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Skeptic Summary #228

By The Staff
Posted on: 3/22/2009

Sermon, the tunnel, the sixth sense, reality, Shermer and a creationist, eagles' homelife, Mexico and more!

Week ending March 21, 2009 (Vol 6, #10)

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:
The best sermon ever! - Then you haven’t seen the farting preacher.

Peering down the tunnel beyond death - Does that sound like an on-coming train?

Prototype wearable ‘sixth sense’ device demoed - Yes, yes, but when can I have an X-ray cellphone camera?

Science cannot fully describe reality - But if you put your faith in Jesus, all will be answered.

Shermer interviews creationist at their museum - Not enough squirming.

Editor’s Choice: Webcam, bald eagle nest - Watch them snack… watch them sit… it’s all incredibly cool!

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Superstition and Fun in Mexico — Candelaria 2008,” by Robert Todd Carroll. I do love Mexican culture, of which, in reality, there are several. They are rich with strange blends of superstition and religion dating back to well before Catholicism entered mix and became dominant, even as it absorbed earlier local customs and religious traditions often with surprising results. The art, the music, the dance and even people’s attitudes reflect both the old and the not-so-old. Both indigenous and European myths have been thrown together in an unspoken bargain that preserves both, in a way that is uniquely Mexican. So I was thrilled to find this essay by Robert Todd Carroll, who, with a skeptic’s eye and an appreciation for Mexican culture, recounted his trip to Tlacotalpan, in the eastern coastal region of the state of Veracruz. It begins:
In half a day we, the Superstition Busters of America, traveled from our cold, rainy, sleeping village in northern California to the tropical world of Tlacotalpan, nestled on the banks of the Rio Papaloapan (the river of the butterflies), where upon our arrival a torpid village of some few thousand would transform into a frenzied party of dancers, singers, drinkers, vendors, jaraneros, mariachis, bulls running wild in the streets, fireworks at all hours of the day or night, a morning parade of hundreds of children wearing school uniforms and carrying effigies of bulls and tall ladies, processions of equestrians in colorful attire, and supplicants carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary from a church to a boat for a ride up and down the Papaloapan in hopes that she will keep the waters calm. The two-week festival is called La Candelaria, but the heart of the activity occurs over three days, from January 31 through February 2. And we were there to take it all in and cleanse the area to make it safe for skeptics. For a religious festival, however, the place was writhing in secular fashion from the moment of our arrival. There was a lot of stuff to be sold, a lot of money to be made, and a lot of fun to be had if you were careful…
Read on!

If I am fool, it is, at least, a doubting one; and I envy no one the certainty of his self-approved wisdom.
— Lord Byron

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: Chat started off with forum talk and fallacies, especially pertaining to ad hominem. Then the topic changed over to school work and shop talk, although about an entirely different shop. We started to get more serious when discussing the correlation between skepticism and atheism or being nonreligious. Then bets on whether Derek and Swoopy will be attending the next TAM. The night ended with talk about free will, and then we all decided to head out… or did we?

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:
Mutant Gene

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Atheists plan to take Seattle for a ride

Creationism Feels Right, but That Doesn’t Make it So

If you hand me some stupid, yes, in fact I am going to hit you over the head with it. Because you absolutely deserve it.

Science journalists? Don’t make me laugh

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:
Why Sh*t Happens: The Science of a Really Bad Day, by Peter J. Bentley.

“Everyone has one of those days when nothing seems to go right, but why? Unlike others who have broached the question, British computer science guru Bentley (Digital Biology) actually escorts readers through a really bad day, exploring the science behind all the little things that can go wrong: he looks at why you slept through the alarm (to explain the nature of sleep); why you then slipped on the spilled shampoo (a look at the nature of cleansers and lubricants); why that torrential downpour soaked you on your way to work (a look at the cycle of water in nature). This journey through the day, if sometimes strained (getting chewing gum stuck in one’s hair on the bus), is a neat device for explaining the science behind everyday things such as how clothing is woven and why fabric is so strong (until it rips when you bend over) and how capsaicin in chilis fool the body and provoke a burning sensation. Each chapter ends with a brief tip on how to avoid future mishaps. Hopefully, readers and librarians won't be put off by the title and miss Bentley’s reader-friendly explanations of the science behind everyday life.”

— Publishers Weekly

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in!
  2. Possum on the half shell
  3. Stop laughing, dammit! This is serious shit!
  4. Guantanamo detainees say they planned Sept. 11
  5. Beelzebufo ampinga
  6. A half of a wing & a piece of a prayer
  7. Art or oxygen theft?
  8. The shallow end of the gene pool…
  9. Peering down the tunnel beyond death
  10. Science cannot fully describe reality
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  4. Skeptic Summary #152
  5. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  6. Miracle Thaw Tray
  7. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  8. Evolution is a Lie
  9. Fence-Sitting
  10. Cold Reading
There were 11,413 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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