Goat Simulator Prescription

July 2, 2019

Hey, first, we redid the CFI online store. It looks way, way better, and just look at all the smart stuff you can get. Go nuts.

Benjamin Radford concludes his three-part series for the CFI blog on mass shootings, focusing on the importance of media literacy:

One of the most influential—yet least-discussed—commonalities among public mass shooters is the role that the media play. Perhaps the most reliable predictor of future mass shootings is … media coverage of past mass shootings. Researchers have found that mass shootings (as well as the threat of mass shootings) are strongly correlated with earlier recent mass shootings—typically within two weeks. Thus part of the solution, ironically, is restraint in covering and promoting the stories on social media. In recent years, police and politicians have begun to recognize this effect and take steps toward trying to stem the influence of mass shooters.

Tara Isabella Burton at RNS wonders which faith groups Democratic candidates like Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg think they’re going to win over with their faith outreach directors. Rather, she says, it may be more about getting out the vote among existing constituencies, but there’s also one blind spot:

What they don’t know is how their faith-based strategy will play out with the increasingly irreligious population, specifically the largest progressive religious (and the fastest-growing) demographic of all: the religious “nones.”

These unaffiliated Americans now make up 23% of the population, more than a third of all millennials — and a third of all Democrats. While it hasn’t been shown that young religiously unaffiliated voters are actively turned off by a candidate’s profession of faith, they’re nevertheless unlikely to respond to the efforts of faith-based strategists whose networks are focused on established traditions.

James Croft is encouraged by the way Pete Buttigieg talks about his religious beliefs on the campaign trail:

As an atheist, I’m uncomfortable that religion is such a huge part of American politics. When politicians start linking their policies with their faith I worry that the secular nature of US government is being further eroded. Politicians should always justify their policies with arguments open to all, regardless of their religious or nonreligious perspective, and no law should be passed purely based on faith.

At the same time, I recognize that, in a country as deeply religious as America, progressives must reclaim the language of religion from the right, who have held that terrain essentially uncontested for far too long. Buttigieg is reclaiming it wholesale, harnessing the force of a newly-energized religious left to supercharge a new form of moral discourse in America – one which is putting progressive values in touch with their moral roots. This will undoubtedly enamor him to many American voters, while putting conservative Christians on the defensive – something which hasn’t happened for many decades. For that, this atheist salutes him.

France’s Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS), or National Authority for Health, wants to stop reimbursements for homeopathic treatments by the country’s social security system. Reuters reports:

For nine months the HAS watchdog investigated the effects of the alternative medicine on 24 medical conditions, including anxiety, foot warts and acute breathing infections and said it did not find sufficient scientific evidence to justify continued state reimbursement of homeopathic drugs.

You don’t say.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals rules against the unvaccinated teenager who sued to be allowed into public school during a chickenpox outbreak. Ars Technica reports:

The appeals court quoted an earlier ruling by the US Supreme Court saying that “Of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.”

Rhode Island’s diocese releases a list of 50 clergy credibly accused of sexually abusing children. 25 of those named are already dead.

A guy from the Buddhist group Shambhala International, Michael Smith, is accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl, but an official at the organization, Dennis L. Southward, says, you see, the girl was “exploring her sexuality,” and that pressing charges against Smith would be bad for the community. Shambhala itself was all, Uh, what? Like, no!

The views expressed by Mr. Southward in the incident case report do not reflect the opinion of the Shambhala organization nor its leaders. We remain committed to creating safe environments for families and children and stand firmly against child abuse.

Shambhala leadership has and will continue to cooperate and assist authorities in investigating reports of sexual assault of any kind, and encourage anyone with information about such incidents to report it to local authorities.

Peter FitzSimons at New Zealand’s Stuff unloads on John Edwards, the guy who pretends to talk to the dead on his show Crossing Over:

… can I have a word … For I can feel a word coming on … it starts with an “f” … and ends in a “d” …

Fraud? That’s it! FRAUD!

What chance you might stop this fraud? I am not sure it gets much lower than capitalising on people’s grief by taking money for talking to the dead, but the whole thing is selling snake-oil to mugs; an old story.

The only amazing thing is that it still goes on this far into the 21st century.

There’s also a nod to a 2001 Joe Nickell Skeptical Inquirer article on Edwards in the piece. 👍

The Lancet publishes a study showing that the “global gag rule,” aka the Mexico City Policy, which bans foreign aid to any organization that performs or discusses abortions, unsurprisingly winds up increasing abortion rates.

Robert Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute is the guest on Ezra Klein’s podcast in an episode titled “Behind the panic in white, Christian America.” I haven’t heard the episode yet, but I’m sure it is relevant to your interests.

I was going to start advertising that The Morning Heresy is “a pH-balanced blog,” but then Harriet Hall went and ruined it by showing that, well, there’s really no such thing.

In the New York Times, Gina Kolata rounds up 10 medical myths that both patients and doctors need to ditch, debunking claims about things like fish oil and ginkgo biloba, as well as step counters and even “infant simulators”:

These dolls wail and need to be “changed” and “cuddled.” The idea was that girls would learn how much work was involved in caring for an infant. But a randomized study found that girls who were told to carry around “infant simulators” actually were slightly more likely to become pregnant than girls who did not get the dolls.

On the other hand, Goat Simulator is great way to keep anyone from reproducing, ever. No cuddling or diaper changing required.

Quote of the Day

At the Pocono Record, Lois Heckman attempts to clarify the meaning of “non-denominational,” and contrasts that with “nonreligious”:

… it is a sad misunderstanding to think that those who do not worship a Supreme Being (God, Jesus, or any number of incarnations or representations thereof) are without morals. This is certainly not the case, and thinking of this in the reverse – we can all recall people who claim to be religious only to discover they are completely without morals.

If you look at humanists and people of faith you will find many shared values. According to Paul Kurtz, considered the father of secular humanism, the goals of humanism are to tell the truth, keep promises, be honest, sincere, benevolent, reliable, dependable, show fidelity, appreciation, gratitude, be fair-minded, just, tolerant. A humanist should not steal, injure, maim or harm other persons… a pretty good list of values, I’d say.

I think we can all agree on that.

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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.