January 26, 2016
The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Those antiabortion activists that secretly recorded conversations with folks at Planned Parenthood? And tried to make it look like they were selling baby parts? Right? Remember? Well funny thing: they managed to get a grand jury to look at what Planned Parenthood was doing, and, doesn't it just figure, and like you'd never guess, but the grand jury winds up indicting not Planned Parenthood, but the people who did the misleading sting videos! Classic, right? And PP has been cleared of any wrongdoing! What do you know, huh? What a world. I tell ya.
Point of Inquiry this week is a little different, as Josh Zepps interviews Rabbi Mark Wildes, who argues that the millennial "nones" who are spiritually searching should really take a look at the God of the Torah (or as POI producer Nora Hurley joked to me, "The O.G.-G.O.D.")
Hold up. A federal judge has reinstated the tax incentives a lower court rightly rejected for Ken Ham's "Ark Encounter" creationist theme park in Kentucky. First our suit in Florida is rejected, and now this. What. Is. Happening.
We have an action alert for National School Choice Week (you know, the rallying cry for fans of voucher schemes) to urge folks to tell their representatives to oppose measures that send taxpayer money to private and religious schools. The Washington Free Beacon reports on the activity surrounding the issue, including our opposition.
Our pals at CFI–Canada post a congratulatory note to us for our merger with the Richard Dawkins Foundation, and it is much appreciated.
Chris Kirk at Slate has a dispiriting map showing a state-by-state breakdown of publicly-funded schools that hawk creationism. It is not a pretty picture.
Sian Townson at The Guardian looks at why we fall for pseudoscientific claims in health and medicine, with such reasons as the sunk cost fallacy and "inverted snobbery":
As a nation, the British have always been wary of the “social elite” and academics are included under that label of privilege. Many people bristle at the idea of listening to those with multiple degrees talking down from on high to “correct” the less educated. Academics have a reputation for being blinkered, arrogant, patronising and intolerant of those whose specialities differ from their own. But for every toffee-nosed academic I’ve met, there have been plenty of humble, engaging, enthusiastic ones who love their subjects and just want to get the word out there.
I've never heard of rapper B.o.B, but he apparently thinks the Earth is flat, and is arguing in verse with Neil deGrasse Tyson about it, and it's all very weird.
Alison Stevenson at VICE cites Skeptical Inquirer contributor and CSI Fellow Stuart Vyse in a piece about "the Evil Eye." (Whoa, I just realized...VYSE in VICE. Whoa.) Stevenson says:
I realize I've used it as an excuse to keep myself from getting close to people, even though what I really fear is being hurt, not cursed.
CFI's David Koepsell says, and I'm paraphrasing, "Science journals? TEAR DOWN THIS PAYWALL."
Pope Francis asks for forgiveness for the Catholic Church's past persecution of Protestants, as the 500th anniversary of the Reformation approaches.
Joe Nickell favorably reviews the book Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot.
Joe also investigates the 1932 Blanenboro, NC fire, "another example of the poltergeist-faking syndrome."
Bangka-Belitung, a province of Indonesia, just up and bans the practice of Ahmadiyah Islam. "A spokesman for the religious affairs ministry declined to comment on the issue." Yeah.
Bigfoot is trying to rig elections. Not really, but it might as well be.
Quote of the Day:
BeliefNet, which I didn't know was still around, serves up a big bowl of pseudoscience salad about how to activate one's psychic powers:
So how do you activate your Third Eye Chakra and open your clairvoyant abilities? It’s all rooted in the pineal gland, a small endocrine gland that produces melatonin. It’s located in the center of our brain between the left and right side. The pineal gland is about the size of a pea and looks like a small pine cone. It has long been known that if you activate this tiny gland, you will awaken psychic abilities.
Guys, it's "long been known"! Why are we all just sitting around all being non-psychic and whatnot?!?! It's LONG BEEN KNOWN.
Original image by Shutterstock.
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