Big Macs Prevent Alzheimer’s

April 22, 2013

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

The global protest against the persecution of atheists and other dissenters in Bangladesh is this Thursday. Check this page for the latest news on where protest events are being held, and if you know of others, tell us! 

Before his arrest, Bangladeshi atheist blogger Asif Mohiuddin posted this to the Richard Dawkins site:

Religious sentiments are so easy to be offended, that sentiment is always ready to be hurt. Religious fundamentalist always search google, facebook and youtube for the contents that hurts their sentiment and always cry to stop those Blasphemy! I don't know who told them to search those things and hurt themselves! This is so ridiculous and nonsense.  

John Chalmers at Reuters lends political and historical context to the crisis in Bangladesh. 

Rainer Ebert at Bangladesh's BDNews24 offers a defense of free expression, and even the freedom to "blaspheme" and "hurt religious feelings," not just with idealism, but with reason:

For years, most people did not even know that these [atheist] blogs exist. Until recently, the blasphemous content they are said to contain did not “cause” or “incite” any violence. The problem is not blasphemy. The problem is political groups with an intolerant and bigoted agenda that are using the writings of free-thinking Bangladeshis to bring about violence, and to force their idea of a medieval Bangladesh upon the rest of the nation. Also, in fact, there is no guarantee that blasphemy laws would reduce violence. One has only to look at Pakistan to see the simple truth of that observation! 

In Malta, where saying anything unpleasant about the Catholic Church is illegal, there were 99 blasphemy convictions in 2012. 

CFI's symposium in DC, "Why Tolerate Religion?", is this Saturday

Okay, so, our appeal for our case in Indiana about secular celebrants solemnizing marriages was heard on Friday. Trust me, you're gonna hear more about that from us, because there's some goooood stuff here. But for now, here's coverage from WIBC radio

Humanist weddings in Scotland are poised to overtake those of the state religion. 

The editors of Christian Century agree with CFI about one key aspect of the White House's faith-based initiatives:

It is time to state that discrimination in government-funded programs is not allowed.  

Pat Robertson says "flee from evil," and by that he means Dungeons & Dragons

Dawkins gets in another Twitter dust-up (just another day, right?), this time over his assertion that the New Statesman should not have under its employ a reporter who believes in winged horses. Release the hounds! 

Our own Tom Flynn elaborates on why secularist participation in interfaith events is problematic:

Because an interfaith event embraces only members of religions, and does so frankly and openly, in a nation where twenty percent of adults don't belong to any religion, "interfaith" is not the last word in inclusivity. Interfaith events, by definition, exclude twenty percent of American adults. They exclude a third of the young. 

David Niose has a problem of "interfaith" services existing at all:

The inclusion of governmental leaders in an interfaith religious ceremony such as this adds to the misperception that the event is a reflection of the entire community. Even the word “interfaith” misleadingly conveys a sense of community unanimity, and the addition of key secular leaders to the event – leaders who, unlike the religious leaders, are indeed supposed to represent all citizens - magnifies that falsehood.

Becky Garrison at Religion Dispatches on how atheists were excluded from Boston services, despite repeated entreaties. 

Sam Harris interviews Ronald A. Howard of Stanford about the ethics of lying

Teacher in New Zealand claims he was fired for his atheism, with no comment from the school. 

Pravda looks at differing attitudes toward atheists and other minorities between Russia and the US. 

Kylie Sturgess interviews Sharon Hill (both CSI contributors) about Sharon's "Media Guide to Skepticism." 

The Guardian profiles professor of pharmacology David Colquhoun, " the take-no-prisoners scourge of quackery and mumbo-jumbo in his unmissable blog." 

Folks in Maine (where I live) are coming around to the idea that "Blue Laws" are a little outdated

Andrew Sullivan, tacitly agreeing with the president that folks should not "jump to conclusions" concerning any alleged religious motives for the Boston bombings, also adds:

[U]nderstanding the motives for such an act and their potential connection to religious fanaticism is important – and no one should apologize for noticing Jihadist sentiments in some aspects of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s Internet trail.  

Massachusetts GOP candidate for US Senate Mike Sullivan says he was misquoted when it was reported that he called the Boston bombings a "godless" act. Claims he said "gutless."

US Muslim leaders are trying to make very clear, hey guys, we are still definitely against terrorism

Pink suit-wearing ghost appears in cell phone picture. 

Astrologer Jessica Adams claims the stars predicted the shooting of an officer at MIT last week, and people react as you might expect. (Example: "you are an evil, disgusting waste of flesh")

Boy Scouts offer up the idea of allowing gay scouts, but no gay adults

Reddit user submits what they claim is an actual fourth-grade science test in South Carolina - subject? Dinosaurs and Genesis. (Not the band, though they are old.)

Ben Radford at Discovery News on what might really be up with that severed Bigfoot paw

Mt. Rubidoux cross case is settled to the satisfaction of Americans United, with the land now privately owned. 

The head of religious affairs in China begins a campaign against superstition among the populace:

For a ruling party which follows Marxism, we need to help people establish a correct world view and to scientifically deal with birth, ageing, sickness and death, as well as fortune and misfortune, via popularizing scientific knowledge.

Babies might become "conscious" at about 5 months. My daughter is 8 months old, and I'm telling you, I think she's been conscious for a bit longer than three months. I'm just saying. 

Ack! My antipathy is divided! Churches vs. a new sports arena in Atlanta. I don't like religion or sports!

Howard Phillips, founder of the ultra-right Constitution Party, is dead.    

Quote of the Day   

TED organizer Chris Anderson responds to folks like Deepak Chopra who are worried that TED will eschew pseudoscience:

[You think] we should allow "any speculative thinking..." and just let the audience decide. I wonder if you've really thought through the implications of that. Imagine a speaker arguing, say, that eating five Big Macs a day could prevent Alzheimer's. Or someone claiming she was the living reincarnation of Joan of Arc. I'm sure at some point you too would want to draw the line.  

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