Less Than Stellar

December 4, 2018

Sir David Attenborough addresses the UN climate change summit in Poland with a stark warning:

If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon. … The world’s people have spoken. Time is running out. They want you, the decision-makers, to act now. Leaders of the world, you must lead. The continuation of civilisations and the natural world upon which we depend is in your hands.

All those new, hopefully-science-friendly Congress-folk don’t show up until January, and right now, we still have the same old House of Representatives. Our own Jason Lemieux wants you to get in touch with your representative-duck, lame or otherwise, and tell them to make sure the Johnson Amendment isn’t scrapped or hobbled in the 2019 spending bill.

It’s not enough that NASA just got a lander on Mars. They have also just caught up with the asteroid Bennu with its OSIRIS-REx probe, which on December 31 will orbit the rock. A year or so after that, OSIRIS-REx will scrape off a sample to bring back home.

At Skeptical Inquirer online, Harriet Hall introduces us to the ridiculous health fad of “vampire facials,” in which a person’s face is punctured over and over and over and over again so platelet-rich plasma can penetrate the skin. And lord, the blood. Harriet says:

What happened to “First, do no harm”? It seems to have been replaced by “To heal an injury, first cause more injuries.”

Plus, Harriet reviews James Alcock’s new book Belief: What It Means to Believe and Why Our Convictions Are So Compelling.

John Timmer at Ars Technica bemoans the news media “allowing themselves to be used as a source of misinformation during their attempts to cover the new [climate] report,” amplifying the Trump administration’s pushback of the report.

In his CFI column, Jamie Hale looks at the ways we derive “useful structures of reality,” and as you can imagine, it is the scientific one that holds up, as opposed to those that emphasize that which cannot be comprehended, and yet is still believed.

A new study published in the journal JAMA Network Open shows that when it comes to our dealings with our doctors, we are almost all big stinking liars. Susan Perry at MinnPost reports:

If you aren’t entirely truthful with your doctor, you have plenty of company. In a new study, as many as 8 in 10 American adults admitted to lying to their doctor about a health-related matter.

Why are we less than forthcoming when talking with our doctors? We’re apparently too embarrassed to tell the truth, the study found. Also, we don’t want doctors to judge us — or lecture us — about any of our less-than-stellar health-related behaviors.

A 90-second video purports to show a UFO looming near the North Carolina coast. Clearly, it’s aliens because what else could make lights in the sky?

Mayor Richard Homrighausen of Dover, Ohio (that sounds familiar) submits to the will of FFRF, taking down a Nativity display from public grounds, because, as he put it, “Yeah, they have a point,” but goes on to say that he’s never had a problem with this in his 27 years as mayor. And then I’m all WHOA. WHOA. SLOW DOWN. You’ve been mayor for almost THIRTY YEARS? Is there no one else in that town capable of holding this office?

What were we talking about again?

In their “Science Question from a Toddler” series of articles, FiveThirtyEight‘s Maggie Koerth-Baker seeks to discover who would win in a fight between an anaconda and a Komodo dragon, and I’m here to tell you that this question is NOT satisfactorily resolved here. As far as I’m concerned, the winner is always “honey badger.”

Quote of the Day

One Charles Bailey writes to The Guardian on the way humanism transcends tribalism, adding this thought:

Are tribes so necessary that others will supersede the virtual humanist community, once there is no identifiable “other”? Who is going to pay good money to belong the Round Earth Society?

Yeah, who would do that? Totally unrelatedly, you can become a member of the Center for Inquiry right here.

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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.