Stupider and Wronger

April 8, 2014

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

I clapped like a 2-year-old for Elmo when I heard the first words of the latest Point of Inquirywith super-special guest Ann Druyan, co-creator of Cosmos.

Ezra Klein kicks off his new news outlet, Vox, with a kind of lament that kind of kicks groups like ours, as well as his own operation, in the teeth: On partisan issues, more information makes us stupider and wronger.

Sarah Jones of Americans United says Western atheists going on about how they're considered "terrorists" in Saudi Arabia are missing the point of the real crisis:

By declaring themselves “illegal in Saudi Arabia,” Western atheists co-opt an opportunity to direct attention to ongoing human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia. It’s not much of an act of solidarity to deprive Saudi human rights activists—who may or may not be atheists—of much-needed global attention.

Another unvaccinated UC Berkeley student shares their measles with the good people of California.

75-year-old Jesuit priest Rev. Frans van der Lugt, who refused to leave Homs, Syria so he could work with war refugees, is killed.

Secular Coalition responds to the Salon piece taking issue with its congressional report card. 

Robert Sheaffer shows us how Carl Sagan dealt with pestering by a UFO-believing billionaire.

A niece of the leader of the Church of Scientology writes an exposé book, with an excerpt here on the way the church ropes in celebrities. Spoiler alert: A lot of coddling was involved. 

Karl Giberson profiles Catholic biologist Kenneth Miller (who's just gotten a big award from the Church), describing him as "a paradoxical figure who occupies the thinly populated no-man’s land between science and religion, embracing both with enthusiasm and finding no conflict."  

Mark R. O’Brian of the University of Buffalo (the CFI mothership's neighbor) refutes myths about GMOs, and puts them in the perspective of all agricultural advances of the past 10,000 years. 

Relatedly, at Asian Scientist, Nalaka Gunawardene writes about the problem of belief in pseudoscience in South Asia, where "fanciful claims are presented as seemingly ‘technical’ or as part of ‘scientific dissent’. They exploit the benefit of the doubt."

CFI-San Francisco will be one of the exhibitors at SkeptiCal on May 31

Joe Cochrane at NYT reports that though Islamist hardliners are making a lot of noise in Indonesia, they're about to have a flop of an election.  

New Scientist posts a gallery/listicle of women scientists denied their rightful recognition for their work.

San Mateo science museum puts up a paranoid disclaimer on one of its animal programs might, shock of shocks, discuss evolution. They've since changed their minds, and the warning is gone.  

What happens after you die??? No, not in the afterlife, but SciAm will show you how your carcass rots

Harriet Hall on chiropractors' warnings about texting causing back problems: "They are just making stuff up and using scaremongering as a practice-building technique." 

A NASA photo seems to show a weird bright light on the Martian surface. And when you're talking about a small speck of light on a black and white photograph beamed over from another planet, well, the only explanation is aliens.

Note to parents: Now it's Legos that are Satanic.  

At last, all too well, I can see where we all soon will be. And that is, watching Johnny Rotten, and some guy from N'Sync in Jesus Christ Superstar

God's plan revealed on Twitter by AtheistMel:

God's Plan:

1) Create humans with ability to use logic

2) Leave no logical evidence he exists

3) Burn them in hell for not believing

4) LOL 

Quote of the Day

In a report from NPR, Seth Mnookin recalls the words of an epidemiologist about which communities are most likely to see outbreaks of preventable infections:

[W]e just take out a map and put a pushpin everywhere there's a Whole Foods and draw a circle around that area.  

* * *  

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. 

Follow CFI on Twitter: @center4inquiry 

Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)! 

The Morning Heresy: "I actually read it." - Hemant Mehta