Crushing Thy Head

May 31, 2019

Jim Underdown gets his old improv pal, actor Matt Walsh of Veep, to be the guest on the latest Point of Inquiry. Nice get, Jim!

Ben Radford continues his three-part series on mass shooters, this time looking at the myths surrounding what is said to be the typical mass shooter profile:

As simplistic and satisfying as it would be, no single demographic emerges from the data as “the typical mass shooter.” It depends on what type of mass shooting you’re looking at, but in any event, focusing on the race or gender of mass shooters is not helpful for the general public; it is not predictive of who is likely to engage in gun violence. Singling out any specific race as being dangerous—or, worse yet, highlighting rare anecdotal violent incidents as representative of larger groups—is more likely to fuel racism than help the public.

This is amazing. At Skeptical Inquirer, Kenny Biddle reveals the bleeding edge of paranormal research technology: a light-up ball for cats.

Prof. Ryan Burge unloads more data analysis of the political landscape for atheists, and among his findings is that for the electorate to “warm up” to atheist political candidates, older Republicans will need to, ahem, age out of the voting population.

WKYC in Cleveland gathers station employees to get some readings from alleged-psychic Sharon Anne Klingler, and it’s as much of a waste of everyone’s time as you can imagine.

Jessica Glenza at The Guardian reports that a popular women’s fertility-tracking app, Femm, is full of misinformation about contraception and funded by anti-LGBTQ Catholic groups.

The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty highlights a lecture by Rev. Aidsand Wright-Riggins on Christianity’s role in racial injustice:

We are called to repent of our complicity and toleration of white supremacy. We are called to have the courage and commitment to be honest about what has been done in the name of Christ, under the flag of God and what the very clear incarnational and structural damage that has been done in the name of Christian supremacy.

Christians are protesting the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema for showing the documentary Hail Satan?, about the Satanic Temple. I’m loving the signs in his report by the Houston Press, which includes one in which we are promised that the Virgin Mary “shall crush thy head” (which calls to mind The Kids in the Hall) and next to one protest sign is another for French studies.

In a report on the victims of sexual abuse by Catholic nuns, NPR’s Laura Benshoff looks at how the crimes of nuns have been overshadowed or ignored.

A Catholic evangelist loses a court case in which he claims he has a right to tax deductions for his evangelistic activities. The court said:

Petitioner contends that disallowance of his section 170 deductions violates his right to the free exercise of religion by placing a substantial burden on his evangelization, in that it would result in his having less money to evangelize. We disagree.

Catherine Rampell at the Post notes that anti-government zealotry is part of what is keeping the anti-vaxxers afloat:

…we conveniently forget that good government has also solved, curtailed or prevented a lot of problems over the years, including epidemics, economic ills and environmental crises. When government works, it becomes largely invisible, taken for granted, wiping out both crises and the traumatic memories of those crises. Bad government we remember and loathe and curse to our children; but good government is often a victim of its own success, the cure so effective that we forget how horrifying the ailment it eradicated was.

Once again, we find that previous catastrophic predictions about the impacts of climate change were too rosy. The Post editorial board writes:

… researchers concluded that the range of outcomes scientists now consider possible has shifted markedly toward more melting and, therefore, higher seas. For example, in a business-as-usual scenario, the median estimate from the United Nations’ last major climate report should have been more than doubled. In fact, the researchers found that it is unlikely, but plausible, that the oceans could rise a staggering 6½ feet by 2100 if emissions levels continue to be high. That would swamp roughly as much territory as is contained in all of Western Europe and make 187 million people homeless.

Meanwhile, the Cato Institute has shuttered its climate science-denying operation, the Center for the Study of Science. It kind of sounds like the science-denying scientists they brought into it were unhappy with the level of science-denial being asked of them. But they’re denying it.

Hey everybody, don’t bother voting. God’s already got it in the bag for Trump. That’s what pastor Robert Henderson says:

He’s God’s choice. They can try all day long to remove him, they will not remove him. God said, ‘I set him as the president,’ and they can fight, and they can curse, and they can do all that they want; the problem is that they’re fighting against God.

Quote of the Day

Stephanie M. Lee at BuzzFeed tries to figure out what the hell YXQ-EQ is and why there are people who believe its chief proponent, a scientist by the name of Yan Xin, can cure cancer. It shakes out about as you’d expect:

According to what appears to be the lone 2004 study that spells out the “YXQ-EQ” method, it turns out that the treatment consists of Yan standing alone in a room and emitting his Qi toward a group of lab-grown rat eye cells. Yan appears to be the only scientist who has ever performed this technique. He is also the only scientist who is on all the papers in question, which, aside from the 2004 study, involve deploying the method on a variety of cancer cells.

Bik said that her intent is not to mock traditional Chinese medicine. “But if one single researcher claims that he — and only he — can use Qi to kill off cancer cells, he should be willing to share how they do that,” she argued on Twitter. “If it happens behind closed doors, scientists have every reason to be suspicious.”

Yes, this man thinks he is the Iron Fist.

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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.