None of Us Will Spontaneously Combust

August 21, 2017

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

Trying to plug another hole in the wall of separation, CFI is leading a coalition of secularist groups in petitioning the Supreme Court, urging it to take up a case by the American Humanist Association in which the Fifth Circuit decided that prayers were just fine at public school board meetings. Come on.

Trump disbands the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment. He's not going to listen to them anyway.

The Catholic Church in Australia, which is just bursting with moral authority these days, says that if same-sex marriage is legalized, its employees (like teachers, nurses, etc.) could be fired if they marry a same-sex partner.

Okay, here's eclipse stuff: 

  • Edgar Cayce, an alleged psychic of the early 20th century, is buried in a cemetery in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, right in the eclipse's path of totality, which of course means he's magic and haunting us. This is a guy who said he could read books by sleeping on them and had knowledge of the kingdom of Atlantis, and was consulted by folks like Marylin Monroe and George Gershwin. (The article also lists Harry Houdini as someone who checked in with Cayce, but does not state that Houdini was likely interested in technique and figuring out Cayce's tricks.)
  • PBS's Newshour profiles photographer Mark Bender, who had his own Francis-Collins-frozen-waterfall moment when he saw an eclipse and decided right then and there to scrap his atheism and become a Christian.
  • The eclipse could be a sign of greater things. Or maybe this sign is just a sign

Emily Greene at Popsugar says of her fellow atheists, "I am here to tell you that none of us will spontaneously combust." I should probably elaborate on that:

There's a common misconception that atheists are untrustworthy and immoral and will burst into flames upon entrance of any religious facility. ... Here's the thing about atheists: when we show altruism, it's not to assuage some higher power or in the hopes that we are going to get a front-row seat in some kind of heaven or afterlife.  

The JonBenet Ramsey murder case was, as you know, never solved. So of course Joe Nickell's all like, 'let me fix that for you.' (Plus he shows how psychics were totally useless to the investigation.) 

Ok, first, did you even know there was such a thing as the "Vaccine Court"? Well there is. And David Gorski informs us that this court ruled the vaccines played a role in a baby's death by SIDS. Which is utter nonsense. 

Dara Mohammadi reports on the growing evidence that a lot of surgeries being performed are more or less placebos. As professor of surgery Ian Harris says, "Once you accept that some or all of the effect of the surgery you are doing is down to placebo, but you carry on doing it anyway, you have removed the only barrier between mainstream medicine and alternative medicine." Mohammadi concludes:

If evidence is the line that separates robust science from squishy pseudoscience, and if that evidence is missing in many cases of surgery, what is the difference between a homeopath and a surgeon? 

Fee, fie, fo, fum: There aren't giants in the sky, but on the tops of mountains in western India, National Geographic shows us the biological diversity to be found on its "sky islands," which are "the tops of tall mountains that become environmentally isolated from each other even if they are close together, geographically speaking."

"SkepDoc" Harriet Hall is quoted in the New York Times to bring the science-based medicine perspective to the concept of "sweating out toxins."

The Falcons, which I am told are a major sports franchise, have a big stadium in Atlanta, and they really wanted Chik-fil-a to set up shop in the stadium. Well, they did, but they remained true to their policy of being closed on Sundays because God. And seven of the Falcons' eight home games take place on, you guessed it, Sundays. Womp-womp. 

James Croft, master of persuasion (or so he's convinced me) says the good guys need to match the angry far-right in storytelling:

We are not even consistently reaching other self-identified liberals and progressives. I have a wide circle of colleagues and friends, ranging from hardened Antifa street warriors to broadly progressive people uncomfortable with street protests, and I cannot count the number of conversations I have had with well-meaning, thoughtful, intelligent, liberal-minded individuals who feel put off by the story we activists are currently telling. I think with some creativity and humility we could fix this problem, and make our movement stronger. ... [W]e social justice activists don’t have to agree that our narrative is off-putting, or feel there is any m erit to the concerns of mainstream liberals, in order to recognize that, as a matter of fact, our narrative is turning some people off. This is just a fact, and a rather obvious fact if we are honest with ourselves for a moment. 

Quote of the Day:

The Malaysian government apparently wants to crowdsource the persecution of atheists, but the think tank called the Islamic Renaissance Front is coming to the atheists' defense! Their director, Ahmad Farouk Musa, says:

If the atheists are enjoying their freedom to be free of religion without impinging on the rights of others to practise their religions, there shouldn’t be a problem. 
 
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