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Skeptic Summary #206

By The Staff
Posted on: 9/28/2008

Electioneering (a lot of it), happy birthday Jacob!, a massive subject, prying eyes and more!

Week ending September 27, 2008 (Vol 5, #34)

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:
Conservatives are… - Conservatives, the media, SCOTUS, and more!

Debate! - McCain needed a homerun, why did he bunt?

I’m a granddad! - Happy birthday Jacob!

I don’t know what it has to do with anything… - And neither do we.

The speed of light and mass - Heavy stuff.

Editor’s Choice: Homeland Security Department testing pre-crime - Must… stop… sweating…

From the Archives: ABC’s ‘Path To 9/11’ - SFN discusses ABC’s propaganda piece.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
What Makes People Vote Republican?” by Jonathan Haidt. Psycologist Jonathan Haidt takes a close look at the psychological and philosophical moral underpinnings the both conservative and liberal thought and makes suggestions on how democrats might appeal to more voters.
…the second rule of moral psychology is that morality is not just about how we treat each other (as most liberals think); it is also about binding groups together, supporting essential institutions, and living in a sanctified and noble way. When Republicans say that Democrats “just don't get it,” this is the “it” to which they refer.
The Reality Club responds to Haidt with essays by Daniel Everett, Howard Gardner, Michael Shermer, Scott Atran, James Fowler, Alison Gopnik, Sam Harris and James O’Donnell. This is a long read folks, but well worth the time spent.

No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means.
— George Bernard Shaw

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

Wednesday the 17th: With boron’s kid to be born any day now, there was only one thing chat could start off with: female anatomy puns. I’m still rather surprised as to the number of people who stuck around through it. But after things settled down, talk moved onto divorces, the failing economy, and the upcoming election. Also, Siberia joined us for the first time in several months, but only to say hello. An abbreviated goodbye to CarbonUnit quickly lead to chemistry puns (and I swear that one was not intended), and when that subsided, we went back to talking about the economy with HP and Carly Fiorina, as well as a good segment from This American Life. boron also stopped by to give us an update on his yet-to-be-born son.

Wednesday the 24th: Philadelphia cheese steaks and the current economic crises started the night. Certainly the cheese steak market is taking a turn for the worse. Panic in Hong Kong has spread via text message getting people to withdraw from their banks. The topic turned to American politics when Kil suggested a rather convincing conspiracy theory: McCain suspended his political campaign in order to delay the debate with the hopes that there would not be time for a VP debate between Palin and Biden. Of course now we know that isn’t the case. Meanwhile Dave was busy coding solutions to an optimization problem presented in Spore, and for a fair amount of time math chat was abound. Then bed times, common law marriages, t-shirt ideas, fan mail, and, oddly enough, euthanasia, ended the night.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:
Russell Grover

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Fish oil exam results fail all the tests

Missing in action: the trials that did not make the news

Nobel winners, other scientists advising Obama, report says

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:
H.L. Mencken on Religion, by H. L. Mencken and S. T. Joshi (editor).

“No one ever argued more forcefully or with such acerbic wit against the foolish aspects of religion as H.L. Mencken. As a journalist, he gained national prominence through his newspaper columns describing the famous 1925 Scopes trial, which pitted religious fundamentalists against a public school teacher who dared to teach evolution. But both before and after the Scopes trial, Mencken spent much of his career as a columnist and book reviewer lampooning the ignorant piety of gullible Americans.

S.T. Joshi has brought together and organized many of Mencken’s writings on religion in this provocative and entertaining collection. The articles presented here include satirical accounts of a range of the religious phenomena of his time. On a more serious note are his discussions of the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and the scientific worldview as a rival to religious belief. Also included are poignant autobiographical accounts of Mencken’s own upbringing and his core beliefs on religion, ethics, and politics.

H.L. Mencken knew that satire, wit, and clever jesting were the most effective ways to battle religious folly, and he used these weapons to their fullest extent in writings spanning almost three decades.”

— Book Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in! (661 views)
  2. Christian singer Ray Bolz admits he is gay (488 views)
  3. The speed of light and mass (401 views)
  4. Possum on the half shell (385 views)
  5. What is photorealism? (344 views)
  6. Al tells it like it is (253 views)
  7. I don’t know what it has to do with anything… (216 views)
  8. Beelzebufo ampinga (211 views)
  9. Stop laughing, dammit! This is serious shit! (196 views)
  10. Ready to rumble! (167 views)
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two (1,459 views)
  2. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark (1,417 views)
  3. Skeptic Summary #152 (166 views)
  4. Preaching that Anti-Evolution Propaganda (132 views)
  5. The Biblical support for a Flat Earth and Geocentricism (101 views)
  6. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle (96 views)
  7. Evolution is a Lie, and you Skeptics KNOW it! Part 4 (78 views)
  8. The Bible’s Bad Fruits (73 views)
  9. More on the Polonium 218 Controversy (67 views)
  10. Evidence Cited as Hard Proof of the Existence of Satanic Cults (61 views)
There were 14,625 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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