No Obligation to Make Sense

January 24, 2017

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

Trump reinstates the destructive and cruel "global gag rule," a Reagan-era dictate barring any organization working outside the U.S. and getting federal funds from discussing abortion, ever. It's just callous and backward. CFI has always staunchly opposed the rule, and we're part of a huge coalition of organizations pushing back. Jina Moore at Buzzfeed helps explain:

Here’s how it works: Foreign organizations that take US family planning money can’t use any money, from any other donor, on abortion-related services. It’s a restriction on how they use their other, non-US government money, and it applies to providing abortions or giving any information about abortion, including medical advice or referrals — even in countries where abortion is legal.

US foreign aid has never been used to pay for abortions as a method of family planning. That’s illegal, under the 1973 Helms Amendment, which is a US law applied to every administration, and not an executive order that presidents can repeal or replace at will.

As a result of this move, abortions will actually go up, but they will be unsafe, by the millions. Health care costs in those countries will go up, "skyrocket" as one expert put it. Clinics will lose staff and funding. HIV rates will go up.   

Alan Levinowitz at Slate is speaking our language when he deftly compares Trump's promises to those of snake oil salesmen of old (and the graphic design here is top notch):

Trump’s rise to power has followed a similar trajectory to that of quacks who peddle panaceas to the desperate—a bizarre and heartbreaking world I’ve long studied. Just like them, Trump will fail to deliver. But his supporters will find a way to exonerate him.  

Trump, meanwhile, head of an administration apparently made up of delicate snowflakes, says he's at war with the media, and Ezra Klein clarifies that the actual war is with reality.

Katy Waldman at Slate expounds on the rise of "alternative facts," saying, "Most of all, alternative facts evokes a total alienation from—and disinterest in—objective truth."

All the more reason for a browser extention like the one made by WaPo, "RealDonaldContext," that checks the accuracy of Trump's claims made in tweets in real time. 

Judge Neil Gorsuch is a potential SCOTUS nominee for Trump, and, well, it wouldn't be good. Former CFI CEO Ron Lindsay tweets:

Gorsuch would be a nightmare choice. He's young and a 'sanctity of life' fundamentalist. A vote against Roe for sure. 

Neil deGrasse Tyson has it out with a pesky science-denier at a CERN press conference, and Gizmodo transcribes the exchange, which includes:

The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you. ... Science has evolved in a way that is not for the greater good. You do not get points for verifying someone else’s result. You want to get a new result. A truth is not what any one scientist puts forth. It has to be from the cross checking that goes on in the field. We have to figure out how to give more credit to the people who will check the work of others.

And relatedly, replicating scientific studies is really, really hard.  

17 poems and stories in Bangladesh's standard school textbooks have been removed, among other changes, because Islamic conservatives say they are too atheistic. NYT reports:

That religious organizations now have a hand in editing textbooks, a prerogative they sought for years, suggests that their influence is growing, even with the Awami League party, which is avowedly secular, in power. 

Meredith Blake at LA Times reviews the documentary Beware the Slenderman (I can't wait), and notes the appearance of our own Richard Dawkins. Not as Slenderman. That would be crazy and amazing. 

More on the rocks that Gwyneth Paltrow and her company Goop want you to spend $66 on and, um, place, uh, somewhere. Julia Belluz says, "We have to find ways to help people call Goopshit when they see it." 

Susan Farlow at the LA Times browses the International Cryptozoology Museum.

A man in the Golden Temple of Amritsar, India is arrested for blasphemy after allegedly tearing up a holy book.

Environmentalism is, apparently, not a religion, but Jediism might be

RIP EPA, probably.

Quote of the Day:

One sentence from Charles Blow in his column on dissent, which could be an alternate CFI tag line: 

The Enlightenment must never bow to the Inquisition.

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Photo credit: Acid Zebra via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

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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The Morning Heresy: "I actually read it." - Hemant Mehta

Comments:

#1 Mario (Guest) on Tuesday January 24, 2017 at 9:05am

Oh, good—you guys are on the front lines against Trump.  We’re okay now.

CFI is on the scene.  We can all rest secure.

#2 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday January 24, 2017 at 4:26pm

“The Enlightenment must never bow to the Inquisition.”

Ummm… wouldn’t this be an awkward tagline for a Center for *Inquiry*?

#3 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday January 24, 2017 at 4:29pm

“and, um, place, uh, somewhere”

That reminds me… you can actually buy an ovipositor sex toy.  That’s probably where she stole the idea.

#4 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday January 24, 2017 at 4:40pm

“You do not get points for verifying someone else’s result ... We have to figure out how to give more credit to the people who will check the work of others”

Indeed.  More importantly, scientists need to withhold unconfirmed (and especially unverifiable) results from science writers, and talk to the public about incompetent science writers publishing premature work.  Every day.  This has to be taken as seriously as, say, same-sex marriage.

No more articles about multiverses and black hole space travel, and how coffee is killing us all except when it’s saving our lives.

Credibility matters.  You may think it doesn’t, because Trump and Donna Brazile, but I don’t see any good way to reverse course from Trump except by re-establishing credibility, somewhere.  If politics simply becomes competing Gish gallops of lies, we’re in lifetimes of trouble.

#5 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday January 24, 2017 at 4:46pm

“the graphic design here is top notch”

Would drink.

#6 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday January 24, 2017 at 4:48pm

“a Reagan-era dictate”

To be clear, this policy existed also under Bush 41 and Bush 43.

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