10,000 Hours Down the Drain

March 14, 2014

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

There's a great article about CFI's Long Island branch in the Plainview-Old Bethpage Herald. Treasurer Phil Pollack says:

This is a philosophy and discussion group. We always have really interesting topics, and we also have a book club discussion group as well. We talk about politics, science, real history, and other aspects of the world in which we live. It’s a fascinating group of people, and we invite anyone who’s interested in experiencing our discussions to come down and try it out.

Pew has done a lot of number crunching on various religious identification surveys, and finds that while "nones" are in a three-way tie with Evangelicals and Catholics in the U.S., many of the nones are "unattached believers," theists but not under any particular sect's sway. That said, a key takeaway from this article from Cathy Lynn Grossman is that even those "unattached believers" are likely "unreachable" by any church. 

Also check out their chart on countries' attitudes about God and morality. You can also see the relationship between those attitudes and a country's wealth.

And, a new NBC/WSJ poll shows 21% of Americans saying religion is “not that important” to their lives, the highest number yet in that poll. 

John Boehner invites the pope to fluffify Congress. I mean address Congress. There's no fluffifying that place. CFI chief Ron Lindsay tweets his discontent:

[The] Pope's authority [is] based on the claim that he's the vicar of Christ on earth. Having him address Congress is starkly inconsistent with secularism.

CFI-Canada's bus ad weirdly disappears. (CFI-Canada operates independently from CFI-Transnational, which is us.)

Oh for the love of God. Literally: Oklahoma Fox station awkwardly edits out 15 seconds of the new Cosmos that points to humans' evolution from other species.

Religious think tank the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids loses its state designation as a charitable nonprofit. (It still is considered such by the federal government.) 

10,000 hours of practice makes you an expert. Turns out, no

Ben Radford goes on Voice of Russia to explain that the missing Malaysia Airlines plane is not the victim of paranormal activity, but most likely a hijacking. 

Okay, I think want to see the Noah movie now. Why? Director Darren Aronovsky said it was the "least biblical" biblical film, and that "It's a very, very different movie. Anything you're expecting, you're f---ing wrong."

Frozen promotes homosexuality and beastiality, according to some wingnuts. (I don't even want to know what Shrek promotes then.) Laura Turner writes about the song "Let it Go" (which my 4-year-old son sings all the time):

It’s a song about a girl rejecting the strictures of a society that told her she needed to look and act a certain way in order to be acceptable? It’s about letting go of your fears, not declaring a sexual orientation? Hmm. Interesting. 

Atheist Republic posts a piece from a skeptic in Pakistan, "what hell might be as a non-believer." Recalling some alienation from school peers for his doubt, the author writes:

Well, at least they thought they were teasing me. But, to me, being a freethinking infidel is much more desirable than being a deluded brat who has learned to favor the most vicious of deeds of someone just for having the same religion.  

Meanwhile, the Council of Islamic Ideology says Pakistan's law prohibiting underage marriages is un-Islamic, saying there ought to be no minimum age.

Brandon Fibbs, who worked on the new Cosmos, writes at the new On Faith about how Carl Sagan inspired his nonbelief:

Perhaps it was this very gentleness, warmth and humanity that made him so much more menacing than his ideological peers, then and now. He did not attack so much as elevate. He spent only as much time as was necessary dismantling those things that posed a significant threat to rational living, instead focusing most of our attention on the wonders science had revealed. 

Robert Sheaffer assesses the TV show on UFO enthusiast group MUFON, and thinks the organization is just embarrassing itself:

There are still some fine investigators in MUFON, who do not make claims beyond what the data will allow, and who are ready to denounce hoaxes and humbug wherever encountered. People like these cannot possibly be happy about MUFON's plunge into tabloid sensationalism, and can scarcely afford to have their names associated with such trash. 

The atheism of Bill Gates is (again) inquired about, here at the end of a Rolling Stone interview:

I agree with people like Richard Dawkins that mankind felt the need for creation myths. Before we really began to understand disease and the weather and things like that, we sought false explanations for them. Now science has filled in some of the realm – not all – that religion used to fill. But the mystery and the beauty of the world is overwhelmingly amazing, and there's no scientific explanation of how it came about. To say that it was generated by random numbers, that does seem, you know, sort of an uncharitable view [laughs]. I think it makes sense to believe in God, but exactly what decision in your life you make differently because of it, I don't know. 

Emma Green at The Atlantic says atheists are just as much to blame for "culture wars" as hardline believers, and complains that Peter Watson's new book on atheism "suggests that believers are inherently less thoughtful than non-believers."

Gotta like this. Nathan Cranford at Guardian Liberty Voice on alt-med:

If [alternative medicines] worked, then they would simply be dubbed as medicine. ... If one really wants to keep the doctor away, one would be best advised to listen to the health advice of an actual doctor.

I don't want to listen to this, but FYI, Michigan public radio profiles Samantha Harris, "a spiritual healer, demonologist, paranormal investigator" who says science can't explain fallen angels.  

Dave Silverman, eat your heart out. Here's the best atheist license plate

Quote of the Day

Tara C. Smith makes the empathetic case for vaccinating your kids, even if you're worried about it (this is all great, but here are some highlights):

I know it can be scary. You might have heard from friends or relatives, or read on the internet, that vaccines can harm your baby. ... I’ve spent almost 20 years of my life studying infectious diseases up-close and personal, not from random websites on Google. I’ve worked with viruses and bacteria in the lab. I respect what germs are capable of. I worry about vaccine-preventable diseases coming back because of low levels of herd immunity. I cry over stories of babies lost to pertussis and other vaccine-preventable diseases. ... I’ve done my best to keep my kids healthy and safe. I nag about bicycle helmets and make sure they’re getting exercise. I make them eat vegetables. I don’t move the car until everyone is buckled up. My older kids were in booster seats for what felt like forever, as both were on the small size for their age. Vaccinations are just one more part of this arsenal. 

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The image, via Shutterstock, is not actually Malcolm Gladwell, but, you know, come on. 

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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