“Live Long and Phosphorus” – Organic Food, Astrology Woo, and the Worst Christmas Yet | Center for Inquiry

Ahoy-hoy! Welcome to the Friday edition of the Morning Heresy, CFI’s roundup of news and headlines for the reality-based community.

Recently named Skeptical Inquirer editor Stephen Hupp was featured in a story about his upcoming summer class at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on spotting myths and pseudoscience.

“My goal is just to get them to approach most new ideas with some skepticism,” Hupp said. “I’m not trying to turn people into cynics where they just don’t believe in anything … But, as new data comes in, I want them to be more open-minded.”

Hupp will, of course, be a featured speaker at CSICon 2023 this October, so we’ll all get a chance to “audit his class” and hear from him in-person in Las Vegas.  (Register today, if you haven’t already!)

Speaking of CSICon, our latest video from the 2022 event features Susan Gerbic discussing online skeptical activism during the COVID pandemic, and highlights from “grief vampire” investigations Operation Lemon Meringue and Operation Onion Ring.

A reminder you can also register now for our Skeptical Inquirer Presents livestream next Thursday, June 22 featuring Quackwatch’s Stephen Barrett, MD, in conversation with William M. London. They’ll discuss a host of topics tied to Barrett’s incredible five-plus decades of anti-quackery activism. The event is free, so sign up today.

In a new post on the CFI blog, Jamie Hale offers up “Perspectives on Organic Food.”

Proponents of organic food may be as passionate and as emotional in their defense of organic food as those defending their religion or political beliefs, so discussions on organic food can be volatile. I have experienced these emotionally charged discussions in seminars I have conducted. I tell organic food advocates to follow the evidence. Let science guide the way.

The Washington Post takes a look at the growing interest in astrology in the United States.

The astrology field is booming — a trend that has been driven by younger generations, experts say, and is evidenced by the countless websites and platforms that cater to the astrologically inclined.

This trend has been building for years, but was accelerated by the COVID pandemic.

Astrologers say the field has surged in popularity for several reasons, the most salient of which is better accessibility through technology. Next is the pandemic, and the perilous mental health crisis it propelled.

Of course, for hucksters and con artists, “mental health crisis” is just another way of saying “cash-in opportunity.” And cash-in they have…

According to Allied Market Research, the global astrology industry was valued at $12.8 billion in 2021, up considerably from $2.2 billion in 2018. By 2031, it’s expected to rise to $22.8 billion.

Religion Clause reports on a new lawsuit filed in Maine over new restrictions on public funding for religious schools.

On Tuesday, a Catholic school in Maine and parents who would like to send their children to that school under Maine’s tuition payment program for students from districts without public high schools filed suit in a Maine federal district court challenging new restrictions which the Maine legislature imposed on schools participating in the tuition payment program.

Elsewhere, Right Wing Watch flags this terrifyingly bonkers sermon from Tennessee pastor Kent Christmas, in which he encouraged his followers to show the same kind of “passion” you find in… suicide bombers.

“You want to know why the Muslim faith has had its advancements?” he continued. “It’s because the Muslims were willing to die for their beliefs. They were willing to strap bombs to their chest. They believed in the afterlife.”

“God, give us some men and women that will get a hold of some passion in their spirit and say, ‘I will lay down my life for the Gospel!’” Christmas thundered. “This thing was born in blood.”

Beth Mole at Ars Technica reports that this year’s COVID booster shots will likely only target one version of the pandemic coronaviruses.

An advisory committee for the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday voted unanimously (21 to 0) to recommend updating COVID-19 vaccines for the 2023-2024 period to be a monovalent formula targeting the latest omicron subvariant lineage of XBB. […]

For the update, the advisers examined data suggesting that a monovalent vaccine, rather than a bivalent, would have a better shot at protecting against the latest omicron subvariants and reduce the chances of skewing immune responses back to the ancestral strain, which no longer circulates.

Enceladus, Saturn’s sixth largest moon, appears to have all of the elements necessary to support life now that scientists have discovered phosphorus in one of its oceans.

The element, which is essential to planetary habitability, had never before been detected in an ocean beyond Earth.

The remarkable discovery, which was published in the journal Nature, is the last piece in the puzzle, making Enceladus’ ocean the only one outside of Earth known to contain all six elements needed for life — carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur.

Programming note: The Morning Heresy will be off Monday in observance of the Juneteenth holiday. We will resume regular posting on Wednesday, June 21.

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by the author or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.

This content was originally published here.

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