April 14, 2016
The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Johann Hari is back on Point of Inquiry, talking about the horrors of the drug war, and how on the eve of a big UN conference on drugs, many nations are beginning to reach a consensus about what a disaster it's been.
Saudi Arabia's religious police (aka "the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice") will no longer be allowed to "chase" or arrest anyone, but will primarily act as "promoters" of virtue "in a gentle and humane way," and, of course, as informants.
North Carolina's religious right is angry at Gov. Pat "Potty-Monitor" McCrory for his executive order banning anti-LGBT discrimination for state employees. Looks like this law is really working out well for him.
A judge in China rules against a same-sex marriage, the first case of its kind in the country, where the practice is not explicitly banned.
Turns out Robert De Niro is not as enlightened as we'd hoped when it comes to anti-vax nonsense. Having pulled Andrew Wakefield's film from Tribeca, De Niro told, "I think the movie is something that people should see."
Speaking of crap movies selling you lies, there's a climate change-denying documentary called Climate Hustle, which will get the "passionate" endorsement of expert climatologist Sarah Palin.
Barack Obama is a big kid sometimes when it comes to science. I'll miss that.
Laura Reiley at the Tampa Bay Times shows us how "farm-to-table" restaurants are maybe not being entirely straight with us:
This is a story we are all being fed. A story about overalls, rich soil and John Deere tractors scattering broods of busy chickens. A story about healthy animals living happy lives, heirloom tomatoes hanging heavy and earnest artisans rolling wheels of cheese into aging caves nearby. More often than not, those things are fairy tales.
Stephen Law goes all Wittgensteinian:
Wittgenstein's aim is to clarify the nature of religious belief by clarifying the way in which expressions of such belief are used and the role they play in the lives of the faithful.
Soraya Chemaly and Catherine Buni write at The Verge about the difficulties of content moderation in online communities:
The details of moderation practices are routinely hidden from public view, siloed within companies and treated as trade secrets when it comes to users and the public. Despite persistent calls from civil society advocates for transparency, social media companies do not publish details of their internal content moderation guidelines; no major platform has made such guidelines public. Very little is known about how platforms set their policies.
Eric Berger at Ars Technica looks at the big promises and bigger political and financial hurdles faced by NASA as it looks to putting humans on Mars.
Rep. Mike Honda introduces a resolution for a National Day of Reason.
Kentucky's governor signs a law saying that clerks no longer have to have their names on marriage licenses. Your soul is in the clear, Kim Davis.
Louisiana's governor signs an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation, race, disability, or age. Churches are of course exempt, because Jesus.
A man in Spain is suing a homeopath for persuading his late son to forego real cancer treatments in favor of "fungi and alcohol."
Leo Igwe says atheism is on the rise in Namibia, of all places. Speaking to an atheist named Keith, Igwe reports:
Keith says that most of the atheists in Namibia are in the closet and do not want to declare their atheism openly and publicly. However he claims his out campaign efforts are already yielding fruits and that despite the acclaimed religiosity in Namibia, some people are beginning to embrace his ‘good news’ of atheism and freethought.
Bigfoot, they name might be Gigantopithecus.
I am on Team Inky: Octopuses can't be held down by your "tanks!" Inky escapes from a New Zealand zoo's tank, crawls across the floor, and squeezes into a drain pipe to set himself free in the Pacific. GO INKY! (No information on the whereabouts of Blinky, Pinky, Clyde, or Sue.)
Quote of the Day:
Virginia offers license plates that say "In God we Trust" on them, and Reddit user "FleetAdmiralWiggles" (okay) took advantage and got a vanity plate to say:
Original image by Shutterstock.
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#1 Randy (Guest) on Thursday April 14, 2016 at 11:32pm
“Very little is known about how platforms set their policies.”
Like an atom, you don’t have to see it to know what it’s like… you just fire things at it and find out what happens.
Generally, you can get a dissenting page taken down at least temporarily if your friends report it enough. Punishments for false reports range from nothing to almost-nothing.
This illustrates why some people are moving away from centralized corporate “social” media, and moving towards the peer-hosted internet, where nothing can be taken down so long as someone, somewhere, wants it to be available.
Censorship really doesn’t gain anyone anything. All you really need is a way to find the content you regard as high-quality. To the extent companies make this difficult, they will be securing their extinction.
#2 Randy (Guest) on Thursday April 14, 2016 at 11:37pm
Perhaps De Niro is in a contest with the Vatican to see who can do more 180’s on a single issue, in a given month.