Sucker Bet

January 4, 2016

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

Happy new year. Not looking good so far:

Saudi Arabia executes 47 people for "terrorism," including Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, a Shia religious leader, charged with leading anti-government demonstrations. (We were among those protesting his sentencing in November.) Iran is extremely pissed about this, and while also fuming over the massive death toll of the hajj stampedes in September, cuts diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia. So I'm sure this will all work itself out calmly.  

Militia-folk take over a federal building in an Oregon wildlife refuge. 

Trump does his first TV ad of the whole campaign, and it's all ban-the-Muslims and evil Mexicans. He also stars, unwittingly, in an al-Shabab recruitment video

Antonin Scalia, who we already knew was not warm and fuzzy about secularism, just lets it all hang out in a speech at a Catholic school:

To tell you the truth there is no place for [religious neutrality] in our constitutional tradition. Where did that come from? To be sure, you can't favor one denomination over another but can't favor religion over non-religion? ... God has been very good to us. That we won the revolution was extraordinary. The Battle of Midway was extraordinary. I think one of the reasons God has been good to us is that we have done him honor. Unlike the other countries of the world that do not even invoke his name we do him honor.

Lucy Wescott at Newsweek covers the story of the death sentence imposed of the killers of atheist blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider in Bangladesh in 2013, and chronicles the killings from 2015 as well, noting CFI's relationship to Avijit Roy.

Charlie Hebdo get set to mark the anniversary of the massacre, and as Hemant notes, "What’s sad is how little has changed since a year ago." Yep. The city of Paris will mark the day with a ceremony.

Moving on to nicer things.

CSI Fellow and physicist Mark Boslough continues his epic troll of climate-change deniers, betting $25,000 against any organization saying global warming won't continue. The thing? "But it doesn't matter. It's a sucker bet. Everyone knows that global warming is real."  

Stephen Law never stops looking for creative ways to communicate secularism and science and all that. It's great! The latest idea is for an animated short, and he's posted the audio of the project

A collection of essays on inequality, to which I am a contributor, is about to be published, and you can get a preview copy now if you like: Wicked Problems Collaborative Book 1: “What do we do about inequality?” I feel like I wrote my essay about 1000 years ago, so I read it anew recently, and hey! It didn't suck.

Politiwoops, the site that archived politicians' deleted tweets, has been un-banned from Twitter

Britain gets its first humanist hospital chaplain, Jane Flint. 

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram says Texas governor Greg Abbott was wrong to take down FFRF's "nativity" display in the state capitol, saying:

Bill of Rights protections often make people uncomfortable. This display should have come under First Amendment protection.

Longreads posts a reading list of recent pieces on astrology. I predict you will or will not read one or some or none of them. 

The guy who started the whole "paleo" diet craze acknowledges some of the concept's pitfalls, and calls for a 70% gradual population reduction. Hm. 

Ma'am, you have a demon in your uterus

Gus Lubin and Will Martin at Business Insider suggest some places to go when the world is about to end. Are you okay, guys? 

Quote of the Day:

John Cleese:
 
I would like 2016 to be the year when people remembered that science is a method of investigation, and NOT a belief system.
 
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Original image by Shutterstock

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