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The Gaps Are So Big

January 8, 2020

So I thought we were suddenly at war, and then it seemed like maybe we weren’t, and I just don’t know what’s going on, which I think puts me in the same position as pretty much everyone else on Earth.

Ryan Burge takes a novel look at the political positions of the major political parties and two belief groups, atheists/agnostics and white evangelicals. He finds that Republicans as a whole tend to be slightly more conservative than evangelicals, but nonbelievers and Democrats, while closely aligned, sort of bounce back and forth as to which group is further to the left. BUT WAIT. Which of the two groups best represents AMERICA™?

Clearly atheists/agnostics are much more liberal on taxation than the average American. However, on the remaining seven issues, atheists/agnostics were closer to the rest of the sample. … It’s fair to conclude that atheists/agnostics do represent the rest of America better than white evangelicals through the lens of these sixteen issues. But, the gaps are so big that neither group represents the public well.

88 percent of Americans say the MMR vaccine is a good idea, outweighing any risks (real or invented), which is unchanged from 2016, according to Pew Research. Degrees of acceptance of vaccine safety seem to correlate with things like education level and income, though considering the status of so many anti-vaxxers, I’m kind of surprised by that. Not surprising: Atheists are by far the most accepting of the science (96 percent). Oh, and, also a little surprising, there’s basically no daylight between Democrats and Republicans on the issue.

American Atheists has released a scorecard for states in regard to religious equality and church-state separation. Not surprisingly, states such as Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas are in the red zone for “religious exemptions that undermine equality,” and still waaaaaay to many states are in the middle-zone of “basic separation” but with “some religious exemptions or special privileges for religion.” Those states include the politically-blue Connecticut, Illinois, Vermont, and Massachusetts. (I’m glad to point out that my state of origin, New Jersey, and my adopted state of Maine are both in the blue zone for “strong protections for religious equality.”)

Here’s a nice thing to see: In Malinus, New York, three newly-elected members of the town board choose to be sworn in on the town’s book of codes rather than a Bible.

There are currently still Americans who are taking Marianne Williamson seriously as a presidential candidate. They live in Fairfield, Iowa. Politico reports:

Williamson has questioned mandatory vaccines. She has written that “sickness is an illusion and does not exist” and that “cancer and AIDS and other physical illnesses are physical manifestations of a psychic scream.” None of this is “evidence-based” or backed by science.

Those pseudoscientific beliefs seem to be shared, in part, by residents of Fairfield. …

… “All of her political ideas are well-formulated,” [Fairfield mayor Ed] Malloy said. “These are things that Marianne has thought through for years. And I understand that mainstream folks listen to them and find them a little bit off-center, outside what they would normally think or say, but there is no debating, and she has thought about these things. They’re not whimsical ideas.”

Philippines approves genetically modified golden rice for consumption, despite bafflingly ridiculous opposition from anti-GMO groups. Steven Novella particularly notes how Greenpeace has sullied itself with its pointless paranoia about GMOs:

The only threat that golden rice poses is to anti-GMO propaganda. So that has become part of the propaganda itself-with some activists arguing that golden rice is a GMO Trojan Horse. So yeah, scientists are going to save millions of poor children from blindness and death all as part of an evil plot to increase acceptance of GMOs. It just shows that once you are stuck in a conspiracy narrative, it can be very hard to get out. … This will prove to be an enduring stain on the reputation of Greenpeace, marking them as a fringe extreme group.

Over one billion animals have died in the Australia fires. One billion. That includes 8000 koalas, if you’re mostly concerned about cute animals.

The U.S. Army is not trying to draft you into World War III via text message.

NASA’s TESS Telescope has discovered its first “circumbinary” exoplanet, a planet that orbits two stars like Tatooine does in Star Wars. Servant of two masters, as it were. TESS has also spotted an Earth-sized planet in its star’s habitable zone a mere 100 light-years away.

Two supermassive black holes are colliding. No, I’m not talking about Congress HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA good lord I’m funny.

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