The Morning Heresy 7/5/12: Supreme Court Upholds Higgs Boson!

July 5, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities 

Now we've got you, Higgs!

The Washington Post has the clearest explanation I've seen of what it all means.

Lawrence Krauss in Slate gives a helpful metaphor...

Like the proverbial Cheshire cat, the Higgs instead leaves only a smile, by which I mean it decays into other particles that can be directly observed. 

...and ties it to his own mind-blowing ideas of "nothingness":

More than this, however, the Higgs field implies that otherwise seemingly empty space is much richer and weirder than we could have imagined even a century ago, and in fact that we cannot understand our own existence without understanding “emptiness” better. 

Of course, the Higgs discovery is just further evidence of His Noodliness

But why, why comic sans?? 

Don't forget! Tomorrow is the protest at the Indonesian Consulate for Alexander Aan

Chris Mooney dares to venture into the visual, as Point of Inquiry puts out its first video episode. Straight from the CFI Leadership Conference, Chris talks to heavy-hitters Jamie Kilstein, Ed Brayton, Jessica Ahlquist, and our own Michael De Dora. 

Hey hey look! Kylie Sturgess has a new book of her Token Skeptic podcast interviews. And it's got Stephen Fry! Stephen Fry!!! Go pick up The Scope of Skepticism now.

Richard Carrier nods in scholarly approval at CFI's new anti-harassment policy for conferences. 

No, seriously: Satanist couple has their home vandalized, claim to be victims of a hate crime, and the neighbors are actually sympathetic.

“Had that been the Star of David or a verse from the Koran,” said Luigi [one of the Satanists], “or something like that got damaged by somebody against those beliefs that would certainly be considered a hate crime.”

The damage woo can do: Mother charged with felony for refusing real medicine to her son with hyperthyroidism in favor of alt-med. 

(Thanks, Sharon, for those tips.)  

This Sunday, our own Debbie Goddard joins the Atheists Talk radio show to talk about African Americans for Humanism. 

The Humanist's blog notes the uphill battle for such a movement with hope:

. . . black nonbelievers are emerging from the depths of isolation and exposing the ills of blind faith. They’re showing the world that, yes, you can be proud of your African heritage and be a humanist.  

CSI's Ben Radford will be talkin' paranormal investigatin' with the Reno Skeptics this Saturday. 

Congrats from one comm flak to another, as American Atheists picks the recently-liberated former pastor Teresa MacBain as its new PR director. 

Out of the gate, AA has an airplane declaring atheism to be patriotic.  

PZ tackles the project of a taxonomy of atheists. 

This is a little old, but I just found it: At BioLogos (that group run by Francis Collins that wants to mush science and religion), Thomas Burnett attempts to nail down the meaning of "scientism":

Scientism . . . is a speculative worldview about the ultimate reality of the universe and its meaning. . . . Rather than working within carefully constructed boundaries and methodologies established by researchers, it broadly generalizes entire fields of academic expertise and dismisses many of them as inferior. With scientism, you will regularly hear explanations that rely on words like “merely”, “only”, “simply”, or “nothing more than”. Scientism restricts human inquiry. 

Fraud-a-palooza: Sharon Hill on the discovery of an anesthesiologist who fabricated over 170 papers:

. . . this fraud case is noteworthy because of the rarity and the impact it will have on others to NOT try to pull this garbage. 

Today in religiously-fueled violence and oppression: 

  • A mob in Pakistan beats and burns a man to death for allagedly throwing pages of the Koran into the street. 
  • It's 10 years in prison for the Kuwaiti man accused of Twitter blasphemy, which he denies. 
  • India's weeping-cross-debunking skeptic Sanal Edamaruku has been denied appeal, and that's bad news.
  • Maryan Namazie bristles at those who don't see Alexander Aan as worth defending.

National Ocean Service: No, dumbasses, there's no such thing as mermaids no matter what Animal Planet says. 

Yugoslavian prophet-visionary woman says the Virgin Mary is totally aware of Europe's economic crisis, but is preoccupied with stuff that makes even less sense. 

Women Thinking Free (WTF), of the "Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated!" campaign are now Women Thinking, Inc. Like Apple, Inc., but not a $500 billion mega-corporation that I treat like a religion. 

Tom Erich waxes about the silver lining in the apparent decay of society in secular Seattle:

. . . they allowed the divine to touch their lives. In what is arguably the nation’s most secular city, people found the core meaning of an incarnate faith: people loving each other. They formed communities of remarkable diversity and acceptance. As religion struggles with who is allowed in, these church avoiders have opened their lives to each other. 

The little battles: Pennsylvania man complains to state human rights commission that restaurant offers "discriminatory" 10 percent discount to church-goers. 

Look out for the "Remnants" - Sarah Posner looks at how Ron Paulism, it's own brand of theocratic mania, threatens the old school Christianist wing of the GOP. 

Robert Fuller in PsyToday squares, sort of, monotheism (as opposed to polytheism) with science:

Our faith in the comprehensibility of the world around us mirrors our ancestors’ faith in godlike beings to whom things were intelligible.  

Did you know that your local freethought/secular group can be an affiliated group with the Council for Secular Humanism? You did? Then never mind. But if you didn't know that, check out the current local afiliates, and dig this pitch from Council chief Tom Flynn:

Thinking of launching a group? Request your free copy of our jam-packed manual Running a Secular Humanist Group, filled with field-proven strategies and tactics for starting and growing a local group. Email and include your postal address. 

Running a group? Running a Secular Humanist Group is perfect for you too, and it's free. So is your group's membership in the Council's Affiliated Local Groups Program (ALGP).  Membership is open to any atheist/humanist group serving adults, regardless of how your group is governed or what other national organizations it may be affiliated with. 

There are a ton of benefits, too many to put in here, but email Tom if you're interested in learning more.  

No, it's not Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber, it's medicinal bloodletting in Egypt today.

Quote of the Day     

Yes, I'm giving the quote of the day to ME, which I can do, because it's my blog, and if you don't like it, I can take my blog and go home.

This got retweeted over 300 times yesterday, so I thought I'd share it with you, too:

Oh, Higgs boson, look at the mass you've made.

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI . Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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