A Fetish, an Amulet, a Pack of Tarot Cards

December 10, 2012

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

A major new report has been released by the International Humanist and Ethical Union, and made with the help of us at CFI, on instances of atheist/nonreligious discrimination and persecution around the world. Coverage from Reuters. Billy Hallowell at The Blaze is even moved to write:

Considering [IHEU's] scope — to advance the cause of non-belief — there is clearly a bias in the preparation and publication of the report. However, many  of the findings are compelling.

Hemant's reaction: "Read it and weep."

The Atheist Census project is sabotaged by hackers:

Atheist Census is offline as the result of a denial of service (DoS) attack. Support for the project has been fantastic - Atheist Census was live for around 17 hours and we have 8,880 confirmed entries and another c. 2,300 pending. We are working hard to get Atheist Census back online as soon as possible. 

Our Office of Public Policy wants you to contact HHS secretary Sebelius and tell her to end the pointless restrictions on emergency contraception.  

Outside magazine spends a night with Bigfoot "researchers" in Ohio:

We continue tramping through the undergrowth. Todd has been talking about paranormal activity for the past half-hour. His girlfriends, he says, have never really been into Bigfoot or ghosts. He’s single at the moment. He pauses. “You know,” he says to Bernie, “you guys are lucky to have each other to do this with. It’s good to have anyone to go on these hikes with—especially someone like a mate."  

Austin L. Hughes at The New Atlantis launches a lengthy attack on "scientism," comparing it to pseudoscience: 

In contrast to reason, a defining characteristic of superstition is the stubborn insistence that something — a fetish, an amulet, a pack of Tarot cards — has powers which no evidence supports. From this perspective, scientism appears to have as much in common with superstition as it does with properly conducted scientific research. Scientism claims that science has already resolved questions that are inherently beyond its ability to answer. 

Jim DeMint prepares to leave the U.S. Senate, and the Richard Dawkins website floats the quixotic idea of encouraging Tea Partying South Carolina governor Nikki Haley to appoint SCA president Herb Silverman to the seat.

Emily Willingham, my new hero at Forbesthrows cold water on bad coverage of a shoddy study purportedly shows the dangers of genetically modified foods. 

The Legion of Doom readies another endless PR stunt, calling for a "Year of Faith" and another "Fortnight for Freedom," all the while I engage in an Eon of Eyerolling.

NYT's lover of surveys, Charles Blow, laments the GOP's embrace of creationism

TED conferences lose some luster has they become pulpits for pseudoscience and nonsense

It may not have been the meteorite that finished off the dinosaurs, but just a crappy environment as a result of volcanic activity. 

Ben Radford on Ripley’s Believe It or Not's incorrect assertion that you're more likely to drop dead on your birthday. 

Popular astronomer and UFO debunker Sir Patrick Moore is dead. 

Can't say I disagree with any of this: Kylie Sturgess points us to a Twitter account solely dedicated to encouraging us not to read the comments sections of blogs and whatnot. 

Speaking of Kylie, the latest Token Skeptic features Dr. Joseph Gelfer talking about the various ways in which the world will doubtlessly end very soon. 

And speaking of speaking of Kylie, she also interviews Laurie Tarr about making science interesting to kids for the CSI website. 

FFRF's Dan Barker, HuffPo's Jaweed Kaleem, and Billy Hallowell go at it on HuffPost Live over the UK Scout's new "atheist oath."

The Irish plow ahead of us in an area close to CFI's heart, as Ireland passes legislation allowing humanist weddings to have legal status

Russian Prime Minister Medvedev jokes that Russian leaders are kept up to speed on the whereabouts of aliens on Earth. Let the conspiracy theories begin. 

Confluence of mysterious booming sounds of COURSE herald the apocalypse.  

Also in Canada! Regis College in Toronto begins a new course in dealing with the threat of atheism. 

Mommy, really. Why is the sky blue? 

Okay fine. But then why is space dark? This video helps explain it, and part of it has to do with the fact that the universe is running away from us. 

Headline of the Day, from The Telegraph's Tom Chivers: "Huffington Post explains 'How Homeopathic Medicines Work', without bothering to mention that they don't" 

Quote of the Day

Steve Huthman, who has an inexplicable mustache, opines in the Salt Lake Tribune about the prospects of an irreligious White House aspirant:

Wouldn’t it be useful for a presidential candidate to publish his or her own list of answers to moral questions rather than hide behind the vague generality that religion equals morality? Wouldn’t you vote for a public official who pledged to live by these guidelines in the performance of his or her duties even if their religious beliefs differed from your own? 

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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Comments:

#1 David (Guest) on Monday December 10, 2012 at 12:33pm

For what it’s worth, those lines from Valerie Steeves are preceded by the following:

“If I were like philosophy professor Mark Mercer (“Celebrating Christmas without religion”, Dec 7)I would perhaps write an article that goes like this.”

She eventually refers to this Mark Mercer’s attitude as intolerant and hateful.

#2 Paul the Morning Heretic on Monday December 10, 2012 at 1:31pm

Good callout. I should amend.

#3 Paul the Morning Heretic on Monday December 10, 2012 at 1:32pm

I just took it out. Because, you know, time to move on.

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