Double Stuf Conspiracy

August 19, 2013

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

Brian Regal in NJ's Star-Ledger looks at the very non-supernatural roots of the Jersey Devil legend:

The Leeds family does occupy the center of the story, but they were not stereotyped, superstitious rural people. They were politically active religious pioneers, authors and publishers. We have forgotten that the Jersey Devil legend — originally the Leeds Devil — began as a cruel taunt against them, not because of a monstrous birth, but because they had the cultural misfortune of joining the wrong side. 

(I'm from this area, and as a kid, my grandfather delighted in successfully scaring the crap out of me with tales of the Jersey Devil.)

The Baltimore Sun covers pet psychics, and gets badly-needed perspective from our own Joe Nickell.

I was severely impressed with the outreach team's work on their new Course of Reason On-Air Session. The provide a wrap-up here with some highlights.  

Pakistan drops its charges against the cleric who was arrested for framing Rimsha Masih for blasphemy. 

Scott Lively, an anti-gay evangelical minister, can be sued for persecution by LGBT Ugandans, says a federal judge.  

Meet the Skeptics talks to Camp Inquiry's director, Karen Strachan

Here's a one-two punch of podcasters: Token Skeptic Kylie Sturgess debases herself by apearing on my little shoestring podcast (and we talk very little about skepticism, thank goodness), and in turn I appear in her entry to KCRW's 24-hour radio race

Every contradiction in the Bible in one amazing website

Your memory sucks. And so does everyone else's. Nature looks at how the work of Elizabeth Loftus is starting to catch on in criminal justice. 

September 21, CFI-Long Island and the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island join forces for a day of sessions on godless child-rearing: It's the 2013 Secular Parenting Forum

Tania Lombrozo at Boston Review does a longform piece on why science is so often rejected in favor of supernaturalism, and how it might actually be able to "provide the same existential benefits typically thought to be the sole province of religion."

Hemant Mehta expands his media empire by representing irreligious millennials in a special CNN segment. Zinger: "Not only is Christianity unpopular; it's untrue." 

T.M. Luhrmann on speaking in tongues, and what might be really going on (though also thinks a little too highly of it for my taste):

As a technique, tongues capture the attention but focus it on something meaningless (but understood by the speaker to be divine). So it is like meditation... 

LA Times' Michael McGough says that Christians in the U.S. who are crowing about persecution "are trivializing an evil that is all too real in other parts of the world." 

The LA Times editorial board, meanwhile, comes down against legislative prayers in the upcoming Supreme Court case. 

Three times is the godless charm for the LA Times, with a profile of would-be humanist military chaplain Jason Heap.

Bob Smietana covers the smackdown between Presbyterians and Baptists over alleged God's wrath, brought on by a line from a hymn. 

In a complicated case involving parsonages and tax breaks, the government is trying to convince a judge that FFRF has ministers of the gospel. Or something. Not really, but kind of.

Hawaiian atheists are fighting churches getting sweetheart deals to rent out public school spaces for worship services.

Todd Hartley chases some cryptids:

I love imaginary creatures, and I want my own reality show as much as anybody; it would seem that hunting for monsters would be a perfect fit, right? Unfortunately, it's gotten so crowded in the field of cryptozoology that it's become exceedingly difficult for me to find a monster of my own. I refuse to share one with someone else. 

The new leader of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission thinks Christianity, if it can't utterly dominate the culture, is well-positioned as "a prophetic minority." 

Salon reviews a new book on conspiracy theories by Reason magazine's Jesse Walker, The United States of Paranoia

A new book by Mary Eberstadt purports to have the answer to why religion is waning in the West. Julia Shaw writes:

Family life is not an outcome of belief but a conduit to religious faith. Eberstadt compares learning religion to learning a language. She argues that “trying to believe without a community of believers is like trying to work out a language for oneself.”  

26,000 light years away, a super-massive black hole is eating a giant gas cloud. That may be what caused my family's stomach virus this weekend. 

Homeopathy peddlers Heel, Inc. are forced to retract medicinal claims and refund buyers. 

"Mass hysteria" is the result when youth camp students in South Africa are unhappy with the accommodations and claim witchcraft's a-brewin'.    

xkcd on statistics and imminent death by shark

Look out, Oklahoma. Some judge or other has opened the door to Shariah invasion

Double Stuf Oreos are not actually doubled in stuf. WHAT ELSE ARE THEY HIDING? 

Quote of the Day

Nina Shapiro of UCLA's medical school on why wealthier parents are becoming anti-vax science-deniers:

It’s that whole natural, BPA-free, hybrid car community that says "we’re not going to put chemicals in our children." It’s that same idea: "I’m going to be pure and I want to keep my child pure."

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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul, Ed, Lauren, anyone who can fire them, or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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