Indirect and Brawny

September 26, 2017


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

Dearest Internet. I have found that the maxim “you just can’t win” holds up remarkably well. It turns out that by merely pointing out the fact that some person holds some opinion about some thing, one has therefore implicitly endorsed that opinion — on behalf of oneself and one’s employer! That’s right! Simply indicating that an opinion exists means that one is fully convinced by that opinion. How do I know this? From the Morally Superior and Righteously Aggrieved™ on Twitter, of course! And we know that they are never, ever wrong. 

As such, there will be no opinions, nor referencing of others’ opinions, in The Morning Heresy. I considered making exceptions for widely-held opinions such as “murder is bad,” but there is always the danger that I might fail to back up said opinion with empirical evidence and sufficiently quantify the International Ethical Units©️ lost or gained by expressing (or referencing!) said opinion, so I’ll simply steer clear of all of them. 

Off we go!

Ashley Feinberg at Wired quotes CFI’s own Nick Little and friend-of-CFI William London, a professor of public health, in a big expose on Jon Adler, Trump’s pick to lead the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. Turns out Adler has a record of backing Scientology’s pseudoscientific “detoxing” rehabilitation program, sometimes known as Purif, developed by L. Ron Hubbard himself, who of course had no medical training of any kind. We took on Purif in 2015 when the Defense Department (during the Obama administration) was going to begin experimenting with using this junk science on Gulf War veterans.

Michael Hiltzik at the LA Times reports on the potential consequences of UC Irvine accepting a $200 million donation for the creation of an alt-med “integrative health” center, pointing out that the money could do tremendous good as well as raise all manner of doubts and higher levels of scrutiny. Which I think is more or less objectively true, and not really an opinion. Hiltzik later reports that homeopathy has been removed from the list of services UCI’s clinic provides, scrubbing almost all mentions of it from their website.

Inger Stojberg, Denmark’s immigration minister, posts to Facebook an image of one of the “Danish cartoon” drawings of Mohammad displayed on her iPad, an expression of opposition to the Skovgaard Museum’s decision not to include the drawing in an exhibit about blasphemy. Denmark only this year abolished its centuries-old blasphemy law after blasphemy charges were brought against a man for burning a Quran on Facebook.

At Science-Based Medicine, Harriet Hall looks at the rise of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which is seeing a resurgence in China (no surprise) and Australia, where skeptics are looking to see high standards of evidence in the claims of TCM marketing.

In Maryland, Anne Arundel County Councilman Michael Peroutka says that Planned Parenthood “targets” African-American babies for abortion, which he says is “the real racism.” (This is not an example of my referencing an opinion in a particular piece, but reporting on the fact of an event that occurred in which a person in a position of authority made a particular claim. It’s a fine line, but no one said having a news-roundup-linkblog-thing would be easy.)

The memory of the late Pat Tillman is invoked in tweets opposing NFL players’ recent protests, which, it is pointed out, doesn’t square with Tillman’s actual views during his life (as a liberal, atheist, anti-war veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan). 

Seven people in Egypt are arrested for waving a rainbow flag at a concert for the crime of “promoting sexual deviancy.” 

Callum Henderson, in outlet that is new to me called VT (which does not stand for Vermont, I was disappointed to learn, but “viral thread”), lists five instances of fake-psychics getting exposed and debunked by skeptics. 

William Dix at Forbes examines the ways in which US News’ college rankings are “an exercise in pseudo-scientific classification.” 

Okay, this whole “omit all opinions” thing is exhausting. Again, “you just can’t win” holds true. I’m abandoning the practice as of now. 

Quote of the Day:

Psymhe Wadud at Bangladesh’s Daily Star advocates for an affirmative form of secularism, in keeping with the country’s constitution:

In furtherance of this constitutional obligation, everyone needs to contribute individually and collectively towards the exercise of another person’s right. And nonperformance of such obligation surely is tantamount to a violation, in an indirect yet brawny way.

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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.

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