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Not Really Lumpable

September 4, 2019

Last night, Ricky Gervais, Richard Dawkins, and Richard Wiseman (that’s a lot of… never mind) shared the stage for a great night of conversation at the Troxy in London. Oh, to have been there! Luckily enough, CFI’s Nick Little was there, and live-tweeted the event. Better still? It was his first time using Twitter ever! Not bad, eh?

After the event, Gervais tweeted:

Thanks to the @center4inquiry for my award for exceptional service in the fight for reason. It’s going on the shelf. And thanks for a great night chatting to @RichardDawkins & @RichardWiseman at the beautiful @TroxyLondon

Dawkins recently gave an interview to BBC Science Focus, but it’s not available online. The Express (ugh) scrapes excerpts it, calling it a “bombshell interview,” which it is not by any means. It’s just Dawkins being critical of Flat-Earthers and anti-vaxxers. Gasp! Dawkins says:

With the anti-vaxxers, there is widespread hostility to big pharmaceutical companies, and with some good reason actually. It would be easy enough, if you are heavily committed to criticising Big Pharma, to think that being an anti-vaxxer is a part of that.

What we want is for people to think critically and clearly about each individual case and not lump things together if they’re not really lumpable.

Speaking of anti-vaxxers, Melody Gutierrez at the LA Times profiles Dr. Bob Sears. I’ll let Paul Offit take it from here:

“I think he’s dangerous,” said Offit, a pediatrician based in Philadelphia and co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine.

Offit said Sears overstates risks and links vaccines to conditions without an adequate scientific basis. Sears, Offit said, points parents to what are known as “package inserts,” which are legal disclaimers detailing any medical issues reported after a vaccine is administered during pre-license trials, even if the side effects occur at the same rate as the placebo group.

“He adds to this game of whack-a-mole, where we are constantly having to put down uninformed claims,” Offit said.

Lucien Greaves of the Satanic Temple talks to UK’s Attitude about the organization’s affinity for and with the LGBTQ community:

From the start, when one of our early actions was the Pink Mass, a lot of LGBTQ people were looking for another community that didn’t see them as defined by their sexual orientation.

Within the Satanic Temple, we’re all pretty much one and the same. We’re all Satanists and it’s not like we have ‘tolerance’ for trans people or gay people or sex workers, we just don’t fucking care, and a lot of people in those communities appreciate that. … We will always fight them, we will fight them to the death to ensure that there are equal rights for the gay community.

Derek Beres at Big Think, heavily citing Kavin Senapathy’s recent piece at Undark, considers the value of chiropractics:

Our bodies are the result of our individual movement patterns. As movement expert Katy Bowman says, no one is out of shape; we’re all in the exact shape that we train for. If you don’t train, that’s the shape you’re in. Manipulating vertebrae is a useless practice without addressing the entire muscular structure of a human body and how that body moves on a regular basis.

Paul Rosenberg at Salon/Raw Story reports on the opposition to Christian nationalism coming from fellow Christians, such as the Baptist Joint Committee.

Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian who avoided execution for blasphemy with an acquittal, now calls for a reform of the law:

I request the whole world to pay attention to this issue. The way any person is alleged of blasphemy without any proper investigation without any proper proof, that should be noticed. This blasphemy law should be reviewed and there should be proper investigation mechanisms while applying this law. We should not consider anyone sinful for this act without any proof.

Sadly, she doesn’t just say “This whole law is crap and needs to go.”

At The New Statesman, Tom Holland (not Spider-Man, a different guy) says that even in the super-secular UK, the culture is awash in Christianity, which is probably true, but, like, this isn’t:

… just as the blooming of the Reformation was sustained by the deep-rooted assumptions of the Christian past, so too is the current “awokening”. To campaign against discrimination on the grounds of gender or sexuality is to depend on large numbers of people sharing in a common assumption: that everyone possesses an inherent worth. The origins of this principle – as Nietzsche, for one, repeatedly pointed out – lay not in the Enlightenment, but in the Bible.

I’m no scholar, but I’m pretty sure the idea that people have value did not originate in the damned Bible. That might be where we got some ideas about which people did not have worth, however.

Ohio’s Times Free Press asks some experts why atheism is under-covered in the media and my favorite explanation is that we’re hard to find because we don’t go to church.

The Ex-Muslims of North America have launched a billboard campaign in Atlanta, Chicago, and Houston: #AwesomeWithoutAllah.

Ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, accused of several instances of sexual abuse, tells Ruth Graham at Slate, “I’m not as bad as they paint me. I do not believe that I did the things that they accused me of.” Well, case closed!

Lincoln County, Nevada is readying itself for the inevitable: alien invasion. Not space aliens, but UFO-obsessed out-of-towners. The AP reports:

The plan adopted by the commission involves a music festival for 5,000 people in tiny Hiko, and projections by Connie West, owner of the Little A’le’Inn motel in Rachel for as many as 10,000 people camping on her property for another event in the town closest to Area 51.

Event organizers said there needs to be food, water and entertainment on hand to help people survive in the desert that’s a nearly three-hour drive from Las Vegas. Most conceded that cellphone service could be overwhelmed.

Oh how I wish they’d leave those poor people alone.

The other Portland, the one in Oregon, is visited by a UFO. And by that I mean weather balloon.

Marion, North Carolina is declaring (again) its official animal to be Bigfoot. Does that mean that Marion does not exist?

Should I bother telling you what this nutbag Chris McDonald says? Am I just doing his work for him? I dunno. This time he says Hurricane Dorian is a false flag. I just don’t even know if I should tell you these things.

I never thought the Flying Spaghetti Monster would meet the Singularity, and yet here we are.

Quote of the Day

Adam Lee, with a new column at, tells religious conservatives not to get too excited about the awful court decision allowing discrimination against atheists in delivering invocations to the Pennsylvania state legislature:

I have a message to religious conservatives who are cheering: Be careful what you wish for. The more that state and church are entangled, the worse it will be for the church. … Have you seen Europe lately?

Europe has tied church to state for centuries, but instead of helping the church, this bond has drained it of vitality. Christianity as a faith is on life support all over the continent. In over a dozen countries, congregations are shrinking and graying; absolute majorities of the young profess no religious belief. Vacant churches are being converted to bookstores, gyms, pubs and skating rinks. …

… In their pursuit of worldly power and dominion, American churches — especially conservative ones — threw away the moral authority they once possessed. Now, as their prestige declines and their membership ebbs, they’re clutching at state support. They think it’s a lifeline that will save them. Instead, it will prove to be a millstone that drags them yet further down.


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