The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Before we get into the usual skepto-atheist stuff, please enjoy this short story at The Prompt by my amazing wife Jessica, a look at the reunion of Frog and Toad after 12 years apart:
Toad considered his entree, a plate of balsamic glazed flank steak, resting under an enormous pile of mushrooms. He was just doing the things he was supposed to do, wasn’t he? Why make it so hard, why push back against fate? You were born, you lived a little while, then you died. It really wasn’t any more complicated than that, he thought. It really isn’t anything so remarkable.
Richard Dawkins has teamed up with game developers to Kickstart a video game, as Dawkins put it, “a kind of ecological game,” called, simply, Richard Dawkins: Evolution. Kotaku talks to Dawkins and developer about the ideas behind the game.
Eugenie Scott looks back on 40 years of skeptic activism, including this anecdote from her youth, when she expressed her enthusiasm about finding Yeti and Bigfoot to her mentor at the time, Prof. Neil Tappen:
“But if you had the chance, wouldn’t you go on an expedition to find a Yeti?”
He just looked at me with what I hoped was patience, but it might have been exasperation. “I’ll be first in line for the second expedition,” he commented and then went on his way.
I was stunned when I saw this first reported: The GOP wants to make it so that employers can examine your genes, so you can be charged more for health insurance if you don’t let them. As Emily Willingham writes:
Can you think of any compelling, job-related reason that an employer might need to know if your child has cystic fibrosis? There’s not one. The only use for that information is to avoid covering or employing someone whose family members or who themselves might have a chronic or pre-existing and therefore costly condition. Finding that out after someone has been employed opens a door to usher them right back out again. At the very low threshold of that door is that steep, slippery slope. There is almost no threshold for “we don’t want to pay for that” when it comes to saving a buck.
Scott Pruitt’s phone rings off the hook after he denies the fundamental facts about climate change on CNBC. Jay Willis at GQ expresses how many of us feel:
It’s one thing for Pruitt, a longtime stooge of the oil and gas industry, to believe that addressing climate change shouldn’t be a priority of the government, or that the EPA has bigger fish to pluck from the world’s rapidly-warming oceans and fry, or that the agency can ease some regulations without meaningfully exacerbating global warming, or something like that. But to casually deny this bedrock principle of climate change discourse is, to use a scientific term, fucking lunacy. Pruitt’s assertion is roughly the equivalent of watching the entire OJ: Made in America documentary and then solemnly musing to your friends afterwards, “You know, I wonder if they’ll ever catch the real killers.”
Rep. Mike Kelly says there’s a “shadow government” being run by Barack Obama, and I assume seeking to introduce foreign substances into our precious bodily fluids.
OK Google, what the hell is with the fake answers?
Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, might lose his job over his critiques of Trump.
A man in Florida (of course) tries to set fire to a convenience store he believed was owned by Muslims so as to “run the Arabs out of our country.” The owners are actually Indian.
Emma Green in The Atlantic shows how despite their unity in opposition to Trump, American Muslims are beset with their own internal tensions over race. Green has another piece (she must be very, very busy) in which she reports on how white evangelicals believe themselves to be discriminated against more than Muslims. That’s just nuts.
Nate Silver says yep, there really was a liberal filter bubble that underestimated the possibility that Trump would win the election. The problem was the bubble, not the polls.
Texas State Rep. Jessica Farrar introduces a bill to respond to her colleagues’ desire to tell women what to do with their bodies, HB 4260:
Consent to an elective vasectomy or colonoscopy procedure, or a prescription of Viagra is voluntary and informed only if at least 24 hours have passed since the initial health care consultation for the procedure or prescription. … An attending physician must administer a medically-unnecessary digital rectal exam and magnetic resonance imagining of the rectum before administering an elective vasectomy or colonoscopy procedure, or prescribing Viagra. … Emissions outside of a woman’s vagina, or created outside of a health or medical facility, will be charged a $100 civil penalty for each emission, and will be considered an act against an unborn child, and failing to preserve the sanctity of life.
Here’s a trailer for a new documentary by Louis Theroux and John Dower, My Scientology Movie. It looks a little different than Going Clear.
David Gorski tells the sad and gruesome story of a quack naturopath, who told cancer patients that “chemotherapy is for losers,” who is murdered after his treatments result in the death of the killer’s wife.
If you’d like a way to waste money and do nothing to help your sick pet, try homeopathy.
The News-Herald in Ohio reports on the guilty plea of fake psychic Gina Miller, who bilked clients out of $1.4 million.
Utah’s legislators seek to toughen the state’s anti-polygamy laws, with the aim of targeting abusive husbands in “plural marriages.”
Who needs a holy grail when you have the Quassia Cup, the goblet that made its own medicine!!
Quote of the Day:
Seth McFarlane laments Scott Pruitt, et. al.:
So we’re now a country that officially denies demonstrable science. So glad we put all that work into Cosmos.
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Origial image by Quinn Dombrowski (CC BY-SA 2.0).
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