Careful the Spell You Cast

December 1, 2016


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

As many of us feared, anti-vaxxers have been emboldened by Trump’s victory, particularly their quack pseudo-prophet, Andrew Wakefield, who apparently got to meet with Trump during the campaign, and who told STAT:

For the first time in a long time, I feel very positive about this, because Donald Trump is not beholden to the pharmaceutical industry. … He didn’t rely upon [drug makers] to get him elected. And he’s a man who seems to speak his mind and act accordingly. 

So we may need to print more stickers.

More than 2300 scientists sign on to an open letter to Trump, with an appeal to “adhere to high standards of scientific integrity and independence in responding to current and emerging public health and environmental health threats,” and says rather defiantly:

We will continue to champion efforts that strengthen the role of science in policymaking and stand ready to hold accountable any who might seek to undermine it.   

There is not one single ally of LGBTQ Americans among Trump’s cabinet picks so far. At Wired, Emma Gray Ellis worries more about the sub-cabinet appointees:

With current and former [Family Research Council] staff all over the Trump transition team, the group seems as well positioned as ever to propagate its ideology. Perhaps most importantly—and least conspicuously—it may find a way to accomplish its goals through lower level government officials who buy into the FRC’s beliefs.  

Michael Schulson says Trump’s win represents “an unlikely triumph for the prosperity gospel“:

The president-elect identifies as a Presbyterian. But his rhetoric during the campaign often reflected the language of the prosperity gospel, a diffuse American Christian movement that links faith, positive thinking and material wealth into “the American religion of winning,” as journalist Jeff Sharlet described it this year. 

The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was destroyed in the World Trade Center collapse of 9/11, and now at the 9/11 Memorial, there sits the St. Nicholas National Shrine, complete with a big ol’ cross. Patrick J. Foye, executive director of the Port Authority, had thoughts, via NYT:

Mr. Foye said there was nothing inappropriate about the presence of the cross in a public park, because St. Nicholas was destroyed in the attack, because construction costs were being met privately and because the shrine would include contemplative space for the general public. “A house of worship is going to have its own shape, style and iconography,” he said.

We’re still really happy about the kick in the teeth the FTC gave to homeopathic false advertising, but Lila MacLellan at Quartz makes a super-important point about why these new standards might not have the effect we’d hope for:

The psychology of conspiracy theory suggests that those who believe government agencies and Big Pharma are in cahoots to suppress information about natural remedies—and this is a fairly popular world view—might only have their suspicions confirmed by the FTC actively rejecting ideas “based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700s.” Others may take comfort in knowing the theories have survived and maintained a following for so long, as if a sham medicine couldn’t survive a few centuries. 

An Ohio federal district court is not interested in your secularist complaints about “In God We Trust” on the currency. “Plaintiffs cannot demonstrate that the use of the motto on currency substantially burdens their religious exercise.”  

Trump picks a NASA administrative veteran, Christopher Shank, to his NASA transition team.

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are opposing the 21st Century Cures Act, which they say will weaken regulatory safeguards for patient safety.

Laura Hensley at Canada’s National Post is, I think, way too sanguine about the fraud of professional psychics:

Searching for specific answers from someone who promotes themselves with glowing crystal balls is likely to leave you wanting. But what a psychic can offer is a prompting to look at your future in a different light, to cause introspection and illumination on aspects of yourself you typically wouldn’t think twice about. … It reminds me that there’s plenty ahead to look forward to in life, whether or not it’s foreseeable. For a crumpled 20 now and again, it’s well worth the cost.

Leah Remini really isn’t having it with the Church of Scientology.  

Sharon Hill chronicles a UFO hoax gone viral

So now you can buy a shoe designed by a Beastie Boy to support Planned Parenthood.  

Quote of the Day:

Last night I finished casting a production of Into the Woods I’ll be directing at the University of New England, and these lines from the show’s finale seem rather pertinent these days: 

Careful the wish you make,
Wishes are children.
Careful the path they take-
Wishes come true,
Not free.

Careful the spell you cast,
Not just on children.
Sometimes the spell may last
Past what you see
And turn against you…

Careful the tale you tell.
That is the spell. 

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