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Skeptic Summary #166

By The Staff
Posted on: 11/18/2007

New staff, proponentsists on trial, curved-Earthers, Behe wrong, the UN, risky health news and more!

Week ending November 17, 2007 (Vol 4, #43)

Welcome to the Skeptic Summary, a quick week-in-review guide to the Skeptic Friends Network and the rest of the skeptical world.

Well, the big, big, big news this week is that HalfMooner is now a staff member, having accepted the Art Director job we offered him during Wednesday’s chat (see below). He is also now moderator of his Moonscape News folder, so watch your behavior in there lest he abuse the small amount of power we have given him. Take a moment to send him a “congrats!”

Forum Highlights:
Cdesign Proponentsists — ID creationists’ real name - And Poe’s Law strikes again.

NOVA | ID on trial | PBS - And Lo, didst the judge deliver such a righteous smackdown unto Behe.

Prove the world ain’t flat in your back yard - High flying amateurs.

Editor’s Choice: Abbie ‘Mean Girl’ Smith makes Behe admit error! - This is big news, too, folks.

From the Archives: Dissolve the UN - It isn’t limited to New World Order conspiracy theorists!
Kil’s Evil Pick:
How to Evaluate Health Risks (Without going insane)

Every day, new health studies fill the media, many of them often contradicting each other and earlier research.

For years, women were told that hormone replacement therapy could reduce their risk of heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s; then new research found that it may actually increase the risk for these disorders; then closer analysis of the new data showed that increase only applied to older women — and that HRT may protect against heart disease for younger women.

Fish is a wonderful source of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce the risk of heart disease, and mitigate the effects of Alzheimer’s. But what about studies claiming that many fish are contaminated with high levels of mercury? Chocolate: artery-clogging bad guy or artery-clearing hero?

The way health stories are usually covered by the media, it’s often impossible to tell. The latest news is often rushed into print, over-simplified, or misunderstood.

But the following guidelines can help you make sense of the latest risk-touting study, and help you to decide when you should start — or stop — taking a drug, pursuing treatment or changing your diet.
After reading this valuable article I suggest clicking on to the STATS homepage, the source of the above article, and wander around. This is a great skeptic’s resource.
Many a long dispute among
divines may be thus
abridged: It is so; It is not
so. It is so; it is not so.
— Benjamin Franklin
Chat Highlights:
Sunday: The Sunday chat is still on vacation, but it will return on November 25th!

Wednesday: Much of chat focused on the SFN’s newest staff member: HalfMooner. Congratulations, you should be receiving your paycheck via e-mail shortly. Also talked about was the two-hour Mythbusters special and Skepticality changing its look-and-feel (specifically, how it looks and feels without avatars or signatures). ig was having trouble again, signing on and off at the same rate a child would play with a light switch. This was interspersed with his rantings of how Uncommon Descent was censoring his posts. Toward the end was a reflection upon the Iron Sun threads, and of course, iron puns.

Come chat with us.
New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
A kind of magic?

Bad Guy Team-Up: ID + SSK

Chu-Carroll on Behe’s The Edge of Evolution - The HIV Saga

Did a Comet Cause the Great Flood?

Maybe the Discovery Institute will Finally Find BigFoot…

The Morning After Judgement Day

The Skeptic’s Dictionary Newsletter 85

What does it mean when your brain starts to glow?

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:
Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins, by Carl Zimmer.

“…Zimmer begins his exploration of human origins, as any book about evolution must, with Charles Darwin’s prescient ideas about our relationship to other apes and ends it with well-grounded speculations about how human beings might continue to evolve in the future. Along the way, he explains the most current thinking about how hominids (a group that includes Homo sapiens and their now-extinct, closest relatives) split from other apes; progresses to tracing the emergence of bipedalism, tool use, and big brains among hominids; then shows how and when hominids of various species dispersed from Africa through Europe and Asia. Finally, Zimmer reviews the origins and expansion of Homo sapiens, the hominid species that ultimately replaced all others and came to dominate the Earth. Noting that Homo sapiens may have been responsible for wiping out other Homo species as we have so many other species, Zimmer says, ‘It would be ironic indeed if it turned out that three of the first species to encounter the sharp blade of our competitive edge were our closest relatives.’

Paralleling his voyage through evolutionary time, from the earliest appearance of fossil primates some 65 million years ago to the present, Zimmer sketches the scientific advances of the past few hundred years that have made our current understanding of human origins possible. When Darwin was thinking about human evolution, he had little evidence to go on. Only some fossil tools and a handful of Neanderthal bones had yet been unearthed, for instance, and visits to the London Zoo were his only contact with a great ape. Since then, scientists have extracted every insight currently possible from an array of fossil primates from Africa, Europe, and Asia, studied the behavior and ecology of all of the great apes, and, most recently, decoded the genomes of both humans and chimpanzees so they can begin to identify the genetic changes that make us human…”

Susan Lumpkin

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. LiLo (Behe) is back! (9,206 views)
  2. We’d invite Hitler to speak, says Columbia dean (4,098 views)
  3. Rejoice Republicans, the Savior approacheth (1,605 views)
  4. What is photorealism? (729 views)
  5. What is religion? (605 views)
  6. This year’s cynical holiday humor (486 views)
  7. Cloning ban? (466 views)
  8. Fundamentalists HATE Noah’s Ark! (437 views)
  9. Four reasons to believe in God (346 views)
  10. NASA-1934 warmest year on record! (285 views)
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two (583 views)
  2. The Bible’s Bad Fruits (244 views)
  3. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark (155 views)
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle (116 views)
  5. Cold Reading (55 views)
  6. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down? (42 views)
  7. Miracle Thaw Tray (41 views)
  8. Skeptic Summary #165 (40 views)
  9. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony! (35 views)
  10. Scientific Truth (35 views)
There were 18,262 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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