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Occasionally Nihilistic in Tone

October 7, 2019

Exciting news from the CFI Skeptimatic Universe: The Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES) has booked its 50th state! And it happens to be the nation’s 50th state, Hawaii.

Emma Green at The Atlantic previews how the Supreme Court is poised to essentially blow up abortion rights this term:

If the Supreme Court is, indeed, open to altering its past approach, June Medical Services might be the beginning of a gradual, radical reorientation of abortion jurisprudence. This vindicates a long-standing strategy of the anti-abortion movement, which has purposefully teed up as many potential abortion challenges as possible in the states and lower courts, hoping that a few will make their way to the Supreme Court. These advocates not only see abortion as morally wrong, but argue that the Supreme Court’s approach to abortion cases over the years has been confusing at best and legally suspect at worst. “There is a reasonable prospect on the Court right now of five votes that understand you can’t really find abortion in the text of the federal Constitution,” Helen Alvaré, a law professor at George Mason University who has long been allied with the anti-abortion movement, told me.

Holy crap she’s right! You can’t find abortion in the Constitution! Other things you can’t find in the Constitution include:

  • assault rifles
  • bibles
  • Merry Christmas
  • Waldo

The court is also about to make things worse for LGBTQ folks and secular public schooling.

Sarah Posner has a major piece at Talking Points Memo on the “Christian right legal powerhouse,” Alliance Defending Freedom, the “conservative deep state”:

…as legal and cultural trends have marked a growing acceptance of LGBTQ rights, one of ADF’s chief aims has been to carve out exemptions freeing conservative Christians from complying with nondiscrimination laws. ADF has artfully framed this attack on legal equality as a defense of religious freedom — and a defense of religious people in the face of secular hostility to religion. Because of the intensity of this purported hostility, ADF has repeatedly argued, Christians, not LGBTQ people, are the ones who need the protection of the law. As President Trump has committed to giving the Christian right a virtual carte blanche in both personnel and policy, ADF has found itself with an unparalleled opportunity to entrench its positions in law and policy, potentially altering the civil rights landscape for generations.

The Guardian reports that Northern Ireland’s high court rules that the country’s “near-blanket abortion ban” violates the UK’s human rights commitments.

The European Court of Human Rights a criminal conviction in Germany over a speech denying the Holocaust does not violate free speech rights:

… the applicant intentionally stated untruths in order to defame the Jews and the persecution that they had suffered during the Second World War. … in the light of their historical role and experience, States that have experienced the Nazi horrors may be regarded as having a special moral responsibility to distance themselves from the mass atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis.

Allie Jones at The Verge reports on the app Co-Star and the popularity of astrology among millennials:

It is the perfect app for the current moment: spare and stylish, more than occasionally nihilistic in tone, and made to be shared on social media. That it is about astrology is almost incidental, but has obviously contributed to its popularity. Because astrology, as you have probably heard, is trending.

In the last five years, the practice has grown from a niche, New-Age pursuit to one of the main pillars of the millennial internet. What was once mainly a topic of discussion in female and queer spaces has permeated almost every corner of social media. Conversations about planetary transits and memes about what Virgos may be apt to do when presented with conflict are everywhere on Instagram and Twitter.

At Self, Yvette d’Entremont offers up some tips on avoiding nonsense health fads. I particularly like this one: “Are you drawn to it for reasons other than its efficacy? Like, say, desperation to find a solution?”

Here’s a recipe for disaster: Hindu nationalist courts in India, modeled after Islamic Sharia courts, run by people who define themselves by their hatred of Gandhi.

Nazis were into a lot of occult pseudoscience, but as Matt Davis at Big Think cautions, don’t mistake their belief in the occult for an explanation for the Nazis’ rise to power:

…developing fantastical, magical theories about how the Nazis came about and how they succeeded in sowing so much horror and destruction is comforting. If they possessed occult power, then we wouldn’t have to confront the horrible truth — that regular, flesh-and-blood humans are capable of terrible things all on their own.

David Gorski beholds the horror that is “pediatric naturopathic oncology.” Fake medicine used on kids with cancer. I don’t know how these people sleep. Especially since I assume they take homeopathic sleep aids.

A federal judge in Tampa has blocked the city’s ban on pseudoscientific “gay-conversion” therapy. What the actual crap.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halts the execution of Randy Halprin over claims that the trial judge had called him anti-Semitic slurs.

A Connecticut trial court refuses to enforce a provision of a ketubah, a Jewish religious marriage contract. Stating the obvious, which apparently needs stating a lot these days, the court said, “The First Amendment does not permit courts to resolve disputes over the meaning and interpretation of the Torah-or the Koran, the New Testament or any other religious text.”

Bad news for CSICon attendees heading to Vegas: Jose Canseco is ending his Bigfoot RV tour. But he is opening a carwash.

A guy is suing Apple because his iPhone turned him gay. iDiot.

Quote of the Day

The Onion (reporting from Albuquerque for some reason) has some very big fake news from the world of fake science:

In a breakthrough discovery that could change the way Sun Signs live forever, the nation’s top pseudoscientists announced Friday that they had harnessed a high-energy quartz crystal capable of reversing the effects of being a Gemini. “From today onward, the Sign Of The Twins will no longer be forced to suffer while Mercury is in retrograde or while the Sun is nestled in Virgo,” said Astrology Institute professor Lisa Vincent, adding that the crystals, which were super dense and vibrated at hyper-attuned astral frequencies, were capable of eliminating all of Gemini’s dark traits, including flightiness, restlessness, and dishonesty. “Whether you are first cusp Gemini or a third decan Gemini, the stone, along with a healthy dose of alexandrite, will 100% equalize volatile energies. Within weeks of regular use, a Gemini could even live a normal life as an Aquarius.” At press time, pseudoscientists had shut down their latest study after finding that the high-powered, $6,000 stone had negative interactions with vaccines.


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.

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