We Are All Saturnians

September 14, 2017


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

Okay, look. We at CFI always counsel skepticism when there are claims about monsters creeping about under water or in the sewers. But in London, there just might be something to it. Beware the “fatberg”:

Crews in London are waging a “three-week sewer war” against an enormous “fatberg” — a solid mass of congealed oil, diapers, hand wipes and other unsavory items — that is clogging a Victorian-era sewer in Whitechapel, London, according to a news release from British utilities company Thames Water. It’s more than 250 yards long — longer than two football fields. And it weighs 130 tons, more than 10 average buses. And it’s solid as a rock.

The White House is putting pressure on ESPN to fire SportsCenter cohost Jemele Hill over her tweets denouncing Trump as a white supremacist, “the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime,” and an “unfit, bigoted, incompetent moron.” She has apologized for putting ESPN in a bad spot, but not for the sentiments expressed. 

Speaking of blasphemy (see what I did there), keep an eye out for the latest issue of Free Inquiry on blasphemy and art, because the cover features a very special someone. Can you see him?

Franklin Graham says we need to start getting out shit together before Christ shows up. How do we know he’s coming? Graham says these are the signs, which are totally not explainable by regular old science:

Wildfires raging on the West Coast. Violent hurricanes, one after the other, ravaging everything in their paths, with one of the worst — Irma—bearing down on Florida. A magnitude 8.1 earthquake shook the southern parts of Mexico this week, and we even recently experienced a rare solar eclipse.   

Guess who showed up not too far from CFI HQ in Amherst? The Vaxxed bus, a promotional display-on-wheels for the anti-vax Andrew Wakefield pseudodocumentary. Joe Nickell pays it a visit.

David Robert Grimes in the Irish Times denounces the destructive misinformation and posturing of the anti-HPV vaccine movement in the UK.

Vaccines, of course, don’t cause autism, but there is a glimmer of a possibility that autism might be connected to an immune response in a pregnant mother. It’s too hard for me to explain, but it involves experiments on pregnant mice, gut bacteria, and Awakenings

A study at Yale sought to evaluate the fact-check efforts of Facebook, wherein users flag content that looks false. The results aren’t good:

The researchers also found that, for some groups—particularly, Trump supporters and adults under 26—flagging bogus stories could actually end up increasing the likelihood that users will believe fake news. … The existence of flags on some—but not all—false stories made Trump supporters and young people more likely to believe any story that was not flagged. 

McClatchy’s William Douglas notes that President Trump and the Congressional Black Caucus have found something they agree on: That FEMA should give recovery funds to churches.

David Feige says the way sex offenders are dealt with in the criminal justice system is in large part based on an unscientific study claiming high recidivism rates. The Supreme Court may change this. Feige says:

…in the 30 years since that Psychology Today article was published, there have been hundreds of evidence-based, scientific studies on the question of the recidivism rate for sex offenders. The results of those studies are astonishingly consistent: Convicted sex offenders have among the lowest rates of same-crime recidivism of any category of offender. 

Sally Quinn has a new book out in which she explains her contention that “all religion is magic,” which, based on this CBS interview, seems to be the old “it’s true for you” cliché, and there’s some stuff about Quinn casting spells on people.

“From the faith-based studio that brought you God’s Not Dead…” WHOA stop right there. Cath Clarke at The Guardian reviews the new movie The Case for Christ and says, “It drags on for what feels like eternity.”

If you have credible evidence of alien life visiting Earth, this guy will give you $100,000.

Why is this happening. Dr. Oz is making a new drama series about two doctors, one who believes in science, the other who’s all about miracles.   

Are you ready to just give up? No? How about this: A woman in North Carolina is selling a spray she says will attract

“How do you know it works?” [Allie Megan] Webb asked, laughing. “That’s a tough question. I guess I could ask how do you know it doesn’t work?” 

I just can’t anymore. You know? You know.

Quote of the Day:

Corey S. Powell, writing about the obliteration of Cassini in the atmosphere of Saturn tomorrow, tugs at the heartstrings:

Carl Sagan said that “we are made of star-stuff.” But now we can say, with equal truth, that we are all Saturnians — that we are a part of Saturn, and Saturn is a part of us.

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