Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
As of this moment, we have over 2700 signatures in our petition to the White House for Alexander Aan, and we must make it to 25,000 by August 16! My personal thanks to all those who have blogged, tweeted, facebooked, emailed, and pestered their friends and social network connections to sign. We still have a ways to go, so we need to keep pushing so we can attain a snowball effect. PZ commands you!
YouTube user MagorianAx makes his own heartfelt appeal for folks to take up Aan’s cause and earn the attention of the administration.
As we redouble our efforts for Alexander, Sara Schonhardt at NYT reports on the tensions between Muslim sects in Indonesia.
Council chief Tom Flynn looks at the data saying that most Americans would vote for an atheist for president, announces that Hell has finally frozen over.
The First Amendment Center has a trove of new data on American attitudes toward our most prime of directives. Of particular interest to me were the numbers on whether folks feel the First Amendment’s freedom of speech goes too far, and how they’ve wobbled over the past 15 years or so. (h/t Rob Boston)
Ex-atheist Leah Libresco asks her fellow believers to chip in to help in the wake of the hack attacks on SSA’s servers:
If you’re having a fight about philosophy and truth, you have to fight fair, or else you’re not keeping your powder dry.
Claudia at Friendly Atheist confronts us with a real ethical nut-cruncher: Should we do what we can to keep people, especially children, from being exposed to creationist propaganda?
Thomas A. Lewis at Religion & Politics looks at the particular character of Rhode Island in regards to freedom of religion in the wake of several big conflicts.
A match made in, well…ahem. General “My God is Bigger Than Your God” Boykin to help run the Family Research Council, where he can peddle bigotry from a whole new platform.
Ben Radford ponders the contradictions of New Age pursuits of “truth.”
Sharon Hill reflects on TAM and what she learned about the wider movement. My favorite part:
Outside of a few minor exceptions, I will make a sweeping generalization about how skeptics/atheists communicate with each other AND to the public. WE SUCK at it.
Jonathan Rée in The New Humanist examines the work of Bruno Latour and his new work On the Modern Cult of the Factish Gods, and its attempts to redeem the intellectual rigour of religious belief in the face of science.
Mali is in the throes of a mass exodus as Timbuktu becomes a hellhole of Jihadi control.
Here’s a new thing to be skeptical about: The sounds of the Olympics.
Connecticut town: Okay okay, we’ll stop holding public school graduation in a church. Jeez!
Students in the UK can get an education of sorts in UFOs:
Students will discuss how Earth might deal with extraterrestrial contact and what impact on society these aliens may have.
Sign me up!
From Steve Silberman at NeuroTribes: The warnings on drug labels about side effects may actually be causing the side effects!
Hehehehehe…“bloody Mary.” Hehehehehe. (h/t Sharon)
Oklahoma town removes silhouettes on street signs depicting crosses and folks in the midst of prayer.
Here’s some ugly. You ever hear of the proposed “Parental Rights” amendment that the right is so excited about? Simon Brown at AU has a good summarization about the latest activity on that front, but the long and the short is that it attempts to 1) open the door to government subsidization of religious education to be in compliance with the amendment and 2) shields religious parents and institutions from what harm they might do to their kids in a religious context. Watch for it.
Gene Rigelon of Shenandoah Area Secular Humanists talks to Bishop Shelby Spong and CFI founder Paul Kurtz about Christians and humanists finding common cause.
David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies is voted by History Channel viewers to be the worst history book in print. Zing.
The great Michael Kinsley thinks Romney’s best bet is to more fully embrace his Mormonism as a selling point. Just so you know where he’s coming from, though, Kinsley notes:
Mormons believe some pretty wacky things, but then so do Jews, and Muslims and more mainstream Christians.
Don’t waste your money on those bags that are supposed to keep fruits fresh longer. They don’t work.
Pennsylvania capitol police won’t permit the whipping of the Koran by Ernest Perce. Not because of the religion thing, but because whips aren’t allowed.
Well…well…well, how do you KNOW that the UFOs aren’t INVISIBLE???!?! Hmmmmm???
Market research firm shows big uptick in interest in homeopathic remedies. We have more work to do here.
Joe Nickell pens a poem for the high-wire-walking Nik Wallenda.
The FSM may have a crunchier, greasier rival: The United Church of Bacon! (Disclosure: I assisted with copyediting for this site)
Now stop worrying for a minute and go enjoy this.
Quote of the Day
From a neat interview with Jim Holt on his book Why Does the World Exist at NYT; In one bit, he nips in the bud the idea that theoretical physics and the like are based on “faith”:
Even something as speculative as string theory is based not on faith but on hope: the hope that it will some day be empirically testable. And even if string theory turns out to be a dead end for physics, it has led to a lot of progress in pure mathematics.
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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The Morning Heresy: “I actually read it.” – Hemant Mehta
via Center for Inquiry | Free Thinking http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/the_morning_heresy_7_19_12/