The Morning Heresy 6/11/12: Worse than Useless

June 11, 2012

Your daily digest of relevant news and links from Paul Fidalgo

Must-read for science-loving secu-skepties at the New Yorker: Why the hell do we have so much trouble accepting science? Un-learning:

. . . science education is not simply a matter of learning new theories. Rather, it also requires that students unlearn their instincts, shedding false beliefs the way a snake sheds its old skin.

Jonathan Merrritt in The Atlantic: What we have learned from the religious right

If American Christians continue to see that the culture wars as the primary way of shaping culture, they should expect to see their numbers decline and their influence wane. 

Holy super-saints, Batman! 

Christian Scientist parents Members of Church of the First Born whose son died of a burst appendix because they thought prayer was a better idea than medical attention, will face no jail time (hat tip FA)  

Chris Mooney talks up the next two guests on Point of Inquiry: MSNBC's and The Nation's Chris Hayes and Cara Santa Maria of HuffPo

AlterNet: A Mormon deals with the newfound atheism of her husband:

I called up a neighbor with a husband like mine and cried. But instead of empathy, she offered questions that stunned me into silence. Was Sean addicted to pornography? Watching R-rated movies? What sin had brought him to this terrible place? My tears stopped. Her questions were so off-base that they seemed absurd. She was sincere, and trying to help, but she believed what the Church teaches — that a man would only leave because he’s disobeying the commandments. She couldn’t understand this was a rational inquiry. She saw everything as the result of sin. 

Also at AlterNet: Greta Christina on the clergy leaving the faith  

Wisconsin former pastor discusses the Clergy Project and fellow de-converting preachers 

Ben Kavoussi at Science-Based Medicine worries over government endorsement of quackery with the NCCAM:

Imagine you are an ordinary person with limited knowledge of science and medicine, and you see this 2010 video on tai chi and qi gong by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) — one of the agencies that make up the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I am certain that the solemn voice of the Director of NCCAM, Dr. Josephine Briggs, talking about “rigorous scientific research” and “accurate, authoritative information on complementary and alternative medicine,” will leave you with a strong sense of confidence in her message. 

I can't believe they didn't already have one of these: Dale McGowan set to pen an official Atheism for Dummies (via Hemant)

Greg Laden identifies the new species "antiskeptic

Glenn Beck's The Blaze continues its fascination with Todd Stiefel with a Q&A with Todd himself 

Also at The BlazePenn Jillette praises Beck!

I really respect how open he is. He seems to be at a very deep level of intellectual. He seems to be willing to listen to other ideas.

Quick reality check: If Michele Bachmann is speaking at your rally, then it's not really about "religious freedom" 

NYT looks at religion's propensity to tell you what you may and may not read 

North Carolina's state senate's science committee forbids taking into account global warming in making sea level forecasts. So that should work out great. 

Minister defends colleague who preaches politics at the pulpit 

He of the absurd name, the megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar, is arrested for beating up his teenage daughter 

Myanmar declares state of emergency in wake of Buddhist-on-Muslim violence:

[Muslims] are not allowed to own land, suffer frequent food shortages and are technically restricted from travel outside Rakhine, which borders Bangladesh. Thousands have fled the country by boat in recent years to seek work in Malaysia and other neighboring countries. There are also hundreds of thousands of Rohingya [the particular Muslim ethnic group] on the Bangladeshi side of the border. 

Professors Dawkins and Dennett have a chat at Oxford 

(Dennett says he's working on a book on memetics? Get that on my Kindle, please) 

Paul Loebe on the instruction being given to U.S. servicemembers in Christian proselytizing

Leonard Fein at Jewish Daily Forward worries over a decaying wall between synagogue and state in Israel 

Gary Wills, seeing a do-or-die moment for plutocracy with the 2012 election (which I respectfully rebut), illuminates the contours of the religious alliance with the establishment GOP:

The plutocrats have another tool they know how to use—religion. Not that the one percent crams our churches. But our religious leaders service causes helpful to the plutocrats. They are often supporters of war, of righteous certitude about America as an enforcer of “our values” around the world. They are also convenient opponents of the women who are part of the oncoming wave of a democratic demography. The explosion of anti-abortion laws and the opposition to workplace equality are used to placate and mobilize the religious allies of the plutocrats. 

UFO fair hopes to attract both legitimacy and actual aliens 

Space.com: That spiral UFO is probably a Russian missile, which hardly makes me feel better 

Nomadic Politics: The case for Jesus-as-secularist 

The Smoke & Mirrors team: the real Ghostbusters 

Filed Under "Didn't They See That Coming?": Los Altos psychics' office goes up in flames 

Letter to the editor in Tennessee paper points out cognitive dissonance for those rejecting Obama (the secularist crypto-Muslim) in favor of Romney (the Mormon) on the basis of religion:

How can you reject one candidate because of the Bible and vote for another in spite of it? That seems a substantial case of hypocrisy. 

Volcano-swelling microbes to Mars: Come at me, bro! 

Courthouse News: Texas couple charges major news outlets with defamation for reporting that a psychic fingered them for housing a mass grave 

Gift ideas! National Catholic Register blog has ideas for books to help convert atheists 

Quote of the Day     

Steven Salzberg in Forbes on which colleges get to be the beneficiaries of federally subsidized student loans:

. . . what about institutions that provide a substandard education? Or worse, what about institutions that educate people in quackery and pseudoscience? Subsidies to these institutions are worse than useless. These so-called colleges spread misinformation that will require much more investment to correct, if it is even possible. Why, to be specific, is the U.S. government subsidizing students to attend chiropractic colleges? 

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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Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)centerforinquiry.net! 

The Morning Heresy: "I actually read it." - Hemant Mehta 

Comments:

#1 Dan Smith (Guest) on Monday June 11, 2012 at 8:08am

I just read “books to help convert atheists”. Interesting, to say the least. My reaction is that “former” atheist Jennifer Fulwiler is nothing more than a liar in the ilk of Mike Warnke. She may have forsaken church at some point in her life, or couldn’t take the abuse, and renounced it for a time, but those of us who know why we are atheists know we will never go back. Leave it to the Register to contrive such crap.

#2 BlandOnTheRun on Monday June 11, 2012 at 10:20am

Concerning the NCCAM quackery item, I don’t think Tai Chi and Qi-Gong are in the same league as most forms “complimentary” medicine. They are closer to meditation and yoga, both of which are generally accepted as having beneficial effects.

In the linked-to video, the suggested benefits in this video seem fair:
- pain management
- promoting psychological well-being
- prevent falls and improve balance in older people

This is with the proviso that benefits vary, in a similar way as they do with meditation.

The gentle movements of the exercises are certainly suited to older people, as a form of exercise, if nothing else.

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