Let Him Be Struck with Palsy and All His Members Blasted

November 28, 2016

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

Has your life been empty over the past week? Did you feel like your soul had been sucked into a swirling vortex of nothingness? You'd probably presume that's because there was no Morning Heresy all last week. But now we're back, and oh look, that swirling vortex is still there. Because people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So the Nothing grows stronger.

OMG there's so much stuff to catch up on.

The president-elect says that he actually won the popular vote (no he didn't – Clinton is ahead by 2 million actual votes), but was overwhelmed by "the millions of people who voted illegally." 

At the Daily Beast, Brandon Withrow talks to CFI's Debbie Goddard about our African Americans for Humanism program and overall representation for minorities within the secular movement.

We got more coverage last week for our role in the FTC's decision to crack down on homeopathy's false advertising, including VoxThe Buffalo NewsSmithsonian, and most satisfying of all, Snopes. THAT'S RIGHT, we are cited by SNOPES. 

The Rapidian covered an interfaith Thanksgiving event which included Chris Beckstrom of CFI–Michigan, who said, "We all come from the same place. Our minds are literally made of the same stuff." 

Last week on Point of Inquiry, Lindsay Beyerstein spoke to journalist David Neiwert about Trump and the rise of the "alt-right." 

Ben Radford assembles another "Unco Junto" panel to discuss the notion of authenticity: "What is behind the public's search for authenticity in its politicians, musicians, and celebrities? Is it a fool's errand?" David Koepsell, Eve Seibert, and Robert Blaskiewicz take part.

Felipe Nogueira interviews Lawrence Krauss for CFI's Skeptical Briefs

Joe Nickell investigates New Orleans' Lalaurie House haunting for Skeptical Inquirer

Kylie Sturgess interviews Dr. Paul Willis, director of the Royal Institution of Australia, about the dangers of "alternative" cancer treatments

The Freethinkers of Portland State University have a screening of Islam’s Non-Believers, and as you can imagine, not everyone was happy about it

Speaking of which, Ali Rizvi has an op-ed in the New York Post about the important role ex-Muslims have to play in dealing with extremist violence:

Secularists in the Muslim world are growing fast and targeted viciously within their communities. Make no mistake, these freethinking dissidents — fighting to bring universal values like free expression, liberty and equality to their people — are not shy about criticizing Islam. They are putting their lives on the line to do this, and many have died for it. They are your most dedicated allies. 

23-year-old atheist Marissa Postler wins her race for Wyoming City Council in Michigan, and her oath of office is a secular one

Elizabeth Loftus, a fellow of CFI's Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, wins the 2016 John Maddox Prize "for promoting sound science and evidence on a matter of public interest in the face of deep, personal hostility." 

Here's another terrible, terrible bill in Texas, which would compel schools to out LGBTQ kids to their parents. 

FiveThirtyEight says Trump probably can't get Roe v. Wade overturned, though Ally Boguhn at Rewire notes that if Rep. Tom Price becomes Health and Human Services secretary, contraception could be a lot harder to get. 

Whether or not abortions become illegal, Pope Fluffy says priests are allowed to absolve you of your sin. Shucks, what a bunch of swell old men.

Facebook is reportedly going to implement censorship tools so it can work in China. 

Steve Rabey at Religion News Service cites Free Inquiry magazine in a piece on how Christian charities use the money donated to them

This is kind of amazing. African elephants are, more and more, being born without tusks.  

EM drive, a novel kind of engine technology that uses microwaves and no fuel, isn't supposed to work. But it kind of seems to work. NASA is even looking at it. But it isn't supposed to work. But it looks like it does. Physicist John Woodward says of new peer-reviewed experiments on EM drives, "The result they're seeing can't actually be explained in terms of the theory they're proposing. So the question is: What is causing it?” 

(Peer review isn't flawless, BTW.) 

Mothman. Apparently still a thing. 

Neil and Bill and a turkey. 

Quote of the Day:

Sarah Laskow at Atlas Obscura shows some examples of medieval curses placed on books so they wouldn't be stolen. 

If anyone take away this book, let him die the death; let him be fried in a pan; let the falling sickness and fever size him; let him be broken on the wheel, and hanged. Amen.  


For him that stealeth, or borroweth and returneth not, this book from its owner, let it change into a serpent in his hand & rend him. Let him be struck with palsy & all his members blasted. Let him languish in pain crying aloud for mercy, & let there be no surcease to his agony till he sing in dissolution. Let bookworms gnaw his entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not, & when at last he goeth to his final punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him for ever. 

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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


#1 Randy (Guest) on Monday November 28, 2016 at 2:25pm

“So the Nothing grows stronger”

Oh yeah?

“I prostated myself before the library of the salty particle that stood before me.” (courtesy of Random H.P. Lovecraft Story Generator)

Now THAT is a sentence for our times.

But I did miss the Heresy.  It was like that sinkhole in Japan, made virtual, now filled in, more or less.

#2 Randy (Guest) on Monday November 28, 2016 at 2:33pm

Gosh I am opaque in text.  That was meant as a compliment.

#3 Randy (Guest) on Monday November 28, 2016 at 2:57pm

“What is causing it?”

The answer to these sorts of questions tends to be either “cold reading” or “faulty plumbing”.

#4 Randy (Guest) on Monday November 28, 2016 at 3:09pm

“being born without tusks”

Good to see nature taking this problem out of our hands.

#5 Randy (Guest) on Monday November 28, 2016 at 3:13pm

Somehow it seems there should be a thumbs-up or something next to links, to give an internet pat on the back or tip of the hat or some other metaphor to, for example, Elizabeth Loftus.  As it is, I comment.

#6 Randy (Guest) on Monday November 28, 2016 at 3:33pm

“They are your most dedicated allies”

This is at once overwhelmingly true, and also frighteningly false.

A reformed Islam, a genuinely peaceful Islam is certainly in the world’s interest, relative to today.

But we can see in moderate Judaism and moderate Christianity (and the moderate Islam of the not-so-distant past) that there is always a tendency for some to fall back to the fundamentals.  And the fundamentals of all three religions are bloody and bigoted.

It feels somehow false when I speak in favor of someone like Maajid Nawaz, because we’ll agree on what progress is until a certain time, and then he must know already that someone like me is going to want him to keep going, but he’s going find a place in his Islam where even though the writings of his religion still condemn me (for multiple reasons) to doom and death, he’s going to stop.  He’ll perhaps point to Judaism and Christianity which say the same things about me, and he’ll stop, because they seem for the moment to have adapted to secular values in some places. 

My goal isn’t just reaching a state of peace in religion, but the elimination of systems of belief that directly target others (particularly when I’m the other).

#7 Randy (Guest) on Monday November 28, 2016 at 3:37pm

Oops.  I got my moderates and my exes mixed up.  And I lack a delete button.  Drat.

#8 Randy (Guest) on Monday November 28, 2016 at 3:43pm

“The president-elect”

The sheer impenetrability of his fact-shield is a marvel…

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