No One Blows Like Gaston

August 24, 2016

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

It's pit bulls and the paranoid on Point of InquiryLindsay Beyerstein talks to Bronwen Dickey about 1) the myths about pit bulls and 2) the "Conspira-Sea Cruise" that she reported on for Popular Mechanics (and to which I linked in a previous Heresy). 

Yesterday we announced that at CSICon this October, the Balles Prize in Critical Thinking will go to Julia Belluz of Vox.com. If you read the Heresy, you already know how awesome she is, and what good she does exposing pseudoscience nonsense. 

And! The great Jill Tarter of SETI is interviewed by the also-great Leonard Tramiel for CSICon Las Vegas.  

Get ready to get mad all over again. A bunch of states, the Becket Fund, and Catholic hospitals are suing to be allowed to discriminate against transgender people. Zack Ford at ThinkProgress reports:

According to the complaint, these organizations object to providing services (or even referrals) for transition-related care or providing insurance that covers such care because it violates their religious beliefs. Essentially, this suit is akin to Hobby Lobby, except it objects to transgender care instead of birth control. 

Daniel Cox at FiveThirtyEight looks at how a state's religious diversity correlates to "erosions" in religious commitment. His conclusion is kind of heavy:

Diversity is now simply a fact of American religious life. It does not signal the end of religion, but it may make it easier for Americans to abstain from religious involvement and encourage other types of spiritual and philosophical explorations. It may also make atheists more willing to “come out,” something that can be exceedingly difficult especially in very religious communities. Organized religion has never been in jeopardy of dying out due to a single traumatic event. Instead, it is a cumulative series of unanswered challenges that pose the greatest risk. Religious diversity might not represent a dramatic threat to religion, but it may represent another small hole in an already sinking ship. 

David Koepsell considers the rise of a generation to be "born godless," raised without religion and in a culture with religion on the wane, and sees opportunities being squandered:

The rise of the “nones” should portend a new humanist renaissance, with those for whom the existence of a deity is not, at last, taken for granted. Yet at the beginning of the 21st century, humanism appears to be fractured. Internecine disputes, power struggles, and endless debates about the “proper” breadth and scope of humanism and who ought properly to be called a humanist seem to many to have supplanted the philosophical inquiry and public involvement that inspired the ethical culture movement and its humanist offshoots into both public and academic prominence, if not outright acceptance. 

We missed this somehow when it first posted, but Buffalo Vibe's Mark Abell came to a talk by CFI's Michael De Dora at the Meatball Mothership in Amherst, and was really impressed (of course):

This was one of the best presentations I have witnessed at the CFI in the last two years. De Dora was an articulate speaker, and his observations were unexpected and eye opening. I relished the opportunity to observe a thoughtful, communicative thirty-something articulate disturbing as well as enlightening findings on the repercussions atheists, skeptics, freethinkers, and humanists face in countries outside of the United States.  

Bangladesh's cabinet wants to pass a really grotesque law that would criminalize all manner of speech. Dressed as a measure to combat "cybercrime," it imposes big prison terms for such offenses as "defamation and hurting religious sentiment," "spreading propaganda," "creating enmity," and more. 

The latest Dawkins Foundation newsletter focuses on the way we talk about Islamism and terror in U.S. politics. 

CERN is one happening laboratory. First fake human sacrifices, and now they're opening a portal into another dimension!  

Pew releases a new report on why Americans switch houses of worship, and it looks like theology does not often win out over comfort:

When [Americans] search for a new house of worship, a new Pew Research Center study shows, Americans look first and foremost for a place where they like the preaching and the tone set by the congregation’s leaders. 

It's getting hotter and hotter. And hotter. Hell of a hoax the Chinese have come up with.

Bill Nye takes his last seconds on a CNN interview with Chris Cuomo to squeeze in some shade for the network's climate change-denying meteorologist Chad Myers. Cuomo did not take the bait.

Quote of the Day

A musical take on Tropical Storm Gaston:

No one BLOWS like Gaston!

No one GROWS like Gaston!

No one precipitates tropical LOWS like Gaston! 

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Image credit: Mooshuu CC-BY-SA-2.0 

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Comments:

#1 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday August 24, 2016 at 1:52pm

“Americans look first and foremost for a place where they like the preaching and the tone”

These people are not religious.  They say they are, and may even think they are.  But their “religion” isn’t even built on the sandy foundation of ancient writing.  It’s nothing at all.

#2 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday August 24, 2016 at 1:54pm

“criminalize all manner of speech. Dressed as a measure to combat cybercrime”

How unusual… almost as if Western countries haven’t followed exactly this same path, but for different favored and disfavored groups.

#3 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday August 24, 2016 at 1:58pm

“humanism appears to be fractured”

Why wouldn’t it be?  Why shouldn’t it be? 

Justice and ethics are matters of opinion, and we’re going to disagree.

What we should be aiming for is not slamming the door shut.  We ought to be able to work together when we agree, even as we fight vigorously against each other when we disagree.

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