Stock Phrases and Empty Debates

March 8, 2017

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

It is International Women's Day, which is being marked by many as a strike for the Day Without a Woman.

Jennifer Bardi at The Humanist checks in with Sikivu Hutchinson, Amanda Knief, and Linda LaScola consider what a day without secular women would look like. Hutchinson says:

A strike of nontheist women would have the same grave socioeconomic implications for atheists and agnostics (estimated at around 7 percent of the US population) as it would for religionists.

Stephanie M. Lee at BuzzFeed has a big report on how alt-med hucksters are hawking their wares freely on Facebook, and finding a captive audience. 

CFI's Ben Radford scores an interview with bestselling author Douglas Preston about his research into a disappeared Central American civilization, which led to his book The Lost City of the Monkey God.

Ben also is among the panelists on WNPR's Colin McEnroe Show, talking about the age-old UFO phenomenon in American culture.  

Yesterday, CFI's Michael De Dora delivered an address to the UN Human Rights Council on the freedom of religion and belief, and the "implementation gaps" with human rights standards around the world. 

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court in Pakistan wants to block any blasphemous content on the Internet, declaring, "I declare all those as terrorists who upload such blasphemous material on social media." 

Bannondorf, before his pursuit of the Triforce to drag Hyrule into darkness, was once so fascinated by climate change that he ran a freaking biosphere to study the long-term effects of global warming. Now, though, he's obviously turned conspiracy theorist.

Faye Flam at Bloomberg checks in with some scientists who are antsy about the March for Science, as well as those who think such antsiness is just "overthinking." She says:

In a political season characterized by labels, stock phrases and empty debates, we all should be thankful for our overthinkers, whether they choose to march or not. 

(I don't know why Bloomberg uses a picture of Bill Nye for the article, as he's not mentioned in the piece.) 

Also at Bloomberg, Justin Fox says yes, science is elitist, and that's a good thing. 

Herb Silverman notes how atheists in recent years have found and built communities not unlike religious institutions via the Internet, adding that such a thing comes with what he sees as potential dangers:

Committed believers (whether in astrology, psychics, tarot cards, or religion) look for and focus only on (true or false) information that supports their beliefs, while overlooking or downplaying contradictory evidence. This is known as confirmation bias. Atheists are also vulnerable to this... 

Wendy M. Grossman in Skeptical Inquirer writes about her thoughts on the skeptic movement, and what she now thinks it oughta be about:

The goal of the skeptical movement was never—or not for me—to debunk specific beliefs. Instead, it should be to spread critical thinking on whatever subject is shoved in front of us. 

Okay, this is screwy: Bangladeshi asylum seekers who come to Japan are being given the task of cleaning up radioactive contamination from the Fukushima disaster. That's what they did to women in the Colonies in The Handmaid's Tale.

According to The Intercept, the CIA has not actually found a way to crack the encryption of WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram. What it has done is found a way to just get straight into a device, bypassing everything.

Maryam Namazie says religious ideals about "modesty" can go get stuffed (only she uses more colorful metaphors):

In all religions and every religious-Right movement, the perfect “modest” and “moral” woman is the one who cannot be seen or heard. 

The DC government is divided on vouchers between the council and the mayor. 

David Niose says oblivion isn't so bad, and I'm all "wut." 

Harriet Hall says that if laughter is the best medicine, then you might make a case for magnet energy bracelets

A federal district court rejects a RFRA-based suit by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe to stop the Keystone Pipeline. 

America's pastors are aging out, and aren't being replenished with corresponding numbers of young people. In 1992, a third of U.S. pastors were under 25, today it's 15%. The median age of a pastor has jumped from 44 to 54.

These filter bubbles are getting claustrophobic.

Quote of the Day:

Mexican journalists write to their colleagues in the U.S.: 

At this time of an unprecedented, relentless assault on the free press of the United States by the Trump administration, we Mexican journalists, writers, and publishers stand in solidarity with you as you do your crucial work.

For decades you have stood by us as successive governments and criminal gangs have targeted our press and assassinated our journalists for doing work in the public interest—uncovering crimes and corruption. And so many times we have only known the truth about our own country by reading the stories followed and uncovered in the U.S. press. We urge you to continue to uphold freedom of expression as your society, institutions, and values depend upon it.

You have stood with us during the darkest hours of press freedom in Mexico and, although we never could believe this day would come, we now stand with you.

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