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He’s a Little Itchy

May 8, 2019

Free Inquiry has a special anonymous article by a man who was forced to flee with is wife, first from Pakistan and then from Sri Lanka, because of the religious extremism and violence:

Terrorism has succeeded in creating an anarchy in Sri Lanka. People don’t know how to get their anger out and on whom, so the most fragile and weak people, who are Pakistani refugees, are the target. This is the same as in Pakistan. In Pakistan minorities are easy targets, and likewise it is happening in Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, Asia Bibi is finally out of Pakistan after being acquitted of blasphemy charges and under constant threat. She’s in Canada!

Former Trump fixer Michael Cohen claims to have helped quash the release of “racy photos” of Jerry Falwell Jr. (ew, ew, ew, ew, ew), and shortly after, Trump had secured Falwell’s endorsement for president. The person to whom Cohen divulged this informational tidbit was, inexplicably, Tom Arnold. Reuters reports:

The Falwells wanted to keep “a bunch of photographs, personal photographs” from becoming public, Cohen told Arnold. “I actually have one of the photos,” he said, without going into specifics. “It’s terrible.”

Reuters says, though, that they have “no evidence that Falwell’s endorsement of Trump was related to Cohen’s involvement in the photo matter.”

Georgia governor Brian Kemp signs into law the unconscionably restrictive anti-abortion “heartbeat bill,” and yes, they hope it gets challenged in the Supreme Court.

Popular Science reports on a study showing how the key to getting climate deniers to accept reality may be their kids:

In the study, parents of middle school students enrolled in a climate change curriculum grew more concerned about climate change, and the effect was especially strong in conservative parents who started out with little concern. “Basically, kids are giving us this ability to work together towards solutions,” says Danielle Lawson, who studies climate change communication at North Carolina State University and is the study’s lead author. “It’s almost as though when the child is reading the thermometer, parents are willing to listen in a different way.”

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is helping Air Force veteran James Chamberlain in suing to get a Bible display removed from the Manchester VA Medical Center. Officials removed the display, and then put it back when they got yelled at.

The Sentinel & Enterprise of Fitchburg, Massachusetts has, for some reason, an advice column by a self-proclaimed “psychic medium and reiki master.” Turns out that fake-psychics are people, too, and that “the metaphysical world is very competitive and full of jealousy.” I bet it is, what with people feeling all that envy over someone else’s fake powers.

Steven Novella looks at how companies like Coca-Cola, when funding research, “put their thumb on the scale” of science and keep results they don’t like under wraps:

These findings highlight the need for comprehensive regulation ensuring the validity and transparency of corporate-funded health research. Any argument that corporations have a right to the results of research they fund is outweighed by the critical societal need for full confidence in the integrity of published research.

Morgan Marietta at Psychology Today points out an irony in fact-checking: Despite all the facts showing that fact-checking changes no one’s mind and that fact-checkers’ facts do not always agree with each other about what is, in fact, a fact, believers in fact-checking remain devoted to it, almost like, you know, a faith.

An anti-vax high school student who had been suing over his school’s vaccination requirements got chickenpox. (I now dub him a “pox-bro.”) His lawyer says, “He’s fine. He’s a little itchy.” By the way, this lawyer, Christopher Wiest, is probably someone you should steer clear of. He said:

About half my clients have come down with it since we filed the case. … I flat-out told the moms and dads the quickest path to resolving this is having them contract chickenpox.

Back away, not slowly.

The New York Times is launching a parenting-focused site, and intends to be evidence-based. Lead editor Jessica Grose told Nieman Lab:

In most cases, what the research actually shows is that there are many good and safe and valid ways to raise your children, and we are not making a moral value judgment on whatever information we want to give you.

George Clooney wants you to help stop the rampant spread of dumbf**ckery, and on Jimmy Kimmel’s show, makes a pitch for UDUMASS (United to Defeat Untruthful Misinformation And Support Science).

Headline of the Day, from The Washington Post: “A couple ate raw marmot believed to have health benefits. Then, they died of the plague.”

Quote of the Day

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Joseph P. Kennedy II, and Maeve Kennedy McKean coauthor a piece in Politico saying that their fellow Kennedy, anti-vax zealot Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is out to lunch:

These tragic numbers are caused by the growing fear and mistrust of vaccines—amplified by internet doomsayers. Robert F. Kennedy Jr.—Joe and Kathleen’s brother and Maeve’s uncle—is part of this campaign to attack the institutions committed to reducing the tragedy of preventable infectious diseases. He has helped to spread dangerous misinformation over social media and is complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines.

We love Bobby. … However, on vaccines he is wrong.

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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.