The origins of the lizard people theory

I must admit that hearing that some people believe in the existence of ‘lizard people’ took me by surprise, even though you would think that by now I would have become accustomed to hearing that people believe in all manner of fantastical ideas. So what is this theory and how did it originate? Cultural historian Lynn Stuart Parramore walks us through this strange world that has anti-Semitic roots. She says that while the theory is undoubtedly bonkers, it is definitely not harmless.

The world-ruled-by-lizard-people fantasy shot to prominence in recent years in part through the ramblings of David Icke, a popular British sports reporter-turned-conspiracy theorist known for his eccentric ideas.

Icke would have you believe that a race of reptilian beings not only invaded Earth, but that it also created a genetically modified lizard-human hybrid race called the “Babylonian Brotherhood,” which, he maintains, is busy plotting a worldwide fascist state. This sinister cabal of global reptilian elites boasts a membership list including former President Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Mick Jagger.

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My Scientific American article on Kelvin and Darwin

In lieu of a post, I will refer you to an article of mine that was just published in Scientific American magazine titled When Lord Kelvin Nearly Killed Darwin’s Theory. It deals with an an interesting historical period in the second half of the 19th century that pitted two scientific giants against each other in which the age of the Earth was the key factor in determining the final outcome.

Enjoy! And let me know in the comments what you think.

Evolution has won the war over creationism

We seem to be awash in various culture wars that seem to never end. So it is good to consider one that was major war less than two decades ago that seems to have ended quietly. A new survey suggests that the war between evolution and various forms of creationism has resulted in science winning a resounding victory. A paper based on survey results gives the reasons for this shift. Its abstract says:

The public acceptance of evolution in the United States is a long-standing problem. Using data from a series of national surveys collected over the last 35 years, we find that the level of public acceptance of evolution has increased in the last decade after at least two decades in which the public was nearly evenly divided on the issue. A structural equation model indicates that increasing enrollment in baccalaureate-level programs, exposure to college-level science courses, a declining level of religious fundamentalism, and a rising level of civic scientific literacy are responsible for the increased level of public acceptance.

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When bonkers beliefs lead to murders

The internet is awash with examples of people in the US who believe in the craziest things. Even without seeking them out, my casual websurfing throws up so many that I have become somewhat numb to the examples that I find that demonstrate deep stupidity. But once in a while, I come across things that really boggle the mind, the more so when the perfectly normal way that people start out talking give you no warning that they are about to say things that are completely bonkers.

Take this woman who rose to speak at a school board meeting in Kansas where they were debating whether to require students to wear masks.

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New information about the outing of leading Catholic official

I wrote two weeks ago about the resignation of a high-ranking Catholic official, Monsignor Jeffrey Burill, the general secretary of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, after a Catholic publication named The Pillar used cellphone data to deduce that he was a frequent user of Grindr, the queer dating app, and regularly visited gay bars. I wondered at the time whether this exposure was due to homophobia and it appears that it was.

In an interview with Michael O’Loughlin, a national correspondent at the Catholic media organization America, the radio program On The Media provides some background on The Pillar, that it is a small but virulently anti-gay organization dedicated to getting rid of all gay Catholic priests from the church.
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Not all hypocrisies are equally deserving of opprobrium

Ever since Edward Snowden revealed the vast extent to which governments and tech companies collect data on each and every one of us, people should have assumed that anything they do is known or inferable since communication technology is so all-encompassing that we all leave a trail almost wherever we go and whatever we do. So we should live as if the details of our lives can be revealed at any time. This is not a good way to live but it is the reality.

But this causes a problem for those who are pretty much forced to live part of their lives in secret. This is the case for gay Catholic priests. While we may wonder why they joined and stay in an institution that shuns them just for who they are, there are plenty of scenarios by which someone could end up being a prominent member of an organization that discriminates against people like them and not everyone is in a position to quit. But that does not mean that they deserve to be outed for their private activities, as happened with a high-ranking administrator of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
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Churchgoing after the pandemic

During the height of the pandemic when things were pretty much locked down and all but essential workers were required to work from home, there was considerable speculation as to whether some of the changes in work and lifestyle might become permanent. Particularly in the case of work, many people found the absence of a tedious commute a very positive benefit. Some business found that they could dispense with the offices in city centers for which they were paying high rents. As a result, there was speculation that some employers might continue the practice even after things opened up, adopting at least a hybrid model of some days at home and some in office. It is too early to see whether those speculations will pan out or whether businesses will go back to the old ways.
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