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Skeptic Summary #148

By The Staff
Posted on: 7/9/2007

Bugs, predictions, names, perpetual scams, Lincoln, balloons and more!

Weeks ending July 7, 2007 (Vol 4, #25)

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:
I saw a weird insect - Well, at least it wasn’t struggling in a web saying, “help me!”

Psychic Contest update! First 6 months - Now is the time to start arguing with BigPapaSmurf’s interpretations of reality.

So, what’s your user name? (Part 2) - Do tell!

Editor’s Choice: Be still my rolling eyes… - Demo? What demo?

From the Archives: Was Abe Lincoln Gay? - Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
Kil’s Evil Pick:
The Balloon Hoax, by Edger Allen Poe.
This is Edgar Allan Poe’s famous hoax about the Atlantic being crossed by balloon. First published in an 1844 April issue of the New York Sun.
Chat Highlights:
Sunday: (6/24) Mabuse’s fundraiser posted on JREF; ulcer or tape-worm: which is the better weight-loss program? Universal healthcare and Michael Moore’s Sicko; viruses on a Mac system? Siberia drops in; troll school; languages, dialects, and accents; Quackwatch.

Wednesday: (6/27) Puns, bad jokes, and just all around weird statements were first up for the night. Then, several different comics from xkcd ([1] [[p]2] [3]), although all of them are really good. Then old comic books and music. Oddly enough, ketchup leads into talk of the Vietnam war, and then in turn to draft dodging. Arguments with Jerome at this point took off and made a run for it. Was America ever a democracy? Isn’t a republic just a type of democracy? Does the Constitution give the government the right to collect data? What is the meaning of the word “effects?” Ad infinitum. Chat ended with talk of New Jersey, math, and hangovers.

Sunday: (7/1) Movies currently running at the theater; can you judge a movie based on the director (Sicko)?; national/universal healthcare, tort-reform, and healthcare finance; what is a libertarian? The weather in Europe; terrorists whipping up a scare in England? Nah, not as much bother as the weather.

Wednesday: (7/4) Ricky gets fired within the first couple of seconds of him showing up. Of course, he was an hour late. Dinosaurs, small brains, and men shot off into the first topic of the night. When it fizzled out, cop stories and how to get out of a ticket exploded onto the scene. After it went silent for a bit, a couple of random videos sparked things back up again. You can catch these at the Water Cooler. And that was pretty much it. If you were there, you wouldn’t need me to tell you it was a blast.

Come chat with us.
New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Bad Science

In Memorium: Barry Lane Beyerstein (1947-2007)

Science and Islam in Conflict

Skepticality #055 — Santa Fe Courthouse Ghost Interview: Benjamin Radford solves the case of the “ghost” caught on video

UK decides intelligent design is not science

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:
The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman.

“If a virulent virus — or even the Rapture — depopulated Earth overnight, how long before all trace of humankind vanished? That's the provocative, and occasionally puckish, question posed by Weisman (An Echo in My Blood) in this imaginative hybrid of solid science reporting and morbid speculation. Days after our disappearance, pumps keeping Manhattan’s subways dry would fail, tunnels would flood, soil under streets would sluice away and the foundations of towering skyscrapers built to last for centuries would start to crumble. At the other end of the chronological spectrum, anything made of bronze might survive in recognizable form for millions of years — along with one billion pounds of degraded but almost indestructible plastics manufactured since the mid-20th century. Meanwhile, land freed from mankind’s environmentally poisonous footprint would quickly reconstitute itself, as in Chernobyl, where animal life has returned after 1986’s deadly radiation leak, and in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, a refuge since 1953 for the almost-extinct goral mountain goat and Amur leopard. From a patch of primeval forest in Poland to monumental underground villages in Turkey, Weisman’s enthralling tour of the world of tomorrow explores what little will remain of ancient times while anticipating, often poetically, what a planet without us would be like.”

— Publishers Weekly

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Religion or politics? Where to put it? (944 views)
  2. Man can almost create life (768 views)
  3. Requirement for citizenship? (706 views)
  4. Taking back the default position (621 views)
  5. Abiogenesis (560 views)
  6. What is your personal meaning of life? (515 views)
  7. Put away the flags (446 views)
  8. $3,000 tickets? (432 views)
  9. Sicko (410 views)
  10. ABC Nightline debate (398 views)
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two (268 views)
  2. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle (69 views)
  3. Cold Reading (64 views)
  4. Miracle Thaw Tray (34 views)
  5. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony! (32 views)
  6. Spam Scams and Slams (29 views)
  7. Skeptic Summary #147 (27 views)
  8. TAM4 (26 views)
  9. The Bible Answer Man (25 views)
  10. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down? (20 views)
There were 5,096 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 2007, all rights reserved.

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