That’s a Pretty Big “If”

October 24, 2019

It’s over, folks. Edward Snowden checked, and no, the government is not aware of, nor is it covering up, evidence of extraterrestrial life or alien contact with Earth. Also just in:

In case you were wondering: Yes, man really did land on the moon. Climate change is real. Chemtrails are not a thing.

Sounds like CFI can more or less pack up now. I’ll fire up my résumé. Anyone need a good news-digest blogger?

A startup nonprofit (is that a thing?) called UAP eXpeditions (UAP stands for Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) is going to look for UFOs and study their technology, as reported by Vice. It sounds like a very, very expensive version of a basic cable ghost-hunter show:

First, the team “will obtain current satellite imagery of the area … and determine whether these anamolous objects can be observed. We will monitor these satellite images both manually and using machine learning and build up a database of detections, classifications, and any observed patterns of activity.”

If, and it’s a big “if,” the satellite imagery does point to a strange concentration of unknown objects, the team will go hunt UFOs. The second step, which is slated for November 2020, is to basically park a large boat off the coast of California loaded with various cameras and sensors to detect and record anomalous aerial activity.

At the CFI blog, Jamie Hale looks at whether current brain-imaging technology can actually “read minds”:

Brain imaging devices are not mind-reading devices. As one researcher noted, “We’re not doing mind reading here. We’re not really peering into your brain and reconstructing pictures in your head. We’re reading your brain activity and using that brain activity to reconstruct what you saw. And those are two very, very different things”

Elizabeth Warren seems to be open to the idea of a “secular outreach director” for her campaign after being presented with the idea by Iowa atheist Justin Scott. “I’m gonna think about that, okay?” she said to him. “It’s a good point! It would be!” The two posed for a picture, and I have to tell you, she looks like she’s a little worried about what she might have just gotten herself into.

Ed Kilgore at New York critiques Bill Barr’s anti-secularism tirade from a Christian perspective:

I was scandalized by the cold secular legalism of Barr’s approach to religion’s role in human life, which is basically, it seems, to reinforce cultural conservatism — replacing Law and Gospel with Law and Order. Barr refers to the Word of God as “God’s instruction manual for the best running of man and human society.” How intensely unspiritual can you get! Where is love, joy, communion, thanksgiving, and celebration? Where is forgiveness and acceptance? Guess these values aren’t sufficiently “utilitarian.” …

… if I were him, I’d be terrified to express with such certainty the identification of God with secular conservative ideology.

Carlo Invernizzi-Accetti at The Guardian teases out what Barr is trying accomplish:

First, by describing “secularists” as engaged in an “unremitting assault on religion and traditional values”, Barr presented an American majority group (self-identified Christians) as a victimized social group. … Second, by establishing an equivalence between morality and religion, and between religion and Christianity, … Barr excluded two key social groups from the remit of those he deemed capable of “free government”: non-believers and non-Christians. … Finally, by talking of a “wreckage of the family”, “record levels of depression and mental illness” and “an increase in senseless violence”, Barr also echoed the idea of an “American carnage” employed by Trump during his inaugural address to present himself as a providentially ordained “savior” called upon to re-establish “order” and “civility”.

Four people are dead and 50 have been injured in Bangladesh as a result of a violent clash by police with protesters angry over an allegedly “blasphemous” Facebook post by a Hindu man.

Exxon Mobil is on trial by the state of New York, charged with defrauding everybody about what they knew about climate change and, more specifically, the financial impact of carbon regulation on the company.

Dr. Tara Zandvliet of San Diego has been charged by the California medical board with gross and repeated negligence for issuing over a thousand medical exemptions for mandated vaccinations. She charges $180 a pop for these bogus exemptions and is responsible for more than a third of all exemptions in the entire state.

I decided to post my HILARIOUS fake-fake-psychic scam letter/speech I gave at CSICon to present the Balles Prize in Critical Thinking. Probably a mistake, but here it is.

Soviet anti-religion propaganda was SCARY AS HELL. Presented with art like this, I think I would have been very uneasy about all my ideological options.

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.