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Spending Time Being Hyper-Defensive

March 26, 2019

At FiveThirtyEight, Maggie Koerth-Baker has some bad news about conspiracy theories: They have been and likely always will be with us, and at least one guy says we shouldn’t want them to go away completely:

“I don’t think so,” [University of Winchester psychology professor Michael] Wood said. “I’m sure some people would disagree with me on that. But the objective shouldn’t be nobody speculates about people in power abusing power. That’s a terrible outcome for the world.”

E.J. Dionne is pretty jazzed about the way Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttttijidggjj… (I am going to get this right one day, I just know it) Buttigieg (got it) handles the topic of religion:

What’s important about Buttigieg’s remarks on religion and community is that he broached issues that seem to have more traction on the right than the left. He takes conservatives seriously enough to challenge them on concerns that genuinely engage them.

If some liberals, as conservatives complain, tend to marginalize religion’s public role, might one reason be the bizarre and reprehensible invocation of faith by Christian nationalists to justify bigotry?

Ed Kilgore at New York Magazine tacks on his own Butti-vouching:

Would anyone be confident in accusing this married, churchgoing Afghanistan veteran of being ethically inferior to Donald Trump? Not without risking hellfire.

You underestimate the right’s tolerance for risk, Mr. Kilgore.

There is apparently a meme going around spreading the idea that by the year 2040, there will be a sufficient number of Muslims in the U.S. to, I guess all on their own, elect the president. Which I suppose is intended to make you scared of some caliph-imam president who will impose sharia on your family. In case you don’t realize how dumb that is on its face, Snopes clears it up for you: Muslims will make up only about 2 percent of the population by 2050, and even then would be too widely dispersed to have any major impact on a given state. And then Snopes makes this point:

Even if such a huge shift in the religious make-up of the U.S. population were possible in such a relatively short timeframe, it’s unclear what readers could or should do in response to the meme’s exhortation for them “to make a difference.” Repeal the First Amendment’s religious liberty protections in order to bar Muslims from voting? Encourage non-Muslim women to engage in a “baby race” to out-populate Muslims? Pass legislation against demographics?

As ridiculous as that sounds, I’m sure the truth is worse.

The former head of the Log Cabin Republicans (a organization ostensibly working for LGBTQ rights within the GOP) exemplifies the paradox of his erstwhile organization by opposing the Equality Act, expressing concerns that the bill would make it too hard for religious groups to discriminate against him.

At The Ascent on Medium, Julie McClung Peck explains why she’s leaving organized Christianity, though not Christianity itself, giving three major reasons. “The Catholic thing,” the maniacal focus on being as mean as possible to gays, and Christianity in government:

Our Secretary of State sits in Israel being interviewed by the Christian Broadcasting Network, drawing parallels between Queen Esther and Trump and stumping for his ultimate campaign costs. Altogether, this is both an inappropriate way to develop and execute public policy and a ridiculous way to suck up to the base, hiding policy within platitudes.

I don’t want to elect a Savior. I already have one of those.

Derek Beres at Big Think digs into the research on what anti-vaxxers are really afraid of beyond autism, such as “the government” and “the weird stuff invented in a laboratory.”

Gary Nunn at The Guardian tries his damnedest to write a straight, unbiased, fair-minded piece on naturopathy, and the naturopaths could not be satisfied:

There were attempts to discredit the academics I interviewed, and shoehorn their own, cherry-picked ones in. A senior Cambridge University educated medical professional I interviewed – a dissenter – was labelled “ignorant”. I was told that if I really cared about the public, and if I had any credibility as a journalist, I’d remove the skeptical comments. There was a transparent attempt to rubbish a former naturopath who now speaks out against the industry. A demand to see a revised piece was then made. I declined, asking that my professionalism and independence as a journalist was respected.

Surely, if they truly had faith in their practice, naturopaths would let the results speak for themselves, rather than spending time being hyper-defensive and trying to discredit trained medical professionals.

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority bars ads promoting “CEASE” therapies for autism (Complete Elimination of Autism Spectrum Expression, aka, “cures”).

Lance Gardner visits the Bigfoot Discovery Museum in Felton, California for a profile for NPR affiliate KALW.

At, Leada Gore tells us of the “Alabama White Thang” (wow they’re really creative with the names there in Alabama, huh?) which the headline says is Alabama’s “most mythical creature” that “you’ve probably not heard of,” which I think is a contradiction. (If it were the “most mythical,” the odds I’d have heard of it would increase, right?)

NASA calls off what was supposed to be the first all-female spacewalk on the International Space Station because they didn’t have enough space suits that fit the women astronauts. This seems, um, embarrassing.

“Dear Prudence” (aka Daniel Mallory Ortberg) at Slate advises a reader about whether to confess their atheism to their religious parents:

If you want your parents to continue making the same assumption that you have vague but active spiritual beliefs, you’ll have to resign yourself to coming up with excuses or telling out-and-out lies.

California coffee shops are required to post warnings about acrylamide, a chemical in burned or toasted food, in their coffee, because it has been shown to cause cancer…if you ate, like, several meals worth of acrylamide-cakes:

“Adults with the highest consumption of acrylamide could consume 160 times as much and still only be at a level that toxicologists think unlikely to cause increased tumors in mice,” [said] David Spiegelhalter, a University of Cambridge professor who studies public risk.

Quote of the Day

You really need to check out this New York Times piece by San Siego State University philosophy professor Peter Atterton on why the western conception of God is just impossible. For example:

A morally perfect being would never get enjoyment from causing pain to others. Therefore, God doesn’t know what it is like to be human. In that case He doesn’t know what we know. But if God doesn’t know what we know, God is not all knowing, and the concept of God is contradictory. God cannot be both omniscient and morally perfect. Hence, God could not exist.

Oooooooh snap!

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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.