Messy, Raw, and Muddled

July 22, 2013

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

Let me tell you folks, Mondays are a beast for the Heresy. All the news from Friday, Saturday, and Sunday must be combed through in one morning, often making the Heresy late and probably too long (though I guess I could be more selective, but you know, information wants to be free or something). Maybe I should start a Kickstarter to fund a "Weekend Heresy" or like a Heresy newsmagazine. I'm sure that'll take off. 

Speaking of Kickstarter, here's one for a Bigfoot caller. No, really. Dig the developers' qualifications:

James is a fitness expert and internationally known bestselling author of over 28 books and Christopher is a former actor that now runs an ad agency and software development company.  

The wife and I saw the documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer this weekend, and I highly recommend it. The footage is absolutely remarkable, as is learning about the ins and outs of how "justice" was dispensed to these arts-activists. Amnesty International is circulating a new petition on behalf of the two members still in prison. Their case is among those highlighted on our own Campaign for Free Expression.

Katie Englehart at Salon looks at the atheist movement and wonders, where are the women at? (She does give a nod to CFI and the Women in Secularism conferences.) 

Non-quivering Vyckie Garrison will be speaking to CFI-Michigan in Grand Rapids and Madison Heights this week.

Uh oh. PZ is coming to CFI-DC

At ComicCon, we heard about new Batman and Superman team-ups. Yawn. New Avengers movies. Snooze. But what's this? A TRAILER FOR THE NEW COSMOS?!?!?! Hello!!!! 

Highly recommended: On the Media's Bob Garfield rips ABC for hiring anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy.

WBAL in Baltimore runs an uncritical puff piece with a homeopathic snake oil saleswoman to "keep your family healthy." (It's a "Medical Alert"!)

Meanwhile, Prince Charles still loves his homeopathy, and wants UK taxpayers to pay for it

Faye Flam at WHYY wants scientists to learn a thing or two about gullibility from magicians. 

Atheist Ireland pushes for the constitutional convention to kill the country's blasphemy law quotes Ben Radford to explain why these "vampire graves" are not what they seem, but still pretty gross:

[T]hough laypeople might assume that a body would decompose immediately, if the coffin is well sealed and buried in winter, putrefaction might be delayed by weeks or months; intestinal decomposition creates bloating which can force blood up into the mouth, making it look like a dead body has recently sucked blood. These processes are well understood by modern doctors and morticians, but in medieval Europe were taken as unmistakable signs that vampires were real and existed among them. 

Massimo Pigliucci doesn't think supernatural claims necessarily count as something science can test, but not because they're "special," but "to raise them to the level of a scientifically testable hypothesis grants them far too much."

Ashutosh Jogalekar at SciAm addresses "the intellectual chasm in [Virginia] Heffernan’s head" concerning her recent admission to belief in "creationism," and clears up what science and doubt actually are:

Doubt is only a medium – and a spectacularly successful one at that – to get to the truth. Unlike religion whose truths differ for every person, science actually offers universal truths that can be tested, repeated and verified by anyone who cares to do so. 

A federal judge rules that two businesses owned by religious folks do not have to participate in the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive coverage mandate. SCOTUSblog analyzes.

Norwegian woman Marte Deborah Dalelv reported a rape in Dubai, and was arrested for doing so. After international pressure, Dubai "pardons" her

NYT: A Ghanian "traditional" priest with an international following, Kwaku Bonsam, plants a flag in New York City. 

Kylie Sturgess's interview with Paul Offit is up at 

Archaeologists think they have found King David's palace

The Guerilla Skeptic Wikipedians are conjuring a tsunami of crowdsourced reference awesomeness.

Hmm. According to a study by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, religion is not in trouble at all. Hmm.

NYT Mag explores the "messy, raw and muddled" aspects of the end of a person's life, including considerations of things like suffering and euthanasia. 

DC Court finds evidence of "actual malice" from the Competitive Enterprise Institute toward climate scientist Michael Mann, allowing a defamation suit to go forward. We last met CEI when CFI (not to be confused) came down on Google for helping to fund them. 

Dave Silverman is going to infect booksellers with his heathenism. 

I draw a line between Jerry DeWitt's "atheist prayers" and the Actors Studio. It sort of makes sense when you read it. 

Apparently there's a lot of wrongness being said about this summer's "Supermoon." 

Edward Mendelson at NYRB compares Apple to small-c catholicism, and I expand upon the metaphor, and assign Android to a kind of reformed faith.  

Daniel Burke at interviews Christopher F. Silver and Thomas Coleman, who ran the now-famous survey giving a new taxonomy to atheists. 

Laurie Goodstein on the dissonance between faith and the deluge of information on the Internet - Mormon authority Hans Mattsson is going public with his doubt:

I felt like I had an earthquake under my feet. Everything I’d been taught, everything I’d been proud to preach about and witness about, just crumbled under my feet. It was such a terrible psychological and nearly physical disturbance. 

When nuns trap women into forced labor, and the government then demands the women be compensated, you can't very well expect the nuns themselves to chip in

Louie CK is angry on God's behalf

Sharon Hill reminds us: when someone kills someone else and then claims "Satan made me do it," Satanism "may be correlated but not the CAUSE of the event."    

All-knowing. All-seeing. All-hearing. It is a voice in your head with whom you converse, get advice, direction, and comfort. It's not God, it's Google

LA Review of Books reviews Salomon Kroonenberg’s Why Hell Stinks of Sulfur, a look at the "geology" of The Bad Place.

Randa Morris sees bad news for the religious right as the numbers improve for the religious left and "nones." 

IHEU raises an alarm over religious texts from a number of faiths being confiscated by authorities in Uzbekistan.

Kansas City Public Radio covers Camp Quest

Dirty, dirty, dirty St. Louis

Quote of the Day

Seattle Times talks to Bill Nye (a CFI Summit headliner) on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of his TV show. Says Nye:

I have no trouble taking these political stances [in favor of science], because I think the evidence is overwhelming. I can demonstrate that the earth is not flat and in the same way, with enough diligence, I can demonstrate that the Earth is not 10,000 years old. So, to use tax dollars to teach that as an alternative to scientific facts is inappropriate. Denying science is in nobody’s interest. 

* * *  

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul, Ed, Lauren, anyone who can fire them, or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

Follow CFI on Twitter: @center4inquiry 

Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)! 

The Morning Heresy: "I actually read it." - Hemant Mehta



#1 Griff on Monday July 22, 2013 at 11:08am

As I predicted you would do, you buried the PRRI and Brookings report with a scant, quite indirect mention—I refer to the report which demonstrates that Christian conservatives are a much lower portion of the whole than seculars, et al. have been falsely claiming for years, and that liberal Christians not only exist but equal conservatives in number.  The majority of Christians, as anyone should have been able to figure out, are moderates.

Since none of this data matches the secular/humanist/atheist line, you simply ignore it.  What else is new?

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.