All You Need to Do Is Be Cynical

September 6, 2016

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

Okay, big week. Lots to do. Let's get to it.

Richard Dawkins is going on tour in the U.S.! I will be playing rhythm guitar. Kidding! But he is coming to a bunch of cities to chat with special guests. Clicky clicky to get the details.

The delightful Carrie Poppy interviews The New Yorker's Maria Konnikova for CSICon Las Vegas, reminding us that yes, even we brilliant skeptics can be conned:

Well, I think I’m fighting against overconfidence, right? This belief that all you need to do is be cynical and skeptical to avoid being conned. I think people really have a narrow view of what cons are possible, of what it means to be conned, of what can protect you against being conned. I think they don’t realize that every single person has a point of vulnerability, and the great con artist will find that point and exploit it. 

Reasonable Talk season 2 finishes up with the most charming Anglo-Missourian in secularism, James Croft, with his awesome presentation on the art of persuasion

CFI's Committee for Skeptical Inquiry gets a nod in The Daily Beast, as Ben Radford lends some sanity to the worries over government mind control. #rigged

Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping formally commit the U.S. and China to the Paris climate agreement.

For a while, it looked as though the comet-surveying Rosetta mission would never again see its beloved lander. No so! Philae is found.

Trump went to a black church, you may have heard. "I feel better already," he says. That's nice. 

Parisian artist Marie-Shirine Yener makes a handy and good-hearted illustrated guide to what you can do if you see anti-Muslim harassment and jackassery. 

Stuart Vyse writes about the controversy over the work of MIT's Suzanne Corkin and her work with memory-loss patient Henry Molaison ("H.M."), and the pitfalls of relying on consensus. 

James A. Haught opines on the rise of the Nones, and how it spells big trouble for the GOP

NOT SATIRE: Trump lawyer Michael "Says Who" Cohen sees a Trump-shaped cloud in the sky, and says, "the Lord has chosen the people's messenger." WOW. 

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN's high commissioner for human rights, disses the "populists, demagogues, and fantasists" of the West, such as Trump and France's Le Pen.

The FDA bans certain antibacterial soaps, saying they are no better than soap and water and not even fully proven to be safe.

Rebecca Barrett-Fox discusses the theology behind the Westboro Baptist Church for Religion Dispatches

Edzard Ernst finds lots of problems with an NIH study on the efficacy of "complementary health approaches." 

Now that Mother Theresa is a saint (cough cough), it's time to pray for her to heal Stephen Hawking. Okay. 

The most complete ichthyosaur ever discovered is found in a Scottish loch. Alas, it's Storr Lochs, so, sorry, Nessie fans. 

Here's what Gov. John Kasich (remember, the "nice" and "sane" one who ran for president) said when he saw a copy of a Harry Potter book:

You know that Daniel [Radcliffe] has declared himself an atheist? I’m serious. What a weird thing. Why would a guy who has had all that success just, I mean, what the hell is wrong with him? 

Yeah, governor. What's wrong with him? Definitely not you. Him. Totally. 

This NYT headline is Peak Kristof™: "What Religion Would Jesus Belong To?" 

Phyllis Schlafly is dead. Moving on. 

Quote of the Day

Emmett Montgomery on Twitter:

When God closes a door, He opens a window and anything can crawl in. Not spiders, they are already there, they have always been there. 

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Comments:

#1 Mario (Guest) on Tuesday September 06, 2016 at 10:23am

Rebecca Barrett-Fox: “We’re very comfortable assuming that people like this are bigots and bullies, and it’s harder for us to imagine that well-educated people could still hold these views.”

When are bigoted bullies not bigoted bullies?  When they’re well-educated people.

Rebecca Barrett-Fox: “I also want the book to be helpful to people who are working to counter hate.”

Hm.  Sounds like she’s assuming the Westboro Baptist folks are bigoted bullies.  Does she have any proof?

#2 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday September 06, 2016 at 4:37pm

“UN’s high commissioner for human rights”

The UN has no moral authority on human rights, so long as it has a UN Women, but no UN Men or UN Trans.

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