Diane / Adobe Stock

I Have Never Felt the Earth Move

July 3, 2019

There’s a scholarship to go to CSICon! How cool is that? If you’re a student over 21, check out this great opportunity from the Wadsworth-Sheng Endowment.

Daniela Hernandez and Robert McMillan at the Wall Street Journal report on the flood of false health information, particularly about cancer, that exists on Facebook and YouTube, which prompts Facebook to claim it’s taking new steps to address it, and YouTube to outline what it says it has been doing to deal with it:

Facebook last month changed its News Feed algorithms to reduce promotion of posts promising miracle cures or flogging health services, a move that will reduce the number of times they pop up in user feeds, the company says. Some of the affected posts involve a supplement salesman who promotes baking-soda injections as part of cancer treatment. …

… Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube has been cutting off advertising for bogus cancer-treatment channels, a spokesman said. It is working with medical doctors to identify content promoting unproven claims and medical conspiracy theories and has tweaked its algorithms to reduce the number of times these dubious videos are presented to users.

At the New York Times, Amanda Hess profiles what you might call “soft conspiracy theorists,” folks who seem to really enjoy conspiracy theories about the Moon landing, but may or may not fully buy into it.

The Supreme Court denies review of a case in which a federal court struck down Alabama’s ban on dilation and evacuation abortions, but Clarence Thomas gets all zealous and macabre in his concurrence:

The notion that anything in the Constitution prevents States from passing laws prohibiting the dismembering of a living child is implausible. But under the “undue burden” standard adopted by this Court, a restriction on abortion—even one limited to prohibiting gruesome methods—is unconstitutional if “the ‘purpose or effect’ of the provision ‘is to place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.’” …

This case serves as a stark reminder that our abortion jurisprudence has spiraled out of control…. Although this case does not present the opportunity to address our demonstrably erroneous “undue burden” standard, we cannot continue blinking the reality of what this Court has wrought.

Sarah Kinosian at The Guardian reports on the role of Guatemala’s evangelical pastors in the human smuggling trade:

As trusted individuals in a deeply religious society, pastors and priests can offer comfort and a promise of safety to those undertaking the dangerous trek north. They also take a cut of the profits.

Last month was the hottest June ever recorded. Things are great.

Interstellar object ‘Oumuamua was not made by an extraterrestrial civilization, say a team of 14 scientists, spoiling all our fun:

“We have never seen anything like ʻOumuamua in our solar system,” said Dr. Matthew Knight, the team leader from the University of Maryland “but our preference is to stick with analogs we know, unless or until we find something unique. The alien spacecraft hypothesis is a fun idea, but our analysis suggests there is a whole host of natural phenomena that could explain it.”

For World UFO Day, Popular Mechanics boasts of the seven times they’ve had UFO-related covers. And they do seem rather excited about it.

The Metroplex Atheists in Fort Worth, Texas have banners on display downtown that say, “In No God We Trust.” So of course the world is ending.

How’s this for the first sentence on a report from the Goop convention in London, by Jess Commons at Refinery29:

It’s 8.30am and I’m lost. Above me, there is a signpost. To the left it points to the “Leaky Gut Support Group”, to the right is the “Facial Cupping Collective”. Which way would you go?

Away! I would go far away!

It will not surprise you to learn that when someone gets their health insurance from a “Christian health-sharing ministry,” that person is going to get screwed. The Houston Chronicle reports:

As a Christian, [David Martinez] figured any company marketing faith should be more trustworthy. He signed up in April 2018 and began paying Aliera thousands of dollars. The only problem: the plan turned out to be worthless. He now owes $129,000 in medical bills currently in collections….

“I’m angry. And I’m embarrassed,” he said, “but mostly I’m disgusted by the hypocrisy. They are no more faith-based than Satan himself.”

A woman in Indonesia is charged with blasphemy for going into a mosque with her shoes on and bringing her dog. Jakarta Globe reports:

She claimed to be looking for her husband, who was allegedly about to get married to another woman at the mosque. She started kicking and screaming when some of the men tried to remove her.

“This is a mosque; dogs are not allowed!” one man exclaims in the video. Police arrested her after she had already calmed down and left the mosque.

“The woman was angry because she heard her husband was about to get married in the mosque. She entered the mosque directly, without removing her shoes and while carrying her dog,” [Police chief A.M.] Dicky said on Monday, adding that she apparently brought the canine to sniff out her husband.

He confirmed that no weddings were planned at the mosque for Sunday.

In Fresno public schools, the police department sends a chaplain over to classrooms to bond with students. WHAT?

Javi Poves, the president of a soccer club in Spain, changes the club’s name to Flat Earth FC because he indeed believes Earth is flat, and seems to be not the smartest guy ever:

There is a huge economic motive for which many people want to convince us that the earth is round. If the Earth is spherical, why are so many people scared? … There is a cool reward for whoever gets a photo of space that isn’t CGI. I have never felt the earth move. … I’m still waiting for you to show me: how does water curve?

“Processed foods” have not been linked to autism, despite some recent headlines, as Steven Novella explains.

Scientists took an MRI of a titanium atom. That’s cool.

Quote of the Day

Paul Waldman, writing in Washington Monthly, looks at how Trump and the religious right are dismantling religious freedom as envisioned by James Madison, and that liberals aren’t paying close enough attention to do something about it:

At the heart of James Madison’s vision was a system of fair competition among religions: the power of the state should not be used to favor one over another. Trump’s ascent to the presidency has challenged that principle directly: he proudly advertises his desire to favor one group, white evangelicals, over others, especially Muslims. …

Now imagine there’s a large-scale terrorist attack on American soil committed by a Muslim radical. Does anyone expect Trump to caution his followers against blaming Islam as a whole? … It is hard to imagine mass religious violence in modern America. But remember Trump’s words when asked, in November 2015, whether he would consider shutting down mosques as president: “We’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

* * *

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.