I’d Vote for Any Ungulate in Rut

January 20, 2017

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

I can’t seem to wake up today. Almost as though my body is saying, “No, really, you don’t need to see this.” 

SciAm reports on the possible consequences of this “vaccine commission” Trump might create with RFK Jr.:

Public health experts and autism advocates are deeply worried that an effort with presidential backing could undermine public confidence in vaccines and trigger epidemics of all-but-eradicated diseases. 

Zoë Schlanger at Wired reports on the efforts to archive and protect government scientific data from Trump’s people.

Remember when high school student Jessica Ahlquist fought religious messaging in her school, and Rhode Island State Rep. Peter Palumbo called her a “wicked little thing”? Well that guy was just arrested on embezzlement charges. Now who’s wicked? (Hat tip to Jay Young for the news.)

The Intercept rounds up five states where GOP legislators want to criminalize peaceful protest. And it doesn’t even include this bill in Indiana which authorizes police to break up protests “by any means necessary.”

Climate scientist Michael Mann defends his libel suit against the National Review, which called him a “fraud” for his activism.  

Veteran entertainer John Davidson, a real stalwart ally of the Openly Secular campaign, is profiled in Worcester Magazine.

Steven Novella writes in our skeptics’ magazine about why skeptics do their skeptic thing, calling the movement “a weird beast that is often difficult to understand.” Yeah no kidding.

I think the best way to explain scientific skepticism is that it is expertise in everything that can go wrong with science and belief, and it includes execution, communication, education, and regulation. It combines knowledge of science, philosophy, and critical thinking with special expertise in flawed reasoning and deception. 

Betsy DeVos says guns in school might be needed to defend against bears. Emily Willingham does some deep thinking on which animals schoolkids should fear:

Were I to speak anecdotally, I’d vote for any ungulate in rut, having once crawled through a basement window to avoid approaching death in the form of an angry, agitated 14-point bull elk at our school bus stop.  

The LA Times gives a big thumbs-down to DeVos:

She displayed an astonishing ignorance about basic education issues, an extraordinary lack of thoughtfulness about ongoing debates in the field and an unwillingness to respond to important questions. 

I know that “holy relics” of Catholic saints are considered quite valuable, but Joe Nickell shows us how far some folks will go:

After Thomas Aquinas became ill at a French monastery and died, greedy monks decapitated him, taking his head as holy booty, then boiled away his flesh to secure his bones for many more treasured relics. 

Mercer County Schools in West Virginia are being sued by FFRF for spending the past 75 years seriously indoctrinating students with Christianity, or, as they say, developing “a positive attitude towards biblical literature.”

Pastor Kevin Swanson says having gay parents represented in Highlights magazine is like ISIS or something

The usual social media accounts where you’re used to seeing the Obamas and Bidens will belong to Trump now, so here’s how you can keep up with the old crew.

Quote of the Day:

Elizabeth Lopatto at The Verge:

It’s tempting to believe that science is apolitical. But science and politics are plainly related: science is the pursuit of knowledge, knowledge is power, and power is politics. …

… Science is a way of seeing that provides us with facts. What we do with those facts is deeply political. Determining whether pollution harms people is a matter of scientific inquiry, but deciding what to do in response to that data is politics. Who uses the water and land, and how? Those aren’t scientific questions — they’re political ones. Do we value the safety of our citizens or the profits of our corporations? What’s the balance between the two? Those are also political questions. 

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Photo credit: Peter R Steward via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

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