Oztroversy

April 23, 2015

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

Dr. Oz is apparently about to come out swinging. He'll address his critics on his show today, and I don't get cable so I'll just have to wait for it. Alas. He also has an op-ed at Time where he defends himself, and will do little to make the skeptical community feel any better about him:

When I interview an unusual or interesting person on my show, often it’s expository or out of fascination—not to tell my audience they should see a psychic instead of their primary care physician. ... Critics often imply that any exploration of alternative methods means abandoning conventional approaches. It does not. In fact, many institutions like mine use the names “complementary” or “integrative” medicine, which is also appropriate. 

I'll be going on HuffPost Live today at about 3:20pm ET to talk about the Oztroversy, hosted by Point of Inquiry's Josh Zepps.   

Good news: California's Senate Education Committee approved the bill that would remove religious belief exemptions from required vaccinations. One more committee to go. If you haven't already, Californians, contact your state senator

Look, I don't want us to get ahead of ourselves. The Reason for Change conference is coming soon, and I really want you to have your mind focused on making sure you register and show up. BUT, it is also true that registration is now open for the next CFI Leadership Conference, "Moving Freethought Forward," which is focused on workshops and advocacy training.  

Oh hey, happy Openly Secular Day! Today is also William Shakespeare's birthday and deathday (or at least that's what we go with).

Ron Lindsay. Lawyer, philosopher, secular and skeptic leader. And now? Playwright. He didn't tell us, but thanks to Google alerts I discovered that he helped his wife Debra Kay Robinson Lindsay, a teacher, write a kids' play about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. I bet it's way better than O'Reilly's. 

French police foil a jihadist attack on a church when one of the would-be attackers accidentally shoots himself in the leg and calls for help.

Rick Santorum ricksantorums:

We have now the secular church that is being imposed on this country and anybody that defects is subject to persecution and prosecution. 

Cochran, Georgia city council votes to fly a Christian flag over city hall. Maybe Santorum could run for mayor there. 

Michele Bachmann can't decide if she's angry or excited about the coming End Times that President Obama is bringing about. 

Hazel Haddon at Foreign Policy reports on how things are getting no better for Christians or other dissenters in President Sisi's Egypt, where blasphemy laws still put people in jail. 

The University of Queensland will offer a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on climate science denial, coordinated by John Cook. At Skeptical Inquirer, Cook talks about reclaiming skepticism from the deniers, and how to combat the denial itself:

The answer is not just more science. Somewhat counter-intuitively, the scientific research tells us that the key to stopping science denial is to expose people to weak forms of science denial. 

At AL.com, Kay Campbell profiles Alabama atheists at an Ask an Atheist event. 

The Catholic outlet Crux tries to make a thing out of the Shroud of Turin, but was at least smart enough to ask our own Joe Nickell about it:

What I or anyone else believes about the Shroud of Turin is beside the point. At issue should be the evidence, and on that basis science has shown the Shroud of Turin to be — like so many alleged relics — a medieval fake.

Julia Calderone has five quick and probably infeasible solutions to global warming. Hey, whenever an option is to fling something into space, you have my attention. 

Scientists are getting closer to figuring out what the hell dark matter actually is, reports Danielle Venton at Wired.

Philip Hoare at The Guardian pouts about Google Maps' tour of Loch Ness, which of course shows no monsters, which is bad or something. Then he says:

Meanwhile, astrobiologists – a new scientific discipline dedicated to studying alien life, even though it has yet to be discovered – hypothesise that “Goldilocks” planets (not too hot, not too cold) might have watery atmospheres in which giant whales swim, or fly. What’s the difference between their imagining, and ours?

Seriously? I mean, that's not a serious question, is it?

Quote of the Day:

Belle Gibson, who claimed to have cured her cancer with a gluten-free, sugar-free "whole food" diet, comes out as a fraud. Hadley Freeman at The Guardian wants more of these gurus exposed:

To be an inexperienced, uneducated outsider is now to be a trustworthy expert: it’s a trick familiar to anyone who has watched the rise of the Tea Party and Ukip. It’s easy to mock wellness bloggers and their fattening apples, but their uneducated bletherings about food and health are, at best, irresponsible and, at heart, immoral.  

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Original image by Shutterstock.

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Comments:

#1 Randy on Saturday May 16, 2015 at 4:09am

“What’s the difference between their imagining, and ours?
Seriously? I mean, that’s not a serious question, is it?”

True, there is a difference.  A loch is much smaller than the observable universe, and the “monster” is quite large enough that we’d have detected it if it was really there, by now.

But we should be honest: Alien life, like multiple universes, is in the realm of science fiction.  There is still no evidence for it.

#2 Randy on Saturday May 16, 2015 at 4:29am

Those things you mentioned about flinging into space, the article says: “Even if we could pull that off, once the shade is up there, it’s up there for good.”

What would the sun look like?  Would it have a dark dot in the middle?  I could find no mention of this anywhere, which you’d think someone would have drawn it up by now…

However, about that “for good” claim…. Because there is solar pressure, and because the L1 point is NOT stable (due to the moon), these things have an expected “lifespan” of about 50 years, before drifting out of position.

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