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Skeptic Summary #156

By The Staff
Posted on: 9/8/2007

Busts, sightings redux, possible Presidents, Canadian bunk, clowns, brain death, skeptic tricks and more!

Week ending September 8, 2007 (Vol 4, #33)

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:
Baptist preacher busted on DUI, sex crimes - And another one bites the… nevermind.

Brights’ opinions of select UFO sightings P.S. - Bngbuck returns for more opinion. We think.

Here’s one Democrat for President I won’t support - But he’s so entertaining!

Ontario may be in trouble… - Then again, who isn’t these days?

Editor’s Choice: White Flour? Wife Power! - Sic the clowns on ’em!

From the Archives: Hammesfahr, Hannity, and Scarborough - More Terry Schiavo.
Kil’s Evil Pick:
Stupid Skeptic Tricks - They’re on to us!
Ever get into an argument with a skeptic only to end up exasperated and feeling you’ve been bamboozled? Skeptics are often highly skilled at tying up opponents in clever verbal knots. Most skeptics are, of course, ordinary, more-or-less honest people who, like the rest of us, are just trying to make the best sense they can of a complicated and often confusing world. Others, however, are merely glib sophists who use specious reasoning to defend their prejudices or attack the ideas and beliefs of others, and even an honest skeptic can innocently fall into the mistake of employing bad reasoning.

In reading, listening to and sometimes debating skeptics over the years, I’ve found certain tricks, ploys and gimmicks which they tend to use over and over again. Here are some of ’em. Perhaps if you keep them in mind when arguing with a skeptic, you’ll feel better when the debate is over. Shucks, you might even score a point or two.
Objectivity cannot be equated with
mental blankness; rather, objectivity
resides in recognizing your preferences
and then subjecting them to especially
harsh scrutiny - and also in a
willingness to revise or abandon your
theories when the tests fail (as they
usually do).
— Stephen Jay Gould
Chat Highlights:
Sunday: Our chat host was at Dragon*Con.

Wednesday: I must say, it was quite a hateful night. First up were those who hate religion, and those who hate those who hate religion. Then those who hate spelling and the English language, such as Bernard Shaw and the word ghoti. Politics was next, but quickly got booted out because everyone hated that topic. Chat roamed around from topic to topic and oddly enough landed on classical music and not-so-classical Beethoven jokes. One of the best was told by Dave: “Actually, shortly after Beethoven’s death, there were rumors that he wasn’t really dead. So they exhumed his coffin, opened the lid and found him… decomposing.” But throughout chat, Dave went on another firing spree and started firing people who didn’t even work for the SFN as well. So I’m not entirely sure who is going to fin

Come chat with us.
New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Baylor has a stalker

Behe and the California Creationism Case

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:
Are We Alone? Philosophical Implications of the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life, by Paul Davies.

“This bite-size volume for the nonscientist reviews fact and speculation concerning the possible existence of extraterrestrial life. In the process, Davies (The Mind of God) explores metaphysical arguments and attitudes that would be affected by discovery of other life. A physicist, natural philosopher and winner of the 1995 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, he presents an approach that is broad and inquiring, not dogmatic. In clear and comfortable prose, he renders some deep thoughts in terms of simple, intuitive concepts, with many effective references to relevant theology, philosophy and science fiction as well as natural science. Contents include a sketch of NASA’s current search program (SETT) and a survey of the vested viewpoints at risk.”

— Publishers Weekly

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Is skepticism compatible with belief in God? (1,439 views)
  2. Brights’ opinions of select UFO sightings P.S. (991 views)
  3. Skepticism and politics (486 views)
  4. Penyprity and thoughts of school taxes (372 views)
  5. Second Amendment (306 views)
  6. John Edwards steps in shit (285 views)
  7. Therefore God exists (278 views)
  8. Media ignores straw poll winner (237 views)
  9. Sam Harris / Andrew Sullivan debate (190 views)
  10. School allows no text on shirts. And this is bad? (183 views)
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two (448 views)
  2. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle (77 views)
  3. Miracle Thaw Tray (43 views)
  4. Cold Reading (41 views)
  5. Skeptic Summary #155 (39 views)
  6. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony! (29 views)
  7. Scientific Truth (27 views)
  8. The Bible Answer Man (26 views)
  9. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark (26 views)
  10. American Scientist Review (March/April 1998) (25 views)

There were 5,440 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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