Death Clusters from Space!

March 19, 2014

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

We have a lot of work to do: Half of Americans believe in at least one of five proffered medical conspiracy theories. Most depressing, 37% "fully agreed that U.S. regulators are suppressing access to natural cures" and "less than a third were willing to say they actively disagreed with the theory." 20% think vaccines cause autism.

Meanwhile, 42% of Americans think climate change is "generally exaggerated," according to Gallup.  

A proposed amendment that would enshrine a voucher program into Alaska's constitution is pulled before it can get squashed.

Carrie Poppy goes to the estate of convicted fraudster Kevin Trudeau, as its contents are being sold off. She writes at Skeptical Inquirer:

His remaining worldly possessions were today sold in an estate sale to repay, by court order, those he scammed with his #1 bestselling book, The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don’t Want You to Know About. No one knows exactly who “they” are, but they’re clearly the establishment, people who run our lives from corporate offices we will never see, churning out pills and products and telling our doctors, politicians, and bankers how to turn us into profitable suckers. 'They' don’t want us to know a lot of stuff... But, unfortunately for Kevin, it turns out 'they' don’t want us to know some of the things in his books because they are nonsense and can hurt or maybe even kill you.

Hey, the full schedule for Women in Secularism III is now online! Plan your lives accordingly!! 

Kacem El Ghazzali, the persecuted Moroccan atheist writer who Michael De Dora interviewed last year, delivered an address at the UN Human Rights Council on behalf of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. 

An Egyptian court upholds a five-year prison sentence for writer Karam Saber for his book Where is Allah, which was deemed to be insulting to religion. Because religion-the-abstract-concept has feelings that the law must protect.

Here's something I bet you didn't know: In 1984, Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church sued the Reagan administration for appointing an ambassador to the Vatican as a church-state violation:

The Holy See is not a foreign government, as such, with which this government has a legitimate need to establish such relations but is, instead, merely the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. 

CJ Werleman looks at the Pew data showing that more than half of Americans think that belief in God is necessary to be moral, and draws a line to the conservative politics of the South:

[T]he primary reason for abject child poverty in ... Southern states is that more than a third of children have parents who lack secure employment, decent wages and healthcare. But thanks to religion, these poor saps vote for the party that rejects Medicaid expansion, opposes early education expansion, legislates larger cuts to education, and slashes food stamps to make room for oil and agriculture subsidies on top of tax cuts and loopholes for corporations and the wealthy. Essentially, the Republican Party has convinced tens of millions of Southerners that a vote for a public display of the Ten Commandments is more important to a Christians’ needs than a vote against cuts in education spending, food stamp reductions, the elimination of school lunches and the abolition of healthcare programs. 

The deadline to become a CFI Outreach Intern approaches, April 1! Get yourself, or some young skeptical genius you know, signed up quick to apply. 

The disappearance of airplanes is pretty rare, but not unheard of. Reuters Bloomberg has a graphic on the 83 that have gone missing since 1948. (Note how few of them are anywhere near the Bermuda Triangle.) 

10 religions all with their origins in Arizona, starting with Scientology!

Josh Rosenau looks at Cosmos's use of the story of Giordano Bruno, and why it may have been problematic.

Barney Frank will get the Harvard Humanists' Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism, which is kind of an odd choice I think considering he didn't out himself as an actual atheist until something like 5 minutes ago, and well after he was no longer in public office. But it's less about how you identify, and more about what you do with the power you have, so I guess that's cool.

Guys, UFO experts are being systematically murdered! In "death clusters"!

HuffPost Live does a segment on millennials and agnosticism.

Joe Nickell plucks from his snake oil collection a bottle of Warner’s Safe Kidney & Liver Cure: "The word cure on such early products was a sign of quackery." 

The Salvation Army settles a decade-old suit from former employees who protested "the imposition of religious requirements on employees paid with government grant money." 

Whoa, a Bigfoot-pareidolia-carrot-thing

Pastor in Florida (of course) jokes that if anyone in his flock gets a tattoo of the church's logo, he'll foot the bill. He is now footing many bills

Quote of the Day

The quote of the day today is a headline from the Lancashire Telegraph:

Night with psychic at Darwen Theatre is cancelled due to 'unforeseen circumstances' 

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