Scrap It Altogether

June 19, 2019

There’s new material from CFI’s Translations Project: The Arabic translation of Richard Dawkins’ River Out of Eden is now available in EPUB and PDF formats. (MOBI format coming soon.) Free, of course.

Alex Jones says someone planted child pornography on Infowars servers, which is of course possible. He then set a $1 million bounty to have the perpetrator’s “head on a pike,” adding, for emphasis I assume, “One million dollars, bitch.” Continuing to protest, Jones exclaimed, “I’m not into kids like your Democratic party, you cocksuckers. I don’t like having sex with children, I would never have sex with children.”

Lenny Pozner, father of 6-year-old Noah Pozner who was killed at Sandy Hook, wins his defamation lawsuit against James Fetzer and Mike Palacek, authors of the book Nobody Died at Sandy Hook, and reached a settlement with the book’s publisher Moon Rock Books.

Tony Perkins, head of the hate-group-in-a-suit the Family Research Council, has been elected to chair the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. This serves as a stark reminder that, ugh, Tony Perkins was on the USCIRF to begin with. So is Gary Bauer, by the way.

There’s about to be a big regulatory battle in France over the government’s subsidies for homeopathic fake medicine. Bloomberg reports:

For now, French people can walk into any pharmacy and buy a tube of Arnica granules — recommended for shocks and bruises — or roughly a thousand other similar remedies for 1.6 euros ($1.80) with a prescription, because the state health system shoulders about 30% of its cost. In some cases, private insurers cover the remainder and patients pay nothing. That may all soon change. A science agency is wrapping up a study of the relative benefits of alternative medicine that will inform the government’s position: Keep the funding, trim it or scrap it altogether.

FFRF abandons its legal quest to end the parsonage allowance, acknowledging that the Supreme Court of this dimension and timeline will not delivery a favorable ruling.

Bertha Vazquez, director of our awesome Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science program, gets a shout-out at The Humanist for her presentation at the American Humanist Association’s latest conference.

Thulasi Muttulingam at Sri Lanka’s The Morning writes about the plight of ex-Muslims:

What happens if you are a Moor, Malay, or Memon and no longer identify as Muslim in Sri Lanka? The rest of the world, including the Government and outside communities, foist that identity of Muslimness upon such people, with scant regard to whether they want to be identified as such or not.

More sinister still is the fact that few are able to be open about their lack of faith. Even though the extremists are few, they pose active death threats to the ex-Muslims for daring to leave the faith – what they call apostasy, which they deem punishable by death.

Simran Jeet Singh decries Quebec’s new law banning public employees from wearing religious symbols, which primarily impacts minority religions:

In vociferously denying its discriminatory impact and in failing to take seriously the concerns of those who will be most directly affected, the government of Quebec remains blind to another consequence that would be obvious otherwise.

The institutionalization of discriminatory legislation sanctions discriminatory behavior on the ground. By saying it is OK to treat religious minorities as secondary citizens, government officials are giving the green light to their constituents to do the same.

Here’s a new way for you to waste your time and money while treating nothing: Halotherapy, with salt chambers and halo generators and…oh good god:

The typical salt therapy session takes place in a small room with a “halogenerator,” a machine that cranks out millions of microscopic anti-bacterial particles of salt thought to be anti-inflammatory to help many ailments.

“Colds, flu, COPD, cystic fibrosis, acne, eczema, psyorisis [sic], ear infection … you name it, there’s a ton of different things that it’s helpful for,” [Julian] Armendariz said.

Actual scientists and medical professionals say they were duped into appearing in what amounts to an infomercial series promoting quacky stem-cell clinics. Beth Mole at Ars Technica reports:

The researchers said they had originally agreed to do interviews for the project believing it was for a sober, educational documentary on legitimate stem-cell research—which holds medical potential but is still largely unproven to benefit patients. Just days before the documentary’s intended release of June 17, however, researchers say they were horrified to learn that the 10-part series, titled The Healthcare Revolution, hypes dubious stem-cell treatments as miracle cures and gives false hope to desperate patients. The revelation was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Victor Benson, a physician writing into the LA Times, compares anti-vaxxers to flat-Earthers:

Saying there is a vaccine debate is analogous to saying there is a flat-Earth debate. True, there are some people, ignorant of scientific facts, who may claim the Earth is flat. But that doesn’t make it a debate. The casual reader, seeing the phrase “vaccine debate,” would not be faulted for assuming there are valid arguments against the value of vaccines. …

… Whereas claiming the Earth is flat may be innocuous, acknowledging a “debate” about vaccines can harm individuals and damage the public health. The more people think the value and safety of vaccines is debatable, the more people may remain unvaccinated, and the more likely disease will spread.

Let’s invent things for conservatives to be mad about! I know! Grrr! MasterCard is letting transgender people use their chosen names on their credit cards!!! ARGLE BLARGLE!!! Sarabeth Caplin weighs in:

Whether you consider this a capitalistic attempt to appeal to a specific customer base (which it undoubtedly is) or a genuinely inclusive move by Mastercard (which it could also be), it’s a welcome move: Many trans people have problems because the name on their IDs or credit cards don’t match up with the gender they present as, which can compromise their safety and their ability to just make simple purchases. GOP-led states likes Tennessee, Kansas, and Ohio even have laws prohibiting trans people from changing the name on their birth certificates, making the problem even worse.

A wildlife camera in North Carolina gets an image of something difficult to identify, so of course that means it’s aliens.

Quote of the Day

Not a quote, but an infographic-website-concept-timeline of the anti-vaccine movement by Ilia Blinderman. Hard to give you the gist here, but here’s an image. Just go look.