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Skeptic Summary #212

By The Staff
Posted on: 11/15/2008

Demonic, fantastic, imbecillic, historic, improbabilistic, anachronistic, deific and more!

Week ending November 15, 2008 (Vol 5, #40)

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:
Bob Larson’s Demon Test! - Q23: Do you ever feel the urge to masturbate with a crucifix?

First images of newly discovered solar system - First visible light image of any solar system, actually.

How do you report somone to the IRS? - Try using your dictaphone.

The Official SFN US Elections Thread - The good guys win, for once.

Editor’s Choice: He’s gonna do research! - He’s going to have something peer reviewed, too!

From the Archives: The time is at last upon us... - The election four years ago. How times have changed!

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Michael Shermer v. John Lennox — The Great Debate: Does God Exist?, from eSkeptic:
Dr Michael Shermer the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine and a monthly columnist for Scientific American, during his lecture tour of Australia for that country’s National Science Week in August, 2008, takes on Dr John Lennox, who holds three doctorates in the fields of science and mathematics (Ph.D., D.Phil., D.Sc.) and is a Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green College, University of Oxford. His most recent book is God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?

In this debate before a standing room only crowd in Sydney, Lennox and Shermer debated the usual arguments for God’s existence, with Lennox predictably leaning on Christian apologetics arguments and ending with his commitment to Jesus as his savior. Shermer closed with a passionate plea for science as the most transcendent form of knowledge that puts religion in the shade when it comes to revealing the wonders of the creation.
There are links, 1 through 10, of the complete debate on YouTube. Using those links if probably the best way to get the debate in order. Too bad it is segmented, but hey, it’s still good stuff.

Why should beings so advanced in physics and engineering — crossing vast interstellar distances, walking like ghosts through walls — be so backward when it comes to biology? … Why are the examining instruments macroscopic and so reminiscent of what can be found at the neighborhood medical clinic? Why go to all the trouble of repeated sexual encounters between aliens and humans? Why not steal a few egg and sperm cells, read the full genetic code, and then manufacture as many copies as you like with whatever genetic variations happen to suit your fancy?
— Carl Sagan

Chat Highlights:
Sunday the 2nd: E85 conversion of cars.

Wednesday the 5th: Chatters laughed at Ray Comfort going bananas (again) while Kil and Ricky suffered from various computer problems. Then election talk as some states were still not being called for Obama or McCain. Next up was different ways to take down domain thieves, as related to the recent Sylvia Brown site hosted by Robert Lancaster (more details can be found in this thread). Unfortunately they were rather illegal. Talk focused back on politics, specifically why proposition 8 in California, the ban on gay marriages, had passed with flying colors (so to speak). Why we have propositions in the first place sparked another debate that was continued on the forums. The search for new chat software, car troubles, and Spore finished off chat.

Sunday the 9th: Everybody was too busy still celebrating the election results for the new President of the United States to attend chat.

Wednesday the 12th: Chat started with shop talk, mostly about database security. Then @tomic described his recent case of depression as the Bush years come to an end: no more Bushisms and no more awkward back rubs for Angela Merkel. Dave shared the NY Times election result map, make sure you check out the voting shifts. The rest of chat was spent playing games: Rotten and Spore.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Jackie’s tale sets alarm bells ringing

Powers of Ten

Skepticality #88: From Ghost Hunters to The Mentalist

We’re all losers in the numbers game

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 Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, by Barack Obama.

“…[In] The Audacity of Hope, Senator Obama calls for a different brand of politics — a politics for those weary of bitter partisanship and alienated by the ‘endless clash of armies’ we see in congress and on the campaign trail; a politics rooted in the faith, inclusiveness, and nobility of spirit at the heart of ‘our improbable experiment in democracy.’ He explores those forces — from the fear of losing to the perpetual need to raise money to the power of the media — that can stifle even the best-intentioned politician. He also writes, with surprising intimacy and self-deprecating humor, about settling in as a senator, seeking to balance the demands of public service and family life, and his own deepening religious commitment.

At the heart of this book is Senator Obama’s vision of how we can move beyond our divisions to tackle concrete problems. He examines the growing economic insecurity of American families, the racial and religious tensions within the body politic, and the transnational threats — from terrorism to pandemic — that gather beyond our shores. And he grapples with the role that faith plays in a democracy — where it is vital and where it must never intrude. Underlying his stories about family, friends, members of the Senate, even the president, is a vigorous search for connection: the foundation for a radically hopeful political consensus.…”

— Product Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in! (507 views)
  2. Possum on the half shell (369 views)
  3. Hell, your final destination? (333 views)
  4. Beelzebufo ampinga (271 views)
  5. How do you report somone to the IRS? (236 views)
  6. Stop laughing, dammit! This is serious shit! (227 views)
  7. A Half of a Wing & A piece of A Prayer (225 views)
  8. A proposition on propositions (218 views)
  9. The Official SFN US Elections Thread (212 views)
  10. How could this be? (173 views)
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark (1,699 views)
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two (1,162 views)
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle (104 views)
  4. Skeptic Summary #152 (99 views)
  5. The Bible’s Bad Fruits (68 views)
  6. Miracle Thaw Tray (60 views)
  7. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony! (38 views)
  8. Astrology (35 views)
  9. Scientific Truth (30 views)
  10. Cold Reading (28 views)
There were 8,519 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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