Ruled by Tentacles

May 31, 2016

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

Dan Vergano at BuzzFeed tries to lend some clarity to some of the new information swirling around about a supposed link between cell phones and cancer:

The dose of cellphone radiation [in the study] — not enough to warm the rats, but close — and its duration starting in the womb, make it very hard to extrapolate from the findings to the average person whose cell phone spends most of its time plugged into the dashboard of their car, Willmarth [of the American Brain Tumor Association] said. “What’s remarkable is they are finding any effect at all.”

Ben Radford highlights the lack of absolutes in science in a responce to a reader's question on the issue:

In the case of EMFs and cell phone danger, we have ... not a proposed link but instead the absence of such a link: We have the great bulk of evidence finding no correlation between cell phone usage and brain cancer, for example. This does not mean the link cannot exist, and indeed it is true that EMF is "possibly carcinogenic to humans." 

Ben also comments in a story from the Santa Fe New Mexican about legends of buried treasure in the mountains there.

Well this figures. The world is going to end just as the Reason Rally is kicking off. WAY TO GO, US.

Maybe it's going to end because Ray Comfort will NOT be allowed to give us all Subway gift cards.  

David Gorski laments the latest snaring of desperate cancer patients by alt-med guru Ty Bollinger, and the multiplying factor each new patient can have.

Some cities in Sweden with swimming pools are beginning to instate women-only swimming hours in order to accommodate the growing Muslim population, and as you can imagine, not everyone is happy about this. 

Stephen Law discusses his views and questions about "safe spaces" on campuses, distinguishing between behavior and speech:

Young people need to develop some intellectual and emotional maturity and resilience. They are going out into a world filled with an extraordinary range of beliefs, from the sublime to the depraved. If they have spent their entire youth having their own beliefs protected from criticism, satire, etc. and have never been presented with or had to defend their beliefs against a highly hostile critic, well then I would not want to call them well-educated.  

John Mueller and Mark Stewart at Reason say the threat posed by ISIS has been vastly overstated

The powerful Council of Islamic Ideology in Pakistan proposes legislation for they feel is the appropriate use of force of husband to wife when she refuses sex or does anything else he doesn't like:

Hit her in areas where her skin is not too thick and not too thin. Do not use shoes or a broom on the head, or hit her on the nose or eyes. ... Do not break any bones or cut her skin or leave any mark. Do not hit her vindictively, but only for reminding her about her religious duties. 

Kate Lunau at Motherboard asks: Vaccine exemptions - why is this still a thing

By 2020, the EU means to make publicly funded scientific research, um, public! Free of charge!

Cass Sunstein writes about a study on opposition to GMOs, and one big part of it seems to be "the ick factor." 

An author launches (and seems to have succeeded with) a Kickstarter for Annabelle & Aiden: Children Book Series On Science. 

Hey, millennialswe translated the Bible into emoji for you, because millennials.

Damage the marine ecosphere as we will, the octopi will have the last laugh. Annalee Newitz at Ars Technica reports:

Over the past 60 years, the population of cephalopods—octopuses, squids, and cuttlefish—has been steadily growing. This is particularly remarkable because many types of marine life have been dying out as carbon levels in the oceans rise, making the water more acidic. So even as numbers of crabs, sea stars, and coral reefs are shrinking, the tentacled creatures of the deep are thriving. ... If trends continue, cephalopods may be among the species who are poised to survive a mass extinction in the oceans, leading to a future marine ecosystem ruled by tentacles.

Rosetta finds glycine, a "key building block" of life, on comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Ben Carson has reports that Donald Trump has prayed probably. 

Richard Dawkins did a Reddit AMA, where we learn he likes Venus fly traps, says Frans de Waal doesn't understand The Selfish Gene, that he's never seen Game of Thrones, and other tidbits. My favorite part goes like this:

Musichead2468: Do you ever go on /r/atheism?

RealRichardDawkins: No. Do you recommend it?

Salekeen01: Actually No. 

Quote of the Day:

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#1 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday May 31, 2016 at 2:11pm

The atheism subreddit is unfairly maligned.  Even its previous image-macro-based form was entertaining and effective.  The more news-and-opinion-based form is one of my top resources, along with this blog, Friendly Atheist, and the WEIT blog.

#2 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday May 31, 2016 at 2:22pm

“the threat posed by [Islamic State] has been vastly overstated”

Give it time.  It may lose a bit here and there, but it keeps spreading and diffusing.  Look what taking down two buildings did to the US.  A single nuclear device in DC would cause a generation-long disruption.  Whether Islamic State, or Al Qaeda, or whoever, we still need to defend against this attack.

But in any case, it is not the threat TO US that is primary.  Places where people are crucified, burned alive, drowned, and dissolved alive are places where we need to go in and clean it up.  What kind of people are we, to have the means, and then just sit idly by?

#3 Randy (Guest) on Tuesday May 31, 2016 at 2:26pm

“and as you can imagine, not everyone is happy about this”

Well, sure.  But once again, right on schedule, feminists have come in to join the Islamists in their segregation of the sexes.

“Feministiskt Initiativ also suggests that women-only swimming hours could serve a social purpose beyond health and exercise. ‘Swimming pools are a meeting place for women where they feel comfortable talking to one another, and women-only swimming hours make it an even better meeting point’”

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