Nobody Cares about Polar Bears

April 25, 2017

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

The Morning Heresy now salutes Josh Zepps as we post his final episode hosting Point of Inquiry. He's got an awesome guest: SETI's Jill Tarter. WHAT'S GONNA HAPPEN TO POINT OF INQUIRY?!?!?! Sssshhhh. Patience. All will become clear in time. 

Our own Michael De Dora and Nick Little coauthor an op-ed running at Religion News Service making the case that America's true "first freedom" is not the free exercise of religion, but freedom from religion:

The moment a government chooses favorites among religions, or supports religion over nonreligion, it begins down a path that leads to governmental persecution of, as well as increased societal hostilities toward, those of minority faiths and beliefs. Without secular government, free exercise is in peril. 

Joe Nickell kicks up some dust in order to photograph some ghost orbs. It makes sense in the article. 

Rear Admiral David Titley, a climate scientist, talks to Laura Parker at National Geographic about the risks we're facing as the planet warms, and says he's not worried about the science-denial of our elected officials. "Congress will not lead, but Congress can be led," he says. And when it comes to convincing the public, he says, "I hate to break it to National Geographic, but nobody cares about polar bears." 

According to Brendan O'Connor at Fusion, it looks like there's a semi-official Cabinet Bible Study Group in the Trump administration, which seems to be run by Ralph Drollinger of Capitol Ministries. It's all part of a larger Christian-capitalist effort to create a "para-church ministry" and a "factory" to churn out politicians like Michele Bachmann and the like. Attendees of these meetings are said to include the vice president as well as Betsy DeVos, Jeff Sessions, Rick Perry, Ben Carson, and on and on.

I don't quite have the nerve to read most of this, but Andrew E. Kramer at NYT gets first-hand accounts of the detainment camps for gay men in Chechnya. 

A grim look at Pakistan and its blasphemy law from Khusro Tariq at the Express Tribune:

Between 1947 – the year of Pakistan’s creation – and 1985, only 14 cases of blasphemy were registered by law enforcement agencies. In 1986, the military regime of General Ziaul Haq made blasphemy a capital offence and broadened its classification. Since that year, over 4,000 such cases have been registered. ... If these atrocity exhibitions are to cease, the solution must include the people of Pakistan starting to hold their leadership accountable.

In the year since Bangladesh LGBT actvist Xulhaz Mannan was murdered, no law enforcement or investigative officials have contacted the family with any information or updates.

Ulrich Baer at NYT says the wars over speech on campuses are misunderstood, and makes the case for the so-called "snowflakes" (and holy crap do I hate that term):

It has been regrettably easy for commentators to create a simple dichotomy between a younger generation’s oversensitivity and free speech as an absolute good that leads to the truth. ... Freedom of expression is not an unchanging absolute. When its proponents forget that it requires the vigilant and continuing examination of its parameters, and instead invoke a pure model of free speech that has never existed, the dangers to our democracy are clear and present. 

Harriet Hall reviews Gary Taubes' The Case Against Sugar, and finds it compelling if not entirely convincing. 

Former naturopath Britt Marie Hermes writes about how California allows naturopaths to more or less monitor and license themselves, which has deadly consequences

Bill Nye gets 'em goin' at the March for Science. 

The San Diego Unified School District launched an initiative to curb the bullying of Muslim students, so of course parents are angry thanks in large part to Breitbart and others stirring them up. 

I drink a lot of soda with artificial sweetener because something has to keep me conscious. So I'm maybe more likely to have a stroke and get Alzheimer's. GREAT.

In a rare bit of good news from the Texas Board of Education, seems they've voted to change biology curriculum standards to no longer require that students "evaluate" (in this sense meaning "challenge") evolution. Why? Have they become more enlightened? Meh, not really. Sanya Mansoor at the Texas Tribune reports:

The word "evaluate" could require another two weeks of lesson time for teachers who are already on tight schedules to cover material for the state's standardized tests. 

Richard Dawkins is going to Colombia in December to debate theologian Father Gerardo Remolina. 

Closer to home, Michael De Dora will be speaking to the Secular Humanist Society of New York on May 7.

Madrid, tenemos un problema: El Pais reports that over half of Spaniards believe that homeopathic products work, and they tend to be the most educated members of society. Ay dios mio.  

Maybe The New Yorker needs to make sure this cartoon gets around the ol' Iberian Peninsula.  

Chobani, the yogurt company, is suing Alex Jones for defamation for claiming that Chobani imports migrant rapists. 

Dinosaur kids say the darnedest things

NYT profiles the authors of the new U.F.O. Sightings Desk Reference.  

Televangelist Joyce Meyer doesn't actually have a PhD like she used to claim. Try to contain your shock and amazement.  

Mop slapping. Praise the lord. 

Quote of the Day:

Pastafarians at the March for Science? But don't they reject the scientific consensus??? Bobby Henderson explains:

We Believe an all-mighty Flying Spaghetti Monster alters the universe in a way that makes it *appear* that the scientific method is sound, that humanity’s knowledge and its advancement out of caves and into spaceships is a direct result of this process. ... So why is Pastafarianism correct, when it sometimes contradicts reason? Because the FSM says so, and we Believe.

The best part is the footnote to that last bit:

Circular Logic is allowed in religion.   

* * * 

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Comments:

#1 SpiderHugger on Tuesday April 25, 2017 at 10:36am

“Freedom of expression is not an unchanging absolute.” There’s the jargon-ridden complainer’s first problem. It is.

#2 dmbierlein on Tuesday April 25, 2017 at 5:52pm

Of course, “freedom of expression” is it’s own little bit of jargon.
http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/04/24/25103985/married-couple-who-shot-and-pepper-sprayed-milo-yiannapolous-protestors-charged-with-assault

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