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Skeptic Summary #163

By The Staff
Posted on: 10/27/2007

Immediacy, cabling, idiocy, fingers, more cabling, bending and more!

Week ending October 27, 2007 (Vol 4, #40)

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:
How soon is too soon? - Guidance for the tact-impaired. Maybe.

Is Pear Cable right for the Randi Challenge? - Can a bunch of wires perform a paranormal feat?

Watson says Africans less intelligent - There really aren’t enough “pounds head into wall” icons for this gaff.

Editor’s Choice: Fish fin gene gave us the finger - Now, let’s give the finger to someone else.
New Article This Week:
Time Warner Cable: Trick or Treat? - Kil girds his loins to do battle with a modern-day monster.
Kil’s Evil Pick:
Uri Geller — This website could change your life for the better

So, based on the fact the ol’ Uri has a new TV show here in the States called Phenomenon, I thought it might be fun to peruse his website. It was. There is a lot to click there. Lots of baloney as you might expect. One item on the menu caught my eye. It was “What Scientists Say About Uri Geller.”

I found this quote from Jack Sarfatti, PhD physicist, at that link:
My personal judgement as a PhD physicist is that Geller demonstrated genuine psychoenergetic ability at Birkbeck which is beyond the doubt of any reasonable man, under relatively well-controlled and repeated experimental conditions.
I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I googled Sarfatti along with Uri Geller’s name and found this at Wikipedia:
On June 21, 1974, Sarfatti was one of a number of scientists and other interested parties — a group that included Arthur C. Clarke, Arthur Koestler, David Bohm, and John Hasted — who conducted observations of Uri Geller while the latter displayed what he said was telekinetic energy.

Sarfatti was impressed by Geller, and commented: “My personal professional judgement as a Ph.D. physicist is that Geller demonstrated genuine psychoenergetic ability at Birkbeck, which is beyond the doubt of any reasonable man, under relatively well-controlled and repeatable experimental conditions.” He later revised this opinion after discussing the matter with James Randi. He wrote in a letter: “On the basis of further experience in the art of conjuring, I wish to retract my endorsement of Uri Geller's psychoenergetic authenticity.”
Of course, there is nothing about his retraction on Geller’s site.

I didn’t search for any of the other scientists who might have had a change of mind, or are whacked in some way…

If you enjoy a serious amount of nonsense with which to kill some time, you will enjoy Uri Geller’s website. I promise.
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one
that heralds the most discoveries, is not “Eureka!”
but “That’s funny.”
— Isaac Asimov
Chat Highlights:
Sunday: There was no Sunday chat.

Wednesday: I can’t remember if I am supposed to write this summary. And because I can’t, I suppose I must. First off, for some reason, no one from Skepticality joined our chat. What’s with that? Too good for us now, hmmm? Trish was looking for gluten-free shampoo, Marf was looking for solstice entertainment suggestions, Mooner was looking for a laugh, boron was looking at fire, Dave was looking at YouTube, I was looking at “Phenomenon” and Mab was looking at a computer screen at work. It was a look-a-feast… By the way, I had to use a dial-up connection and Time Warner Cable still sucks.

Come chat with us.
New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Some numbers in abortion debate just can’t be relied on

Update on the nine alleged errors in An Inconvenient Truth

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:
Mark Twain: Selected Writings of an American Skeptic, by Mark Twain and Victor Doyno (editor).

“This unique volume collects &mdashl from an amazing array of fiction, essays, speeches, private correspondence, and previously unpublished material — writings that reveal Twain’s practical and philosophical skepticism. Doyno includes selections from such masterworks as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Prince and the Pauper, as well as lesser-known works on various topics, such as Christian Science, Joan of Arc, Bible teaching, and patriotism. Twain’s characteristic wit and penetrating skeptical intelligence are apparent throughout. For general readers and scholars of American literature alike, this collection provides a convenient resource that will spark many debates.”

— The Publisher

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Rejoice Republicans, the Savior approacheth (2,237 views)
  2. We’d invite Hitler to speak, says Columbia dean (1,644 views)
  3. What is photorealism? (1,560 views)
  4. Fish fin gene gave us the finger (1,197 views)
  5. Crime or military action? (645 views)
  6. Mukasey won’t say if ‘waterboarding’ is torture (458 views)
  7. Global communication — beta (433 views)
  8. Four reasons to believe in God (400 views)
  9. Watson says Africans less intelligent (302 views)
  10. Really creepy illusions (293 views)
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two (515 views)
  2. The Bible’s Bad Fruits (251 views)
  3. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark (205 views)
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle (97 views)
  5. Cold Reading (40 views)
  6. Miracle Thaw Tray (37 views)
  7. Questioning the Validity of False Memory Syndrome (37 views)
  8. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony! (36 views)
  9. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down? (35 views)
  10. TAM4 (35 views)
There were 9,319 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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