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Skeptic Summary

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Skeptic Summary #51

By The Staff
Posted on: 7/29/2005

Ghostly theory, annoying Americans, banning smoking, Pascal's wager, plague, secondhand smoke and more!

Week ending July 29, 2005 (Vol 2, #30)

Welcome to the Skeptic Summary, a quick week-in-review guide to the Skeptic Friends Network and the rest of the skeptical world.

Forum Highlights:
Apparitions and Haunted Houses - Or, an unknown theory.

Canada has ticked off at least one american! - And talking about it seems to piss off more.

Smoking Bans - What a drag!

Editor’s Choice: The “Pascal’s Wager” Wager - I bet on the people, not on the game.

From the Archives: The Black Death and Evolution - Bring out your dead!

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Discussion of Source of Claims of 50,000 Deaths from Passive Smoking - While the debate still rages, with anti-smoking legislation passed or being considered in many states, the EPA studies that kicked off the rush to judgment regarding the dangers of passive smoking are still being widely cited. So I give you this. It is not the latest criticism of the EPA’s findings, but I think it’s the most understandable that I have read, especially with regard to presenting the problems of gathering usable data as evidence to support the findings of this kind of study.
Chat Highlights:
Sunday: Our Sunday chat host was on vacation, and nobody filled in.

Wednesday: Chat started off small, with Cuneiformist wondering why no one was making any puns. If only he’d known… Also: school and procrastination; Harry Potter; the guy who wrote A Clockwork Orange; surviving bodily Death; Storm’s son’s psychic powers; Airplane!; Duckelephant… just plain bad jokes; blood for fun and profit. Stay tuned next week for more chat excitement!

Come chat with us.
New Members this Week:
Pernicious Knid

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Bad Science

Egg gives scientists peek at dinosaur development

Physicist throws time-travel theories a curve

Shuttle returns to space

Skepticality #13 - Mesmer, Monkey, and Video Sex

What’s New by Bob Park

Got some skeptic news items? Send them to us, and we’ll think about adding them.
Book of the Week:
Creation and Destruction: A Reappraisal of the Chaoskampf Theory in the Old Testament, by David Toshio Tsumura

“In 1989, David Tsumura published a monograph entitled The Earth and the Waters in Genesis 1 and 2: A Linguistic Evaluation, in which he demonstrated that the oft-recited claim that the early chapters of Genesis betrayed a background or adaptation by Israel of mythological terms and/or motifs from other ancient Near Eastern literature could not be supported by a close examination of the linguistic data. Despite the book’s positive reception, the notion that the Chaoskampf motif lies behind the early chapters of Genesis continues to be rehearsed in the literature as if the data were incontrovertible.

In this revised and expanded edition of the 1989 book, Tsumura carries the discussion forward… Among the questions asked are the following: What are the functions of ‘waters’ and ‘flood’ in biblical poetry? Do the so-called chaos dragons in the Old Testament, such as Leviathan, Rahab, and Yam, have anything to do with the creation motif in the biblical tradition? What is the relationship between these poetic texts and the Ugaritic myths of the Baal-Yam conflict? Are Psalms 18 and 29 ‘adaptations’ of Canaanite hymns, as suggested by some scholars?”

— Book Description

More issues of the Skeptic Summary can be found in our archive.

The Skeptic Summary is produced by the staff of the Skeptic Friends Network, copyright 2005, all rights reserved.

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