Sincerity-Proof Chamber of Distortion

January 12, 2017

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

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz introduces a “scientific integrity” policy to try and brace against the coming Trump storm. Chris Mooney reports:

The seven-page policy prevents other agency employees, such as political appointees or press officers, from leaning on or torquing scientific findings. “Under no circumstance may anyone, including a public affairs officer, ask or direct any researcher to alter the record of scientific findings or conclusions,” the document states. The document also embraces a strong commitment to whistleblower protection laws and says the agency will install a “scientific integrity official” within the Energy Secretary’s office to head up enforcement of the policy. 

When Jeff Sessions told Sheldon Whitehouse he’s “not sure” about secular people and their ability to grasp the truth, this is probably what he meant, as reported by Jay Michaelson from Sessions’ remarks in 2014:

Ultimately, freedom of speech is about ascertaining the truth. And if you don’t believe there’s a truth, you don’t believe in truth, if you’re an utter secularist, then how do we operate this government? How can we form a democracy of the kind I think you and I believe in… I do believe that we are a nation that, without God, there is no truth, and it’s all about power, ideology, advancement, agenda, not doing the public service. 

Laurie Garrett at Foreign Policy opens her piece on Trump and RFK Jr. this way:

Things are getting down and dirty now. And millions of lives are at stake. I cannot possibly state strongly enough how dangerous it is that President-elect Donald Trump has embraced the notion that vaccination is the cause of autism. 

Ugh, Gov. Charlie Barker signed into law the bill that creates a licensing board in Massachusetts for naturopaths and other alt-med quacks. Next they’ll create a licensing board for tribble breeders. 

Aja Romano does an excellent job explainig the Internet troll/alt-right modus operandi:

Trolling obfuscates truth and reality, often through satirical means, in order to mask sincere propaganda. … One of the most significant and pernicious ways that members of the alt-right use trolling is to create a sincerity-proof chamber of distortion surrounding what their actual message is. They do this by pretending that what they’re really doing is satirically spoofing how progressives and members of the media view conservatives.

Things get really confusing, really fast. 

New analyses of minerals brought back from the lunar surface by Apollo 14 shows that the Moon is older than previously thought, now estimated at 4.51 billion years old. 

There’s a new play about a fictional meeting between Pope Fluffy and Bill Maher.  

This probably has little to do with skepto-humanism, but still you should check out the pieces by my wife Jessica at The Prompt, including this chronological sampling of lies

The American Bible Society is going to build a $60 million “Bible center” near Independence Mall in Philadelphia because, you see, the framers were inspired by the Bible. GREAT. 

NYT Magazine has a long feature on Neanderthals by Jon Mooallem, in which we learn how advanced they may truly have been.  

France’s The Observers speaks to atheists in different parts of the world to understand the unique challenges they face.  

The pleasantly named website UFO Stalker will show you where the best places are to see alien spaceships. Sure why not.

BBC makes monkeys cry.

Mating dances of drones, sad lost robots, flourishing mechanical arms, and more…on Gadget Earth

Quote of the Day:

The Cleveland Clinic’s pseudoscience problem isn’t limited to one ranting anti-vaxxer. As Daniel Summers (a physician himself) at WaPo reports, there’s cupping, “energy medicine,” acupuncture, and more:

“For centuries, unscrupulous charlatans have preyed upon the public’s desperate desires to lose weight by making fantastic, evidence-free claims of how they have a magical cure,” said Yoni Freedhoff, an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa, author and specialist in weight loss and obesity management.

“This is worse,” he continued. “This is one of the world’s most prominent hospitals claiming that they can teach people how to mentally will themselves into becoming fat- and calorie-burning furnaces despite the fact that there is no credible evidence to suggest that mindfulness can affe
ct metabolism, fat loss or weight loss in any meaningful way.” 

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Photo credit: Mauro Cateb (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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