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Skeptic Summary #205

By The Staff
Posted on: 9/13/2008

Eats, playing god, head/desk, dying experts, collapsing physics, privileged lies and more!

Week ending September 13, 2008 (Vol 5, #33)

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:
Food - chefcrsh’s video blog is more than food for thought.

If this works out… - It still won’t change the minds of creationists.

What is going on!? - We wish we knew.

Editor’s Choice: The death of expertise? - So you say.

From the Archives: The physics behind the collapses - ergo123 joins the list of 9/11 conspiracy buffs trying their stuff at SFN

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Privileging the lie,” by Jamison Foser - Writing for Media Matters for America, Foser questions the way in which the media frames what they know to be lies or exaggerations told by political candidates. He says,
…The frame isn’t John McCain is lying again; it is John McCain said something; how will Barack Obama respond? Some of those news reports get around to mentioning that McCain’s claim isn’t true — but those passing mentions hardly matter. They aren’t the dominant theme of the report, so they don’t stick in the minds of readers and viewers.
Are reporters taking sides? By keeping the focus on how the other candidate will react to a lie, are they missing the real story? As a critical thinker closely watching an often-puzzling campaign as reported by the media and the press, I think this is a very important article.

Faith is the surrender of the mind; it’s the surrender of reason, it’s the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals. It’s our need to believe, and to surrender our skepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something, that is the sinister thing to me. Of all the supposed virtues, faith must be the most overrated.
— Christopher Hitchens

Chat Highlights:
Sunday: Our Sunday chat host is on vacation.

Wednesday: As is common in any fall of an election year, chat started off in politics with Obama admitting he is a Muslim, so long as you’re okay with taking things out of context. Along with this was the Daily Show’s Obama bit. The conversation lightened up a bit when talk switch over to school. Ricky is enjoying the start of his graduate career at MSU and Cune told stories of grudges he still holds from his doctoral study. Then someone we got into the history of mathematics, from the Arabic creation of algebra to Leibniz, Netwon, Riemann, and Lebesgue making calculus. A quick introduction to differential equations and then more pure subjects, philosophy and linguistics. Chat ended with talk of Boron10’s baby (who is expected any day now) and a suggestion for the next SFN East Coast gathering.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:
Lugh Shiva

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Cheer up: it’s all down to random variation

Creationism Vs. Evolution: A Scientific American In-Depth Report

Don’t let the facts spoil a good story

Early Whales Had Legs

Matthias Rath drops his million pound legal case against me and the Guardian

The 95th Skeptics’ Circle: The 9/11 Edition

Suing over vapor

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:
I Watched a Wild Hog Eat My Baby: A Colorful History of Tabloids and Their Cultural Impact, by Bill Sloan.

“This lively, entertaining, and often funny history of America’s supermarket tabloids offers a behind-the-scenes look at the intriguing world of tabloid journalism and the unique personalities that made it such a successful and influential force in today’s media. Perhaps no one is more qualified to give this complete insider’s account than Bill Sloan, who helped guide the destinies of three major tabloids in their heyday. Sloan profiles the publishing eccentrics who conceived the first national tabloids, the greedy owners and screwball executives who called the shots, the ruthless underworld manipulators who fed off the tabloids’ phenomenal success, and the money-driven journalists who did the dirty work. I WATCHED A WILD HOG EAT MY BABY! reveals the whole sometimes sordid, often outrageous, but always amazing story behind the multibillion-dollar industry these characters spawned… Sloan traces the development of the tabs from their beginnings in sleazy, gore-filled sensationalism or soft-core smut and sex scandals, through the celebrity crazes of Jackie O and Princess Di. He also discusses instances in which the tabs have scooped the ‘legitimate’ press, breaking major news stories, and the wide-spread influence of the tabloids on television journalism and the Internet, where the distinction between news and entertainment is quickly vanishing.”

— Inside Book Flap

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in! (1,987 views)
  2. Favorite example of transitional fossils (506 views)
  3. If this works out… (475 views)
  4. Possum on the half shell (469 views)
  5. What is photorealism? (421 views)
  6. What is going on!? (374 views)
  7. A look at modern magnetic therapy (354 views)
  8. Ready to rumble! (296 views)
  9. The RNC convention: a photo essay (270 views)
  10. Beelzebufo ampinga (261 views)
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two (1,393 views)
  2. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark (1,278 views)
  3. Questioning the Validity of False Memory Syndrome (199 views)
  4. Preaching that Anti-Evolution Propaganda (192 views)
  5. The Biblical support for a Flat Earth and Geocentricism (177 views)
  6. Evolution is a Lie, and you Skeptics KNOW it! Part 4 (153 views)
  7. Astrology (136 views)
  8. Skeptic Summary #152 (116 views)
  9. More on the Polonium 218 Controversy (111 views)
  10. Evidence Cited as Hard Proof of the Existence of Satanic Cults (96 views)
There were 19,995 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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