Their Audiences Pee in Their Pants with Delight

March 25, 2013

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

Good news: One of the voucher amendments CFI asked you to tell your Senators to vote against was defeated on Friday, 60-39. Even Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), not well-liked by many skeptics for his support of alt-med, spoke strongly against the voucher amendments. 

Robert Evans at Reuters reports on the efforts of CFI and the IHEU to get the UN to stand up for the rights of nonbelievers as it does for other persecuted religious minorities. Said Dr. Elizabeth O'Casey of CFI:

Many people who recognize no supernatural being are suffering and even dying for trying to exercise their right to hold and profess their views. 

YouTube has opened up a "DoGooder Awards" contest for nonprofits' videos, and two CFI videos are finalists (congrats, Adam Isaak!): Our videos introducing African Americans for Humanism and the Campaign for Free Expression. I'll tell folks how to vote for us as soon as I figure it out myself. Turns out I couldn't figure it out because we weren't actually "finalists," but among those featured. Apologies.

Reports are appearing saying that the case against Rimsha Masih, the Pakistani Christian girl accused of blasphemy, has been re-opened after being dismissed. We'll see what's going on with this. 

CNN profiles Todd Stiefel, the "money man" (their words) of atheism. Says Todd:

What I would really like to see is expanding out communities to people who may not just be atheists or agnostics and into people who are religiously skeptical and may still have some religious beliefs. Nobody is a perfect skeptic and I would like to see more people like that in our community.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster hits the $1.5 million donation mark on microlending site Kiva. Says Bobby Henderson, "We are still ahead of the Mormons."

This was unexpected: NFL Players' Association comes out in favor of gay marriage. Players could not be reached for comment as they were busy stuffing me into a locker. 

In an excerpt from his book. Frans de Waal calls Christopher Hitchens a "serial dogmatist," and attacks the New Atheism for mirroring the messianism of religion: "Their audiences pee in their pants with delight when the flat-earth canard gets trotted out." 

Richard L. Rubenstein recalls words from Swami Muktananda:

You mustn't believe in your own religion; I don't believe in mine. Religions are like the fences that hold young saplings erect. Without the fence the sapling could fall over. When it takes firm root and becomes a tree, the fence is no longer needed. However, most people never lose their need for the fence. 

James Traub at Foreign Policy on how the UN can learn from the Catholic Church about how to pick its secretary-general, the "secular pope." 

The journal Homeopathy  fires Edzard Ernst. Nazis are involved. 

Fake medicine is faked. (Alt-alt-med?)

The Economist looks at the phenomenon of self-immolators within Buddhism. 

Crispian Jago has a Venn diagram full of skeptic win. 

The New Yorker profiles Tim Minchin for his work on a new musical based on the work of Roald Dahl. (Subscribers only

New "reality show" will feature kids who are reincarnated and maintain the ghosts of their past lives within them. Nothing damaging about that.

Tunisian 19-year-old woman "Amina" is sent to a psychiatric hospital for her feminist activism in which she appears topless on a website. Richard Dawkins has taken up her cause. 

Despite high hopes for the new director of the White House's faith-based office, religious discrimination in employment remains only "under review." 

Skeptical Inquirer's January cover feature on the psychology of doomsday believers is now online. 

The prolific Ben Radford writes about the "history of frauds and fakery" of telekinesis, and the extremely serious problem of magic-belief in Africa and how it worsens the AIDS epidemic.  

Daniel Dennett tells The Guardian "greedy reductionism" and how memetics make the mind. 

Because of its oceans and interior heat, Jupiter's moon Europa might be able to sustain life. I wonder if one could also be pirate twins there. (It's okay if you don't get that reference.)

Friend-of-the-blog Sharon Hill (oh, and I guess she does stuff for CSI and Skeptical Inquirer too) scores some real estate at Huffington Post

Chris Burke doesn't think there's much chance even this "austere" pope will do anything significant for the world's poor. 

Not to worry, everybody: "Lindsay Lohan will not be charged for punching psychic."

Today's image comes from xkcd, which recalls my observation from this post that, um, Voyager seems to leave the Solar System a lot.  

Quote of the Day 

At Lapham's Quarterly, John Jeremiah Sullivan considers animal consciousness:

. . . if there’s a consistent motif in the artwork made between four thousand and forty thousand years ago, it’s animal-human hybrids, drawings and carvings and statuettes showing part man or woman and part something else—lion or bird or bear. Animals knew things, possessed their forms of wisdom. . . . Taking their lives was a meaningful act, to be prayed for beforehand and atoned for afterward, suggesting that beasts were allowed some kind of right. We used our power over them constantly and violently, but stopped short of telling ourselves that creatures of alien biology could not be sentient or that they were incapable of true suffering and pleasure. Needing their bodies, we killed them in spite of those things.  

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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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