Breakfast Cereal or Toothpaste

August 17, 2015

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

On Friday, we released a statement urging the Defense Department to stop the funding of experiments on Gulf War vets using the Church of Scientology's pseudoscientific "purification" treatments. Expect to hear more from us on this. 

At Huffington Post, our boss Ron Lindsay explains why homeopathy is such a crock, and how the FDA could at least make a little progress by pulling medicine out of the 18th century:

Homeopathic manufacturers can currently mislead the public, tiptoeing around outright fraud, because homeopathic drugs are "regulated" in the sense that they are officially recognized as marketable drugs . . . But what the manufacturers typically do not disclose is that the FDA has not evaluated these products for safety and effectiveness, unlike the conventional drugs that are sitting right next to them on the drugstore shelf. 

The Hamilton Spectator in Ontario has a blunt editorial telling Health Canada to give homeopathy the boot altogether:

It's high time Health Canada took a bold step and knocked this snake oil off pharmacy shelves altogether. Because if pretend medicine is put next to the real thing, many people will still fall for it. 

Indian atheist leader Goparaju Ramachandra Lavanam dies at 84

Edgar Mitchell, of the Apollo 14 mission to the Moon, says aliens have been working to keep humanity from destroying itself with nuclear weapons. I hope they're keeping an eye on Kashmir right about now.

I wonder if it's the same aliens that tried to abduct this guy in Mexico

Turkey's Atheism Association gets coverage for a campaign to feed the homeless in Istanbul

Officials at a privately run Nashville prison have been making inmates work without pay to make products for a Christian merchandise company. Not a bad time to remind everyone about the Freethought Books Project.

Margo Kaplan of Rutgers reminds us that fertility clinics regularly destroy unused embryos, yet there are no religious-conservative efforts to shut them down, and this is why:

The disparity between how the law treats abortion patients and IVF patients reveals an ugly truth about abortion restrictions: that they are often less about protecting life than about controlling women’s bodies. Both IVF and abortion involve the destruction of fertilized eggs that could potentially develop into people. But only abortion concerns women who have had sex that they don’t want to lead to childbirth. Abortion restrictions use unwanted pregnancy as a punishment for “irresponsible sex” and remind women of the consequences of being unchaste: If you didn’t want to endure a mandatory vaginal ultrasound, you shouldn’t have had sex in the first place

And why stop at adult women's bodies? Mike Huckabee would also like to control a 11-year-old girl's body, saying he would force her to give birth to the baby of the man who raped her when she was 10. 

Frank Turek would like to arm college students to do theological battle with their evil, indoctrinating atheist professors

Tom Chivers at BuzzFeed asks notable atheists how they find meaning in a universe without any

340 U.S. rabbis say they back the Iran deal

Cort McMurray at the Houston Chronicle shrugs at Arian Foster's outing as an atheist, saying it won't change anything: "Heroes are a lot like breakfast cereal, or toothpaste: We like what we like, and we pretty much stick with it."

A woman in London is arrested for murdering her mother when she shoved rosary beads down her throat in order to "purify her" of "malign spirits." 

Now it would seem to me that "haunted rocking chairs" would be just about the least-believable kind of paranormal incident imaginable. I mean, it's such a trivial matter to get them to go back and forth, that no one would think there's a ghost in them. But apparently even this requires the efforts and investigations of our own Joe Nickell. Come on, people! You needed Joe to tell you your chair's not haunted?? He's got more important things to check out!  

David Gorski writes of the ugly alliance between anti-abortion activists and anti-vaxxers, which claims that vaccines are made using aborted fetal tissue.  

This is just my opinion, but if this "god-woman" in India wants to take it to the next level, she needs a bigger trident, like Poseidon-size.  

A cute Tumblr called Illustrated Science gives science facts with funny pictures. Hehehehe narwhal with a toothbrush hehehehe.

Quote of the Day:

Faraz Talat at Pakistan's Express Tribune laments the marginalization of nonbelievers in his own country and others, like Bangladesh:

We demand that these minorities [atheists] continue pretending to be who we want them to be. Sure, be an atheist, but don’t preach, don’t criticise, don’t scrutinise the system, and quietly get back in line like all the other ‘good atheists’ fearfully conforming to the order. Otherwise, your persecution would be on your own hands, and we would refuse to feel sorry for it.    

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Original image by Shutterstock.

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#1 Randy on Monday August 17, 2015 at 9:53pm

“claims that vaccines are made using aborted fetal tissue”

You know, maybe the Trump way is the right way.  I mean, he’s wrong on vaccines and abortion, but he’s absolutely right on tone.

Shouldn’t the pro-choice side really be the pro-abortion side?  We get tagged with it anyway.  So take that weapon and use it against them.  Abortion HAS been a great thing for our society.  Imagine the other side’s shock and dismay if WE showed up and picketed THEM with the very same posters, but tied all of those images to demonstrable scientific and social progress (perhaps even vaccines at some point).  Our willingness to use their imagery would render it useless to them.

If we really believe in using fetal tissue, and saving the lives of mothers, and not creating humans who are destined to live in agony, then we need to embrace the reality of what that means, rather than be afraid of it.

A year or two ago, I visited the Human Bodies exhibit, and (set aside as an optional part of the exhibit) I was able to see fetal development at each month after conception.  I think this really has to be demystified.  The fact that even an exhibit of dissected and plasticized corpses had to set aside THESE intact bodies off in a far corner behind a curtain, with a unique disclaimer that they all died of natural causes, shows just how ridiculous the situation is.

Our side’s squeamishness about this has cost women their rights, which in many places are now merely abstractions, rather than reality.

#2 Randy on Monday August 17, 2015 at 10:04pm

“if pretend medicine is put next to the real thing, many people will still fall for it.”

Indeed.  During a recent illness, my friend purchased some medicine for me at an Ontario pharmacy.  It had a recognizable brand name and an active ingredient. 

The problem is that this old brand, which was built on a real drug, recently branched out into “alternative” (but not homoepathic) medicine, and now sells what is basically a food product under the same brand name, just in a box of a different color, right next to the other boxes containing actual medicine.

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