God the Russian Bot

May 17, 2018

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

The mother of a cancer-stricken 11-year-old girl is pleading with the public for financial help to save her daughter as treatment costs spiral out of control. They've come from the UK to Texas because of the promises of a cure from someone our community is all too familiar with: Stanislaw Burzynski. The Grimsby Telegraph simply notes, "The Burzynski clinic is a facility in Texas that claims its treatments can cure cancer." And it can't.

CFI has joined with four other secular groups with acronyms (AA, AHA, FFRF, SCA) to condemn the new Oklahoma law that allows adoption agencies to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against would-be parents.

This makes me nuts: People are being sold "homeopathic pendants," whatever the hell that could possibly mean, sometimes called "Quantum Pendants" and "Scalar Energy Pendants." And you know what? They're radioactive, and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is telling consumers to throw them in the trash. 

The unstoppable interviewer, Susan Gerbic, talks to uberskeptic James Alcock about false beliefs, grassroots skepticism, and more.

David and Collet Stephan, the parents who let their baby son die of bacterial meningitis because they insisted on treating him with things like hot pepper and horseradish, are getting a new trial because according to the Canadian Supreme Court, teh first judge "did not supply jurors with the tools they needed to properly decide the case." That doesn't mean at all that the Stephans are being let off the hook. 

A five-year-old girl in Mali was abducted and beheded because the little girl was albino, and in 2018 human beings still believe that her body parts are magic.

Sarah Pulliam Bailey writes about "Christian history tours" in DC, where you can learn things like, "“Latin America was founded by the Catholic Church, which neglected the Bible. America was founded by Protestants who focused on the Bible.” 

Did you know there's a new Ebola vaccine? It might stop the outbreak in the Congo.

In Jackson, Tennessee, a woman sees a UFO and says, "There are different things happening in the world now that we cannot even comment on. We don’t know why they’re happening." Luckily, the meteorologist in the piece does comment on it and does have some good reasons as to why it's happening.

Facebook discloses the countries that most heavily censor content on the platform. May out in front, as expected, is Turkey, but at number two, you may be surprised to find Mexico. But it's not because of some heavy-handed government suppression. Quartz reports:

Mexico takes the second spot because of a single video of a school shooting early last year. Facebook had to take down more than 2,100 instances of the clip, where a student shot several others before killing himself. In the first six months of 2017, it had to remove clips of the video more than 20,000 times.

Robert Wright challenges what he sees as the rationalist-superiority espoused by Sam Harris: 

I think his view of himself as someone who can transcend tribalism—and can know for sure that he’s transcending it—may reflect a crude conception of what tribalism is. ... I’m not saying Harris’s cognition is any more warped by tribalism than, say, mine or Ezra Klein’s. But somebody’s got to serve as an example of how deluded we all are, and who better than someone who thinks he’s not a good example?

Pakistani nuclear physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy makes a case for science and religion's coexistence, saying, "We need to change our approach to science for it to develop and flourish in Pakistan. ... In the US the number of people who believe in evolution is decreasing, while in India people now believe that there was plastic surgery in the Vedic age."

Apparently people are being told to eat collagen in order to look more youthful. You know what, folks? Go ahead. I can't even. 

Holy crap, the upcoming CBS show God Friended Melooks way, way, way stupider than it even sounded. And I have to say, it sure looks like God is violating Facebook's policy against harassment. WAIT IS GOD A RUSSIAN BOT?

This should cleanse the palate after all that: A new trailer for the second season of the rebooted Cosmos

Quote of the Day

Nicholas Finch and Sebastian Cheng play a new composition by Dorian Wallace dedicated to the murdered bloggers of Bangladesh. It's called "Manusa," which means "human." The quote of the day is the sound of the music: 

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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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