Vitaliy Hrabar / Adobe Stock

Fifteen Hairs

June 7, 2019

Our own Nick Little talks about our lawsuit against Walmart over homeopathy with…the Daily Mail? Yes indeed:

‘If your child is suffering from a soar throat or pink eye and all you want is to grab something and get home and make them feel better,’ Little told

‘You get to the aisle with a sign that says ‘Cold and Cough’, and underneath there’s two products next to each other. You’re not responsible for having to turn the package around to read everything on the back of it.

‘The store is making a firm statement that products under this sign treat colds and coughs. You can’t make that claim about homeopathy.’ talks to CFI’s Ben Radford about the recent revelations of the FBI’s very, very limited interest in analysing some animal hair to see if it might be Bigfoot, which of course it wasn’t. And the hubbub sounds a lot like the current excitement about the Navy and UFOs:

“All it means is the FBI did a favor to a Bigfoot researcher,” Radford says. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but it shouldn’t be mistaken for de facto government endorsement of the reality of Bigfoot.” Even so, Bigfoot believers may be tempted to spin it that way because “want to be taken seriously,” he says.

“They love the idea that there’s a smoking gun in the FBI files—‘See, look, Bigfoot must be real, otherwise the FBI wouldn’t have taken it seriously,’” he continues. “Well, the FBI didn’t send out a team of investigators to look for Bigfoot, they agreed to run an analysis of 15 hairs… That does not mean that the FBI ‘investigated Bigfoot.’”

And the Philadelphia Inquirer talks to CFI’s über-investigator Joe Nickell about the whole sasquatch situation:

[Nickell’s] a skeptic, a senior research fellow at the Center for Inquiry in New York. There’s a tendency for confirmation bias during searches, he said — to see piles of branches, a muddy hole, or the sound of a snapping twig as proof of Bigfoot.

“You can endlessly do this if you don’t let skepticism get in the way,” he said.

Hey, congratulations to all the anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists and science deniers out there, because yesterday the U.S. passed the 1000-measles-cases milestone for 2019. And it’s only June! Couldn’t have done it without you awful people.

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois is refusing to give communion to members of the state legislature because he doesn’t like that they passed a law making abortion a fundamental right in the state. WCIA reports:

Paprocki banned House Speaker Michael Magian and Senate President John Cullerton specifically from receiving communion in his diocese. Madigan says he was notified by the bishop he would not be allowed to take communion if he allowed the vote in the House.

“After much deliberation and reflection, I made the decision to allow debate and a vote on the legislation. I believe it is more important to protect a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions.”


Washington’s State Supreme Court upholds a lower court’s ruling that a florist broke anti-discrimination laws by refusing services for a same-sex wedding. The ruling was unanimous, and to a sentient person with a conscience, obvious, as reflected in this part of the decision:

The state of Washington bars discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation. Discrimination based on same-sex marriage constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Well, when you put it that way…

In a very Slate-y Slate piece, Carl Wilson recommends that atheists get into gospel music via the work of Kirk Franklin, whose album Losing My Religion is not by any means a godless composition. Nonetheless:

Franklin has a worldly star quality he struggles to quell for humility’s sake. Half the fun is watching him fail. Whether you think religion’s a prison or a paradise, that’s a fun I’ll argue you should experience. Maybe even need to. …

[G]ospel’s mini-boom also feels like an outgrowth of music audiences’ growing agnosticism on genre. … the more grown-up fact about art is that it’s not there for you to agree with. … I don’t imagine many people are reading this who can’t stand Bach, Michelangelo, Mahalia Jackson, or the canonical music of many other cultures around the globe because of “all the God stuff.”

The Washington Post wonders why Putin’s regime, which is big into Orthodox Christianity, is persecuting Jehovah’s Witnesses when they’re Christians too. Yeah, that’s not how it usually works, y’all. Still, they are correct to spell this out:

In April 2017, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that Jehovah’s Witnesses should be labeled an extremist organization. Ever since, members have been prosecuted as criminals when their only action was to celebrate their faith. … It is time for Russia to let believers out of jail.

Deseret News profiles Steven T. Collis, author of a new book, Deep Convictions: True Stories of Ordinary Americans Fighting for the Freedom to Live Their Beliefs, which includes among its stories about various religiously-convicted folks:

In 1959, an atheist that wanted to become a Maryland notary public fought all the way to the Supreme Court because the state required him to sign an oath that said he believed in God.

In Calgary, Jennifer and Jeromie Clark are sentenced to 32 months in prison for criminal negligence when they let their 14-month-old son die of a staph infection because they think their religion forbids medicine and instead has them treat illnesses with vegetables.

Tara Deschamps at the Toronto Star reports that, as you might have guessed, as much as the pseudoscience of Goop earns it our ridicule, it’s all the brands that benefit from it that are laughing all the way to the bank:

A handful of the Canadian companies Goop has championed told the Star they aren’t overly concerned about being associated with a brand that has also given space to content speculating bra underwires cause cancer and recommending vagina steaming for balancing hormones, which were both debunked by experts. Instead, the companies have learned skyrocketing sales and social media mentions stemming from Goop endorsements greatly outweigh potential backlash.

Jeff Bezos unveils a lunar lander from his company Blue Origin, Blue Moon, explaining:

The reason we’ve got to go to space, in my view, is to save the Earth. If we’re going to continue to grow this civilization, we need to move — and I’m talking about something our grandchildren will work on and their grandchildren— and so on this isn’t something just this generation is going to accomplish.

I’ll be listening to this later: An NPR panel discussion on UFOs that includes Avi Loeb, the Harvard astronomer who made everyone go bananas over ‘Oumuamua’s hypothetical alien origin.

Quote of the Day

The Onion offers a handy Q&A feature on the new interest in UFOs. Some highlights:

Q: Is there any chance this is just instrument or pilot error?

A: Yes, but only an extremely likely one.

Q: Is it possible they were just military drones?

A: An interesting theory, but the sightings were nowhere near any Afghani weddings.

Q: Are we in any danger?

A: Tons, but mostly just from climate change, war, pollution, and the other usual stuff.

* * *

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.