Scratching, Licking, and Chewing

August 11, 2017

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

Apparently Trump got ahold of a wackadoodle national security memo from former NSC staffer Rich Higgins that made all sorts of bizarre claims about the "political warfare" being waged against the president by "‘deep state’ actors, globalists, bankers, Islamists, and establishment Republicans." Foreign Policy has the whole thing, and reports:

The memo calls out those pushing for rights “based on sex or ethnicity,” which is a “direct assault on the very idea of individual human rights and natural law around which the Constitution was framed.” It also says that “transgender acceptance” is “denying a person the right to declare the biological fact of one’s sex.” 

Reportedly, Higgins was fired over this by National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, who is apparently a target of the memo. But President Trump is said to be incensed about the firing, because he thought the memo was awesome. Because of course he did.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, spoke at a coding event for girls on Google's campus, looking to plant a flag in opposition to the backward and sexist screed unleashed by a fired former employee. Sounds like he did a fine job, saying:

I know the journey won't always be easy, but to the girls who dream of being an engineer or an entrepreneur, and who dream of creating amazing things: I want you to know that there's a place for you in this industry, there's a place for you at Google. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You belong here and we need you. 

This is pretty clear. A new study at Yale shows what you probably could have guessed: Reports UPI, "Patients who choose alternative therapy solely to treat cancer are at a much higher risk of death than patients treated with conventional therapies." So, you know, FYI.

Ron Lindsay, our former boss and current senior research fellow, has a new article at HuffPost on the opioid crisis, which Trump just declared a national emergency. Ron warns that some of the measures undertaken by states to curb opioid abuse are too restrictive, limiting legitimate physicians' ability to treat their patients' pain.

Parents in a school district of Victoria, Australia were surprised to hear that their kids were being taught abstinence-only sex-ed, with one parent saying, "It sets up a culture of shame around sexual desire and feeling, and a culture of secrecy when students are in relationships." 

Terence Hines reviews Geoffrey Kabat's book Getting Risk Right: Understanding the Science of Elusive Health Risks for Skeptical Inquirer.

The most recent guest on Point of InquiryLoren Grush of The Verge, has a new video series coming out on what it takes to be an off-world human, Space Craft.

Kimberly Winston looks at the contested holy territory that three denominations of Mormons are figuring out how to share: Temple Lot in Missouri, Nauvoo in Illinois, and Kirtland Temple in Cleveland.

Benjamin Radford recounts his top three investigations: Chupacabras, the "Pokemon illness," and the Ogopogo lake monster. 

But one of those cases he can consider closed, because they found the chupacabra. It's boppin' around in South Carolina. Definitely not, like, a coyote or anything. Nope nope nope. Oh wait. 

"It's a canine with mange, it’s not a Chupacabra. That you can put to bed," says Jay Butfiloski, Furbearer Project manager for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. ... "Emaciation is common as the increased scratching, licking, and chewing on their skin can affect the amount of time spent hunting for food," Butfiloski says.

That Chupacabra better watch out, though. Because during the eclipse, Lizard Man is coming to South Carolina. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division tweets, "As always, if you see something, say something."

Joe Nickell lends his expertise to the stories of a haunted asylum in CFI's hometown of Buffalo. 

Leah Remini talks to the Hollywood Reporter about what can be expected from the next season of her Scientology-exposing reality show, saying she intends to turn up the heat:

[The show will be] shining a light on what Remini calls "all of the abusive practices of Scientology — sexual abuse and physical abuse." Remini intends for the sophomore outing to move into an "activist" realm — meaning she hopes to present enough evidence of criminal wrongdoing to warrant a federal investigation. "I'm talking about the FBI, the police, the Department of Justice, the IRS," she says. "If the FBI ever wanted to get anywhere, all they would need to do is do a raid. Everybody who's ever gone to Scientology has folders, and anything you've ever said is contained in those folders."

Randy Newman, an atheist, is asked why there aren't more good songs about atheism, and says:

It isn't there. Because it's sort of arid. I think a lot of atheists and agnostics would like to receive the spirit. So I said, "I'm going to believe for a second in an afterlife." I said, "Jesus. It's so relaxing. Who gives a shit about anything?" Because I believe I'm going to heaven. It would be great!  

Quote of the Day:

Mental Floss shows how you can have the optimal Oreo-dunking experience THROUGH SCIENCE:

Do you prefer a crispy cookie masked in a thin veneer of milk? A cookie that has metamorphosed into unrecognizable gloop? Do you believe in a Goldilocks zone, a Platonic middle-ground that’s neither too dry, nor too spongy, but just right? ... [In a study at Utah State University] Oreos absorbed 50 percent of their potential liquid weight in just one second. After two seconds, they absorbed 80 percent. The number flatlined briefly for a second. After the fourth second, the cookie maxed out: It absorbed all its possible milk. “This data indicates that for the tested cookies, keeping your cookie in the glass any longer than five seconds does not lead to any additional milk entering the cookies,” their study suggested.

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