People Shriek Their Secularism

February 17, 2016

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

Bangladesh police shut down a stall at a Dhaka book fair because it is reported that some of the books "hurt religious feelings." Police also arrest three people for the publication of the book Islam Debate. One year after his murder, Avijit Roy's works are no longer being sold at the book fair as sellers and publishers fear meeting the same fate. The U.S.'s ambassador in Dhaka expresses optimism for a "breakthrough" in the year-old case.

Meanwhile, 57 schools in Bangladesh are closed for two days following claims of a mystery illness, which Ben Radford says "has all the textbook signs of a mass hysteria outbreak." 

There is so much stuff going on at CFI these days, it's nuts. Come join the insanity be becoming one our next outreach or CFI–Michigan interns

VICE has a new short documentary, this time on the challenges faced by those dare to try to leave Islam in certain parts of the world.

Staks Rosch is at Publishers Weekly interviewing Susan Jacoby about her new book Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion.

Two interesting and rather empathetic pieces popped up on what's going on with the refusal to accept the good of vaccines and other accepted scientific realities. Robin Lloyd at SciAm thinks the "war on science" meme doesn't quite fit when we're talking about people who are just scared of things beyond their control, and Maggie Koerth-Baker at Aeon sees the "rationality" of a parent who just wants to protect their kid from what they see as dangerous vaccines, even at the expense of other people.

Luis Alfonso Gámez brings a new Spanish-language piece to the Skeptical Inquirer site, reflecting on the implausibility of alien visitation, and some basic factors that are often forgotten. (I know this because Google Translate is a thing in Chrome.) 

Yikes. Human rights activist says he is the "latest victim" of "McCarthyite-style smears" by other activists, accusing him of being racist and transphobic. 

Ted Cruz says gluten-free meals for members of the military are a sop to political correctness. Uh, not quite, dude.

New research suggests that those who believe in psychic powers aren't necessarily "less intelligent" than skeptics (which I didn't think to begin with, but that's because I'm sooooo intelligent), but rather have less developed analytical thinking skills. I personally think that lends to some more contructive ways of thinking about the divide, that it's a skill, which can be learned, as opposed to some character flaw. I have lots of those, by the way.

Jeffrey S. Gurock at RNS notes just how unnotable Sanders' Jewishness has been so far. 

As No Child Left Behind is left behind, Adam R. Shapiro considers what becomes of the creationism/intelligent design debates under the Every Student Succeeds Act. 

Here's one thing still happening: Idaho is considering a bill to allow the Bible to be part of the curricula for science classes. 

NASA's gorgeous promotional space-travel posters are available to download and print at will. They are NICE and Jupiter looks like a ton of fun.

Biology bros and their biases? Bad. 

Pope Fluffy says Jesus doesn't want you to be a professional murderer. That's cool. Also, Francis will get VERY un-fluffy with you if you make him fall on a kid in a wheelchair, AS HE SHOULD. BE COOL, PEOPLE.

A teenage boy in Florida (of course) poses as a gynecologist who dispenses alt-med therapies. The Daily Mail, usually loathsome, did come up with a great headline: "Doogie Yowza!" 

Apparently Capilla del Monte in Argentina is now a UFO hotspot. Meaning that's where aliens get good WiFi signals. I kid. 

This is just dumbThis is just weird.

Quote of the Day:

Stephen Fry has left Twitter, and when Stephen Fry leaves something, the thing he leaves becomes less good. Says he:

Let us grieve at what twitter has become. A stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and be offended – worse, to be offended on behalf of others they do not even know. It’s as nasty and unwholesome a characteristic as can be imagined. It doesn’t matter whether they think they’re defending women, men, transgender people, Muslims, humanists … the ghastliness is absolutely the same. It makes sensible people want to take an absolutely opposite point of view. I’ve heard people shriek their secularism in such a way as to make me want instantly to become an evangelical Christian. 

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Comments:

#1 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 at 1:53pm

“Biology bros”.  Sexism noted.

I also note that the Washington Post reported earlier that women are advantaged over men in STEM hiring.  In their words “Female candidates are now twice as likely to be chosen as equally qualified men.”

“evaluators were presented with profiles of fictional job candidates and asked to rank them according to who was most qualified for an assistant professorship in biology, ..., the female candidates were more likely to be ranked higher”

#2 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 at 1:59pm

“that it’s a skill, which [should] be learned, [and choosing not to do so is therefore a] character flaw”

When people have a choice (whatever that means) that automatically brings character into it, rather than ruling it out.

#3 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 at 2:05pm

“Human rights activist”

Peter does have a name, you know.  And five decades of fighting for equal rights, focusing on LGBT people.

That doesn’t count for much, with the new authoritarians.

#4 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday February 17, 2016 at 2:13pm

“the ‘war on science’ meme doesn’t quite fit”

I’ve commented as much before, typically when Bill Maher comes up.  There is no denying that Bill is a staunch defender of science, and denouncer of nonsense.  He’s not an anti-vaxxer—he has questions.

Science is dependent on humans, and humans are corrupt.  Consider what we learned about the ineffectiveness of the peer review process, in the last year.  (That scandal just sort of disappeared, didn’t it…)

And when you take that human project and put the business monkey (monkey business?) on its back, it only gets worse.

People are right to be wary, because we are not scientists.  We can’t run the experiments ourselves.  It all comes down to trust.  And scientists are NOT earning it.  The most damning practice is the announcement of preliminary results with orgasmic glee, as if some fact had been discovered.  Then it turns out to be dust.

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