March 24, 2016
The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
North Carolina, which is obviously trying very hard to win the race for "worst state," passes a horrid bill overturning LGBT protections, and requires transgender folks to use public bathrooms that correspond to their biological sex. Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the bill, tweeted:
I signed bipartisan legislation to stop the breach of basic privacy and etiquette, ensure privacy in bathrooms and locker rooms.
Wow, right? First of all, it's not a bipartisan bill, because Democrats in the state senate walked out in protest. And secondly..."etiquette"??? Like, denying people their rights is like using the correct fork with your salad?
If an anti-gay "religious freedom" bill becomes law in Georgia, Disney and Marvel are out, saying:
Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law.
Unfortunately, Richard Dawkins will not be able to attend the Reason Rally:
I’m extremely sorry to be missing the Reason Rally (doctor’s orders). My impression as an outsider is that America is close to a tipping point. The Reason Rally could raise consciousness past the tipping point where politicians will suddenly realise they’ve been sucking up to the wrong lobby all these years. Please come. I wish I could be there too.
We sent out an alert today to ask our supporters to demand a hearing for the president's Supreme Court nominee:
The issues being decided upon by the Supreme Court will have lasting consequences on issues central to the values we share. In this session alone, religiously affiliated organizations seek to use their faith as an excuse to avoid following the law and prevent access to contraception; anti-abortion zealots seek to use pseudoscience to revoke access to abortion for millions of women; and churches seek to fund their activities with taxpayer dollars.
Zach Zorich at Nautilus explores what would happen with the evolution of life on Earth if it started all over again.
Samira Shackle at The New Humanist interviews activist Leo Igwe on the perils of atheism in Nigeria:
In Christian communities, many people see atheists as fools who, out of ignorance, do not know God and will one day realise their foolishness and return to God. Atheists who are open and public are under constant social pressure to abandon their evil ways and views and embrace Jesus. But in the Muslim communities, particularly in the sharia states of northern Nigeria, the situation is worse. Renouncing Islam and embracing atheism is like passing a death sentence on oneself. ... So there are two places for an atheist in sharia communities: in the closet or in the grave.
Maajid Nawaz says that despite the horrors of Islamism, many Muslims are "in the thick" of reform.
Aaron Rodgers, who I'm told is a professional American football player, says he witnessed an alien spaceship in New Jersey in 2005. "If you've seen the movie Independence Day...it was a large, orange, left-to-right moving object." More important, he likes the movie The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is indeed a masterpiece.
According to a big survey on religious belief, yes, fewer people believe in God, but holy crap a lot of people still think the afterlife is a thing.
Wanna be the next Bill Nye, or make the next Cosmos? This free MIT course might be able to help.
Sikivu Hutchinson highlights 10 black women leaders in secularism, including our own Debbie Goddard.
In Norway, atheists are number one.
There's no duck liver in that duck liver pill, but it wouldn't cure your flu anyway. It makes sense when Harriet Hall explains it.
You know who else can't even? God.
Quote of the Day:
We may have our first officially racist artificial intelligence. Microsoft's A.I. chatbot "Tay" has been deluged with folks fueling it with crazy and horrible stuff, which reportedly made it repeat many of those things, some of it "inflammatory and racist" according to ZDNet. Asked about Ricky Gervais, Tay said:
ricky gervais learned totalitarianism from adolf hitler, the inventor of atheism
So, not the brightest bulb, that A.I.
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#1 Randy (Guest) on Thursday March 24, 2016 at 10:40pm
“So, not the brightest bulb, that A.I.”
This does raise some interesting questions. If A.I. is supposed to think like us, then it has to learn from us. And if it has to learn from a lot of us, then it IS going to “learn racism” (or at least rudimentary chaining together of concepts that produce racist sentences).
What does it mean, when we then go in and tweak it to stop it from learning some things, or stop it from expressing some things? Will A.I. have to come with a rating? G, PG, R, and NC?
If you want the A.I. to feel as real as possible, it’s going to have to have some of these flaws. In fact, it’s inevitable. Further, if we actually get to the point of an A.I. that can reason about justice, how are we going to make the most moral A.I. when we can’t even agree on morality ourselves?
#2 Randy (Guest) on Thursday March 24, 2016 at 10:42pm
“Wanna be the next Bill Nye”
That depends. Has he learned anything about philosophy in the last day?
#3 Randy (Guest) on Thursday March 24, 2016 at 11:15pm
“Democrats in the state senate walked out”
And yet THESE 11 Democrats in the state house voted FOR it: Brisson; C. Graham; Floyd; G. Graham; Goodman; Hunter; L. Bell; Pierce; Salmon; W. Richardson; Wray
(24 Dems voted against, and 8 weren’t there… Info from the ncleg site, regarding bill H2 in the “2016 Second Extra Session”.)
If we had ended sex segregation at the time we attempted to implement equal opportunity and non-discrimination among the sexes, this wouldn’t even be an issue. But for feminists, separate has always been more equal. Now we have this clumsy segregation (yet again) with trans kids always the first victims.
The sexes are more different than the races, and yet we all ought to be able to use the nearest toilet when we need one, without question, no matter who we are.