Someone in the Past Believed It

January 8, 2018


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

It’s 1/8/18 which means that in a way it’s 1818 and you know what that means…

…I got nothin’. 

Hey check it out! It’s CFI board member and all-around great person Leonard Tramiel, covered by the Santa Cruz Sentinel for his address at Skepticamp.

There was a small fire at Trump Tower in NYC this morning with no injuries, I assume caused by the accidental ignition of ambient fumes from Trump’s face.

Last night was the night Oprah truly became president. Only partly kidding. At the Golden Globes, she blew folks away with a really great speech. (Yes, I know she has brought us people like Dr. Oz and whatnot, but this isn’t about that.) Talking about this powerful moment in history in which women are refusing to be silent about what they have endured, she said:

Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell, and this year we became the story. But it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics or workplace. … So I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, are fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “me too” again. 

I got a little carried away over it on Twitter:

Decades from now, they’re going to use Oprah like they used to use the word Caesar

“…and then in 2140, a new Oprah was elected to lead the Global Federation…”

“…after that horrible war, the general was crowned Oprah of the Inner Planets.” 

Maine’s Secretary of State, Mike Dunlap, was on the now-defunct “Election Integrity Commission” designed to stop minorities from voting voter fraud, and in an op-ed he makes the commission sound not unlike a TV ghosthunting operation:

It didn’t matter that evidence of actual voter misconduct is incredibly rare anywhere in the United States; we’ve all heard the ghost stories, and the Trump administration’s solution was to find those ghosts and exorcise them.  

Regardless of their behavior on the platform, Twitter says it will not block world leaders. I assume they’re thinking of the irresponsible antics of Justin Trudeau, who gets all crazy by tweeting in both English AND French:

Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate. It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions.

Former EPA intern Katie Miller describes what was going on in Scott Pruitt’s agency where “fear and loathing had taken hold”:

…my co-worker also transmitted this instruction: Don’t mention climate change or going “green” … Combing through the old tweets, I noticed that some had links to the EPA’s information on climate change, but the links were now dead. … [I told my colleague that] part of my job as an intern has been to remove any mention of climate change from social media accounts. 

A federal court decides that Baltimore may not require deceptive “crisis pregnancy centers” to disclose to patients that they don’t actually provide any abortion services.

Angela Chen at The Verge tries to put to bed a bunch of “ancient astrology” nonsense:

This type of appeal to ancient wisdom is extremely common in New Age beliefs, yoga, and alternative medicine. All of them are based on the ludicrous fallacy that something is more likely to be true because someone in the past believed it. People in the past discovered the fundamentals of math, yes, but they also believed that drilling a hole in your head would cure epilepsy.  

Hey remember how Roy Moore isn’t a bigot because one of his attorneys, as his wife let us know, “is a Jew”? Turns out the guy is actually a Christian who went to Liberty University. But he USED to be Jewish. Then a Mormon. Then an evangelical. And now a “Messianic Jew,” or, in other words, a Christian.

Cape Town, South Africa may run out of water by May.  

Yesterday, Sydney, Australia hit 117.14 Fahrenheit. (It was something like 10 to 18 below at night in Maine all week.) 

Katherine Stewart, writing at NYT, says the Museum of the Bible is more insidious than it seems, seeking to “embed a certain set of assumptions in the landscape of the capital.” 

Goop says you should have a coffee enema to start the new year off right. Beth Mole at Ars Technica explains why that’s a terrible idea, and one has to wonder why this should even need explaining. And yet.

Oh good, there’s a “dying algorithm.” Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies, writes at the Times:

The false-alarm rate was low: Nine out of 10 patients predicted to die within three to 12 months did die within that window. And 95 percent of patients assigned low probabilities by the program survived longer than 12 months.  

Quote of the Day:


One time I stepped on a sea urchin and I forgot all about the migraine I was having, so yeah, I’d say acupuncture is pretty effective.

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