The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
In the cosmic sense, this is a big damn joke. In the immediate, real-world sense, this is no joke: Dr. Oz is appointed to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition. We have something to say about it:
“This is an abysmal appointment, akin to having anti-vaccine zealot Robert F. Kennedy lead the now-abandoned vaccine safety commission,” said Robyn Blumner, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “Mehmet Oz uses his celebrity and medical credentials to persuade an audience of millions to waste their money and risk their health on snake oil and false prophets. He has bestowed influence and legitimacy on bogus diet gurus and baseless pseudoscience, fomenting fear and confusion around medicine and nutrition.”
This reaction to the Oz appointment is not in our official statement, but I think it needs to go on record nonetheless:
“Augh, gah, barf barf barf barf,” said Paul Fidalgo, CFI communications director. “I mean, for the love of…just…GAH.”
Our video series Reasonable Talk finally goes there, ensuring that all of us at CFI will burn in Hell forever, as we present Lucien Greaves of the Satanic Temple at CFI Headquarters. Greaves discusses the “Satanic Panic” of the 80s and 90s as an example of pseudoscience run amok.
This is subversively cool: In an ad by the right-wing organization Judicial Crisis Network, an image of a CFI poster is used to underscore what EXTREME, LIBERAL JUDGES we have that are HOSTILE TO RELIGIOUS LIBERTY. The poster in question has the super-controversial statement, “I support science, reason, and secular values.” I don’t know how we get away with such extremism.
David Gorski reveals some problems with peer review at the journal PLOS ONE (Public Library of Science), as it publishes “one of the worst acupuncture meta-analyses that I’ve ever seen.”
Harry Dyer at The Conversation goes to the UK’s first flat-Earther convention, and explores what it means about the state of information:
In many ways, a public meeting of flat-Earthers is a product and sign of our time; a reflection of our increasing distrust in scientific institutions, and the moves by power-holding institutions towards populism and emotions.
Fringe-Christian group Voice of the Voiceless, which wants LGBTQ people to know they can be “cured,” hold a DC rally, and Hemant Mehta does the difficult math to show what the turnout was like:
It looks like tens of people showed up.
The United Methodist Church will allow pastors and local jurisdictions decide for themselves whether to perform same-sex weddings and allow LGBTQ clergy.
Oklahoma’s legislature (I know I get tense when I hear those words, too) passes a stand-your-ground-in-church bill, a bill allowing Ten Commandments monuments on government property, and a right-to-discriminate bill for adoption agencies.
Turkey’s strongest opposition party nominates secularist Muharrem Ince to take on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an Islamist strongman.
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal of Pakistan is shot, non-fatally, by someone believed to be associated with Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, a group that accused Iqbal and others in the government of blasphemy for their support of a small change to electoral law that was nicer to Ahmadi Muslims.
Ben Radford laments what he sees as the failure of journalism in the Bill Cosby case, with headlines making broad pronouncements about the role of #MeToo in his conviction:
Of course the MeToo movement has been important and valuable regardless of whether or not it played a role in the outcome of Bill Cosby’s second trial. The fact is that no one knows whether Cosby’s conviction is a bellwether for other accused celebrities, including Harvey Weinstein. As with most new trends, it’s too soon to tell, and we may not know for five or ten years what the significance is.
Voice of America talks to virologist Paul Offit about parents’ paranoia about vaccines:
[Some parents] believe vaccines can give their children autism, diabetes and other diseases. … “It’s hard to compel people to vaccinate against something that they don’t fear,” he said. “And when they don’t fear that, what they’ll do is, they’ll fear the vaccines, and I think that’s where we’re at.”
The Swiss Guard, tasked with protecting the Vatican from…I dunno, barbarians and aliens I guess…gets new helmets, 3D-printed from PVC. They still look as goofy.
Bigfoot comes to New Jersey. Yeah, right, like the Jersey Devil would share territory.
Come to Lake County in Illinois to experience the presence of ghosts…as part of a seven-hour tour that I’m sure is not at all full of crap. Oh wait, yes it is:
“Water serves as a conduit for paranormal activity,” and of course, there are lots of lakes in the county, said Bielski, operator of Chicago Hauntings and author of books including “Tales of Haunted Chicago.” Bielski will lead a seven-hour adventure May 19 beginning in Long Grove and traveling throughout Lake County to search for paranormal sights. Participants board a coach bus, stopping at a haunted pub for lunch, which is included in the price. They also learn to use ghost boxes, dowsing rods and radios intended to coax spirits to reveal themselves.
James Palmer at Berkeley Squares (“an independent newspaper for Bristol produced by sixth form students”) reviews Avengers: Infinity War (a film which, by the way, consumes my every waking moment), which I only mention because he writes, “As a philosophy student I would like to ask Richard Dawkins about the religious fanaticism that surrounds these films which seems a topic that many have become over-excited about.” I can see a whole CFI conference around this.
My good readers, I present to you…sexy Lincoln.
Quote of the Day
Daniel Finke, under the most excellent headline “Making Arguments Less Tediously Repetitive, Contentious, Alienating, Depressing, and Futile,” has good advice to engagement with those who you think are just UGH SO WROOOOONG:
The solution I have in mind is to cut to the chase of where you agree. Instead of trying to show how quickly you can dispatch with what your interlocutor thinks and only irritate them and lose their respect, try to figure out just how much you agree about. Instead of telling your interlocutor all the ways you imagine you disagree and trying to foist your counterproductive bad faith interpretation of them onto them so that they spend most of their energy just trying to be understood instead of being able to consider your ideas, try to charitably figure out your points of agreement.
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