At Least No One Fell into Orbit

July 16, 2013

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

So, ABC done did it, it hired anti-vax crusader Jenny McCarthy to be one of the hosts of The View. James Poniewozik at Time nails it

[P]ersuading parents that needed vaccines cause autism isn’t just a zany, oh-no-she-didn’t opinion. It’s wrong. . . . The View’s Sherri Shepherd may once have wondered if the world might be flat, but at least no one fell into orbit as a result. Vaccines are actually a matter of life and death.

Emily Willingham at Forbes shakes her head:

Unlike some folks, I don’t doubt that McCarthy could be intelligent, serious, and outrageous. She’s been smart enough to parlay a background in—what, exactly?—into fame and a rather mystifying clamor from some quarters to hear and see more of her. . . . What we’d like to see, before McCarthy joins “The View” . . . is for her to chill her vaccine and autism stance and publicly state what the evidence demonstrates: She was wrong about both. 

Also from Time, Michael Grunwald makes an additional good point on Twitter:

I wish ABC got as much grief for #climate science denier George Will as it's getting for vaccine science denier Jenny McCarthy. 

The Cassini probe that has been giving us stunning images of Saturn and its satellite system (which usually wind up as my iPad and MacBook wallpaper) is going to snap a photo of a whole new subject: Us. In two days, Cassini is going to turn itself toward Earth, and allow we Terrans to take one hell of a selfie. Here's more from Carolyn Porco at the PBS site.

Barry Lynn and C. Welton Gaddy disembowel the idea that the U.S. military is somehow hostile to Christianity. To learn a lot more about this issue, dig CFI's position paper on military fundamentalism by James Parco (unrelated to Carolyn Porco -- Parco, Porco. Got it?) and the recent Free Inquiry special issue on the military's antipathy toward its atheists.

Need I remind you: the uber-conference of the millennium is coming in October? Make your plans to come to the CFI Summit to get your skepto-atheism on. 

Skeptical Inquirer editor Kendrick Frazier checks out the debacle of Daryl Bem and his experiments "proving" precognition.

Eliot Armand Glenn says tax deductions for donations to religious organizations "creates a discriminatory religious subsidy." 

CFI-Long Island and the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island want to help you parent. Not, like, by watching your kids for you. But by offering a day-long conference on secular parenting on September 21.

Speaking of which, The Jakarta Globe looks at atheist parenting in Indonesia

Youssef Rakha at NYT seems to think that the Egypt coup was necessary because of Islamism:

When has an Islamist government, however democratically elected, ever ceded power to non-Islamists through a functional political process? Is democracy about periodically displacing absolute power by force or about laying the foundations for its peaceful rotation, including mechanisms not only for transparency in governance but also for the protection of women and religious minorities?

Washington Post Company is investing in FaithStreet.com to help bolster it's already-robust On Faith offerings. 

Kylie at Token Skeptic interviews Prof. Elizabeth Elliott, who has published an important study on children and vaccinations in Australia. 

Ferris Jabr at SciAm looks at the claims of Robert Lustig that sugar is "toxic," and mostly agrees, but tells a more nuanced story. 

Meditation may or may not get you closer to a sense of one-ness with the Great Everything, but it genuinely might make you nicer

Speaking of secular deep thought, Jerry DeWitt (former pastor) helps his fellow atheists learn how to pray in a useful, non-supernatural way:

When sharing our innermost thoughts and feelings with no one or no-thing, there's far less pressure to maintain a facade or pretend to be better off than we really are. It feels refreshing to step into our prayer closets and allow ourselves to become emotionally naked. If you have a friend who can be completely trusted, this should still be possible for the nonbeliever. If not, please don't let this exercise pass you by. Find a secluded space, start talking out loud about what's troubling you, and don't stop until you know that you're no longer pretending or hiding from your true self on any level. 

Come on, Catholics, can't a good egg become a saint without all this miracle stuff?  

Sarah Palin previews the upcoming "book" that she is "writing" about the "War on Christmas," and she's really mad about atheists with lawyers

Oh, and hey look! It's Gohmert! He says Obama "has gone out of its way to thump Christians," and that "this administration's trying to make sure [U.S. service members are] atheists all the way to the end."

You know how during World War I, English and German soldiers stopped fighting on Christmas Day and instead celebrated with each other on the front? This is kinda like that: The mainly-Buddhist government of Thailand and Islamist guerrillas declare a cease-fire for the entirety of Ramadan. Will they sing songs and feast together? No. But still.

Pakistani Christian man Sajjad Masih gets life in prison for "blasphemous text messages." 

Here's your next summer blockbuster: A Kickstarter campaign is underway to fund a documentary on the evils of circumcision/genital mutilation. I hope it's not on IMAX.  

Herb Silverman on Israel's fostering of its ultra-Orthodox, exempt from military service, eschewing the workforce, and reproducing like bunnies:

I wonder what the American religious right, which seems to offer the most unequivocal support for Israel (often more than for American citizens), would say if, in this country, able-bodied individuals studying religion and refusing to work were guaranteed taxpayer support and urged to have as many children as possible who would also be encouraged to live off life-long welfare subsidies?  

Quote of the Day 

Justin Peters at Slate on psychic detectives:

I am beyond certain that . . . psychic intuition had absolutely nothing to do with the discovery of [11-year-old Terry] Smith’s body. How do I know this? Because psychics don’t exist. Psychic powers are not a real thing. A psychic cannot help a detective solve a crime, because there is no such thing as a legitimate psychic. And it’s dangerous and wrong to report otherwise. Pretending that mystics and "intuitives" have something real to offer criminal investigations gives false hope to desperate people, and it’ll just end up wasting time and resources that would’ve been better spent on actual investigative techniques.
 
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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul, Ed, Lauren, anyone who can fire them, or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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