Hard for a Normal Person

October 20, 2016

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

At the mercifully-final debate last night, Donald Trump refused to commit to accepting the results of the presidential election, even when pressed by Chris Wallace. "I will look at it at the time. I will keep you in suspense." This of course hinges on Trump's frequent claims that there is a conspiracy to deny him the presidency. There was also stuff about "bad hombres" and calling Hillary Clinton both "a puppet" for no reason, and "a nasty woman." NYT reports:

Every losing presidential candidate in modern times has accepted the will of the voters, even in extraordinarily close races, such as when John F. Kennedy narrowly defeated Richard M. Nixon in 1960 and George W. Bush beat Al Gore in Florida to win the presidency in 2000. Mr. Trump insisted, without offering evidence, that the general election has been rigged against him... 

As Jay Rosen tweeted, "Key phrase in newswriting for the 2016 election: 'without evidence.'"

Trump was very upset that Clinton, he says, supports ninth-month abortions, where "you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day." Sarah Kliff at Vox clarifies:

If you rip a baby out of the mother’s womb at three days before it was due, that is a C-section. If you intentionally harm and kill the child, that is infanticide. Is it not abortion — and it is not what Clinton has ever supported. 

The gossip blogger for The Hill, Judy Kurtz (I assume no relation to our founder, but who can say) thinks it necessary to point out that if you combine a collection of letters from the debate stage's backdrop, you can cobble together the words "Rig it." Yep, that was a real post at The Hill.

PRRI releases data that shows that all of a sudden, entirely coincidentally, now that Trump is running, evangelicals are JUST RIGHT NOW okay with a presidential candidate who is personally immoral:

More than seven in ten (72%) white evangelical Protestants say an elected official can behave ethically even if they have committed transgressions in their personal life—a 42-point jump from 2011, when only 30 % of white evangelical Protestants said the same.  

Interestingly, this contraption from the mid-nineteenth century relieves was ails you by repeatedly stabbing yourself with it. It's the perfect medical device for the 2016 election.

The Schiaparelli lander from the ESA's ExoMars spacecraft didn't successfully execute a "soft landing," and it's probably gone. But the other half, the Trace Gas Oribiter, is doing its thing.

I haven't mentioned this yet here, because it's still not clear what's really happening. But now that it's on the news wires, I can say that insiders are reporting that Raif Badawi's floggings are about to continue. He had the first 50 of 1000 lashes inflicted on him last year. Importantly, Reuters has not confirmed this.

Stephen Hawking: Artificial intelligence could be the worst thing that ever happens to humanity. Jim Davies: Nuh-uh.

"Adam Mann," the pseudonymous pastor who told ABC News he was hiding his atheism and was the first member of the Clergy Project, has revealed himself as Carter Warden. At an FFRF event, he said:

I did not “lose” my faith as though it was something that regrettably slipped away. Rather, I chose to discard it because it no longer made sense to me. 

The Tower Mill in Brisbane is thought to harbor the ghosts of men who were hanged there in 1841. Joe Nickell went there to investigate for Skeptical Inquirer.

The neck manipulations of a chiropractor caused an infarction of the brain of a young woman back in February, who died as a result. Sharon Hill says:

Don’t let the chiropractor crack your neck. Better yet, ditch the chiro altogether. Seek science-based medical care instead, one that has some evidence that it can work. 

However, you can still try stabbing yourself. 

Bustle has 10 signs you might be psychic. Lemme see if I meet any of the criteria. [checks] Okay, I do experience deja vu a lot, I have vivid dreams (which are usually very stressful and bad), I am sensitive to negativity (thus my chipper demeanor), and I can "sense" trouble (because I always assume it to be imminent). Sounds like I got me some ESP. Call me now! (Please don't.)

A new faith-based movie about the Columbine massacre, I'm Not Ashamed, rests on the premise that one of the students was killed explicitly for her belief in God, or at least that the killers berated her for it in the midst of the killing. This is angering some atheist types, who say it never happened, but one witness says it did. 

Montana governor Steve Bullock has a new ad with paleontologist Jack Horner, attacking his opponent Greg Gianforte for wanting to teach creationism in school. I can't seem to find video of the ad online yet. 

A couple of Marines on a camping trip are certain they encountered Bigfoot, like, "100 percent," in Michigan's Waterloo State Recreation Area. Said one, "It’d be hard for a normal person to run through [those woods] without failing, pretty much." Well that settles it.

If you see this Baby Jesus, I'd recommend not getting it wet or feeding it after midnight. 

Quote of the Day

Jeremiah Traeger at No Religion Required has an interesting take on the conservative Christian view of sexual consent, and why secular humanism really shines in comparison

Pushing a culture of consent should, then, be one of our top priorities as secular humanists. As our ultimate goal, we can create a culture where people value the autonomy of others, and learn how to respect each others’ bodies in a way where everyone is happy. It will create a world where people are more willing to seek out fulfillment, sexual or otherwise, and less fearful of being taken advantage of. Until that culture arrives, it remains possibly the best example that we can give outsiders for why secular humanism is such a powerful force for good.   

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#1 Randy (Guest) on Thursday October 20, 2016 at 2:45pm

“Pushing a culture of consent should, then, be one of our top priorities as secular humanists”

Perhaps, but I’m not a humanist, nor do I see secular humanism as a force for good.

I think we should instead be pushing a culture of freedom without harm.  This is more likely to lead to a society where people have autonomy without shame, shared happiness without terror, and exploration and adventure without isolation.  If you’re bringing a Kafka or Orwell novel to life, you’re on the wrong side.

#2 Randy (Guest) on Thursday October 20, 2016 at 2:49pm

“Please don’t”

Oh sure, go hoard all the ESP powers for yourself, then!

#3 Randy (Guest) on Thursday October 20, 2016 at 2:55pm

“Seek science-based medical care instead”

How?  I know physical therapy (e.g. stretching or re-tearing things to restore a natural range of motion after injury) does work.  But within an hour’s drive radius, there is not one physical therapist who isn’t also pushing chiropractic.  It’s not really possible to tell what procedures being done are required for the physical therapy, and what ones are part of chiropractic.  How is the patient to know?

#4 Randy (Guest) on Thursday October 20, 2016 at 3:01pm

“evangelicals are JUST RIGHT NOW okay”

I think what underlies this is the simple reality that they no longer have any candidate to vote for, but they still have a party to vote for, and he’s that party’s nominee.  I do not blame them for that, because it’s the very same mechanism that is going to elect Hillary.

#5 Randy (Guest) on Thursday October 20, 2016 at 3:11pm

“If you intentionally harm and kill the child, that is infanticide”

Well, if the mother does it, then yes it is infanticide.  But most people don’t operate on themselves.  We should be asking ourselves why we need a separate category of homicide, called “infanticide” with lower penalties for mothers who kill the most vulnerable.

I am not comfortable saying there is no case where both birth and C-section are not acceptable, and that the fetus must be killed to save the mother, or even to prevent the start of a life unlikely to be worth living.  This is best left to the parents and doctors, even right up to the day before expected birth.

#6 Randy (Guest) on Thursday October 20, 2016 at 3:23pm

“Every losing presidential candidate in modern times has accepted the will of the voters”

This is plainly not true.  “Without evidence” you might say.

As noted in the very same quote, Al Gore famously conceded the 2000 election (let this be a warning to those eager to accept results) and then had the gall to retract his concession, because he did NOT accept the will of the voters, as reported by the vote results.  Further, as the Supreme Court noted, he was only interested in correct results for a handful of counties where he lost.

Sorry, but Trump (any candidate) is right to hold off on accepting the results until after the election actually happens.

You’d think a place that often supports skepticism might be pleased that a candidate would expect to see results before passing judgment on them.

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