Undervaluing the Abstract

August 7, 2018

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According to new data from PRRI, there has been a small increase in the percentage of Americans who believe that discrimination against LGBTQ Americans is okay if it’s based on someone’s religious beliefs. It’s up 3 points from last year just among Democrats.

The Dallas Observer profiles Bob Nygard, a private investigator who targets con artists claiming to be psychics:

Since his first client, he estimates he has recovered more than $3.5 million for 21 victims in 12 different cases. [. . .] He doesn’t really believe in the superstition behind psychics, mediums, fortune tellers, etc., but he says he doesn’t judge anyone for believing in it themselves.

Nygard may want to branch out and head to Colorado, where a bunch of mysterious animal deaths have people turning to Chuck Zukowski, a “UFO researcher” who says there exists a “Paranormal Super Highway.” The article contains this amazing sentence:

I did observe that the anus of the horse had been removed and the edges appeared to very smooth.

You keep at it, Chuck.

Astronomers using the Very Large Array radio telescope have discovered what looks to be a freaking-huge rogue planet outside the Solar System. 12.7 times the mass of Jupiter, it of course has no star to orbit and is itself just on the boundary between planet and brown dwarf star. It’s about 20 light-years away, and relatively young at 200 million years old.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is going to hold a conference to begin planning for the colonization of Mars, and attendees are told to keep their attendance under wraps.

YouTube bans Alex Jones’s channel from its platform, adding to bans by Spotify, Apple, Facebook, and Stitcher. Jones texted to the Washington Post that the bans were a “a counter-strike against the global awakening” and also this, which makes no sense no matter how many times I read it:

We’ve seen a giant yellow journalism campaign with thousands and thousands of articles for weeks, for months misrepresenting what I’ve said and done to set the precedent to de-platform me before Big Tech and the Democratic Party as well as some Republican establishment types move against the First Amendment in this country as we know it.

Twitter is the one major platform that has so far refrained from taking similar action.

The latest issue of Free Inquiry magazine features a thought-provoking cover article by Lowrey R. Brown of the Final Exit Network on ending the stigma of suicide:

In considering another’s suicide deliberation, we should guard ourselves against undervaluing what we cannot see. We do ourselves and others a grave disservice in clinging to visible, quantifiable metrics and undervaluing the abstract, experienced ones. In some cases, there can be enormous value in the absence of life, a value that lies in the avoidance of pain and the preservation of dignity.

Lorence G. Collins got under Ken Ham’s skin when he debunked Noah’s flood in Skeptical Inquirer. Answers in Genesis produced a video to criticize Collins’s article, but of course, Collins was ready to answer right back.

Mark Silk writes that Republicans won’t be able to rely on the religious vote to save them in the midterms, citing numbers showing declining church attendance and increasing numbers of “nones.”

Qutub Rind, an artist in Pakistan, was brutally beaten and killed by his landlord and accomplices over what was first said to be over alleged blasphemy, but now is said to be about late rent. Why change the story? Is one reason supposed to be better than the other?

In a new video, Matt Dillahunty debates Christian apologist Blake Giunta over whether faith can be rational.

Bristol is the last place in England to offer NIH-funded homeopathic treatments, but that may change very soon as officials consider putting a stop to it.

Coventry University is looking for folks to take their survey for a big 10-year study. They say they’re looking for all kinds to participate and mentioned to us specifically, “theists, spiritualists, agnostics, atheists, polytheists, ‘spiritual but not religious.’ Everyone!”

Quote of the Day

Paul Waldman explains why Republicans, who are now so firmly in power, are still so prone to buy into bananapants conspiracy theories:

Conservatives have been trained by the people they trust most to believe that everything is a conspiracy. And not just a conspiracy; a conspiracy against them. [. . .] In fact, even what we regard as relatively “mainstream” conservative news organizations offer their audiences a picture painted every day of a society run through with one conspiracy after another: a conspiracy of liberal professors to brainwash your children, a conspiracy of liberal journalists to twist the news, a conspiracy of liberals in Hollywood to undermine your values, a conspiracy in government to destroy Trump. No matter who is in power, there are still multiple conspiracies out to get you.

How does one sign up for one of these conspiracies? I bet they pay well, with all that sweet, sweet Soros money.

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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.