A Proper Villain

February 8, 2016

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

In The New York Times, Susan Jacoby argues that secularists must find ways to combine their powers and hold politicians accountable for their positions and their language, citing the CFI-RDFRS merger as a rare example of "a rare union of secular forces," and mentions Michael De Dora's efforts to build coalitions with non-secular groups. 

Our new CEO Robyn Blumner is interviewed by Hemant Mehta on the Friendly Atheist Podcast - it's a great way to get to know her background and a sense of deep experience on our issues. 

President Obama puts his byline on an op-ed for Religion News Service on the issue of religious freedom. Man, me and Barack, we have so much in common. Obama's piece, alas, has many of the canards we wish he'd dispense with, such as the idea that we're all "God's children," and stuff like that.

Hey, wouldn't it be cool if Congress passed a Darwin Day resolution? Heck yes it would, so why don't you tell your representatives that this is what you want

Larycia Hawkins, the Wheaton College professor suspended for saying that Christians and Muslims worship the same god, has decided to leave.

Andrew Walker at The Guardian reports on how Boko Haram came to be

The sixth human on the Moon, Ed Mitchell, died at 85. Right in the first paragraph of the AP obit is how he was a paranormal enthusiast and believer in alien visitations. 

NYT profiles Jeremy Wilson, who is apparently such a skilled con artist, that even the Times is hedging on whether that's actually his name. His own cousin, who had his identity stolen by Wilson, says, "He’s a proper villain. He’s just got flair." 

Peter Holley at WaPo reports on the surprising political impact of the Satanic Temple in Phoenix. 

Who needs vaccines when you have Rev. N.H. Downs' Vegetable Balsamic Elixer, which cured whooping cough way back in 1882? Joe Nickell shows off this artifact, which, he notes, "contained 11 1⁄2% alcohol with one grain of opium."

Texas A&M's Health Science Center puts out a kind of cheat sheet on diet myths. The best one is at the end: "You can’t always trust the internet." YOU DON'T SAY.

Some governments in African countries are beginning to bring more scrutiny to "man of God" and prophet-centered churches. The article refers to them as "bogus churches," to which Ron Lindsay says, "Isn't that like 'wet water'?"

Several UN NGOs warn against initiatives aimed at "countering and preventing violent extremism," which are often veiled attempts to stifle free expression and belief

This is from September, and yes, it's from Inside Edition, BUT, you get to see a fake-psychic called out on her crap by someone she said she knew was dead. "You're taking advantage of people with a bunch of hocus-pocus, aren't you?" 

Turns out fish might really be "brain food," but this does not apply to fish oil supplements. But I hate fish. I guess it shows. 

Members of the Vatican commission investigating child sex-abuse by priests sits down for a screening of Spotlight. Oof. 

Scientology's Super Bowl ad. "Spiritual technology," you see.

"Boots, not wingtips," is the self-description of this corn-loving, sled-riding atheist and socialist candidate for Vermont lieutenant governor. 

Quote of the Day:

I don't know anything about John Stuart Mill (though I know Michael De Dora really does), because, you know, I majored in theatre. But then a tweet by Steven Pinker led me to an article at Motley Fool which led me to this Mill quote, that I liked:

I have observed that not the man who hopes when others despair, but the man who despairs when others hope, is admired by a large class of persons as a sage.

I should say that while I like this quote, it hasn't paid off for me. I am fully riven by despair, disillusionment, pessimism, and doubt, and I don't see any of you thinking of me as a sage. So. Take that, Mill.

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