Ideal for Assassinations

July 28, 2015

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

The Boy Scouts of America ends its ban on openly gay adult leaders, but local units sponsored by churches can still opt to discriminate. The Mormon Church is so mad, they threaten to start their own scouts.

In USA Today, Tom Krattenmaker takes the next logical step to urging the BSA's welcoming of atheists:

Ultimately, it would be self-defeating for the Boy Scouts to forfeit the chance to spread Scouting skills and values among the population of people who identify as atheist, agnostic, or otherwise not religious. More and more youths are growing up in non-religious homes; why would the organization squander the opportunity to serve and influence these boys? 

Bill Cooke, CFI's international programs chief, writes at our blog that while Greece struggles with austerity, one set of folks seems to be doing just fine: the Greek Orthodox Church

Hillary Clinton lays out her plan to address climate change, and makes a point of hitting the deniers in the GOP.  

Climate science pioneer James Hansen and other experts publish a paper which warns, among other things, that within the next century, we can say goodbye to coastal cities.

Ben Goldacre warns at Buzzfeed that too many medical researchers are not sharing data, and there are dangerous consequences.

Emma Green at The Atlantic looks at how anti-discrimination laws for gay Americans conflict with perceptions of "religious freedom" among those who would like to do the discriminating. (The headline is more sensationalist than the article itself.)

The Federal Bureau of Prisons will now acknowledge humanism as a worldview on the same level as theistic beliefs. 

At Skeptical InquirerHarriet Hall looks at the claims made in the book Myths of Safe Pesticides by André Leu, writing, "His bias even interferes with his reading comprehension." Yow.

A creature of unknown species is loose in Milwaukee (maybe a lion?) freaks people out and now has "a Bigfoot-like celebrity." 

The UAE's brand new anti-discrimination law, which includes provisions that make it more or less a blasphemy law, snags a victim, Saudi writer Mohammed Al Hadif who criticized the UAE government on Twitter. Brian Pellot: "Told ya so!"  

Mormons resign from the church en masse in an event this past Saturday. 

Former atheist Theresa Aletheia Noble lists 5 things that Christians shouldn't say to nonbelievers if they want to be taken seriously, such as threats of Hell or accusing us of "hating" God. 

Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Noam Chomsky join forces to form a Justice League of superheroes to...oh wait, no. They are warning against the use of A.I.-run military robots:

It will only be a matter of time until they appear on the black market and in the hands of terrorists, dictators wishing to better control their populace, warlords wishing to perpetrate ethnic cleansing, etc. Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilizing nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group. 

The solution, of course, is just to build Optimus Prime

Maybe it's just me, but a poofy-feathered T-rex is just as scary as a scaly T-rex.

Quote of the Day:

Julia Belluz at Vox, who has done excellent work exposing misinformation in medicine (aka Dr. Oz and anti-vaxxers) turns her gaze inward to the effect anti-vaxxers have had on reporting any problems with vaccines

I've sometimes shied away from writing about uncertainty in vaccine science for fear that my stories might have horrible consequences for public health. It seems other reporters may have been doing the same. 

Vaccines are one of the single greatest contributors to public health of the past century. And in recent years, whenever anti-vaccine groups or cranks have tried to cast doubt on this fact, the country's best health journalists have sprung into to action, working to present the facts and essentially debunk anti-vaccine pseudoscience. Vaccines, after all, are overwhelmingly safe. And people should know that. 

But what happens when credible scientists discover real drawbacks to certain vaccines? How do we report on that responsibly — without giving ammunition to deniers? 

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Original image by Shutterstock.

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Comments:

#1 Randy on Sunday August 02, 2015 at 3:36am

“In USA Today, Tom Krattenmaker takes the next logical step to urging the BSA’s welcoming of atheists”

Well, sure, that would be nice.

But really, isn’t the next logical step the welcoming of girls? 

I welcome the Equality Act of 2015, which explicitly and repeatedly calls for an end to segregation of the sexes.  You should too.

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