Tic Tacs from Space

December 19, 2017

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

Very encouraging news: The FDA says it’s going to take a tougher stance against the manufacturers of homeopathic fake-medicine, which, we note in our statement, is long overdue:

“Homeopathy is marketed as a ‘natural’ way to treat maladies, when in fact it has proven to be both ineffective and often harmful,” said Little. “As the FDA itself has recognized, taking tainted homeopathic products can cause illness. Patients who rely on homeopathy rather than evidence-based medicine often do so instead of seeking real medical treatment, and this can lead to serious long term harm or even death, especially in children, who have no choice in the matter.”

Gizmodo, bless them, gave us the credit I personally feel we deserve more explicitly than even we did. Kristen V. Brown writes:

After petitions to the FDA and FTC from the Center for Inquiry, in 2015 the FDA held a hearing on homeopathic product regulation and last year the FTC announced that homeopathic products cannot include claims of effectiveness without evidence. 

But that’s not all. We responded to the hullaballoo over the CDC’s alleged “banning” of certain pro-science and pro-human-decency words in its budget proposal (picked up by MedPage Today):

The Center for Inquiry called upon the CDC to reject this aggressive strain of ignorance and hostility which seeks to make “science” a dirty word. The CDC cannot stay above the fray of politics by choosing to serve some Americans at the expense of others.  

Dana Milbank says Trump could learn from the CDC mess, and start banning words himself. For example: “Robert Mueller. Good taste. Facts. Spelling. The Geneva Conventions. Suit-jacket buttons. The Constitution. Exercise. International trade. Democrats. Intelligence briefings. Intelligence.” 

Amy Sullivan at NYT looks at Fox News, the fictional “war on Christmas,” and the perceived infallibility of Donald Trump as components of a new evangelistic religion:

The result is a malleable religious identity that can be weaponized not just to complain about department stores that hang “Happy Holidays” banners, but more significantly, in support of politicians like Mr. Trump or [Roy] Moore — and of virtually any policy, so long as it is promoted by someone Fox evangelicals consider on their side of the culture war. 

Yesterday Twitter purged a bunch of accounts that were in violation of its policies by promoting hate and violence. Included among those purged were those associated with the far-right group Britain First, who were the source of the ugly, anti-Muslim, probably-fake videos shared by our glorious president. 

ABC talks to one of the pilots that were part of the big New York Times story on the government’s secret UFO-investigation program, who recalls seeing a Tic-Tac from space. I may have that wrong.

Ben Radford backs up the principle of due diligence in reporting, responding to some backlash he got over his piece on the exaggerated displeasure over a black Santa.

Do you need guidance for the next few thousand years? MakeUseOf rounds up some attempts at timelines for humanity’s future

Corey Johnson at Nieman Lab predicts that in 2018 we will witness the rise of “a wave of pro-journalism TV shows, books, and podcasts will explode on the scene helping more and more citizens understand and appreciate the role solid, factual news plays in their daily lives.” He also predicts bloody conflicts in the streets for journalists, so it’s not all roses. 

Shanice J. Douglas laments the “sea of fiction” that people must navigate in order to get to reliable health news and information. However, she refers to “today’s 140-character-limit society,” and I’m all, 140??? Get with the times. (I’m not actually all like that. I’m very nice.)

We know that human brains are about as reliable as the National Enquirer when it comes to our long-term memories. What’s interesting is that this penchant for self-delusion might be sort of good for us. Lindsay Dodgson at Business Insider reports: 

it’s not that your memory necessarily gets worse as you age, but our brains get more biased towards finding meaning at a faster rate. … [Researchers say that] false memories can make people concerned about the way they see the world, but they shouldn’t think of it this way. Rather than thinking of imperfect memory being a negative impact of ageing, it’s more likely to be something that actually helps us make safer, more informed choices.  

Indonesia’s Constitutional Court rules against making gay and extramarital sex illegal

National Geographic goes looking for the real Jesus. Hate to break this to you guys, but he’s been dead a long time. WOW that is so snarky of me. I need to lighten up. It’s actually a big cover story on the archaeology that goes in to “sifting fact from fiction” concerning old JC. 

Celtics player Kyrie Irving seems to be broadcasting his Flat-Earthiness with an “All-Seeing Eye” insignia on his Nikes. Okay, I’m a little lost. 

Joe Nickell reviews the film Loving Vincent, writing, “the dramatically colorful visuals often overwhelm the, ah, film noir narrative.” 

Quote of the Day:

Reuters notes the secret UFO program could still be going on, despite the reports saying it closed in 2012:

The Pentagon was not clear about whether the UFO program continues to hover somewhere in the vast universe of the U.S. defense establishment. “The [Defense Department] takes seriously all threats and potential threats to our people, our assets, and our mission and takes action whenever credible information is developed,” Pentagon spokeswoman Laura Ochoa said in an email to Reuters.

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