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Interactions with Incorrect Ideas

December 18, 2019

Pope Francis ends the “pontifical secrecy” rule that keeps everything involving sexual abuse investigations under wraps, and will now make documents and information available to “lawful authorities” upon request. We shall see.

Here we go again. Okay, okay, I know we said that blue light from screens is the worst and will absolutely ruin your sleep and your whole life. Sorry about that. Now we think that blue light is mostly fine, but it’s all that white and yellow light that will MESS YOU UP. I’m sure this will settle everything.

Jamie Hale at the CFI Free Thinking blog looks into the pit of despair that is depression and its causes, specifically what he says is the myth of “chemical imbalances”:

When I discuss depression with students in psychology courses the topic almost always involves talking about the chemical imbalance myth. Students often say things like “But I thought depression was due to a chemical imbalance” or “I have always heard that depression is because of low serotonin.” Many people suffering depression say they can’t help that they have depression, as “it is due to a chemical imbalance.” This leads them to often accept that they must take medication, and taking medication is the only thing they can do the deal with their condition. …

… It is likely that one of the reasons the chemical imbalance myth has persisted is in the hope that it will reduce stigma. If one has a chemical imbalance they can’t control, they can’t be blamed for what is sometimes viewed as a mental weakness. Unfortunately a strictly biological explanation for depression doesn’t seem to take away the stigma.

MJ Banias at Popular Mechanics looks back at the 50 years since the closure of Project Blue Book, the Air Force’s UFO investigation program, and in my opinion paints too rosy and benign of what’s come of it all:

Today, the political and academic stigma that surrounds UFOs, created so many years ago by the Robertson Panel and a motley collection of confidence artists, profiteering “UFO experts,” and kooky cult leaders, is beginning to erode. Rational UFO discourse seems to be on the uptick as organizations begin to muster support to engage in actual scientific studies of aerial anomalies. The recent announcement by the U.S. Navy that unknown aerial objects do indeed violate American airspace, and that the Pentagon ran a secret UFO investigation program in the late 2000s, has only led to an increased interest in all things ufological.

I don’t think any of the conversation around UFOs has gotten any more rational, but just inflamed preexisting ideas that the Deep State or whoever are covering up aliens.

At Psychology Today, Jack Turban says doctors need to get themselves onto social media to help push back against pseudoscience:

Without doctors on social media, people scrolling through cyberspaces like Twitter get their medical information from unreliable sources. Companies like Goop promote coffee enemas to purify oneself of toxins and tell women to use $60 jade eggs for their vaginas. …

… Luckily, there is a small team of physicians on Twitter fighting the companies, politicians, and bots that spread misinformation. Obstetrician Jennifer Gunter, who has over 200,000 followers, has told people the harms of coffee enemas and putting jade eggs in your vagina. Psychiatrists have started to disseminate the literature showing that expanded mental health access won’t stop gun violence. Physicians have confronted politicians on Twitter who spread misinformation about dangerous practices like conversion therapy. Pediatricians have disseminated papers and their expertise about the safety of vaccines. And reproductive health experts have taken on politicians head-on when it comes to issues related to their patients.

But it’s not enough. We’re drastically outnumbered.

I’ve never heard of Scientific Content Analysis (SCAN), a questionnaire tool that many police departments and other law enforcement agencies use to determine truth from lies. The thing is, it’s absolutely baseless. Ken Armstrong of ProPublica and Christian Sheckler of the South Bend Tribune report:

SCAN, a product sold by a company called the Laboratory for Scientific Interrogation (LSI), has, in the words of four scholars in a 2016 study, “no empirical support” — meaning, there’s no dependable research showing that it works. …

… “You ask me how does SCAN work, I can’t tell you that,” [Kosciusko County’s Capt. Travis] Marsh said. “It really is, for lack of a better term, a faith-based system because you can’t see behind the curtain.”

Michio Kaku talks to Danny Gallagher at the Dallas Observer about flat-Earthers and why their existence has some benefits:

Some people believe in flying saucers. It’s a religion for some people and you can’t count it out, right? And the fact that it’s in the open, I think it’s a good thing because then we can talk about the possibility of life and the universe, how did life get started on the Earth and is there life on other planets and stuff like that.

So you start off with an incorrect idea or an outlandish idea and then from that you can extract valuable scientific lessons, because correct ideas come from interaction with incorrect ideas. So in that sense, I think it’s a good thing.

The anti-gay judge in Texas who was reprimanded for refusing to officiate same-sex marriages is now suing the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct, alleging he had been “wrongly punished” and that this punishment violated the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

This “gay Jesus” Christmas special on Netflix sounds pretty clever. I don’t speak Portuguese or anything (though my last name is Portuguese), but I assume there’s subtitles. Oh, anyway, yeah, a bunch of Catholics in Brazil are really mad, because of course they are. The Post reports:

Since its release on the streaming service earlier this month, “The First Temptation of Christ” has spawned multiple online campaigns that call on Brazilian authorities to ban the special and criminally charge its creators with “vilification of faith.” As of early Tuesday, one petition had been signed by nearly 2 million people. …

… The relationship between Orlando and Jesus — only ever implied, if in a heavy-handed way — marks only one transgression depicted in “The First Temptation.” At other points in the 46-minute special, Mary smokes a joint, Melchior hires a sex worker, and Jesus gets high off “special tea,” hallucinating himself into a meeting with Buddha, Krishna, the Rastafari god Jah and an alien deity for Scientologists.

Scientists believe they have figured out that archaea and eukaryotes are part of the same “domain,” the same branch on the tree of life, and I admit I don’t really understand most of this, but they named all these new things after Asgardians, so I’m totally down with it:

In 2015, they found a species of archaea that had all the requisite qualifications at a site called Loki’s Castle, a hydrothermal vent under the Arctic. Researchers duly named this organism Lokiarchaea. (Mythology thus informed not only the nomenclature of geologic features on the ocean floor, but of microbes as well.)

The identification of Lokiarchaea led scientists to related species that they inevitably called Thor-, Odin-, and Heimdallarchaeota. The whole group is obviously known as the Asgard superphylum.

Damn right it’s a superphylum.


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.