Handmaid’s Tale Scary

March 10, 2017

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

Rep. John Shimkus, who we already consider something of a bonehead for his assertions a few years back that climate change isn't real because only God can flood the Earth, has a question about health care policy. Via WaPo, Rep. Mike Doyle asked Shimkus what his problem with Obamacare is, and Shimkus says:

“What about men having to purchase prenatal care?” Shimkus said. At that point, one could hear the room start to stir. “I’m just . . . is that not correct?” Shimkus said. “And should they?" 

As @OhDianeMarie says, "This is for real Handmaid's Tale scary."

NYT reports on how Scott Pruitt is staffing the EPA with climate change deniers like himself. As if to prove the point, he went on CNBC to claim that carbon dioxide is not a "primary contributor" to global warming. This is in disagreement with the EPA's website, and, of course, reality. Peter Gleick tweets, "There's no way to sugarcoat this. This is complete scientific bullshit coming from the head of the @EPA."

We're so utterly screwed, unless the mammoths come back and save us. Or, perhaps, this lawsuit on behalf of 21 children, who are suing the federal government for ruining the world they were brought into. Resurrected wooly mammoths and lawsuits from kids. This is all we have left. Like I said: screwed.

Indonesia's Ahmad Mushaddeq, leader of Milah Abraham religious sect (and self-proclaimed son of God), is imprisoned for blasphemy for the second time, along with two of his co-religionists. 

“The verdict is another indicator of rising discrimination against religious minorities in Indonesia,” said Andreas Harsono, the Indonesia representative for Human Rights Watch.  

Chief Justice of Pakistan's High Court, Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, urges the government to actively seek blasphemy criminal cases. AP reports:

Pakistan's Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in a statement on Thursday promised that his government would leave no stone unturned to effectively block blasphemous content on social media. "We will go to any extent even if we have to go to the extent of permanently blocking all such social media websites if they refuse to cooperate," he said.

One of the five Pakistani bloggers who disappeared earlier this year, Waqass Goraya, said the government kidnapped and tortured him

UK geneticists discover a "greenbeard gene," a type of gene that drives selfless behavior in organisms, and was first posited by none other than Richard Dawkins. 

BBC Newsnight airs a sort of short op-ed-video from Dawkins on the subject of alleged support for Brexit. The UK's Express says VIEWERS ARE OUTRAGED by Dawkins. I mean, I kind of doubt that.

PBS Newshour has a big piece on the embrace of alternative medicine in academic medical institutions.

Pope Fluffy gets fluffy about the possibility of married men becoming priests. I mean, it's all made up anyway, so why not?  

Guys. GUYS. The Russian hacking of the election was A CIA FALSE FLAG. Veteran GOP strategist Rick Wilson says, "What a load of crap." WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU WOULD EXPECT FROM A FALSE FLAG. It's all adding up. 

Harriet Hall writes in Skeptical Inquirer about her "personal odyssey" to skepticism, and her particular approach to the work:

Beliefs in bogus treatments are as strongly held as religious beliefs. One of the lessons I have learned is that evidence and reasoning have no impact on true believers. I don’t write for them. I write for the inquirers and the fence-sitters.  

A piece in Nature looks at how the misinformation in social media can "warp" one's memory, but I don't remember what it said about how. *Like*

CFI–Indiana chief Reba Boyd Wooden, in her capacity as head of the Health Access and Privacy Alliance, writes to the Indy Star to oppose SB 404 (the numerals of which already make it sound like an error), which would nix judicial bypass for teenage girls seeking an abortion, even if that pregnancy is the result of rape by a parent.

A reader of the Macon Telegraph cites Skeptical Inquirer in a letter on the subject of the consensus around climate change.

Australian Mormons also baptize the dead into their religion. 

Scott Adams has totally lost his mind:

Stop attacking some of the messengers for believing that our reality holds evidence of Intelligent Design. Climate science alarmists need to update their thinking to the “simulated universe” idea that makes a convincing case that we are a trillion times more likely to be a simulation than we are likely to be the first creatures who can create one. 

Christopher Stroop at EurasiaNet looks at how the Russian Orthodox Church is serving the interests of the state:

These days in Russia ... the state is upholding strict Orthodox Christian doctrines, while using the judicial system to muzzle non-believers and religious dissenters. 

An event on effective altruism that included a Skype Q&A with Peter Singer at the University of Victoria was totally upended by protesters [link cached] who say Singer is pro-eugenics. 

Pan, a moon of Saturn, got its closest-ever snapshots thanks to Cassini, and holy crap, it's a flying ravioli

Quote of the Day:

Nature's editorial board:

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s election, many scientists in the United States have taken to asking themselves and others what they can do. Here is something: join the voices and campaigns that seek to protect educational standards, speak out against damaging changes and support others who are already doing so, including those in the education system. Get involved: visit schools, meet teachers and assist people who want to continue to offer kids the best possible education by helping to prepare materials and lesson plans.

Scientists in other US states, and indeed other countries, should also pay more attention to what is happening in school science lessons. Largely unnoticed by anyone apart from specialists, arguments are brewing over the best way to give pupils a flavour of how science is done, as well as the facts and theories that it produces. This, after all, addresses one of the most common complaints that scientists have about how the public perceives their work — that much of science is value-laden, contested and highly contingent on who asks the questions and how. And, just as for their knowledge of the periodic table and the laws of thermodynamics, most non-specialists are heavily influenced by what they learnt in their days in the classroom. 

Here's a thing: Support our TIES program so middle school teachers are better equipped to inform and inspire kids about evolution.

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Comments:

#1 Mario (Guest) on Friday March 10, 2017 at 11:12am

“Pope Fluffy gets fluffy about the possibility of married men becoming priests. I mean, it’s all made up anyway, so why not?”

Well, yeah, I suppose marriage is a made up institution, but it has any number of legal, workplace, and other advantages.

#2 Mario (Guest) on Friday March 10, 2017 at 11:25am

“Scott Adams has totally lost his mind.”

He had one to lose?  The burden of proof is on you.

There’s something diseased about the “we must become activists to fight Trump” meme, when it was a disgraceful degree of voter apathy (plus the usual left-against-left catspats) that gave Trump his close win.  So now we’re going to become proactive? 

We’re like people tied up and gagged and muttering, “Now’s the perfect time to act.”

#3 Matt (Guest) on Friday March 10, 2017 at 1:56pm

C4I,
I understand that climate change is very real, and how science supports the need for action and further study; but you just reinforced Scott Adams’ point by again, not taking the opportunity and invitation to answer some of the well posed questions and concerns articulated in a much needed post.
I realize that the “simulated universe” point seems ridiculous, and may be; I haven’t put a lot of thought into it yet. He may have been baiting you to address the one issue that didn’t really matter to prove his point…he’s a clever guy.
I know you have the resources there. Address the points, take the high road, and in doing so a step forward for educating people on climate change.

#4 Mario (Guest) on Saturday March 11, 2017 at 11:32am

The chief problem with Adam’s post: his absurd charge that climate scientists haven’t made their points clearly.  Jesus H.—the news routinely covers scary changes that are happening right now.  This moment.  In the now.  Hello.  On a popular level, the basic facts are being conveyed beautifully and in harrowing fashion.  People get it. 

Climate scientists have brilliantly enlisted the media to get their message through, and Adams is acting as if it’s all a bunch of garble (like his posts).  Maybe garble is all he hears.  There are meds for that.

Adams is a pure con artist, creating a reality of his own choosing and challenging rational and honest people to prove him wrong.  As if there were any need to.  Con artists routinely reject commonly known facts in order to construct their false cases.  No wonder Adams supports Trump.

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