rostovtsevayu / Adobe Stock

This is the Song That Never Ends

May 6, 2019

More despair for you today: Even though there has been more attention on bills to end religious exemptions for vaccinations, it seems that measures that allow for exemptions are actually gaining ground. Yes, that’s right! Things are getting worse! CNN reports:

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, at least 20 states have introduced bills this year that would

  • broaden the reasons why parents can exempt kids from getting vaccines even if there isn’t a medical need
  • require doctors to provide more information on the risks of vaccines

There are the parents who won’t get their kids vaccinated, and then there are the parents who won’t let their kids get cancer treatments. Meet Taylor Bland-Ball (real name!), a ” holistic birth attendant,” and her husband Joshua McAdams, who felt so strongly that their 3-year-old son with cancer should only be treated with “colloidal silver, reishi mushroom tea, and bitter apricot seeds,” that they “medically kidnapped” him so the state couldn’t force them to save his life.

I missed this from a couple of weeks ago: Jackie Kucinich at The Daily Beast profiles Del Bigtree, producer of the anti-vaxx misinformation/propaganda pseudodocumentary Vaxxed, who says his time in TV production got him into his current line of massively and unconscionably destructive work:

As a television producer on a medical show on CBS called The Doctors and prior to that I was a producer on The Dr. Phil Show, so I had about 10 years of working first in psychology and then in medicine and surgery and cutting edge techniques in science as form of entertainment.

Dom Nero at Esquire puts together a video that looks back at the ridiculous and also massively destructive history of Donald Trump’s love of pseudoscience, and says:

From climate change, to vaccinations, to bizarre conspiracies about wind energy, the President has been perpetuating dozens of pseudoscientific ideas since long before he entered the Oval Office. … Trump has shared anti-vax theories for years, even meeting with prominent (and thoroughly debunked) anti-vaxers such as Andrew Wakefield during his campaign. And that’s not to mention what he said to raging pseudoscientist and banned-from-Youtube snake oil salesman Alex Jones when Trump appeared on his show back in 2015: “Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.”

The longtime conspiracy theorist has surrounded himself with a braintrust full of grifters and coal lobbyists who are actively ignoring the red flags being waved by leading world scientists in favor of their indulgent self-interests.

Ben Radford writes about the facepalmy subject of fake psychics (which is all psychics) who play the role of “truth-teller” by warning us poor folks from the real fake psychics who are actually fake, but not fake like them, because they’re not fake, except they are.

I had meant to include this in Friday’s Heresy, but I messed something up, so it’s important to note that last week Facebook did some serious banning of famous extremists, booting Alex Jones, Infowars, Milo Yiannopoulos, and even Louis Farrakhan, along with others I hadn’t even heard of, considering them “individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate.” Casey Newton at The Verge is skeptical that this will do anything to keep their content off the platform:

…banning an account is not a one-time action. Jones’ existence on Facebook has lasted for nearly a year since the ban hammer first came down. Keeping these extremists off the network is going to be an ongoing challenge. Here’s hoping Facebook is up to it.

Sens. Martha McSally, A Republican, and Martin Heinrich, a Democrat, introduced the Faith Based Community Center Protection Act, which gives houses of worship public funds for the purpose of increasing their security from acts of violence.

Inside Edition, which I didn’t even think was still on the air, runs a piece on megachurch pastors and their love of private jets.

A military plane landing in Jacksonville slid off the runway during a thunderstorm and into a river. No one was seriously hurt, and when asked if that fact constituted a miracle, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue spokesperson Tom Francis told the media, “Oh, I don’t take that kind of approach to anything, I’m more of a secular kind of guy.”

I know this is going to be a shocking disappointment, but it turns out that science doesn’t support the logic of Thanos’s plan to kill half of all life in the universe. I know, I really thought Thanos had totally done the math, had our best interests in mind, and was in no way motivated by an obsession with death and murder.

The Muslim American Society Islamic Center in Philadelphia says it accidentally allowed kids to sing a religious song celebrating the decapitation of one’s enemies. Whoops. This is the song that never eeeeennnnds, yes it goes on and on my frieeeennnnd…

When Pat Robertson did his stopped-clock thing and said that young-Earth creationism was stupid and embarrassing, and made the people who are stupid and embarrassing feel stupid and embarrassed, and also mad. For example, crazytown rightwing nutbag broadcaster Rick Wiles, who said:

He’s an apostate. Pat Robertson just denied the first chapter of the Holy Bible. He doesn’t believe Genesis 1 … The real embarrassment is Pat Robertson. He’s the embarrassment. The only fossil in this story is Pat Robertson, a relic of the past who should retire. Go away. … He is an embarrassment to the body of Chris. It is time for the saints to unite and chase the heretics and the apostates out of the one holy church. Drive ’em out!

Speaking of apostates, a group of also-angry Catholic scholars has written a letter to the bishops of the church urging them to fight the real enemy, that heretic in Rome, Pope Francis:

We are addressing this letter to you for two reasons: first, to accuse Pope Francis of the canonical delict of heresy, and second, to request that you take the steps necessary to deal with the grave situation of a heretical pope. … We limit ourselves to accusing him of heresy on occasions where he has publicly denied truths of the faith, and then consistently acted in a way that demonstrates that he disbelieves these truths that he has publicly denied.

They don’t actually say what any of those occasions, truths, or way-of-acting actually are. But, you know, just look at him! He’s so fluffy!

Even though it’s obvious on its face, legal experts are coming around to the idea that an affiliation between the University of California’s medical school with a Catholic hospital chain might be constitutionally problematic. As UC San Francisco Regent Sherry Lansing said, “I’m not sure we can do this.” Nor should you.

We might have other ‘Oumuamuas in the neighborhood. In Scientific American, Harvard’s Avi Loeb (the guy who wrote the paper that included musings on the interstellar object’s potential as an alien artifact) says there could be millions of extra-Solar objects inside Earth’s orbit around the Sun.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey encourages his employees to drink “salt juice” and we’re all wondering why Twitter is such a mess.

The Matrix is over 20 years old, which means I am very old, people much smarter than me still think we all live in a computer simulation, and I can’t help but think that there’s now way a computer simulation could be this stupid.

Quote of the Day

I found this piece by Evelyn Lamb at Scientific American when I found the ‘Oumuamua article, and I understand almost none of it, but it still amuses me. She thinks humans are as adorably ridiculous as LOLcats when it comes to math:

… there are tens of thousands of mathematicians running around the country. But not a single one of them knows whether π+e is rational or irrational! … Even though most numbers—in a sense, 100% of them—are irrational, humans are strangely obsessed with rational numbers. The fewer and further between the numbers are, the more they care about them. They love integers more than non-integer rational numbers, and they seem to love prime numbers the most of all, even though a smaller and smaller proportion of integers are prime the further out on the number line you look! They are especially fascinated with twin primes, which are rarer still and may even peter out entirely at some point.

… Humans define π to be the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter and then say with a straight face that it is irrational! Even though the word irrational is based on the word ratio!

Yep, I get almost none of that.

* * *

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.