Mostly False

May 7, 2013

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

Whoa! Eugenie Scott is stepping down as head of NCSE! Oh no! 

Here's an interview I did with Scott before last year's CSICon. She was awfully nice.

PZ Myers declares his disaffiliation from the skeptic movement (so he is now only an atheist, and not what I call a "skepto-atheist"). Massimo Pigliucci will not miss him, but sees trouble within the movement:

I think the primary problem with the skeptic movement — of which I am and remain a proud member — is that too many people, both among the “leaders” and the rank-and-file, seem to be in it for the sheer pleasure of calling others out as idiots. 

Jason Garcia at describes a country in the thrall of woo, where "you will hear or see psychics, paranormalists, parapsychologists, and pseudoscientists spreading, scaring, and scamming the nation with irrational beliefs and pseudoscience through the media. You will be able to see them planting thoughts into peoples’ heads so that they can offer solutions and take people's money." I know, it sounds like the U.S., but he's talking about Indonesia.

CFI-LA chief Jim Underdown is enthusiastic about the Women in Secularism conference next weekend, and backs up the reasoning behind events like this:

ANY large group who feels like they have a particular beef with religion (or pseudoscience, or other wacky beliefs) has a legitimate interest in addressing that problem as a group.   

Cardinal Dolan (the funny, friendly cardinal, remember??) compares homosexuality to having "dirty hands" and therefore unwelcome in church, so some folks stage a peaceful "dirty hands" demonstration and are threatened with arrest. 

Hardliner Islamic protesters claim persecution in Bangladesh as the justification for their deadly violence and mayhem. Meanwhile, atheist bloggers who never hurt anyone are sitting in jail.

You probably have heard about this nonsense from the right about how the Pentagon is going to court-martial soldiers for being Christian. Aside from that being laughable on its face, Politifact makes sure you know this is "mostly false." (Kind of like "mostly harmless" I guess?) Well, "mostly" in that there is a rule against proselytization.   

NASA outlines a long-term strategy for eventual human voyage to Mars at a DC conference. 

Iran threatens to enter the Syrian conflict more directly on a sectarian basis against Sunni rebels.

Priest scandal, yes involving children, swells up to engulf several priests and ministers in Colts Neck, NJ. Meanwhile, a monsignor tasked with treating priests who have abused children is himself allegedly involved in an "inappropriate adult relationship" and may be embezzling funds.

Elizabeth Smart, abducted by radicalized fundamentalist Mormons and forced into a polygamous marriage at the age of 14, is now trying to educate children about sexual crimes with her foundation, and recently told an audience at Johns Hopkins what a problem abstinence-only education is, as it made her as an assault victim feel "dirty and filthy" and a "chewed up piece of gum." 

Point of Inquiry has a new social media intern, which is why you see so many more tweets coming from its accountWelcome Ed Cara, who has perhaps the best headshot of anyone at CFI right now. 

Myrtle Beach: Fun vacation spot for rich people and aliens

The Imam of the mosque attended by Tamerlan Tsarnaev tells CNN that he won't allow Tsarnaev's body to be buried in a "holy place."

Quote(s) of the Day 

A letter to the editor of the Topeka Capital-Journal from John Grimshaw defends secular humanism:

[S]alvation promises an afterlife with forgiveness, a second chance to set things right. Unfortunately, this cheapens our actions in the here and now, for there is no need to be responsible in the first place. To the converse, secular humanists believe in one finite life, where all your actions are permanent and have consequences. 

In another letter, this time to the Asbury Park Press, Borden Applegate pulls no punches:

When atheists start burning down churches, blowing up reproductive clinics, murdering doctors and raping children with the frequency of some religious organizations, then let’s talk about how atheists are eroding the basis of our morality and are not good Americans.


* * *  

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

Follow CFI on Twitter: @center4inquiry 

Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)! 

The Morning Heresy: "I actually read it." - Hemant Mehta