Parents in Pajamas, Secular Humanism, Mass Hysteria!

March 20, 2017

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

The State Department says the U.S. is boycotting the UN Human Rights Council debate on "agenda item seven," which is about Israeli human rights abuses against Palestinians.

In India, a man named H. Farook is hacked to death by men with sickles for posting atheistic content to Facebook and WhatsApp. 

Phil Zuckerman has a piece in the Los Angeles Review of Books on Leigh Eric Schmidt's Village Atheists.

Several conservative Christian organizations are expressing disapproval of Trump's slash-and-burn budget

Check it out: Leonard Tramiel, CFI board member, veteran of Commodore and Atari, and all around great guy is interviewed for a TEDx event. 

Mark Krikorian of the far-right Center for Immigration Studies writes in WaPo that the Southern Poverty Law Center is "wicked" for labeling his organization a "hate group." 

Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens (which I'm in the middle of right now), answers a bunch of questions from Important Folks, and there's some interesting stuff there: 

What is the biggest misconception humanity has about itself? - Lucy Prebble, playwright

[Harari:] Maybe it is that by gaining more power over the world, over the environment, we will be able to make ourselves happier and more satisfied with life. Looking again from a perspective of thousands of years, we have gained enormous power over the world and it doesn’t seem to make people significantly more satisfied than in the stone age.

Algerian novelist Anouar Rahmani could be charged with blasphemy over his latest work The City of White Shadows, and is deeply worried about the pressure on his family.

Gucci gets in on the meme-making game, and right up top in the introduction to the campaign, it credits the man who coined the term to begin with:

The word “meme” was coined by the British biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976 to mean an “imitated thing.” For Dawkins, the word referred to pieces of language and culture that were transmitted across time and space, but the Internet has carried that idea of transmission to its extreme.  

Neil deGrasse Tyson points out some of the many ways in which we are screwed

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton doesn't like it when Muslim kids get to pray in a spare school room, but moved mountains to keep Bible quotes displayed in a middle school. 

Ben Radford reviews Jordan Peele's film Get Out. I'm not reading this review because it has spoilers.  

Daniel Dennett gets a big 'ol New Yorker profile

North Dakota's legislature fails to repeal the state's "Blue laws," as State Senator Dick Dever goes on this silly rant about atheism as a religion.

BBC apologizes for the question posed by its Asian Network, "What is the right punishment for blasphemy?" saying, "We never intended to imply that blasphemy should be punished." 

Brighter Brains Institute launches a GoFundMe for a humanist girls' orphanage in Uganda.  

According to this letter-to-the-editor, looks like a public school in Temple, Texas is having problems because of a lack of corporal punishment, parents in pajamas, and secular humanism going "out of control." 

Fake psychic Theresa Caputo can't believe that people could doubt her...I mean people's experiences of her:

“I’m not asking anyone to believe in what I do. Everyone has a right to their own opinion,” Caputo said in a recent telephone interview. What she doesn’t understand is how skeptics think people who do believe in psychic readings are wrong: "How can someone tell someone that what they’re experiencing isn’t real?" 

Okay, well you heard it here, folks. All experiences are now to be considered "real." 

Quote of the Day:

Interesting statement from Cornel West and Robert P. George on free expression and listening to each other:

It is all-too-common these days for people to try to immunize from criticism opinions that happen to be dominant in their particular communities. Sometimes this is done by questioning the motives and thus stigmatizing those who dissent from prevailing opinions; or by disrupting their presentations; or by demanding that they be excluded from campus or, if they have already been invited, disinvited. Sometimes students and faculty members turn their backs on speakers whose opinions they don’t like or simply walk out and refuse to listen to those whose convictions offend their values. Of course, the right to peacefully protest, including on campuses, is sacrosanct. But before exercising that right, each of us should ask: Might it not be better to listen respectfully and try to learn from a speaker with whom I disagree? Might it better serve the cause of truth-seeking to engage the speaker in frank civil discussion?

This statement is cosigned by a lot of prominent academics and thinky-types from across the ideological spectrum, including Steven Pinker, Peter Singer, Alan Jacobs, Russel Moore, Larry Sanger, and dozens of others.

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