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De Facto Extraterrestrials

September 25, 2019

Nancy Pelosi may have inadvertantly goosed our search engine optimization, by announcing an impeachment “inquiry” of the president. Just think of all the web traffic we’re going to get for people searching for who might be at the “center” of the inquiry, or who might be “skeptical” of the inquiry, etcetera. This is going to be HUGE for us.

In other Trump-does-awful-things news, Amanda Tyler of the Baptist Joint Committee asks Christians to push for an end to the Muslim ban:

I’m asking you to join me in renewing our commitment to defend religious freedom for all. I encourage you to advocate against the travel ban. You can call your member of Congress and tell them you support repealing the president’s travel ban.

While banning Muslims here, the U.S. calls on China to stop the oppression of Uighur Muslims over there.

Last week, our UN Advocate, Andreas Kyriacou, spoke twice to the UN Human Rights Council on the oppressive blasphemy and apostasy laws in Brunei and Qatar, urging their governments to “catapult themselves into modernity.”

Get Religion, ever-determined to see the cloud in every silver lining, dismisses the Democratic Party’s recent gesture in which it acknowledged the importance of its “nones”:

The Democrats’ statement ignored the ground-level fact that religiously unaffiliated Americans tend to be less engaged in civic affairs, and harder to contact and organize, than members of religious congregations.

Yes, because that’s totally how you start to rally a demographic: openly dwell on how hard they are to rally.

Thousands in Indonesia take to the streets to protest a new criminal code that is remarkably backward and oppressive. The Guardian reports:

Besides outlawing adultery, and effectively gay sex, the draft code could also result in women who have unlawful abortions being jailed for four years, and would expand the country’s controversial blasphemy law, which has been used to repeatedly prosecute religious minorities. The article that would criminalise insulting the president or Indonesian state, activists feared, could roll back hard-won press freedoms since the fall of Suharto.

Susan Gerbic has a really interesting and unexpected interview with cartoonist Terry Beatty, the writer and artist behind he current incarnation of the Rex Morgan, M.D. daily comic strip. Beatty says:

Having recently heard about some “mystical healers” who were offering cures for chemtrail poisoning, alien implants, and other nonexistent maladies, that seemed a perfect subject for a Rex Morgan story, and it would allow me to bring con artist character Rene Belluso back on stage. When they say “you can’t make this stuff up,” this is the sort of thing they mean.

Jan Hoffman at the New York Times looks at how schools, just starting up for the academic year, are confronting the anti-vaxxer anger that’s been whipped up over the past several months.

ABC 11 News in North Carolina reports that the state’s measles vaccinations rates have plummetted thanks to anti-vaxxers seeking religious exemptions and putting everyone at risk:

Religious exemptions … require little to no verification. In fact, while the law states parents or guardians must maintain “bona fide” religious beliefs, the exemption requires no proof of membership to a house of worship, no signature from clergy, nor does it require any notarization from an attorney.

Instead, all a parent or guardian has to do is submit a “statement” – one for each child – to the school, day care center or camp only, and not to the state for review or approval.

Steven Novella rebuts Bill Maher’s recent insistence that we should all be shaming people who are overweight:

Overall it seems that we need a culture change to significantly tackle the obesity problem. It is likely a culture change that is causing the epidemic in the first place, and we need a further change to permanently change people’s habits. Going on a diet does not seem to work. The vast majority fail long term. Permanent lifestyle changes are necessary, and these require institutional and society change. And one thing is for certain at this point – fat shaming not only doesn’t work, it is counterproductive.

Pastor Robert Jeffress, who can read the mind of God by looking at the sky, says climate change is fake and we know this because rainbows. But the 16-year-old girl is the crazy one, you see.

A Toys R Us in Sunnyvale, California died, and then it rose from the dead as a Halloween store, and it turns out it has always been haunted. The San Francisco Chronicle, for some reason, dove into the actual history of the alleged souls who have gotten ectoplasm all over the Legos.

Criminal foretuneteller rackets don’t die, it seems, they just regenerate.

Big big space news! The second interstellar object ever discovered, C/2019 Q4, has been given its official name! Introducing the much cooler-sounding 2I/Borisov. Wait. That’s really it?

Quote of the Day

Witness as Matt Blitz at Popular Mechanics unifies the skeptic and atheist wings of the Center for Inquiry with his 3500-year history of UFOs:

Some of them were comets, asteroids, meteors, and other atmospheric optical phenomena that were scientifically unknown to our ancient ancestors, but others still defy modern explanations.

[Philsophy professor Diana Walsh] Pasulka explains in nearly every religion, there are “contact events” where an important figure makes contact with a heavenly figure. Moses and the burning bush, Mohammad and the angel Gabriel, and the Virgin Mary’s own angelic visitation.

“These are human’s first contact with something they interpret to not be human or of this planet. And, if they are [not of this planet], they are de facto extraterrestrial.”

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.