Impressively Slippery

April 30, 2015

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

No Morning Heresy tomorrow, folks. Please feel free to make your own dumb jokes about Dr. Oz and James Inhofe while I'm away. 

Skeptical Inquirer has just posted a really interesting magazine piece by Ryan Shaffer on the late fake-psychic Sylvia Browne, her claims to have done "detective work," and the very real criminal investigation of her activities:

In particular, the government was interested in Browne and an unknown person using “fraudulent documents, including income tax returns and financial statements to enhance her net worth in making these loan applications” (FBI Document 29A-SF-10056 1989). Browne then used the “loan proceeds to support an extravagant lifestyle.” 

Here comes the presidential candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the born-Jewish-raised-Catholic-not-really-all-that-religious socialist. 

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Some As-Yet Unimagined Catastrophe

April 29, 2015

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

Alan Levinovitz at Wired profiles the journey back from alt-med devotion by two parents with two autistic sons:

After months of soul-searching, Jim Laider took to the internet to announce his “de-conversion” from alternative medicine—a kind of penance, but also a warning to others. “I had this guilt to expunge,” Jim says. “I helped to promote this nonsense, and I didn’t want other people to fall for it like I did.” 

CBS Sunday Morning relies on our own Joe Nickell to lend skeptical perspective to a woman's claim that her husband's ghost is hanging around. 

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They Said That Queens Could Stay, They Blew the Bronx Away

April 28, 2015

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

Point of Inquiry this week has the one and only Peter Singer, talking with Josh Zepps about using reason to answer questions about morality and doing the most good possible. Please enjoy this duet of Australian accents.

Today SCOTUS hears arguments in the big same-sex marriage case Obergefell v. HodgesCFI submitted its amicus brief on the case with the American Humanist Association back in March.

John Oliver goes after Dr. Oz. Good stuff. 

Dr. Saurabh Jha at Quartz says we more or less get the Oz we deserve...

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The Multi-Zayn Theory

April 27, 2015

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

WIVB television in Buffalo quotes our testimony to the FDA in a story on the regulation of homeopathic products.

Pakistani human rights activist Sabeen Mahmud is gunned down by unknown assailants immediately following an event for her campaign on behalf of those abducted by Pakistan's security forces. 

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65 Million Dollars of Belief

April 24, 2015

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

I went on HuffPost Live yesterday, along with other smart folks that included CSI Fellow Steven Novella, to talk about the Oz Imbroglio, just as Oz's own coworkers pen an op-ed saying not to fire the guy, but to maybe regulate him a bit. On my own blog iMortal, I posit that the last few months have been pretty good for exposing science denial for the crap that it is. 

The Charleston Gazette editorializes against Oz-like TV pitchmen, and cites the latest special issue of Skeptical Inquirer.

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Oztroversy

April 23, 2015

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

Dr. Oz is apparently about to come out swinging. He'll address his critics on his show today, and I don't get cable so I'll just have to wait for it. Alas. He also has an op-ed at Time where he defends himself, and will do little to make the skeptical community feel any better about him:

When I interview an unusual or interesting person on my show, often it’s expository or out of fascination—not to tell my audience they should see a psychic instead of their primary care physician. ... Critics often imply that any exploration of alternative methods means abandoning conventional approaches. It does not. In fact, many institutions like mine use the names “complementary” or “integrative” medicine, which is also appropriate. 

I'll be going on HuffPost Live today at about 3:20pm ET to talk about the Oztroversy, hosted by Point of Inquiry's Josh Zepps.

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An Essence of Naysaying

April 22, 2015

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

CFI's Michael De Dora did more excellent media work yesterday on the FDA homeopathy hearings, as a guest on L.A. NPR affiliate KPCC's AirTalk, along with a rather uninspiring homeopath for "balance." His work was also covered by PulseFDA News, the Health Day newswire (here in the Philly Inquirer), Discovery News via our own Ben Radford, and at the journal Science:

“By its own definition, homeopathy cannot work,” Michael De Dora, director of public policy at the nonprofit Center for Inquiry’s Washington, D.C., branch, told the panel in his Monday presentation. Several large metastudies, including a recent analysis by the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia, have concluded that homeopathic remedies are no more effective than placebos for treating any condition. “We need not spend much time on this,” De Dora said, “as the federal government is well aware of the scientific evidence against homeopathy.” 

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Well Played, Lions

April 21, 2015

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

Michael De Dora was a guest on NPR's To the Point with Warren Olney yesterday, discussing the FDA hearings on homeopathy in which he gave testimony. The Washington Examiner notes Michael's efforts, and The Guardian checks in with CFI-L.A.'s Jim Underdown for comment.

Meanwhile, CFI-Michigan's Jennifer Beahan weighs in on a controversy over the Bible verse at an Ottawa County park, at The Detroit News.

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There Are Lots of Quacks Out There

April 20, 2015

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

What'd you miss the last couple weeks? Probably lots, 'cause we're so crazy busy. Here's the latest Cause & Effect newsletter

CFI's Michael De Dora testified this morning at the FDA's hearings on the regulation and marketing of homeopathic products (original announcement here), and really was an all-too-rare voice of reason and science in a room full of pseudoscience promoters. He totally knocked it out of the park, like BAM! BAM! You know? Anyway, here's Michael's written testimony. Hemant gives us kudos. NPR previews the hearings with input from CSI Fellow Steven Novella

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An Otherwise Ambiguous Practice

April 17, 2015

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

The FDA is going to hold public hearings on homeopathy and guess who's been invited to be the voice of reason? Us!

Michael De Dora took part in a discussion on religious freedom at the Newseum last night, and I think it's supposed to be viewable here, but it's not loading for me, so I dunno.

Theologian Milt Hankins opines at the Herald-Dispatch about changing moral standards, and cites with some astonishment Ron Lindsay's book The Necessity of Secularism.

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