Fish and Visitors

March 29, 2018

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

John Podesta (chaired the 2016 Clinton campaign, was chief of staff to Bill Clinton, believes aliens have been here) pens an op-ed calling Scott Pruitt (Destoryer of Worlds) “unfit for public office”:

Time after time, Pruitt has ignored his agency’s own data, analysis and recommendations in order to protect corporate polluters. He has given new meaning to the lobbyist revolving door, hiring people who have close connections to the industries that the EPA is supposed to regulate. And he wasted taxpayer money for his own personal comfort.

In a refreshingly progressive move, India’s Supreme Court rules that not only can people from different religions get married regardless of what their families say, but that local authorities are obliged to provide physical protection and safe houses for such couples. Fist bump, SCOI.

Margaret Sullivan (remember she was on Point of Inquiry with me? That was super cool) takes to task folks like Erick Erickson who wear the mantle of “reasonable conservative” yet still traffic in alt-right misinformation:

Erickson’s actions matter because, despite his often extreme views, he’s seen as relatively moderate — someone who gets to offer platitudes about “healing” in the New York Times and whose comments get picked up — not as if they were the ravings of an Alex Jones, but as if he were a legitimate conservative opinion maker.

If fish and visitors stink after three days, imagine the stench coming from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Julian Assange has his internet access cut off by the embassy, where he’s been hiding from justice for six years:

In a statement, Ecuador said it has suspended Assange’s ability to communicate with the outside world because he violated an agreement he signed with his hosts at the end of 2017 not to use his communiques to interfere in the affairs of other states.  

“Additionally,” said the statement (not really), “Come, on. Seriously. Get a job or something. At least wear pants when we have company.” 

Sheriff Joe Arpaio defiantly tells CNN’s Chris Cuomo that when he gets elected to the U.S. Senate (cough cough), hell yeah, it’s birther time, baby! Things just keep getting better. 

In Skeptical Inquirer, Joe Nickell reviews the accounts of hauntings in “Old Louisville” according to author David Dominé, who Joe finds is talking out both sides of his mouth:

Indeed, [Dominé writes,] “Don’t ask me to justify my accounts of hauntings in this book, and don’t tell me that you don’t believe in the supernatural, because—truth be told—I don’t care.” Yet again, he states, “I just want to present a story that defies explanation.” Yet he habitually treats the “unexplained” as evidence of the paranormal—a form of faulty logic called “an argument from ignorance”  

Susan Gerbic highlights five presentations from CSICon 2017’s Sunday Papers session. 

Stephanie Keep at NCSE parses a study on Americans’ perceptions of science, and a lot of it is, in her words, “frustrating”:

The fact that 52% of respondents had “no response” to the question “what is the very first thing that comes to mind” when you hear ‘scientific research’” confounds me. I know it’s been years since many of these adults were in a science classroom, but how are they unaware of the research that infuses their everyday lives, from the medicine they take, to the electricity they consume, to the well-being of the residents at their local zoos?  

This is one of those things where I imagine a bunch of astronomers throwing something on the floor (clipboard? notebook? cat?) and shouting, “Oh, COME ON!” Seems they’ve found some galaxies that appear to have essentially no dark matter, which isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

Madeleine Burry at Prevention tried out “crystal bed therapy” to see if it would relieve her stress and anxiety, and concludes, yep, it’s a novel placebo.

Remember a while back when some angry right-wing lobbyist who really hates gays sued members of Congress for displaying LGBTQ-supporting rainbow flags because he said they were “religious” symbols, and therefor violated church-state separation? Remember? Yeah, that was dismissed.  

Quote of the Day

Alexandre Bissonnette, the man who murdered six people at a Quebec mosque last year, has decided to plead guilty, understanding that he’ll never see the outside of a prison, and begs forgiveness:

Every minute of my existence I bitterly regret what I did, the lives I have destroyed, the pain and suffering I have caused to so many people, without forgetting the members of my own family. I am ashamed of what I did. … [I wish to] avoid a trial and for the victims to not have to relive this tragedy.

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