It Stems from Human Stuff

December 28, 2017


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

In Skeptical Inquirer, Brett Taylor has a really interesting piece on the myths about Hollywood “curses” surrounding films like The Exorcist and celebrities like Bruce and Brandon Lee, and how the studios take advantage of those myths to sell their movies. 

Also, Kendrick Frazier looks back at 70 years of the Roswell UFO incident, pointing out how unremarkable the whole thing turned out to be at the time it was supposed to have happened:

It was a big story back in early July 1947 for a few days, but then when the Air Force announced that what the rancher found was related to balloon flights and not to anything more mysterious, the story disappeared from public discourse until it was resurrected again by several factually unscrupulous writers in the early 1980s. 

So, what’s up with those “unknown alloys” mentioned in the New York Times‘ report on the government’s UFO investigations? As Rafi Letzer at Scientific American reports, probably nothing:

[Richard Sachleben of the American Chemical Society’s panel of experts says], “There are no alloys that are sitting in some warehouse that we cannot figure out what they are. In fact, it’s pretty simple, and any reasonably good metallurgical grad student can do it for you.” 

Eric Holthaus at Mother Jones reports that the Arctic is “definitively trending toward an ice-free state,” and the headline (I think rather unhelpfully) tells us it “should freak everyone out.” I guess they’re right, because as they say, “on its current path, civilization is engaged in an existential gamble with the planet’s life-support system.”

The Star Tribune reports on the sad, sad fact that people are subjecting their pets to fake medicine. Here’s one such alt-med veterinarian, Dr. Cathy Sinning:

It stems from human stuff. There’s more mainstreaming now because of people learning how it can help themselves. 

Is that even a sentence from a real adult? “It stems from human stuff”?? We’re all doomed.

Joe Nickell shows off a new acquisition, a pre-Civil War bottle for Sands’s Sarsparilla, which advertisements boasted, “It purifies, cleanses, and strengthens the fountain springs of life, and infuses new vigor throughout the whole animal frame.” Sounds like it could be sold by Goop. 

Egypt’s entry for Oscar consideration, Sheikh Jackson, features a sequence in which “Michael Jackson” dances in a mosque, and the director may face blasphemy charges as a result.

Meanwhile, a man in New Jersey who lost his dog is getting a lot of pitches from psychics to help out. Why are they being so kind? The $5000 reward.

Herb Silverman says we godless heathens may have some unintentional allies:

I’d like to say that atheist activists deserve the credit for people leaving religion, but lately I think conservative, white evangelicals deserve lots of credit, too. … Many people, especially millennials, are moving away from the WEP “Christian values,” and they are being welcomed by atheists and humanists who support civil rights and social justice issues. Some former or present Christians now believe that our humanist positions are more consistent with the message of Jesus than with the message of the WEP. We don’t think selling pastries to gay people is worse than pedophilia. And “Nones” know no how many references there are to abortion in the Gospels: None.    

Chrissy Teigen gets on a plane, and the red-pill conspiracy crowd start turning the cranks on the paranoia machine.

Here’s a nice reminder that bees do not, in fact, violate the laws of physics with their flight. 

Quote of the Day:

Dig this: Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University and former GOP governor of Indiana, writes an op-ed for the Post chastising the anti-GMO crowd for their anti-scientific and anti-humanitarian position:

A concerted, deep-pockets campaign, as relentless as it is baseless, has persuaded a high percentage of Americans and Europeans to avoid GMO products, and to pay premium prices for “non-GMO” or “organic” foods that may in some cases be less safe and less nutritious. Thank goodness the toothpaste makers of the past weren’t cowed so easily; the tubes would have said “No fluoride inside!” and we’d all have many more cavities.

This is the kind of foolishness that rich societies can afford to indulge. But when they attempt to inflict their superstitions on the poor and hungry peoples of the planet, the cost shifts from affordable to dangerous and the debate from scientific to moral. …

For the rich and well-fed to deny Africans, Asians or South Americans the benefits of modern technology is not merely anti-scientific. It’s cruel, it’s heartless, it’s inhumane — and it ought to be confronted on moral grounds that ordinary citizens, including those who have been conned into preferring non-GMO Cheerios, can understand.  

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