We Are Willing to Be Wrecked

December 12, 2017

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

Happy Alabama-Probably-Elects-a-Child-Molester-to-the-Senate Day! (Hey, I could be wrong.)  

Now you'd think this was maybe one of those Bad Lip-Reading videos, or maybe some still-in-rehearsal SNL sketch. Nope, this is real. Kayla Moore, Roy's wife proves Moore's lack of bigotry by telling "fake news" that "we have many friends that are black," and best of all, to dispute the notion that Moore "does not care for Jews," clarifies with the weirdest look of smugness, "One of our attorneys is a Jew." 

Remember when Kayla Moore defended her husband by producing a list of pastors who were standing by Roy, but then it turned out that it wasn't all up to snuff? Benjamin Wallace-Wells at The New Yorker shows that the list was almost entirely snuffless. Dig this (emphasis mine):

I called leaders within the deeply conservative Southern Baptist Church—the largest denomination in Alabama and, for decades, the core of the religious right—and was told that not a single affiliated Southern Baptist pastor in the state was openly allied with Moore. The churches that appeared on Moore’s list tended to be tiny and situated in small towns, and some of the pastors on it held subsidiary roles within their churches. (A youth minister, for instance.) ... Five of the pastors were from Moore’s home town, Gadsden, but when I called a pastor of a major conservative church in that city, and read him the list, he recognized only a few names out of fifty. 

Youth minister. How convenient. 

Chris Christie can't seem to see a meaningful difference between Moore's (alleged) crimes and Al Franken's. Okay. 

A man claiming to be taking revenge on behalf of ISIS tries to set off a bomb in NYC's subway system, but screws it all up, and winds up injuring himself and hurting three others. In any other news environment this would be the only thing we'd be talking about. Especially for New Yorkers, though, it seems the attitude is more akin to, "Oh great now my train's gonna be late. Thanks, jerk."

A federal court rules that transgender people can enlist in the military, defying Trump. The Department of Justice, going against its own name, is appealing the ruling.

Rebecca Goldstein, writing in our own Free Inquiry, says, hey, science and philosophy, let's get along:

We are concerned with getting a handle on where we are: the nature of the world in which we find ourselves; what we are and how it fits into the rest of the world; and what we are supposed to be about, if anything. And in the course of this attempt to get our bearings, we ask, broadly speaking, two fundamental questions: What is? and What matters?  

Berkeley professor Judith Butler looks at the consequences of considering all constitutional rights subordinate to the First Amendment's free speech protections:

If free speech does take precedence over every other constitutional principle and every other community principle, then perhaps we should no longer claim to be weighing or balancing competing principles or values.  We should perhaps frankly admit that we have agreed in advance to have our community sundered, racial and sexual minorities demeaned, the dignity of trans people denied, that we are, in effect, willing to be wrecked by this principle of free speech, considered more important than any other value. 

Oh boy. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette runs an op-ed by Nick Jacobs, an integrative health something-something-muckity-muck, in which the good doctor extolls the benefits of "evidence-based integrative health." You see, it provides [waves hands] "numerous benefits" [waves hands more]. 

Shots fired! Harriet Hall, reviewing a new book on Sigmund Freud, writes, "Freud’s impact on 20th century thought is undeniable, but he got almost everything wrong. He was not only not scientific; he was a liar and a fraud." OH SNAP.

Julia Belluz at Vox explains how the GOP's tax scheme will, like everything else the GOP does, really screw over science

Yesterday was the 116th anniversary of the founding of the world's first school of spiritualism: The Morris Pratt Institute, founded in 1901 in Wauwatosa, Wisconson. Wisconsin Public Radio explains:

Among [spiritualism's] beliefs was the idea that people could contact the spirits of the dead. These spirits were thought to live closer to God so communing with them would help the living understand God’s purpose. Spiritualists believed strongly in science, arguing that the spiritual world was subject to the same natural laws as the earth. 

Trump, like previous presidents, made up some directives for NASA to eventually get people back to the Moon and then to Mars. I'm sure this time it'll happen. 

Oh, hey, Trump also proclaimed December 10 to be Human Rights Day! That's cool! He calls our rights "God-given" three times in his proclamation, however.

WFMY reaches out to Consumer Reports medical researcher Chris Hendel to answer a question about whether Zicam's claims of reducing colds by 45% are true. Hendel responds:

I would say they are indeed implying here that ‘we did this study [my guess being that clearly it has not been peer-reviewed nor published in a quality journal] and we can't share the data because it's proprietary and so you'll just have to take our word for it.’

Oh, well, I'm sold. Take my money and shove this crap up my nose. 

Ryan Lizza is out at The New Yorker for "improper sexual conduct," and he is pissed, calling this "a terrible mistake" on the part of his now-former employer.  

Silently, the mysterious craft crept over the skies of Denver. The aliens were here. Ha ha, no, just a convoy of C-17 planes modified to run more quietly. 

This is kind of cool. Hilary Brueck at Business Insider rounds up the best science books of 2017 (and the term is used loosely, because there's science fiction in there, too). 

Quote of the Day:

Politifact chooses its Lie of the Year:

A mountain of evidence points to a single fact: Russia meddled in the U.S. presidential election of 2016. ... After all this, one man keeps saying it didn’t even happen. ... Trump continually asserts that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election is fake news, a hoax or a made-up story, even though there is widespread, bipartisan evidence to the contrary. When the nation’s commander-in-chief refuses to acknowledge a threat to U.S. democracy, it makes it all the more difficult to address the problem. For this reason, we name Trump’s claim that the Russia interference is a hoax as our Lie of the Year for 2017.

That's a good choice, though I would also be tempted to choose one that came from Trump's own convention speech: "I alone can fix it." 

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