Odd, Misanthropic, Supercilious
June 9, 2014
The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
CFI's Michael De Dora comments on the unanimous Senate passage of a bill allowing for a prayer plaque at the WWII memorial, here in the Washington Post:
We thought the Senate would take the long view of this and see the policy implications of adding a Christian prayer to a World War II monument. But even more upsetting was the way it was passed. There was no floor debate, no official vote, no one went on the record regarding their position. No one was allowed to speak up and no one did speak up.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey ended last night (I'm still a few episodes behind). Ann Druyan reflects on the experience (you can hear more from her on Point of Inquiry) and says she thinks Carl Sagan would be happy with the impact it's already had:
I think he would be thrilled. My children and my friends who knew and loved him have said to me countless times, 'Daddy would be so proud.'
Keep Health Care Safe and Secular is a breath of fresh air for those of us who recognize the value of scientific evidence and who want our personal health care decisions to be free from the influence of partisan attacks, misinformation campaigns, and intrusive religious dogma.
And from Ed Brayton: "Hear, hear. Love the whole thing." Thanks, Ed!
Point of Inquiry's Lindsay Beyerstein writes at The Guardian about our willingness to blame fictions like Slender Man for violence, but not very real things like misogyny and racism.
Slender Man is now being "blamed" for another attack, a daughter trying to stab her mother.
A chatbot "passes" the Turing Test, sort of. Robert T. Gonzalez and George Dvorsky report:
In what can be interpreted as devious in its brilliance or exploitative in its disregard for the spirit of Turing's originally proposed test, [the chatbot] Eugene's creators kind of kluged their way to victory on this one, by having it pretend to be a 13-year-old, non-native-English-speaking Ukrainian. As Eugene's creator Vladimir Veselov put it, "our main idea was that [Eugene] can claim that he knows anything, but his age also makes it perfectly reasonable that he doesn't know everything." Is it fair? Technically. But it's not the least bit impressive, in a cognitive sense.
High school atheist Jordan Balderas does a TEDxYouth talk on trying to get an atheist group at school off the ground.
Looking at the Meriam Ibrahim case, Abed Awad says that while Islam does state that apostates will suffer in the afterlife, "nowhere in the Quran does God command earthly authorities to execute anyone who has converted from Islam."
Muslims in Turkey want the prime minister to turn the Hagia Sophia back into a mosque.
Billboard in Calgary lies big time about climate change, a lie which the ad company that rejected CFI-Canada's billboards seems just fine with.
LA Times reports on a burgeoning problem in China: violent religious cults.
Texas Republicans declare homosexuality to be something that "tears at the fabric of society" and endorses pseudoscientific "reparative therapy" for gays. Our boss Ron Lindsay tweets, "Texas GOP shows it stands ready to boldly advance into the 18th century."
Joe Nickell looks into the "weeping statue" of Fatima for Skeptical Inquirer.
Victor Stenger says to scientists, doff your lab coat and throw your hat into the ring: "Scientists must become part of the political process and run for office."
Oh, and there was this news about a thing with a secular group and there seem to be some changes afoot.
xkcd games out climate change.
NYT's Charles Blow pretty much sums up the problem CFI works to solve: "What worries me is that some Americans seem to live in a world where facts can’t exist."
Some people hate the ACA so much, they're leaving the health care system altogether and creating their own little biblical insurance pools.
Sam Harris responds to the response to his Moral Landscape challenge. My Instapaper queue is getting out of control.
Hemant shakes his head at how easily a reporter is duped by a fake-psychic in India.
Tim Farley has two examples of conspiracy-minded "truthers" getting debunked thanks to a little understanding about digital photography.
Christians in Cape Town want to rename Devil's Peak because Satan.
Another puff piece on another local "psychic."
I hadn't yet linked to the mass grave of babies story as it was kind of overwhelming and couldn't quite bring myself to digest it. I still can't, really, but here's how Andrew Sullivan, himself a Catholic, characterizes it:
This is a form of Christianity which treats children as objects to be raped, neglected or left to die. It is a reminder of how foul and dangerous the union of church and state can be, and of how utterly distortive sexual repression and delusion can be. Here’s what the Catholic church is when its sexual repression is its first and fundamental value: a church that essentially aborted its unwanted children – but only after brief wretched lives of abuse, neglect and sickness.
Quote of the Day
B.R. Oppenheimer of the American Museum of Natural History argues for greater investment in NASA:
The United States is in a better position than ever to advance human understanding of the universe in ways unimaginable to Ben Franklin as he established American science many years ago. Are we, as a nation, to be remembered by future generations for building these remarkable eyes on the universe, simply to let them drift away into darkness or vaporize in the atmosphere, when they can still see things no one has ever imagined? Are we not obliged to continue this bold exploration, with vigor, for the benefit of all of humanity?
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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#1 Mario (Guest) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 at 2:28pm
“Without naming us, yet linking to us, Mark Tooley at the American Spectator characterizes CFI and its ‘odd coalition’ as perhaps ‘misanthropic’ and definitely ‘supercilious’ for our opposition.”
Unaware, obviously, that you wear those labels with honor.
#2 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 at 8:11pm
“very real things like misogyny and racism.”
The linked article ignores racism almost entirely, and references “deep social problems like misogyny” in the context of Elliot Rodger. To call him a misogynist is to call a spork a spoon. Not only did he passionately hate men, read a website devoted to hating men, and said so plainly and repeatedly, but he also killed men first, and he killed twice as many men as women.
Rodger was a misandrist at least as much as he was a misogynist. He was, in fact, a misanthrope.
Now, if you want to talk about “deep social problems” like sexist discrimination, look no further than the Secular Coalition for America’s lobby day: “FREE for students, women, LGBTQ community, and minorities”. Although men are plainly a minority, this seems intended to imply that straight white working (or unemployed) men should pay for everyone else.