Another Way for Nobodies

October 23, 2017

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

The General Social Survey predicts that by 2035, "nones" will outnumber Protestants in the U.S. Allen Downey at Scientific American writes:

Religious beliefs are primarily determined by the environment people grow up in, including their family life and wider social influences. Although some people change religious affiliation later in life, most do not, so changes in the population are largely due to generational replacement. 

He adds that "social desirability bias" is likely skewing these numbers, and that the percentage of Americans who are actually (and will be) unaffiliated is likely higher than the results report. 

CSICon 2017 is THIS WEEKEND (have mercy on me), and we have an interview with Michael Mann by fellow climate scientist Mark Boslough. 

Three EPA scientists were all set to speak about climate change at a Rhode Island conference, but Scott Pruitt put a stop to those shenanigans.  

Remember how New Mexico was going to nix all mentions of climate change and the age of the Earth in its science curriculum? They've been shamed out of that idea

Georgia State Representative Betty Price (who is also wife of HHS Secretary Tom Price) has an idea about what to do with all those AIDS people:

What are we legally able to do? I don’t want to say the quarantine word, but I guess I just said it. ... It seems to me it’s almost frightening the number of people who are living that are potentially carriers, well they are carriers, with the potential to spread, whereas in the past they died more readily and then at that point they are not posing a risk.    

She later tried to clarify her remark, but did not disavow it: 

I made a provocative and rhetorical comment as part of a free-flowing conversation which has been taken completely out of context. I do, however, wish to light a fire under all of us with responsibility in the public health arena — a fire that will result in resolve and commitment to ensure that all of our fellow citizens with HIV will receive, and adhere to, a treatment regimen that will enhance their quality of life and protect the health of the public. 

Well, you lit a fire, alright.  

Maryland's Gov. Larry Hogan seems to misunderstand why the big cross monument had to come down:

The idea that memorializing our soldiers killed in battle on foreign lands to make the world safe for democracy is somehow unconstitutional goes against everything we stand for as Americans. 

Well, obviously "understanding things" is no longer a requirement for holding powerful political offices, so, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This is Jeff Mateer, Trump's nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas:

Guess what? I attend a conservative Baptist church. We discriminate, all right. On the basis of sexual orientation, we discriminate. Does that mean I can’t be a judge? In some states, I think that’s true, unfortunately.

Well at least we're clear on that.

Fire up your conspiracy engines. Trump wants the last of the secret files on the JFK assassination made public. I'll admit, I'm almost scared to learn what's in there. 

In The New Yorker, Sheelah Kolhatkar reports at length on the weird transition society is making toward a hyper-automated workforce, and what the heck humans' role will be. 

In a Skeptical Inquirer report, Ramzi Hakami looks at the disaster that is the industry of for-profit, predatory science journals.

Karen Marshall, vice-president of programs for Gallatin County Republican Women in Montana, says Ben Jacobs, the Guardian reporter who was assaulted by now-Congressman Greg Gianforte, maybe should have been shot. At least, it's what she says she would have done. (Ben, keep away.) 

Kurt Andersen does a video at Big Think on America's history of believing utter nonsense and mistrusting experts. "There are now more reality shows on television than there were shows on television 20 years ago," he says. "And that’s another way for nobodies to become famous overnight."

Andersen also talks to Eric Miller at Religion Dispatches, and links conspiracy thinking and charismatic Christianity

Kimmie Fink at Romper rounds up 10 things "atheist moms want other moms to know," such as:

We are good people who most certainly want to cultivate a moral compass in our children. We want them to choose patience, love, kindness, and peace, and although we may not see them as fruits of the spirit, they're just as important to us.

NYT's editorial board calls out Republican policymakers who are "warping" policy to suit their extremist anti-abortion views. "Now they don’t even bother to hide their intent." 

Demonstrations continue almost nightly in St. Louis, protesting police violence and apparently slowly moving people off the fence to supporting their cause. An interesting tidbit that was glanced at in this NYT piece: There is worry from the business community that these protests and the negative attention will harm the area's bid to convince Amazon to set up its second headquarters there.

Stuart Vyse and Skeptical Inquirer are cited in a letter to MoneyWeek ("The UK's best-selling financial magazine") on "p-hacking," manipulating data to achieve a result.

Dan Brown talks to the BBC about his estrangement from Christianity, and how he still clings to the idea of a higher power. "I no longer believe in the God of my childhood ... [but] I feel like there is something a lot bigger than us." He also points out the danger of "reading metaphors as fact."

Jessie's Place, a women's homeless shelter in Birmingham, Alabama, makes those it helps find a job then give 10% of their income to the local megachurch.

Quote of the Day:

David Benatar at Aeon makes the moral case against procreation. Here, it's like he's singin' my song:

Life is simply much worse than most people think. 

Take that, existence. 
* * * 

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

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