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Skeptic Summary #99

By The Staff
Posted on: 7/8/2006

Archeobibliology, antimatter blackholes, asteroids, false research results, bad moves and more!

Week ending July 8, 2006 (Vol 3, #26)

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:
Laugh-a-minute ‘Archaeology and the Bible’ site - True to the title, and then some.

Matter and the Big Bang 2 - Electromagnetic Boogaloo

More idiotic science headlines: Asteroid of doom - Bring it, you *!(#$@!!!

Editor’s Choice: Why are most research findings false? - Is that including or excluding the research finding in question?
Kil’s Evil Pick:
Bad Moves - “Bad Moves is a series by philosopher Julian Baggini detailing the various ways in which arguments or points are made badly, but often persuasively.”
Chat Highlights:
Sunday: Formula 1, almost a fiasco at Indianapolis; monthly statistics of SFN with evil numbers; Skepticality forum; Paradise Lost; West Memphis Three; Dan Brown books; days of the week, and their connection to mythology.

Wednesday: Chat opened with astronomy and puzzles. Then, onto program launchers and internet browsers. It seems as if the SFN QUOTE tags don’t work well in some of them. Kil loses a chili cook-off. He claims that he won two in the past, but I’ll be skeptical ’til he can provide some evidence. After testing our psychic abilities to guess how many fingers someone is holding up, we discover other uses for fingers. Back to more astonomy. Then back to those $%&@ing puzzles. Chat ended with a final dicussion on browsers and java clients.

Come chat with us.
New Members This Week:
Orwellingly Yurz

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Bad Science

Large asteroid zips past Earth

Skeptic’s Dictionary Newsletter 69

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:
Devil’s Knot: the True Story of the West Memphis Three, by Mara Leveritt.

“On the evening of May 5, 1993, in the small town of West Memphis, Arkansas, three eight-year-old boys disappeared. The next afternoon, the naked bodies of Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore were found submerged in a nearby stream. The boys had been bound from ankle to wrist with their own shoelaces and severely beaten. Christopher had been castrated.

The crime scene had yielded few clues, and despite Christopher’s castration, there was a remarkable absence of blood. The police were stymied, and citizens’ alarm mounted as weeks passed without an arrest. Finally, a month after the murders, detectives announced three arrests — and a startling theory of the crime: that the children had been killed by members of a satanic cult.

Detectives attributed their break in the case to a former special education student, seventeen-year-old Jessie Misskelley Jr. Although Jessie insisted he knew nothing of the crime, after eight hours of questioning, police announced that he had implicated himself and accused two other teenagers, eighteen-year-old Damien Echols and sixteen-year-old Jason Baldwin. Damien and Jason both denied Jessie’s account, and Jessie himself recanted it within hours, but by then all three had been charged with the murders.

With no physical evidence connecting anyone to the crime, prosecutors contended that the murders bore signs of ‘the occult’ and that the three accused teenagers possessed a ‘state of mind’ that pointed to them as the killers. As proof of the defendants’ mental states, they introduced items taken from their rooms … such as books by Anne Rice and album posters for the rock group Metallica. Jurors found all three teenagers guilty. Jessie and Jason were sentenced to life in prison. Damien was sentenced to death.

While the verdicts were popular in Arkansas, an HBO documentary raised questions about the lack of evidence in the case, and a Web site was formed to support the inmates, now known as ‘The West Memphis Three.’ When the Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed the verdicts, state officials insisted that anyone who questioned the trials simply did not know ‘the facts.’

Now, for the first time, an award-winning investigative reporter examines that official stand. In riveting narrative, Devil’s Knot draws readers into the drama of a modern-day courtroom dominated by references to Satan. In laying out ‘the facts’ of this still-unfolding case, it offers a frightening look into America’s system of justice.”

— Book Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:

  1. Matter and the Big Bang 2 (471 views)
  2. ‘Christian archaeologists’ find another Noah’s Ark (391 views)
  3. Matter and the Big Bang (325 views)
  4. Surprisingly recent common ancestor of us all? (307 views)
  5. July 4th Photos (286 views)
  6. The Bible Is False (285 views)
  7. Ann Coulter’s shitty scholarship… (271 views)
  8. Hide the Irony Meter! (251 views)
  9. It’s the President’s Birthday today, so… (199 views)
  10. Laugh-a-minute ‘Archaeology and the Bible’ site (197 views)
  1. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle (52 views)
  2. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony! (49 views)
  3. Cold Reading (41 views)
  4. The Bible Answer Man (36 views)
  5. Why Do Creationists Fear Evolution? (35 views)
  6. Skeptic Summary #98 (35 views)
  7. Miracle Thaw Tray (32 views)
  8. Dr. Dino doesn’t like our Jack Chick spoof! (28 views)
  9. Tommy Debates the Bible Answer man (28 views)
  10. Evidence Cited as Hard Proof of the Existence of Satanic Cults (26 views)
There were 3,300 daily visitors this week.

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 2006, all rights reserved.

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