Find Out a Little About Everything

April 16, 2013

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

Following the horror of yesterday's explosions in Boston, of course all those affected -- and all those who will be affected -- are in our thoughts, and have our deepest condolences; for the loss, the pain, and the shock and fear so many will now feel. Here's some information on what folks can do to help out. One thing was heartening: seeing so many people on Twitter (skeptics and otherwise) steadfastly insisting that when we talk about who might be responsible and why, we rely on evidence and facts rather than suspicions and assumptions.

Hemant has statements from local freethought groups

Of course, it took about five seconds for absurd conspiracies to get their moment in the spotlight. 

Seamus O’Mahony reviews Hitchens' Mortality, and perceives a hint of faith from its author: 

Hitchens’s beliefs about his advanced cancer and its treatment were, for a man whose fame rested on his scepticism, uncharacteristically optimistic. I hesitate to use the word delusional, as he admitted that he would be very lucky to survive, but he clearly steadfastly hoped, right to the end, that his particular case of advanced cancer might lie on the sparsely populated right side of the bell-shaped curve of outcome statistics. He famously mocked religious folk for their faith in supernatural entities and survival of the soul after bodily death, yet the views expressed in Mortality are just as wishful and magical. 

Andrew Sullivan thinks it's not Hitchens who is odd for this effort, but his fellow Christians:

It seems odder to me for Christians to be as exercized by life-extension as the atheist. Put that down to the strange extremism of Ratzinger’s innovations on the question of “life”. But our culture’s gradual alienation from the fact of our deaths – our distancing ourselves even from the old and infirm in ways previous cultures didn’t and couldn’t – is not, in my view a healthy thing. 

The Pulitzers were just awarded, and among the winners was the Tampa Bay Times for its work on anti-fluoridation craziness in Florida. 

Ars Technica reposts a 2007 takedown of homeopathy in honor of World Homeopathy Week. 

Congratulations to astronomer and CSI fellow Andrew Fraknoi, winner of the Faraday Science Communicator Award.

And congratulations to the winners of QEDCon's Ockham Awards, including Token Skeptic for podcasting.  

Heads up: National Day of Reason is May 2. 

In a post by Joe Nickell about "Rattlesnake Pete," we are reminded why we call it "snake oil." 

UK Member of Parliament pushes homeopathy organizations to warn parents that homeopathic vaccines will not actually, you know, work. 

Bobby Jindal admits that schools in Louisiana should be able to teach things like creationism and intelligent design. 

My dad lives in Egg Harbor Township, NJ, and it just got its first official UFO sighting. Yes, the sighting was a couple miles from the FAA center, but come on! 

Financial Times profiles Salem Okaly, a poet in Libya, and just about the only secularist around. (Claims to wear a "secular beard.") 

This new pope seems like a nicer guy, right? But he's still not going to let those pesky nuns get away with, you know, having opinions. 

Religious research outfit Barna Group gives us America's "most post-Christian cities." Jibing with previous studies, Albany is number 1, Burlington, VT is 2, and my stomping grounds of Portland, ME is 3. CFI's Buffalo is 8. 

A good question about the efficacy of fortune-telling techniques from Ben Radford at LiveScience:

If any of the methods really worked, why would there be so many?  

Center for American Progress touts the benefit to the "common good" when the government "partner[s] with civic and faith-based groups to provide vital financial support and technical assistance."

Al Jazeera reports on a Nigerian ultra-megachurch, housing 500,000 people, all seeking miracles. 

Billy Hallowell at The Blaze talks to a teacher who aims to get religion into classrooms by emphasizing critical examination.

Adam Gopnik writes about the letters he gets from readers who are just sure that he is wrong about whatever he's written about (his essay on Galileo is the main subject at hand):

You can tell the half-bright from the barking because the barking don't know how little they know, while the half-bright know enough to think that they know a lot, but don't know enough to know what part of what they know is actually worth knowing.

Lawrence Krauss, invisibility buzzkill:

It is a simple law of physics that interactions are two-way streets, so if you are invisible because nothing interacts with you, then alas, you wouldn’t be able to see—your retina would not intercept light. So there goes all the fun. 

Podcast Malcontent's Gambit talks to Guy P. Harrison about his new book 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian

The CFI On Campus blog has some Ani DiFranco for Music Monday

UK doctor is accused of prescribing an exorcism to a patient in lieu of psychiatric help, which is "the devil's work." 

A new book looks at atheism from a sociological perspective: There Is No God: Atheists in America

Quote of the Day  

Last night I found out about the death of Mark Pogue, a few days ago. Mark was one of the first Internet-dwelling atheists I came across when I began delving in myself a few years ago. I didn't know him well by any means, but I'll always remember with gratitude how he was one of those who welcomed me into this crazy community. Mark eventually became an avid Google+ user for his online godlessness, and you can see more about him there, as well as some memorial-related things from his son and friends. I particularly like what Mark, who described himself as a "blue collar secular humanist" put as his "bragging rights":

When I was a young boy, I read two complete encyclopedia sets. I loved them because I could find out a little about everything. 

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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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