Sorry for the absence yesterday, but the flu done got me. It’s still gottin’ me, actually, but I care too damn much.
NASA’s InSight spacecraft lands safely on Mars.
On December 5, Richard A. Conn will talk to Brenda Vongova at Shakespeare & Co in NYC about his new book, The Earthbound Parent, on encouraging parents to “help stop the centuries-old practice of religious indoctrination.” Proceeds from his book will benefit the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science!
Well this is just awful: The prosecutor’s office of Jakarta, Indonesia has released a smartphone app that encourages everyday folks to report their fellow citizens if they think they hold “misguided” beliefs.
A scientist in China says he has used CRISPR to take twin baby girls and modify their DNA to prevent HIV. The mainstream scientific world is not happy with this guy. The co-inventor of CRISPR, Jennifer Doudna, said:
[This] really reinforces the urgent need to confine the use of gene-editing in human embryos to settings where there’s a clear unmet medical need and where there’s no alternative viable approach.
Business Insider/Pulse profiles the Atheist Society of Nigeria with an interview with one of its members, though without mention of their name. Anyway, he or she says:
There is the shock some people feel when they find out that there are atheists in Nigeria. But for the most part, we find Nigerians are tolerant and love to speak their minds when they disagree with you. So we have plenty of discussions but very few instances of being threatened or bullied. We believe in the power of conversation to help each other understand different opinions and worldviews.
Drag Queen Storytime at the Houston Public Library remains under protest by religious conservatives who seem to think that the wall of separation that keeps them from proselytizing to kids at the library should likewise bar, you know, just, like, people.
Rob Palmer, in his “Well-Known Skeptic” column for Skeptical Inquirer online, seeks out CSICon 2018’s first-timers to see how they experienced the event. (There’s a lot of enthusiasm expressed for being in the presence of Bill Nye.)
Glen Branch of the NCSE writes in Scientific American that evolution education remains imperiled, 50 years after Epperson v. Arkansas:
Sadly, evolution remains socially controversial. Indeed, in a rigorous national survey of public high school biology teachers conducted in 2007, more than one in four of the respondents reported experiencing pressure to downplay evolution.
I say again, thank goodness for the Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science. Oh hey, I just happen to have for you this 43-minute video interview with TIES’s own Bertha Vazquez on 502 Conversations!
What’s worse than being an anti-vax crusader? Being an anti-vax crusader who helps defend accused child abusers based on areas of medicine with which he has no expertise (or there’s a rickets epidemic we need to confront). The New Yorker and ProPublica team up to expose Dr. David Ayoub.
Apparently a jail in Virginia has a special little section just for inmates who want to “live their lives in accordance with the Bible.” How is that even a thing??
Greg Dickinson at the Telegraph looks at the phenomenon of “cryptotourism,” (alas, it is paywalled) which the headline refers to being “in search of animals that don’t exist.” Another name for that is “Pokémon Go.”
A letter to the editor of the Portland Press Herald by Donald Fontaine reminds us that Maine once had a blasphemy law until it was nixed in 1976:
In 1919, a freethinker named Michael X. Mockus was prosecuted and convicted of blasphemy for his insulting rejection of the doctrines of virgin birth and the incarnation of God in Jesus. In 1921, his conviction was upheld (State v. Mockus, 120 Me. 84).
Meanwhile, Humanist Society Scotland seeks to have Scotland’s common law prohibition against blasphemy scrapped as the parliament considers hate crime legislation.
It turns out that it’s not even safe to be a religion scholar today, as a panel of religion experts tell of threats of violence and death for speaking in public.
American Atheists seek to display a sign reading “This season, no matter what you celebrate or why, Happy Holidays! — your atheist neighbors” at, and this is really the name, P.T. Barnum Square. And of course, this utterly benign statement is “controversial.” As reported by the News Times, “Residents gasped and groaned when First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker described the sign.” Of course they did.
Michael Reagan, eldest son of Saint Ronald, says the American Humanist Association’s lawsuit against the religious Bladensburg Cross monument is simply meant to “destroy, damage, and depress Christians.” Wow, AHA must be made up of MONSTERS. (And can’t they find more efficient ways to do that?)
Thomas Reese says it’s time to stop referring to “the Catholic Church” when what we mean is “the old guys who run the worldwide institution known as the Catholic Church,” and instead refer to the “Catholic hierarchy”:
We should not blame the the people of God for the sins of the hierarchy. In many other churches, the people have some say in selecting their leadership and therefore have some responsibility for their hierarchy’s actions. Not so in the Catholic Church, where new leaders are chosen by current leaders.
Franklin Graham is under the impression that President Trump has admitted his own faults.
For example, here’s what Trump says about his (wrong) beliefs about climate change:
One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers. As to whether or not it’s man-made and whether or not the effects that you’re talking about are there, I don’t see it.
He doesn’t see it! Case closed!
Iowa State University researchers show that feelings of anger are “substantially higher” for folks who are sleep deprived. OH AND I GUESS YOU GUYS JUST KNOW EVERYTHING WHY DON’T YOU JUST SHUT UP
The Good Place star Jameela Jamil called out celebrities who hawk weight-loss supplements, inspiring the headline at Jezebel, “Jameela Jamil hopes ‘celebrities shit their pants,'” to which she responds, “I will never have a better headline ever again.”
Quote of the Day
Dictionary.com’s choice for its Word of the Year is “misinformation”:
When people spread misinformation, they often believe the information they are sharing. In contrast, disinformation is crafted and disseminated with the intent to mislead others. Further confusing the issue is the fact that a piece of disinformation can ultimately become misinformation. It all depends on who’s sharing it and why. For example, if a politician strategically spreads information that they know to be false in the form of articles, photos, memes, etc., that’s disinformation. When an individual sees this disinformation, believes it, and then shares it, that’s misinformation.
* * *
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.