Kicking at Your Screen

January 20, 2016

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

Point of Inquiry this week has host Lindsay Beyerstein in conversation with Dr. David Grimes, author of Every Third Woman in America: How Legal Abortion Transformed Our Nation

At Skeptical Inquirer, Matan Shelomi shows how we humans share something in common with produce at the grocery store: we may all be, in a way, GMOs:

A study published this March conservatively estimated that primates have on average thirty-two foreign genes per species (there are thirty-nine in humans), with maximum estimates up to 109 in primates and 145 in humans from sources including plants, fungi, protists, bacteria, archaea, and even viruses  

Perhaps Donald Trump could build a wall to stop those foreign species from coming in? 

Jeffrey Tayler performs a kind of exegesis on Marco Rubio's political theology. In Iowa, atheist Justin Scott asks Rubio about his overt religiosity, to which Rubio responds:

No one is going to force you to believe in God, but no one is going to force me to stop talking about God. ... You have a right to believe whatever you want. You have a right to believe in nothing at all. 

Palin endorses Trump, or, as I observed, "McCain’s running mate endorses man who mocked his 5 years of torture." 

Kimberly Winston profiles the latest legal quest of Michael Newdow, to remove "In God We Trust" from the money. Newdow got Ben Carson's (remember him?) attention, who tweeted his support for the God-motto. This prompted a bunch of other folks to tweet right back some "e pluribus unum" action.

Joe Nickell brings his skeptical wisdom to the question of spontaneous human combustion for Atlas Obscura

Our On Campus affiliate of the week is the University of Kansas Society of Open-Minded Atheists & Agnostics, or "SOMA," or as I thought it was at first, "UKSOMAA," which is more fun to say. 

A province in Pakistan is looking at legislation to regulate Friday sermons in mosques to prevent anyone's religious feelings from being hurt. 

At The New Statesman, John Gray weirdly argues that since humans may have evolved to believe in the supernatural, it's a bad idea to do away with religion. I think we also evolved to be tribalistic and to not trust people who don't look like us, so I guess we're doing it all wrong.

Christopher Stroop at Religion Dispatches looks at what he calls "theological paranoia" coming from Christian colleges:

For those of us not directly tied to evangelical institutions of higher education, the least we can do in solidarity with the faculty caught up in witch-hunts and the students who are being deprived of an authentic liberal arts education (and in some cases bullied), is to let them know that we are paying attention, and that we are not indifferent.  

Patriarch Kirill, head of the super-fun Russian Orthodox Church, says the rise of ISIS can be pinned on atheists and gays

A really deep crevice seems to be in Loch Ness, which means of course that this is where Nessie is hiding.  

Quote of the Day:

This explains so much. Melissa Dahl talks to neuroscientist R. Douglas Fields about why we "snap":
 
DAHL: So a thing that sparks the most inexplicable rage in my small life is my incredibly, frustratingly slow internet connection at home. Which trigger could that be?
 
FIELDS: That’s a good example. It’s the S trigger, and the S stands for stopped. You’re stopped — it’s like you’re being restrained. And any time an animal is restrained, it will engage in an aggressive reaction to get free. It’ll chew its arm off if it’s in a trap. And people will do the same thing — you know, that backpacker who cut his arm off when he was trapped. And that’s extreme violence.

But here’s the key: Your internet’s slow, or you’re stuck in traffic. Why are you suddenly angry, fuming angry, instead of some other human emotion, like dreadfully bored? That is because anger is [meant] to prepare you to fight. That’s what it’s there for. It’s tripped this trigger to prepare you to fight, because you are trapped. And the minute you recognize that — you’re on the internet and nothing’s loading, and you start to get riled up — if you just think, Oh, I’m angry because of the S trigger, it just goes away. You realize kicking at your screen is not going to solve this problem. 
 
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Original image by Shutterstock

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Comments:

#1 Randy on Wednesday January 20, 2016 at 8:39pm

“if you just think, Oh, I’m angry because of the S trigger, it just goes away”

This is a person who has never been angry.

Once you realize we live in an overpopulated and rapidly-changing world which cannot possibly be managed correctly be anyone, your expectations go through the floor, so there’s not so much to get angry about.

Pessimism for the win, Peter.

#2 Randy on Wednesday January 20, 2016 at 8:42pm

“Patriarch Kirill”

I so wish I could post a link to Pink Flamingos “egg man” scene, right now.

#3 Randy on Wednesday January 20, 2016 at 8:49pm

It wasn’t clear from the quote what “theological paranoia” means, but apparently it means the suppression of dissenting views on Christian campuses.

On the one hand, Protestant Christianity is all about dissent.  But as you’ll note from the resultant splintering, it’s also about exclusion and purity.

Why would we be surprised, then, that purity would be enforced at Christian “universities”?  It’s baked in.

More disturbing is the suppression of dissent on secular campuses, who have no such grounds for suppression and censorship.

#4 Randy on Wednesday January 20, 2016 at 8:59pm

SOMA
UKSOMAA
UnKheSOnaMAn
Ankhesenamun, wife of King Tut

Let the conspiracy theories and ghost stories begin!

#5 Randy on Wednesday January 20, 2016 at 9:11pm

“we may all be, in a way, GMOs:”

Someone, somewhere, will of course try to edit this out.  It reminds me of my misguided attempts to modify purchased software back in the good ole days when there were no protections against doing so.  You could just edit the executable right there… change a value, turn a conditional into a hard jump, replace a bunch of code with “no operation”. whatever.  My conclusion is it’s a bad idea.  Too often, the results aren’t what you think they’ll be.  And I suspect it’s much easier and safer to modify machine language with a particular goal in mind, than it is to modify DNA.

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