pololia / Adobe Stock

Someone Else’s Mess

July 22, 2019

I’m back. While I was away, the American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists gave Wegmans supermarkets their “Integrative Medicine Award.” A Wegmans spokesperson said, “We strive to offer our consumers as much choice as possible when it comes to caring for the health of their families and themselves.” I look forward to them expanding their selection of leeches, Thetan scanners, and voodoo dolls.

And that’s it. Nothing else happened.


Some Trump-supporting clergy are becoming uncomfortable with Trump’s racist attacks. Gosh, that must be so hard for them. Says one, “I have grave concerns about his spiritual condition.” Took them long enough.

CFI chair Eddie Tabash reflects on the legacy of former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens who died last week at the age of 99:

Justice Stevens turned out to be one of the most stalwart defenders of the separation of church and state, in terms of what such separation really means. He thoroughly understood that the Framers of the First Amendment intended for believers and nonbelievers to be equal before the law. This is a concept that all too few people really understand.

Online ordination for marriage officiants is under threat by a bill in Tennessee, and Kelsey Dallas talked to our own Nick Little about the entire issue of who does and does not get to solemnize a union:

As long as the paperwork gets filed, the state shouldn’t care if you’re married in Vegas by an Elvis impersonator or at your local church by a Presbyterian minister or in the woods by a Wiccan or in a local park by your friend.

This is something I didn’t expect: Orthodox Patriarch Mike Pence calls on Saudi Arabia to release Raif Badawi, the progressive secularist blogger and activist who is serving a 10-year/1000-lash sentence for blasphemy.

Medicare is going to start paying for acupuncture for lower back pain treatment tests. Steven Salzberg reacts:

… rather than spend millions of dollars on yet another study of acupuncture for pain, I have a better suggestion for HHS: invest the funds in basic biomedical research, which has had a flat budget for more than a decade now. As long as it goes through proper peer review, almost any research will be far better than wasting the money on acupuncture.

Mike Pompeo’s State Department held its second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. Props to Sam Brownback who remembered that we exist:

Whether Baha’is, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Zoroastrians or others — and there are many other faiths represented here — or no faith at all, people from every religion and belief experience persecution somewhere and often it’s deadly.

Quantum entanglement was sort of photographed? I think? That seems like a big deal.

In the run-up to CSICon 2019, Susan Gerbic interviews former naturopath Britt Marie Hermes, who comes to CSICon after a defamation suit filed by a naturopath against her was dismissed.

At Medium’s publication GEN, Gwenna Laithland cops to being a former anti-vaxxer, and what turned her around to the side of reality.

Republicans really want Amazon to sell books on pseudoscientific gay-conversion therapy by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi. The House’s Republican Study Committee put out a handout that said that the LGBTQ community wields an “extravagant amount of power.” Extravagant.

Tara Isabella Burton looks at the life of philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch, who would have just turned 100, known for her work exploring “the potential of seeking the Good without a personal God.”

David Epstein discusses the virtues of science curiosity and the, ahem, sci-curious:

They aim not to bring people around to their perspective but to encourage others to help them disprove what they already believe. This is not instinctive behavior. Most of us, armed with a Web browser, do not start most days by searching for why we are wrong. …

Science curiosity is different from science knowledge. Science-curious folk always chose to look at new evidence, whether it aligned with their beliefs or not. Less science-curious adults became more resistant to contrary evidence and more politically polarized as they gained subject matter knowledge.

At the CFI blog, Dr. John Anthony Glynn looks at why we humans just don’t seem to be sufficiently motivated to take on global warming:

From an evolutionary perspective… we are not “designed” to take future threats as seriously as immediate ones. Though the sea levels are rising and the world’s honeybees are quite literally dropping dead, for most of us the worst is yet to come—in a few decades, maybe even half a century. Most of us will be old by then; some of us will be long gone. Basically, we treat the world the same way Led Zeppelin used to treat hotel rooms. The world is someone else’s mess to take care of.

Remember that hiker, a yoga instructor named Amanda Eller, who got lost in Hawaii for like seventeen days? Me neither, but apparently it was a big story. Anyway, Benjamin Radford notes how she so openly admits to relying entirely on her “gut” and intuition (and numerology?) to save her, when in fact it was following those instincts that got her so utterly lost and nearly dead in the first place.

Ben was also interviewed on KSRO radio.

Turns out that millennials like energy crystals and horoscopes. Jessica Roy at the LA Times writes:

Young people have grown up contending with a major recession, climate change and a more general awareness of seeing a political and economic system that many feel hasn’t benefited them … so it’s not surprising that they’re pushing back against those systems at the same time they’re exploring nontraditional religious beliefs and finding ways to integrate it all.


As though predicting my vigorous eye-rolling, James Croft writes:

Too often it feels like people’s opposition to things like astrology is more about making Humanists feel smarter than others than about a principled search for truth. This is a tendency we should root out in our movement and in ourselves – I certainly have a lot of work to do still on that front. … Humanists have a responsibility to be sensitive to the context and history of any spiritual practice – especially when majority communities and commentators pass judgment on the spiritual practices of marginalized people.

The Guardian ponders the rapid decline of religious belief:

Within the US, there is a very clear correlation between prosperity and atheism, and between poverty and religious belief. But which is the cause, and which the effect? The narrative that religion supplies false hope will only be popular while it appears that irreligion supplies a real one.

Former Republican presidential adviser Peter Wehner says of Trump’s religious-right base:

I think a lot of these white evangelical leaders are doing more to hurt Christianity than the so-called New Atheists ever could.

Hey, give us time! Y’all’ve had a couple of millennia to screw things up. We’re still new at this.

Bishop Michael J. Bransfield spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on gifts for priests he is accused of sexually harassing, but Pope Francis thinks it’s fine to keep him on the job.

Ricky Gervais goes on Colbert’s show again to mix it up, and explain why the octopus makes up for the lack of unicorns. Gervais, you recall, will be in conversation with Richard Dawkins in London in September and will receive the Richard Dawkins Award.

One of the things I did while I was away (not that it’s any of your business) was visit (make a pilgrimage to) the Marvel exhibit at the Franklin Institute so I could commune with Cap’s shield. I assume that exhibit would have really freaked out this person who is demanding a man take down his statue of Spider-Man’s hands because something-something-the-devil. (And not even the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.)

Quote of the Day

The great Carrie Poppy:

Whoa. An acorn just fell from a tree, directly on the part of your upper back where a stranger taps you. It immediately gave me the “feeling of being looked at.” How many ghost encounters were from falling acorns, ya think?

Anyway, I’m Isaac Newton now.

* * *

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.