Taking the Whole Thing Personally

December 30, 2016

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

2016 isn't done with us yet. In fact, on top of the leap day it already got, just to stretch our existential angst out a wee bit more, it's going to tack on one additional leap second. Cruel.

Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip and therefore an expert on everything apparently, issues a bad-faith "climate science challenge," asking for a scientist to assert the credibility of climate prediction models. Angela Chen at The Verge explains what the game is:

If you’re a climate change denier, your best strategy is to pick on the models and get technical with details because after all, of course no model can get everything right all of the time. At that point, it’d be clairvoyance, not predictive modeling. It’s like if you predicted eight out of 10 things correctly, and then someone says that since you got one wrong, your entire method was trash.

Picking on the models suggests that Adams isn’t looking to be convinced, he’s just trying to bait the scientific establishment. People aren’t going to take the time to seriously answer your question if they suspect doing so will be a waste of time. Some people are tweeting explanations of climate change at Adams, but none of that is working, of course. 

Is Adam ruining Adam Ruins Everything? Sean O'Kane shows how Adam Conover is fudging facts about electric cars in order to make some ironic point. 

Greg Laden checks to see if 2016 really is killing more celebrities than other years, and thinks not. But you see what I did there? I just ascribed agency to 2016, as though the year itself were killing people. I am bad. 

GUYS. A bunch of priests says the world NEEDS more exorcists!

“We’re in a fight with drugs, the occult, pornography,” [Rev. Vincent Lampert] explained. “This is an entry point for evil and we need to take these souls back.” Valter Cascioli, the psychologist and scientific consultant for the exorcists’ association, agreed demons across the world have multiplied and there aren’t enough priests to fight them. 

A New Jersey Cub Scouts chapter kicks out an 8-year-old transgender boy. I guess they think the important thing is to make 'em feel alienated and unwanted while they're young.   

Kelsey Dallas at The Deseret News surveys the state of religious freedom in the former Soviet Union

Some members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir are refusing to perform at the Trump inauguration, and there's a petition going around to that effect. As one signatory said, “Ted Nugent and the choir? I don’t think so!”

But there will certainly be clerical representation at the inauguration:

The inaugural committee told The Post on Wednesday that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Rev. Franklin Graham, Rabbi Marvin Hier, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez and Pastor Paula White will all give readings at the ceremony. 

Baba Brinkman and Greydon Square do a song together: "Neighborhood Atheism." 

Scott Gavura rounds up some crap allergy and asthma alt-med treatments

At Quora, Stanford oncologist David Chan shows how you can tell alt-med cancer treatments don't work:

Wouldn’t there be a huge incentive for the payers to provide the least expensive effective treatment possible? Of course. High dose vitamin C infusions combined with Japanese mushroom extracts and the Gerson diet would all together cost a fraction of a percent of the cost of surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy and radiation therapy. But that isn’t happening and that the national health services (most of which are operating well over budget) aren’t even investing in the research should tell you all you need to know. 

Gretta Vosper, the atheist minister who is in a muddle with the United Church of Canada, is helping found a Toronto chapter for the Oasis Network

Relatedly, Mark Oppenheimer at NYT profiles Bart Campolo, the former evangelical who now preaches atheologically:

Campolo decided that there was no reason an atheist couldn’t still be a minister too. Instead of comforting people with the good news of Jesus, he’d preach secular humanism, a kinder cousin of atheism. He’d help them accept that we’re all going to die, that this life is all there is and that therefore we have to make the most of our brief, glorious time on earth. And he would spread this message using the best evangelical techniques — the same ones he had mastered as a Christian. 

Eric Berger at Ars Technica EXPOSES all the things that NASA hid from the PEOPLE in 2016. 

Cyril DeGrasse Tyson, father of Neil, passes away at the age of 89. Our sincere condolences to his family for their loss.   

Quote of the Day:

Erin Brodwin at Business Insider looks to an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation for allegorical wisdom and perspective on the topic of climate change and fossil fuel dependence, as the crew realizes that warp drives are not entirely benign:

"Maybe I was taking the whole thing personally. Maybe I was a little threatened, the thought that warp engines might be doing some kind of damage," Geordi La Forge, the chief engineer, says. ...  

Finally, the Enterprise sends its report, which concludes that warp drive is harmful, to the Federation Council. The agency responds by announcing strict policies limiting the use of warp drive except for specific situations in which it is necessary. At the end of the episode, Captain Picard says he feels partially responsible for using warp drive even though he wasn't aware of the damage it was doing. 

"I've charted new worlds. I've met dozens of new species. I believed that these were all valuable ends in themselves," Picard says. "And now it seems that all this while I was helping to damage the thing that I hold most dear." 

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Photo credit: dno1967b via Foter.com / CC BY 

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