This Whole Movement is Cuckoo

September 17, 2015

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

So a lot happened yesterday.

You almost certainly already know about Ahmed, the 14-year-old Texan arrested at school for building a clock which a teacher thought looked like a bomb. The Internet exploded, and people and institutions from NASA to Mark Zuckerberg to the President of the United States expressed their support and invited him to hang out. We tweeted out: "Kids like Ahmed not only inspire a love of science, but remind us to treat each other with respect. #IStandWithAhmed"

Andy Ihnatko had a great response to Ahmed Mohamed's arrest (this was before the deluge of support), where he likens Ahmed to himself at that age, with a big difference:

[These are] happy stories mostly because I was a white Catholic kid named Andy Ihnatko. Not a brown kid named Ahmed Mohamed, and not a black kid named anything. My stories about being a nerdy schoolkid all have good endings. My teachers took all of these things as signs that I had a lot of potential — it helped that I was not just white, but a white boy — and they responded by supporting and encouraging me. 

There was also a very, very long presidential debate last night with 11 candidates for the GOP nomination. Now, we at CFI can't be celebrating or dissing any political candidates (apparently), but we can say what we believe in and support. So let's just say that 1) no, vaccines really, really don't cause autism, 2) climate change actually can and should be combatted, 3) there exists no Planned Parenthood sting video featuring a living baby and devilish negotiations over the price of its body parts.

At the kids' table debate earlier in the evening, which was a lot of fun for all sorts of reasons that I can't talk about here because, again, we're a nonpartisan nonprofit, there was one dissenting voice on the Kim Davis fiasco, and that came from the man who is, probably not coincidentally, the least likely to be nominated, George Pataki:

We have one rule of law in America, and an elected official can’t say that, ‘I’m not going to follow that law if it conflicts with my beliefs.’ I think she should have been fired, and if she had worked for me, I would have fired her. We have to uphold the rule of law. Imagine one minute, Jake, imagine one minute, that was a Muslim, who said that, ‘I don’t believe in gay marriage,’ and refused to perform that wedding, we wouldn’t have had that outrage. 

Nepal's Constituent Assembly maintains secularism as it rejects a proposal to turn the country into an officially Hindu state

Jessy Hegland at the High Plains Reader cites Skeptical Inquirer in a call for skeptics to not view conspiracy theorists as "the other," but as human beings who by myriad factors have been made "susceptible to the siren song of conspiracy." 

Sikivu Hutchinson writes about why atheism could be more attractive to black women:

The stigma of public morality, fueled by white supremacy and patriarchy, has always come down more heavily on black women. Religious right policies gutting reproductive health care disproportionately affect poor and working class black women. Christian fundamentalist propaganda demonizing abortion as "black genocide" vilifies black women's choices and right to self-determination. The HIV-AIDS epidemic in African American communities has been enabled by hyper-religious stigmas on black women's bodies and homophobic, heterosexist views of gay sexuality. In some of the poorest communities in the U.S., robber baron multimillion dollar mega churches all but use black women as ATMs.

Epidemiologist Geoffrey Kabat dismisses the cell-phones-cause-cancer myth and says of those who think WiFi is making them sick that "this whole movement is cuckoo. These exposures are so weak that it is senseless and tragic to have people worrying about them." 

We posted a little snippet from the full-length Bill Nye talk from the CFI Summit on Facebook, all about Bill being a "speck on a speck." 

Megan Garber at The Atlantic lauds Stephen Colbert for his "stealthy humanism," not in the sense of being nonreligious, but in using his show to seed discussions of human rights. 

Wow, a computer scientists and a “Registered Holistic Nutritionist” are trying to convince us that GMOs cause concussions. I think that claim just gave me a concussion.

I didn't read this article from Nature, I just like the accompanying image of interdisciplinary superheroes

Frans de Waal on the discovery of that proto-human species

It is an odd coincidence that “naledi” is an anagram of “denial.” We are trying way too hard to deny that we are modified apes. The discovery of these fossils is a major paleontological breakthrough. Why not seize this moment to overcome our anthropocentrism and recognize the fuzziness of the distinctions within our extended family? 

Quote of the Day:

Omar Ghabra on Twitter:

An Arab-looking man of Syrian descent in a garage w/his accomplice building what appears to be a bomb. Arrest them.  

 

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Original image by Shutterstock

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Comments:

#1 Randy on Friday September 18, 2015 at 10:06pm

“a clock which a teacher thought looked like a bomb”

It wasn’t just a teacher.  If you watch the interview on Dallas news, the boy admitted that he made modifications to make it less scary.  In other words, he knew very well that it would scare people, because it looks exactly like a suitcase bomb, just without the dynamite.  As you know, Columbine was planned for over a year.  It would be grossly irresponsible for teachers to let this just slide.

#2 Randy on Friday September 18, 2015 at 10:13pm

“An Arab-looking man of Syrian descent in a garage w/his accomplice building what appears to be a bomb.”

So now this kid is Steve Jobs?  Your halo is blinding me.  Where are my sunglasses?

(By the way, what bomb have you ever seen has a QWERTY keyboard attached?)

#3 Randy on Friday September 18, 2015 at 10:17pm

“These exposures are so weak”

That’s not an argument.  Otherwise, you need to tell us why we need to care about minuscule concentrations of hormone-mimicking chemicals in our lakes and rivers.  Because those seem to be having harmful effects as bad or worse than those observed at higher concentrations.

#4 Randy on Friday September 18, 2015 at 10:31pm

“it helped that I was not just white, but a white boy”

It’s well worth pointing out that today, if you’re a white boy, you get anything but encouragement.  Unless you want to play with dolls, or used to be a white girl.  It’s a terrible time to be a white boy.

The education system is intentionally failing boys, so it can be seen to be promoting girls.  Somehow that’s equality.  See, the score doesn’t end at 50% of the college population being female, or at 52%, or at 60% like UK campus populations are… money still gets thrown… there is no upper limit.  They would aim for 200% if it were physically possible.  Anything else is patriarchy.

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