I’m proud to share a birthday with the late great science communicator, Carl Sagan. In honor of Carl, here’s a collection of great Carl-related videos:
1. FBI investigating Scientology for human trafficking – A recent profile on ex-Scientologist and Oscar-winner Paul Haggis in the New Yorker also discussed an ongoing FBI investigation into the allegations of abuse by Scientology’s leader David Miscavige, and the enslavement of members of the Sea Org:
The laws regarding traﬃcking were built largely around forced prostitution, but they also pertain to slave labor. Under federal law, slavery is deﬁned, in part, by the use of coercion, torture, starvation, imprisonment, threats, and psychological abuse. The California penal code lists several indicators that someone may be a victim of human traﬃcking: signs of trauma or fatigue; being afraid or unable to talk, because of censorship by others or security measures that prevent communication with others; working in one place without the freedom to move about; owing a debt to one’s employer; and not having control over identification documents. Those conditions echo the testimony of many former Sea Org members…
And speaking of Scientology…
2. Is fictional Unitology in ‘Dead Space 2’ related to Scientology? – The videogame’s creative director says the similarities are just a coincidence, saying the inspiration came from Carl Sagan’s “The Demon-Haunted World”, but his dismissal seems less than convincing given the similarities.
3. One flu vaccine to rule them all? – Researchers may have found a universal flu vaccine to end all flu vaccines. Though it’s worth noting that the trial had only 22 subjects, but bigger studies are in progress.
4. That time of year again for another ‘invisibility cloak’ story – Every year there’s another story about an invisibility cloak on the way with the requisite reference to Harry Potter. Here’s the latest one about a cloak that hides objects, rather than people, and without the use of metamaterials.
5. 1 in 8 U.S. biology teachers are creationists– This is a shocking statistic. Roger Ebert had an appropriate response to this on Twitter, analogizing this to the hypothetical statistic of 1 in 8 math teachers believing 2+2=5.
6. Florida court sides against anti-vax mom in custody battle – This is great news to hear a court rule so decisively against a parent specifically because their anti-vaccine beliefs directly endanger that child’s life. Hopefully, this will help set a precedent in all U.S. courts.
- The FBI Is Investigating Scientology for Human Trafficking [Cults] (gawker.com)
- The Church of Scientology is Under Investigation for Slave Labor (thesuperficial.com)
- Inside Scientology: Abuse, Human Trafficking, FBI Probes (newser.com)
- FBI Scientology Probe: Paul Haggis Leaves Church Over Prop. 8 (nowpublic.com)
- Church of Scientology ‘investigated by FBI’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- Paul Haggis, Josh Brolin speak out against Scientology (arts.nationalpost.com)