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The Ballooning Human Swarm

August 27, 2019

The Democratic National Committee has acknowledged the reality of their coalition and approved an official resolution recognizing the centrality of the nones in their midst:

1. [The DNC recognizes the] value, ethical soundness, and importance of the religiously unaffiliated demographic, a group of Americans who contribute in innumerable ways to the arts, sciences, medicine, business, law, the military, their communities, the success of the Party and prosperity of the Nation; and

2. That religiously unaffiliated Americans are a group that, as much as any other, advocates for rational public policy based on sound science and universal humanistic values and should be represented, included, and heard by the Party.

A New York Supreme Court judge upholds the state’s newly-strengthened vaccination requirements for public school students. The Gothamist reports:

“For at least a century, the courts have repeatedly upheld the states’ compulsory vaccination laws,” Judge Hartman wrote, and quoting from the 1944 Supreme Court case Prince v Massachusetts, “the right to practice religion does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death.”

At Skeptical Inquirer, Stuart Vyse shows how the peer review process is by no means foolproof, telling of an “adventure in peer review” regarding an article on autism:

I find it hard to understand why researchers would use such widely discredited evidence in a submission to a prestigious journal. Especially if—as was the case here—it was unnecessary. … The challenges faced by peer reviewers are such that the process will probably always be imperfect, but I believe this episode suggests there are ways we could make it a little less imperfect.

This is so facepalmy. Just make sure that when you apply your palm to your face that you are not still gripping any acupuncture needles. Harriet Hall writes about a paper in an acupuncture journal showing that (get ready!) there’s no agreement about where you’re supposed to stick the damn needles:

They point out that “Accuracy of point location is essential for safe, efficacious and reliable treatments and valid reproducible research outcomes.” Well, duh! Of course it is! How long has acupuncture been practiced? Why are they only now beginning to wonder if they can actually get an acupuncture needle into the right spot? … This study represents Tooth Fairy Science at its most ridiculous. They tried to assess the reliability of locating points that have never been shown to exist. An exercise in futility, if you ask me.

So, maybe go ahead and jab away with your facepalming. It’d be just as medically legitimate as anything else in acupuncture.

G7 nations agree to donate $22.2 million to Brazil to help combat the Amazon forest fires (which, to me, seems like a paltry sum for something so monumentally catastrophic). But President Jair Bolsonaro, a climate science denier, says, essentially, morde-me:

“We cannot accept that a President, Macron, issues inappropriate and gratuitous attacks against the Amazon,” he tweeted. “Nor that he disguises his intentions behind an ‘alliance’ of the G-7 countries to ‘save’ the Amazon, as if it were a colony or no man’s land.”

Andrew Yang, whose dark horse presidential campaign marches on, releases a plan to address climate change that includes a major emphasis on space mirrors. No, really. Justine Calma at The Verge reports:

He’s the only candidate whose plan to avert the climate crisis banks on geoengineering (aka developing technologies to manipulate the environment). His plan would invest $200 million in researching geoengineering methods like space mirrors. That’s right, he’s looking into “giant foldable space mirrors” that would reflect the Sun’s light away from the Earth as a “last resort.”

The creativity and investigative process that goes into ghosthunter and cryptid “reality” shows is being STIFLED by the MAN, so producers are taking their shows to YouTube, where, like with all paranormal pseudoscientography, THERE ARE NO RULES. Vice reports:

Hellier has been watched by more viewers than most new cable paranormal reality shows pull in a season, and it still made money from t-shirt sales, ad rolls, and donations,” [producer Greg] Newkirk said. “We’ve recouped the first season costs and even gained a budget for season two that’s improved our gear and widened our scope.”

Look out, everybody, they’ve updated their gear. Why worry? Each of us is wearing an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.

We learn via a parable from Rabbi Dan Fink, writing in the Idaho Statesman, that God is a-okay with atheists, sort of:

“Samuel, all will be well, for God must have willed this to be the case.”

“How can you say that?” cried Samuel. “Why would God make my son become an atheist?”

“Well,” said the rabbi, “God dearly needs atheists. Because sometimes we people of faith tend to put all of our energy into prayer and learning and sacred reflection. That’s when we need atheists to set an example, to prod us into action. Atheists are essential because they remind the faithful that if we wait around for God to right the world’s ills, things will only get worse. They teach us that if we want to heal what’s broken, it is up each and every one of us. If we do not speak – and act – up, then we are complicit with evil.”

He has a broader point:

Much of our nation has hardened its heart against immigrants, wallows in gun violence, abuses the natural world and revels in bigotry – starting with the president of the United States, whose insidious rhetoric is somehow still supported by those who claim to be people of faith.

If this is faith, give me atheism.

It is given!

James Haught muses on what humanism boils down to for him; helping others and recognizing that “other people are as real behind their eyes as you are behind yours.” But it’s not easy or simple:

When I was born in 1932, the world had two billion population. Now it’s nearing eight billion, almost quadrupling in a single lifetime. Humanists face the challenge of trying to make life livable for the entire, ballooning, human swarm.

Looks like Scotland is going to have a build a big, beautiful wall and make England pay for it in order to stop all these nonbelievers from crossing the border looking for humanist weddings. About 5000 humanist marriages were conducted in Scotland last year in which neither party was a resident of Scotland.

Whatever you do, don’t say anything not-nice about NYT conservative columnist Bret Stephens, even when no one’s listening. He knows. He always knows. And he will make sure you PAY.

Quote of the Day

My dear friend Gia Mora, a super-brilliant performer and overall wonderful person, here performs her original song “Atheist Rhapsody” at Second City Hollywood.

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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.