Quetzalcoatl Didn’t Return on His Raft of Snakes

January 27, 2015

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

Yesterday, we called upon President Obama to push the Saudis to free Raif Badawi and other jailed dissidents when the president was to meet with King Salman. But given Obama's discussion with Fareed Zakaria, I'm going to guess he won't.

Vox has a useful primer on Saudi Arabia and how it came to be what it is, though I wish it didn't have to be framed in that "but were afraid to ask" trope. Can we just not be afraid to ask? Can we just be okay with the idea that not everyone knows everything about everything? Okay I'll stop. 

Skeptical Inquirer looks at what happens to those who think the world is going to end at a certain date, and then it doesn't. "Quetzalcoatl didn’t return on his raft of snakes." Dammit. 

Speaking of which, John L. Allen Jr. of the Catholic publication Crux says Pope Francis may harbor some apocalyptic beliefs himself, and that's why he appears to have "a sense of urgency." Hm.  

Greece's new prime minister? An atheist. 

Hey look! CFI's legal director Nick Little is on TV, sort of! He was the guest co-host for The Road to Reason on Fairfax Public Access. Dude should just have his own show, is what I'm saying.

Mona Eltahawy at NYT writes about Egypt's crackdown on atheism and other marginal groups:

In this atmosphere, it’s impossible to gauge people’s candid views on religion. For those who don’t genuflect to the official order, a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in Egypt long provided cover. But to admit atheism is to invite not just arrest but a threat to one’s life.

Melinda Gates reacts to the anti-vax movement:

Women in the developing world know the power of [vaccines]. They will walk 10 kilometers in the heat with their child and line up to get a vaccine because they have seen death. ... [Americans have] forgotten what measles death looks like."  

But Andrew Gumbel at the Guardian reports that despite the increased coverage of measles and the outbreaks at Disneyland, the anti-vaxxers hold on to their utter wrongness

And Emily Foxhall at the LA Times reports that despite the increased coverage of measles and the outbreaks at Disneyland, the anti-vaxxers hold on to their utter wrongness. WAIT A MINUTE DIDN'T I JUST SAY THAT

Gerry Duggan on Twitter gets himself blocked by Jenny McCarthy:

Looks like Jenny McCarthy vaccinated herself against...

(•_•) 

( •_•)>⌐■-■ 

(⌐■_■)

...the MEasles.  

Steven Pinker defends free expression, specifically satire:

Satire can stealthily challenge assumptions that are second nature to an audience by forcing them to see that those assumptions lead to consequences that everyone recognizes are absurd. 

The Point of Inquiry team is off today, so we have a "POI Classic" episode with atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel, a political conservative who struggles to get his ideological fellows to accept climate science. 

Delaware Governor Jack Markell issues a Darwin Day proclamation, which includes, "Whereas, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is the foundation of modern biology, an essential tool in understanding the development of life on earth..."   

Edhat Santa Barbara glowingly covers Skeptical Inquirer editor Kendrick Frazier's presentation with the Humanist Society of Santa Barbara. 

Steven Newton at NCSE takes the cosmic view on our ability to survive our self-inflicted climate crisis:

As we continue this planetary-scale geoengineering experiment of pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and seeing what happens, it’s worth considering that maybe this path has already been taken by predecessors a long time ago, in galaxies far, far away. Why don’t we hear them now? 

A new survey shows that Americans know pretty much nothing about Sikhism, which, you know, is not shocking. "Nothing" is only a little bit less than what I know. 

The Orange, Florida school board may nix the Bible and Satantic coloring book giveaways.

Jean Kim at WaPo looks at the weird balance to be struck by atheist psychiatrists with patients who are believers

OMG the Yeti is in Boston lol

Quote of the Day

It's a tie! From the same guy!

Matt Novak, writing at Factually (which is another Gawker site, and I think Gawker spawns a new site every hour or so), rounds up the 9 worst fake-news sites, and I am down with his choices, with particular sympathy for his position on the New Yorker's Borowitz Report:

Perhaps The Borowitz Report is an indictment of modern politics in the most crushing way. Maybe Borowitz is using his platform as a kind of long con that ultimately makes us realize we live in a world that's simply beyond parody. But for the time being, it seems to serve primarily as something to get passed around and mistaken for real news. ... Is The Borowitz Report working on an entirely new level? Is it so bad that it's good? Probably not.  

And! Novak's headline for his short piece on Mehmet Oz at Gizmodo (Gawker site):

"Dr. Oz Is Still Full of Shit."
 
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Comments:

#1 Randy on Tuesday January 27, 2015 at 10:06pm

Congratulations to Greece!  Hopefully Tsipras won’t embarrass or disappoint like Gillard did in Australia on equality.

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