A Real Caricature

December 3, 2018

As you know, former president George H.W. Bush died this past Friday. Hemant Mehta takes the opportunity to evaluate the claim of the late Rob Sherman that Bush had said that atheists should not be considered U.S. citizens. It is as iffy now as it ever was. Mark Silk, meanwhile, looks at how Bush had a lot of convincing to do to get religious conservatives to accept him.

Matt Viser at the Post looks at how Trump’s absolutist denialism on climate change has upended what had been a trend toward acceptance within the GOP establishment before he came along:

“President Trump is becoming a real caricature of climate disputation,” said Bob Inglis, a former Republican congressman from South Carolina who now runs a group called republicEn that tries to convince conservatives to address climate change. “The public is coming to much greater awareness and understanding of the challenge, and he persists in this basically superstitious denial of the data.”

With all due and sincere respect to your noble efforts, Mr. Inglis, “republicEn” is a terrible name and may partly explain why you’re having no success. (That said, here’s their website.)

Climatologist Katharine Hayhoe, one of the authors of the big, scary, awful climate assessment that Trump doesn’t believe, busts some climate change myths in the Post, and it’s hard to believe that these are still things that people cling to, like climate scientists are “in it for the money.”

Oh, and at the G20 meeting, 19 countries reaffirmed their intent to combat climate change, with the U.S. being the only holdout. Boy, we must look like a bunch of rubes.

The Lancet publishes a huge assessment of the impact of climate change on human health (you might need to register to see this, but it’s free), and wow, we’re so screwed. From the intro:

Present day changes in heat waves, labour capacity, vector-borne disease, and food security provide early warning of the compounded and overwhelming impact on public health that are expected if temperatures continue to rise. Trends in climate change impacts, exposures, and vulnerabilities show an unacceptably high level of risk for the current and future health of populations across the world.

CNN let the Food Babe use their network to be wrong about the E. coli outbreak in lettuce.

Joe Nickell looks back on the life of the late Bernice Golden, the “international psychic” who died this October. Based in Buffalo, Joe did his best to get a measure of her claims:

Eventually we spoke on the phone, in person at her center, over lunch, and at other encounters, but I never received from her a specific best case of her police sleuthing that was investigatible. She stalled and evaded, offered to provide several cases from which I could pick one, suggested I accompany her on a case, and so forth. When she finally did vaguely describe a certain case, she said she would have to seek permission from the police to discuss it, and I never heard further about the matter. I continued to check in on her at the center occasionally, but it was clear she never intended to offer examinable proof of her claims.

The Archdiocese of Omaha turns over personnel files that include substantiated child sexual abuse by 38 clergy members, and there’s even a video from Archbishop George Lucas explaining it all and apologizing.

Apparently, Pope Francis is pretty worried about the gays infiltrating the clergy, with their “fashionable” mentality influencing “the life of the church.”

Two-thirds of Canadians accept evolution and one-fifth are pretty sure God made humans as they are 10,000 years ago. I mean, that’s better than us, so, congrats, Canada?

This is interesting, and potentially explosive: The New York state Education Department is going to review the curricula of the state’s yeshivas (Hassidic religious schools) to make certain they meet basic educational standards.

The 10th anniversary of the founding of Maryam Namazie’s One Law for All campaign was commemorated last week at the International Conference on Sharia, Segregation and Secularism in London. The Center for Inquiry was among the sponsors.

Asia Bibi, recently acquitted of blasphemy charges in Pakistan, is reportedly hiding in a government safe house, though there are other reports that she has left the country. Either way, her life just will not get easier. Meanwhile, the leader of a far-right faction who led disruptive rallies in opposition to Bibi, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, is charged with treason and terrorism.

Lux Alptraum (an amazing name) writes at NBCNews.com that she sees almost as much defensiveness about Christmas from liberals as from conservatives:

I’ve heard so many arguments for why my stance that compulsory Christmas is forcing me to participate in Christianity is unfounded — It’s not religious, it’s a secular celebration of consumerism! It’s not Christian, it’s actually Saturnalia dressed up in Jesus drag! They love it in Japan! — none of which seem to take into consideration that, as a Jewish woman, I’m probably pretty well versed in what sorts of celebrations are and aren’t within the scope of my religious practice.

This is from over a month ago, but I just came across it and it’s definitely worth checking out: Paul Gilster at Centauri Dreams explains what is really being hypothesized about the ‘Oumuamua intersellar object that zipped by not so long ago, and got people talking seriously about alien probes (and me talking specifically about the protomolecule from The Expanse books). This piece really clears up what is being considered.

Eric Berger at Ars Technica looks at how Republican Rep. John Culberson was attacked and defeated by his opponent in large part because of his support for science. What, precisely, am I talking about, Willis?

In seeking to unseat Republican incumbent John Culberson from the House of Representatives, a pro-Democratic political action committee advertisement sneered at his enthusiasm for science and passion for finding life on another world for the first time.

“He wanted NASA to search for aliens on Europa, an icy moon millions of miles away,” the narrator said. “For Houston, Lizzie Fletcher will invest in humans, not aliens.”

That is maddening.

Renee DiResta has a fascinating and frightening piece at Ribbon Farm on the crisis of digital misinformation, considering it a “warm war,” a worldwide conflict that preludes a kind of World War III, and worrying that the defenses the government and major platforms are mounting are “fighting the last war” (specifically the 2016 election), comparing it to the Maginot Line.

Quote of the Day

Rev. Greg Weeks, who recently did an event with Hemant Mehta, writes in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

As [Hemant] presented, it struck me how not being able to believe in God shouldn’t be synonymous with a moral failing. On the contrary, conversing with unbelievers is a healthy thing.

I believe that atheists can provide insights for Christians. Atheists observe how people of faith are viewed by those outside the fold. They also have the courage to ask questions that we believers may avoid. Reflecting on difficult issues regarding the Bible, God and church should be the duty of every believer. Perhaps responding to doubt with “Just have faith!” is a prime reason why 25 percent of Americans now claim no religious affiliation.

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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.