At Least Two Minutes

May 22, 2017

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

Trump goes to Saudi Arabia, probably to pick up some tips on theocratic oppression. He gave a speech, and notably did not use the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism," which we are told will solve All World Problems when uttered by someone in power, so I dunno why he omitted it. Oh and we're going to sell them $110 billion in weapons, which I'm sure the Saudis will put to use in a way we can all be proud. 

He also said, "Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death," which I don't think are mutually exclusive, but what do I know? I'm not the president or anything. 

Hey, has anyone seen Raif? I feel like it's been a while. Anyway, back to Trump.

Rep. Jamie Raskin takes to the House floor to urge Trump to "please use at least two minutes of your time" to confront the Saudis about "imaginary religious crimes," mentioning Raif in particular and the country's blasphemy and apostasy laws. 

Your friendly neighborhood Center for Inquiry wants YOU to tell your U.S. senators to get to work busting up Trump's "religious liberty" executive order. 

Shane Goldmacher at Politico looks at the information feeds that people pump into Trump's head

I make a point of almost never linking to The Daily Caller, the outlet started by the loathsome Tucker Carlson. But look at this: Daily Caller reporter Chuck Ross calls out Newt Gingrich for amplifying the false conspiracy theory about murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich. Tip o'the hat to you, Mr. Ross.

Speaking of conspiracy theories, Zack Beauchamp at Vox looks why the left has started to fall for its own cock-and-bull stories.

The basic thing you need to understand, these [political science] scholars say, is that political misinformation in America comes principally from partisanship. People’s political identities are formed around membership in one of two tribes, Democratic or Republican. This filters the way they see the world.

Julia Belluz and Alvin Chang at Vox report on ways to train kids to "smell bullshit" when it comes to suspicious health claims.

With Scott Pruitt running the EPA, oil and gas companies are amazed at how good they've got it.

You may have heard that Arctic flooding breached the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which is supposed to keep our food supply going in case of disaster. Luckily, no seeds were destroyed, but now we know that this is not an impenetrable fortress when it's Mother Nature trying to get in.

Sharon Griffiths of the Eastern Daily Press in the UK agrees with Richard Dawkins on the hot-button issue of socks:

Our family has long believed that non-matchings [sic] socks and gloves keep you just as warm. This is a belief shared by scientist Richard Dawkins who apparently believes life’s too short to find socks that match. Quite right. Just think of the time he must save. 

The LA Times denounces the Trump administration's new extremist version of the global gag rule:

The global gag rule will hamper the delivery of desperately needed healthcare in the developing world. If the administration truly cares about protecting life, it should scrap this policy immediately. 

MEANWHILE, deep in the cold, dark heart of Texas:

Jeff Sharlet reviews The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America by Frances Fitzgerald.

Earth is flat. We know that now because this guy took a spirit level onto an airplane. Let's get this guy to Mars so he can check on that planet too. 

Tabby's Star, the one that folks began to speculate could have an alien megastructure around it, is being weird again

According to the outlet Balkan Insight, the director of the Centre for the Promotion of Science in Serbia could be fired for supporting the teaching of evolution. Why yes that is confusing.

The Asheville Citizen-Times is doing a series of articles on hauntings in Western North Carolina

David Gorski pans the medical journal The BMJ for promulgating alt-med crap with two articles highlighting the use of “integrative medicine.” 

India's former Finance Minister, P Chidambaram, says, "Only a society that has peace, good relations between communities, and is secular, can become an economically developed nation." Correct. 

Here's one Indian who's really into being secular. Meet RV155677820.

Naila Inayat at PRI talks to Pakistanis who know that their government has "weaponized" the blasphemy law

Matthew Archbold at the National Catholic Register has eight reasons why Christianity is "cooler" than atheism. Among them is that we have Daniel Radcliffe and not Michelangelo (artist, not turtle), and that atheists "have less children." I think it's supposed to be "fewer," but hey! They're being cooler!

Colbert vs. Gervais, round 2

The Church of Satan distances itself from the toxic Donald Trump. You read that right. 

Quote of the Day:

Freddie deBoer has an interesting post about how one's hostility toward "angry atheists" and/or conservative Christians varies depending on context. DeBoer, an atheist himself, used to rail against the "angry" atheists, he says. But now?

...I had moved to Indiana and was suddenly steeped in a culture rife with conservative Christians. I found myself more and more annoyed by secular liberal who would say “angry atheists are just as bad as conservative Christians!” Because that isn’t true. Angry atheists are annoying; conservative Christians are an organized and powerful political bloc that has powered some of the worst conditions in American political life in years. Those things are not the same. But angry atheists exist in the discursive space of those liberals, and conservative Christians do not, and so those arguments become attractive. Because one must define him or herself in a social context through contrast with others, and in the progressive world there is more to gained by contrasting yourself with a follower of Sam Harris than with a follower of Rick Warren. 

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