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Skeptic Summary #183

By The Staff
Posted on: 3/22/2008

Bible studies, an epic-fail expulsion, the nature of consciousness and more!

Week ending March 22, 2008 (Vol 5, #11)

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:
A student’s right to rip up a Bible, insult Christians - School rewards the student with a B… and detention.

PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in! - What more is there to say? Plenty…

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Last week in chat, chefcrsh directed me to this fascinating debate. Now, I feel a conscious need to share. Unfortunately, the audio is gone (the debate took place in 2004) but the transcripts survive. Oh joy!

Part 1 of 2
Don your helmets psychonauts! Over the next two weeks, the ‘Nature of Consciousness’ debate from the Australian Science Festival. Join UK psychologist and writer Susan Blackmore, astrophysicist Paul Davies, and philosopher David Chalmers. Are you conscious now? How do you know? Could it all be a grand illusion? We know it more intimately than any other experience. Yet it remains one of the greatest mysteries of science. From animal minds to artificial intelligence, altered states to the depths of coma — the conundrum of consciousness has everyone stumped.
Part 2 of 2
Zombies, coma, conscious robots — be prepared to travel to places you may have been too scared to go before. From the Australian Science Festival, UK psychologist and writer Susan Blackmore, astrophysicist Paul Davies, and philosopher David Chalmers join Natasha Mitchell to debate one of the greatest mysteries of science — the nature of human consciousness. Will science ever be able to explain that uncanny feeling from the inside of being an “I” or a “Me?” Do cats and dogs have the same feeling too? And what about robots — are they about to?
The debate is part of the All in the Mind series/podcats presented and moderated by Natasha Mitchell. The guests participating in this debate include Dr. Susan Blackmore (psychologist, author and broadcaster), Professor Paul Davies (Professor of Natural Philosophy, Australian Centre for Astrobiology, Macquarie University) and Professor David Chalmers (Professor of Philosophy; Federation fellow, Australian National University as of August 2004 and formerly Head of the Center for Consciousness Studies, University of Arizona).


If a million people believe a foolish
thing, it is still a foolish thing.
— Anatole France

Chat Highlights:
Sunday: Our chat host was busy recovering.

Wednesday: A row of green dots appeared across the black SFN header for one chatter, and chaos broke out. Arguments over the cause flared, OS and browser snipes were fired at will. Suggestions of reinstalling the browser or even entire OS were made. The root cause was eventually found: a packet was corrupted causing a single green dot to appear on the background image. After everything finally settled down, talk went onto psychology, Libertarianism and skepticism, and, oddly enough, the number of users at the SFN vs. Skepticality. Most left at this point, but a couple stuck around talking about more of psychology and The Nature of Consciousness.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:
crazy dude

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:

Naked-eye Gamma Ray Burst

Skepticality #073 — Your Water on Drugs — Interview: Dr. Shane Snyder, PhD

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 Age of American Unreason, by Susan Jacoby.

“Inspired by Richard Hofstadter’s trenchant 1963 cultural analysis Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, Jacoby (Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism) has produced an engaging, updated and meticulously thought-out continuation of her academic idol’s research. Dismayed by the average U.S. citizen’s political and social apathy and the overall crisis of memory and knowledge involving everything about the way we learn and think, Jacoby passionately argues that the nation’s current cult of unreason has deadly and destructive consequences (the war in Iraq, for one) and traces the seeds of current anti-intellectualism (and its partner in crime, antirationalism) back to post-WWII society. Unafraid of pointing fingers, she singles out mass media and the resurgence of fundamentalist religion as the primary vectors of anti-intellectualism, while also having harsh words for pseudoscientists. Through historical research, Jacoby breaks down popular beliefs that the 1950s were a cultural wasteland and the 1960s were solely a breeding ground for liberals. Though sometimes partial to inflated prose (America’s endemic anti-intellectual tendencies have been grievously exacerbated by a new species of semiconscious anti-rationalism), Jacoby has assembled an erudite mix of personal anecdotes, cultural history and social commentary to decry America’s retreat into junk thought.”

— Publishers Weekly

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Hell, your final destination? (2,943 views)
  2. What are your favorite words? (1,849 views)
  3. We’d invite Hitler to speak, says Columbia dean (663 views)
  4. Psychic update: not so psychic (542 views)
  5. Why religious people are so arrogant (542 views)
  6. 9/11 was an inside job! (463 views)
  7. Muslim jihadists (417 views)
  8. A student’s right to rip up a Bible, insult Christians (375 views)
  9. A layman’s look at the OK bill to destroy schools (343 views)
  10. Possum on the half shell (300 views)
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two (1,172 views)
  2. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark (971 views)
  3. Questioning the Validity of False Memory Syndrome (199 views)
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle (92 views)
  5. Skeptic Summary #152 (83 views)
  6. Miracle Thaw Tray (47 views)
  7. The Bible’s Bad Fruits (44 views)
  8. Calorad (40 views)
  9. Cold Reading (36 views)
  10. TAM4 (35 views)
There were 10,189 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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