More Like a Smooth Criminal

October 15, 2018

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At The Atlantic, Emma Green reports on a new survey that shows that not only are the religiously unaffiliated really jazzed up about political participation, but that this participation itself makes them less none-y:

Religiously unaffiliated voters, who may or may not be associated with other civic institutions, seem most excited about supporting or donating to causes, going to rallies, and expressing opinions online, among other activities. Political engagement may be providing these Americans with a new form of identity. And in turn, they may be helping to solidify the new identity of the Democratic Party.

October 19 is Openly Secular Day, and here’s how you can commemorate the day:

1. By contacting your representatives to tell them you’re a Secular Values Voter. 2. By engaging in interfaith activities that foster mutual understanding across religious and philosophical divides.

Craig Foster of the U.S. Air Force Academy writes about his personal reservations about opening up about nonbelief for Openly Secular Day:

One nagging concern keeps me from getting off the wall to share my pro-secular jam: I don’t like confronting theists with the possibility that their god does not exist. … he possibility that I could undermine another persons’ comforting value system makes me feel less like a friend and more like a smooth criminal.

David Gorski, who wrote the definitive piece on the pseudoscience of Stanislaw Burzynski’s cancer quackery for Skeptical Inquirer, discovers that Burzynski’s fake cures and the patients he exploits will be the subject of a new docu-series/infomercial, which was just promoted by a major Houston-area TV station.

In Skeptical Inquirer, Harriet Hall reviews More Harm Than Good? The Moral Maze of Complementary and Alternative Medicine by Edzard Ernst and Kevin Smith.

At Skeptical Inquirer online, she reassures us in an article entitled “The Care and Feeding of the Vagina,” that “vaginas needn’t be fed with garlic or yogurt or jade eggs or anything else.”

Dr. Jen Gunter digs through the Goop catalog (hope she washed her hands afterward) to check each of its 161 products for pseudoscience:

There is no evidence to support Gwyneth Paltrow’s claim that goop is free of pseudoscience. In fact the opposite is true, goop is a classic example of pseudoscience profiteering. The bulk of their products are useless, but some could be harmful.

CBS Sunday Morning covers flat-Earthers, and looks at it as an example of “reverse-snobbery,” as put by Tom Nichols. I’m totally creeped out by this apparent flat-Earth celebrity-ish spokesperson, Patricia Steere. Real supervillain vibe there.

Pope Francis de-frock-ifies two Chilean priests accused of sexually abusing kids. Meanwhile, scandal-plagues Cardinal Donald Wuerl resigns.

Trump picks Pat Cipollone, a conservative Catholic activist, as his new White House counsel.

Ben Radford and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry are referenced in this WDAF piece about ghost lore in the Kansas City area.

Religious studies professor Alan Levinowitz uses the alarmism over La Croix and “cockroach insecticide” to highlight the marketing of the concept of “natural” as equivalent to “holy.”

In an NYT op-ed, Jonathan Merritt worries about how few “spiritual conversations” are being had by Americans, even church-attending Christians:

[Christians] must work together to revive sacred speech and rekindle confidence in the vocabulary of faith. If we cannot rise to this occasion, sacred speech will continue its rapid decline — and the worst among us will continue to define what the word “Christian” means.

Too late!

Between 2001 and 2017, the percentage of unvaccinated kids has leaped from 0.3 percent to 1.3, and while the anti-vax crowd is an obvious culprit, there’s also a more fundamental problem: lack of health insurance.

Seems that Australia’s government put a lot of effort into a big, official religious-liberty report, which now nobody wants to have anything to do with.

The American Humanist Association announces the formation of a new “affinity group,” the Latinx Humanist Alliance.

Looks like Comcast is going to livestream a “ghost hunt.” I’m going to switch to the paint-drying channel.

Quote of the Day:

I should either definitely read both volumes of William Vollmann’s Carbon Ideologies, or I should absolutely not. Reviewing the books, Nathaniel Rich introduces them, writing:

[Volmann] envisions [the reader] turning the pages of his climate-change opus within the darkened recesses of an underground cave in which she has sought shelter from the unendurable heat; the plagues, droughts, and floods; the methane fireballs racing across boiling oceans. Because the soil is radioactive, she subsists on insects and recycled urine, and regards with implacable contempt her ancestors, who, as Vollmann tells her, “enjoyed the world we possessed, and deserved the world we left you.”’

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