Even the Aliens are Feeling the Sequester

April 1, 2013

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

Oh hey, vaccines don't cause autism. Who knew? From a big new study in the Journal of Pediatrics

We found no evidence indicating an association between exposure to antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides contained in vaccines during the first two years of life and the risk of acquiring autism spectrum disorder, autism disorder or autism spectrum disorder with regression . . . These results indicate that parental concerns that their children are receiving too many vaccines in the first two years of life or too many vaccines at a single doctor visit are not supported in terms of an increased risk of autism.

Sharon Hill is pessimistic that this means the end of anti-vax nonsense:

I’d like to think we have reached the peak of the vaccine-autism misinformation connection. But, since it got started with one person and around one shoddy bit of work, it could happen again. 

Kimberly Winston looks at American Atheists at 50, characterizing its conference as:

. . . a delicate balancing act between past glories and future goals, and a search for the fine line between the group’s image as the angry bulldog of secular organizations and its need to attract younger nonbelievers, including many who do not see religion as a foe. 

And how's this for timing: AA loses its suit to keep the WTC cross out of the 9/11 museum. AA promises to appeal

What the what?!?! This Week with George Stephanopoulos had an atheist on! Susan Jacoby joined a panel for the Sunday chat show. (Note that she is also the only woman on the panel.)

CFI's Lauren Becker writes eloquently about changing understandings of marriage as we get closer to marriage equality.

Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef faces arrest for blasphemy and for criticizing the country's president. 

At CSICOP.org, Sharon Hill makes the case against skeptics' keeping out of certain topics in order not to be spoilsports

Sam Harris interviews AC Grayling about his new book. On the question of whether a person can be a humanist and religious, Grayling says:

. . . religion and humanism are not consistent—unless you mean ‘humanism’ in the Renaissance sense, where it denoted the study of classical literature. But this study soon showed people that the ideas and outlook of classical thought is at odds with religion, which is why humanism is now a secular philosophy.  

Here's some sobering images of tens of thousands of people all calling for tougher blasphemy laws specifically against atheist bloggers in Bangladesh. "They have announced plans to 'lay siege' to the office of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on April 25 if their demands are not met." <cancels vacation plans in Dhaka> 

Fast Company reports on a new software project that equates Terms of Service with the Word of God:

The God.js project plays with idea that plain text itself could compile as instructions to limit the reader’s behavior in the browser, somewhat like the way real religious texts can bumper peoples' behavior in real life. 

Andrew Sullivan begins to cautiously swoon over the new pope

Toothpaste for Dinner illustrates creationism

Dean Burnett at the Guardian worries about "aggressive secularism":

Even for someone like me, a non-Christian low-key employee in a higher-education institution, there is no escape from the ever-present hostile enforcement of secular views.  

Whole Foods will require labeling of food that has been genetically modified. 

Carnun Marcus-Page argues that humanism will need to break out of the box of whiteness in order to have any future. 

48% of Christians think Jesus is coming back within 40 years. Man, won't they feel stupid when he comes back in 41.

Michael Gerson fears "social division" as a result of the rise of the nones, "with each side viewing the other as theocrats or pagans. There is no contempt like the contempt of the true believer or the militant skeptic." 

Rev. Dr. Paul F.M. Zahl makes a religious case against the use of drones in warfare as it negates the common humanity of the drone's targets.

Ongoing conflict between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria results in the death of over 50 people during attacks in the city of Jos.

I'm no fan of the relentless tide of April Fools misinformation to which we must be subjected every year, but I dig the American Humanist Association's thing

Alleged Bible expert Ray Comfort thinks "bibliophile" means some kind of cross of "pedophile" and "Bible." No really, he thought that.

The folks at TED, troubled by pseudoscience under its banner, revokes the license for TEDx West Hollywood for, well, pseudoscience. 

The American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists gives retiring Sen. Tom Harkin an award of appreciation. However, tests on a sample failed to find any traces of appreciation in the award.

Another day, another piece accusing Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens (yes, even after he's gone) of Islamophobia. 2007 called, it wants its subject of righteous indignation back.   

Quote of the Day 

Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson for the National Security Council, on whether the president is being guarded by aliens from outer space, which is apparently something people think:

I can’t confirm the claims made in this video, but any alleged program to guard the president with aliens or robots would likely have to be scaled back or eliminated in the sequester.

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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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