Love the Method

January 13, 2016

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

Yesterday we found out that award-winning Saudi human rights activist Samar Badawi, sister to Raif and wife to Raif's one-time attorney Waleed Abu al-Khair (both in Saudi prison), was arrested for allegedly using her husband's Twitter account. We did not take kindly to this, and spoke out strongly. Samar is an ally and friend of ours, and Michael De Dora has been keeping close track of what's happening. Our response and our ability to confirm particular details were noted by the APThe GuardianThe Independent, and others. We just moments ago found out that she's been released for now, but will be appearing before police tomorrow.

The president gave his last State of the Union last night, and of you watched the official White House feed as I did, you were treated to an extremely annoying powerpoint-slideshow-thing distracting you from the actual speech. Anyhoo, David Gibson tallies up all the guests-as-symbols that folks brought to the speech, such as Kim Davis and, on the opposite end, Jim Obergefell. Ted Cruz tweeted:

If I'm elected POTUS, there'll be an empty seat for the over 50 million unborn children killed since Roe

That's weird in so many ways. 

Oh, and Joe Biden has been tasked with curing cancer

Point of Inquiry is back from its winter slumber to bring you neuroscientist John C. Wathey who talks about how religious belief might be "hardwired" into humans.

Oh hey the Secular Coalition for American (of which CFI is a member) got a new boss! Say hi to Larry Decker, no atheist by the way, but an "unaffiliated Christian." Decker says:

I feel very strongly that the nontheistic worldview is valuable and needs to be respected and represented in both the political conversation and in society at large. I have no problem going toe­-to-­toe with anyone who dares to invoke their religion in an effort to silence nontheists. 

U.S. sailors are briefly detained by Iran after something went screwy with their navigation systems, and then they were sent back on their way, and everyone was alright. So of course get ready for calls for us to go to war over it.

Mark Zuckerberg posts about his new baby getting vaccinated, and the anti-vaxxers are attracted like flies. Buzz buzz.

The University of Wollongong in Australia is going to give a PhD to a candidate whose thesis was about how the WHO and other health agencies are in a conspiracy with Big Pharma to get people to use evil vaccines.

Ben Radford gets to the heart of what's wrong with all the evil-Big-Pharma conspiracy theories, saying, "However satisfying it may be to demonize an entire industry, we must not be too quick to give the Devil more than his due." 

Lawrence Krauss tweets, people go nuts: Gravitational waves may -- may -- have been discovered

Tracy Chabala at Motherboard introduces us to Reverend Joey Talley, who uses magic to exorcise viruses from computers

Katie Gordon at The Rapidian talks up the Know Your Neighbor project that CFI helped launch at the White House last month. 

Makers of the retail version of the drinking game "Never Have I Ever" seem to think that among one's potential bad life decisions, they needed to include "being an atheist."

Kylie Sturgess interviews Joseph Fink, cocreator of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, a fictional radio show set in a town where conspiracy theories are all true. This sounds neat!

Gerald Harris of something called "The Christian Index" says that secular humanism is one of the enemies of religious liberty (natch), and specifically names CFI as one of said enemies. Score! 

Barbara Drescher does the math on playing the lottery, and finds that while it may be sort of "rational," it's not necessarily "wise."

Dawn Darbonne at The Vermillion: "We are questioning beings wanting answers that may not even exist. Atheism’s lack of easy answers is a virtue, not a vice." 

Kristy Loye describes the process that brought her from evangelicalism to atheism, and concludes:

Claiming to care for people out of some kind of evangelical compulsion—a commandment that ultimately condemns—is not love. We love because we chose to love, not because we are told to do so. 

Some lovely and woeful pictorial reminders of how meaningless we all are

Quote of the Day:

Emily Schoerning at NCSE considers the criticisms of the Facebook phenomenon "I F*cking Love Science" and its focus on the less substantive aspects of science:
 
An appreciation of these surface level features of science- the beautiful micrographs and the vast images from space, the strange factoids, the fun trivia—is not a bad thing. When we love something, we often enjoy the surface. But there is a difference between loving something and enjoying the surface, and that difference in good part involves an appreciation and understanding of what lies below that surface. Some other bloggers have made reasonable arguments that it’s important to care about scientists.They say that if you really love science you’ll vote and work to increase research budgets, and those are definitely important things to do!  In 2016 we’re looking at some solid research funding increases, which is great news. Advocating for science is important, but an appreciation for what goes into producing those striking images and cool results goes beyond the money. The real thing to love is the method.
 
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Original image by Shutterstock

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Comments:

#1 Brian Buchbinder (Guest) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 at 8:24am

I ended up watching the Time mag feed because the WH feed was so annoying.  The video quality was awful, but no power point.  Our group sighed in relief that the Pres. did not go through the introduction litany with the symbolic guests.

#2 Randy on Friday January 15, 2016 at 11:53am

“and then they were sent back on their way”

No.  First they were treated to what looks like a delightful meal of Persian food. 

Why wasn’t I invited?

#3 Randy on Friday January 15, 2016 at 11:57am

“Say hi to Larry Decker, no atheist”

This is the true definition of religious freedom.  The segregation built into the US’s current civil rights laws was properly rejected for race, and ought to be rejected for religion.

If you can do the job, that should be it.

(Whether religious jobs such as indoctrination should exist at all is another matter…)

#4 Randy on Friday January 15, 2016 at 12:05pm

“an extremely annoying powerpoint-slideshow-thing distracting you from the actual speech”

Absolutely not. 

This was a welcome change from the standard fare of: POTUS makes bold claim, appropriate side of the chamber applauds for 10 seconds, on to the next bold claim.

It was at least some attempt to flesh out the ideas presented in the speech, reducing the “citation needed” moments somewhat.

And it was a way of including people (e.g. Edith Windsor) directly into the presentation, being even more effective than including them (e.g. Jim Obergefell) with the First Lady.

#5 Randy on Friday January 15, 2016 at 12:13pm

“religious belief might be ‘hardwired’ into humans.”

Well, I’m a counterexample to that.  While I was willing to give adults the benefit of the doubt on the “god” thing (and there was tremendous pressure to do so) I never really bought it.  I just considered these people to be kind of silly, until they demonstrated how harmful they could be.

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