Lively Experiments

August 8, 2018

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At Skeptical Inquirer, Stuart Vyse looks at how the baseless practice of “facilitated communication” for autism patients made a comeback in recent years, only to face renewed scrutiny and pushback from the scientific community. However, Stuart writes, “Despite these few glimmers of light on the side of science and reason, the current state of the conflict appears to favor the forces of pseudoscience.”

As part of their major exposé on the crimes of “psychic” Maria Duval for CNN, Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken look at the what unites the many, many people Duval deceived:

Maria’s victims are all over the world, but they have one thing in common: desperation. We found stories from her victims everywhere we looked — online, in old newspaper clippings, and in the many government documents detailing the scam.

Many of the victims reminded us of Doreen: Suffering from illnesses that were chipping away at their brains. Lonely after spouses and friends had passed away. Living on a fixed income and worried about everyday bills or the money they were going to be able to leave behind.

Ally Foster at News.com.au (laziest publication name ever?) reports on an “overlooked” audio recording from 1966 of a science teacher recounting a UFO sighting that was apparently witnessed by some 350 kids and blew everyone’s mind:

The planes were doing everything possible to approach the object and he said how they all avoided collision he will never know.

“Every time they got too close to the object it would slowly accelerate, then rapidly accelerate and then move away from them and stop. Then they would take off after it again and the same thing would happen.”

Turyal Azam Khan at the Asia Times hopes Pakistan’s incoming government will stop the “abuse” of the blasphemy law:

The fact that a false blasphemy accusation can lead to one’s death at the hands of a mob cannot be ignored. And it leaves many wondering not when this will stop, but who will be falsely accused next.

The Global Press Journal reports on the ban against faith-healing advertisements in Zimbabwe, and whether it’s helping to curb the practice.

Speaking of which, Michigan faith-healing couple Tatiana Elena Fusari and Seth Michael Welch have been charged with the murder of their 10-month-old daughter for allowing her to starve to death.

Now that the pope has ruled out the Church’s support of the death penalty entirely, Amy Forliti at the AP reports on the quandary faced by Catholic politicians and judges in the U.S. who have been in favor of capital punishment.

A new study published in the journal Gerodontology (reported here by NBC) concludes that brushing teeth without fluoride has “no impact” in preventing cavities. Precious bodily fluids not withstanding.

Ellen Albanese at The Boston Globe checks out the Four Faiths Four Landmarks Walking Tour in Newport, Rhode Island which highlights colonial Newport’s “lively experiment in religious diversity.”

In the journal Secularism & Nonreligion, Michael E. Price and Jacques Launay examine whether secular “congregations” like Sunday Assembly can provide the same kind of wellbeing as churches do for the religious…and it sure seems like they do.

A judge in Scotland rules that belief in Scottish independence is “philosophical,” and can therefore be considered akin to a religion in the eyes of the law.

According to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, global warming may have already passed a threshold in which temperatures rise by 4 or 5 degrees, making some places on Earth uninhabitable. Plus, global bank HSBC crunches some numbers and shows that humans have overshot the Earth’s “resource budget” for the year on August 1 (contrasted with 1970, when “overshoot day” was December 29). We better get to Mars fast.

Oh hey, look. Eric Berger at Ars Technica gets Ted Cruz to talk about space exploration and what needs to be done to get humans on Mars. The answer, you might guess, is relying on private companies, not NASA.

Sudarshan Varadhan at Reuters notes the passing of former chief minister of the Tamil Nadu state of India, M Karunanidhi:

An outspoken atheist in a country where politicians often trumpet their piety, Karunanidhi built his political machine as a crusader for social justice, with policies aimed at helping those at the bottom of India’s rigid Hindu caste hierarchy.

Goop-debunker and CSICon 2018 speaker Timothy Caufield writes about the lack of evidence showing that vitamin supplements actually do us any good, and encourages us to get our vitamins from healthy foods. “Apple, yes. Rectal vitamin infusion, no.” Regardless of whether vitamins are involved, I have to assume “rectal infusions” of anything are always a “no.”

Quote of the Day

Not a quote, but a video. Stephen Colbert meets the Religious Liberty Task Force:

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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.