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You Might Consider Woodworking

October 7, 2020

New pieces from the latest issue of Free Inquiry magazine are now available online:

In a year we all sort of want to fall into a black hole, the Nobel Prize for physics goes to astrophysicists Andrea Ghez and Reinhard Genzel and mathematician Roger Penrose for their work and discoveries about “the darkest secrets of the universe.”

The Nobel Prize in chemistry, meanwhile, goes to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for gene editing with CRISPR.

Jeff Tollefson at Nature catalogues the damage done to science by the Trump administration. “Many scientists fear that increased polarization and cynicism could last for years to come.”

3m releases the results of a big global survey on public trust of science. Those “skeptical of science” (very bad use of “skeptical” there) went down from 35 percent in 2018 to 28 now, likely sparked by the pandemic.

The White House reverses itself (surprise!) and is not blocking the FDA’s safety guidelines for an eventual COVID vaccine. I mean, it was a really bad look.

Also a bad look: HHS secretary Alex Azar is holding meetings with scientists pushing for an aggressive reopening of the economy in order to get us to herd immunity. Politico: “Mainstream medical and public health experts say that [this strategy] could result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands or even millions more U.S. residents.”

HHS whistleblower Rick Bright has resigned.

Former CDC director Dr. William Foege asks current director Robert Redfield to “acknowledge the tragedy of responding poorly [to the pandemic], apologize for what has happened and your role in acquiescing. … It is a slaughter and not just a political dispute.”

Marina Hyde at The Guardian on COVID-denying conspiracy theorists still backing Trump: “It’s as if the moon landing hoaxers were signing over their life savings to Nasa, or the flat Earthers booking a round-the-world ticket.”

Poll: 74 percent of Americans say they always wear a mask outside the home (sure you do, folks), a jump from 60 percent in July. Yes, even 72 percent of men say they wear them.

Contact tracing efforts are being thwarted because people have learned to not pick up the phone, wary of spam calls. I feel that.

Skeptical Raptor: “Get your flu vaccine – unless you’re a dumbass.”

Trump’s doctor is an osteopath, which sounds sketchy to some folks, given osteopathy’s roots with “vitalism” and whatnot. Steven Novella says that while they should ditch the “holistic” jargon, “The medical education provided by an OM education is roughly equivalent to those provided by a traditional medical school.”

We’re keeping track of COVID-19 pseudoscience, snake oil, fake cures, and more at CFI’s Coronavirus Resource Center. Separate fact from fiction and inoculate yourself from misinformation at centerforinquiry.org/coronavirus.

David Von Drehel on Thomas and Alito’s grouse about marriage equality:

The justices might consider woodworking, because, from the looks of this, they don’t have enough to keep them busy. The statement, which carries no legal weight, is essentially a cry from the heart on behalf of Americans whose religious views condemn same-sex marriage. … the statement crosses into sophistry by suggesting that religious liberties are somehow infringed if they aren’t privileged above the civil law.

The Post: Amy Coney Barrett was a “handmaid” for People of Praise. To be clear, “handmaids, now known as ‘women leaders,’ give advice to other women on issues such as child rearing and marriage.”

Stephanie Russell-Kraft at TNR: SCOTUS has already been taken over by the religious right, regardless of whether Barrett ever gets confirmed.

Barrett also apparently opposes in vitro fertilization, spurring Sen. Tammy Duckworth to point out to her colleagues that Barrett is someone who “appears to believe that my daughters shouldn’t even exist.”

Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog breaks down how the justices seemed to be viewing the subject of monetary damages in religious liberty lawsuits as they heard arguments in Tanzin v. Tanvir.

Eric Trump says of his dad, “He’s literally saved Christianity.” …..from?

Ryan Burge parses out what “religion” and “spirituality” mean to folks on various points on the political spectrum, showing some hopeful consensus around “peace, inspiration, and love.”

Today profiles Christian pop star-turned-atheist Jon Steingard and what the response has been.

Facebook bans QAnon, full stop, identifying it as a “Militarized Social Movement.”

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.