The Patagotitan in the Room

August 10, 2017


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

BuzzFeed wanted to know what was really in the supplements hawked by Alex Jones on Infowars (Goop for men!™), so they had an independent lab test them — in triplicate — and the results are not surprising. While they more or less contain what they claim to contain, and seem to be safe, they don’t actually do anything.

Here’s something Infowars and Goop may want to look into: The eggs of parasitic worms (specifically, Trichuris suis, the pig whipworm). 

The National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLAD have organized a case in which five transgender individuals are suing President Trump over his transgender military ban

The ACLU is suing the governors of Maine, Maryland, and Kentucky for deleting unfavorable comments from their Facebook pages and blocking certain critics from posting, calling it a form of censorship. I’m sympathetic, but I’m not convinced that counts as censorship.

Now I’m certain that this isn’t censorship: Alt-right types are really mad at Google and other companies for what they say is the “censoring right-wing views.” Pretty sure that what they call “censoring right-wing views” is actually just the simple fact that if you’re going to be overtly hostile to women and minorities, no one’s going to want you around.

Oh man now there’s another dinosaur that is being called the biggest creature ever to walk on land. The just-named Patagotitan mayorum is supposed to have been 15% larger than the previous candidate, Dreadnoughtus. Paleontologist Diego Pol told National Geographic, “This suggests we are approaching the maximum possible body size for a terrestrial animal, which was unknown until recently, and it is an exciting discovery.”

Okay, fine. They have big dinosaurs? WELL SKEPTICAL INQUIRER HAS FIRE-BREATHING DINOSAURS. Sort of. In that there were none. Ever. And we tell you why. But still. FIRE!!! 

Guan Yu, a third-century Chinese general, is worshipped as a god in some Chinese religions. A statue of the god-general in Indonesia made some Islamists angry, so the government covered the thing with a big sheet as a stopgap measure to avoid an uglier situation. Now, of course, it looks like a giant Halloween ghost, which I’m sure someone will also find offensive at some point.

Yes, Ireland, shamefully, still has a blasphemy law, but it’s the best one, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom:

Ireland had the lowest score out of 71 countries in a report analysing the extent to which such laws are in conflict with international human rights laws. At the other end of the scale were Iran and Pakistan, which can both impose the death penalty for blasphemy offences.  

Hey hey, don’t forget to check out this fortnight’s Cause & Effect newsletter. It’s like an epic poem, you almost want to sing it. (This is not true.)

Richard Dawkins tells Scientific American what advice he’d give to Donald Trump (which would undoubtedly fall on deaf ears):

Get your news, not from FOX but from all the sources available to a president, many of them not available to the rest of us. Announce your decisions after due consideration and consultation, not impulsively on Twitter. Cultivate common good manners when dealing with people. Do not be misled by the crowds that cheer your boorish rudeness: they are a minority of the American people. Listen to experts better qualified than you are. Especially scientists. Be guided by evidence and reason, not gut feeling. By far the best way to assess evidence is the scientific method. Indeed, it is the only way if we interpret “scientific” broadly. In particular—since the matter is so urgent and it may already be too late—listen to scientists when they tell you about the looming catastrophe of climate change. 

Quote of the Day:

Even the National Review thinks the right-wing hubbub over a kid’s painting of a head-scarfed Statue of Liberty in a Congressman’s office is stupid. Katherine Timpf says:

It’s a painting. If you’re really getting this upset about someone having a painting in his office that you don’t even ever have to look at, then I’m going to tell you shut up and instead spend your time feeling grateful for apparently never having had a real problem.

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