Some Kind of Dirt Hamster

May 15, 2017

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

Richard Dawkins talks to the Irish Times about blasphemy laws (and how the Irish government really must be embarrassed about its own). 

Stephen Fry, who Dawkins defended recently on the blasphemy issue, explains the dangers of "the illusion of knowledge" and how it serves as the foundation of Trumpism. 

This is nuts: A man in Sudan attempts to have his official religious designation changed from Muslim to atheist, and he gets charged with apostasy, which carries the death penalty. The charges are dropped by a judge who says the guy is mentally incompetent, and then the charges are brought back again. 

If only there was a single publication that was better suited than any on this planet to cover the issue of blasphemy laws. OH WAIT LOOK IT'S FREE INQUIRY

Now online: David J. Helfand's cover feature in Skeptical Inquirer on how to survive the Misinformation Age, in which he states, "A counterinsurgency is definitely called for."

Hey look we have new interns! Meet Vicki Smith from Central Michigan University and Andy Ngo of Portland State University. 

Trump went to Liberty University and said a bunch of stuff like how we all worship God instead of government, and we're all like, "Uh, we don't worship anything, oh well, whatever."

Jerry Falwell Jr. said no president has done more to benefit the "Christian community" than Donald Trump. David French says, "Good grief that's dumb."  

Jim Bakker says making fun of Trump heralds the apocalypse and the coming of the Antichrist

MEANWHILE Mike Pence hangs out with Franklin Graham and Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk of the Russian Orthodox Church. "Metropolitan Hilarion," by the way, is also the name of my new comedy club, coming soon to Portland, Maine.

Hungry to bring Trump down, even smartypants liberals are not immune to being hoaxed. BuzzFeed reports on a huge scam perpetrated on the anti-Trump crowd.

Who do you send as your ambassador to a pseuedo-country/meta-state that serves as the headquarters for a backward, opulent, and predatory institution? Callista Gingrich, of course.

But hey, here's progress. Pope Fluffy isn't so sure about these claims about "apparitions" of the Virgin at Medjugorje appearing to pilgrims in Bosnia. "These supposed apparitions don’t have much value – I’m giving my personal opinion." 

Chris Christie vetoes a bill banning child marriages in New Jersey because it doesn't give enough leeway to religious customs. And you just have to narrow your eyes and glare at the guy, because what the actual hell. 

Nazis (I mean "white nationalists") with torches in defense of the war to maintain slavery. In Charlottesville, no less, which is a pretty hip town usually.

Alabama's legislature, which apparently has no problems of any importance to address in the state, passes a constitutional amendment allowing the Ten Commandments to be displayed on state property. 

In the UK, the groups promoting pseudoscientific fake medicine could potentially lose their status as charitable organizations

The FDA seems to be regressing, quickly, as it proposes changes to its guidelines in pain treatment recommending that physicians get up to speed on the cutting edge of acupunture and chiropractics

Trump is appointing Sam Clovis, a right-wing radio personality, to become the USDA's undersecretary for research. I am out of jokes. 

Kavin Senapathy says it's time for America to be done with Dr. Oz:

In addition to nine Emmys, the man should win an award for audacity, for continuing to spread misinformation despite being lambasted so thoroughly so many times, and even agreeing to change his ways. 

Neil deGrasse Tyson clearly must be in all the videos. All of them.

Wait wait wait wait wait. Prairie dogs might have an honest-to-goodness language. This could be big, writes NTY's Ferris Jabr:

That would be an audacious claim to make about even the most overtly intelligent species — say, a chimpanzee or a dolphin — let alone some kind of dirt hamster with a brain that barely weighs more than a grape. The majority of linguists and animal-communication experts maintain that language is restricted to a single species: ourselves. Perhaps because it is so ostensibly entwined with thought, with consciousness and our sense of self, language is the last bastion encircling human exceptionalism. To concede that we share language with other species is to finally and fully admit that we are different from other animals only in degrees not in kind. 

ALWAYS BE MARCHING: This time, you're supposed to March for Truth on June 3

Don't click this. It's disgusting. But it's also not a sea monster.  

DO click this. It's the most mind-blowing dinosaur fossil you've ever seen. 

I didn't know you could marry yourself. I want to do it only so I can divorce myself and take me for all I have. 

Quote of the Day:

Obviously, I have to go with SNL's Michael Che as Lester Holt, interviewing Baldwin-as-Trump, and realizing the one great truth: 

Did I get him? Is it all over? [Listens to earpiece] Oh, I didn't? Nothing matters? Absolutely nothing matters anymore? Alright.

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