Sarsaparilla for Syphilis?

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
September 22, 2017

I recently acquired an old sarsaparilla bottle, its label stating that it was intended for medical treatment of such diseases as “chronic rheumatism,” "obstinate cutaneous eruptions,” and “syphilitic conditions.” It was to be used orally, not topically. Yes, this is the same sarsaparilla long used as an herbal tea and tonic that evolved into a health drink before finally becoming a soda pop similar to root beer (Nickell 2011).

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Things Might Not Turn Out Fine

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 22, 2017

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

It's safe to go to Brigham Young University now. They're letting in Coke and Pepsi.

At Wired, Michelle Dean has a big story on what is a surprising degree of drama and stress (financial, personal, political, etc.) behind the scenes at Snopes.

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How a Puerto Rican Hurricane Spawned El Chupacabra

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
September 21, 2017

Hurricanes are well known in the Puerto Rico, but lesser known is how a storm twenty-eight years ago, Hurricane Hugo, helped spawn the world's most famous cryptozoological vampire: the chupacabra.

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Dis-Ease

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 21, 2017

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

Our boss, Robyn Blumner, is in Geneva for the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council, and yesterday she delivered an excellent statement on the persecution of atheists in Malaysia. (Don't let yourself be distracted by the incredibly orange and feathery woman sitting next to Robyn and the confused gentlemen who mills about behind her. You may have to watch it twice, but it's less than 2 minutes, so it's all good.)

In a piece for CFI's Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Harriet Hall looks at the findings about the myth of the male-or-female brain in a new book, Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science and Society, by Cordelia Fine...

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Dolphins or the Dead

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 20, 2017

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

The Earth continues to writhe.  

More than 200 people are killed in the devastation of a 7.1-magnitude earthquake across central Mexico. Joshua Partlow at the Washington Post reports:

Marisela Avila Gomez, 58, was in her apartment in the capital’s central Narvarte neighborhood when the shaking began, toppling her furniture and shattering the windows. A piece of glass sliced deep into her right leg. “My whole house is full of blood,” she said. 

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Behind the Scary Clown Juggalo March on Washington

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
September 19, 2017

Washington D.C. has more clowns in it than usual over the weekend: Juggalos protesting their FBI designation as a criminal gang. Here's the story. 

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Sonically Tuned Water, Moonlight, Love, Reiki, and Gem Elixirs

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 19, 2017

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

Check out this fascinating presentation on the Gnostic gospels, given by the wicked-smart Cynthia Grzywinski, who also happens to be my mom. (And introduced with a poem read by my college acting professor, the wicked-awesome Pam Hendrick.)

Neil deGrasse Tyson tells Fareed Zakaria, correctly, that we are more or less screwed when it comes to climate change, saying, "The day two politicians are arguing about whether science is true, it means nothing gets done. Nothing." 

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Great Benefits Upon Future Inhabitants

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 18, 2017

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

Kimberly Winston, reporting on an Annenberg study, writes an excellent and accurate lede for some ugly news. Emphasis mine:

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans incorrectly believe that Muslim citizens don’t have the same First Amendment rights as other American citizens. Also incorrectly, 1 in 7 believe that atheists aren’t protected by those rights. 

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Fangs and No Face

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 15, 2017

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

Happy Friday: Cassini is dead, and so too may we all be relatively soon. According to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, there is a 5 percent chance of catastrophic climate change within the next 30 years, and a somewhat smaller chance that it will wipe out most of humanity. Did I already say "happy Friday?" 

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We Are All Saturnians

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 14, 2017

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

Okay, look. We at CFI always counsel skepticism when there are claims about monsters creeping about under water or in the sewers. But in London, there just might be something to it. Beware the "fatberg":

Crews in London are waging a “three-week sewer war” against an enormous “fatberg” ...

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