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A Fresh Set of Organs

November 12, 2019

The Daily Beast ran a test, creating some made-up anti-vaxxer ads making false claims, and those ads were accepted by Google and Twitter, and rejected by YouTube, Snap, Instagram, and Facebook:

Google approved the two advertisements with blatant language—“Don’t get vaccinated” and “Vaccines aren’t safe”—and even sent multiple prompts via email to optimize them. … Google allowed our ads to target people searching for conspiracy-minded terms like “vaccines cause autism,” “MMR vaccine autism,” “vaccines autism,” and “mmr autism” as well as the more benign “vaccination” and “influenza,” meaning some people searching for those phrases could see our ads among their results. According to Google’s analytics, the largest number of people clicked on the ads after searching just for “vaccination.”

At Gallup, Frank Newport seeks to temper projections about the rise of the nones:

Generational changes in religiosity — like gray hair and the need for bifocals — happen consistently to every generation as they age and are not specific to a particular time period or cohort. Religiosity plummets after age 18, coincident with young people leaving home and heading out into the real world of work or college. Then, religiosity begins to rise again as young people go through their 30s, coincident with marriage, children and more stable involvement in specific communities. Religiosity generally continues to rise with age, albeit with some points at which it is fairly flat and reaches its peak in Americans’ late 70s and 80s. …

… millennials as a group are less religious than they used to be, but they are not a homogenous group. Older millennials are more likely to be religious than younger millennials are. This pattern across ages is as evident now as was the case for the same age range in the recent past.

Trump’s EPA wants to require that any scientific public health research disclose confidential medical records in the name of “transparency.” Yeah, no. NYT reports:

The measure would make it more difficult to enact new clean air and water rules because many studies detailing the links between pollution and disease rely on personal health information gathered under confidentiality agreements. And, unlike a version of the proposal that surfaced in early 2018, this one could apply retroactively to public health regulations already in place. … Public health experts warned that studies that have been used for decades — to show, for example, that mercury from power plants impairs brain development, or that lead in paint dust is tied to behavioral disorders in children — might be inadmissible when existing regulations come up for renewal.

In India, 19 percent of folks believe that donating one’s organs after death means you won’t have them in your next life. Come on, it’s not like you’re going to want used organs in your reincarnated state anyway. Go get yourself a fresh set the next time around. Get that new organ smell.

Pollster George Barna seems to be encouraging conservative Christians to see to it that they don’t register younger voters, since, you know, those kids and their loud music and their chat-snaps and their not-hating-gays-for-no-reason. (This is particularly disappointing because the Barna Group, a Christian organization, is usually a very good resource for religion-related polling, and this anti-democratic stand from them makes me ill.)

A report from Columbia Law School looks at how “religious liberty” is being used outside the context of the religious right and the denial of minority rights:

Examples of religious freedom advocacy mentioned in the report include the right to:

– provide food and shelter to immigrants
– perform marriages for same-sex partners
– access abortion
– protest war and the death penalty
– protect the environment.

The report also discusses how the Christian Right has positioned itself as the sole defender of “religious liberty” while in fact advocating for only a narrow band of religious views.

The Trump administration seems to be considering tying foreign aid to a country’s religious freedoms, and yeah, you should be skeptical. Politico reports that there’s one guy in particular to watch:

Pence’s role could prove a flashpoint.

He’s a deeply conservative Christian and a key liaison to evangelical Trump backers. And while his message is generally couched in terms of the need for all people to have religious freedom – he has criticized China’s mistreatment of Uighur Muslims, for instance — critics say he emphasizes Christians most. Pence also is facing scrutiny for his role in directing U.S. aid to favored Christian groups abroad.

I’m guessing that Pence will not look to hard at, for example, Saudi Arabia. They are certainly not shy about what they consider to be undesirable, and even tweet about it. Via Reuters:

A promotional video published by Saudi Arabia’s state security agency categorizes feminism, homosexuality and atheism as extremist ideas, even as the conservative Muslim kingdom seeks to promote tolerance and attract foreigners.

The animated clip posted on Twitter at the weekend by a verified account of the State Security Presidency said “all forms of extremism and perversion are unacceptable”.

It listed those concepts alongside takfir – the Islamist militant practice of labeling followers of other schools of Islam unbelievers. …

… Homosexuality and atheism have long been illegal and punishable by death in the absolute monarchy, where public protests and political parties are banned and the media is tightly controlled.

In Indonesia, a mobile-game developer is arrested on blasphemy charges for allegedly insulting Islam in his app, and the app itself, a card game called Remi Indonesia, is no longer availabe on the Google Play Store.

BuzzFeed reports that a Catholic school student was forced into counseling, without her parents’ knowledge, when they found out she was gay:

She said she was forced into disciplinary meetings and counseling, barred from sitting next to her girlfriend at lunch, and kept under close eye by staff members. If she didn’t follow these rules — which didn’t apply to straight students in relationships — school officials threatened to out her to her parents, she said.

[Magali] Rodriguez, a high school senior, tried to stay positive and get through it, but after more than three years, she was at breaking point. She was crying every day before school, her grades suffered, and spending time on campus brought intense waves of anxiety. So she decided to speak up — first to her parents and now publicly.

Atheists in Texas are doing good deeds. Via KCBD:

The Atheist Community of Lubbock will be providing a meal, warm clothing, blankets, and other everyday essentials to homeless individuals, as well as information on other local resources.

Executive Director Tracy Benefield says the event is about giving another alternative to the Lubbock homeless community: “We want to provide a secular option for assistance to people so they can feel supported no matter what their belief system may be.”

Harriet Hall looks at the claims of David Sinclair of Harvard Medical School who believes that aging can be prevented like any disease, and she’s intrigued:

In my opinion, it is premature to apply current preliminary research findings to treating humans. It’s possible that some of these measures could interfere with the others and that there could be unforeseen consequences.

I sincerely hope Sinclair will be proven right … [but] I’m not convinced by his arguments.

Things got crazy a couple weeks ago in Bainbridge Township, Ohio, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

After hearing gunshots at 4:26 a.m. Oct. 22, a resident called police. Officers arrived and questioned a man, who admitted to firing warning shots at a 7-foot-tall “Bigfoot” creature or bear, who he said had tried to open his front door and get his dogs.

He said the creature visits his home every night at about 8 p.m. The subject was not intoxicated. Officers could not find any creature footprints or signs of an animal visit. The man was advised to call police if it returns and advised against firing shots into the air.

Japan’s new emperor has an interesting night ahead. Reuters reports:

On Thursday evening, Japan’s Emperor Naruhito will dress in pure white robes and be ushered into a dark wooden hall for his last major enthronement rite: spending the night with a goddess. … Scholars and the government say it consists of a feast, rather than, as has been persistently rumoured, conjugal relations with the goddess.

But really it’s none of our business. And not everyone is okay with this:

That has prompted anger – and lawsuits – from critics who say it smacks of the militaristic past and violates the constitutional separation of religion and state, as the government pays the cost of 2.7 billion yen ($25 million).

Yeesh. Can’t the goddess pay her own way at least?

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.