Voyagerix / Adobe Stock

Nones From Above!!!

May 22, 2019

Where’s a nice place to be a None? Canada, of course! John Longhurst at RNS reports:

“It’s more normal in Canada to say you have no religion,” said Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme, a professor of sociology at the University of Waterloo and author, with Joel Thiessen, professor of sociology at Ambrose University, of “None of the Above: Having No Religion in Canada and the U.S.”

“In Canada, there is a more accepting social environment for leaving religion. There’s less of a social stigma,” added Thiessen.

Plus, being so huge, Canada gives grumpy atheists more breathing room and personal space.

This guy from the Federalist Society, Leonard Leo, is so powerful in Washington that the Post gives him his own Harry Potter-esque moving photo. They say “few people outside government have more influence over judicial appointments now than Leo,” which is bad, and he does it all within the back box of conservative nonprofits. “A devout Catholic, Leo said he is driven by his faith and a literal interpretation of the Constitution.” Great.

Even as Leo counseled Trump on judicial picks, he and his allies were raising money for nonprofits that under IRS rules do not have to disclose their donors. Between 2014 and 2017 alone, they collected more than $250 million in such donations, sometimes known as “dark money,” according to a Post analysis of the most recent tax filings available. The money was used in part to support conservative policies and judges, through advertising and through funding for groups whose executives appeared as television pundits.

That HHS “conscience rule” that Trump announced? Nineteen states, one huge county, three huge cities, and the District of Columbia are suing to stop it.

Super scary: Parents who believe the pseudoscience garbage on Facebook that tells them to feed their kids bleach in order to “cure” autism. Super creepy: The header image for this article at Yeesh. Okay, back to the scary:

The parents in many of these groups, which have ranged from tens to tens of thousands of members, believe that autism is caused by a hodgepodge of phenomena, including viruses, bacteria, fungal infections, parasites, heavy metal poisoning from vaccines, general inflammation, allergies, gluten and even the moon.

The so-called treatments are equally confused. Some parents credit turpentine or their children’s own urine as the secret miracle drug for reversing autism.

Speaking of kids getting a bum deal in the parent lottery, Patrick Coleman at Fatherly reminds us, hey, dumb-dumbs, the chickenpox virus is still dangerous:

Will most infected kids recover quickly? Absolutely. But, let’s be clear, kids can absolutely die of chickenpox, which is a serious disease. …

… “People say, ‘I had chickenpox and I’m fine,’” [virologist and friend-of-CFI Paul] Offit remarks. “That’s true because they are still alive. The hundred people who used to die of chickenpox are not around to tell their story.”

Research from Brigham Young University shows that a good way to get the “vaccine-hesistant” to bend in favor of reality is to have them meet someone who has a vaccine-preventable disease (assuming they’re still alive):

“Vaccines are victims of their own success,” said Poole, associate professor of microbiology and molecular biology. “They’re so effective that most people have no experience with vaccine preventable diseases. We need to reacquaint people with the dangers of those diseases.” … Researchers found nearly 70 percent of the students who interviewed someone with a vaccine-preventable disease moved from vaccine hesitant to pro-vaccine by the end of the study — even when they had NO vaccine curriculum. Overall, 75 percent of vaccine-hesitant students increased their vaccine attitude scores, with 50 percent of those students moving fully into pro-vaccine attitudes.

The New York Times editorial board makes a case for what should be obvious, that the freedom of religion doesn’t give one the freedom to infect:

Religious freedom is important to protect, but the courts have ruled it doesn’t apply here. In upholding a California law that removed religious exemptions, a federal appeals court last year noted an earlier ruling that, “The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death.”

Beth Mole at Ars Technica reports that in a small town in Pakistan, more than 600 kids have tested positive for HIV, due to the ministrations of “rogue doctors and unqualified people practicing medicine are behind the virus’ spread, mostly from using contaminated syringes.” “Rogue doctors”? Excuse me, they’re called “naturopathic doctors.”

As we suit up to CRUSH Walmart and CVS with our MINDS, Steven Novella unpacks the contradictions underlying the marketing of homeopathic remedies: how can one possibly market something that doesn’t work in an honest way? “While I applaud [CFI’s] effort, you can tell by reading the reporting that it is ultimately an exercise in futility.” WE SHALL SEE, SIR.




Saif ul Malook, the lawyer representing Asia Bibi in her blasphemy trials in Pakistan, is awarded Secularist of the Year by the UK’s National Secular Society. Malook’s statement:

To fight blasphemy cases in Pakistan is putting one’s own and families’ lives at risk. The moral support from organisations such as the NSS has given me the courage to take the case of Shaghufta Kausar – another Christian woman on death row on blasphemy charges.

I assure you that I plan to continue my mission in providing legal aid to all blasphemy victims even in future regardless to the threat to my life.

A LifeWay survey of churchgoing Protestants shows that 29 percent think that there are more pastors who have sexually assaulted adults than we currently know about, and slightly more, 32 percent, say there are more Protestant pastors who have sexually assaulted children yet to be known. Interestingly, for both categories, it rounds out to roughly 1 in 3 who also either do not believe this to be the case or “don’t know.”

Here’s what Focus on the Family’s overlord, the vaguely-undead James Dobson, says will happen if the Equality Act becomes law:

Let me speak candidly and passionately to people of faith throughout these United States of America. We must not remain silent as our historic liberties are gutted by Democrats and their friends in the LGBT movement. They will enslave us if they prevail.


Quote of the Day

Ryan Mandelbaum at Gizmodo says this correction from science journal publisher Cell Press is the best correction in science writing “this month,” and for all I know he is right:

CORRECTION: The previous version of this week’s press package included an incorrect title for the press release about the findings of Surbeck et al.: “Males with a mother living in their group have higher paternity success in bonobos but not in chimpanzees.” While bonobo mothers defend their sons mating attempts against other males and the males’ proximity to their mothers allows them to stay at central places in the group, giving them more opportunities to mate, bonobo mothers do not “literally drag their sons to ovulating females to get more grandchildren.” We apologize for the misinterpretation.

* * *

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.