Your Brain in a Fridge

September 22, 2016

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

I'm hopping on another plane today for yet another conference, this time it's the long-awaited Women in Secularism 4, where once again we'll be running the CFI Live blog to cover it all as it happens. Bookmark it! Do it!

Kimberly Winston at RNS reports on new data from PRRI which tells us something which confirms what you probably already thought: The rise of the nones is not primarily a result of some unhappy experiences relating to religion, or because of the anti-progressive bent of faiths. They just stopped believing in it:

Sixty percent said they simply “stopped believing” in their childhood religion, while 32 percent cited their family’s lack of religious commitment. Less than a third — 29 percent — said negative religious teachings about gays and lesbians was important to why they left their childhood religion and only 19 percent cited the clergy sex-abuse crisis. 

Next week, we have some important stuff leading up to International Blasphemy Rights Day, and as if to prime your interest, we have this utterly absurd and disgusting use of Pakistan's blasphemy law: A 16-year-old Christian boy is arrested because someone tattled on him for liking a Facebook post with an "inappropriate" photo of the Kaaba in Mecca. That's it. 

Alisa Opar at The Atlantic takes a deep dive into the many snake oil treatments for autism. "These unproven treatments do not come cheap, and some are harmful." 

Women in Secularism speaker Emily Willingham reports on Congress's grilling of Mylan CEO Heather Bresch about the EpiPen price gouging, and it sounds like it was brutal.  

Yet ANOTHER Women in Secularism (and CSICon!) speaker, Kavin Senapathy, reports on how Sir Richard Roberts, a Nobel laureate in physiology, leads an effort to convince Greenpeace to stop opposing GMOs.

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan pledge $3 billion to cure all diseases. Well!

Lance Higdon at VICE explores the varieties of belief in possession by demons or spirits, and seeks insight from Skeptical Inquirer's Ben Radford.  

So there's this cute video about 10 ways humans are still evolving, which is useful, but I'll be honest, all the goofing around and screwing up is a little annoying. 

TV ghost hunter Daniel Buell, who I never heard of but what else is new, is arrested in South Carolina for theft, and apparently is having trouble showing up for shows for which many tickets have been purchased. 

Dr. Brad McKay at rails against the well-tanned and bright-smiling snake oil chef Pete Evans:

A deluge of scientific-sounding health advice on our televisions makes it difficult to sift out fact from fiction, but finding out the truth really comes down to you. Learning takes time, but it’s the only way to stop being a sucker for bad science. Be inquisitive and curious about your health. Ask questions, think critically and be prepared to change your view, depending on the evidence.

Seek out a qualified professional and don’t just believe the next miracle or quick-fix cure endorsed by a confident, conspiracy theorist celebrity.

A lot of folks in our community are mourning the death of 24-year-old Kevin Gorman, "a passionate advocate for gender equality, who was responsible for posting and editing dozens of Wikipedia pages about women philosophers." I didn't know him, but I know many CFI folks did, and my sincere condolences to everyone who is feeling this loss.  

Quote of the Day

Marv Knox, editor of the Baptist Standardrebuffs Trump's idea of uniting Americans "under one God": 

You can surmise that politicians who promise to unite our nation under one God speak authentically and powerfully, don’t they? Well, only if you checked your brain in the fridge where they stored the Vacation Bible School treats and never, ever paid attention in Sunday school. ... As evangelistic Christians, we desire all people to unite in their love for and acceptance of Jesus. But even the notion of doing so through pressure and coercion violates Scripture, theology, history and centuries of heritage. ... Forcing Americans to unite under “one God” is an awful idea whose time never will come. 

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The Morning Heresy: "I actually read it." - Hemant Mehta


#1 Randy (Guest) on Thursday September 22, 2016 at 3:13pm

“Trump’s idea of uniting Americans ‘under one God’”

1. What about Hillary’s idea that the President must be Christian?  It’s different, but the difference matters very little to me.

2. What does “under God” in the pledge mean, then?  They didn’t say “under Shiva” or “under Cthulhu”.  They clearly mean “God” who is the Christian god, just as Allah is the Muslim allah.

#2 Randy (Guest) on Thursday September 22, 2016 at 3:33pm

(correction to myself due to lack of edit… Allah puts a “the” in front of “god” (-lah), but the comparison is still valid enough)

#3 Randy (Guest) on Thursday September 22, 2016 at 3:47pm

I’m sorry to learn of such a young death, but death does not make a hero of Gorman any more than it made a hero of Mother Teresa.  Gorman was not involved in gender equality.  In my view, based on his edits which anyone can see for themselves, he was a sexist, and in particular he was a misandrist.  Further, the idea that there is some preferred sex mix on any team is itself a sexist idea.  No person interested in gender equality would participate in a scheme to alter a mix of participants based on their supposed sex.

#4 Randy (Guest) on Thursday September 22, 2016 at 4:10pm

“finding out the truth really comes down to you”

Sorry, but this is just not reasonable.  The sheer quantity of information we’re required to know, that has a material impact on our lives, is well beyond any individual’s ability to know.

I don’t have a solution, but essentially blaming the victim is certainly not it.

#5 Randy (Guest) on Thursday September 22, 2016 at 4:15pm

“The rise of the nones” story demonstrates the importance of organizing atheists and skeptics around (wild guess here) atheism and skepticism, rather than other issues such as gay and lesbian issues.

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