Hoax und Überhoax

September 24, 2013

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

NPR's On the Media tells the outrage-inducing tale of producer Sarah Abdurrahman's detention, along with her family, at the U.S.-Canadian border. Her husband recounts the following exchange with a border agent, hours into their detention:

He asks me if I’m Muslim, but he kind of does it in this weird way, like – he like, can I ask you, are you – what, um, eh, um, are you Mus – are – what, what religion are you, like that, you know. Like he kind of like dances around it. And I was like, “Yes, I’m Muslim.” 

Robert Blaskiewicz shakes his head at a reviving 9/11 Trutherism, one which seems to be focusing on the allegedly "controlled" collapse of Building 7.

The Human Bible episode 28 is up, where we learn that loving your enemy as yourself may just be a way to ""make your enemy feel like a jerk."

I, for one, welcome our super-bacteria overlords

James Ferguson opines at NYT on the rejection of extremism by young Muslims, recounting his own experience with Somalis in Minnesota:

[I]f young people are impressionable, their malleability can cut both ways. And there seem to be many more ambitious young Somalis who seize opportunities for work and education, and adopt Western values.  

Michael Jerryson looks at the Navy Yard shooting and the deep misunderstandings of Buddhism in the media. 

Matthew Hutson shows that there are many paths to believing in nonsense, so it's no wonder we're all so susceptible. 

Samuel Scheffler explores why we place so much importance on "life after death" -- and not an afterlife, but the lives of those who come after us, who we will never know:

Yes, our descendants depend on us to make possible their existence and well-being. But we also depend on them and their existence if we are to lead flourishing lives ourselves. And so our reasons to overcome the threats to humanity’s survival do not derive solely from our obligations to our descendants. We have another reason to try to ensure a flourishing future for those who come after us: it is simply that, to an extent that we rarely recognize or acknowledge, they already matter so much to us. 

Santa Clarita Atheists and Freethinkers in California help clean up a river valley

Columbia University professor Prabhjot Singh, a Sikh, is beaten by thugs calling him "Osama" and "terrorist." 

India's chief minister Naveen Patnaik holds the counter-intuitive (and somewhat troubling) position that the Internet is actually a threat to secularism:

In the current scenario, mobile messaging, internet and social networking has become an integral part of day to day life, especially for the younger generation. Sensitive messages uploaded on mobile phones, the internet and social networking sites spread like wildfire provoking conflagration. At present there is no mechanism to have surveillance over these networking domains. An oversight mechanism to prevent and control such mediums in critical situations is the need of the hour. 

Was Jack the Ripper a hoax, and if not, is the hoax a hoax?  

AHA's Jennifer Kalmanson boosts congregational humanism in the latest Free Inquiry, but endorses the setting of parameters:

Humanist celebrants—the “clergy” of a new humanist community infrastructure—become the glue that keeps members connected and community expectations met. . . . [D]espite our elaborate guidelines and professionalism credentials, the Humanist Society’s endorsement is just another way to standardize what the public can expect from people calling themselves by a certain title: we do not originate any dogma. One of the most central components of humanism is the understanding that we don’t understand everything; hence, dogma is a dangerous arrogance. 

Herb Silverman on Pope Francis's cuddliness:

I like the pope’s emphasis on conscience, though I neither want nor need forgiveness for not believing in a nonexistent deity. I doubt that the pope would appreciate someone telling him, “Zeus will forgive you for not believing in him as long as you follow your conscience.”  

Visualize Bigfoot, with an infographic-map-thing based on "thousands of geocoded and time-stamped reports for Bigfoot's whereabouts from 1921 to 2013." 

letter to the editor in the Montreal Gazette on homeopathy puts not-too-fine-a-point on it:

The placebo effect, the one and only “active ingredient” of homeopathy, is useless against malarial mosquitoes! 

Quote of the Day

Atheist Tiffany White confronts helping loved ones to grieve without the comfort of the supernatural:

I felt like I should have been saying the usual things: "God is with her now", "She's now in heaven" or "You're in my prayers". These phrases sound better because these are the phrases we're used to saying. "She's in a better place" provides a sense of hope and optimism. "You're in my prayers" shows caring and understanding. But that day, as I stood there on the phone struggling to think of the right things to say, I realized I couldn't say those phrases anymore. I couldn't tell her I was praying for her because I wasn't. I couldn't tell her I thought her mother was in "a better place" because to me that place was a hollow grave. 

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