It Sounded Almost Like Health

December 14, 2016

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

Gov. John Kasich vetoes the unthinkably awful Ohio 6-week abortion ban, but signs the almost-as-awful 20-week ban. 

At The New Yorker, Lawrence Krauss says what readers of this blog already know: Under a Trump administration, science is in big damn trouble:

Taken singly, Trump’s appointments are alarming. But taken as a whole they can be seen as part of a larger effort to undermine the institution of science, and to deprive it of its role in the public-policy debate. 

Joe Romm puts it like this:

Trump [as opposed to Teddy Roosevelt] campaigned on not just allowing the destruction and pollution of nature, but on actually accelerating the destruction and pollution of nature.  

And in another piece, compares the Trump-Tillerson-Putin triumvirate to the Axis powers. 

Meanwhile, understandably panicked scientists in the federal government are scrambling to save and protect scientific data from Trump:

The concern is that once Donald Trump becomes president and takes control of the .gov websites hosting climate data collected by agencies like NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that data could be whitewashed or made inaccessible. 

At Religion News Service, Emily McFarlan Miller and Kimberly Winston give an overview of the religious beliefs of Trump's appointees. All Christian but one, the likely Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, who is Jewish.

Joseph Nuth of NASA says Earth is "due" for an extinction-level event akin to the "dinosaur-killer" asteroid. I can't really argue with that.

Point of Inquiry this week features historian Andrew W. Cohen, who shows us how smuggling, embargoes, and protectionism in the 19th century helped turn America into a superpower today. 

Anne-Marie Slaughter sees humanism as the only way to mitigate conflicts around the world. "Humanitarianism is not enough. It is a palliative after the fact." 

Hey look, it's Yvette d’Entremont, the Science Babe, writing at the new website The Outline, with a piece on how the alt-med "wellness" industry is a bunch of crap:

Health is all the stuff that you know you should do. Wellness is all the peripheral shit that someone marketed to you because it sounded almost like health. It’s modern-day snake oil, and today it either comes from extremely well-off celebrities who look healthy under 18 layers of makeup, internet charlatans who probably know they’re full of shit, and people who might not know there’s no science to back them up, but they do see your open wallet and know when business is good. 

Liz Plank at Vox rebuts Angela Merkel's proposed "burqa ban," saying, "No woman has ever been liberated by having her body or clothing legislated." We agree.

At Wired, David Gortler, a professor of pharmacology at George Washington University, gives his detailed prescription for how to fix the FDA.

Filmmakers take to Indiegogo to raise money for a documentary on Ken Ham's Ark Encounter and "the unsettling and uniquely American conflict between science and religion." Morgan Spurlock is producing. 

Relatedly, Pew says that American Christians are less well-educated than religious minorities, and, “Atheists and agnostics, or people with no religion in particular, have higher education levels than the religiously affiliated do in the U.S.” 

This vaguely ovular shadow on the Moon was obviously caused by an alien spaceship. 

Bill O'Reilly claims victory in the War on Christmas. Can't wait for the Yalta conference.

Eric Zorn at the Chicago Tribune characterizes the late Rob Sherman as relentless, chipper, brave, obviously vain, theologically disengaged, consistent, media savvy, flawed, wealthy, and right. 

Quote of the Day:

Me and my son this morning: 

Toby (7 years old): "Daddy, I have three reasons I couldn't have a wooly mammoth as a pet."

Me: "They're extinct."


Toby: "FOUR reasons."

* * *

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#1 Stacey C. on Wednesday December 14, 2016 at 10:49am

Oh come on! What were *his* reasons?!

#2 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday December 14, 2016 at 1:44pm

“No woman has ever been liberated by having her body or clothing legislated”

That’s unlikely to be true, and in any case, there’s no reason we can’t change that track record.

It’s just logic is all.  Sorry if it’s inconvenient.

#3 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday December 14, 2016 at 1:48pm

“I can’t really argue with that.”

Can we have it just before income taxes are due?  I think I speak for us all when I say I don’t want my last days alive to be spent filling out tax forms, sending in payments, and enriching various preparers and/or software companies.

#4 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday December 14, 2016 at 1:54pm

“scrambling to save and protect scientific data”

US citizens should view this as a challenge, is all I’m saying…

#5 Randy (Guest) on Wednesday December 14, 2016 at 2:00pm

“undermine the institution of science”

Science did that rather well all by itself.  Perhaps now it sees the consequences of recklessness, it will tighten things up.  Peer review, publicity around unconfirmed results, branding philosophy and engineering as science.. these are all serious problems that should be addressed urgently.  To be seen as trustworthy, science needs to adopt some practices from public relations and quality management.

#6 Mario (Guest) on Wednesday December 14, 2016 at 2:37pm

The dictionary is our friend.  Merriam-Webster, for instance, defines “war” as:

“a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism.”

To be at war is to be at odds.  War doesn’t have to mean bang-bang, boom-boom, rat-a-tat, “Bring up the tanks.”

I wish I knew what’s supposed to be clever about playing word-stupid.  Unless it’s not playing….

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