Worse Than You Think

July 10, 2017

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

The Amelia Earhart mystery got even more interesting last week with the unveiling of an incorrectly-filed photograph from 1937 that shows what very well may be Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan in the Marshall Islands, supporting the theory that they survived the plane’s disappearance and were subsequently captured by the Japanese.

Scientists at the University of Alberta made their own virus! It’s sort of a relative of smallpox! Oh crap! 

Check it out: Lawrence Krauss’s talk from CSICon 2016 is now up on CFI’s Reasonable Talk video series, in which he explains how the universe came into being. NBD. 

Ryan Britt at Inverse wonders, with almost literally everyone carrying a camera with them all the time on their smartphones, why hasn’t there been a corresponding explosion in UFO/alien photos? He looks to a 2012 Skeptical Inquirer article for guidance.

This article from Graham Ambrose in the Denver Post made lots of people very sad over the weekend. He profiled a group of Coloradans with a shared faith:

[Part of] a budding movement, one that’s coming for your books, movies, God and mind. They’re thousands strong — perhaps one in every 500 — and have proponents at the highest levels of science, sports, journalism and arts. They call themselves Flat Earthers. Because they believe Earth — the blue, majestic, spinning orb of life — is as flat as a table.

“It is, I promise, worse than you think.” Thus begins a New York magazine opus by David Wallace-Wells on how climate change is going to destroy us all.

Also with the potential to destroy us all: Asteroids! NASA’s Planetary Defense team (not the same as the Justice League or the Avengers) did a livestream on Asteroid Day to discuss different strategies for addressing the threat.  

Writing at CFI’s Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Kenny Biddle looks at how “ghost-hunters” are using the Xbox Kinect (a camera that tracks players’ movements for video games) to prove that spirits are among us.

Joe Nickell looks back to a version of alternative medicine that vied for prominence in the 19th century, “Eclecticism” (which is a good marketing name). 

Pradeep Mutalik in Quanta puzzles out (using math!) why there are two sexes for most complex animals, as opposed to seemingly more efficient asexual reproduction, or on the other hand, three sexes (like a newly discovered chameleon species has).

David Gorski looks at the record of the new CDC director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, showing that just because you’re pro-vaccine, it doesn’t mean you’re not a quack in other areas.

Facebook went ahead and had its meeting with Pakistani government officials over blasphemy cases. Their statement:

Facebook met with Pakistan officials to express the company’s deep commitment to protecting the rights of the people who use its service, and to enabling people to express themselves freely and safely. It was an important and constructive meeting in which we raised our concerns over the recent court cases and made it clear we apply a strict legal process to any government request for data or content restrictions. 

“I just love to sit in my office and make up ways so they’ll write these stupid stories because they are just so stupid,” said someone who is not a 5-year-old having a temper tantrum, but my state’s governor, Paul LePage, who admits to lying to reporters because they’re such jerks, you see.

Hemant Mehta reports from the protests at the Ark Encounter in Kentucky at the first anniversary of the theme-part-museum-money-pit.  

“The left is wrong on Islam. The right is wrong on Muslims.” Ali Rizvi talks to Vox about his book and the problems we’re having discussing Islam. 

James Croft offers advice on the problem of word choice in the discussion of contentious issues: “We should use the best words for our current purpose, and be clear about what our purpose is.” 

Quote of the Day:

In Politico (or as they call themselves, POLITICO, like they’re always yelling it from across a crowded bar), Joel Baden of Yale Divinity School offers this explanation for Marco Rubio’s tweeting every day from Proverbs, “probably the most Republican book of the entire Bible”:

Proverbs is notable in that is presents a fairly consistent view of the world: The righteous are rewarded, and the wicked are punished. In the understanding of Proverbs, everyone gets what is coming to them; behavior is directly linked to reward or punishment. This worldview has social consequences: Those who succeed in life must be more righteous than those wh
o struggle. 

And the zinger at the end (spoiler alert):

It’s always nice to know that whatever your ideological persuasion, there’s a verse in the Bible just waiting to be appropriated. 

Rubio responds, “I don’t think Solomon had yet joined the GOP when he wrote the first 29 chapters of Proverbs.”

“Yet.” Innnnteresting.   

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