Some Bastard Child of Soft and Hard Science

June 3, 2014

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

Today, CFI launches a major new campaign to fight the influence of religious dogma and junk science in health care: Keep Health Care Safe and Secular. This is a big deal for us, and in a really cool way shows how the seemingly disparate humanist and skeptic sides of CFI really do come from the same place: science and reason on a foundation of compassion, for doing what's right. We've got a big new website ( full of information and actions you can take right now, and of course, a lovely little hashtag: #SafeandSecular. We've put, and will continue to put, an enormous amount of effort into this, from all areas of CFI, so stay tuned. Also:

  • Here's our official announcement -- which, if you get CFI emails, you already have in your inbox. If not, sign up now!
  • Share with us your own experiences with religious or pseudoscientific incursion into health and medicine here, and we might use your story in the campaign.
  • The campaign's press release.

And there's lots, lots, lots more to come! 

The Obama administration lays down big new EPA rules to fight climate change, and reduce carbon pollution from power plants by 30%, all under the auspices of the Clean Air Act, since Congress doesn't believe in global warming. NYT's editorial board says this is a big deal for Obama's legacy, as well as our ability to, you know, exist. 

And unlike Congress, most Americans accept that climate change is happening, but it's much muddier in terms of the level of importance they ascribe to it. Oh, and the headline for this NYT piece is "Is Global Warming Real? Most Americans Say Yes," and my feeling is, it could have been "Most Americans Say Global Warming is Real" instead of constructing the fake controversy in the headline, but maybe I'm too sensitive. 

Climate change denial may screw up something other than polar bears and civilization: California Republicans

Sudanese government says, no, in fact, they will not be freeing Meriam Ibrahim. The work to save her continues. 

Michael De Dora has the monthly CFI public policy and advocacy update, so go get your diplomatic-lobbying fix. 

Religious OCD: A real thing, which can cause one to avoid "pork fumes." 

Three real-life ghost hunters, lamenting the selling-out of their TV counterparts, talk about their drudgery:

[A]t best, the work you do is considered a hobbyist's stab at scientific research -- some bastard child of soft and hard science, flirting with physics, psychology, folklore, historical research, and urban exploration. And good luck convincing a scientist that your evidence is valid, much less the evidence of other teams, since nobody's tools, methods, motives, or practices are standardized.

Deputy foreign minister of Saudi Arabia says free expression must be limited to keep people from saying mean things about "prophets." 

The new AP Stylebook boasts a new chapter and 200 new entries for religion alone, but shocking to me, is this:

A change in AP’s guidance on “more than” and “over,” first announced at this spring’s American Copy Editors Society convention. The 2014 Stylebook says writers can now use "over," as well as "more than," to indicate greater numerical value. 
Have you lost your minds?!?!
Jordan Ellenberg, author of How Not to Be Wrong, sees the study of math as a means to sharpening one's skeptical mind
Malcolm Gladwell explains how folks have dumbed down his "10,000-hour rule":
There is a lot of confusion about the 10,000 rule that I talk about in Outliers. It doesn't apply to sports. And practice isn't a SUFFICIENT condition for success. I could play chess for 100 years and I'll never be a grandmaster. The point is simply that natural ability requires a huge investment of time in order to be made manifest. Unfortunately, sometimes complex ideas get oversimplified in translation.

New PRRI survey shows that most Americans are just fine with the contraceptive mandate in the ACA, except for one group: white evangelical Protestants.  

Faux expert on Fox News knows why the Santa Barbara shootings really happened: gayness. 

Two 12-year-old girls stab the crap out of their "friend" (also 12) because they believed she was a "proxy" for Slender Man

BBC profiles Sanal Edamaruku in exile

Mayor of La Vista, Nevraska disses an atheist constituent, and now there are protests and counter-protests outside city hall

Mega-Earth: The exoplanet that should not exist...!

If you trip over your own feet and die, your loved ones can blame Nevada lawyers. Wait. 

Jason Kottke warns Gwyneth Paltrow not to stray into "Jenny McCarthy territory." 

I, for one, welcome our grasshopper swarm overlords. 

Mustapha Tlili argues in the NYT that the "political Islam" of recent elections in the Arab world has shown itself to be dangerous

During the decades of dictatorship in the Arab world, political Islamists marketed themselves in the West as “moderate” movements that sought to reconcile Islam with democracy. In reality, they were proponents of a messianic ideology in which the fundamental tenet is to implement God’s will on earth. ... As the Obama team prepared to end the wars of the Bush administration, it felt a need for friends in the Arab world. So the administration bought into the fallacy of “moderate” political Islam. 

Quote of the Day

Ahmed Rashid at Al Jazeera points the finger at Pakistan's institutions for allowing the country to fall into chaos and terror:

Both the military and elected political governments must be blamed for the failure of the state to govern. For the last three decades the army and its Interservices Intelligence Agency and civilian governments have played backup to a variety of Islamic groups who have become part of the country's foreign policy to keep neighbouring India and Afghanistan on the defensive, but instead have inundated Pakistan with their hate-filled venom, false narratives and distortion of social norms. 

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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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