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Skeptic Summary #174

By The Staff
Posted on: 1/14/2008

Oh the humanities, down with mercury and up with autism, Hovind has competition, weighty matters, godfull scientists, myths and misconceptions and more!

Week ending January 12, 2008 (Vol 5, #2)

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:
Are the humanities of any value, really? - Discussing the worth of humanities — it’s just like college all over again!

Vaccine preservative banned, but autism reports up - Spread the news.

You think Kent Hovind was bad? - I think the book is far more ridiculous than Hovind-based placemats.

Editor’s Choice: 18 billion solar masses - Remember where you first heard the term “penny-stack equivalent.”

From the Archives: Can you be a good scientist and believe in God? - SFN takes on a complex question.
Kil’s Evil Pick:
VACCINES & AUTISM: Myths and Misconceptions.” This is a fascinating article by Steven Novella for Skeptical Inquirer that takes us though the history of the anti-vaccination movement, how it came to be and the science, or lack thereof, behind it.
The forces of irrationality are arrayed on this issue. There are conspiracy theorists, well-meaning but misguided citizen groups who are becoming increasingly desperate and hostile, irresponsible journalists, and ethically compromised or incompetent scientists. The science itself is complex, making it difficult for the average person to sift through all the misdirection and misinformation. Standing against all this is simple respect for scientific integrity and the dedication to follow the evidence wherever it leads.
Every scientific truth goes
through three stages. First,
people say it conflicts with the
Bible. Next, they say it had been
discovered before. Lastly they
say they always believed in it.
— Louis Agassiz
Chat Highlights:
Sunday: IMac, Ipod, and iPhone. Kil sets out to get himself a new Mac of all things… Would Global Warming stop the Gulf Stream? How bad will it get? Gossip corner: Halfmooner has met one of Steve Job’s former mistresses. Computer hardware comparisons.

Wednesday: Star Trek, bad jokes, and a riddle started the night off. Most of the rest of chat was taken up with political discourse. Everything was discussed from the primaries, to what kind of president we should have in 2008, to how much our media sucks. Then a new chat feature, voice chat, was discovered. We played around with this, got to finally hear HalfMooner’s voice, and called it a night.

Come chat with us.
New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
The evolutionary origins of the New York City Marathon

The Real (and Perceived) Cause of the Black Plague: Part 1 and Part 2

The Skeptic’s Dictionary Newsletter: Volume 7 No. 1

Skepticality #068 — The Candidates on Church and State — Interview: Lori Lipman Brown

To screen or not to screen — that is the question

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 Book of General Ignorance, by John Mitchinson and John Lloyd.

“If you think you’re a trivia expert, British TV men Lloyd (producer of the hit comedy shows Spitting Image and Black Adder) and Mitchinson (writer for Quite Interesting) may disabuse you of the notion that you’re a true scholar of random facts — and quickly. Their surprisingly lengthy tome is jam-packed with real answers to a number of less-than-burning questions — camels store fat, not water, in their humps; only five out of every 100,000 paper clips are used to clip papers; the first American president was in fact Peyton Randolph — that you nevertheless may be embarrassed to have completely wrong. Although some of the entries rely on technicality more than actual excavation of obscure fact (Honolulu is technically the world’s largest city, despite the fact that 72% of its 2,127 square miles is underwater), these page-length entries prove entertaining and informative, perfect for trivia buffs and know-it-alls; it also makes a fine coffee table conversation piece and a handy resource for prepping clever cocktail party banter.”

— Publishers Weekly

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. We’d invite Hitler to speak, says Columbia dean (5,834 views)
  2. LiLo (Behe) is back! (1,413 views)
  3. Buck on Huck (758 views)
  4. Are the humanities of any value, really? (420 views)
  5. Why do people laugh at creationists? (307 views)
  6. Everything is overrated, what bugs you? (284 views)
  7. Really creepy illusions (282 views)
  8. Religion versus vaccines — sound familiar? (237 views)
  9. Superhero Designman fails (207 views)
  10. NPR’s bias when announcing Iowa primary results (198 views)
  1. A Cherry Picker’s Guide to Choosing Evidence for Traumatic Repression or False Memory Syndrome (1,584 views)
  2. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark (731 views)
  3. Evolving a Venom or Two (624 views)
  4. Cold Reading (183 views)
  5. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle (138 views)
  6. Skeptic Summary #152 (99 views)
  7. Questioning the Validity of False Memory Syndrome (75 views)
  8. The Bible’s Bad Fruits (67 views)
  9. Miracle Thaw Tray (53 views)
  10. American Scientist Review (March/April 1998) (40 views)
There were 10,674 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 2008, all rights reserved.

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