Warming Up Relentlessly

January 21, 2016

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

So this is a big, big day for us. If you didn't already get the email or the press release, let me be the first to tell you that CFI has merged with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, and their executive director, Robyn Blumner, is taking over for Ron Lindsay as CEO. Huge, right? Do you need a moment? It's cool, it's cool, I get it. There's a lot to figure out and a lot to do, but you can get more information in this handy-dandy F.A.Q. about the merger, which talks about how it will all work, what role Prof. Dawkins will play, and stuff like that.  

To no one's surprise, but to everyone's despair, 2015 was officially the hottest year in the historical record, "by far." Said Gerald A. Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, "The whole system is warming up, relentlessly." Great. 

Joe Biden tells the rich, powerful, and influential in Davos to put pressure on anti-gay, oppressive governments. "You can change the terms of debate. You actually put governments on notice."   

Justin Scott, the atheist who just got Marco Rubio to talk about atheism and whatnot, also gets to Carly Fiorina, who said:

You’re free to believe whatever you’d like in this country. So if you’re an atheist, good for you. I happen to be a Christian. I happen to believe that our Christian values help me as a leader, because they make me humble and empathetic and optimistic. And I think all of those qualities are vital in leadership.

No one is coercing you in any way. However, many Christians are being coerced not to practice their religion. So religious liberty is under assault in this country. When our federal government is suing the Little Sisters of the Poor in the Supreme Court, denying them their ability to practice their religion, that’s a problem. 

The Department of Education will create a searchable database of religious colleges and universities that have taken advantage of religious exemptions to Title IX.

Zimbabwe does what Pakistan could not, as its Constitutional Court bars marriage for people under 18. The court said that the country's constitution "permits no exception for religious, customary or cultural practices that permit child marriage, nor does it allow for exceptions based on the consent of public official, parents or guardians." 

Susan Gerbic investigates what's up with this young psychic-medium-wunderkind and "grief vampire" Tyler Henry, for Skeptical Inquirer

He states that his goal in life is to someday work with parents who have children that committed suicide. Is he going to corrupt these parents’ memories of their lost children for his own self-promotion and profit? Or is he sincerely convinced of his “powers,” truly believing he will be helping these parents? 

Canada will not be offering Raif Badawi citizenship, which Ensaf Haidar believed would help his case with Saudi Arabia, but it was argued that it would not because Saudi Arabia does not recognize dual citizenship. Nor, apparently do they recognize human rights, free expression, science, or mercy. 

A Colorado property owner allegedly consults a psychic to determine the "uniqueness" of a same-sex couple in order to be able to refuse to rent to them.  

Prof. Yaakov Malkin, director of the International Institute for Humanistic Secular Judaism, has his home in Jerusalem vandalized with religious symbols, and finds a knife and a threatening letter on the scene.

It's interesting how badly some religious conservatives really want to believe that Trump is "godless."  

Research in the UK looks at how police there rely on a lot of psychlogy myths in their work. Alex Fradera at Research Digest writes:

Training of UK police is in many areas strongly evidence-based, yet the police group were as likely to endorse the psychological misconceptions as the lay participants, having faith on average in 18 of the 50 false statements. 

Pope Fluffy is auctioning off a popemobile for charity.   

Andrew Tarantola at Engadget rounds up various military aircraft that folks thought were alien spacecraft, but, you know, weren't.

Ben Radford looks at why celebrity deaths immediately bring up claims of hoaxes. "Ironically news stories of celebrity death hoaxes (not including this one, of course) help perpetuate the hoaxes." 

Oh, and congrats to Ben for winning a Border Regional Library Association Southwest Book Award for Mysterious New Mexico

So, I had no idea that prime numbers had to be "discovered," but apparently they do, and they found a really big one, written as 274,207,281 - 1 

In Florida (of course) a doctor is barred from asking patients about their guns. (Not their muscular arms, I mean bang-bang-kill things.) This prompts Jann Bellamy to muse, 'Perhaps we need a constitutional 'right to science' to protect the public against scientifically unsound legislative decisions." 

Science vs. everything else

Quote of the Day:

Ted Cruz has raised the idea that JFK would have been a Cruz ally if he were alive to today. Jack Kennedy Schlossberg, grandson of JFK, says, um, wrong:
 
The contrast is stark. Kennedy gave science and technology the highest national priority with his expansion of the space program. Most of the Republican Party denies climate change and has fought all efforts to address it.

Kennedy believed in religious liberty and the separation of church and state. He did not believe in the right of elected officials to impose their religious views on others.
 
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Comments:

#1 Randy on Saturday January 23, 2016 at 3:20am

“Canada will not be offering Raif Badawi citizenship”

What, Canada’s new Liberal government won’t offer citizenship to try to save an innocent man’s life, just because he’s not from Syria?

We sure won’t!  Why would we want to annoy our new customer for military equipment, for the next 14 or so years—a state that is essentially Islamic State, but with defined borders and more oil, and lots of money to spend on us?

And don’t forget our colleges.  We don’t want our all-male college campuses in Saudi Arabia shut down.

Sunny ways, my friends, sunny ways.  Wanna take a selfie?  Maybe Justin’s wife can sing a song about it.

I am so ashamed of this country.  If Bernie doesn’t make it to the White House, please send him up here.  We need a conscience.

#2 Randy on Saturday January 23, 2016 at 3:35am

“Zimbabwe does what Pakistan could not”

... and indeed what the United States and Canada do not.  Generally US people 16 and 17 can marry with parental consent, and US people below 16 can marry with parental consent plus a court order.  In Canada, 16 and 17 (and 18 in some provinces) can marry with parental consent plus a court order.

Since marriage is no longer seriously regarded as a lifetime contract, to the point that people now have what are called “starter” marriages, and given the difficulty of single living, it makes sense to make available the protections of marriage to these people, rather than ban them as some sort of taboo.

That said, marriage is in decline, and the median age of first marriage is increasing, so this may be a moot point, soon.

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