Too Many Jello Shots

December 15, 2014

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

The week begins inauspiciously with a hostage-taking at a café in Sydney, still ongoing, where the single assailant has had his hostages hold a black flag to the window reading "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God." The assailant is Man Haron Monis who Vox says has a violent record. As of this writing, five hostages are out, but it's not clear if they escaped or were let go.

A silver lining, Australians looking to protect Muslim and Arab folks in Sydney from some kind of backlash begin a campaign to offer their company in public, #IllRideWithYou.

Abby Ohlheiser at the Washington Post does an excellent piece covering the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry's joint statement on the misuse of the word "skeptic." The JREF says, "This story is huge positive press for skeptical advocacy." 

The U.S. Senate confirms Rabbi David Saperstein as ambassador at large for international religious freedom, an appointment that was endorsed by CFI

Alexandra Ossola at The Atlantic reports on some attempts to get scientists to learn how to write comprehensibly

The Islamic State apparently has published guidelines on the taking of sex slaves, which, if it weren't real, would seem like very, very, very bad comedy. As reported by USA Today:

The document also says it is OK to buy, sell or trade a female captive because they are "merely property, which can be disposed of." However, the pamphlet says a woman can't be sold if she becomes pregnant by her owner. It also says it is permissible to beat a slave so long as it's a form of disciplinary beating. However, it is forbidden to hit the face. 

Ohio's governor John Kasich says public schools can't get their promised mentor program funding if they don't partner with a religious group. That seems like that would be in violation of some kind of metaphorical partition whose catchy wording I can't quite recall.

Bill Nye (sort of) uses Emoji to explain evolution, "the way you might do if you had too many jello shots." 

This is really no surprise, but here it is nonetheless: survey research shows that fighting vaccine myths with facts often backfires toward hardening misconceptions. 

A significant number of people in Turkey, including those in power, seem to think that the West is controlling the thoughts of Turkish citizens with telepathy. Well they're never going to destroy Twitter now!

I have a cold, my daughter has a cold, my son has a cold, my wife has a cold. The BBC tells us what to do, and what myths to avoid. 

Blasphemy charges are reportedly dropped against the editor of the Jakarta Post

A "gay cure" advocacy group runs a billboard ad in Virginia with identical twins, labeling one gay, the other not, and saying "nobody is born gay." Among the many, many problems with the billboard is that the twins in the ad, well, aren't. It's the same model, used twice, and he's openly gay.

Our On Campus affiliate of the week is the Kettering Secular Skeptics

Tim Farley notes the adoption of web-annotation services, which he says "could be a boon for skepticism, as it allows skeptics to directly respond to claims exactly where they are made." 

Engage skepticism! Pope Francis never said that thing about your pets going to heaven. Now let's get him to recant the whole afterlife-for-people thing, and we'll be getting somewhere. 

Pope Fluffy ain't afraid of nothin'. Oh, except China

I'm afraid this dreidel is going to kick my ass

Camus and Sartre debate Candyland

Quote of the Day

After not dying in a horrible car accident, Lynn Beisner tells why she doesn't thank God, but instead thanks Honda:

Over many years of thinking about religion and faith, I have noticed that something sad and somewhat strange happens when we thank God: We tend to stop there. We simply overlook the decisions, the science, the policies and the people who contributed to the “miracle.” To put it another way: When we focus on supernatural deliverance from harm, we often ignore all of the human ways we can improve our own safety. I am concerned that we may associate survival of serious accidents with the unpredictable hand of Providence, not with airbags, safety testing and the regulations that have put them in place. ... Here is the other reason that I thanked Honda: Automobile safety is a cause that is very important to me. I understand from painful personal experience just how fragile the human body can be and how savage a car can become during an accident. I did not want to waste an opportunity to credit a company that saved a life by doing the right thing. More importantly, I do not want to contribute to the mistaken idea that surviving a motor vehicle accident is more a stroke of luck or divine providence than the result of human actions and decisions.

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Image by Shutterstock 

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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