Adios Ununpentium. Sayonara Ununseptium. Arrivederci Ununoctium.

December 6, 2016

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

This past Sunday, 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch of North Carolina barged into Comet Ping Pong, a pizza joint in D.C., armed with an assault rifle, fired at least one shot, and declared he was there to "self-investigate" the conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton and allies were using the restaurant as a child-sex trafficking front. Welch was arrested.

Michael Flynn, Jr., son of the incoming National Security Adviser, tweeted, "Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it'll remain a story. The left seems to forget #PodestaEmails and the many 'coincidences' tied to it." This prompted an angry exchange with CNN's Jake Tapper, who messaged Flynn Jr.:

[The pizzeria] is not the site of a satanic pedophilia cult. It is a fucking pizzeria. Show me what you're talking about that proves a satanic pedophilia cult. Your tweet is wildly irresponsible. Listen to me. You are going to get someone killed. Maybe an innocent child. For what??????"

Flynn Jr. is, by the way, active in alt-right/white nationalist social media, and though Mike Pence said he is not an official member of the Trump transition, he has a .gov email address.

Our own Michael De Dora, along with a punch of policy folks from the freethought movement, appears on The Thinking Atheist

Hey scientists, I appreciate what you're doing, but I'm thinking that these open letters aren't having any effect. Nonetheless, 800 Earth science and energy experts sign on to another one of these, urging the president-elect to take steps to combat climate change.

Perhaps more important was the visit Al Gore paid to Trump Tower yesterday, in which the former vice president first met with Ivanka Trump to discuss climate change, and then unexpectedly with Donald himself.

Gore's been doing a "24 Hours of Reality" Periscope marathon, and let's be honest, we're never going to see 24 hours of reality again. 

Michael Berube (different from Michael Bublé I should note) is an expert in disabilities studies, and he comes to Point of Inquiry to talk about life as the father of a son who he says is "witty, inquisitive, and full of a love for life," who is also living with Down syndrome. 

Texas GOP member of the Electoral College, Art Sisneros, says his faith will not allow him to vote for Donald Trump, but it will also not let him violate his promise to do so, so he is resigning his position. 

Trump really has brought people together, like he promised: American Jews and Muslims are united in fear of Trump and his supporters.

North Carolina's governor, Pat McCrory, concedes defeat

A good reason to think a crocodile-like monster in Lake Champlain doesn't exist? It's freaking cold. 

Hillary Clinton may actually exist.  

The chemical elements with placeholder designations get new, official names: Nihonium, Moscovium, Tennessine and Oganesson. Nicholas St. Fleur writes, "Good bye ununtrium. Adios ununpentium. Sayonara ununseptium. Arrivederci ununoctium."

David Gorski informs us that Harriet Hall, a member of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry's Executive Council, has taken a bad fall and will be out of commission for some time. We of course wish her the best. 

Quote of the Day:

Amy Davidson on "Pizzagate" and the conspiracy-mongering in Trumpworld:

Many things are likely to go wrong for Trump and to disappoint his supporters. The fear is that he and they will try to explain his failings by pushing conspiracy theories of all kinds. The spirit of Pizzagate could become as commonplace, in this country, as the smell of pizza. And how does one even measure power and influence in the context of social media, or, for that matter, in a country with few effective gun-control laws and a President-elect who got crowds cheering with talk of armed citizens taking down terrorists in crowded cafés? How much power belongs to a man in his twenties walking into a pizza place with an assault rifle, looking for secret chambers and hidden messages? 

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#1 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday December 06, 2016 at 4:29pm

“Pizzagate”.  I’m genuinely afraid that the real world hasn’t yet reached peak 4chan.

#2 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday December 06, 2016 at 5:22pm

Nicholas St. Fleur writes [an error]

Surely it should be more along the lines of:

Sayonara ununtrium. Do svidaniya ununpentium. Good bye ununseptium. Ts’tesutyun ununoctium.

#3 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday December 06, 2016 at 5:30pm

“an expert in [some things ending in] studies”

If your field is of the form “X studies” then I suggest to you that there’s no such thing as an expert in your field, because it’s either too young, or too ill-defined, or both, to have experts.

Can you imagine?  Astrophysical studies.  Biochemical studies.  Algebraic studies.

#4 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday December 06, 2016 at 5:32pm

“we’re never going to see 24 hours of reality again”

This is what the wine from yesterday is for…

#5 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday December 06, 2016 at 5:42pm

“active in alt-right/white nationalist”

Your bias is showing.  The alt-right category is even more amorphous and fuzzy than Muslim and BLM are, because at least the latter two have some organizational structures and were self-defined.  Making people labeled as alt-right never chose that label.  Some woke up one day and were shocked to discover they were “leaders” of the alt-right.

Whatever the alt-right is, it is not a synonym for white nationalist.  There is likely some minor intersection, but these are largely separate groups.

One major problem of the left is the tendency to lump everyone they’re against into the same “basket of deplorables”.  It’s a very effective way to make enemies, but after the recent rout, that’s not really what’s needed right now.

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