Electrons and Fish

April 12, 2016

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

Jeff Sharlet has a feature in NYT Magazine looking at the Trump phenomenon as a kind of hyper-macho prosperity gospel:

“You had so many killings [by illegal immigrants],” Trump shouted. “So much crime.” But then he held up a finger, and his voice dropped into a deep and deliberate monotone: “It’s gonna end.”

There it was: the positivity, not a promise or a prediction. A fact. 

In Skeptical Inquirer, Matt Nisbet looks at the effect The X-Files has had on public attitudes toward the paranormal, and finds that it hasn't done as much damage as originally suspected back in the 1990s. Today's paranormal-themed reality shows, though... 

Someone please tell Joe Nickell to enjoy his anniversary vacation, and stop talking to Bigfoot people

At The Guardian, Roy Greenslade worries that Ireland's refusal to scrap its blasphemy law provides cover for countries like Pakistan to keep and enforce their own. 

This looks like it might be important, or maybe not, since I don't understand it. But apparently game theory (which I don't understand) runs by the same rules as quantum mechanics. Brandan Cole at Science Alert writes:

According to a team of French physicists, it’s possible to translate a huge number of problems in game theory into the language of quantum mechanics. In a new paper, they show that electrons and fish follow the exact same mathematics. 

Boko Haram is not just using kidnapped women for its "suicide" bombers, but kids, too

Bryan Adams cancels a Mississippi show over the new anti-LGBT law, saying, "I cannot in good conscience perform in a state where certain people are being denied their civil rights due to their sexual orientation."

Georgia's state capitol police are warning folks that on April 18, there's going to be an anti-Muslim rally outside the statehouse, complete with lots of guns and the shredding of a Quran.  

The Lutherans of Norway give the OK to same-sex marriage.  

Evan Gran interviews Rashid Chowdhury (aka "Tutul"), who survived last year's machete attack in Bangladesh that killed a publisher and wounded others, including Tutul. Gran writes:

Tutul emphasizes that no one can expect to remain in power in Bangladesh if they challenge or oppose the Islamists. They have too much popular support in a county that is more than 90 percent Muslim. The secular movement has for a long time opposed the leading Islamist party in Bangladesh, Jamaat-e-Islam. This long-term political conflict looms large in the background of the brutal killings of secular and atheist activists in recent years.

I think I may be the last person to have heard of the new "religion" of Dinkoism, whose deity is a superhero cartoon mouse. His Noodliness will not be pleased.  

In the back and forth over which books ought to be nixed from public libraries and schools, one title keeps coming up: the Bible. Hillel Italie at AP reports:

"You have people who feel that if a school library buys a copy of the Bible, it's a violation of church and state," says James LaRue, who directs the Office for Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association...And sometimes there's a retaliatory action, where a religious group has objected to a book and a parent might respond by objecting to the Bible."

David Koepsell reconciles Drake's Equation (how many alien civilizations are there?) with Fermi's Paradox (how come we ain't seen no aliens?) and skepticism (I doubt therefore I am). 

Aubrey Sitterson at Geek looks back at the Roswell "conspiracy":

One of the more fascinating aspects of the Roswell conspiracy theories is that they feature practically no hard evidence. While other conspiracy theories can point to photos, videos, eyewitness accounts and a slew of other sources to point out inconsistencies in the official stories they are meant to debunk, when it comes to the Roswell UFO incident, it’s the conspiracy theories themselves that are riddled with inconsistencies and claims that are, quite simply, without any real basis in reality.  

Well, how then do you explain the Millennium Falcon appearing before your very eyes??? 

A second blurry lump appears in the Thames, for which no explanation is possible other than "sea monster." 

Quote of the Day:

Xavier Johnson, a student at Contra Costa College, tells of his abandonment of religion for atheism, and the accompanying challenges:

Like others, I’d be taken to church every week to sit through service. These services intend to answer questions, strengthen faith and convert nonbelievers — but they did the exact opposite for me. The answers didn’t make sense as I gained more knowledge. My faith was stripped away as unsatisfactory answers were repeated. 

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#1 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday April 12, 2016 at 11:22pm

Why object?  Is there some reason they can’t just “TAKE” the Bible and give it to the dog?  Or just edit the thing, as I do when I encounter it in hotels.  It’s not as though there’s any shortage of them, and frankly the online versions allow comparison of translation, and various kinds of cross-referencing that the physical ones don’t.  I’d much prefer students have access to those tools, than just the bare text, to avoid them buying the claim that some supernatural being had something to do with it.  Libraries are not required to stock every book, nor to keep every book.  There needs to be some relevance to the mission.

#2 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday April 12, 2016 at 11:56pm


The article itself calls it “anti-Islam”, and I think that’s more accurate.  There’s certainly a world of difference between the two.  Muslims are just people who have Islam.  For many of them, they had no choice.

But, in addition to disparaging Islam (a worthy exercise even if it isn’t May 20) they are also for Trump’s idea of banning Muslims from immigration.  Is that anti-Muslim, in the world we currently live in?

Based on the latest news from Europe, which shows that multiple known terrorists have used Syrian refugee cover to enter Europe and commit their attacks, resulting in the slaughter in Paris, and the destruction in Brussels (and what is to come?) it is reasonable to consider shutting the border to this high-risk group at this time.

This is hardly discriminatory.  Islam is not something a person is.  It’s a belief system they have, and it’s one that we know can (and repeatedly has) lead to unpredictable extreme violence.

I do agree that something significant must be done to save those Muslims who aren’t violent, and who may be likely to moderate and modernize their religion, or leave it, but how many of our own average citizens here at home in the USA and Canada ought we sacrifice for that?

#3 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday April 12, 2016 at 11:59pm

“buys a copy of the Bible”

I forgot to giggle at that.  As if they’d have to buy it.

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