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Little Blobs in the Distance

June 6, 2019

This will make Barry Karr happy: It’s a big day for Bigfoot, UFOs, and Nessie in The Morning Heresy!

As folks seem to be under the impression that alien visitation claims are now more legit than they were a couple of weeks ago, Billie Brownstein Nauer at Vice News Tonight introduces us to Commander David Fravor, a Navy pilot who says he saw a thing. And now?

For a long time, Fravor, a skeptic of the notion of extraterrestrial visitors, said nothing. But in 2017, he and his co-pilot went public with their stories in the New York Times. The response was immediate: The UFO community saw their accounts as proof of extraterrestrial life, and Fravor became a sort of messiah.

The newfound notoriety made Fravor deeply uncomfortable.

“I’m not that kind of person,” he said. “I underestimated the power of a New York Times article. I’ll never do that again.”

Also at Vice, Nick Rose visits the “Contact in the Desert” UFO conference, supposedly the biggest such conference in the world:

Walking into the lobby of the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa was like physically stepping into a late-night YouTube UFO rabbit hole.

It turns out that the FBI had a file on Bigfoot. I assume because Bigfoot wronged J. Edgar Hoover in some way. But that’s huge news, right??? Actually, no. In 1976 they agreed to analyse a bit of animal hair, and it was just from a deer. That’s it!

This is a super-weird case. A paramedic in New Jersey, responding to a situation where a woman was suffering from an open wound, was ordered by a doctor to get a catheter into a woman’s arm. She refused, and so the paramedic offered to perform Reiki. Yeah, you can read that again. The woman, who believed in that crap, agreed. The paramedic was fired for, you know, practicing magic instead of medicine. Well, a jury just decided that he was wrongfully terminated and awarded him a bunch of money. WHYY reports:

Patrick Hill, an assistant professor at Rutgers University who teaches ethics and law, agreed that Senisch made the right call.

“He’s not at liberty to overrule a decision and force treatment on a patient who doesn’t want it,” Hill said, adding of the doctor’s order: “It may well be the correct medical decision, but again, with a competent patient, that’s still the patient’s prerogative to say, `No, thank you.’ ”

A study by Media Matters shows that abortion information on Facebook is dominated by right-wing propaganda and misinformation. It sounds really bad:

Of the top-engaged U.S. abortion news coverage on the platform, over 63% of web links with the most Facebook interactions came from right-leaning websites, and 72% of the Facebook page posts with the most interactions were from right-leaning pages. LifeNews.com and Live Action, two of the larger anti-abortion media sites accounted for almost 30% of viral links. The two main Facebook pages affiliated with these sites also made up a quarter of the most popular Facebook posts.

It’s almost as though Facebook is garbage and no one should use it. Hm.

Esther Wang at Jezebel looks at how the extreme right is essentially dictating the language we use in regards to abortion. For example:

…the term “heartbeat bill” and all that it conjures—the image of a baby with a beating heart—is misleading and unscientific, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Which is why the pick up feels so insidious—we use the language because it’s what’s in front of us, and no number of “so-called”s in front of the term “heartbeat bill” can distract from the fact that it’s still a narrative shorthand meant to weaken abortion rights. But it’s time to take the narrative back, to stop describing these bans as “heartbeat bills” and describe them as what they are—arbitrary and punitive six-week abortion bans.

Meanwhile, the HHS cancels research using fetal tissue, because abortion.

YouTube says it will ban content that overtly promotes white supremacy, but permit stuff that is “borderline,” whatever the hell that means. Emily Stewart at Vox reports:

The Google-owned platform said on Wednesday that it’s updating its hate speech policy to prohibit “videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status.” The company specifically said this new policy would ban videos that promote Nazi ideology. It’s also axing content that denies well-documented violent events, such as the Holocaust and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

YouTube has decided to continue to allow content from anti-gay right-winger Steven Crowder, but won’t let him monetize with ads unless he removes links to anti-gay T-shirts he sells (“Socialism is for Fags,” for example).

Bryan Menegus at Gizmodo says of the whole affair:

YouTube today joins Facebook in the category of “platforms that care enough to at least pretend to try publicly” while Twitter and others remain staunchly in the “lol, you’re on your own” camp.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal wants the FTC to look into the pseudoscientific “detox teas” being hawked by (gag)influencers(gag) on social media:

The dangers of these products, their widespread use, and deceptive marketing demand federal action. I call on the FTC … to investigate the false and misleading marketing practices presented by the manufacturers of these teas and take appropriate enforcement action to protect unwitting consumers from harm.

Benjamin Radford looks into a sensational media claim that “nearly 25% of Americans are going into debt trying to pay for necessities like food.” A tad misleading:

The question is less about “Expenses that lead to debt” but instead “Expenses that people choose to put on their credit cards.” Most of the expenses (dining out, transportation, groceries, entertainment, child care, etc.) could be (and likely sometimes are) paid some other way, such as by check or cash. In this sample of 2,200 adults, these just happen to be the expenses they decided to put on their credit cards, and if they didn’t pay off the full amount in the last billing cycle, it became “credit card debt.” This doesn’t really suggest—as the headline does—that people are going into debt to pay for these expenses.

Jack Jenkins reports on how the Catholic Church is (not) dealing with sexual abuse victims who are adults and can therefore “consent.” Yeah, no:

“People make assumptions that maybe once someone’s an adult, 18 or 19, that they can consent,” said David Pooler, a professor at Baylor University who has studied abusive sexual relationships between clergy and other adults.

“The research that I’ve done in this area … is that that there was no ability to consent (to a relationship with a priest) because of the dependence that the parishioner or congregant had on this priest.”

A handful of conservative Christians want people to cancel their Netflix subscriptions over the company saying it’s considering pulling its productions out of abortion-banning Georgia. Netflix will be fine.

Something called the Council for Education and Research on Toxics has made it their business to see that everything has a cancer warning on it, whether it has anything to do with cancer or not. It’s made millions of dollars suing companies, and according to reporting by Beth Mole, that money benefits the nonprofit’s founder.

A panel of judges in the other Portland, the one in Oregon, heard from a group of young people suing the federal government over its lack of action on climate change.

Televangelist Kenneth Copeland, confronted about his need for private jets, said he can’t allow himself to fly in a “long tube with a bunch of demons.” Stephen Strang, publisher of the Christian outlet Charisma, defended Copeland, saying, “It is like a tube” and equates to “oppression.” Oh, do go on:

There are people in those airplanes who are not spiritual. … An airplane these days, commercial airline, is a flying bar, they serve alcohol … There’s a lot of things that are not spiritual and it’s not necessarily a good environment.

The real question is whether it’s like a series of tubes. Then we’re in trouble.

Quote of the Day

Paleontologist Darren Naish says that time’s pretty much up for finding the Loch Ness Monster, telling the Telegraph:

Everybody has good phones. You really would think they’d be more and better photos, but the only things that ever have ever appeared are terribly low resolution little blobs in the distance. … I would say that the fact that we haven’t got any of the evidence that we should have by now – alarm bells are ringing. … It’s all speaking towards the fact that this is a cultural event, a belief system.

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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.