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So Preposterous, So Contemptible

September 6, 2019

The Clergy Project, where nonbelieving clergy find support and community, will soon pass the 1000-member milestone. Yonat Shimron at Religion News Service reports:

Whatever the number of atheists, the success of The Clergy Project indicates that it is meeting a need.

“It’s not a project that fizzled and died,” said Ryan Cragun, professor of sociology at the University of Tampa who studies atheists. “This is a project that has legs and is continuing to grow, and more and more people are signing up to say, ‘How can I repurpose my life? I need to do something different.’”

The cover feature of the latest Skeptical Inquirer is now available free online: Victor Benson takes to task National Geographic for hawking a bunch of pseudoscience-packed books on “natural remedies.”

Ben Radford looks at a particularly pernicious way fake news gets spread: When it’s old news shared as though it’s new:

… a news story about a single specific incident of, for example, a Muslim group killing innocent Christians, or vice-versa, may be revived multiple times over the years, giving the illusion that the events keep occurring when in fact it may have been a one-time event. News organizations would not intentionally present past events as recent news, precisely because people assume that what they’re seeing in news feeds is both timely and important. Social media users, on the other hand, have no qualms about sharing old or misleading content if it promotes some pet social or political agenda.

The Freethought Trail, a project of CFI’s Council for Secular Humanism, is commemorating the centennial of women’s suffrage with expanded coverage of key suffrage figures, including a spotlight on the trial of Susan B. Anthony, whose crime was voting in an election.

Pope Francis does the papal equivalent of the shoulder-brush gesture when asked to comment on right-wing American Catholics who don’t like him, saying, “For me, it’s an honor if the Americans attack me.

Speaking of the American Catholic Church, here’s an example of how they handle allegations of sexual harassment from within their ranks; badly. Let’s check in on the Buffalo Diocese with reporting from WKBW’s I Team, who have the freaking recordings of how this was all dealt with:

In November 2018, seminarian Matthew Bojanowski said Bishop Malone was first notified of the sexual harassment allegations Bojanowski was making against [Rev. Jeffrey] Nowak. Two years earlier — while Bojanowski was considering the priesthood — he said Nowak began sexually pursuing him based on information he told the priest in the confessional.

“After rejecting Father Nowak’s advances and harassment, I had to endure many months of revenge and retaliation by Father Nowak, and to other members of clergy, including slander and emotional abuse,” Bojanowski said at a news conference late last month. …

They refer to Nowak’s Facebook messages to Bojanowski, where Nowak tells him, “when you become a priest, you will be what we call clerical eye candy.”

Holy gross.

The first charges stemming from the huge Pennsylvania church sexual abuse investigation have been filed: a former priest is accused of lying to the FBI about knowing an alleged victim.

Ted Cruz is going to meet with Alyssa Milano to talk about how the Bible does or does not grant the right to own guns. We are living in a cartoon nonsense world.

The group of Hawaiian activists opposed to the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea are really freaking serious about this, and show no signs of backing down:

“From a creation story standpoint this is connected to our cosmogonic genealogies,” [Hawaaian studies instructor Mehena] Makainai said. “This is where we say, according to some of our stories, that our world — not the entire world, but Hawaii — began. We see the union of Papahānaumoku, earth mother, and Wākea (sky father), right here on this mauna. We have these deep ties through our religious beliefs to Mauna Kea being sacred.”

You might have seen the headlines about a kid who went blind because he was a fussy eater who only ate junk food. That’s not quite right, and it’s dismissive of a serious issue, as Clay Jones at Science-Based Medicine explains:

What the patient suffered from was far more than simply being a fussy eater. He likely experienced extreme anxiety, potentially even the fear of death, at the mere thought of eating most foods. … This was a preventable case of blindness in a pediatric patient. Somehow this child didn’t get the medical care he should have. His dietary restrictions, caused by a severe eating disorder and not “fussy eating”, should have been recognized and managed prior to his loss of vision. Rather than demonizing the foods he ate, however, we should be focusing on preventing children like this from slipping through the cracks.

Because quantum physics makes almost no sense (to me, anyway), the proton has proved to be very difficult to measure. Well, now some folks think they might have nailed it, and it’s apparently smaller than a lot of folks thought. 0.83 femtometers, if you have an office betting pool.

Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope FOR ETERNAL SALVATION AMEN.

Quote of the Day

Filmmaker Errol Morris made a series of 30-second spots commenting on global warming starring the great Bob Odenkirk, and here’s Morris’s statement:

I have never had any trouble believing in climate change, global warming, or whatever you want to call it. The scientific evidence is overwhelming. Galileo famously replied to Archbishop Piccolomini (or some other Vatican prelate), “And yet it moves.” Today we could just as well say, “And yet it changes.” But what to do about it? Logic rarely convinces anybody of anything. Climate change has become yet another vehicle for political polarization. If Al Gore said the Earth was round there would be political opposition insisting that the Earth was flat. It’s all so preposterous, so contemptible.

I’ve created nineteen thirty-second spots that profile a character I created: Admiral Horatio Horntower. He’s an admiral of a fleet of one and perhaps the last man on Earth. Hopefully it captures the absurdity and the desperation of our current situation. No pie graphs, no PowerPoint—just a blithering idiot played by one of my favorite actors, Bob Odenkirk.

Also, Odenkirk’s Horntower to the penguin he shares the ice block with:

Wipe that smirk off your beak.

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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.