Getting Blinkered

September 7, 2016

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

Fazıl Say, the Turkish pianist who was convicted of blasphemy four years ago for Tweeting poetry that authorities said "insult[ed] religious beliefs held by a section of society," has been acquitted.

Gina Miller, a "psychic" in Ohio, is charged with stealing $1.5 million from clients. 

Katy Waldman has a great piece at Slate on the trigger warning/safe space debate, focusing on the science of trauma, the many powerful forms of PTSD, and exploring the vast spectrum of what constitutes a trigger:

You can’t defeat trauma by avoiding it. Pushing it away only makes it more supple. ... We long for the past to let us be, but the reality is more complicated. We need to learn how to let the past be. 

Al Kauber at The Missoulian profiles Richard O'Connor, a retired physician who really, really thinks aliens have been here, or, perhaps, the aliens are US:

Say that an event from space, such as a solar storm, struck Earth and killed nearly everyone, he said. However, some of the inhabitants at that time were living in caves and spared the destructive force of that event. Those survivors, who perhaps emerged from those caves, would have had a head start on the rest of humanity, O’Connor said, and today would be a far more technologically advanced life form. Space ships could be an example of the technology they possess, he added. 

A 21-year-old Russian man is arrested for playing Pokemon Go in a cathredral, charged with "inciting hatred and offending religious sensibilities." He faces a possible 5-year prison sentence. 

The latest Richard Dawkins Foundation newsletter is hot off the servers!

Emily Willingham (who's coming to Women in Secularism 4!) makes it clear: No, ultrasounds don't cause autism

President Obama nominates Abid Qureshi to the DC district court, making him the first Muslim to be nominated to a federal judgeship. 

Also, footage of the SpaceX rocket exploding shows that clearly either a) aliens did it or b) rival manufacturers blew it up with a drone. 

Quote of the Day

Daniel Engber at FiveThirtyEight does an interesting piece on how skeptics are by no means immune to believing -- and then spreading -- myths and apocrypha, it's just that skeptics' myths usually have to do with supposed debunking of other myths. Engber writes:

It seems plausible to me, at least, that the tellers of these tales are getting blinkered by their own feelings of superiority — that the mere act of busting myths makes them more susceptible to spreading them. It lowers their defenses, in the same way that the act of remembering sometimes seems to make us more likely to forget. Could it be that the more credulous we become, the more convinced we are of our own debunker bona fides? Does skepticism self-destruct? 

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Photo credit: Nick Kenrick. via Foter.com / CC BY

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Comments:

#1 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday September 07, 2016 at 3:01pm

“Does skepticism self-destruct?”

This may also relate to the idea that intelligent people (at least in school) are simultaneously also more gullible, according to educators.

As for me, I still haven’t found a good way to determine who to trust.  Ultimately, I have NO access to the tools I would need to determine whether any physicist (for example) was telling me anything approximating the truth, when it comes to anything beyond high-school level.  This is not a small problem.  How do I know that GPS uses relativity?  Someone said so.  And..?

#2 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday September 07, 2016 at 3:04pm

“first Muslim to be nominated to a federal judgeship”

Have we had an open atheist?  Has Obama nominated an atheist?  I’m guessing no.

#3 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday September 07, 2016 at 3:11pm

“We need to learn how to let the past be.”

Indeed, and not just in regard to the safe-space discussion, which is a current manifestation of a larger problem.  I think humanity has far more to gain by forgetting, than by remembering.

Not that history is bad… there are things that can be learned (or re-learned) from history.  We have lost some good things.  But the obsession with score-settling, and the annual rituals around some events, are not good things.

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