This Seething Moment

June 20, 2017

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

The Supreme Court struck down a law prohibiting trademarks deemed offensive, finding in favor of a rock band called The Slants, and the decision is assumed to bolster the case of the Washington Redskins who are in a separate legal fight over their trademark. Justice Kennedy:

A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society. 

NASA announces the discovery of 219 new exoplanets, 10 of which appear to be Earth-size and orbiting within their stars' habitable zones.

A car crashed into a police vehicle near the Champs-Elysees in Paris yesterday, killing the driver. Authorities say the crash was deliberate, and that the driver was known as a possible threat to national security. Oh, and of course, "The Islamic State, through its affiliated Amaq News Agency, claimed responsibility for that attack." 

From last year's CSICon, we have Harriet Hall's presentation on the alt-med practice of "functional medicine" on Reasonable Talk. She'll be back for this year's CSICon too!

Hall also goes wading through some of the web's founts of nonsense in search of myths about the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. Among the myths she found include the claim that homeopaths saved lives (of those who took homeopathic advice), that aspirin was the actual cause, or (of course) that vaccines were the culprit.

Oh, the things Julia Belluz subjects herself to just so she can report the truth. In this instance, she endures hours of Alex Jones hawking supplements in order to stave off the "fungus epidemic" that I suppose is coming after you. She concludes:

This war on science playing out in the right-wing media is poised to damage one of our most valuable institutions — a key driver of the economy, a source of our military strength and leadership in medical and technological innovation. In the Infowars universe, though, science is the enemy — part of the globalist elite movement that’s poisoning people, keeping them down. Anyone who cares about evidence and science: Ignore this seething movement at your peril. 

The Christian Post and Inquisitr report on Benjamin Radford's special report on the Blue Whale "suicide game," which is almost certainly a hoax.

A Northern Ireland court grants Laura Lacole and Eunan O'Kane temporary authorization to have their marriage officially solemnized via a humanist wedding ceremony, and for some reason the attorney general and the Department of Finance want to have that ruling reversed.

Kimberly Winston interviews Athena Salman, the openly atheist member of the Arizona House of Representatives who has faced a lot of resistance from some of her colleagues. 

Science Friday discusses how trees are migrating. Wait, WHAT?

(Are they just trying to get to Isengard?)

Energy Pseudosecretary Rick Perry tells CNBC that humans are not the primary cause of global warming, but that "the primary control knob [for the climate] is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in." Even for a denialist, that is a slobbering mouthful of absolute nonsense.

The Portland Press Herald points out that there is one group of Americans who have zero doubts about human-caused climate change: The men and women who work in Maine's lobster industry:

Lobsters have disappeared from Long Island Sound, and are all but gone from southern New England. The center of Maine’s lobster industry has moved too, from Casco Bay north to Stonington. [Dave] Cousens said that he already this year found “shedders,” or lobsters that have lost their hard shell. “You’re not supposed to get shedders where I fish now,” he said. “The biological clock of lobsters is shifting.” 

From the old-timey snake oil collection of Joe Nickell, we have Barker’s Nerve and Bone Liniment from 1859:

According to ... testimonials in one advertisement, a druggist claimed “One of our merchants had his horse cut so bad on his fore leg that he thought he could not use him all winter.” But Barker’s “healed it up,” and in four weeks the horse was working. ... Such testimonials are typical of those given for even the most discredited of snake oils.

Quote of the Day:

Sometimes the quote of the day is something eloquent or inspiring. Sometimes it's something witty or hilarious. And sometimes it's something, well, awful like this letter to the editor of The Missoulian, from one Peter Linzmaier, regarding Rep. Greg Gianforte's assault of journalist Ben Jacobs:

Jesus assaulted and bodily threw the money changers out of the temple who were trespassing in Gods’ house.

Greg Gianforte emulated Jesus by assaulting Ben Jacobs, who was trespassing and invading his privacy. He also proved to be a real Montanan to his supporters who are not self-proclaimed Christians but abide by the teachings and actions of Jesus.

Abandon all hope, etc., etc. 
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Comments:

#1 Old Rockin' Dave (Guest) on Tuesday June 20, 2017 at 9:16am

My granduncle Joe was a pharmacist at the time of the flu pandemic and was my principal source for this.
The idea that the Germans unleashed the flu obviously was incorrect, but had some basis other than paranoia, since the Germans did use biological warfare at least once. In 1915 they crippled the Rumanian army by spreading glanders among Rumanian military horses. It’s not a huge leap from glanders to the flu in the popular mind.
Aspirin was actually shunned by many. At the time, Aspirin was a trademark of Bayer AG, a German company. The aforementioned belief that Germany was responsible for the flu made the connection almost inevitable. Given the lack, then as now, of drugs effective for fever, avoiding it may have killed many thousands.

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