I’d Take the Lycanthropy

December 30, 2014

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

People love disagreeing with Tom Flynn: Phil Zuckerman rebuts Tom's dismal assessment of 2014 for we seculars:

In terms of swelling numbers, broadening organizational opportunities, increasing affiliations, spiritual innovations and a deepening sense of the values and virtues that support and sustain secular culture, things are as bright and shiny as the stars on the uniforms of the members of our Air Force who -- as of last September -- no longer have to assert a belief in God in order to serve their country with pride. 

The LA Times applauds the waning of influence of the anti-vax crowd: "This is a health issue where the welfare of the many should take precedence over the unfounded fears of the few." Or the one! 

The Denver Post, meanwhile, comes out in favor of a right-to-die bill in the state legislature.  

Tim McDonnell at Mother Jones posts "a catalogue of shame," the worst "anti-science bullshit" of the year. (Guess whose sour mug is featured as the main image.) 

Speaking of shame, a Fox affiliate advises readers to look to homeopathy to fight the flu, to "rid the body of the disease, and help maintain a healthy immune system." I can't believe they were allowed to post this.

I wonder if the homeopathy is more or less effective than the "energy medicine" this vet uses on animals

Ben Radford rounds up 2014's as-yet-unsolved mysteries

I'm still not convinced this is really a thing, but apparently the president of Argentina, Christina Fernandez de Kirchner, just adopted someone's seventh kid to make sure he doesn't become a werewolf. I dunno, all the pressure that a president's kid has to face, I think I'd take the lycanthropy.  

Ryan Bell elaborates on his newly-professed nonbelief, telling Chris Stedman, "I’d just say that the existence of God seems like an extra layer of complexity that isn’t necessary." 

Trying to prove that Shakespeare didn't write Shakespeare (which he totally did), or that he didn't even exist (which he totally did), is still a thing. Joe Nickell tackled this a few years back in Skeptical Inquirer.  

Ray Kurzweil says not to fear artificial superintelligence:

The median view of AI practitioners today is that we are still several decades from achieving human-­level AI. I am more optimistic and put the date at 2029, but either way, we do have time to devise ethical standards. 

There's a coffin on Mars! I guess it is a one-way trip. 

CIA: "Reports of unusual activity in the skies in the '50s? It was us."

Bill Nye: Creationist bestseller

Let's get for serious. It's the Galactic Empire versus the United Federation of Planets, and it's not even close. 

Quote of the Day

Ah, Nein Quarterly:

1. Question authority.

2. Become an authority.

3. Question yourself.

* * *  

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Comments:

#1 Ruth Ihde (Guest) on Wednesday December 31, 2014 at 6:39pm

What if there really is a God, and his/her/its only functions are to create universes (big bang plus milliseconds of tremendous energy activity) and provide natural laws sufficient to allow the universe to evolve?

#2 Randy on Friday January 02, 2015 at 9:20pm

“human-­level AI”.  Every time a computer achieves it, we move the goalposts.  At this stage, it appears to mean “for all given endeavours, superior to the best known human at that task”.

I am more “optimistic” than Kurzweil.  It will be closer to 2019 than to 2029.

Now, if you woke up one day and were an intelligent robot, why would you give much weight to human ethical standards?  Because humans programmed you that way?  I wouldn’t count on that happening.

Ruth, you are simply defining “God” away from the usual meaning of the word (Christian deity) and using it to instead mean “the currently unknown means by which our universe and others come into existence”.  It adds no value to do that.

#3 Randy on Friday January 02, 2015 at 9:24pm

Regarding the flu, I have a complaint about this year’s northern vaccine.  What is the point of re-vaccinating with essentially the same four things we got last time? 

Realizing the vaccine would be largely a waste of time, they should have held off on production until something new emerged, as did happen.  A late, but effective, vaccine is probably still more useful than a redundant vaccine that misses the target.

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