Information Vacuum

May 23, 2017

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

There's a lot of bad, ugly news this morning, as you are no doubt aware. A suicide bomber kills 22 people, many of them children, at a concert in Manchester, UK. ISIS claims direct responsibility.

Meanwhile, when what we all need is more sanity and reason, the White House grants press credentials to InfoWars

The insight of CFI's legal director Nick Little is sought for not one but TWO articles at VICE. The first is how prisons use religion and "cult tactics" to control inmates, and the piece is written by someone with some experience with incarceration: Amanda Knox:

It's easier to be religiously indoctrinated when you're existing in an information vacuum. "People in prison have a lot of time on their hands to contemplate matters, and will often turn to the fundamental questions of life," says Little. "If the only person there to talk to is the chaplain, they're going to go to the chaplain. People who are in solitary confinement, their access to books is restricted, but their access to the Bible is never restricted. What would prison authorities think if you said, 'I don't want the Bible. I want a copy of [seminal atheist text] The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins?'" 

The second piece, by Gabby Bess, looks at a mind-boggling case where doctors in Detroit are arguing that performing a female genital mutilation is constitutionally protected under the First Amendment. Nick says, "While courts have become more willing to grant religious exemptions, I find it very unlikely they will do so to permit this to be done to a child." 

Max Boot at Foreign Policy excoriates Fox News ("a network I once respected") for its "tasteless conspiracy-mongering" about the fake conspiracies about Seth Rich, Benghazi, and on and on:

There is now a conveyer belt spreading Russian disinformation that originates with RT and Sputnik — the former being Kremlin-funded and the latter an official Kremlin organ — and then makes it way to our shores via extremist websites such as Breitbart and InfoWars, before being presented to middle America by Fox.    

Nina Burleigh at Newsweek reports that radical fundamentalist Christianity has got a shot in the arm from the election of Trump:

Among the complaints: military family and marital therapy programs are being infused with Protestant Christianity, which would violate the U.S. Constitution; open anti-Semitism; anti-LGBT statements, posters, symbols and bullying; openly anti-Muslim teachers and Islamophobic attacks; a rise in on-base evangelizing; and increased pressure on recruits or lower-level personnel and service members to convert to fundamentalist Christianity. 

Belief in creationism in the U.S. is at a new low, but it's not a very low low: 38%. Only 19% say it was all evolution with no God involved.  

Tausif Sanzum at HuffPost writes about the campaign of persecution being waged -- by the state and by vigilantes -- against gay men in Bangladesh.

Three of the UN's human rights experts jointly denounce Indonesia's blasphemy law, following the conviction of former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who, by the way, is not going to appeal his conviction.

Kavin Senapathy says the anti-GMO crowd deserves to be lumped in with the anti-vaxxers, not just for being untethered from reality, but for their shared roles in "unconscionable suffering." Word.

Diane Winston worries over the possible ascension of Mike Pence to the Oval Office, as he has a very Handmaid's Tale "Commander" vibe about him. You think?  

Rabbi Barry Silver writing in Jewish Journal endorses the idea of the National Day of Reason (and cites CFI in particular) as a counter to the church-state nookie going on in Florida.

A young man in Florida, Devon Arthurs, used to be a neo-Nazi, then converted to Islam, and then killed his roommates because they "disrespected his Muslim faith." This seems fishy. 

Joe Nickell gives some examples of "globsters," great horrible masses that have washed up on shores that many believed were sea monsters of some sort, but were just bloated carcasses. Pfft, "just."

Harriet Hall reviews a semi-autobiographical work of fiction by Steven Bratman, MD, Confessions of a Quack.

A new "documentary" says Marilyn Monroe was killed because she KNEW TOO MUCH of the TRUTH about aliens. That makes total sense.

If you see a sasquatch, you can now call a "Bigfoot 911" service in North Carolina that will take you seriously. Because someone's got to, I guess maybe.

This psychic claims to be able to communicate with unborn babies. I'm guessing the conversations are not very interesting. I'm guessing it goes like this:

Psychic: "Hello, fetus! I am a stranger on the outside of the womb!"

Fetus: "Glub." 

Psychic: "MY POWERS ARE ASTOUNDING." 

Quote of the Day:

Gwyneth Paltrow's pseudoscience quack shop Goop tweets the famous quote by James Joyce, "Life is too short to read a bad book."

Jennifer Gunter responds, "And it will be even shorter if you follow health advice from @goop and @GwynethPaltrow."

BOOM!!!  

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