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Skeptic Summary #158

By The Staff
Posted on: 9/22/2007

Bush, Tasering, malfunctions, the money quote, a briefer history and more!

Week ending September 22, 2007 (Vol 4, #35)

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:
Bush, liberal or conservative - Evidentially, nobody wants him.

Tasered and arrested by Kerry! - Except that Kerry had nothing to do with it.

What’s your major malfunction? - Might as well call it, “Who’s the most decrepit SFNer?”

Editor’s Choice: The money quote - Dembski apparently tripped over himself trying to put more nails in ID’s coffin.
Kil’s Evil Pick:
Okay, I stole this from one of those Skepticality geeks who linked to it in chat. You just must read this, even if you actually read and understood Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. I recommend that you read this without a drink in your hand, unless you don’t care about the mess you might make or care if the liquid chooses your nose as the nearest and quickest exit. You will laugh, or you are probably dead, in which case this warning doesn’t matter at all…

If you are not dead, you also might actually learn something. Who knows? There are ten chapters in all.

A Brief Brief History of Time.”

From the introduction:
Ok, here’s a big project if ever there was one.

Stephen Hawking wrote this book called
A Brief History of Time, and it sold a metric shitload of copies. But, the thing is, the book is not the best popular science book I’ve ever read. In fact, it’s not even in the top 20. But it does contain some interesting ideas about the Universe, and it’s always useful to be able to bluff about books like this one. It makes you look (a) very clever and (b) able to get rid of losers who try to chat you up at parties.
The fact that a believer is happier
than a skeptic is no more to the point
than the fact that a drunken man is
happier than a sober one.
— George Bernard Shaw
Chat Highlights:
Sunday: The chat was practically empty. New chat avatars, and Dr. Mabuse’s rockband reunion… rocked.

Wednesday: International Talk Like a Pirate Day just so happened to fall on chat night. As such, wenches were had, loot was plundered, and Ricky was made to walk the plank (fired). Much of the non-pirate talk was focused upon education: history tests, what to do if you fail them, and who really cares about history anyways? Also discussed was the value of a college eduction and how to teach algebra. Then some forum talk about animosity between members which led into semantics between the difference of insults and ad hom. But everyone was acting like a freaking retard so we called it a night.

Come chat with us.
New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
The Milky Way’s Strange Galactic Neighbors

Stick to sugar pills and avoid the hard stuff

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:
Freakonomics: a Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.

“Economics is not widely considered to be one of the sexier sciences. The annual Nobel Prize winner in that field never receives as much publicity as his or her compatriots in peace, literature, or physics. But if such slights are based on the notion that economics is dull, or that economists are concerned only with finance itself, Steven D. Levitt will change some minds. In Freakonomics (written with Stephen J. Dubner), Levitt argues that many apparent mysteries of everyday life don’t need to be so mysterious: they could be illuminated and made even more fascinating by asking the right questions and drawing connections. For example, Levitt traces the drop in violent crime rates to a drop in violent criminals and, digging further, to the Roe v. Wade decision that preempted the existence of some people who would be born to poverty and hardship. Elsewhere, by analyzing data gathered from inner-city Chicago drug-dealing gangs, Levitt outlines a corporate structure much like McDonald’s, where the top bosses make great money while scores of underlings make something below minimum wage. And in a section that may alarm or relieve worried parents, Levitt argues that parenting methods don’t really matter much and that a backyard swimming pool is much more dangerous than a gun. These enlightening chapters are separated by effusive passages from Dubner’s 2003 profile of Levitt in The New York Times Magazine, which led to the book being written. In a book filled with bold logic, such back-patting veers Freakonomics, however briefly, away from what Levitt actually has to say. Although maybe there’s a good economic reason for that too, and we’re just not getting it yet.”


This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Consensus falling apart by the day (1,307 views)
  2. Schools fail again (386 views)
  3. Tasered and arrested by Kerry! (384 views)
  4. Spreading academic freedom (288 views)
  5. What’s your major malfunction? (288 views)
  6. My bullshit dectector just blowed a piston… (280 views)
  7. Bounty for heads of Swedish cartoonist, editor (265 views)
  8. French Foreign Minister warns of war with Iran (253 views)
  9. Brights’ opinions of select UFO sightings P.S. (241 views)
  10. Social medicine means no care for a smoker (234 views)
  1. The Bible’s Bad Fruits (5,680 views)
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two (629 views)
  3. A Cherry Picker’s Guide to Choosing Evidence for Traumatic Repression or False Memory Syndrome (340 views)
  4. Astrology (199 views)
  5. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle (87 views)
  6. 2nd Law of Thermodynamics Argument Weak on Both Sides (62 views)
  7. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony! (50 views)
  8. Miracle Thaw Tray (40 views)
  9. Cold Reading (38 views)
  10. You’re an Idiot (35 views)
There were 9,071 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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