Fangs and No Face

September 15, 2017

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

Happy Friday: Cassini is dead, and so too may we all be relatively soon. According to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, there is a 5 percent chance of catastrophic climate change within the next 30 years, and a somewhat smaller chance that it will wipe out most of humanity. Did I already say "happy Friday?" 

Jeff Sessions reportedly wants to subject National Security Council staff to lie detector tests. We at CFI say that's a bad idea because polygraphs are junk science, and we have the Skeptical Inquirer articles to back us up.

This is not good, Zuck: ProPublica reports that Facebook was (until ProPublica brought it up) enabling advertisers to target their ads based on criteria such as "Jew hater," "How to burn jews," or "History of ‘why jews ruin the world.’" 

Relatedly, Trump is still insisting that "both sides" are to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, using the word "Antifa" over and over again. I guess Antifa is like the ACORN of the Trump era for the right. Everything is their fault, and something-something-Obama.

18 commuters are injured in a London Underground bomb blast which is being considered a terrorist incident.

Friend-of-the-blog Rob Boston, high muckity-muck of communications at Americans United, has a new academic paper on religion in public schools that's just been published in Education Law & Policy Review.

Harvard invites, and then un-invites, Chelsea Manning to be a Visiting Fellow. Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf writes

I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a Visiting Fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility. ... I see more clearly now that many people view a Visiting Fellow title as an honorific, so we should weigh that consideration when offering invitations. 

To be clear, Sean Spicer and Corey Lewindowski are fine, but Manning is unacceptable. 

A Presbyterian church in Australia refuses to marry a heterosexual couple because the bride had expressed support for same-sex marriage. "I say we will have no more marriages!"

Also in Australia, a new report shows that the Catholic Church there has done less to protect children from sexual abuse than other countries' churches have done. Shudder.

Susan Gerbic interviews Kavin Senapathy for the upcoming CSICon in Las Vegas, and Kavin says she's going to practice her Thriller zombie moves. 

So there are biblical literalists who think that the world will end on September 23. I wouldn't be surprised if they just accidentally turned out to be right.

There are some concerns that a swine flu vaccine given to pregnant women between 2010 and 2012 may have contributed to miscarriages, but Paul Offit says that's probably not so because of the tiny sample size and simple fundamentals of biology.

Writing in The Guardian, Meg Rosoff seems to be under the impression that Richard Dawkins despises the arts and imagination. If only there was some kind of instant-research machine that could easily dig up examples of Dawkins extolling the wonders and virtues of imagination, intuition, music, poetry, and even religious art. But alas, we'll never really know.

Apparently, disinterested, apathetic bees share a gene with autistic people? I've never felt more of a kinship to an insect. And also a little insulted. 

"mysterious sea creature with fangs and no face" washes up in Texas City after Hurricane Harvey, and it's eventually identified as a fangtooth snake-eel. I can't even look at that thing.  

Quote of the Day:

JPL's Cassini Virtual Singers, doing a parody of "Seasons of Love" from the musical Rent:

The truths that we learned, and the things that we tried

The fuel that we burned. And way that she diiiiiiiied. 

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