May 11, 2016
The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Apparently there's been a cult disguised as a kind of women's empowerment group known as the Superstar Machine, and it sounds nuts. Anna Merlan at Jezebel reports in depth:
The “spiel,” as Poppy [former member] refers to it, was a little vague and tended to repeat itself: Discussions about leaving the “Old World” behind and co-creating a new future with the help of the Divine, a new world chock-full of abundance, gratitude and romantic opportunity. Poppy says [cult leader Greg] Scherick would also stress that the women couldn’t do anything without his help: “The way he sold everything is that women are the leaders of the world, but, like, ‘They don’t know how powerful they are, that’s my job. The Divine speaks through me. No one connects with the Divine like I do.’”
As you might imagine, relationships were wrecked, brains were washed, and bank accounts were depleted...
Several women say they are in intense therapy to process their experiences, and two say they’ve been diagnosed with PTSD.
Turns out that the U.S. and Bangladesh are beginning to work together on ways to fight the spasm of extremist violence that is killing secularists and others.
The Kepler spacecraft has found 1284 new exoplanets, plus 707 other non-planet objects. Nine of the planets could be in their systems' habitable zones.
Andrew Snyder-Beattie at Ars Technica is a little bummed about this discovery, because he says it gives more credence to the idea of the Great Filter: if any of those planets had ever had civilizations, the fact that we never heard from them implies they may have all destroyed themselves. Now, no one does pessimism better than I do, but come on, dude.
(A couple years back, I posited that maybe the middle ground here is the Great Ceiling, meaning that we don't hear from other civilizations because technological advancement can't ever reach the point where such communication or travel is possible.)
Hey look at this: It's the Ingersoll Report, with news and updates on the Ingersoll Museum and other things related to the Freethought Trail. It's a sepia-toned PDF so I recommend printing it out, and maybe letting it wear out a bit, maybe staining it with some tea like we do for theatre parchment props, so you can really get that old timey effect.
Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist scores an interview with John de Lancie, who's the person I'm most excited to see at the Reason Rally. Because Q.
A nationalist Hindu group in India is praying to the gods, chanting mantras, and lighting ceremonial fires...for Donald Trump:
On Wednesday, members of the Hindu Sena nationalist group gathered on a blanket spread out in a New Delhi protest park along with a collection of statues depicting gods including Shiva and Hanuman as well as color photos of a shouting Trump.
Chupacabra comes to Pennsylvania. Because there's no other possible explanation for a brownish quadruped.
The latest Dawkins Foundation newsletter is out, with important stories on religious bullying in the US, and religious persecution around the world.
The mayor of Jackson, Mississippi claims on Twitter that potholes can be prayed away, like Moses and the Red Sea or something, and then, you know, just gets them filled the regular, materialist way.
The Pensacola News Journal argues that a big ol' cross on government land is not promoting Christianity, because "it's simply there." Ah! Well that makes sense. They must have checked it out with Christianity Promotion Detectors™ (CPDs) and found that the cross was not emanating significant levels of Christianity Promotion Waves (CPWs). Then I see no problem.
Budweiser gets all patriotic, to make beer great again or something, by issuing cans that replace the brand name with "America." You know why I kind of like the idea? Hemant caught it too: No "In God We Trust," but "E Pluribus Unum."
Quote of the Day:
Mount Ruapehu in New Zealand, the backdrop for Mordor in the Lord of the Rings movies, could be close to erupting. The Guardian reports:
Sauron is in a state of heightened unrest, and a shadow rises from the east.
“Recent visits to the volcano have confirmed an increase in the output of volcanic gas,” GNS Science said. The temperature of the lake has risen from 25C to 46C since mid-April. The volcanic alert level has been lifted to “heightened unrest” from “moderate”.
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#1 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday May 11, 2016 at 6:23pm
“The temperature of the lake has risen from 25C to 46C”
This illustrates one aspect of the point John Oliver made on Last Week Tonight: science is being reported by know-nothings.
There’s been a trend (which first came to my attention on Canada’s government broadcaster CBC) to report temperature in Coulombs.
These people either don’t know that temperature isn’t describable in Coulombs, or can’t figure out where to find the degree symbol on their keyboard (but I guarantee they can find the emoji of the year). These are communications people. And they can’t even communicate.
(I feel the need to prove that it is possible to report a temperature in degrees Celsius: “The temperature of the lake has risen from 25°C to 46°C”)
#2 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday May 11, 2016 at 6:28pm
“‘...it’s simply there.’ Ah! Well that makes sense”
About as much sense as prayers in city council meetings. If you’re on the US Supreme Court, anyway.
#3 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday May 11, 2016 at 6:40pm
“no one does pessimism better than I do”
Come now. I’m surely more pessimistic than you. I think our only hope for the future is for a smarter alien species to liberate us from ourselves, and that seems less likely than ever to be a possibility. Our species is just too stupid. We’re a toddler with a loaded gun.
#4 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday May 11, 2016 at 6:53pm
Why would anyone choose to report a serious story on a hate site like Jezebel, a branch of the ever-so classy and hopefully soon-to-be-broke Gawker?