Like a Diamond in the Sky

September 21, 2015

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

Wow, lots of weird things happened over the weekend. I'm tempted to pretend they didn't, or at least really lean on the whole "we can't look like we're opposing or supporting presidential candidates" thing in order to dodge it all. But lemme give it a shot.

Here's the thing - last week, the whole Ahmed's-clock thing seemed to end so happily. Bad, stupid things happened, but our eyes were opened, and the world embraced the idea that, hey, let's stop treating each other like we're all enemies, and also let's encourage science and curiosity. Hooray! Sunshine!

Well, I should know better. Anti-Muslim zealots Frank Gaffney and Pamela Geller make noise about how Ahmed's clock was a sort of "half-bomb" and hey, how were teachers supposed to know it wasn't a bomb. (Never mind that the whole thing happened not because they thought it was a bomb, but because they thought it might be a "hoax bomb." Details.) 

We also had one candidate for a very high American office say that a Muslim should never be president. (Muslims fare better with Americans in polls than atheists, for what it's worth.) 

And then Richard Dawkins got in some hot water by openly speculating as to whether young Ahmed had really built that clock himself, which, you know, whatever, probably not the best idea to tweet that, but you know, Dawkins gonna Dawkins, and the Internet Outrage Machine did what it does, and Dawkins apologized, and reemphasized his support for Ahmed and his opposition to how he was treated.

Bill Maher, alas

Oh, and we have more reactions from skeptics to certain candidates for a very high American office and their grossly misinformed/wrong/cynical positions on vaccines: check out Gorski and Salzberg. At WaPo, Eric Merkley and Dominik Stecula blame CNN, which hosted the debate, on any eventual drop in vaccine rates.

Okay, moving on again.

President Obama nominates Eric K. Fanning to be secretary of the Army, who, if confirmed, would be the first openly-gay person to have such a position.  

Russell Blackford defends Charlie Hebdo after its cartoonification of the 3-year-old drowned Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi: 

We need good cultural criticism, but we also need some scrutiny of the cultural critics. Much of what passes for cultural criticism merely examines cultural products - whether novels, movies, video games, cartoons, speeches, items of clothing, or comedy routines - for superficial marks of ideological impurity. 

The Vatican is unhappy with the guest list at the pope's White House reception, because it includes gay clergy, transgender activists, and folks who - gasp - support abortion rights. I suggest the pope not come to the White House at all! Problem solved!

NYT's editorial board encourages the pope to reel in the Church's contraception opposition

Also at NYT, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz takes, in my opinion, makes a lot of pretty overbroad assumptions about what people think about God and religion based on googling habits.  

Jade Helm 15 happened! And, um, there was no military takeover. Bullet dodged! 

The Christian Post profiles the United Church of Bacon. They know a real competitor when they see one.

Fox News' website posts a grossly irresponsible article by Julie Revelant that encourages the use of homeopathic medicines for infants

Meanwhile, Scotland's health board wastes about £2 million every year on homeopathy.

A Virginia woman calls the sheriff's office to report seeing Bigfoot with a baby. Evidence? "I did see some footprints and the stride was longer than anything I could make." Well that settles it. 

Also in Virginia, report of some troubling proselytization about "God's game plan" to public high school students.

Ohio fake psychic Gina B. Miller is arrested for all the usual things psychics are arrested for.

Dialing *10 gets you God's blessing. How do you get out of the Matrix? 

Alien spacecraft flies so high, like a diamond in the sky

Life finds a way. Or, snake life does anyway. 

Quote of the Day:

Let's let Emily Willingham lend some perspective to the whole Ahmed's-clock thing, as she looks back at a deep Muslim tradition of science and discovery, shall we?

When a boy with a scientific bent shows originality and motivation, when he takes things apart and rebuilds them or develops contraptions of his own, in the western world, many people would draw an immediate comparison between that boy and, say, Thomas Edison or Nicola Tesla. But when a boy with a certain kind of name—like Ahmed Mohamed—shows up at his school with something he built himself, a clock, no less, his teacher didn’t look at him with pride and think, “Another Al-Jazari. That’s wonderful.” No. That teacher gets the cops involved, instead. 

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