The Measles of Mankind

March 17, 2014

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

The latest Free Inquiry features a poignant and tough review by Tom Flynn of Jennifer Michael Hecht's anti-suicide book Stay. Calling it “marvelously written,” Tom says it “excludes individuals who make clear-eyed decisions to end their lives in response to calamities whose aftermath they prefer not to experience.”

Editor of The American Rationalist, S.T. Joshi, and his prolific work on atheism, are profiled in the New York Times.

NYT also covers an experimental "God-optional" synagogue.

Chris Stedman nabs an interview with Nick Sagan, novelist son of Carl. 

Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church is not long for this world. Estranged son Nate Phelps, of CFI-Calgary, posts a statement:

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made.

Brian Pellot asks what the right response to Fred Phelps' death would be in terms of public demonstrations. (I'll have my own personal opinion about it at Friendly Atheist shortly.) 

Sam Harris: Guru

Tim Farley is doing the skepto-atheist community a big solid with his work on a single-stop page for the movement's events. Check out the progress

American Muslim groups unite under one coalition, U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations. 

The National Coalition of American Nuns backs the contraceptive mandate. Better rev up the bus, ladies. 

The spoonman himself, Uri Geller, claims to have been asked by, well, we don't know who, to "help" find the missing airplane. 

NPR profiles Women in Secularism III speaker and recent Point of Inquiry guest Rebecca Goldstein and her new book Plato at the Googleplex

As a skeptic, I'm interested in the apparent pseudoscience of audiophiles, wherein folks spend bazillions of dollars to get ultra-high-quality sound, and now potentially manifest in Neil Young's Pono project. Marco Arment has a good roundup of analysis.

Churches are downsizing and selling off property. It begins!!! 

Except: In one case in Massachusetts, the Catholic Diocese of Worcester wants to refuse a property sale because the buyers are gay

A University of Arizona professor brings his son to the university's Cancer Center, and as recounted at Science-Based Medicine, is unpleasantly surprised:

I was appalled to discover that the center offers treatments like Reiki, Reflexology, Acupuncture, Cranial massage, etc. These treatments are advertised as “healing”–including boosting one’s immune system, complimenting conventional chemotherapy etc. 

Russell Saunders at The Daily Beast reports on the rise of measles in NYC, thanks to the anti-vax crowd, opening with, "Of all the things to be nostalgic for, infectious diseases probably don’t make it onto many lists."  

Jenny McCarthy is now getting some grief on Twitter. 

Emily Willingham cautions skepticism of other over-hyped "linkages" to autism

The Unpersuadables: Adventures With the Enemies of Science by Will Storr is reviewed in Salon

Same-sex marriage is now recognized in Tennessee! For only six people.   

Here's a novel way to challenge a state's same-sex marriage ban: With a divorce

Louisiana public school where a Hindu student had been religiously bullied is ordered by a federal court to cut the religious promotion

If an owl moves, does it mean I've had an astral projection? Makes sense. 

Franklin Graham says Putin makes more sense on gay rights than Obama. Wow, huh? 

Maslaha, a new nonprofit in the UK, looks to promote feminism to Muslim women

In Senegal, the government would like to help keep family sizes down and promote contraception. Guess who doesn't like that. 

A NASA-sponsored study says, well, we're all screwed, every one of us, as we head for "precipitous collapse":

While some members of society might raise the alarm that the system is moving towards an impending collapse and therefore advocate structural changes to society in order to avoid it, Elites and their supporters, who opposed making these changes, could point to the long sustainable trajectory 'so far' in support of doing nothing. 

The Economist seems to wonder at the UN's dire warnings about the crisis of blasphemy laws. 

That's not Google Glass, but a kind of gadget-version of Head-On, and the FDA has approved it. 

"Sciency" (which really ought to be "sciencey") gets into the Oxford dictionary. Congrats, Sharon. 

This pug at CFI-LA is a very moral beast

Quote of the Day

TNR posts a 1978 article by Carl Sagan on Einstein, which includes this bit from Albert:

Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind... Our schoolbooks glorify war and hide its horrors. They inculcate hatred in the veins of children. I would teach peace rather than war. I would inculcate love rather than hate.

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Adorable image via Shutterstock. 

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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