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Privileged Guinea Pigs

January 7, 2020

The latest Skeptical Inquirer cover story is now free to read online, where a panel of experts weighs on pseudoscience in kids’ psychotherapy. Plus, if you want to make the internet trolls really mad, let them know you’re reading the piece by Jeanne Goldberg that praises the activism of young people like Time Person of the Year (and I hope future World President) Greta Thunberg.

Brittney Mejia at the LA Times takes a look at what it’s like to be an atheist Latinx in the San Gabriel Valley, raised in a culture saturated with Catholicism:

In Mexican and Latin American homes, saints abound. Pope bobblehead dolls adorn bookshelves. Palm Sunday branches are tacked up on walls. Paintings of the Last Supper hang in dining rooms. Abuelas give rosaries to hang on the rearview mirror of the family car. Moms say “persignate” — make the sign of the cross — when you get on the freeway or there’s turbulence on the plane.

If you are not a church-goer, you are more likely to own a cat. That might mean cats are a replacement for your god, which is, in fact, what the cat intends.

It’s the age of misinformation, and Tumblr wants to save us all. Wait, what?

The campaign consists of six informational videos that walk Tumblr’s community through topics like fake news and authenticity, along with other issues the platform encounters, like cyberbullying. Unlike traditional literacy videos, which Tumblr executives told The Verge are targeted at parents and teachers, these will use language and imagery native to Tumblr; that means GIFs, short texts, and tons of memes.

Well, okay! I hope it helps.

Perhaps Tumblr could start by fighting, like, all of this: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Netflix show, The Goop Lab, is nigh, and it’s f**king WEIRD. Beth Mole at Ars Technica writes:

The show—like Goop—appears to be largely aimed at women, and the trailer’s release was accompanied by an image of Paltrow appearing to descend into an artist’s rendition of a vagina.

Goop critics were quick to decry the show, arguing that—like the brand—it actually intends to guide exploitable viewers through unproven and potentially dangerous health practices, such as the same garbage Goop has been promoting for years. And the show—like Goop—claims to “empower” women only by convincing them to try dubious treatments and products. …

… [Paltrow] seems to be arguing that privileged people such as herself might as well become guinea pigs for snake-oil salesmen just in case they might attain a slightly more fortunate status than the one they already enjoy.

At The Conversation, Niral Shah looks at racism-as-compliments through the canonical example, “Asians are good at math”:

Don’t test scores prove the narrative? In fact, they don’t. On international exams, it’s true that Asian countries are among the top performers in math. But it’s also true that other Asian nations rank 38th, 46th, 59th and 63rd. Interestingly, those top performers also lead in reading—but there isn’t a narrative that “Asians are good at literature.” …

… Asian people aren’t seen as human beings; they are calculating machines. Asians are literally objectified, seen as capable of doing things at a speed and scale that “normal” people can’t do. In other words, they are dehumanized.

Calculators are capable of only procedural tasks, not creativity. For Asian people, this implies that while they can succeed in the technical STEM subjects, the humanities and creative arts aren’t for them.

Elon Musk is making both astronomers and UFO hunters mad, because his company SpaceX is flooding the skies with satellites that either get mistaken for stars or spaceships.

At Skeptical Inquirer, Wendy M. Grossman reminds grownups that, hey, psst, you can also get measles and maybe you should get vaccinated if you haven’t.

What the hell is Vibrant Blue Oils Parasympathetic? Harriet Hall explains, and it’s really dumb, starting with the fact that there is no such thing as a “parasympathetic state.” I presume vibrant blue is a real color, though.

Banaras Hindu University in India is teaching doctors about ghosts. Well, that’s not fair. They will teach medical students how to deal with people who think they are possessed by ghosts, which I guess is a common enough problem that it requires this kind of attention, but! but! but! The BBC reports, “The course will be conducted by the faculty of Ayurveda, the ancient Hindu system of medicine and healing.” So. Not a big help.

Jack Jenkins looks at how god-talk is on the rise in the Democratic presidential contest as the Iowa caucuses near and Trump taunts the party for what he says is their “extreme anti-religious and socialist agenda,” which is of course not true, but, this is why Tumblr is coming to help.

In Georgia, State Rep. James Burchett introduces an amendment to the state constitution that would, he says, protect students’ religious freedoms at school. Yeah, I assume he also knows it’s a pointless, redundant idea meant to get people riled up.

Public Opinion Online, which I guess is a thing because it’s owned by USA Today, has a thing on “Quirky Careers” focusing on acupuncturists. How quirky! Other careers they might want to cover as quirky:

  • Time traveller
  • Hogwarts human resources administrator
  • Sith clone-vat cleaner

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.