Some Study Somewhere

December 6, 2017


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

Time managed not to screw this one up, as its 2017 Person of the Year is “The Silence Breakers, the women (and some men too) who risked it all, spoke out, and started to change a toxic culture.

McKay Coppins at The Atlantic does a deep dive into the messianic leanings of Mike Pence, who seems damned sure God has chosen him to lead. I drew a picture of Pence last night which is only okay, but it does have happy clouds and a happy sun.

Trump intends to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy there, which I’m sure won’t be a big deal at all. 

From a president that devalues (and frankly opposes) education, you get a less-educated administration. The AP looks at the heads of various science and medicine-related agencies, and finds that the percentage of those with advanced degrees have dropped sharply from the Obama administration. But don’t worry, Rick Perry wears glasses now.

The Supreme Court seemed closely divided when hearing arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case about whether a baker can discriminate against gay couples because Jesus. And when I say the Court was closely divided, I mean that Anthony Kennedy was hard for people to get a good read on. 

SCOTUS has lifted the injunctions on Trump’s Muslim ban

A fifth-grader in Kentucky is being bullied by students and belittled by teachers (sounds familiar so far) for being nonreligious and not attending morning religious services.

Look what screwed up my Google Alerts: Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives includes one Rep. Jason Dawkins, from Philadelphia. I am first made aware of this fellow by the news that the PA House is looking to pass a bill that will shrink the window of time in which a woman can get an abortion. Rep. Dawkins, a Democrat, opposes the bill, saying, “It’s a decision between the woman and her doctor. I don’t believe that any of us in an elected capacity have more knowledge than those who have a degree in this field.” But the article names him as Rep. Richard Dawkins, so that could cause all kinds of fun.

UC Berkeley psychology professor Tania Lombrozo writes about a study on attitudes toward the relationship between science and religion. Asking respondents whether they agree or disagree with statements about whether science and religion are compatible or incompatible, and sometimes having those statements associated with Richard Dawkins (the scientist), Steven Jay Gould, and Francis Collins, they found that a plurality favored peaceful coexistence. Incompatibility came in last.

Dawkins himself, again, the scientist, is in Colombia, which is home to a population that is not inclined toward Dawkins’ views, as fewer than half accept evolution and about a third accept the Big Bang. 

Four children were miraculously rescued by Utah police on Monday, kidnapped by their dads and brought to a desert compound where the men are part of a cult called the Knights of the Crystal Blade. One of the men is their “prophet.” 

It should be no surprise that with Trump now fully backing Roy Moore that the RNC has reversed itself and is back to helping the theocratic alleged pedophile join the U.S. Senate. 

Janet Porter, a spokesperson for Roy Moore, tells CNN anchor Poppy Marlow that Doug Jones supports the killing of Marlow’s unborn baby, and without a trace of shame.

It doesn’t matter, because 71 percent of Alabama Republicans think the charges against Moore are made up

Steve Bannon attacks Moore critic Mitt Romney for his religion, saying he “hid behind” it to avoid Vietnam. 

Global warming is causing babies born now to earn less as adults. A new study, according to MIT Technology Review, shows “even short periods of extreme heat can carry long-term consequences for children and their financial future. Specifically, heat waves during an individual’s early childhood, including the period before birth, can affect his or her earnings three decades later.”

Guess what: The evidence for acupuncture’s efficacy for curing a long list of troubles is severely lacking. But supporters of acupuncture will tell you the opposite. Steven Novella writes:

I my experience when a proponent of alternative medicine claims that a treatment is evidence-based or backed by science they mean that there is some study somewhere that was positive. They do not mea
n that the evidence meets a reasonable science-based standard. 

This is fascinating: An Emory University study provides some insight into why pro-vaccine messaging falls flat with anti-vax parents. Julia Belluz reports:

The results suggest that pro-vaccine communications could be strengthened by taking a page from the anti-vax book — and presenting messages that better align with purity and liberty. “You could increase the salience of disgust associated with certain diseases, and say vaccines fight those,” said the Emory study’s senior author, Dr. Saad Omer. “Or you could frame purity positively — saying vaccines are a very natural product, they work with a natural system. Messages that talk about liberty, that the freedom to choose for your child is being taken away if other others don’t vaccinate, might work.”  

Harriet Hall self-corrects, saying she was wrong to conclude that the supplement Protandim was safe to try, as the study on which she relied was rather faulty. 

Two University of Texas at Austin biblical scholars discover an original copy of Jesus’s teachings to his brother James. Scholar Geoffrey Smith says:

We never suspected that Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James survived from antiquity. But there they were, right in front of us. … The text supplements the biblical account of Jesus’ life and ministry by allowing us access to conversations that purportedly took place between Jesus and his brother, James — secret teachings that allowed James to be a good teacher after Jesus’ death. 

Beards, beards everywhere. Here’s the story of the photo from CSICon 2017 in tribute to the absent James Randi

Quote of the Day:

Caption to this photo, spotted by Celeste Headlee:

A smug Al Yankovic notes that in a month he’s gone from “Weird” to being the only man in Hollywood you’d let your daughter be alone with. 


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