching puberty at nine, making them fit for marriage, makes the father sole guardian of his children at two and condones a husband's right to insist on sexual intercourse with his wife whenever he wishes. 

Members of the European Parliament "demand" that Saudi Arabia "respect the public worship of any faith and to foster moderation and tolerance of religious diversity." Good luck with that. And what about not worshipping at all? 

Tablet magazine looks at the struggles of atheists in Pakistan, through the lens of a Lahore atheists Facebook page.

Smithsonian profiles the hunt for the almost-certainly-fictional "Skunk Ape" in (of course) Florida. 

Also in Florida (of course), a voucher program that helps fund religious schools is poised for a big expansion.

Peter Boghossian is not afraid of skunk apes, as he tours Florida, including events with CFI branches

Angel-looking paintings on utility boxes in Desert Hot Springs, CA prompt a sudden ban on even vaguely religious imagery on public property.  

Turkey's prime minister is involved in a bribery scandal, and a member of his party, who was himself implicated in bribery, says the whole thing is conceivably the plot of "a Jew, an atheist, [or] a Zoroastrian," but definitely not a Muslim. 

Many countries in the Arab world are banning the new Noah movie. Meanwhile, comic books of the Japanese superhero Ultraman are banned in Malaysia for the hero being too much like God or something. Well have I got a hero for them!

Chris O'Dowd, who I know as Roy on The IT Crowd, says religion will eventually be as socially unacceptable as racism

Hemant posts the memorial video for Eric Broze, the atheist activist who died suddenly last month.

There is still no "Planet X." 

Worf is not a "merry man," and I am not a "fuzzy none."  

Quote of the Day

Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about the news media's role in science understanding on Reliable Sources:

The media has to sort of come out of this ethos - that I think was in principle a good one but it doesn’t really apply in science. The ethos was, whatever story you give, you have to give the opposing view. And then you can be viewed as balanced. ... You don’t talk about the spherical Earth with NASA, and then say now let’s give equal time to the Flat Earthers. Plus, science is not there for you to cherry pick.

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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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