January 26, 2016
The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Those antiabortion activists that secretly recorded conversations with folks at Planned Parenthood? And tried to make it look like they were selling baby parts? Right? Remember? Well funny thing: they managed to get a grand jury to look at what Planned Parenthood was doing, and, doesn't it just figure, and like you'd never guess, but the grand jury winds up indicting not Planned Parenthood, but the people who did the misleading sting videos! Classic, right? And PP has been cleared of any wrongdoing! What do you know, huh? What a world. I tell ya.
Point of Inquiry this week is a little different, as Josh Zepps interviews Rabbi Mark Wildes, who argues that the millennial "nones" who are spiritually searching should really take a look at the God of the Torah (or as POI producer Nora Hurley joked to me, "The O.G.-G.O.D.")
Hold up. A federal judge has reinstated the tax incentives a lower court rightly rejected for Ken Ham's "Ark Encounter" creationist theme park in Kentucky. First our suit in Florida is rejected, and now this. What. Is. Happening.
We have an action alert for National School Choice Week (you know, the rallying cry for fans of voucher schemes) to urge folks to tell their representatives to oppose measures that send taxpayer money to private and religious schools. The Washington Free Beacon reports on the activity surrounding the issue, including our opposition.
Our pals at CFI–Canada post a congratulatory note to us for our merger with the Richard Dawkins Foundation, and it is much appreciated.
Chris Kirk at Slate has a dispiriting map showing a state-by-state breakdown of publicly-funded schools that hawk creationism. It is not a pretty picture.
Sian Townson at The Guardian looks at why we fall for pseudoscientific claims in health and medicine, with such reasons as the sunk cost fallacy and "inverted snobbery":
As a nation, the British have always been wary of the “social elite” and academics are included under that label of privilege. Many people bristle at the idea of listening to those with multiple degrees talking down from on high to “correct” the less educated. Academics have a reputation for being blinkered, arrogant, patronising and intolerant of those whose specialities differ from their own. But for every toffee-nosed academic I’ve met, there have been plenty of humble, engaging, enthusiastic ones who love their subjects and just want to get the word out there.
I've never heard of rapper B.o.B, but he apparently thinks the Earth is flat, and is arguing in verse with Neil deGrasse Tyson about it, and it's all very weird.
Alison Stevenson at VICE cites Skeptical Inquirer contributor and CSI Fellow Stuart Vyse in a piece about "the Evil Eye." (Whoa, I just realized...VYSE in VICE. Whoa.) Stevenson says:
I realize I've used it as an excuse to keep myself from getting close to people, even though what I really fear is being hurt, not cursed.
CFI's David Koepsell says, and I'm paraphrasing, "Science journals? TEAR DOWN THIS PAYWALL."
Pope Francis asks for forgiveness for the Catholic Church's past persecution of Protestants, as the 500th anniversary of the Reformation approaches.
Joe Nickell favorably reviews the book Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot.
Joe also investigates the 1932 Blanenboro, NC fire, "another example of the poltergeist-faking syndrome."
Bangka-Belitung, a province of Indonesia, just up and bans the practice of Ahmadiyah Islam. "A spokesman for the religious affairs ministry declined to comment on the issue." Yeah.
Bigfoot is trying to rig elections. Not really, but it might as well be.
Quote of the Day:
BeliefNet, which I didn't know was still around, serves up a big bowl of pseudoscience salad about how to activate one's psychic powers:
So how do you activate your Third Eye Chakra and open your clairvoyant abilities? It’s all rooted in the pineal gland, a small endocrine gland that produces melatonin. It’s located in the center of our brain between the left and right side. The pineal gland is about the size of a pea and looks like a small pine cone. It has long been known that if you activate this tiny gland, you will awaken psychic abilities.
Guys, it's "long been known"! Why are we all just sitting around all being non-psychic and whatnot?!?! It's LONG BEEN KNOWN.
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#1 cornell (Guest) on Thursday January 28, 2016 at 7:29am
Planned Parenthood was selling baby parts and they even admitted to it.
The question is “were they doing it illegally”
PP is still getting investigated so while the battle for pro life was lost, the war has turned in their favor.
#2 cornell (Guest) on Thursday January 28, 2016 at 7:34am
My friend Tyler wrote up a nice piece regarding this issue.
About the Planned Parenthood videos and the upcoming trial:
1. If you are going to say that they are deceptively edited to make it look like the people are saying something other than what they were saying then you are just demonstrating that you have never seen the videos yourself and are just parroting what you have heard other people rant. Prove me wrong. Link the full version of the video that was released and give me the time stamp where such deceptive editing occurred. I’ve asked this hundreds of times. You can guess how many time stamps I’ve been given… I’ll give you a hint… It’s one less time than Cam Newton’s Panther’s Jersey number.
2. The videos showed that Planned Parenthood is selling baby body parts. It’s a fact. The video showed it. Planned Parenthood has admitted it. Everyone knows it apparently except for you if you think otherwise. Saying that they didn’t do anything ILLEGAL is beside the point. Just because the law allows for disgusting behavior doesn’t mean we have to be okay with that behavior. So just because they did not do anything illegal does NOT mean that therefore the tapes are dishonest or deceptively edited.
3. If you say that Planned Parenthood was not profiting from selling baby body parts, then all you are doing is showing that you do not understand how corporate finances work. In finance they will have revenue and expenses. While Planned Parenthood may not code the funds into a revenue GL (General Ledger line item) and rather put it toward recouping or offsetting an expense GL, that still DIRECTLY impacts their profitability. How profitable you are the the net difference between your revenue and your expenses. You can INCREASE profit by either adding revenue or decreasing expenses. So for Planned Parenthood to get paid for the baby body parts, even if it is just to recoup storage and shipping costs (though from the testimony and the price sheets they likely got paid far more than their expenses) then that would drastically decrease an expense GL, therefore driving overall profitability up.
4. The trial of of David Daleiden has not begun. Just because a Grand Jury approved the indictment is also not proof of wrong doing. It is that a Grand Jury found that the indictment was not frivolous. We should also note what he is being charged with. It is not for making a false video or deceptive editing or anything like that. He is being charged with, basically, using a fake ID and with attempting to illegally purchase human tissue. Does this not seem crazy? So an undercover reporter must ALWAYS disclose their true identity in a sting? There is case law against that. And they will be charged with the crime that they clearly had no intent to commit in their sting? There is case law against this as well. This is like charging a DEA agent for using fake ID and attempting to buy a controlled substance and allowing the drug dealer to go free.
5. There is a major ethical issue with the prosecution. Namely that Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson has in his employ Lauren Reeder. Reeder is listed as a non-compensated “Director” on the 990 Tax Form for 2014 filed by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. This is a clear conflict of interest and courts should require a special prosecutor to take over the case.
#3 Randy on Sunday January 31, 2016 at 1:57am
“TEAR DOWN THIS PAYWALL”
Indeed. One reason religion is so successful is that it’s ubiquitous. Science is often behind lock and key.
I would recommend (if I haven’t already) a new project like the Decentralized Library of Alexandria (google it). It permits users to pay producers, but it also allows wide (and ideally permanent) distribution of content. It need not be that project exactly, but just liberate that information, particularly if public funds were spent at any point in the process.
#4 Randy on Sunday January 31, 2016 at 2:03am
“What. Is. Happening.”
When the Supreme Court is entirely populated by monotheists, and the executive is populated serially by monotheists, and the Congress is populated almost entirely by monotheists, what is happening is exactly what you’d expect to happen. It’s wrong, but might makes right, and monotheists have the might. For now.
#5 Randy on Sunday January 31, 2016 at 2:07am
“the God of the Torah”
Yeah, I just finished reading Genesis straight through in full, and that god is a piece of crap. It’s even worse than I had expected, despite my being largely familiar with it already, in a random-order sort of way.
#6 Randy on Sunday January 31, 2016 at 2:11am
“they managed to get a grand jury”
You left out the sweetest part. The jury was in Texas!
Anti-abortion loons got smacked down by Texans!
#7 cornell (Guest) on Tuesday February 02, 2016 at 3:26pm
“You left out the sweetest part. The jury was in Texas!
Anti-abortion loons got smacked down by Texans!”
Which destroys this myth that proclaims “der, der Christian fundamentalists run the US and they need to be taken out of power”
One man’s modus ponens is another man’s modus tollens.