The Leaky Universe

November 10, 2015

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

Amber Phillips at WaPo notes that Americans' refusal to accept the reality of climate change may have less to do with science-denial per se, and more to do with ignorance as to what scientists actually think

Holy moly. Forget alien megastructures. New data from the European Space Agency’s Planck telescope might have revealed "an eerie glow that could be due to matter from a neighbouring universe [complete with "different physics"] leaking into ours." Of course, it could also just be dust. But still!

As a nice treat for Carl Sagan Day yesterday, we featured a special collection of Skeptical Inquirer pieces by and about Sagan.

Michael Specter at The New Yorker reports on breakthroughs in the manipulation of genes, taking advantage of a "region of DNA" known as CRISPR, which Specter says "offers a new outlet for the inchoate fear of tinkering with the fundamentals of life."

Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes a piece in Foreign Policy called "Islam is a Religion of Violence," so I'm sure it will go over without controversy. A clip:

Despotic governments, civil war, anarchy, economic despair — all of these factors doubtless contribute to the spread of the Islamist movement. But it is only after the West and, more importantly, Muslims themselves recognize and defeat the religious ideology on which this movement rests that its spread will be arrested. And if we are to defeat the ideology we cannot focus only on violent extremism. We need to confront the nonviolent preaching of sharia and martyrdom that precedes all acts of jihad. 

Internal department and government emails obtained by Jason Koebler at VICE's Motherboard show that the Irving, Texas police knew that the "Ahmed's clock" story was a huge disaster for them right from the get-go. One officer writes:

This is what happens when we screw something up. ... That thing didn’t even look like a bomb. And now, the kid is being made into a hero. And, the city is going to pay big for this one. He won’t need a scholarship to MIT. 

William M. London at Skeptical Inquirer exposes the "biologically implausible teachings" of the "toxin"-obsessed alt-med outfit, the Cancer Control Society. 

Middle East Eye reports on the efforts of the Atheism Association of Turkey to end the practice of automatically registering Turkish children as Muslim at birth.

The cit of Bangor, Maine doesn't have an official mayor, and the ceremonial duties of a mayor are usually carried out by the chair of the city council. That person now happens to be Sean Faircloth, former head of the Secular Coalition for America (and my former boss).

Adam Lee looks at the splintering of the American religious landscape, and sees hope:

The more different factions we have, the more likely it is that they’ll cancel each other out so that no one has the power to impose its doctrine on others. For skeptics, it means that debunking popular superstition will be aiming at a moving target, but I’ll take that over religious hegemony any day. 

Red Starbucks cups. I dunno, guys. There must be more to our lives than this.

Quote of the Day:

Honesty in authorial acknowledgements:

coffee 

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