Proof of Rat Heaven

August 13, 2013

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

University of Michigan scientists poke around some rat brains for EEG signals, and found a huge burst of activity just at the point of death. Proof of Rat Heaven? The opposite.

USA Today comes out against businesses claiming exemptions from Obamacare's contraceptive mandate:

Ultimately, the issue is one of balance. The effect of health insurance on business owners is indirect. Employees may or may not use insurance to pay for birth control, just as they may or may not use their salary to pay for something that would violate the company owners' faith.

The circumstance might be discomforting. But the alternative — granting religious exemptions to private organizations — is more troubling. It would be open to abuse, putting the government in the position of determining which business owners were sufficiently religious. 

Check out CFI's position on this here

Islamists in Bangladesh are trying to enact a 48-hour general strike to protest their party's disqualification from the coming elections.  

At Skeptical Inquirer, Robert E. Bartholomew looks at new evidence that puts a lot more dents in the veracity of the famous "Mansi photo" of the Lake Champlain monster.

If only there was a smart guy, like a professor, who was willing to teach students about the Enlightenment online. Oh look! 

Melani McAlister finds some problems with the State Department's new focus on religious outreach:

Throwing US power and money behind some groups and not others may exacerbate religious or other conflicts, and certainly can affect the self-definition of people who quickly figure out the lay of the land.  

Linda Woodhead is a little more bullish

Joe Nickell unearths some old-timey fake medicine, a turn-of-the-previous-century concoction called Dr. Porter's Healing Oil.  

Speaking of which, meet Angel Silva of Astoria, who practices a religious healing art called Palo Mayombe, who evades police, and whose apartment is described thusly:

The shrine is a collection of iron urns filled with animal bones, sticks and machetes, surrounded by an assemblage of wooden statuettes and masks, conch shells, crystals and cash offerings. 

Ask the people of the great state of Georgia where they stand on creationism, and you're not going to like the answer

Pakistan popular culture gets a burka-clad superheroine

Minnesota Public Radio takes a critical look at "megavitamins." 

The Economist's Erasmus looks at when religious festivals attack

Sharon Hill's commentary makes me chuckle frequently. A man sees a UFO that looks a lot like a car:

A car-shaped UFO near the road? At night time? Could it be a car? 

Example two: Hill Headline of the Day: "God’s tears are aphid poop" 

The mystery-ghost-priest who prayed with an accident victim and then VANISHED has stepped forward, and he's Rev. Patrick Dowling. 

How would you like to be "flash-fried by a firewall of energy"? Of course you would! Well, you may be in luck, as this may be exactly what happens inside a black hole, which is totally not what Einstein thought.

Kenan Malik and Nada Shabout at the Index on Censorship share an open discourse on the wisdom (or lack thereof) of limiting free speech in the service of religious harmony.

This isn't skepto-atheism, but I suspect it's relevant to your interests: Which popular coffees give the most caffeine bang for your buck? (And it's an infographic, so there's very little reading.)

Brain Pickings rounds up some writings by Isaac Asimov on humanism:

Gradually . . . I became aware that there was a movement called “humanism,” which used that name because, to put it most simply, Humanists believe that human beings produced the progressive advance of human society and also the ills that plague it. They believe that if the ills are to be alleviated, it is humanity that will have to do the job. They disbelieve in the influence of the supernatural on either the good or the bad of society, on either its ills or the alleviation of those ills. 

Um, those aren't clams

Quote of the Day

David Gorski has had it with physicians playing fast and loose with medicine:

[D]octors who consistently do not practice science- and evidence-based medicine to the minimal standard of care, be it because they are incompetent, dishonest, impaired by substance abuse, or because they have come to believe in quackery, do not deserve to be physicians. If we as a profession do not find a way to do better, legislators will do it for us, but that shouldn’t be our primary motivation. Our primary motivation should be that quality patient care should rule supreme because our patients deserve no less. 

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