Sources Close to Hell

January 13, 2014

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

The NPR media criticism show On the Media (my favorite!) does an episode chock full of skeptical goodness. It's got fake science being reported as fact, journalists being duped by political ringers, creationism's stealth campaign, and even telemarketing cyborgs.

If I were a kid again, and not averse to nature, sunlight, and other people, I'd be begging my parents to send me to Camp InquirySave the date: August 3-9!

CFI gets a very cool new addition to its Board of Directors: global development expert Hector F. Sierra. From our announcement:

“The most precious resource a country has is not its visible infrastructure and wealth but what is inside people’s minds,” wrote Dr. Sierra in an article last year for CFI’s Free Inquiry magazine. “Just as there are dysfunctional policies, there are dysfunctional beliefs and traditions that can be costly to a country.”  

Researchers from the University of Tampa and Iowa State University are conducting a survey on the beliefs of and goals of skepto-atheists. Click here if you want to take part.

CFI-DC's Simon Davis turns down the temperature on the excitement over atheism-experimenting pastor Ryan Bell, who was fired by his Christian employers:

[T]hese employers are under no obligation – legal or moral – to entertain Bell’s recent experimentation with atheism. The fact that he’s simply giving it a shot doesn’t change the fact that he is publicly stating his intention to not follow the the tenets that they require him to uphold.  

And speaking of the DC branch, February 9 Paul Offit will be the guest speaker, talking about the sense and nonsense of alt-med.   

This Friday, CFI-Long Island hosts mathematician Jason Rosenhouse, who braved the belly of the creationist beast and lived to tell the tale.

Dennis Murphy tweets this pic of CFI-Michiganders helping out at the Feeding America food bank.

The Guardian asks scientists and artists (??) which scientific ideas need to be retired.

Mauritanian journalist Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed reportedly faces a death sentence for apostasy, for writing critically about the Prophet. There is also a bounty on his head from an Islamic cleric. 

Apparently, Anglicans no longer have to reject Satan by name in baptism. Damian Thompson reports, "Sources close to hell report that the Devil is pleased that he’s no longer mentioned by name." 

Despite the hysteria, Ben Radford takes the blame for the Aurora shooting 18 months ago off of Batman.  

Before you pop those vitamins, you might want to check in with Steven Salzberg's do-not-pop list.

Sharon Hill is agog at all the old and recycled pseudoscience stories popping up of late. "So, do local news media get their stories from Reddit? And do they do ZERO fact checking?"

This is kind of fascinating. The Boston Globe interviews Dr. Josephine Briggs of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and she's kind of, well, level-headed about what alt-med can't do, though seems rather bullish about placebos.

Not surprisingly, a lot of parents of kids with autism are turning to alt-med (40% in the study cited). 

Jehovah's Witness who "cannot sit in judgment of another human being" only lets this be known at the end of a trial at which she was a juror, causing a mistrial.

Filmmaker Darrin Johnson makes a short documentary on nonbelievers of color

Jeffrey Tayler has "15 ways atheists can stand up for rationality," many of which are bound to cause disagreements. Oh, and it's in Salon! And I'm all, huh? 

Snake-handling pastor escapes indictment for breaking a state law forbidding the possession of poisonous snakes. 

The Russian Orthodox Church wants anti-sodomy laws put to popular vote has a bunch of cryptid articles

Here's how everything will end

Here's your Monday morning palette cleanser: Smithsonian posts the Mars rovers' loveliest photos

Quote of the Day

Neil deGrasse Tyson and the upcoming Cosmos reboot get cover treatment in the hyper-mainstream Parade. (And the photo of NdT makes him look like a plastic action figure. That's Parade for you, I guess.) Spoiler alert for the end of the article, it has a great nerd joke from a fan of Tyson's, 11-year-old Giuseppe Lombardo:

Playing off the size of a gigabyte (1,024 megabytes), [Giuseppe] asks, “Have you heard of the band 1020 Megabytes?” “No,” says Tyson, curious. “Of course you haven’t,” Giuseppe says. “They haven’t got any gigs yet!” 

* * *    

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. 

Follow CFI on Twitter: @center4inquiry 

Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)! 

The Morning Heresy: "I actually read it." - Hemant Mehta