Pig Heads

October 21, 2016

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

Clinton and Trump flanked Cardinal Dolan and jokes were told. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Conatus News profiles our tireless CFI–Indiana executive director Reba Boyd Wooden, who also runs our Secular Celebrant program. 

A brace of BuzzFeed reporters surveys the political landscape on Facebook, focusing on the hyperpartisan pages and their loose-with-facts postings, and it's not pretty:

The rapid growth of these pages combines with BuzzFeed News’ findings to suggest a troubling conclusion: The best way to attract and grow an audience for political content on the world’s biggest social network is to eschew factual reporting and instead play to partisan biases using false or misleading information that simply tells people what they want to hear.  

But you know who they found is doing the best job posting factual news? You might need to sit down for this: the mainstream media

It's not just punk-protest bands that invade churches that Russia has a problem with. An emboldened Orthodox movement is now targeting metal bands. Kim Kelly at Noisy reports:

The Orthodox religious views [activist Dmitry Enteo] and the others share have led them to denounce any art that smacks of Satanism, homosexuality, or cultural deviance. His actions are typically showy and over-the-top; [such as] throwing pig heads and interrupting theater performances ... With the law on their side, these young religious fanatics have made a habit of intimidating promoters, showing up to protest concerts, phoning in bomb threats, and threatening to call the Federal Migration Service to tamper with musicians' visas, all in service of their goal to rid Russia of these "satanic" elements.

Let's say you're about to become president. Hey, you think to yourself, what are the huge issues I will face having to do with science? Thank goodness you asked. Here's the journal Science to give you a primer

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, which is the regulatory body for nurses there, warns that nurses may not promote anti-vaccination misinformation to patients, which they consider a "breach of their professional obligations." The Guardian reports:

The statement also urges members of the public to report nurses or midwives promoting anti-vaccination. Promoting false, misleading or deceptive information is an offence under national law and is prosecutable by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. 

ALSO IN AUSTRALIA: Paleontologists discover a new species of dinosaur (new as in newly-found, not "newly emerged and walking around the Outback"). Meet the 50-foot-long sauropod Savannasaurus elliottorum, named for its discoverer David Elliot, and, let's say, NBC News' Savannah Guthrie. Let's say.

The Pittsburgh Tribune reports that Justin Preberg (who is noted as a member of CFI–Pittsburgh!) wanted a license plate that said NO GOD, N0 G0D (using zeroes), or Atheist 1, all of which were denied by the state's Department of Transportation for being "offensive or misleading." After legal wrangling, the plate has now been approved

Megan Thielking at the medical news outlet STAT does a long profile on former-naturopath-turned-skeptic Britt Hermes, who says:

I’m trying to contextualize and call out the false and exaggerated claims. [Naturopaths] want to be able to do everything an MD wants to do — but they also want to practice essentially witchcraft. 

Steven Novella tells Business Insider how chiropractics are mostly a bunch of crap, and based on crap ideas. 

In light of the infant deaths from use of homeopathic teething products, Joe Nickell notes that emphasis of homeopathy's uselessness is not as important as its potential dangers

With a new law named for Alan Turing, Britain is set to posthumously pardon thousands of men convicted, essentially, of homosexuality.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City (the Kansas City in Kansas, BTW, not the important one) goes after fellow Catholic Tim Kaine for the senator's unwillingness to impose his religious views on abortion policy:

With regard to the imposition of religious beliefs, Senator Kaine appears to have no qualms with his public positions conforming with his religious beliefs with regard to such issues as the church’s opposition to racism or our preferential option for the poor. "He appears not to be conflicted with our public policies mirroring the Ten Commandments with regard to stealing, perjury, or forms of murder, other than abortion. 

Kelly J. Baker at Religion & Politics lays out what motivates the so-called "alt-right" beyond mere Klan-style white nationalism:

White people, the alt-right suggests, are constantly under attack and disenfranchised in American society. The movement, then, stands up for white identity against all supposed threats. They’ve been involved in GamerGate, created hashtags about the threat of white genocide, and visited college campuses to stir up controversy and draw attention to their message. In their campaigns against SJWs, feminists, and Black Lives Matter activists, they assert that these groups are the victimizers and that white people are the actual victims. Like the Klan, they claim to be the victims of culture wars, struggling to defend whiteness. Unsurprisingly, neither group acknowledges the historical power and privilege associated with white identity or admits the privilege that white skin still allows. 

Harriet Hall, writing for the CFI's Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, explains how the recent surge in thyroid cancer rates was due to the fact that lots and lots of people have some form of thyroid cancer that turns out to be harmless, and screening for that cancer can lead to dangerous interventions that may be unnecessary.

Bangladeshi novelist Tahmima Anam is profiled by The New Yorker, whose work explores the tension between the secular and fundamentalist worldviews.

Sweden, the least religious country in the world, now has its first cemetery free of religious symbols

Colorado State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt wants you to know that if he dies unexpectedly, Hillary done did it. 

It's amazing how many people seem to know who God does and doesn't want us to vote for.

Quote of the Day

Carl Sagan, in 1995, as though reaching out to us in 2016

Avoidable human misery is more often caused not so much by stupidity as by ignorance, particularly our ignorance about ourselves… Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused, in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self-esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us — then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls. ...

Science invites us to let the facts in, even when they don’t conform to our preconceptions. It counsels us to carry alternative hypotheses in our heads and see which best fit the facts. It urges on us a delicate balance between no-holds-barred openness to new ideas, however heretical, and the most rigorous skeptical scrutiny of everything — new ideas and established wisdom. This kind of thinking is also an essential tool for a democracy in an age of change.    

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Photo credit: TounoTouji via Foter.com / CC BY

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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#1 Randy (Guest) on Friday October 21, 2016 at 5:04pm

(I am almost certainly not representative of most, or any other, readers… I keep hoping my commenting will encourage others to write… there’s plenty for a cacophony of voices.  Perhaps a switch to Disqus, which has threading, would help?)

“It urges on us a delicate balance between no-holds-barred openness to new ideas, however heretical, and the most rigorous skeptical scrutiny of everything”

Indeed.  Yet, today, a scientific career can be torpedoed just for wearing the wrong shirt, or making a self-deprecating joke.  If we can’t even have clothing options and humor, there’s no hope for debate.

#2 Randy (Guest) on Friday October 21, 2016 at 5:19pm

I’ve seen no connection between the loosely-defined alt-right (a combination of old-style trolling, and opposition to regressivism) and the precisely-defined GamerGate movement (a pushback against corrupt journalism). 

Regardless of what any white nationalist might say, it is plainly true based on calm examination of the evidence that feminism is an explicitly sexist paradigm, and that BLM (or at least many of its local organizations) is an explicitly racist movement.  “Intersectionality” multiplies the prejudice.  It’s not hard to notice that these groups are the very thing they claim to fight.

“neither group acknowledges the historical power and privilege”

Why should they?  It’s completely irrelevant, a sleight of hand.  Further, it’s unethical to blame or punish people for things they didn’t even do. (Even children know what is fair.)  What matters is the reality today.  Boys, in particular, are at a structural disadvantage in today’s West, due to socially-approved bigotry.

#3 Randy (Guest) on Friday October 21, 2016 at 5:25pm

“Britain is set to posthumously pardon thousands of men”

Except, they didn’t. 

Apparently, it’s OK to use a bad and unethical law to punish certain people, and they don’t want any of them to have a clear record.

It strikes me like the Allied liberation of the Nazi camps, where gay people were kept imprisoned because they weren’t the right kind of victim.

#4 Randy (Guest) on Friday October 21, 2016 at 5:30pm

Buzzfeed is the referee on media trustworthiness?  You MUST be joking.  Right?

#5 dmbierlein on Saturday October 22, 2016 at 8:34am

“neither group acknowledges the historical power and privilege”
Why should they?  It’s completely irrelevant, a sleight of hand.

Hardly irrelevant. Feminism and BLM/Civil Rights are responses to a Class (primarily White) Privilege system that is fundamentally the basis of our Constitution. And as long as such benefits exist for those who inherited those Class Privileges, they should also bear some blame.

As for the comment about “boys”, the disadvantage is not ‘socially approved bigotry’ but social expectations.  To wit: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/14/well/family/the-fear-of-having-a-son.html?_r=0

Oh, about Buzzfeed. Rather than shoot the messenger, how about rebutting the argument?

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