You Sit in a Dark Room

November 15, 2017


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

Generally unrelated to the subjects of this blog, I thought you should know that as I type, Zimbabwe’s military has executed what looks like a coup against President Robert Mugabe, who is now 93 years old and looking to install his wife as his successor. The Post reports:

“We wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover,” said the statement read by Maj. Gen. Sibusiso Moyo. “We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country.” 

Back to our usual stuff. I have written many times before that Trump transcends the usual concerns we have about being too partisan in our opposition to his policies, because as a public figure and national leader, he represents the opposite of just about everything CFI stands for (what with his science denial, conspiracy mongering, celebration of ignorance, paeans to theocracy, and all the lying, just to name a few problems). But then he goes a step further and one almost thinks, whoa, is Trump, like, trolling CFI? Because this guy he wants as a federal judge who everyone agrees is totally unqualified, Brett J. Talley, is not just sketchy, but — and I’m not kidding — he’s also a freaking ghost hunter. To be fair, his “colleague” in paranormal pursuits says, “If we go into a private house, we mainly try and debunk what’s going on.” Now this is not the Joe Nickell approach, who investigates and does not seek to debunk. Aforementioned colleague, David Higdon, says, “It’s not like it is on TV. You sit in the dark and mostly wish something does happen.”  

Yes, I can relate to that.

Okay, let’s get back to the continuing adventures of Mr. Covet-and-Shove-it, Roy Moore. David French at National Review (the guy Bill Kristol wanted to run for president) wants Moore defenders to drop the “due process” crap:

While some calls for “due process” are ignorantly sincere, if you see it from an experienced politician, lawyer, or pundit, they’re really just the clever man’s way of applying a double standard. It’s a good way to coax good people into ignoring problematic claims while soothing their guilty conscience. It’s not that they excuse sexual misconduct, you see, they just want to wait for trial that will never happen. In the meantime they vote for a man they’d unequivocally condemn if he had a D by his name rather than an R.   

Here’s a solid burn from David Von Drehle at the Post:

Mainstream Muslims have been hearing for years that they must repudiate the hateful fringe perverting their religion; surely the same applies to us Christians. Stirring up hatred for gays, liberals, Muslims and other supposed infidels, Moore bears a familial resemblance — the nonviolent side of the family — to the jihadists of the Islamic State. He brandishes a revolver instead of a broadsword, but he shares their delight in condemnation, division and (evidently) fantasies of virgins. 

Valerie Tarico reminds us that Moore’s behavior is actually perfectly acceptible…according to the Bible:

In the Bible, females are created for the benefit of males. A man’s right to expect that females will serve his needs and desires is established on literally Page 2 of the Bible, in the second creation story in the book of Genesis. 

And you won’t be surprised to know (but you will likely be sickened anyway) that Moore used his position on the State Supreme Court to try and make life easier for accused rapists.

The good people of Australia vote overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, 61% to 38%. 

The Trump White House seems uninterested in having the latest Nobel Prize winners in science and economics over for a visit, which is a new thing. They say “it’s just a scheduling issue.” Mm hm. 

You have to assume Trump is taking notes on this. I’m kidding, he doesn’t write stuff. But if he did, he’d take notes on this: The Chinese Communist Party is having Christians take down images of Jesus and replace them with the “great leader,” President Xi Jinping.

Steven Novella debunks some of the myths about placebos and the erroneously singular “the placebo effect”:

Anything that might give the appearance of an improvement will contribute to the measured placebo effect [within a given trial]. These placebo effects include: Regression to the mean – when symptoms flare, they are likely to return to baseline on their own. If you take any illness that fluctuates in severity, any treatment you take when your symptoms are at their peak is likely by chance alone to be followed by a period of less intense symptoms.

FFRF gets one of their lawsuits tossed out by U.S. District Judge David A. Faber, who says their suit against the Mercer County Board of Education in West Virginia for holding Bible classes was not “ripe,” as the classes are not currently taking place.

New Mexico, which looked like it was about to redact evolution, climate change, and the age of the Earth from its science curriculum, has now officially adopted the Next Generation Science Standards.

The folks at SETI want you to think that the nemesis planet Nibiru will NOT destroy Earth on November 19. Whatever, fine, don’t be ready for the end. Probably be easier on you that way. 

If you want to find UFOs, looks like you want to head for the coasts. But they can’t save you from Niburu. Just saying.

Quote of the Day:

Max Boot in USA Today says the Moore episode has to be the last straw for the Republican Party, which just needs to die now:

In the final analysis, no indictment of their candidate will convince the faithful. As Trump once said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Or, more to the point, Roy Moore could molest a 14-year-old girl and not lose votes. Because for Republican partisans, their opponents are “the forces of evil,” and anything is preferable to that. Even Donald Trump. Even Roy Moore. So in ostensibly fighting evil, Republicans have become complicit in it.

This is a party that does not deserve to survive. 

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