Red Hot Pointy Things

August 1, 2016

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

You almost certainly are already aware of Trump's public battle with Gold Star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan. Do give a read to Ghazala's op-ed in the Post on Trump's attempt to take a whack at them for seeming to him to be subservient:

Donald Trump said that maybe I wasn’t allowed to say anything. That is not true. My husband asked me if I wanted to speak, but I told him I could not. My religion teaches me that all human beings are equal in God’s eyes. Husband and wife are part of each other; you should love and respect each other so you can take care of the family. 

When Donald Trump is talking about Islam, he is ignorant. If he studied the real Islam and Koran, all the ideas he gets from terrorists would change, because terrorism is a different religion. 

But here's some real fun/maddening stuff for our crowd, and it's all about a margin-of-error candidate named Jill Stein. You may recall I had a little tantrum about her pandering to the anti-vax and pro-homeopathy crowd a few weeks back. Well, now the chorus of WTFs has grown rather loud, much of it spurred by the Post's David Weigel trying to get a solid answer from her on vaccines. Nope! Fare la Volpe at Wonkette says her hedges are "straight from the [Jenny] McCarthy playbook."

And this is rather damning: Eve Peyser at Gizmodo finds that Stein had deleted past tweets in which she supports the science of vaccines, and affirms that they do not cause autism. In other words, she's trying to hide the fact that she might not be anti-vax. What a weird election this is.

Katie M. Palmer at Wired has a beef with Hillary Clinton referring to acceptance of science as a "belief":

To reinforce the idea of science as something you can believe or not believe, to force Americans into “pro-science” and “anti-science” camps, robs science of its power. It changes the practice of science from a method for understanding into a dangerous political weapon.  

And alas, President Obama felt it necessary to sign a GMO-labeling bill

Before we move on with the news, make sure you check out the latest Cause & Effect newsletter, so you're all caught up with all things CFI. 

You know what's gaining in popularity in Taiwan? Scientology! Great! Benjamin Carlson at The Atlantic has a big report

I found some more things to be scared of!

Crows are really smart. You knew that, and it's kind of cool. But did you know they're using tools and solving logic puzzles? How long until they turn this intelligence against us? 

Okay maybe that's not so scary, but this is: Thanks to rising global temperatures, thawing permafrost in Russia has unleashed from a 75-year-old frozen reindeer carcass a plague of zombie anthrax. And it's killing a lot of reindeer now. 

One more: About one-quarter of the world's countries have blasphemy laws, or something like them. 

Carrie Poppy experiments on herself with memory-enhancing nootropics for YOU, dear reader, and while studies show that long-term use of L-Theanine can help with verbal recall, it doesn't seem to make you a genius or anything. Also, "On the first day on L-Theanine, Ross and I both noticed nothing except increased heart rates and anxiety." No thanks.

Ben Radford reviews Jason Bourne, and I could sum up his opinion as "meh." 

Garry Gutting, usually pretty hard on us unbelievers, focuses now on the potential for violence that is unique to religion:

Here we reach a crux for those who adhere to a revealed religion. They can either accept ordinary human standards of morality as a limit on how they interpret divine teachings, or they can insist on total fidelity to what they see as God’s revelation, even when it contradicts ordinary human standards. Those who follow the second view insist that divine truth utterly exceeds human understanding, which is in no position to judge it. God reveals things to us precisely because they are truths we would never arrive at by our natural lights. When the omniscient God has spoken, we can only obey. For those holding this view, no secular considerations, not even appeals to conventional morality or to practical common sense, can overturn a religious conviction that false beliefs are intolerable.  

Transhumanist Zoltan Istvan counter-protests the Christian protesters at the political conventions, and then like just casually drops this crazy bombshell in:

I’m working on organizing a group of six foot tall robots to protest the religious demonstrations at abortion clinics. 


Quote of the Day

John Cleese founds a new religion, the Church of JC Capitalist:

Now people have said to me quite critically that Christ spoke a lot about the poor, so what is our church during about them? Well, as Christ himself so rightly said, “Blessed are the poor,” so they’re all right! They will get their reward in Heaven. No need to worry about them. ... 

Now the Church of JC Capitalist is founded on two sacred principles. One, our focus groups tell us to target very anxious people with weak egos who are desperate for certainty. So this church will be very authoritarian, telling our members exactly what to think and do. And we guarantee to make them positively grow in self confidence because anyone at all who disagrees with us will go to Hell and be tortured with red hot pointy things forever and ever. Amen. 

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#1 Historian (Guest) on Monday August 01, 2016 at 8:38am

In the ‘70s, I heard the radio preacher, Garner TED Armstrong, explain that Jesus owned a lot of property, and his travels around the holy land were visits to check on his various holdings.

#2 Randy (Guest) on Monday August 01, 2016 at 12:32pm

“Obama felt it necessary to sign a GMO-labeling bill”

Congress likes to pack all sorts of things into single bills.  What else was in the bill? 

In any case, this is simply giving the public the information we have demanded.  Precedent was already set when we had country-of-origin labels, and precise ingredient lists.  This gives the lowly consumer the ability to reward companies who make the food we actually want, because now we can find it.

Except, my understanding is that instead of GMO labelling, this bill replaces state labelling requirements with a bar code.  Maybe it’s presented as a choice, but given the intent to obfuscate that we’ve seen, it’s obvious that the bar code is the way they’ll go instead of plain text.

#3 Randy (Guest) on Monday August 01, 2016 at 12:42pm

“margin-of-error candidate named Jill Stein”

I just want it to be clear how you referred to the third-most-popular female candidate for US President, in history, at a half-million votes in 2012.  (Hillary Clinton holds the top two positions).  You’d be surprised how many women have run for President.

The only thing keeping the two-party system in place is the assumption that it will continue to be in place.

#4 Randy (Guest) on Monday August 01, 2016 at 12:49pm

“Ghazala’s op-ed” is damage control spin, as was Khizr’s DNC speech in the first place, and his subsequent talk show circuit tour.

“My religion teaches me that all human beings are equal in God’s eyes” is plainly a false statement, whether you read the Quran, the Hadith, or the so-called scholarly writings.

Bash Trump when he’s wrong.  But he’s not wrong on this.

#5 dmbierlein on Tuesday August 02, 2016 at 5:41pm

“a false statement, whether you read the Quran, the Hadith, or the so-called scholarly writings.” or the Bible, or the Torah, or the Vedas and so on and so forth. There is no moral superiority with any specific religion and it’s time to stop pointing to one for particular opprobrium.

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